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Title: History of the War in Afghanistan, Vol. I (of 3) - Third Edition
Author: Kaye, Sir John William
Language: English
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Third Edition.

In Three Volumes.


Wm. H. Allen & Co., 13, Waterloo Place,
Publishers to the India Office.

Printed by W. Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street
and Charing Cross.




  _Oct. 30, 1851_.


The present Edition of the “History of the War in Afghanistan” is a
reproduction of the three-volumed Edition of 1857, which was thoroughly
revised, and much improved by the kindly aid of many of the chief
actors in the scenes described. I do not think that I can make it any

Only one alleged error has been brought to my notice since the last
Edition was published. It is stated, in Chapter IV., page 55, that
“Mr. Harford Jones, a civil servant of the Company, who was made a
Baronet for the occasion, was deputed to Teheran to negotiate with the
Ministers of the Shah.” This was first published in 1851. After a lapse
of twenty-three years, I have recently been informed by the son of Sir
Harford Jones, that his father was not made a Baronet in consideration
of prospective but of past services. It is certain that Mr. Harford
Jones rendered good service to the East India Company, but it is
equally certain that His Majesty’s Government were not very prodigal
in their grants of honours to the Company’s servants. The Baronetcy
was created in 1807, when the Persian Mission was under consideration;
but I must admit that there is a difference between coincidences and
consequences—and, therefore, as I cannot establish the fact stated,
I am willing to withdraw the assertion of it, whatever may be my own

  J. W. K.


  _March 1874_.


The present Edition of the History of the War in Afghanistan has
been thoroughly revised; and several alterations have been made,
which I hope may be fairly regarded also as emendations. Some of the
notes have been abridged; and others, when the importance of their
subject-matter seemed to warrant it, have been incorporated with the
text. I have freely and gratefully availed myself of such information
and such suggestions as have been furnished to me by others since the
first appearance of the Work, whilst my own more recent historical
and biographical researches have enabled me to illustrate more fully
in some places my original conceptions, and in others to modify or to
correct them.

The material corrections, however, are not numerous. As almost every
statement in the book was based upon copious documentary evidence, I
have now, as regards my historical facts, very little to withdraw or to
amend. I think I may, without unreasonable self-congratulation, assert
that few works of contemporary history containing so large a body of
facts have been so little questioned and controverted. The numerous
communications, which I have received alike from friends and strangers,
have contained little but confirmatory or illustrative matter; and, if
they have cast any doubt upon the statements in the Work, it has been
mainly on those advanced by the actors in the events described, and
which therefore have appeared only in a dramatic sense in these pages.
When, however, an opportunity _has_ been afforded me of placing before
the reader any new facts, or counter-statements, which may possibly
cause him to modify his previous opinions, I have always turned them to
account. As I have no other object than that of declaring the truth,
I cannot but rejoice in every added means of contributing to its

In this present Edition, the History of the War in Afghanistan is
divided into three Volumes. This is a change in the outer form of the
Work, which may appear to be scarcely worthy of notice; but I believe
it to be an improvement, and a suggestive one. I doubt whether there
is a series of events in all history, which falls more naturally into
three distinct groupes, giving the epic completeness of a beginning,
a middle, and an end to the entire Work. It is true that some very
generous and good-natured people have given me credit for the unity of
design and of construction apparent in this; but in truth all the parts
of the Work fell so naturally into their proper places, that there was
little left for art to accomplish; and I am conscious that I owe to the
nature of my subject the largest part of the praise which has been so
encouragingly bestowed on myself.

I should have nothing more to say in this place, if I did not desire to
express my gratitude to the friends who have taken an interest in this
new edition of my History, and have aided me with verbal corrections
of my text, or suggestions of greater moment. I might not please
them by any more special recognition of their kindness; but there is
one whom such praise and gratitude as mine can no longer reach, and
whom I may therefore name without offence. Among others who were at
the trouble to re-peruse this book, for the purpose of aiding its
revision for the present edition, the appearance of which has been
retarded by accidental circumstances, was the late Sir Robert Harry
Inglis. I believe that this, which he assured me was a labour of love,
was the last literary task which he ever set himself. His final list
of _corrigenda_ was sent to me, indeed, only a few days before the
occurrence of that event which, although there be good and wise and
genial men still among us, has left a gap in society, which cannot
easily be filled by one so good, so wise, and so genial. Of all the
privileges of literature, the greatest, perhaps, is that it makes for
its followers kind and indulgent friends, who sometimes transfer to
the writer the interest awakened by his book. I owe to this Work some
cherished friendships; but none more cherished than that which has now
become both a pleasing and a painful reminiscence.


  _January, 1857_.


Circumstances having placed at my disposal a number of very interesting
and important letters and papers, illustrative of the History of the
War in Afghanistan, I undertook to write this Work. There was nothing
that peculiarly qualified me for the task, beyond the fact that I
enjoyed the confidence of some of the chief actors in the events to be
narrated, or—for death had been busy among those actors—their surviving
relatives and friends. I had been in India, it is true, during the
entire period of the War; but I never took even the humblest part in
its stirring scenes, or visited the country in which they were enacted.

