Page images

established and have predominated for many years.

If further proof were needed that the commercial class have been strung up to a sensitive appreciation of their interest in the Far East, it would be afforded by the amendment to Mr Keswick's resolution, proposed by Mr Joseph Walton, M.P. This was to omit the words "expressing satisfaction with the action taken by the Government," and it went on to point out in vigorous terms the necessity of upholding our position. He denied that England could claim even to-day any special sphere of influence even in the Yangtse Valley, and that we were far from receiving equal treatment with our rivals in China. So amended, the resolution was passed unanimously by that most important and representative congress, whose action no doubt will give a clue to that of all local associations throughout the country.

The annual report of that very active body, the China Association, comes opportunely to give emphasis to, and fill up the gaps in, the correspondence presented to Parliament. With regard to the Yangtse region in particular, the Association has done well to remind us that protection of that important zone of Central China is no new idea. It is there that our greatest commercial interests are consolidated, it is there that our political influence has been more than anywhere in the ascendant for many years. We had arranged to defend it for China

during a dispute with Russia about Kuldja in 1880; again, during her war with France in 1884, we distinctly warned the French off the Yangtse Valley, and thus their coercive measures against China were limited to a naval patrol of the coast. Finally, during the war with Japan in 1894, Great Britain once more asserted her interest in that region, and intimated to the invader her readiness to defend the mouth of the river at all costs. Thus it is no political doctrine extemporised for the occasion that we should claim the integrity of the Yangtse Valley, but a principle of policy resting on a respectable historical basis. What remains is to give full practical effect to the claim, of which we trust that Lord Salisbury's dictum about the French concession in Shanghai may be taken as an earnest.

We may sum up the whole matter by insisting on on the active, well-considered realisa- [ tion of all our rights and claims, trusting to no paper titles, no goodwill of any Power, or group of Powers, with a decent regard to the feelings of the Chinese Government so long as they are reasonable, but without entering on exhausting controversies with that inanimate body, the Tsungli-Yamên. For we must remember that as yet there is only promise, but little in the way of achievement; and with regard to the Yangtse Valley 'tself, absolutely nothing has been done to secure our position there excepting the declaration of Lord Salisbury with regard

[ocr errors]

to the French claims in Shanghai. Since our policy in China has been, by our own selfeffacement, formed for us by the action of other Powers, it is always well to take notice of the views held by those Powers,

In this connection there is a significant despatch in the Bluebook from the Foreign Office to the Ambassador in Berlin, dated 13th May. Lord Salisbury, reporting an interview with the German Ambassador with regard to co-operation in railway schemes in China, says: "His Excellency maintained that Germany, by her occupation of Kiao-chau, and her agreement with China respecting Shantung, has acquired a special position in that province, which consequently is not unreservedly open to British enterprise; whereas Great Britain not having occupied any place in the Yangtse region, that region is still unreservedly open to German enterprise : consequently, my suggestions did not contain any element of reciprocity."

Although Lord Salisbury was "unable to assent" to this proposition, it is well to know the view that Germany takes of

our rights in China. And it is especially important to observe that Germany is acting on her view to our detriment, while we are not acting on ours. As we have said over and over again, it is not by protocols and treaties that we shall secure the enjoyment of our rights, but by the only authority which is now universally recognised, effective occupation. So far we have done little more than turn the vessel's head to the current; we have yet to make headway against it, and recover by strenuous exertion the ground we have lost.

There is a pathetic side to this voluminous blue-book. When we consider the labour of statesmen and diplomatists embodied in these 360 pages, the strain of relations with

other Powers, the jarring, friction, and commotion all round, and reflect that all this is but a laborious effort to recover some portion of the ground which was lost through inadvertence, -we may applaud the effort, but cannot help holding it up as a warning against easy optimism and a policy of drift in the future. The blue-book is a public confession of failure containing the germ of amendment.

Printed by William Blackwood and Sons.

[blocks in formation]

THE goldfields of the Klondike are now well known, yet it is little more than a year since the first news of these Arctic discoveries was being circulated through the press. In this country we are slow to give credence to extraordinary rumours, and rightly is it so; but in America the most improbable tales gain an easy hearing, and the newspapers were dedicated almost entirely to the booming of the northern goldfields, which were then believed to be in American territory. The New York World' and other papers of standing devoted whole pages to the subject, while on the west coast the newspapers of Seattle, the outfitting port for Alaskan miners, advised



all and sundry, old and young, to proceed to the frozen Eldorado without delay. I had gone to Montana for the purpose of experimenting with the refractory ores of that district, but, like many others, was seized by an irresistible impulse to prospect the much-talked-of country, and soon found myself, with two companions, sailing for Dyea on one of the coasting steamers that had been hastily requisitioned for the Klondike traffic. My companions were both Scotch: the one, familiarly called Mac, was a middle-aged man of much travelling experience, great muscular strength, and dogged determination; the other, named Stewart, was a very different type of person, not over thirty, tall, lithe, and 3 E

strong as a horse. I could hardly have chosen two men more eminently suitable for the country. Their strength and courage stood the party in good stead on many occasions during our hazardous campaign. Before leaving Seattle we acquired an addition to our party in the shape of a large black mastiff, with enormous mouth and big intelligent eyes. I purchased him from an old Hudson Bay trapper who had recently come out of the country, and as Dave -that was his name had been accustomed to sleigh-work all his life, I considered that he would be very useful to us, and I was not mistaken.

