« AnteriorContinuar »
units thus reported proved, regard to this epoch-marking however, to be our friends the battle up to the present has not converted cruisers. But a liner been sufficiently elucidative to which was making the passage eradicate a certain amount of from Nagasaki to Shanghai presumption from any descripreported having passed two tion that we may attempt of the Russian second-class cruisers. great battle. But there seems This information was all that to be an impression amongst was vouchsafed on Saturday certain interviewed Japanese night the 27th of May. Every naval officers that the Russian one interested in this titanic armada changed its course after struggle went to bed on that sighting the Liau-kiau group, Saturday night convinced that with the express object of deludthe next twenty-four hours ing Togo into the belief that the would produce information of passage northward was a mere å naval shock unparalleled in feint. We doubt if this be true. the history of the seas. Nor But we rather lean to the view had they miscalculated, but that once Rojdestvensky had there were very very few who made Quelpart, he found that could have judged of the terrific the coast of Korea was shrouded nature of the issues which were in fog. Quelpart having given settled in Japanese waters, or him his bearing, he determined could have imagined that by to force the Korean Straits, Monday morning the proud fleet Togo or no Togo, fog or no fog, which had sailed in October
From the standfrom the Baltic, flaunting all point of pure heroics it was and sundry that came in its doubtless a fine resolve, but in way, should have suffered com- the interests of the 15,000 souls plete annihilation. It was on board his fleet, and in the sequel the like of which not matter of the sacred necessity even the most sanguine had to his country, it is hardly the anticipated.
we pointed manouvres that we would have out last month, we had no suggested. Rojdestvensky no
to fear for the final doubt regulated his course so success of the Japanese on sea, as to make the peak on Quelbut even we never anticipated part Island by daybreak on the that Admiral Togo would be 27th, or he may have cruised able to bring his fighting fleet in the vicinity since the afterback to its anchorages in Japan noon of the 26th. As Quelpart practically complete in all its on the map is about one hundred units.
and twenty miles west of TsuThe actual course that the shima, twelve hours at ten Russians steered after they left knots would have brought the coast of Batan is not quite Rojdestvensky into action just certain, but it is probable that about the hour given in once the fleet was clear of Togo's official report. Once Formosa it headed for Quel- the Russian admiral had depart. The information which termined to force the Straits, has reached this country with there were three passages open
sea or no sea.
to him. Korea is separated east had raised a heavy sea. The from Japan by barely one warmer winds from the south hundred miles of water. Two caused the usual spring mists to groups of islands help to bridge envelop the horizon to the norththis narrow channel. These west, indicating the coast-line groups are Tsushima to the of Korea and all the dangers north and Ikishima to the in lurking destroyers it might south.
Consequently there conceal. Due north, Mount were three channels in these Auckland raised itself, a yellow Korean Straits which were and white peak, clear of the open to Rojdestvensky: Brough- shroud of vapour which ton Channel north of Tsushima, veloped the lower cliff-line of Oriental Channel separating Quelpart. As the sun rose, Tsushima from Ikishima, and the colour of the seas changed the ordinary trade channel be- from dull grey to blue. In the tween Ikishima and the main- midst of all this crispness of land, which latter, in the circum- spring atmosphere and beauty stances, was naturally out of the of scene, the Baltic Fleet, the question. A glance at the coast- last hope of Russia in the Far line which encloses these chan- East, was steaming to its doom. nels is sufficient to demonstrate With his two squadrons in line the terrible risks which were ahead steering parallel courses, undertaken by the Russian the battleships to port and the fleet in its paucity in cruisers cruisers to starboard, with the and torpedo craft. Both coast- transports and repair ships lines furnish innumerable an- between the lines, Rojdestchorages, and the
passage vensky set his teeth and steered being controlled by the observa- for Tsushima, the great bluff tion posts on the two central clump of sentinel rock which groups of islands, it would be the "switch-board” of impossible to imagine a more all Togo's intelligence. Never effective sea area for torpedo before in the history of sea tactics.