It was not, therefore, until I considered that no more competent
person might be disposed to undertake the Work; that the materials
placed in my hands might not in the same number and variety be placed
in the hands of any other writer; and that those best qualified by a
full knowledge of the subject to write the History of the War, were
restrained by the obligations of official position from that fulness
of revelation and freedom of discussion, which a work of this kind
demands—that entered upon the perilous undertaking. The necessities of
the subject have rendered the task peculiarly painful, and, but for the
encouragement I have received in the progress of its execution, alike
from strangers and from friends who have freely placed new materials
in my hands, and expressed a lively interest in my labours, I might
have shrunk from its completion. I now lay before the public the result
of much anxious thought and laborious investigation, confident that,
although the Work might have been done more ably, it could not have
been performed more conscientiously, by another.

I have been walking, as it were, with a torch in my hand over a floor
strewn thickly with gunpowder. There is the chance of an explosion at
every step. I have been treading all along on dangerous ground. But
if I cannot confidently state that I have asserted nothing which I
cannot prove, I can declare my belief that, except upon what I had a
right to consider as good and sufficient authority, I have advanced
absolutely nothing. It will be seen how careful I have been to quote my
authorities. Indeed, I have an uneasy misgiving in my mind that I have
overburdened my Work with quotations from the letters and documents in
my possession. But this has been done with design and deliberation.
It was not sufficient to refer to these letters and documents, for
they were singly accessible only to a few, and collectively, perhaps,
to no one but myself. They have, therefore, been left to speak for
themselves. What the Work has lost by this mode of treatment in
compactness and continuity, it has gained in trustworthiness and
authenticity. If the narrative be less animated, the history is more
genuine. I have had to deal with unpublished materials, and to treat of
very strange events; and I have not thought it sufficient to fuse these
materials into my text, and to leave the reader to fix or not to fix
his faith upon the unsupported assertions of an unknown writer.[1]

I would make another observation regarding the execution of this Work.
The more notorious events of the War, which stand fully revealed in
military despatches and published blue-books, have not been elaborated
with the care, and expanded into the amplitude, which their importance
may seem to demand. These Volumes may be thought, perhaps, rather
deficient in respect of military details. Compelled to condense
somewhere, I have purposely abstained from enlarging upon those
events, which have already found fitting chroniclers. The military
memoir-writers, each one on his own limited field, have arrayed before
us all the strategical operations of the Campaign from the assemblage
of Fane’s army in 1838, to the return of Pollock’s at the close of
1842; but the political history of the War has never been written.
For information on many points of military interest, not sufficiently
dwelt upon in these volumes, I would therefore refer the reader to the
works of Havelock, Hough, Barr, Eyre, Stacy, Neill, and other soldierly
writers. The progress of events in Upper Sindh after the capture of
Khelat, I have not attempted to narrate. The military operations in
that part of the country have found an intelligent annalist in Dr.

I need only now, after gratefully acknowledging my obligations to all
who have aided me with original papers, or with information otherwise
conveyed (and I have largely taxed the patience of many during the
progress of this work), offer one more word of apology. I know that my
scholarly Oriental friends will revolt against my spelling of Oriental
names. I have only to bow beneath their correcting hand, and fling
myself upon their mercy. I have written all the names in the old and
vulgar manner, most familiar to the English eye, and, in pronunciation,
to the English ear; and I believe that the majority of readers will
thank me for the barbarism.


  _October, 1851_.


                         BOOK I.—INTRODUCTION.


                              CHAPTER I.



  Shah Zemaun and the Douranee Empire—Threatened Afghan
  Invasion—Malcolm’s First Mission to Persia—Country and People
  of Afghanistan—Fall of Zemaun Shah                                   1

                              CHAPTER II.


  The Early Days of Soojah-ool-Moolk—Disastrous Commencement of his
  Career—Defeat of Shah Mahmoud—Reign of Shah Soojah—The
  Insurrection of Prince Kaysur—Tidings of the British Mission        25

                             CHAPTER III.


  France and Russia in the East—Death of Hadjee Khalil Khan—The
  Mission of Condolence—Aga Nebee Khan—Extension of Russian
  Dominion in the East—French Diplomacy in Persia—The pacification
  of Tilsit—Decline of French influence in Teheran                    36

                              CHAPTER IV.


  The Second Mission to Persia—Malcolm’s Visit to Bushire—Failure
  of the Embassy—His Return to Calcutta—Mission of Sir Harford
  Jones—His Progress and Success                                      55

                              CHAPTER V.


  The Missions to Lahore and Caubul—The Aggressions of Runjeet
  Singh—Mr. Metcalfe at Umritsur—Treaty of 1809—Mr. Elphinstone’s
  Mission—Arrival at Peshawur—Reception by Shah Soojah—Withdrawal
  of the Mission—Negotiations with the Ameers of Sindh                77

                              CHAPTER VI.


  The Mid-Career of Shah Soojah—His Wanderings and
  Misfortunes—Captivity in Cashmere—Imprisonment at Lahore—Robbery
  of the Koh-i-noor—Reception of the Shah by the Rajah of
  Kistawar—His Escape to the British Territories                      97

                             CHAPTER VII.