After being buffeted about by wind and weather for the best part of a fortnight in the steamer Rosalie, a transformed sailing vessel fitted with miniature engines, that succeeded in keeping afloat mainly by the mercy of Providence, we arrived at the Indian village of Dyea, which is at the extreme end of the Lynn Canal, and a thousand miles from civilisation. The water is very shallow in the vicinity of Dyea, and as our boat could not get within four miles of the village, all goods and passengers were transferred into a flat-bottomed scow, which was then towed slowly landwards by a tiny shallow-draught tug. The scow grounded fully half a mile from shore, and we were informed that we should have to wait for six hours before the tide would leave us on even comparatively dry land. This idea did not please in the least, so we donned our long gum-boots

and dropped over the side of our stationary craft, and, after much careful manoeuvring, succeeded in reaching the barren shore of the Indian encampment-the first outpost on the mountain trail.

Dyea, or Ty-a as the Indians pronounce it, was then a very small village, consisting of a few Indian dwellings, some loghuts inhabited by teamsters, and one store. It was well sheltered by fine forests of pinetrees, but since then it has grown to be a small town, and all the timber has been used for logging purposes, with the result that Dyea now stands bleak and bare, exposed to the full fury of the fearful winds that periodically blow up the Chilcoot valley. We arrived at this Klondike outpost towards the beginning of autumn, and immediately started to make investigations regarding the method of getting our outfit over the pass. I was surprised to find that even at that early season the winter had practically commenced, and all the prospective Klondikers had given up the idea of proceeding onward until the following spring. Evidently the danger to be feared was not altogether the crossing of the Chilcoot, but the risk of being frozen in on the main river when, perhaps, midway between Dawson City and the coast. I announced my intention of going forward, nevertheless, and chancing the dangers; but locomotion was no easy matter, as we had a heavy load of provisions to take along with us. We at last got a teamster to take our

goods by waggon to Finnigan's Camp, a point on the Dyea river four miles from the village; and having paid him (dearly enough) for the service, we saw ourselves next day at

our new camping-ground with our stores, well pleased at having got even that short distance on the way, but in blissful ignorance as to how our next stage was to be accomplished.


Finnigan's Point is an excellent camping-ground-in fact, the best on the trail, as the soil is dry, and covered with a thick grass, while clumps of large trees form an effective shelter from the wind. We passed a day here deliberating as to how our next move was to be made; but the following morning we had the good fortune to meet a teamster with seven pack-horses on the way to Dyea from Sheep Camp, and after much consideration he offered to "pack our outfit" to Sheep Camp at 7 cents per lb., and to this arrangement we had to give in.

The summit of the Chilcoot is twenty miles distant from the coast, the rise beginning at Finnigan's Point and continuing gradually for three miles until the mouth of the cañon is reached; but then comes halfa-dozen miles of stiff ascent between that and Sheep Camp. Unfortunately for us the snow had begun to fall, and thus our progress was attended with great danger, especially on the precipitous parts of the route. Each horse's pack consisted of 250 lb., and, considering the nature of the trail, it appeared to be far too much. The trail roughly follows the valley of the Dyea river; but at the mouth of the cañon, which

stretches to a point near Sheep Camp, the real difficulties of the way began. The river could no longer be followed, and the horses had to strike a trail over the face of a precipitous mountain that flanks the valley. At this stage the dangerous nature of the journey was but too evident: one false step meant being dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks a hundred, sometimes even a thousand, feet beneath. Many horses had met their fate here: at one point I counted over fifty carcasses lying on the cruel rocks, where they had fallen some weeks before.

We got safely over, however, although it did appear to me miraculous that we succeeded in doing so without mishap. From time to time one of the horses would slip and recover itself by a supreme effort. We dared not lead them, but had to leave the sagacious animals to pick their own way; and this they did very carefully, sometimes pausing with one foot uplifted, or vainly pawing the slippery rocks to obtain a secure footing. The river flowed so deep between the cavernous rocks that it was for the most part invisible.

As we neared Sheep Camp the timber became more and

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »