Himalayan Journals or Notes of A Naturalist Index      Next Chapter XXVI


Chapter XXV

Journey to the Rajah’s residence at Tumloong — Ryott valley — Rajah’s house — Tupgain Lama — Lagong nunnery — Phadong Goompa — Phenzong ditto — Lepcha Sepoys — Proceedings at Tumloong — Refused admittance to Rajah — Women’s dresses — Meepo’s and Tchebu Lama’s families — Chapel — Leave for Chola pass — Ryott river — Rungpo, view from — Deputation of Kajees, etc. — Conference — Laghep — Eatable fruit of DecaisniaCathcartia — Rhododendrons — Phieung-goong — Pines — Rutto river — Barfonchen — Curling of rhododendron leaf — Woodcock — Chola pass — Small lakes — Tibet guard and sepoys — Dingpun — Arrival of Sikkim sepoys — Their conduct — Meet Singtam Soubah — Chumanako — We are seized by the Soubah’s party — Soubah’s conduct — Dingpun Tinli — Treatment of Dr. Campbell — Bound and guarded — Separated from Campbell — Marched to Tumloong — Motives for such conduct — Arrive at Rungpo — At Phadong — Presents from Rajah — Visits of Lama — Of Singtam Soubah — I am cross-questioned by Amlah — Confined with Campbell — Seizure of my Coolies — Threats of attacking Dorjiling.


We started on the 3rd of November for Tumloong (or Sikkim Durbar), Dr. Campbell sending Tchebu Lama forward with letters to announce his approach. A steep ascent, through large trees of Rhododendron arboreum, led over a sharp spur of mica-schist (strike north-west and dip north-east), beyond which the whole bay-like valley of the Ryott opened before us, presenting one of the most lovely and fertile landscapes in Sikkim. It is ten miles long, and three or four broad, flanked by lofty mountains, and its head girt by the beautiful snowy range of Chola, from which silvery rills descend through black pine-woods, dividing innumerable converging cultivated spurs, and uniting about 2000 feet below us, in a profound gorge. Everywhere were scattered houses, purple crops of buckwheat,


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green fields of young wheat, yellow millet, broad green plantains, and orange groves.

We crossed spur after spur, often under or over precipices about fifteen hundred feet above the river, proceeding eastwards to the village of Rangang, whence we caught sight of the Rajah’s house. It was an irregular low stone building of Tibetan architecture, with slanting walls and small windows high up under the broad thatched roof, above which, in the middle, was a Chinese-looking square copper-gilt canopy, with projecting eaves and bells at the corners, surmounted by a ball and square spire. On either gable of the roof was a round-topped cylinder of gilded copper, something like a closed umbrella; this is a very frequent and characteristic Boodhist ornament, and is represented in Turner’s plate of the mausoleum of Teshoo Lama (“Tibet” plate xi.); indeed the Rajah’s canopy at Tumloong is probably a copy of the upper part of the building there represented, having been built by architects from Teshoo Loombo. It was surrounded by chaits, mendongs, poles with banners, and other religious erections; and though beautifully situated on a flat terrace overlooking the valley, we were much disappointed with its size and appearance.

On the brow of the hill behind was the large red goompa of the Tupgain Lama, the late heir-apparent to the temporal and spiritual authority in Sikkim; and near it a nunnery called Lagong, the lady abbess of which is a daughter of the Rajah, who, with the assistance of sisters, keeps an enormous Mani, or praying-cylinder, revolving perpetually to the prayer of “Om Mani Padmi hom.” On this side was a similar spur, on which the gilded pinnacles and copper canopy of the


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Phadong* goompa gleamed through the trees. At a considerable distance across the head of the valley was still a third goompa, that of Phenzong.

We were met by a large party of armed Lepchas, dressed in blue and white striped kirtles, broad loose scarlet jackets; and the little bamboo wattle hat lined with talc, and surmounted by a peacock’s feather; they escorted us to the village, and then retired.

We encamped a few hundred feet below the Rajah’s house, and close by those of Meepo and the Tchebu Lama’s family, who are among the oldest and most respectable of Tibetan origin in Sikkim. The population on this, the north side of the Ryott, consists principally of Sikkim Bhoteeas and Tibetans, while the opposite is peopled by Lepchas. Crowds came to see us, and many brought presents, with which we were overwhelmed; but we could not help remarking that our cordial greetings were wholly from the older families attached to the Rajah, and from the Lamas; none proceeded from the Dewan’s relatives or friends, nor therefore any in the name of the Rajah himself, or of the Sikkim government.

Tchebu Lama vainly used every endeavour to procure for us an audience with his highness; who was surrounded by his councillors, or Amlah, all of whom were adherents of the Dewan, who was in Tibet. My man Meepo, and the Tchebu Lama; who were ordered to continue in official attendance upon us, shrugged their shoulders, but could suggest no remedy. On the following morning Campbell was visited by many parties, amongst whom were the Lama’s family, and that of the late Dewan (Ilam Sing), who implored us to send again to announce

* Phadong means Royal, and this temple answers to a chapel royal for the Rajah.