  Dost Mahomed and the Barukzyes—Early days of Dost Mahomed—The
  fall of Futteh Khan—Defeat of Shah Mahmoud—Supremacy of the
  Barukzyes—Position of the Empire—Dost Mahomed at
  Caubul—Expedition of Shah Soojah—His  Defeat—Capture of Peshawur
  by the Sikhs                                                       107

                             CHAPTER VIII.


  Later Events in Persia—The Treaty of Goolistan—Arrival of Sir
  Gore Ouseley—Mr. Morier and Mr. Ellis—The Definitive Treaty—The
  War of 1826-27—The Treaty of Toorkomanchai—Death of Futteh Ali
  Shah—Accession of Mahomed Shah—His Projects of Ambition—The
  Expedition against Herat                                           139

                               BOOK II.


                              CHAPTER I.


  The Commercial Mission to Caubul—Arrival of Lord Auckland—His
  Character—Alexander Burnes—His Travels in Central
  Asia—Deputation to the Court of Dost Mahomed—Reception by the
  Ameer—Negotiations at Caubul—Failure of the Mission                166

                              CHAPTER II.


  The Siege of Herat—Shah Kamran and Yar Mahomed—Return of the
  Shah—Eldred Pottinger—Preparations for the Defence—Advance of
  the Persian Army—Progress of the Siege—Negotiations for
  Peace—Failure of the Attack—The Siege raised                       211

                             CHAPTER III.


  Policy of the British-Indian Government—Our Defensive
  Operations—Excitement in British India—Proposed Alliance with
  Dost Mahomed—Failure of Burnes’s Mission considered—The
  claims of the Suddozye Princes—The Tripartite Treaty—Invasion
  of Afghanistan determined—Policy of the Movement                   300

                              CHAPTER IV.

                         [July-October: 1838.]

  The Simlah Manifesto—The Simlah Council—Influence of Messrs.
  Colvin and Torrens—Views of Captains Burnes and Wade—Opinions
  of Sir Henry Fane—The Army of the Indus—The Governor-General’s
  Manifesto—Its Policy considered                                    350

                               BOOK III.


                              CHAPTER I.

  The Army of the Indus—Gathering at Ferozepore—Resignation of
  Sir Henry Fane—Route of the Army—Passage through Bahwulpore—The
  Ameers of Sindh—The Hyderabad Question—Passage of the Bolan
  Pass—Arrival at Candahar                                           388

                              CHAPTER II.

                         [April-August: 1839.]

  Arrival at Candahar—The Shah’s Entry into the City—His
  Installation—Nature of his Reception—Behaviour of the
  Douranees—The English at Candahar—Mission to Herat—Difficulties
  of our Position—Advance to Ghuznee                                 437

                             CHAPTER III.

                         [June-August: 1839.]

  The Disunion of the Barukzyes—Prospects of Dost Mahomed—Keane’s
  Advance to Ghuznee—Massacre of the Prisoners—Fall of
  Ghuznee—Flight of Dost Mahomed—Hadjee Khan, Khaukur—Escape of
  Dost Mahomed—Restoration of Shah Soojah—Success of the Campaign    454

  APPENDIX                                                           481






 Shah Zemaun and the Douranee Empire—Threatened Afghan
 Invasion—Malcolm’s First Mission to Persia—Country and People of
 Afghanistan—Fall of Zemaun Shah.

At the dawn of the present century, Zemaun Shah reigned over the
Douranee Empire. The son of Timour Shah, and the grandson of the
illustrious Ahmed Shah, he had sought, on the death of his father,
the dangerous privilege of ruling a divided and tumultuous people.
Attaining by intrigue and violence what did not rightfully descend to
him by inheritance, he soon began to turn his thoughts towards foreign
conquest, and to meditate the invasion of Hindostan. His talents
were not equal to his ambition, and his success fell far short of
the magnitude of his designs. There was too little security at home
to ensure for him prosperity abroad. And so it happened, that he was
continually marching an army upon the frontier, eager to extend the
Douranee Empire to the banks of the Ganges; and continually retracing
his steps in alarm, lest his own sovereignty should be wrested
from him in his absence. For many years Zemaun Shah’s descent upon
Hindostan kept the British Indian Empire in a chronic state of unrest.
But he never advanced further than Lahore, and then was compelled
precipitately to retire. Starvation threatened his troops; a brotherly
usurper his throne; and he hastened back lest he should find Prince
Mahmoud reigning at Caubul in his stead.

