George Bogle (1747-1781) and Francis Younghusband (1863-1942) are names writ large in the history of the European encounter with Tibet. They were, however, very different characters living in very different eras. In 1774 Bogle, a young Scotsmen in the employ of the East India Company, was despatched by the then Governor Warren Hastings to Tibet via Bhutan. Instructed by Hastings to acquire information of both commercial and ethnographic character, he became the first British traveller to enter Tibet. Although Chinese opposition prevented him from reaching Lhasa (the Tibetan capital), the amiable Scot was able to befriend both Bhutan’s rulers and Tibet’s second highest religious figure, the Panchen Lama. Younghusband, by contrast, lead a British-Indian diplomatic mission to Lhasa in 1904. His mission was effectively an invasion, for he travelled with a large military escort, whose modern weaponry overwhelmed token resistance from the antiquated Tibetan army. Bogle and Younghusband have both been the subject of a number of works that have established their biographies, achievements and essential characters. Gordon Stewart’s Journeys to Empire now uses the two men to anchor an exploration of the contested relationship between Enlightenment and the Empire; with, at the risk of oversimplifying the argument,
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2013
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