Apparently in the warfare had necessity dictated morning the mists were heavy a simpler stratagem.
But it enough to conceal Togo’s fleet. was a majestic sight. The Two divisions of this fleet were imagination can conjure up lying in the vicinity of the the picture. The line of Broughton Channel, in two of dead - black - painted battlethe many anchorages in the ships, eleven of them, weatherMasampo Archipelago.
stained and smoke-begrimed, It is possible to picture in conforming to the direction of the mind's eye the impressive the Kniaz - Suvaroff ; followed spectacle of the great Russian by the three squat coast-defence armada heading directly for ships, wallowing in uncertain Japan's territorial waters on alignment in the troughs of that beautiful but fateful morn- the heavy seas.
Half a mile ing. All accounts agree that to starboard the ancient arthe weather was fine, though moured cruisers followed in the a strong breeze from the south- wake of the Admiral Nakhimoff,
making with difficulty, though waiting and preparing for the tide and sea were with them, last three months was at hand, the ten knots which kept them and the three main squadabreast of the flag-ship. Be- rons, under the command of Adhind them the more modern mirals Togo, Kamimura, and and smaller protected cruisers, Kata-oka respectively, shaped kicking and plunging in the their courses to their appointed lumpy sea, as if protesting at stations. It had been evident the little flutter of bunting to the commander of the Idzumo from the Kniaz-Suvaroff, which that AdmiralRojdestvensky was kept them churning their pro- steering for the Straits to the pellers behind three obsolete south of Tsushima. The main iron coffins when they should point in Togo's stratagem was have been patrolling the pass- to allow his adversary into the age now looming up in front Japan Sea, and there, by virtue of them. Majestically, with the of his own superior speed, to inmorning sun to their backs, the tern him, and then destroy him armada ploughed eastwards. at his own convenience. The About seven o'clock the cruiser Japanese entered into the squadron was able to make out struggle with every confidence. on its starboard beam the out. They had the self-reliance built line of a warship disentangling up of the knowledge that they itself from the horizon mist. had already destroyed Its three funnels proclaimed Russian fleet superior to their the newcomer to be of the own in weight and numbers, Idzumo class, and the Vladimir they had all the advantages Monomakh, which was steam- of pace and position, and every ing third in the Russian line, one of their heavy guns had was ordered to deal with the been replaced. intruder. These two vessels ex- Precisely at eleven o'clock changed the first shots of the the Japanese Third Squadron in great battle of Tsushima; but the following order, the Kasuga, the Japanese cruiser had not Niitaka, Chitose, and the Tsuyet come to fight,--she stayed shima, appeared on the port bo long enough to finally satisfy of the Russian Battle Squadron. herself as to the formation, As they manouvred on this flank course, and exact composition the Russian admiral possibly of Rojdestvensky's fleet, and anticipated that the object of then disappeared back into the their maneuvre was to cut off mists out of which she had the transports and impedimenta come, transmitting information squadron; he therefore ordered to the admiral as she went. the Nicholas I. and Sissoi Veliki
Togo could not have wished to attend to Kata-oka's cruisers. for other information. Rojdest- A little long-range firing from vensky was playing absolutely the Russian Second Battle into his hands. Cables were Squadron, and the protected slipped, and by ten o'clock the cruisers sheered off. Almost Japanese fleet was at sea. The immediately, having passed the crisis for which they had been Straits of Tsushima, the Russian
Central Asia, will be in any another has disseminated haste to say that the Urga- Russian influence, and possibly Kalgan line is a physical im- something
among the Mongolian princes In the light of the future and of the eastern tribes. At the of past events in Manchuria it time of the
the writer's visit is a problem of the deepest in- Russia was represented by M. terest, at any rate to soldiers, Schismaroff, who, like not a to consider what might have few of the versatile and capable been the result in the present public servants of the Czar, war had a few years more is not of pure Russian extracbeen allowed to Russia to tion. To his intimate acquaintdevelop and mature her strat- ance with their character and egical railways in and around customs was no doubt due a that unfortunate country. considerable portion of his sucThat any such line will now cess in moulding the native be built is unlikely. That is element he was called upon to to say, if China is wise. At handle. the present time she is engaged The approach to Urga from in pushing on what would have the south, as seen in the early been the last 150 miles of the rains, is decidedly picturesque. Russian line, the portion from Riding in, the country was Pekin to Kalgan