This was in 1797,[2] when Sir John Shore was Governor-General of
India. We smile now at the alarm that was created along the whole
line of country from the Attock to the Hooghly, by the rumoured
approach of this formidable invader. But half a century ago, the
English in India knew little of the resources of the Douranee Empire,
of the national characteristics of the people, of the continually
unsettled state of their political relations, or of the incompetency
of the monarch himself to conduct any great enterprise. Distance and
ignorance magnified the danger: but the apprehensions, which were then
entertained, were not wholly groundless apprehensions. All the enemies
of the British Empire in India had turned their eyes with malicious
expectancy upon Caubul. Out of the rocky defiles of that romantic
country were to stream the deliverers of Islam from the yoke of the
usurping Franks. The blood of the Mahomedan princes of India was at
fever heat. From northern Oude and from southern Mysore had gone forth
invitations to the Afghan monarch. With large promises of aid, in money
and in men, Vizier Ali and Tippoo Sultan had encouraged him to move
down upon Hindostan at the head of an army of true believers. Others,
with whom he could claim no community of creed, extended to him the
hand of fellowship. The Rajah of Jyneghur offered him a lakh of rupees
a day as soon as the grand army should enter his district.[3] We, who
in these times trustingly contemplate the settled tranquillity of the
north-western provinces of India, and remember Zemaun Shah only as the
old blind pensioner of Loodhianah, can hardly estimate aright the real
importance of the threatened movement, or appreciate the apprehensions
which were felt by two governors-general of such different personal
characters as Sir John Shore and Lord Wellesley.[4]

The new century had scarcely dawned upon the English in India, when
the perils which seemed to threaten them from beyond the Indus began
to assume a more complicated and perplexing character. The ambition
of a semi-barbarous monarch and the inflammatory zeal of hordes of
Mussulman fanatics, were sources of danger, which, however alarming,
were at least plain and intelligible. But when it was suspected that
there was intrigue of a more remote and insidious character to be
combated—when intelligence, only too credible, of the active efforts
of French diplomacy in Persia, reached the Calcutta Council-Chamber,
and it was believed that the emissaries of Napoleon were endeavouring
to cement alliances hostile to Great Britain in every quarter of the
Eastern world, the position of affairs in Central Asia was regarded
with increased anxiety, and their management demanded greater wisdom
and address. It was now no longer a question of mere military defence
against the inroads of a single invader. The repeated failures of
Zemaun Shah had, in some degree, mitigated the alarm with which his
movements were dimly traced in Hindostan. The Douranee monarch had
lost something of his importance as an independent enemy; but as the
willing agent of a hostile confederacy, he appeared a more formidable
opponent, and might have become a more successful one. An offensive
alliance between France, Persia, and Caubul, might have rendered the
dangers, which once only seemed to threaten us from the north-west, at
once real and imminent. To secure the friendship of Persia, therefore,
was the great aim of the British Government. It was obvious that,
whilst threatened with invasion from the west, Zemaun Shah could never
conduct to a successful issue an expedition against Hindostan; and that
so long as Persia remained true to Great Britain, there was nothing to
be apprehended from French intrigue in the countries of Central Asia.
It was determined, therefore, to despatch a mission to the Court of the
Persian Shah, and Captain John Malcolm was selected to conduct it.

The choice could not have fallen on a fitter agent. In the fullest
vigour of life, a young man, but not a young soldier—for, born in
that year of heroes which witnessed the nativity of Wellington, of
Napoleon, and of Mehemet Ali, he had entered the service of the Company
at the early age of thirteen—Captain Malcolm brought to the difficult
and responsible duties entrusted to him, extraordinary energy of
mind and activity of body—talents of the most available and useful
character—some experience of native courts and acquaintance with the
Oriental languages. He had been successively military secretary to the
commander-in-chief of Madras, town-major of Fort St. George, assistant
to the Resident at Hyderabad, and commandant of the infantry of the
Nizam’s contingent. When that army took the field in Mysore, and shared
in the operations against Tippoo Sultan, Captain Malcolm accompanied
it in the capacity of political agent, which was virtually the chief
command of the force; and, after the reduction of Seringapatam and the
death of Tippoo, was associated with General Wellesley, Colonel Close,
and Captain Munro,[5] in the commission that was then appointed for the
settlement of the Mysore country.

This was in 1799. In that same year he was selected by Lord Wellesley
to fill the post of envoy to the Court of Persia. With such address had
he acquitted himself in all his antecedent appointments; so great had
been the knowledge of native character, the diplomatic tact, and the
sound understanding he had evinced in all his negotiations; that at an
age when the greater number of his contemporaries were in the discharge
of no higher duties than those entailed by the command of a company of
sepoys, Captain Malcolm was on his way to the presence of the great
defender of Islamism, charged with one of the most important missions
that has ever been despatched by the British-Indian Government to the
Court of a native potentate.

The mission, says Captain Malcom, was “completely successful”—a
declaration repeated more emphatically by Lord Wellesley.[6] But time
and circumstance did more for us than diplomacy. It was the ostensible
object of the mission to instigate the Shah of Persia to move an army
upon Herat, and so to withdraw Shah Zemaun from his threatened invasion
of Hindostan. But the move, which was to do so much for our security
in India, had been made before the British ambassador appeared at the
Persian Court; and the work, which was thus commenced by Futteh Ali,
was completed by Prince Mahmoud.[7] “You may rest assured,” wrote
Captain Malcolm, from Ispahan, in October, 1800, “that Zemaun Shah can
do nothing in India before the setting in of the rains of 1801. He has
not time, even if he had the power for such an attempt; and by the
blessing of God he will for some years to come be too much engaged
in this quarter to think of any other.”[8] But some years to come of
empire he was not destined to see. Even as Malcolm wrote, the days of
his sovereignty were numbered, and the bugbear of Afghan invasion was
passing into tradition.

