National Geographic : 1924 Oct
VOL. XLVI, No. 4 WASHINGTON OCTOBER, 1924 THE NATIONAL MAGAZEHN COPYRIGHT.1924. BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTOND. C. . IN THE UNITEDSTATESAND GREAT BRITAIN IN THE DIAMOND MOUNTAINS Adventures Among the Buddhist Monasteries of Eastern Korea BY THE MARQUESS CURZON OF KEDLESTON Where every prospect pleases And only man is vile. -B IsHoP HEBER. N THE course of my travels I have come across a good many monks and monkish communities and have spent nights of interest, though hardly of luxury and not always of repose, in mo nastic guest chambers or cells. I have walked in pilgrimage round the pyramidal spires of Monserrat;* have been hauled up in a net to the eyries of Meteora;t have dined with the abbot of the great monastery of Troitsa, near Moscow; have fraternized with the dwindling Greek fraternities of Athos4 and with the more prosperous Russians on Tabor; have sojourned in the grim monastery of Mar Saba, near the Dead Sea; was once rescued with difficulty, and only by the tact and savoir-faire of my companion, Sir John Jordan, from the menacing approaches of the Lamas in the great Tibetan monastery at Peking; have addressed an audience of 2,000 yellow robed Burmese monks at Mandalay, and have slept at night on the polished temple * See, also, "Romantic Spain," by Charles Upson Clark, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for March, 1910. t See, also, "With the Monks at Meteora," by Elizabeth Perkins, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for September, 1909. $ See, also, "The Hoary Monasteries of Mount Athos," by H. G . Dwight, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for Septem ber, 1916. floors of the monasteries of Korea (Chosen). I shrink, even after this rather diversi fied experience, from generalizing about monks, since I have found them divided, like other classes of mankind, between saints and profligates, bons vivants and ascetics, gentlemen and vagabonds, men of education and illiterate boors. JOURNEYS WITH AMBASSADOR SPRING-RICE But of all my monastic adventures I think that the ones which linger longest in my memory are the days that I spent with my friend, the late Cecil Spring-Rice, afterwards British ambassador at Wash ington, in wandering among the monas teries of eastern Korea. And the reasons for my preference are these: First, the scenery amid which these monastic retreats are hidden is among the most enchanting in the East. Indeed, it may fairly be described as one of the little known beauty spots of the world. Secondly, there was not the faintest masquerade of piety among the great ma jority of these rather seedy scamps, some of whom were quondam criminals of the deepest dye; and this invested them with an originality which, if not admirable, was at least piquant. And, thirdly, I had the supreme satis faction of arresting an abbot and carrying him off, a captive of my bow and spear.