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Notes of a Journey in 1873 in the Russian Province of Turkistan, the Khanates of Rhokan and Bokhara, and Provinces of Kuldja

   Travels in Turkistan in Rhokan, Bokhara, and Kuldja
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Below is a review of Eugene Schuyler's Turkistan: Notes of a Journey in 1873 in the Russian Province of Turkistan, the Khanates of Rhokan and Bokhara, and Provinces of Kuldja, originally published in 1876. The review itself is contemporary with the book and provides and interesting perspective on how Schuyler's travels were perceived in his own time. (Turkistan or Turquistan later was usually spelled as Turkestan.)

It is a rare privilege to visit such a strange country as Turkistan in company with so trustworthy a traveler, so cool-headed and accurate an observer, and so skillful a writer as Mr. Eugene Schuyler. Although young in years, Mr. Schuyler is already a veteran in the diplomatic service. Graduating at Yale College in the class of 1859 with high honors, he practiced law in New York city for several years, contributing largely to the "Nation," and other literary journals, and then went abroad as Consul at Moscow. This post he filled for two or three years, until transferred to Revel.

On his way thither he passed through St. Petersburg, and Governor Curtin, who had just arrived there as Minister, prevailed upon him to accept the place of Secretary of Legation. This difficult post Mr. Schuyler filled with such ability and fidelity, that the Ministers who succeeded each other at that court found it impossible to dispense with his services, until, by his own choice, he was lately appointed Secretary of Legation and also Consul-General at Constantinople, where he has devoted himself to the study of the Eastern question from another point of view with such industry as to increase still further his already wide reputation in England as well as in this country.

His clear, accurate, and dispassionate statements regarding the atrocities perpetrated in Bulgaria, it will be remembered, did more than the reports of their own agents to shape the sentiment of the English people, and so to arouse their indignation as to force the British Government to modify seriously its attitude toward the Turks. One who can speak with such weight and authority deserves attention at all times, and especially when he discusses a question with which he is so thoroughly familiar as the recent attempts by Russia to push her boundaries far down into Central Asia. In these volumes we have an exhaustive discussion of the bearings and actual significance of the famous campaign undertaken by Russia in 1873, which, terminated in the fall of Khiva.

It is easy to see, as we read these substantial volumes, why Mr. Schuyler should have preferred to anticipate their appearance by a withdrawal from the Russian Court; for otherwise his criticisms of the policy of that government must have been much less frank and unreserved, and, as a consequence, his work would have been robbed of its greatest value to one desirous of arriving at a clear understanding of the designs of Russia in the East. This important question is by far too complicated to make it possible to discuss it here, or even to present a summary of Mr. Schuyler's views. We must, therefore, content ourselves with the consideration of "Turkistan" simply as a book of travel. As such, it is by far the most dignified and important contribution made of late years by any American to this class of literature.

Amazing industry in the collection of facts and statistics is supplemented by a keen eye for everything that is novel and picturesque among the semi-civilized tribes which the traveler visited, while a clear style, and a narrative which, although graphic, is always self-contained and never exaggerated, impress one with the perfect trustworthiness and accuracy of every description and statement. In visiting Turkistan, Mr. Schuyler by no means ventured upon untrodden ground. Stoddart, Thomson, Wolff, Abbott, Vambery, and Shaw, are a few out of nearly forty travelers who have penetrated Central Asia since the beginning of the eighteenth century, and who have left records of their observations and adventures; but high as the compliment may seem, it is literally true that Mr. Schuyler's work surpasses all that has preceded it in thoroughness as well as in the literary skill which narratives of travel so often lack.

In gleaning some of the more striking incidents and descriptions from Mr. Schuyler's pages, we shall, therefore, allow him, as far as possible, to tell his story in his own words, subjecting his narrative to such abridgment, when we draw upon it, as our space compels. To attempt to follow Mr. Schuyler step by step in his extended journey would be impossible within our present limits. More than this, it would involve us in a wilderness of names of localities, only to be found upon the admirable maps which accompany these volumes. We shall, therefore, sketch his route in a general way, and then touch only upon the more interesting and curious passages of his experiences and observations as they are here detailed.

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A Street in Tashkent

Vambery - England in the Orient
Foreign retirees in Manchuria
First Japanese Buddhist Temple in America
Japanese priest crosses desert to Tibet
An early traveler in Egypt
Waiting in Ulaan Baatar
Central Asia after the battle at Penjdeh
Underground City near Bokhara
A Galician Jew POW in Siberia

   Travels in Turkistan in Rhokan, Bokhara, and Kuldja

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