to Kalgan — this in everywhere covered with order to connect the Mongolian beautiful carpet of fresh green plateau and borderland with turf, which, following suddenly the capital. From time im- upon the bare expanse of stony memorial the ancient caravan desert, was most comforting route has passed this way, to the eyes. After the eternal traversing the Nankou pass. flatness of the last month it And if only the Chinese could was indeed a treat to pass be sufficiently far-seeing, and over rolling green hills heavily possessed the necessary strength wooded in a darker shade, of purpose to keep the entire which contrasted in colour as capital in their own hands, nature alone knows how to this new line, through its paint. Anything more bearing upon modern trading like what imagination pictures enterprise at Tientsin and the deserts of Mongolia to Pekin, should, by the profits be it is hard to imagine. it earns, go far to reconcile the The town itself, though town Chinese to railway enterprise in the European sense it is not, in the interior.
lies on the north side of a Urga is situated the small river, by name the Tola. northern edge of the so-called The valley through which the Gobi desert, in Eastern Mon- river flows is shut in by hills golia. To Russia it has for towards the east, and varies à long time past been a valu- from a mile to one and a half able base from whence
mile in breadth. Strictly able political agent after speaking neither a town, a
city, nor a village, Urga is a world, worldly. Possessing not collection of yurts 1 and wooden a few traits which it might be houses, sprinkled with Lama thought must discredit his godtemples, the former surrounded like attributes in the eyes of as a rule by heavy log palings the Buddhist faithful, this exeight to ten feet high. The traordinary being yet remains Russian settlement, in which the spiritual god of millions. was the European-built Russian To mention one only of such Consulate as well as the Cos- characteristics — he is unable sack fort, lies in the eastern to provide himself with the part of the town. The fort various objects upon which consisted of a modest earth- his ever-changing fancy settles work, whose ditch was pro- without having recourse to tected by a barbed - wire en- the vulgar method of paying tanglement and trous-de-loups. for the same in brick tea, the
From the native standpoint "hard cash " of the surrounding the distinction enjoyed by Urga country. Yet considerations –or, to give its native name, Ta such as these do not enter into Kuren or Bogdo Kuren, mean- the minds of the simple Moning the sacred encampment, gols, who revere his name.
. lies in the fact that it is the Should any such disturbing earthly abode of their Ever- thought flash through some living God or Kutukhtu. To more than usually inquisitive Mongols, Urga ranks next to brain, who is there to offer an Lhassa in sacred character, as answer ? Of a certainty not containing the third figure in the common Lama. His busithe Thibetan patriarchate. In ness, so far as he can make it, the doctrine of the Lamas, as is with his own concerns : how is well known, these earthly he shall live, not how he shall impersonations of God can die; what the morrow may never die, but are reincarnated bring forth ; what he shall by the passing of their souls eat and what he shall drink. after death into new-born in- Though it is true that as yet fants. At the time of the he confines himself to a scrip writer's visit the Ever-living and perhaps a staff, it is God was represented by a only because the possession of young man whose age was not these satisfies all his present yet thirty. He lived in a re- needs. plica of the Russian Consulate, It was a day of good luck from whose representative, pos- which afforded the writer the sibly, his abode was a votive chance of studying in the flesh offering. Any personification such a remarkable entity as of the deity was said to be con- one of the spiritual heads of fined to public life. In private the Buddhist religion. Nor it was whispered he was of the was the setting of the picture
1 Yurt=a circular tent used by Mongols, Khirghiz, and such nomad tribes. The framework is of crossed sticks, the covering felt. VOL. CLXXVIII. —NO. MLXXVII.