Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/146

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124

BRIGANDAGE; CHANCES OF SUCCESS;

remained in their power, so that Kan-su was not entirely lost to China. The territories held by the respective combatants were not only in contact, but sometimes actually overlapped each other, neither side taking decisive measures to drive the other out.

In this position of affairs petty pillaging and brigandage became the primary object of the revolted Mussulmans. And in the absence of nobler motives, these practices speedily led to the decline of their cause, ere it had time to acquire a sound political basis. Instead of advancing in a compact body beyond the Yellow River direct on Peking, and settling beneath its very walls the question of the existence of an independent Mahommedan state in the east of Asia, they dissipated their forces in the movements of small independent bands, chiefly bent on plunder.

Had they acted in a resolute way they might have had a good chance of success. To say nothing of the cowardice and demoralisation of the Chinese forces, the Hwei-Hwei or Mussulmans would have found a powerful support among their co-religionists, who are animated by the bitterest hatred to the Manchu, and would gladly have joined their ranks. If it be remembered that I slam ism numbers from 3½ to 4 millions[1] of adherents in China Proper, superior in energy and religious organisation, it can scarcely [2]

  1. According to an approximate calculation by the Archimandrite Palladius, a distinguished sinologue. See 'Labours of the Peking Mission,' 1866, vol. iv. p. 450.
  2. tsin is one of his halting-places (ii. 32), and if so the true place is very doubtful. — Y.