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our presence, and not to dismiss at once the moonshie and his office,* who had accompanied us for the purpose of a conference with the Rajah. Their wishes were complied with, and we waited till noon before proceeding.

Tchebu Lama

A gay and animated scene was produced by the concourse of women, dressed in their pretty striped and crossed cloaks, who brought tokens of good-will. Amongst them Meepo’s wife appeared conspicuous from the large

* It is usual in India for Government officers when about to transact business, to travel with a staff (called office) of native interpreters, clerks, etc., of whom the chief is commonly called moonchie.


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necklaces* and amulets, corals, and silver filagree work, with which her neck and shoulders were loaded: she wore on her head a red tiara (“Patuk”) bedizened with seed pearls and large turquoises, and a gold fillet of filagree bosses united by a web of slender chains; her long tails were elaborately plaited, and woven with beads, and her cloak hooked in front by a chain of broad silver links studded with turquoises. White silk scarfs, the emblem of peace and friendship, were thrown over our hands by each party; and rice, eggs, fowls, kids, goats, and Murwa beer, poured in apace, to the great delight of our servants.

We returned two visits of ceremony, one to Meepo’s house, a poor cottage, to which we carried presents of chintz dresses for his two little girls, who were busy teazing their hair with cylindrical combs, formed of a single slender joint of bamboo slit all round half-way up into innumerable teeth. Our other visit was paid to the Lama’s family, who inhabited a large house not far from the Rajah’s. The lower story was an area enclosed by stone walls, into which the cattle, etc., were driven. An outside stone stair led to the upper story, where we were received by the head of the family, accompanied by a great concourse of Lamas. He conducted us to a beautiful little oratory at one end of the building, fitted up like a square temple, and lighted with latticed windows, covered with brilliant and tasteful paintings by Lhassan artists. The beams of the ceiling were supported by octagonal columns painted red, with broad capitals. Everywhere the lotus, the mani, and the chirki (or wheel with three rays, emblematic of the Boodhist Trinity), were introduced; “Om Mani Padmi hom” in gilt letters, adorned the

* The lumps of amber forming these (called “Poshea”) were larger than the fist: they are procured in East Tibet, probably from Birmah.


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projecting end of every beam;* and the Chinese “cloud messenger,” or winged dragon, floated in azure and gold along the capitals and beams, amongst scrolls and groups of flowers. At one end was a sitting figure of Gorucknath in Lama robes, surrounded by a glory, with mitre and beads; the right hand holding the Dorje, and the forefinger raised in prayer. Around was a good library of books. More presents were brought here, and tea served.

Clasp of a woman's cloak

The route to Chola pass, which crosses the range of that name south of the Chola peak (17,320 feet) at the head of this valley, is across the Ryott, and then eastwards along a

* A mythical animal with a dog’s head and blood-red spot over the forehead was not uncommon in this chapel, and is also seen in the Sikkim temples and throughout Tibet. Ermann, in his Siberian Travels, mentions it as occurring in the Khampa Lama’s temple at Maimao chin; he conjectures it to have been the Cyclops of the Greeks, which according to the Homeric myth had a mark on the forehead, instead of an eye. The glory surrounding the heads of Tibetan deities is also alluded to by Ermann, who recognises in it the Nimbus of the ancients, used to protect the heads of statues from the weather, and from being soiled by birds; and adds that the glory of the ancient masters in painting was no doubt introduced into the Byzantine school from the Boodhists.


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lofty ridge. Campbell started at noon, and I waited behind with Meepo, who wished me to see the Rajah’s dwelling, to which we therefore ascended; but, to my guide’s chagrin, we were met and turned back by a scribe, or clerk, of the Amlah. We were followed by a messenger, apologising and begging me to return; but I had already descended 1000 feet, and felt no inclination to reascend the hill, especially as there did not appear to be anything worth seeing. Soon after I had overtaken Campbell, he was accosted by an excessively dirty fellow, who desired him to return for a conference with the Amlah; this was of course declined, but, at the same time, Campbell expressed his readiness to receive the Amlah at our halting place.

The Ryott flows in a very tropical gorge 2000 feet above the sea; from the proximity of the snowy mountains, its temperature was only 64·3°. Thence the ascent is very steep to Rungpo, where we took up our quarters at a rest house at an height of 6008 feet. This road is well kept, and hence onwards is traversed yearly by the Rajah on his way to his summer residence of Choombi, two marches beyond the Cbola pass; whither he is taken to avoid the Sikkim rains, which are peculiarly disagreeable to Tibetans. Rungpo commands a most beautiful view northwards, across the valley, of the royal residence, temples, goompas, hamlets, and cultivation, scattered over spurs that emerge from the forest, studded below with tree-ferns and plantains, and backed by black pine-woods and snowy mountains. In the evening the Amlah arrived to confer with Campbell; at first there was a proposal of turning us out of the house, in which there was plenty of room besides, but as we declined to move, except by his Highness’s order, they put up in houses close by.


