Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/349

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279
URGA, THE SACRED CITY

departed. It was to appease his wounded vanity that a Russian official presented him with a motor-car which had been brought to Urga at vast expenditure of effort and money. When I asked what he could have been expected to do with it, for roads there were none, the answer was that to the divine one with fifteen thousand lamas to do his bidding, anything was possible. A road was, indeed, constructed to the Bogdo's summer retreat, a few miles away, but alas! no chauffeur was supplied with the motor-car, and it would not run of itself. When I passed through Urga last year I was told that the undaunted Bogdo had ordered a second car, fully equipped with chauffeur and all, from America, which was even then at Tientsin, so by now he may be getting stuck in the muddy lanes of the Sacred City,—unless he has put away such childish things to take up the farce of governing Mongolia under Russian guidance.

For more than three hundred years Lamaism has held Mongolia in its grip, checking the development of the country, sapping the vitality and self-respect of the people. More even than every other man you meet is a lama, for it is estimated, by those who know the situation best, that five eighths of the men are lamas, red or yellow, and the evil is on the increase. At least, two generations ago Abbé Huc placed the proportion at one in three. But lamas are not all of one sort. There are those who live in com-