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George Forrest Collection
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Photocopy letter from John Abercromby to Isaac Bayley Balfour

Photocopy of letter sent by John Abercromby, Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland to Isaac Bayley Balfour, dated 21 June 1903; Asks if Balfour knows of any person or society wanting a collector of botanical specimens abroad. Recommends ‘a young fellow of the name of Forrest’ who looks ‘the right sort of man.’

Map of the Upper Salween used in George Forrest's article in the Geographical Journal, 1908

one map used in Forrest's article describing the geography and people of the Upper Salween during his visit there with Consul George Litton in late 1905. The article was published by the Royal Geographical Society in 1908 with this accompanying map, and again by the National Geographical Society in 1910.

Royal Geographical Society

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 28 October 1904 in which he states he has been to Tzekou [Tsekou; Cigu] in Tibet, on the Mekong; gives itinerary of journey and details of seeds collected, about 100 species, including primulas, three species of androsace but only one gentian. Consignment has gone to Mr Bulley and also 150 or 200 specimens to Prof Balfour. Asks him not to tell Bulley about the specimens which ‘I am collecting for my own pleasure and in my spare time and they are a free gift to you.’

Letter from George Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour

Letter from George Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour dated 08 November 1904 in which Forrest confirms the despatch of 380 plant specimens collected on his recent journey to Tzekou [Cigu]. Next trip will be to the north of the Lichiang [Lijiang] valley, working the range of mountains which cause the Yangtze bend and along the base of an immense glacier on the eastern slope of the Lichiang peak. If this proves unproductive he will go on again to the Chung Tien plateau which he and Litton were the first Europeans to visit. Believes the range forming the Mekong and Salween divide to be exceptionally rich in rhododendrons, azaleas, gentians, primulas and a five foot tall lilium with immense white bloom marked in red and highly perfumed. Specimens have been collected by the missionary fathers at Tzekou who will send bulbs to Balfour and Bulley via consul Litton. Describes journey north into Tibet with Litton, leaving Talifu [Dali] on 29 August, returning 53 days later, having covered around 1000 miles. On being mobbed at the horse fair at Sung Kwei they had to draw their revolvers in defence but had some horses and mules stolen. Gives details of their route to and from Tibet, describing plants and vegetation and a river crossing by sling bridge, illustrated by a sketch. Has felt depressed since returning to Tali, probably a reaction to so much travel and constant exposure to wet conditions and extremes of heat and cold. Regrets that all his photographs were spoiled by dampness and intends to ask Bulley for a supply of photographic plates. Confirms that there is a pine belt in Yunnan and part of Tibet, generally starting at about 9,500 feet and continuing to about 15,000 feet.

Letter from Grace Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour

Letter from Grace Forrest to Isaac Bayley Balfour dated 18 November 1904 sending a copy of her brother’s diary of his journey from Bhamo to Tali [Dali]. Her last news was from Tibet where ‘Mr Litton and he were suffering greatly from the changes of atmosphere’.

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