Views in India, chiefly among the Himalaya Mountains

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HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS, INDIA.

Drawn from Nature by

George F. White, Esq. 31st Regt.

Views in India 0009.png

Runjeet Singh's encampment, near Roopur, on the Sutlej.

 

VIEWS IN INDIA,

chiefly among the

HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS.

 

by

LIEUT. GEORGE FRANCIS WHITE,
OF THE 31st REGT.
&c. &c.


edited by
EMMA ROBERTS.

 

"I HAVE BEHELD NEARLY ALL THE CELEBRATED SCENERY OF EUROPE, WHICH POETS AND PAINTERS HAVE IMMORTALIZED, AND OF WHICH ALL THE TOURISTS IN THE WORLD ARE ENAMOURED; BUT I HAVE SEEN IT SURPASSED IN THESE UNFREQUENTED AND ALMOST UNKNOWN REGIONS."

CAPT. SKINNER'S JOURNAL OF A TOUR IN THE HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS.

 

FISHER, SON, AND CO., LONDON & PARIS.

 

 

PREFACE.

In offering the following series of Views to the public, it would be superfluous to descant upon the extraordinary degree of interest which they possess, illustrating, as they do, a portion of our Indian territories hitherto little known, and comprising the most splendid Mountain Scenery which can be found throughout the world. The Publishers have spared neither pains nor cost in the Engravings, which have been got up at a vast expense (£2,400), from Drawings executed on the spot by an enterprising and accomplished traveller. The difficulties and dangers attendant upon a journey through the Himalaya, to the sources of the Ganges and Jumna, will be gathered from the ensuing pages; and the Views, taken by Lieut. White, in addition to their spirit and fidelity, must be highly valued by all who can appreciate the ardour and energy which could alone have produced them, amid the toils, fatigues, and even perils of his Mountain Tour. The descriptive portion must speak for itself; its accuracy may be relied upon, and it will be found to contain much new and interesting information concerning the alpine regions of the East.


London, 1837.

 

LIST OF PLATES.

page

Runjeet Singh's Encampment at Roopur, on the river Sutlej
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •vignette
80
Rocks at Colgong on the Ganges
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •frontispiece
11
Janghera, or the Fakeer's Rock on the Ganges
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
14
Suwarree of Seiks, and View near the Sutlej River
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
16
Entrance to the Keeree Pass, leading to the Valley of Deyrah Dhoon
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
19
The Ganges entering the Plains near Hurdwar
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
23
Part of the Ghaut at Hurdwar
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
26
Mussooree, from Landour
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
31
The Snowy Range, from Landour
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
34
The Abbey and Hills, from near Mussooree
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
36
The Snowy Range, from Tyne, or Marma
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
38
Village of Mohuna, near Deobun
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
40
View near Jubberah
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
43
The Village of Naree
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
48
The Bridge at Bhurkote
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
50
View near Kursalee
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
51
The Village of Kursalee
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
53
Crossing by a Sangha, near Jumnootree
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
54
Source of the Jumna
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
56
Falls—and View near the Source—of the Jumna (two plates)
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
59
Gungootree, the Sacred Source of the Ganges
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
60
View near Deobun
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
63
Crossing the river Tonse by a Jhoola, or Rope Bridge
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
64
Village of Khandoo, on the Ascent of the Choor
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
67
Crossing the Choor Mountain
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
69
Village of Koghera and Deodar Forest, near the Choor
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
70
View at Simla
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
72
The City of Nahun, viewed from the North
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
76
Valley of the Dhoon, with the Ganges in the distance, from the Landour Ridge
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
78
Borro Boedoor
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
85
A Suttee
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
86
Fortress of Bowrie, in Rajpootana
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
87
Bombay Harbour, Fishing-boats in the Monsoon
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
88
View of Sassoor, in the Deccan
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
89
The celebrated Hindoo Temples and Palace at Madura
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
91
Scene in Kattiawar, or Katteawar, Travellers and Escort
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
92
Tombs of the Kings of Golconda
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
93

 

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS
ON
THE HIMALAYA MOUNTAINS.

