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George Forrest Collection Litton, George
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Incomplete letter from George Forrest to Clementina Traill [December 1904-January 1905]

[Incomplete, pages numbered 5-12] Continues from his last letter at Chong Ku on the Chung Tien plateau. Forced to turn back at Chung Tien as pass at Attunze blocked by snow; took a new route back to Tali, going right down the plateau to the Yangtse, ‘…a part never traversed by Europeans before and had to make voluminous notes on the way regarding the character of country and people, elevations, direction and character of roads and streams, distances of villages from each other …These were for Mr Litton and will be incorporated in a report to be sent into Government. I suppose this is in view of the time when we will annex the province of Yunnan, which day, from the way Litton and Wilkinson talk seems not very far distant.’ From Hsia Chung Tien was accompanied by one of the headmen ‘in full war paint’; detailed description of this man’s bejewelled sword and scabbard. After four hard days reached junction of Chung Tien river and Yangtse, passing through Do qou Tien, Si Chu-qo, Kung Hsi sha, Hy pa low, Made-si-pi, Quan-sa-ba, Chow-tu and La-tsa-ku. Travelled from there up the right bank of the Yangtse north to Mu-pi-wan opposite A Hsi; detailed description and sketch showing junction of valley of Hy-pa-low with valley of Chung Tien. Main peak of mountain range estimated at c.20,000 feet. Returned to Tali via Lichiang valley, Lichiang, Hsi Ho, Hoching, Sung Kwei, Rang Kung valley and Nui Kai. Plants referenced: Pine (pp.10-11)

Forrest, George

Incomplete letter from George Forrest to Clementina Traill [October 1904]

[Incomplete, pages numbered 9-50] Sending home seeds, some of which were immature when gathered and may not germinate; regrets all photographs spoiled by damp. Left Tali [Dali] on 29 August and lists most important places on his route. Description of road north of Tali and huge burial ground between road and mountains; burial customs and sketches (2) of sepulchre; flimsy graves fall to pieces and bodies are devoured by dogs. Corrupt system of ‘squeezing’ whereby government officials who collect taxes impose large sums, only a small proportion of which reach the treasury; a row over this practice had brought Mr Litton north to the annual horse fair at Sung Kwei [Songgui?]; unsuccessful attempt to delay them from reaching Sung Kwei by thieves who stole Forrest’s pony and two mules; capture and punishment of thief; number of animals at horse fair far in excess of that disclosed by local officials. Journey north into Hoching Valley, Lichiang [Lijiang] Valley, Lashi Valley and Yangtse Valley; first sight of Yangtse river; description of ferry crossing. From Mu Pi Wan three days were spent going up the right bank of the Yangtse, noting time, distances, character of people and country, number of villages and direction, as they were the first Europeans to travel there. ‘I felt quite like an explorer.’ From Ki ho Wan ascended into hills by tremendous gorge and pass reaching 15,000 feet; three miles of level boggy ground about one mile broad and enclosed with pine wood and bare peaks still higher than the pass. ‘Here I got my first seeds for Bulley and specs [specimens] for Ikey [Isaac Bayley Balfour].’ Descended to Chung Tien plateau, noting plants, including a species of carduus growing abundantly in very swampy ground. Arrival at village of Hsia Chung Tien in Tibet where they stayed at the head man’s house, attracting people from miles around; lack of privacy; description of head man’s appearance, Litton’s fever, game shooting, first sight of a lamasery. Continued NW to Tang Tui, Chiao Ton and Yangtse river, crossing by ferry to Pang Tzu La then NE towards the Kari pass. Descended into Shupa valley, then SE to She Zo and Hsia Zo and over the dividing range of the Yangtse and Mekong basins; reached summit at elevation of nearly 16,000 feet. Descended to Mekong valley and town of Yeh Chih [Yezhi]. Travelled north along the right bank of the Mekong towards Ba Ti; description of road ‘bracketed’ into sides of cliff as it ran through gorges with perpendicular cliffs; detailed description of rope and sling method of crossing river (2 sketches). Arrival at Tzekou [Cigu] Mission to warm reception from the French Fathers who ‘have a large number of converts and practically rule over a territory almost as large as Scotland. They take in all the land between the Salween and Mekong for nearly 100 miles north and south from the station. V. anxious for the British to take over their territory.’ Mission had been attacked 18 months previously by tribe from other side of the Salween, thought to have been encouraged by the Chinese. Much information on local flowers provided by the Fathers who had been collecting for the Paris Herbarium. Forrest keen to collect from range behind Tzekou and obtain seeds for Bulley. Refers to a specially fine species of lily, five feet high with long, white, highly perfumed red spotted flowers. Continued from Tzekou to Yeh Chih and south down the Mekong valley to Ta Chiao and a small mission, a branch of the Tzekou Mission, then on down the Mekong and SE up the valley of the Wei Hsi river to the town of Wei Hsi [Weixi]. Before crossing the range to the Yangtse officials offered them soldiers for protection against a very wild tribe of Lissoo who use crossbows and poisoned arrows. ‘… the Chinese are awfully scared of them.’ Reached summit of 14,000 feet then crossed a plateau covered in gentians; descended to Lu Tien and banks of Yangtse near Chu Tien, south to Tzu Ko and Shih Ku, into Mekong basin, Shiu-ho, Chien Chuan, Niu Kai, Teng Chuan valley, Teng Chuan Ho to Tali. Proposes to remain there till 8 November then go off for six weeks, then back to Tali, then down to Yunnan fu, back to Tali again and then up to Tzekou.
Plants referenced include Azalea (pp.29, 37,44); Barley (p.29); Buckwheat (p.29); Carduus (p.29); Clematis (p.35); Fritillary (p.28); Gentian (pp.27-29,44, 47); Lily (p.44); Orchid (p.11); Pine (pp.27, 28, 36); Polygonum (p.29); Primula (pp.27-28, 37, 44-45); Rhododendron (pp.29, 37, 44); Saxifrage (pp.27-29)