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On the following morning they met us as we were departing for Chola pass, bringing large presents in the name of the Rajah, and excuses on their and his part for having paid us no respect at Tumloong, saying, that it was not the custom to receive strangers till after they had rested a day, that they were busy preparing a suitable reception, etc.; this was all false, and contrary to etiquette, but there was no use in telling them so. Campbell spoke firmly and kindly to them, and pointed out their incivility and the unfriendly tone of their whole conduct. They then desired Campbell to wait and discuss business affairs with them; this was out of the question, and he assured them that he was ever ready to do so with the Rajah, that he was now (as he had informed his Highness) on his way with me to the Chola and Yakla passes, and that we had, for want of coolies, left some loads behind us, which, if they were really friendly, they would forward. This they did, and so we parted; they (contrary to expectation) making no objection to Campbell’s proceeding with me.

A long march up a very steep, narrow ridge took us by a good road to Laghep, a stone resting-house (alt. 10,475 feet) on a very narrow flat. I had abundance of occupation in gathering rhododendron-seeds, of which I procured twenty-four kinds* on this and the following day.

A very remarkable plant, which I had seen in flower in the Lachen valley, called “Loodoo-ma” by the Bhoteeas, and “Nomorchi” by Lepchas, grew on the ridge at 7000

* These occurred in the following order in ascending, commencing at 6000 feet.—1. R. Dalhousić; 2. R. vaccinioides; 3. R. camellićflorwm; 4. R. arboreum. Above 8000 feet:—5. R. argenteum; 6. R. Falconeri; 7. R. barbatum; 8. R. Campbellić; 9. R. Edgeworthii; 10. R. niveum; 11. R. Thomsoni; 12. R. cinnabarinum; 13. R. glaucum. Above 10,500 feet:—14. R. lanatum; 15. R. virgatum; 16. R. campylocarpum; 17. R. ciliatum; 18. R. Hodgsoni; 19. R. campanulatum. Above 12,000 feet:—20. R. lepidotum; 21. R. fulgens; 22. R. Wightianum; 23. R. anthopogon; 24. R. setosum.


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feet; it bears a yellow fruit like short cucumbers, full of a soft, sweet, milky pulp, and large black seeds; it belongs to a new genus,* allied to Stauntonia, of which two Himalayan kinds produce similar, but less agreeable edible fruits (“Kole-pot,” Lepcha). At Laghep, iris was abundant, and a small bushy berberry (B. concinna) with oval eatable berries. The north wall of the house (which was in a very exposed spot) was quite bare, while the south was completely clothed with moss and weeds.

The rocks above Laghep were gneiss; below it, mica-schist, striking north-west, and dipping north-east, at a high angle. A beautiful yellow poppy-like plant grew in clefts at 10,000 feet; it has flowered in England, from seeds which I sent home, and bears the name of Cathcartia.

We continued, on the following morning, in an easterly direction, up the same narrow steep ridge, to a lofty eminence called Phieung-goong (alt. 12,422 feet), from being covered with the Phieung, or small bamboo. Abies Webbiana begins here, and continues onwards, but, as on Tonglo, Mainom, and the other outer wetter Sikkim ranges, there is neither larch, Pinus excelsa, Abies Smithiana, or A. Brunoniana.

* This genus, for which Dr. Thomson and I, in our “Flora Indies,” have proposed the name Decaisnea (in honour of my friend Professor J. Decaisne, the eminent French botanist), has several straight, stick-like, erect branches from the root, which bear spreading pinnated leaves, two feet long, standing out horizontally. The flowers are uni-sexual, green, and in racemes, and the fruits, of which two or three grow together, are about four inches long, and one in diameter. All the other plants of the natural order to which it belongs, are climbers.
† See “Botanical Magazine,” for 1852. The name was given in honour of the memory of my friend, the late J. F. Cathcart, Esq., of the Bengal Civil Service. This gentleman was devoted to the pursuit of botany, and caused a magnificent series of drawings of Dorjiling plants to be made by native artists during his residence there. This collection is now deposited at Kew, through the liberality of his family, and it is proposed to publish a selection from the plates, as a tribute to his memory. Mr. Cathcart, after the expiration of his Indian service, returned to Europe, and died at Lausanne on his way to England.


