The First One There: Bogle’s Journey

  • Laurie Hovell McMillin


everyone loves Bogle. That is, among the many European travelers who have gone to Tibet in the past two centuries, Bogle is the favorite ofmany scholars andTibetophiles. In 1906,Thomas Holdich noted:

Bogle was an excellent observer, and possessed the rare faculty of adapting himself to the manners and habits of his hosts, as well as the capability of sharing something of their outlook on the world outside Tibet, appreciating their views and to a certain extent sympathizing with them.1

Schuyler Camman commends Bogle’s “remarkable sense of observation and [his] great ability to evaluate what he saw”2 Peter Bishop finds Bogle an agreeable traveler, someone who “was always prepared to use Tibet as a springboard for criticism of Europe.”3 Because of Bogle’s character, he should be singled out. But I feel that he should also be revisited, reconsidered-or rather, his writings should. While many have admired Bogle, few have treated his account as an open book-as a text, with all the complexity such a conception invites. Instead, Bogle’s story is treated as a closed case. Part of this results from most scholars’ reliance on Clements R. Markham’s 1876 edition of Bogle’s account.4 Because of that text, Bogle remains firmly in the past, a solid and coherent figure, a product of his time.


Ironic Statement British Library East India Company Speak Subject European Custom 
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  1. 1.
    Thomas Holdich, Tibet, The Mysterious (NewYork: F. A. Stokes, 1906), p. 92.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schuyler Camman, Trade through the Himalayas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1951), p. 35.Google Scholar
  3. 3. Peter Bishop, The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Landscape (Berkeley: University of California, 1989), p. 36.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Clements R. Markham, Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa (New Delhi: Manjusri, 1971 [1876]). Others who have used Bogle’s manuscripts include Woodcock, Hugh Richardson, and Alistair Lamb.Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    David Kopf, British Orientalism and the Bengali Renaissance (Berkeley: University of California, 1969), p. 21.Google Scholar
  6. 35.
    Hayden White, Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1978), p. 73.Google Scholar
  7. 41.
    Matthew Kapstein, “A Pilgrimage of Rebirth Reborn: The 1992 Celebration of the Drigung Powa Chenmo,” Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet, ed. Melvyn Goldstein and Matthew Kapstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), p. 107.Google Scholar
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    Qtd. in Sara Suleri, The Rhetoric of English India (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1992), p. 64.Google Scholar
  9. 89.
    SeeVictorTurner, “Pilgrimages as Social Processes,” Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors:Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1974), pp. 166–230.Google Scholar
  10. 95.
    See Martin Green, Dreams of Adventure, Deeds of Empire (New York: Routledge,1980), pp. 8–10.Google Scholar

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© Laurie Hovell McMillin 2001

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  • Laurie Hovell McMillin

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