The Himalaya mountains, signifying the abode of snow, form that tremendous barrier, which, stretching from the Indus on the north-west to the Bramaputra on the south-east, divides the plains of Hindostan from the wilds of Thibet and Tartary. This chain of mountains comprises numerous ranges, extending in different directions west of the Indus; one of its ramifications, running in a still more westerly direction, is known to the Afghans by the name of the Hindoo Kosh, the whole stupendous range being merely broken by the Indus. From the north-east point of Cashmere, it takes a south-eastern course, stretching along the sources of all the Punjab rivers, except the Sutlej, where it separates the hilly portion of the Lahore province from those tracts which have been designated in modern geography, Little Thibet. Still pursuing the same direction, it crosses the heads of the Ganges and Jumna, and compels their currents towards a southward channel. Farther east, the chain is supposed to be less continuous, it being the generally received opinion that it is penetrated by the Gunduck, the Arun, the Cosi, and the Teesta. Beyond the limits of Bootan, the course of the chain, extending into an unexplored country, can be traced no longer; but the supposition is in favour of its running to the Chinese sea, skirting the northern frontier of the provinces of Quangsi and Quantong, and lessening in height as it advances to the east. The portion of this extensive chain which borders Hindostan, rises to an elevation far exceeding that of any other mountains in the world, in some places forming an impassable barrier to the countries beyond, and rendering their extent a matter for conjecture only. The breadth of the snowy chain varies in different parts between the Sutlej and the Ganges; it has been estimated at about eighty miles from the plains of Hindostan to those of Thibet. The heights of this splendid barrier are unassailable by man, but in some places the beds of rivers which intersect it afford access to its wild fastnesses; and as a few penetrate the mighty mass, there is a possibility that the unceasing efforts of scientific persons may force a passage through the rocks and snows of these desert wastes. The ranges of hills extending in a southerly direction from the Himalaya, are divided into numerous principalities, to the eastward of the Sutlej—Sirmoor, Gurwall, Kumaon, Nepaul; and many others are to be found, several of which were unknown to the European inhabitants of India, previous to the Ghoorka wars of 1815, an event which has led to our present acquaintance with this highly interesting country.

There is very little level ground to be found throughout the whole of these districts, which consist entirely of a succession of exceedingly high ridges, crossing each other continually, and presenting a confusion almost wholly indescribable as they branch out from the great elevations beyond. Towards the source, if it may be so called, of the great chain, these mountainous ranges increase in height, the lowest arising abruptly from a long and gentle slope stretching to the plains. These hills are exceedingly steep and narrow at the summit, and they approach each other so closely, that excepting in Nepaul there are very few valleys, the channels that divide them being nothing more than ravines.

We are at present unacquainted with any mountains that exceed the height of the Himalaya; the Andes, long supposed to be the most gigantic in the world, being over-topped by no fewer than twenty of the peaks of these snow-crowned monarchs. Considerable as the estimate taken has been, there is great probability that if the policy of the Ghoorka government would admit of a nearer approach, we should find the heights of some of these peaks to exceed the present computation. The Dhawalagira, or the White Mountain, is supposed to be one of the loftiest; it is situated, according to the common belief, near the source of the Gunduck, and the measurement taken by scientific men employed in the survey, give it a height of 27,000 feet above the level of the sea. Many travellers well qualified to afford a very accurate guess upon the subject, are of opinion that there are peaks in the most northern portion of the Himalaya, which greatly exceed the general calculation. The following table, therefore, the result of a very careful and scientific survey, by Captains Hodson, Webb, and Herbert, may be received with confidence as affording an under, rather than an over estimate of the relative heights of these enormous peaks:—

feet.

Dhawalagiri, or the White Mountains; above the level of the sea
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
27,000
Nunda Debee, one of the Juwahir cluster of peaks, and No. 14, A, 2, of Hodson and Herbert's survey
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
25,741
Setghur, properly Swetaghur, or the White Tower north of Nepaul
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
25,261
A mountain, supposed to be Dhaibau, above Catmandoo 20,140 feet; above the sea
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
24,768
A mountain, not named, observed from Catmandoo, in the direction of Caila-Bhairava, 20,000 feet above the valley of Nepaul, and above the level of the sea
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
24,625
Another near to it, 18,662 feet above the Nepaul valley; above the level of the sea
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
23,261
A third in the vicinity, 18,451 ditto;
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
ditto
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
23,052
Two peaks, named St. George and St. Patrick, situated at the head of the Bhagiruttee, or true Ganges; calculated in Hodson and Herbert's survey—the first at
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
22,654
———— the last at
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
22,798
The two peaks of the Roodroo Himala, north-east of the Ganges, 23,390, and
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
22,906
Peaks of the Jumnootree, or Bunderpooch Mountains, (giving rise to the Jumna, the Tonse, and the Berai Gunga,) varying in elevation from 20,122, to
•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •
21,155
Also upwards of fifty inferior peaks, lying between lon. 78° and 80° East, varying from 18 to
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20,000


In clear weather, the most lofty of these mountains in the direction of Catmandoo in Nepaul, may be seen from Patna, at the distance of 160 geographical miles; while in some places, Purneah and Rejmhal, for instance, they are visible at a still more extraordinary distance, 232 English miles; a circumstance which, according to the calculation of Mr. Colebrooke, establishes their height to be at least 28,000 feet, since nothing less would render them barely discernible at that distance in the mean state of the atmosphere; although under circumstances of extraordinary refraction, a lower altitude would produce the same effect.