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Hence we followed an oblique descent of 1,500 feet, to the bed of the Rutto river, through thick woods of pines and Rhododendron Hodgsoni, which latter, on our again ascending, was succeeded by the various alpine kinds. We halted at Barfonchen (alt. 11,233 feet), a stone-but in the silver-fir forest. Some yaks were grazing in the vicinity, and from their herdsman we learnt that the Dewan was at Choombi, on the road to Yakla; he had kept wholly out of the way during the summer, directing every unfriendly action to be pursued towards myself and the government by the Amlah, consisting of his brothers and relatives, whom he left at Tumloong.

The night was brilliant and starlight: the minimum thermometer fell to 27°, a strong north-east wind blew down the valley, and there was a thick hoar-frost, with which the black yaks were drolly powdered. The broad leaves of R. Hodgsoni were curled, from the expansion of the frozen fluid in the layer of cells on the upper surface of the leaf, which is exposed to the greatest cold of radiation. The sun restores them a little, but as winter advances, they become irrecoverably cured, and droop at the ends of the branches.

We left Barfonchen on the 7th November, and ascended the river, near which we put up a woodcock. Emerging from the woods at Chumanako (alt. 12,590 feet), where there is another stone hut, the mountains become bleak, bare, and stony, and the rocks are all moutonnéed by ancient glaciers. At 13,000 feet the ground was covered with ice, and all the streams were frozen. Crossing several rocky ledges, behind which were small lakes, a gradual ascent led to the summit of the Chola pass, a broad low depression, 14,925 feet above the sea, wholly bare of snow.


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Campbell had preceded me, and I found him conversing with some Tibetans, who told him that there was no road hence to Yakla, and that we should not be permitted to go to Choombi. As the Chinese guard was posted in the neighbourhood, he accompanied one of the Tibetans to see the commandant, whilst I remained taking observations. The temperature was 33°, with a violent, biting, dry east wind. The rocks were gneiss, striking north-east, and horizontal, or dipping north-west. The scanty vegetation consisted chiefly of grass and Sibbaldia.

In about an hour Meepo and some of my people came up and asked for Campbell, for whom the Tchebu Lama was waiting below: the Lama had remained at Rungpo, endeavouring to put matters on a better footing with the Amlah. Wishing to see the Tibet guard myself, I accompanied the two remaining Tibetans down a steep valley with cliffs on either hand, for several hundred feet, when I was overtaken by some Sikkim sepoys in red jackets, who wanted to turn me back forcibly: I was at a loss to understand their conduct, and appealed to the Tibetan sepoys, who caused them to desist. About 1000 feet down I found Campbell, with a body of about ninety Tibetans, a few of whom were armed with matchlocks, and the rest with bows and arrows. They were commanded by a Dingpun, a short swarthy man, with a flat-crowned cap with floss-silk hanging all round, and a green glass button in front; he wore a loose scarlet jacket, broadly edged with black velvet, and having great brass buttons of the Indian naval uniform; his subaltern was similarly dressed, but his buttons were those of the 44th Bengal Infantry. The commandant having heard of our wish to go round by Choombi, told Campbell that he had come purposely to inform him that there was no road that way to


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Yakla; he was very polite, ordering his party to rise and salute me when I arrived, and doing the same when we both left.

On our return we were accompanied by the Dingpun of the Tibetans and a few of his people, and were soon met by more Sikkim sepoys, who said they were sent from the Durbar, to bring Campbell back to transact business; they behaved very rudely, and when still half a mile from the Sikkim frontier, jostled him and feigned to draw their knives, and one of them pointed a spear-headed bow to his breast. Campbell defended himself with a stick, and remonstrated with them on their rudeness; and I, who had nothing but a barometer in my hand, called up the Tibetans. The Dingpun came instantly, and driving the Sikkim people forward, escorted us to the frontier, where he took an inscribed board from the chait, and showing us the great vermilion seal of the Emperor of China (or more probably of the Lhassan authorities) on one side, and two small brown ones of the Sikkim Rajah on the other; and giving us to understand that here his jurisdiction ceased, he again saluted and left us.

On descending, I was surprised to meet the Singtam Soubah, whom I had not seen since leaving Tungu; he was seated on a rock, and I remarked that he looked ashy pale and haggard, and that he salaamed to me only, and not to Campbell; and that Tchebu Lama, who was with him, seemed very uncomfortable. The Soubah wanted Campbell to stop for a conference, which at such a time, and in such a wind, was impossible, so he followed us to Chumanako, where we proposed to pass the night.

A great party of Sikkim Bhoteeas had assembled here, all strangers to me: I certainly thought the concourse unusually large, and the previous conduct to Campbell,


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strange, rude, and quite unintelligible, especially before the Tibetans. But the Bhoteeas were always a queer, and often insolent people,* whom I was long ago tired of trying to understand, and they might have wanted to show off before their neighbours; and such was the confidence with which my long travels amongst them had inspired me, that the possibility of danger or violence never entered my head.