The envoy was empowered either to offer a subsidy of from three to four
lakhs of rupees for a term of three years, or by a liberal distribution
of presents to the king and his principal ministers, to bribe them
into acquiescence. Malcolm chose the latter course. He threw about
his largesses with an unstinting hand, and everything went smoothly
with him. The farther he advanced into the interior, the greater was
the attention shown to the Mission, for the greater was the renown
of the liberality of the Christian _Elchee_. Every difficulty melted
away beneath the magic touch of British gold.[9] There had been at
the outset some trifling disputes about formalities—about titles and
designations—but these were soon cleared away; and the serious business
of the Mission proceeded in the midst of feasts and formalities to
a satisfactory completion. A commercial and a political treaty were
negotiated at Teheran by Malcolm and Hadjee Ibrahim; and the Shah
stamped their validity by prefixing to each a firman, or mandate, under
the royal seal, calling upon all the officers of the state to perform
its prescribed conditions. Of all the terms proposed by the English
envoy, but one was demurred to by the Persian Court. “And that even,”
writing some years afterwards, he said, “was not rejected.”[10] This
proposal related to the occupation by the English of the islands of
Kishm, Angani, and Khargh (or Kharrack),[11] in the Persian Gulf, on
the expediency of which, though much and ably controverted by others,
Malcolm never ceased to expatiate so long as he had a hand in the game
of Persian diplomacy.

This provision, which was to have been contained in the commercial
treaty, was said to contemplate only commercial objects; but, there
was to be a permission to fortify; and commerce, with an occasional
permission of this kind, had made India a British dependency, and the
Persians were not unreasonably jealous, therefore, of a commencement
which might have had a similar end.

In February, 1801, Captain Malcolm reported that he had accomplished
the object of his mission, and brought his labours to a close. “Whether
with credit or not,” he added in a private letter, “it is the province
of my superiors to judge. I can only say, in self-defence, that I
have done as much as I was able; and no man can do more. I am far
from admiring my own work, or considering it (as termed in one of
the preambles) _a beautiful image in the mirror of perpetuity_. It
is, on the contrary, I know, a very incorrect performance; and I can
hope it to meet with a favourable consideration only on the grounds
of the difficulties I had to encounter in a first negotiation with a
government not two stages removed from a state of barbarism.”[12]

The political treaty, indeed, called for apology; but not on the
grounds indicated in this deprecatory letter. It stipulated that if
ever again the Douranee monarch should be induced to attempt the
invasion of Hindostan, the King of Persia should be bound to lay waste,
with a great army, the country of the Afghans; and conclude no peace
with its ruler that was not accompanied with a solemn engagement to
abstain from all aggressions upon the English. But it was remarkable
chiefly for the bitterness with which it proscribed the French. “Should
an army of the French nation,” it stated, “actuated by design and
deceit, attempt to settle, with a view of establishing themselves on
any of the islands or shores of Persia, a conjoint force shall be
appointed by the two high contracting parties to act in co-operation,
and to destroy and put an end to the foundation of their treason.”
The firman prefixed to this treaty contained a passage addressed to
the rulers and officers of the ports, sea-coasts, and islands of Fars
and Koorgistan, saying, “Should ever any persons of the French nation
attempt to pass your boundaries, or desire to establish themselves
either on the shores or frontiers of the kingdom of Persia, you are
at full liberty to disgrace and slay them.”[13] These proceedings have
been severely censured by French writers, and even English politicians
have declared them to be “an eternal disgrace to our Indian diplomacy.”
But those were days when, even in India, men’s minds were unhinged
and unsettled, and their ideas of right and wrong confounded by the
monstrosities of the French revolution. It would be unjust to view
these measures with the eyes of to-day, or to forget the desperate
evils to which these desperate remedies were applied. It was conceived
that there was a great and pressing danger, and Captain Malcolm was
sent to combat it. But the treaty was never formally ratified; and the
Persian Court practically ignored its obligations as soon as it was
no longer convenient to observe them. The Embassy, however, was not a
fruitless one, even if the only estimated produce were the stores of
information it amassed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the mission of Captain Malcolm to the West, but little was known
in India, and nothing in Great Britain, about the Douranee Empire, the
nature and extent of its resources, the quality of its soldiers, and
the character of its ruler. The information which that officer acquired
was not of a very alarming description. The Douranee Empire which has
since been shorn of some of its fairest provinces, then consisted of
Afghanistan, part of Khorassan, Cashmere, and the Derajat. The Sikh
nation had not then acquired the strength which a few years later
enabled it, under the military directorship of Runjeet Singh, to curb
the pretensions and to mutilate the empire of its dominant neighbour.
That empire extended from Herat in the west, to Cashmere in the east;
from northern Balkh to southern Shikarpoor. Bounded on the north and
east by immense mountain ranges, and on the south and west by vast
tracts of sandy desert, it opposed to external hostility natural
defences of a formidable character. The general aspect of the country
was wild and forbidding; in the imagination of the people haunted
by goules and genii; but not unvaried by spots of gentler beauty in
the valleys and on the plains, where the fields were smiling with
cultivation, and the husbandman might be seen busy at his work.