In consequence of their vast extent and the various difficulties, partly arising from the nature of the country, and partly from the unwillingness to admit strangers within their territories, manifested by the Ghoorka and Chinese governments, a very considerable portion of the Himalaya remains unexplored: our acquaintance, however, with this interesting country is improving every day. In addition to the numerous scientific travellers anxious to add to the stock of information already gathered by the indefatigable researches of Messrs. Colebrooke, Fraser, Webb, Raper, Hodson, Herbert, the Gerards, and Royle, hosts of idlers from the plains are continually ranging through the most accessible places, or extending their wanderings to others less known. The journals, notes, diaries, private letters, and conversation of these gentlemen, have contributed many very interesting particulars relative to the scenery, geology, &c.; and in the course of a few years we may hope, through these sources, to acquire a very correct idea of the whole of this splendid region.

We have at present an extremely limited acquaintance with the passes which intersect the snowy mountains, and conduct the traveller from one to the other: those that are known, always lead over the lowest parts of the range, at an elevation varying from 15 to 16,000 feet; between steep ascents, several thousand feet higher. The European traveller is best acquainted with the Shatool or Rol passes, near the course of the Sutlej, and the Gonass, and Bruang passes, the last named near the Paber. The former are very difficult, many travellers intending to cross, having been prevented by the bitterness of the cold, and the numerous obstacles opposing themselves to farther progress. The Shattool pass is nearly equal in height to the summit of Mont Blanc, being about 15,400 feet above the level of the sea. It is flanked by an inaccessible peak two thousand feet higher; and though the entrance to the pass is by a very gradual ascent, it becomes exceedingly abrupt and difficult of access when approaching its greatest altitude. In descending, the natives wrap a blanket tightly round them, and slide down in a sitting posture thirty or forty feet at a time; and some English gentlemen, improving on this plan, seat themselves in a large, shallow, circular, brass basin, called a chillumchee, the common apparatus for washing the hands in India; and thus, protected from too rough encounters with the rugged sides of the steep, glide down the snow with indescribable rapidity.

The Bruang pass is 15,296 feet in height, the ascent frightfully steep, and, in consequence of the rarefied nature of the air, it is impossible to proceed many yards without pausing to draw breath. The snow in the month of September is in many places a foot in depth, and the torrents rushing into the river Paber from the mountain's side are full of icicles, clinging to the frost-bound stones. In nearing the crest, very few persons are unassailed by a sensation of qualmishness, accompanied by great weakness and dizziness in the head. At the summit, the sámár, or icy wind, blows furiously; and the pass, shut in by precipitous walls, affords the most dreary prospect imaginable. The descent being abrupt, and leading down icy precipices stretching for a quarter of a mile, is very distressing, and must be slipped and slid, few places admitting of a walk—baggage, every thing, in fact, being usually rolled down to the bottom. The Hungrung pass, 14,800, is less difficult, and there are not so many complaints from those who cross it, of the rarefication of the air. In the month of August, a pool a few yards in length, upon the summit, on the northern side, was frozen hard, and the adjacent dells exhibited considerable quantities of snow. The climate, of course, differs very greatly at different periods of the year, and in different parts of the mountains, and, according to their several aspects, vegetation is found higher or lower, some of the elevations having, in consequence of their more genial situation, trees a thousand feet above those which are to be found elsewhere. The extreme height of cultivation on the southern slope of the Snowy Range, is 10,000 feet, and it is frequently necessary, at this altitude, to cut the crops before they are ripe. The habitations of men are not carried above 9,500 feet, and at 11,800 the forest ceases; bushes are found at the height of 11,400 feet, and in ravines and sheltered spots, dwarf birch and bushes creep up to 13,000 feet. On the northern side, in the valley of the Baspa river, we meet with villages at 11,400 feet, and cultivation at the same height, while the forest stretches to 13,000 feet. Advancing farther, villages are found at the same height, cultivation 400 feet higher, fine birch trees at 14,000 feet, and furze bushes, affording excellent fuel, at 17,000 feet above the level of the sea. Farther eastward, towards lake Ranasa Rovaro, we are assured, upon the authority of the Tartars, that vegetation reaches a much higher elevation. In the exterior chain to the south, where the heat is only reflected from one side, there is much less warmth than in the interior cluster, where it is given out on all sides.