We went into the hut, and were resting ourselves on a log at one end of it, when, the evening being very cold, the people crowded in; on which Campbell went out, saying, that we had better leave the hut to them, and that he would see the tents pitched. He had scarcely left, when I heard him calling loudly to me, “Hooker! Hooker! the savages are murdering me!” I rushed to the door, and caught sight of him striking out with his fists, and struggling violently; being tall and powerful, he had already prostrated a few, but, a host of men bore him down, and appeared to be trampling on him; at the same moment I was myself seized by eight men, who forced me back into the hut, and down on the log, where they held me in a sitting posture, pressing me against the wall; here I spent a few moments of agony, as I heard my friend’s stifled cries grow fainter and fainter. I struggled but little, and that only at first, for at least five-and-twenty men crowded round and laid their hands upon me, rendering any effort to move useless; they were, however, neither angry nor

* Captain Pemberton during his mission to Bhotan was repeatedly treated with the utmost insolence by the officials in that country (see Griffith’s Journal). My Sirdar, Nimbo, himself a native of Bhotan, saw a good deal of the embassy when there, and told me many particulars as to the treatment to which it had been subjected, and the consequent low estimation in which both the ambassadors themselves and the Government whom they represented were held in Bhotan.


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violent, and signed to me to keep quiet. I retained my presence of mind, and felt comfort in remembering that I saw no knives used by the party who fell on Campbell, and that if their intentions had been murderous, an arrow would have been the more sure and less troublesome weapon. It was evident that the whole animus was directed against Campbell, and though at first alarmed on my own account, all the inferences which, with the rapidity of lightning my mind involuntarily drew, were favourable.

After a few minutes, three persons came into the hut, and seated themselves opposite to me: I only recognised two of them; namely, the Singtam Soubah, pale, trembling like a leaf, and with great drops of sweat trickling from his greasy brow; and the Tchebu Lama, stolid, but evidently under restraint, and frightened. The former ordered the men to leave hold of me, and to stand guard on either side, and, in a violently agitated manner, he endeavoured to explain that Campbell was a prisoner by the orders of the Rajah, who was dissatisfied with his conduct as a government officer, during the past twelve years; and that he was to be taken to the Durbar and confined till the supreme government at Calcutta should confirm such articles as he should be compelled to subscribe to; he also wanted to know from me how Campbell would be likely to behave. I refused to answer any questions till I should be informed why I was myself made prisoner; on which he went away, leaving me still guarded. My own Sirdar then explained that Campbell had been knocked down, tied hand and foot, and taken to his tent, and that all his coolies were also bound, our captors claiming them as Sikkimites, and subjects of the Rajah.


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Shortly afterwards the three returned, the Soubah looking more spectral than ever, and still more violently agitated, and I thought I perceived that whatever were his plans, he had failed in them. He asked me what view the Governor-General would take of this proceeding? and receiving no answer, he went off with the Tchebu Lama, and left me with the third individual. The latter looked steadily at me for some time, and then asked if I did not know him. I said I did not, when he gave his name as Dingpun Tinli, and I recognised in him one of the men whom the Dewan had sent to conduct us to the top of Mainom the previous year (see vol. i. p. 305). This opened my eyes a good deal, for he was known to be a right-hand man of the Dewan’s, and had within a few months been convicted of kidnapping two Brahmin girls from Nepal,* and had vowed vengeance against Campbell for the duty he performed in bringing him to punishment.

I was soon asked to go to my tent, which I found pitched close by; they refused me permission to see my fellow-prisoner, or to be near him, but allowed me to hang up my instruments, and arrange my collections. My guards were frequently changed during the night, Lepchas often taking a turn; they repeatedly assured me that there was no complaint or ill-feeling against me, that the better classes in Sikkim would be greatly ashamed of the whole affair, that Tchebu Lama was equally a prisoner, and that the grievances against Campbell were of a political nature, but what they were they did not know.

* This act as I have mentioned at v. i. p. 341 was not only a violation of the British treaty, but an outrage on the religion of Nepal. Jung Bahadoor demanded instant restitution, which Campbell effected; thus incurring the Dingpun’s wrath, who lost, besides his prize, a good deal of money which the escapade cost him.


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The night was very cold (thermometer 26°), and two inches of snow fell. I took as many of my party as I could into my tent, they having no shelter fit for such an elevation (12,590 feet) at this season. Through the connivance of some of the people, I managed to correspond with Campbell, who afterwards gave me the following account of the treatment he had received. He stated that on leaving the hut, he had been met by Meepo, who told him the Soubah had ordered his being turned out. A crowd of sepoys then fell on him and brought him to the ground, knocked him on the head, trampled on him, and pressed his neck down to his chest as he lay, as if endeavouring to break it. His feet were tied, and his arms pinioned behind, the wrist of the right hand being bound to the left arm above the elbow; the cords were then doubled, and he was violently shaken. The Singtam Soubah directed all this, which was performed chiefly by the Dingpun Tinli and Jongpun Sangabadoo.* After this the Soubah came to me, as I have related; and returning, had Campbell brought bound before him, and asked him, through Tchebu Lama, if he would write from dictation. The Soubah was violent, excited, and nervous; Tchebu Lama scared. Campbell answered, that if they continued torturing him (which was done by twisting the cords round his wrists by a bamboo-wrench), he might say or do anything, but that his government would not confirm any acts thus extorted. The Soubah became still more violent, shook his bow in Campbell’s face, and drawing his hand significantly across his throat, repeated his questions, adding others, enquiring why he had refused to receive the Lassoo Kajee as Vakeel, etc. (see p. 2).

