Puteshestvie cherez Mongoliiu v Tibet, k stolitse Tale-lamy
[A Journey across Mongolia to Tibet, and the Capital of the Dalai-Lama. Translated from the French] Moscow K.S. Henry, 1866
First edition in Russian Octavo, pp.[ii], vi, 322, [ii]. Period style half calf and marbled boards, spine ruled in gilt in compartments with dark green lettering piece. Rather spotted as usual, a few ink stains. Red Chinese chop on title. A very good copy. Russian newspaper clipping (1880's) about Russian travel to Mongolia and Baikal bound in after the Table of contents.
Huc and Gabet's account of their travels undertaken in 1844-46 was first published in Paris in 1850 as Souvenirs d'un voyage dans la Tartarie, le Thibet et la Chine, and proved so popular that it was soon reprinted and translated into several European languages. Évariste Régis, or Abbé Huc, 1813-1868, was a French missionary who travelled extensively in China, Tartary and Tibet. He was sent to China in 1839 as a Lazarist missionary. In 1844 Bishop Martial Mouly, Vicar Apostolic of Mongolia, ordered Huc and his brother Joseph Gabet, 1808 - c.1850, to explore the mission territory and study the customs of the nomadic Mongol tribes. The party, which included Huc, Gabet and a young Mongour priest who had embraced Christianity, assumed the dress of lamas. They took 18 months to reach Lhasa, and were the first Europeans to do so after Thomas Manning. En route they crossed the Yellow River, Ordos Desert, Gansu province, and stayed for three months at Kunbum Lamasery, where they studied the Tibetan language and Buddhist literature. They then joined a Tibetan embassy returning from Peking. Crossing the desert of Koko Nor (Qinghai), they passed the great Koko Nor Lake, with its island of contemplative lamas. After a difficult journey across snow-covered mountains, they entered Lhasa on January 29, 1846. Favourably received by the regent, they were allowed to open a little chapel. They had begun to establish their mission when Qishan, the Chinese resident interceded. During the First Opium War (1839-1842) Qishan, then the governor of Zhili province, had entered into negotiations with Captain Charles Elliot, first at Dagu, then at Canton. Qishan had been degraded, sentenced to death, reprieved, and sent to Tibet as imperial commissioner. Sensing potential trouble if Huc and Gabet were to reach India from Tibet, Qishan expelled them from Lhasa on February 26, 1846 under guard. Following an official inquiry into their motives for being in Tibet, they were officially escorted to Canton in October, 1846 (Catholic Encyclopaedia on-line, Wikipedia). Huc's works are written in an entertaining and informative style, securing for them an unusual degree of popularity. However, his esteem for Tibetan manners and religion was not welcomed by his Church: "The late Abbé Huc pointed out the similarities between Buddhist and Catholic ceremonial with such a naïveté, that, to his surprise, he found his delightful 'Travels in Thibet' placed on the 'Index'" (Wikipedia).