We may vainly seek throughout the history of the world, for any thing approaching to a parallel with the British occupation of India; a dominion so extraordinary, that but for the stubborn nature of facts, we might almost be justified in deeming it incredible. At the beginning of the present century, the existence of the Himalaya was very imperfectly known; and at a still later period, its gigantic ranges of mountains were supposed to be inferior to those of the Andes, while so rapidly has our acquaintance with this interesting region been extended, that in the course of the last fifteen years their altitudes have been measured, and every approachable recess explored.

Great Britain owes its territories in the Himalaya to the same cause which has given it dominion over the rest of India—the aggressions of native states against each other, The Nepaul hills were tenanted by a martial race, who, better acquainted with the art of war than the method of improving the agricultural condition of their country, sought to enrich themselves by foreign conquests, and turned their arms against districts inhabited by a timid people, who, living in small communities, isolated from each other, proved an easy conquest. The Ghoorkas, under an enterprising chieftain, Ammeer Singh Theppa, possessed themselves of very considerable tracts of country between the Ganges and the Sutlej; the princes of all the intermediate petty states, jealous of each other, and accustomed to continual aggressions, omitting to make common cause against the invaders, and allowing themselves, notwithstanding the great natural strength of the country, to be beaten at every point. Several of the sovereigns, thus driven out, sought refuge in the British territories: and we were made aware, by other circumstances, of the state of affairs in the hills; for the invaders, growing bold by success, attacked our out-posts, and seemed inclined to extend their conquests to our possessions in the plains. In our first attempts to repel the intruding Ghoorkas, we probably underrated their strength and talents, for the troops sent against them proved unequal to the contest, and the attacks upon the hill-fortresses were attended by very unlooked-for results. It became, therefore, necessary to undertake the war in earnest; and in 1815 Sir David Ochterlony, an experienced and able officer, assumed the command; and after a series of brilliant exploits, which added to his other titles of honour, that of "the Hero of Malown," compelled Ammeer Singh to capitulate, and accede to the terms proposed by the victorious party. By a subsequent treaty, the peace of the hill districts was established, the Ghoorkas abandoned the whole of the territory west of the Kelee, which, with some few exceptions, a portion of Kumaon, the Deyrah Dhoon, &c., was restored to the representatives of those families who had possessed it before the Ghoorka invasion. Some of the families of the original rulers, however, had become extinct, and the lands were in consequence bestowed upon chieftains who had co-operated bravely with their British allies in the recovery of the country.

The Ghoorkas, unacquainted with the true art of government, made a very ungenerous use of the power gained by their conquests, levying the most cruel taxations on an impoverished people, and selling whole tribes into slavery. The result of this barbarous policy was such as might be expected: the oppressed mountaineers eagerly desired to place themselves under British protection; and, as far as their limited means extended, and their unwarlike disposition would permit, aided the attempts made to drive the Ghoorkas out of the country. The invaders, though greatly superior in intelligence, and in moral as well as physical qualities, were not sufficiently advanced in point of civilization to be other than a frightful scourge to the conquered country; and, degraded as the mountain tribes must at this period be considered, their condition would have been still more deplorable under the continued rule of a people who treated them with the utmost barbarity. The British government pursued a very humane policy towards those Ghoorkas who were either unwilling or unable to return to their own country. They were invited to take service under the conquerors, and were embodied in several battalions engaged to occupy stations in the hill districts, and to maintain the quietude of the country. They have proved faithful and able soldiers, their resolute defence of the places entrusted to them proving the best pledges for their future good conduct. Many, even where resistance was most hopeless, regretted having been induced to surrender, a strict sense of duty inspiring the belief that they ought to have died at their posts rather than have yielded. The Asiatic notion of honour is exactly similar to that of the European mercenaries of the middle ages. The troops make no scruple of changing masters after the performance of any stipulated service; but while receiving pay, "eating the salt," of their employers, consider themselves bound to perish in the cause which they have espoused.

The present series of views belong to the scenery which occurs in that portion of the Himalayan regions lying between the rivers Sutlej and Kelee, having for its boundary on the north and north-east the snowy chain of the Himalaya, and, to the south and south-west, the plains of Hindostan. Within this tract of country are comprised the provinces of Sirmoor, Gurwall, and Kumaoon, besides several other inferior states, the whole of which are either annexed to the British possessions, or have become allies or tributaries to that government. With the exception of the copious information to be found in Mr. Frazer's able volume, and the animated descriptions given of flying tours through the hills, by Major Archer and Captains Skinner and Mundy, there are only brief notices extant respecting this exceedingly interesting region. The journals, note-books, and diaries, kept by the numerous Anglo-Indian travellers flocking to the hills, have not in many instances found their way to Europe, and it therefore may be confidently expected that the vast quantity of new and highly-authenticated matter, relative to the Himalaya, which has been placed at the disposal of the Editor, will render the present work extremely acceptable to the general reader.

 

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.