* This was the other man sent with us to Mainom, by the Dewan, in the previous December.


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The Soubah’s people, meanwhile, gradually slunk away, seeing which he left Campbell, who was taken to his tent.

Early next morning Meepo was sent by the Soubah, to ask whether I would go to Yakla pass, or return to Dorjiling, and to say that the Rajah’s orders had been very strict that I was not to be molested, and that I might proceed to whatever passes I wished to visit, whilst Campbell was to be taken back to the Durbar, to transact business. I was obliged to call upon the Soubah and Dingpun to explain their conduct of the previous day, which they declared arose from no ill-feeling, but simply from their fear of my interfering in Campbell’s behalf; they could not see what reason I had to complain, so long as I was neither hurt nor bound. I tried in vain to explain to them that they could not so play fast and loose with a British subject, and insisted that if they really considered me free, they should place me with Campbell, under whose protection I considered myself, he being still the Governor-General’s agent.

Much discussion followed this: Meepo urged me to go on to Yakla, and leave these bad people; and the Soubah and Dingpun, who had exceeded their orders in laying hands on me, both wished me away. My course was, however, clear as to the propriety of keeping as close to Campbell as I was allowed, so they reluctantly agreed to take me with him to the Durbar.

Tchebu Lama came to me soon afterwards, looking as stolid as ever, but with a gulping in his throat; he alone was glad I was going with them, and implored me to counsel Campbell not to irritate the Amlah by a refusal to accede to their dictates, in which case his life might be the forfeit. As to himself, the opposite faction had now got


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the mastery, there was nothing for it but to succumb, and his throat would surely be cut. I endeavoured to comfort him with the assurance that they dared not hurt Campbell, and that this conduct of a party of ruffians, influenced by the Dewan and their own private pique, did not represent his Rajah’s feelings and wishes, as he himself knew; but the poor fellow was utterly unnerved, and shaking hands warmly, with his eyes full of tears, he took his leave.

We were summoned by the Dingpun to march at 10 a.m.: I demanded an interview with Campbell first, which was refused; but I felt myself pretty safe, and insisting upon it, he was brought to me. He was sadly bruised about the head, arms, and wrists, walked very lame, and had a black eye to boot, but was looking stout and confident.

I may here mention that seizing the representative of a neighbouring power and confining him till he shall have become amenable to terms, is a common practice along the Tibet, Sikkim, and Bhotan frontiers. It had been resorted to in 1847, by the Bhotanese, under the instructions of the Paro Pilo, who waylaid the Sikkim Rajah when still in Tibet, on his return from Jigatzi, and beleagured him for two months, endeavouring to bring him to their terms about some border dispute; on this occasion the Rajah applied to the British government for assistance, which was refused; and he was ultimately rescued by a Tibetan force.

In the present case the Dewan issued orders that Campbell was to be confined at Tumloong till he himself should arrive there; and the Rajah was kept in ignorance of the affair. The Sepoys who met us on our approach to Tumloong on the 3rd of November, were, I suspect, originally sent for the purpose; and I think that the Amlah


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also had followed us to Rungpo with the same object. Their own extreme timidity, and the general good-feeling in the country towards Campbell prevented its execution before, and, as a last resource, they selected the Singtam Soubah and Dingpun Tinli for the office, as being personally hostile to him. The Dewan meanwhile being in Tibet, and knowing that we were about to visit the frontier, for which I had full permission and escort, sent up the Tibetan guard, hoping to embroil them in the affair; in this he failed, and it drew upon him the anger of the Lhassan authorities.* The Soubah, in endeavouring to extort the new treaty by force, and the Dingpun, who had his own revenge to gratify, exceeded their instructions in using violence towards Campbell, whom the Dewan ordered should be simply taken and confined; they were consequently disgraced, long before we were released, and the failure of the stratagem thrown upon their shoulders.