Few and far between as were the towns, the kingdom was thinly
populated. The people were a race—or a group of races—of hardy,
vigorous mountaineers. The physical character of the country had
stamped itself on the moral conformation of its inhabitants. Brave,
independent, but of a turbulent vindictive character, their very
existence seemed to depend upon a constant succession of internal
feuds. The wisest among them would probably have shaken their heads in
negation of the adage-“Happy the country whose annals are a blank.”
They knew no happiness in anything but strife. It was their delight to
live in a state of chronic warfare. Among such a people civil war has
a natural tendency to perpetuate itself. Blood is always crying aloud
for blood. Revenge was a virtue among them; the heritage of retribution
passed from father to son; and murder became a solemn duty. Living
under a dry, clear, bracing climate, but one subject to considerable
alternations of heat and cold, the people were strong and active; and
as navigable rivers were wanting, and the precipitous nature of the
country forbade the use of wheeled carriages, they were for the most
part good horsemen, and lived much in the saddle. Early trained to the
use of arms, compelled constantly to wear and often to use them in the
ordinary intercourse of life, every man was more or less a soldier or
a bandit. The very shepherds were men of strife. The pastoral and the
predatory character were strangely blended; and the tented cantonments
of the sheep-drivers often bristled into camps of war.

But there was a brighter side to the picture. Of a cheerful, lively
disposition, seemingly but little in accordance with the outward
gravity of their long beards and sober garments, they might be seen in
their villages, at evening tide, playing or dancing like children in
their village squares; or assembling in the Fakir’s gardens, to smoke
and talk, retailing the news gathered in the shops, reciting stories,
and singing their simple Afghan ballads, often expressive of that
tender passion which, among them alone of all Oriental nations, is
worthy of the name of love. Hospitable and generous, they entertained
the stranger without stint, and even his deadliest enemy was safe
beneath the Afghan’s roof. There was a simple courtesy in their manner
which contrasted favourably with the polished insincerity of the
Persians on one side, and the arrogant ferocity of the Rohillas on the
other. Judged by the strict standard of a Christian people, they were
not truthful in word or honest in deed, but, side by side with other
Asiatic nations, their truthfulness and honesty were conspicuous.
Kindly and considerate to their immediate dependents, the higher
classes were followed with loyal zeal and served with devoted fidelity
by the lower; and, perhaps, in no eastern country was less of tyranny
exercised over either the slaves of the household or the inmates of the
zenana. Unlettered were they, but not incurious; and although their
more polished brethren of Persia looked upon them as the Bœotians
of Central Asia, their Spartan simplicity and manliness more than
compensated for the absence of the Attic wit and eloquence of their
western neighbours.

Soldiers, husbandmen, and shepherds, they were described as the very
antithesis of a nation of shopkeepers. The vocation of the tradesman
they despised. To Taujiks, Hindoos, and other aliens, was the business
of selling entrusted, except upon that large scale which entitled the
dealer to be regarded as a merchant, and generally entailed upon him
the necessities of a wandering and adventurous life. The principal
commerce of the country was with the Persian and Russian states. In the
bazaars of Herat, Candahar, and Caubul the manufactures of Ispahan,
Yezd, and Cashan, the spices of India, and the broad-cloths of Russia,
brought by Astrakan and Bokhara, found a ready market. Occasionally,
when the settled state of the country gave encouragement to commercial
enterprise, an adventurous merchant would make his way, through Dera
from Bombay, with a cafila of British goods, for the scarlet cloths
of England were in especial demand to deck the persons of the body
servants of the king. The indigenous products of the country were few,
but important; for the rich shawls of Cashmere and the gaudy chintzes
of Mooltan, exported in large quantities, were in good repute all
over the civilised world.[14] At Herat some velvets and taffetas of
good quality were manufactured, but only for internal consumption;
whilst the assafœtida of that place, the madder of Candahar, and the
indigo of the Derajat,[15] found a market in the Persian cities, and
the dried fruits of the country were in request in all neighbouring
parts. These, a few other drugs of little note, and some iron from the
Hindoo Koosh and the Solimanee range, formed the main staple of Afghan
commerce. Between the large towns there was a constant interchange of
commodities; and long cafilas, or caravans, were ever in motion, from
east to west, and from north to south, toiling across the sandy plains
or struggling through the precipitous defiles, exposed to the attacks
of predatory tribes, who levied their contributions often not without
strife and bloodshed.