Forrest, George

Letter from George Forrest to Clementina Traill in the form of diary describing journey from Bhamo to Teng Yueh [Tengchong], 13 July to 12 August 1904.

Letter in form of diary from George Forrest to Clementina Traill describing his journey from Bhamo to Teng Yueh [Tengchong], 13 July to 12 August 1904. Itinerary included Momauk, Namtubbi river, Kalichet, Khulongkha, Mamkha Kha, Namkhokha, Khulikha, Nam Sa Ho, Man Hsien, Lung Chang Kai, Chin Cheng, Lang Kwu Kwsi, Teng Yueh. 13-14 July – Difficulties with muleteers unwilling to set out in rain; encounter with whip snakes; cane huts at Momauk; insanitary conditions; rampant cholera; fireflies. 15 July – Description of scenery; sketch of mule panniers and box saddle. 16 July – Magnificent scenery but very dangerous steep road. Two ground orchids gathered at elevation of c.4,500 feet but unable to dry and press them owing to damp. 17 July – Long day in blazing sun and moist heat; jungle swarming with monkeys. 18 July – Heavy rain, river too full to cross; return to camp. 19 July – Soaking rain; wishes he had taken advice to postpone journey for a month. 20 July – Arrival at Chinese border; description of dress and weapons of frontier guards. Unable to cross river at Nam Sa Ho; building of bridge by 50 coolies; visit from local headmen and description of their dress. 25 July – Bad roads on way to Man Hsien; passed through village bazaar where ‘the filth and stench are completely beyond my powers of description’. 26 July – Description of rice terraces, villages, their houses and layout; slept overnight in temple. 27 July – Awakened around 4am by priest beating a tom-tom and ringing a bell; burning of joss sticks; people arriving to say prayers while Forrest was dressing and having breakfast. 30 July – His first meal of real Chinese food, heavily soaked in pork fat; kept awake by a theatrical performance ‘a sort of marionette show, with the shadows of the figures being cast on a screen … In fact a sort of glorified Punch and Judy business.’ 1 August – Men refuse to budge, owing to rain. Regrets missing Mr Litton, the Honorary Consul, who passed through very early en route to Man Hsien. 3 August – Arrival in Teng Yueh. 4-12 August –Resting in Teng Yueh. Hospitable reception by Mr Litton, Hon Cecil Napier, Chief Commissioner of Customs and his two assistants; description of the town and its market; although safe, it is always necessary to go armed and with an escort of Chinese soldiers ‘…the people in some quarters are very insulting still, although they are afraid to do much.’ Invited by Litton to go north with him to the borders of Tibet where the mountains range from 14,000 to 20,000 feet. No-one has worked so far north before and Forrest should get among the alpine plants.

Forrest, George

Letter from George Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour

Letter from George Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour dated 06 September 1904, in which Forrest describes the difficult journey from Bhamo to Teng Yueh [Tengchong], owing to atrocious weather; hospitable reception by Mr Litton, the consul. Travelled to Tali [Dali] with Mr Litton but has not yet found the plants required by Mr Bulley. Continuing to Tseku [Cigu] on the borders of Tibet where mountains are higher. Describes primula, saxifrage and gentian, some of the specimens already collected but regrets the loss of others owing to mildew. Promises to send a copy of his journal and do all in his power to add to the Herbarium collection.