During the march down to Laghep, Campbell was treated by the Dingpun’s men with great rudeness: I kept

* In the following summer (1850), when the Rajah, Dewan, and Soubah, repaired to Choombi, the Lhassan authorities sent a Commissioner to inquire into the affair, understanding that the Dewan had attempted to embroil the Tibetans in it. The commissioner asked the Rajah why he had committed such an outrage on the representative of the British government, under whose protection he was; thus losing his territory, and bringing English troops so near the Tibet frontier. The Rajah answered that he never did anything of the kind; that he was old and infirm, and unable to transact all his affairs; that the mischief had arisen out of the acts and ignorance of others, and finally begged the Commissioner to investigate the whole affair, and satisfy himself about it. During the inquiry that followed, the Dewan threw all the blame on the Tibetans, who, he said were alone implicated: this assertion was easily disproved, and on the conclusion of the inquiry the Commissioner railed vehemently at the Dewan, saying:—“You tried to put this business on the people of my country; it is an abominable lie. You did it yourselves, and no one else. The Company is a great monarchy; you insulted it, and it has taken its revenge. If you, or any other Tibetan, ever again cause a rupture with the English, you shall be taken with ropes round your necks to Pekin, there to undergo the just punishment of your offence under the sentence of the mighty Emperor.”


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as near as I was allowed, quietly gathering rhododendron seeds by the way. At the camping-ground we were again separated, at which I remonstrated with the Dingpun, also complaining of his people’s insolent behaviour towards their prisoner, which he promised should be discontinued.

The next day we reached Rungpo, where we halted for further instructions: our tents were placed apart, but we managed to correspond by stealth. On the 10th of November we were conducted to Tumloong: a pony was brought for me, but I refused it, on seeing that Campbell was treated with great indignity, and obliged to follow at the tail of the mule ridden by the Dingpun, who thus marched him in triumph up to the village.

I was taken to a house at Phadong, and my fellow traveller was confined in another at some distance to the eastward, a stone’s throw below the Rajah’s; and thrust into a little cage-like room. I was soon visited by an old Lama, who assured me that we were both perfectly safe, but that there were many grievances against Campbell. The Soubah arrived shortly after, bringing me compliments, nominally in the Rajah’s name, and a substantial present, consisting of a large cow, sheep, fowls, a brick of tea, bags of rice, flour, butter, eggs, and a profusion of vegetables. I refused to take them on the friendly terms on which they were brought, and only accepted them as provisions during my detention. I remonstrated again about our separation, and warned the Soubah of the inevitable consequence of this outrage upon the representative of a friendly power, travelling under the authority of his own government, unarmed and without escort: he was greatly perplexed, and assured me that Campbell’s detention was only temporary, because he had not given


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satisfaction to the Rajah, and as the latter could not get answers to his demands from Calcutta in less than a month, it was determined to keep him till then; but to send me to Dorjiling. He returned in the evening to tell me that Campbell’s men (with the exception only of the Ghorkas*) had been seized, because they were runaway slaves from Sikkim; but that I need not alarm myself, for mine should be untouched.

The hut being small, and intolerably dirty, I pitched my tent close by, and lived in it for seven days: I was not guarded, but so closely watched, that I could not go out for the most trifling purpose, except under surveillance. They were evidently afraid of my escaping; I was however treated with civility, but forbidden to communicate either with Campbell or with Dorjiling.

The Soubah frequently visited me, always protesting I was no prisoner, that Campbell’s seizure was a very trifling affair, and the violence employed all a mistake. He always brought presents, and tried to sound me about the government at Calcutta. On the 12th he paid his last visit, looking wofully dejected, being out of favour at court, and dismissed to his home: he referred me to Meepo for all future communications to the Rajah, and bade me a most cordial farewell, which I regretted being unable to return with any show of kind feeling. Poor fellow! he had staked his last, and lost it, when he undertook to seize the agent of the most powerful government in the east, and to reduce him to the condition of a tool of the Dewan. Despite the many obstructions he had placed in my way, we had not fallen out since July; we had been

* These people stood in far greater fear of the Nepalese than of the English, and the reason is obvious: the former allow no infraction of their rights to pass unnoticed, whereas we had permitted every article of our treaty to be contravened.


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constant companions, and though at issue, never at enmity. I had impeached him, and my grievances had been forwarded to the Rajah with a demand for his punishment, but he never seemed to owe me a grudge for that, knowing the Rajah’s impotence as compared with the power of the Dewan whom he served; and, in common with all his party, presuming on the unwillingness of the British government to punish.

On the 13th of November I was hurriedly summoned by Meepo to the Phadong temple, where I was interrogated by the Amlah, as the Rajah’s councillors (in this instance the Dewan’s adherents) are called. I found four China mats placed on a stone bench, on one of which I was requested to seat myself, the others being occupied by the Dewan’s elder brother, a younger brother of the Gangtok Kajee (a man of some wealth), and an old Lama: the conference took place in the open air and amongst an immense crowd of Lamas, men, women, and children.

I took the initiative (as I made a point of doing on all such occasions) and demanded proper interpreters, which were refused; and the Amlah began a rambling interrogatory in Tibetan, through my Lepcha Sirdar Pakshok, who spoke very little Tibetan or Hindostanee, and my half-caste servant, who spoke as little English. The Dewan’s brother was very nervously counting his beads, and never raised his eyes while I kept mine steadily upon him.

He suggested most of the queries, every one of which took several minutes, as he was constantly interrupted by the Kajee, who was very fat and stupid: the Lama scarcely spoke, and the bystanders never. My connection with the Indian government was first enquired into; next they came to political matters, upon which I declined entering; but I


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gathered that their object was to oblige Campbell to accept the Lassoo Kajee as Vakeel, to alter the slavery laws, to draw a new boundary line with Nepal, to institute direct communication between themselves and the Governor-General,* and to engage that there should be no trade or communication between Sikkim and India, except through the Dewan: all of these subjects related to the terms of the original treaty between the Rajah and the Indian government. They told me they had sent these proposals to the government through Dorjiling,† but had received no acknowledgment from the latter place, and they wanted to know the probable result at Calcutta. As the only answer I could give might irritate them, I again declined giving any. Lastly, they assured me that no blame was imputed to myself, that on the contrary I had been travelling under the Rajah’s protection, who rejoiced in my success, that I might have visited Yakla pass as I had intended doing, but that preferring to accompany my friend, they had allowed me to do so, and that I might now either join him, or continue to live in my tent: of course I joyfully accepted the former proposal. After being refused permission to send a letter to Dorjiling, except I would write in a character which they could read, I asked if they had anything more to say, and being answered in the negative, I was taken by

* They were prompted to demand this by an unfortunate oversight that occurred at Calcutta some years before. Vakeels from the Sikkim Durbar repaired to that capital, and though unaccredited by the Governor-General’s agent at Dorjiling, were (in the absence of the Governor-General) received by the president of the council in open Durbar. The effect was of course to reduce the Governor-General’s agent at Dorjiling to a cipher.

† These letters, which concluded with a line stating that Campbell was detained at Tumloong till favourable answers should be received, had arrived at Dorjiling; but being written in Tibetan, and containing matters into which no one but Campbell could enter, they were laid on one side till his return. The interpreter did not read the last line, which stated that Dr. Campbell was detained till answers were received, and the fact of our capture and imprisonment therefore remained unknown for several weeks.


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Meepo to Campbell, heartily glad to end a parley which had lasted for an hour and a half.

I found my friend in good health and spirits, strictly guarded in a small thatched hut, of bamboo wattle and clay: the situation was pretty, and commanded a view of the Ryott valley and the snowy mountains; there were some picturesque chaits hard by, and a blacksmith’s forge. Our walks were confined to a few steps in front of the hut, and included a puddle and a spring of water. We had one black room with a small window, and a fire in the middle on a stone; we slept in the narrow apartment behind it, which was the cage in which Campbell had been at first confined, and which exactly admitted us both, lying on the floor. Two or three Sepoys occupied an adjoining room, and had a peep-hole through the partition-wall.

My gratification at our being placed together was damped by the seizure of all my faithful attendants except my own servant, and one who was a Nepalese: the rest were bound, and placed in the stocks and close confinement, charged with being Sikkim people who had no authority to take service in Dorjiling. On the contrary they were all registered as British subjects, and had during my travels been recognised as such by the Rajah and all his authorities. Three times the Soubah and others had voluntarily assured me that my person and people were inviolate; nor was there any cause for this outrage but the fear of their escaping with news to Dorjiling, and possibly a feeling of irritation amongst the authorities at the failure of their schemes. Meanwhile we were not allowed to write, and we heard that the bag of letters which we had sent before our capture had been seized and burnt. Campbell greatly feared that they would threaten


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Dorjiling with a night attack,* as we heard that the Lassoo Kajee was stationed at Namtchi with a party for that purpose, and all communication cut off, except through him.

* Threats of sacking Dorjiling had on several previous occasions been made by the Dewan, to the too great alarm of the inhabitants, who were ignorant of the timid and pacific disposition of the Lepchas, and of the fact that there are not fifty muskets in the country, nor twenty men able to use them. On this occasion the threats were coupled with the report that we were murdered, and that the Rajah had asked for 50,000 Tibetan soldiers, who were being marched twenty-five days’ journey over passes 16,000 feet high, and deep in snow, and were coming to drive the English out of Sikkim! I need hardly observe that the Tibetans (who have repeatedly refused to interfere on this side the snows) had no hand in the matter, or that, supposing they could collect that number of men in all Tibet, it would be impossible to feed them for a week, there or in Sikkim. Such reports unfortunately spread a panic in Dorjiling: the guards were called in from all the outposts, and the ladies huddled into one house, whilst the males stood on the defensive; to the great amusement of the Amlah at Tumloong, whose insolence to us increased proportionally.

Horns of the Showa stag (Cervus Wallichii), a native of Choombi in Tibet.

Next Chapter XXVI