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"Yes, I will follow her!' Oscar thought; and, in some way, he slipped from where he was, and left the cottage and Kanker behind him, and went down towards the ocean.
Kanker did not at first know that Oscar had escaped, for he had left something behind which resembled him, but was not really he. The next morning, when the sun peeped as usual into the crystal vase, neither Oscar. nor Kanker were to be seen. But, in the great pearl shell, where formerly Theeda had lived, sat a great ugly crab, twiddling its huge red claws, and peering this way and that with its malicious little eyes, which stuck far out of its head. Oscar was not in the cottage, nor on the shore, nor has he, from that day to this, ever reappeared there. But, if you should ever happen to visit the place, you will hear the waves murmur mysteriously to one another, as they gambol along the beach; and since they come from that faroff lime where the world meets the sky, they may possibly know more about Oscar and Theeda than people like Kanker would be apt to believe.
I stumbled blindly on a dark hill-side,
A mother and her lamb dissevered wide
Bleat answering eager bleat, hurrying to meet,
If lonely, helpless, wild with unknown fears,
P. P. A.
RUSSIA AND CHINA.
THE crisis which has been reached in the relations between these two great Empires calls for general attention. The spectacle of a war between two neighbouring Powers at a point removed three thousand miles from the capital of either would of itself be sufficient to create an interest in the dispute on the Kuldja frontier, where the Celestial and the Muscovite must sooner or later meet in conflict. The questions involved are of scarcely less importance to England than to the two countries at issue, and their solution must in many ways affect our views not only on the Central Asian question generally, but also on the equally important one of the Chinese trade. It will, therefore, not be without present interest if, in describing the position of affairs, we glance farther back over the three centuries that have elapsed since Russia and China first began in modern times their intercourse with each other. By so doing it will be made plain that the Russo-Chinese difficulty is a larger one than any dispute over the territory of Kuldja alone would be; and that a complete and satisfactory settlement cannot be brought about if the question is approached on purely local grounds.
The Chinese Government came to the decision six years ago to reconquer the Central Asian possessions which, during the great Mahometan upheaval of fifteen years before, had cast off its authority. Between Kansuh, the extreme North-Western province of China, and these districts lies the great desert of Gobi, or Shamo, which by reason of its vast expanse would seem at first sight to be the bulwark for an empire which a great people would most desire. The facts of history have shown such a belief in this case to be untenable, for from the earliest times the borders of Kansuh have been the scene of a fierce and never-ceasing struggle between the unsettled tribes of Central Asia and the civilised inhabitants of the Chinese provinces; so much indeed was this the case, and so troublesome, if not dangerous, had their periodical inroads become, that about the middle of the last century the great Emperor Keen Lung resolved to deal trenchantly with the difficulty by sending armies across the desert charged with the task of subduing these turbulent tribes to his rule. After several campaigns his wish was effected, and from 1760 until 1863 the Chinese Empire extended across Asia to the Pamir. On the west it was bounded by the Khanates, and on the north by Russian Siberia; but in the latter year, when Russia's successes were only on the eve of commencing in Turkestan, the Mahometans in Kuldja and Kashgaria, imitating the example set them by the Tungani in the countries between them and China Proper, rose up and massacred all the Chinese on whom they could lay their
hands. Several years were occupied in the task of exterminating the Celestials, varied by the luxury of party strife; but eventually the whole of the former Chinese possessions as divided into three partsone of which was the state of Kashgaria, ruled by the late Yakoob Beg; another, the confederation of the cities held by the Tungani; and the third, the province of Kuldja, under the sway of a despot named Abul Oghlan.
This condition of things remained undisturbed until the year 1871, when the Russians entered and occupied Kuldja 'for the purpose of restoring order.' From that year onwards to the advent of the Chinese, the Tungan confederation was gradually becoming merged in Yakoob Beg's growing kingdom; so that in 1875 matters in this quarter of Asia seemed to have reached a permanent settlement, on the footing that the Russians were to be supreme north of the Tian Shan, and that Yakoob Beg was to have it his own way south of that range. Of the Chinese neither deemed it necessary to take any reckoning. In 1876 the sudden appearance of the Chinese army, under the command of Tso Tsung Tang, the Viceroy of Kansuh, disturbed the harmony of this arrangement; and the speedy overthrow of the Tungani and of Yakoob Beg showed that the assent of the Chinese was essential to any permanent settlement of this region. Before the end of January 1878, Tso Tsung Tang was able to notify to the Emperor the complete reconquest of all the Central Asian provinces, with the exception of Kuldja, held in trust for China by the Russian Government.' From that date until the other day no further advance had been made by the Chinese. They occupied the same positions, and the lapse of time has served only to show that their success was durable and not fleeting.
But while no military event of greater importance than the suppression of a few insignificant revolts has marked the annals of the last two years and a half, the great diplomatic question of how Russia was to be persuaded to restore Kuldja has been discussed in all its bearings, and the conviction has at last come home to all concerned, that diplomacy afforded no means of solving pretensions so conflicting, and reconciling interests so incompatible with each other, as those brought forward or represented by the Russians and the Chinese in this matter. In 1871, when the occupation of Kuldja was sanctioned and carried out, the Russian Foreign Office assured the Pekin authorities that, whenever they should send an army into Central Asia strong enough to maintain order, Kuldja would be evacuated by the Russian garrison. In 1878 the necessary condition had been fulfilled by the Chinese; but the Russian garrison did not stir. Time works many changes, and in this short interval Kuldja had become one of the most prosperous of Russian provinces. It was felt to be too hard to have to surrender a valuable possession, because in a generous mood a rash promise had been made some years before. When Tso Tsung Tang preferred a formal request for the cession of the province, the matter was sent on to Tashkent, and thence to St. Peters
burg. The subject was one that called for discussion, and so towards the close of the year, a special embassy under the charge of Chung How, a high official, was sent to St. Petersburg for the purpose of settling the Kuldja difficulty in an amicable manner by negotiating a treaty. Six months' negotiation—wearisome from unnecessary delay-ensued; and a treaty was at last concluded at Livadia, in the autumn of 1879, by the terms of which Russia was to hand over to the Chinese a portion of the province on the payment of a large sum of money by way of compensation, and on the Pekin Government acknowledging her claim in perpetuity to the remainder, and on its granting fresh facilities for trade. Chung How, either cajoled into believing that he had obtained a full satisfaction of his country's claims, or more probably being imperfectly acquainted with the rights of the question, had the weakness to sign this treaty; and many supposed that the Kuldja difficulty was finally settled when the Chinese Ambassador, having signed away his country's claims, took his congé of the Czar at Livadia. But the Chinese were not to be as easily deceived as their representative had been. The Pekin Government at once refused to ratify this unsatisfactory arrangement; Chung How was disgraced and arrested on his arrival; and the Imperial Council was divided into two parties—the one recommending the despatch of a fresh envoy to Russia, the other, that Tso Tsung Tang should be instructed to commence active operations against the Russians. The latter represented the dominant element among the councillors; and Tso Tsung Tang will certainly act upon his instructions if he has not already carried them out. In face of the collision now inevitable between these two vast and ancient empires, it becomes necessary to consider their relations in the past, and to touch upon those other points to which passing allusion has been made, and which, not less than the Kuldja question, await a permanent settlement in favour of the one Power or the other.
It is impossible to include in our retrospect the conquests of the Mongols; and though they certainly brought the Government of China into the closest contact with the princes of Russia, it may be doubted whether the remembrance of the prowess of the Mongol leaders has exercised any influence on the subsequent policy of China. The conquest of Western Siberia by the Cossack Irmak in the sixteenth century, and the completion of his task fifty years later by the subjection of the Eastern districts of that vast territory, which practically includes the whole of Northern Asia, brought Russia fairly into contact with China at the same time that it made her a great Asiatic Power. This event took place at a crisis in Chinese history. The native dynasty of the Mings had, after half a century of warfare, at last succumbed to the Tartar Manchus; and they for their part were, during many years after they had achieved their first success, engaged in consolidating the great triumph which they had won. The task of subduing the millions of China left the Manchu Tartars little time to devote close attention to the progress of events in the wilds
and solitudes beyond their own northern frontier. The Russians had only to vanquish the Tungusian tribes, and to overthrow a few barbarian dynasties, to find themselves supreme on the Amour and the Irtish, and established at the very door of the greatest of Asian empires. Almost at the same moment that Chuntche, the first Emperor of the Manchu dynasty, ascended the throne at Pekin, the Russians had established themselves on the shores of Baikal, and their line of forts, or block-houses, served to protect their new possessions from any sudden attempt at recovery on the part of the few Tartar troops kept in this region. In the year 1650 Russia's conquest of Northern Asia was completed. Such as her dominions were then they are still, with the sole addition of maritime Manchuria.
The Chinese were considerably alarmed at the construction of this line of forts on a portion of their frontier which was practically undefended ; and when the first Russian embassy visited Pekin in 1656, it met with a cold reception. Soon afterwards the attention of both countries was more particularly directed to this region by the successes of Galdan, a Central Asian prince, who was gradually bringing under his influence all the nationalities between the Pamir and the Great Wall. To the Chinese the extension of his sway represented a grave peril, and the Russians were sufficiently aggressive in those days to hope that his ambition might prove a valuable auxiliary in the task of bringing their trade and political influence to bear more favourably on the Chinese. So about the time that the Emperor Kanghi resolved to advance into the desert for the purpose of coming to conclusions with Galdan, the Russian authorities in Eastern Siberia, believing that this contest would prove a protracted one, seized the opportunity to perfect their defences, by constructing two larger and stronger forts at Albazin and Astrog. These were built in the debatable country round the affluents of the Amour in its upper waters, and, as it happened, almost on the same site which Kanghi himself had selected for Chinese forts. Fresh cause was, therefore, furnished for dispute at the very moment that the armed forces of the two empires first came into proximity with each other. It was not to be expected that under these circumstances a collision could be avoided.
At first the campaigns with Galdan were marked by doubtful fortune; but when Kanghi's general Feyanku turned the scale of war against the Central Asian prince, a large Chinese army was left available for active operations in the Amour region. The victories won on the banks of the Kerulon in the Khalkha country were the greatest possible incentive to the Celestials to try conclusions with the small irregular and scattered Muscovite force in their neighbourhood. The Russian forts commanded the whole border, and were an insult to the Imperial authority ; and the instant Galdan sued for peace, the Chinese troops were directed against the Russian possessions. A small detachment ventured to attack Fort Astrog, but was repulsed with loss. The Chinese, in nowise daunted, returned in greater strength and laid siege to Albazin, which, after little more than a show