Such was the not very flattering picture of the commercial wealth of
the Douranee Empire, which was painted by Captain Malcolm’s informants.
Nor was the military strength of the Empire set forth in any more
striking colours. Distance and ignorance had vastly magnified the true
proportions of that famous military power, which was to have overrun
Hindostan, and driven the white men into the sea. The main strength
of the Afghan army was in the Douranee horse. The Douranee tribes
had been settled in Western Afghanistan by Nadir Shah. He had first
conquered, then taken them into his service, and then parcelled out
amongst them, as his military dependents, the lands which had before
been held, by a motley race of native cultivators. It was the policy
of Ahmed Shah and his successors—a policy which was subsequently
reversed by the Barukzye sirdars—to aggrandise and elevate these
powerful tribes, by heaping upon them privileges and immunities at
the expense of their less favoured countrymen. Upon the misery and
humiliation of others, the Douranee tribes throve and flourished.
The chief offices of the state were divided amongst them; they held
their lands exempt from taxation. The only demand made upon them, in
return for the privileges they enjoyed, was that they should furnish
a certain contingent of troops.[16] It was said to be the principle
of the military tenure by which they held their lands, that for every
plough used in cultivation[17] they should contribute a horseman for
the service of the state. But it does not appear that the integrity of
this system was long preserved. In a little time there ceased to be any
just proportion between the ploughs and the horsemen; and it became
difficult to account for the arbitrary manner in which each of the
different Douranee clans furnished its respective quota of troops.[18]

In the time of Ahmed Shah the Douranee horsemen mustered about 6000
strong. The other western tribes and the Persian stipendiaries together
reached about the same number. In the reign of Timour Shah, the army
was computed at some 40,000 soldiers, almost entirely horsemen;[19] but
no such force had served under Zemaun Shah, and they who had seen in
1799-1800, the muster of his troops near Caubul, and had access to the
returns of the muster-masters, reported that he then assembled only
some ten or twelve thousand men, and all, with the exception of a few
Persian stipendiaries, in the immediate service of the Wuzeer, very
miserably equipped. Even the Kuzzilbashes, when Shah Zemaun took the
field in 1799, refused to accompany the projected expedition, on the
plea that they wanted arms to fight their battles, and money to support
their wives.

Fighting men, indeed, were never wanting in Afghanistan, but money
was wanting to induce them to leave their homes. It was said that
Shah Zemaun might, on any great national enterprise, have led 200,000
men into the field, if he had had money to pay them. But his entire
revenues were not equal to the payment of a very much smaller force.
He was continually being deserted by his soldiery, at critical times,
for want of the sinews of war to retain them. The emptiness of his
treasury, indeed, reduced him to all kinds of shifts and expedients,
such as that of raising the value of the current coin of the realm. But
no devices of this character could confer upon him a really formidable
army. In one important branch he was miserably deficient. The Douranee
artillery consisted of some twelve brass field-pieces and five hundred
zumboorucks, or camel guns. Even these were miserably equipped; the
camels wanted drivers, and the guns were often unserviceable. It was
said by one who visited the encampment of the grand army, under Zemaun
Shah, in 1799-1800, that there were not above 500 good horses in camp,
and that these belonged principally to the King and the Wuzeer. The men
were mounted for the most part on yaboos, or ponies, few of which, at a
liberal valuation, were worth a hundred rupees.

Such was the army with which Zemaun Shah meditated the invasion
of Hindostan. The personal character of the monarch was not more
formidable than the army which he commanded. A scholar more than
a soldier, very strict in the observances of his religion, and an
assiduous reader of the Koran, his way of life, judged by the princely
standard of Central Asia, was sufficiently moral and decorous. Humane
and generous, of a gentle, plastic disposition; very prone to take for
granted the truth of all that was told him; by no means remarkable for
personal activity, and somewhat wanting in courage, he was designed by
nature for a facile puppet in the hands of a crafty Wuzeer. And such
was Zemaun Shah in the expert hands of Wuffadar Khan. It was reported
of him that he took no active part in the management of public affairs;
and that when it was politic that he should make a show of government
and appear at Durbar, what he said was little more than a public
recital of a lesson well learnt in private. He was, indeed, the mere
mouth-piece of the minister—of a worse and more designing man. Content
with the gilded externals of majesty, he went abroad sumptuously
arrayed and magnificently attended; and mighty in all the state papers
of the time was the name of Zemaun Shah. But it was shrewdly suspected
that, had the state of his domestic relations and the military
resources at his command enabled him to take the field, as the invader
of Hindostan, a bribe any day offered to the Wuzeer might have broken
up the Douranee army, and kept the invader quietly at home.

On the whole, he was a popular ruler. The cultivating classes were
happy under his government. It recognised their claims to remuneration
for whatever was taken from them for the service of the state, and
no acts of fraud and oppression were ever committed in his name. The
merchants and traders were secure under his rule. In the midst of
much that was base and unworthy in the character and conduct of the
minister, he had a reputation for fair dealing with these classes,
and they looked up to him for protection. But far otherwise were his
relations with the warlike tribes and the chief people of the empire.
They were not without feelings of loyalty towards the king; but it was
rather affection for his person, than satisfaction with the government
of which he was the head. The grasping character of the minister, who
engrossed to himself all the patronage of the state, rendered him, in
spite of his courteous manners and affable demeanour, obnoxious to the
principal Sirdars; and something of this disaffection began in time to
be directed against the monarch himself, who had too long abandoned
his own better nature to the sinister guidance of the unprincipled and
unpopular Wuzeer.

Like many a monarch, abler and better than himself, Zemaun Shah had
chosen his minister unwisely, and was undone by the choice. When he
entrusted the affairs of his empire to the administration of Wuffadar
Khan, he made the great mistake of his life. A base and designing
man, without any of those commanding qualities which impart something
of dignity and heroism to crime, the Wuzeer bent his sovereign, but
could not bend circumstances to his will. The loyalty of the Douranee
sirdars he could extinguish, but their power he could not break by his
oppressions. Alarmed at their increasing influence, Wuffadar Khan
sought to encompass them in the toils of destruction; but he destroyed
himself and involved his sovereign in the ruin. Prince Mahmoud was
in arms against his royal brother. Exasperated by the conduct of the
minister, the Douranees threw all the weight of their influence into
the scales in favour of the prince. The rebellion which they headed
acquired strength and swelled into a revolution. And then began that
great strife between the royal princes and the Douranee sirdars, which
half a century of continued conflict, now witnessing the supremacy of
the one, now of the other, has scarcely even yet extinguished.

The two principal clans or tribes of the Douranees were the Populzyes
and the Barukzyes. The Suddozye, or Royal race, was one of the branches
of the former. The Bamezye, in which the Wuzeership was vested, but
not by inalienable right, was another branch of the same tribe. Second
in influence to the Populzyes, and greater in extent, was the tribe of
the Barukzyes. To this tribe belonged Futteh Khan. He was the son of
Poyndah Khan, an able statesman and a gallant soldier, whose wisdom in
council and experience in war had long sustained the tottering fortunes
of Timour Shah. On the death of that feeble monarch he had supported
the claims of Zemaun Shah. With as little wisdom as gratitude, that
prince, it has been seen, suffered himself to be cajoled by a man
of less honesty and less ability, and became a tool in the hands of
Wuffadar Khan. The favourite of two monarchs was disgraced; and, from a
powerful friend, became the resolute enemy of the reigning family. He
conspired against the King and the Wuzeer; his designs were detected;
and he perished miserably with his associates in the enterprise of

Poyndah Khan died, leaving twenty-one sons, of whom Futteh Khan was
the eldest. They are said, after the death of their father, to have
stooped into a cloud of poverty and humiliation, and to have wandered
about begging their bread. But their trials were only for a season.
The Barukzye brothers soon emerged from the night of suffering that
surrounded them. There was no power in the Douranee Empire which
could successfully cope with these resolute, enterprising spirits.
In Afghanistan revenge is a virtue. The sons of Poyndah Khan had
the murder of their father to avenge; and they rested not till the
bloody obligation had been faithfully fulfilled. Futteh Khan had fled
into Persia, and there leagued himself with Prince Mahmoud. Repeated
failure had extinguished the ambition of this restless prince. The
accession of the Barukzye sirdar now inspired him with new courage.
Upheld by the strong arm of the “king-maker,” he determined to strike
another blow for the sovereignty of Caubul. With a few horsemen they
entered Afghanistan, and, raising the standard of revolt, pushed on to
unexpected conquest.

There were not many in Afghanistan, nor many among the disinterested
lookers-on at that fraternal strife, who were inclined to jeopardise
their character for sagacity by predicting the success of the prince.
Everything, indeed, was against him. His treasury was always empty.
His friends were not men of note. With the exception of the Barukzye
sirdars,[20] no chiefs of influence espoused his cause. His followers
were described to Captain Malcolm as men “of low condition and mean
extraction.” But in spite of the slender support which he received,
and the strenuous efforts which were made to destroy him, the successes
which from time to time he achieved, seemed to show that there was
some vitality in his cause. A divinity seemed to hedge him in, and to
protect him from the knife of the assassin. He escaped as though by
a miracle the snares of his enemies, and from every new deliverance
seemed to gather something of prosperity and strength. It was after one
of these marvellous escapes, when the weapons of the Kuzzilbashes[21]
had fallen from their hands, palsied by the mysterious presence of the
blood royal, that Candahar fell before the insurgents. With two or
three thousand horsemen, Mahmoud invested the place for thirty-three
days, at the end of which Futteh Khan, with a handful of resolute men,
escaladed the fort near the Shikarpoor gate, and put the panic-struck
garrison to flight. The Meer Akhoor, or Master of the Horse, fled for
his life. The Shah-zadah Hyder sought sanctuary at the tomb of Ahmed
Shah; and Prince Mahmoud became master of the place.

It is not a peculiarity of Eastern princes alone to shine with a
brighter and steadier light in the hour of adversity than in the
hour of success. The trials of prosperity were too great for Prince
Mahmoud, as they have been for greater men; and he soon began to lose
ground at Candahar. The marvel is, that his fortunes were not utterly
marred by his own folly. It was only by the concurrence of greater
folly elsewhere, that in this conjecture he was saved from ruin. His
impolitic and haughty conduct towards the sirdars early demonstrated
his unfitness for rule, and well-nigh precipitated the enterprise in
which he was engaged into a sea of disastrous failure. There seemed,
indeed, to be only one thing that could sustain him, and that one thing
was wanting. He was as poor as he was unpopular. But the days of Shah
Zemaun’s sovereignty were numbered, and no folly on the part of his
antagonist could arrest the doom that was brooding over him.

At this time Zemaun Shah was on his way towards the borders of
Hindostan. He had advanced as far as Peshawur, when intelligence of
the fall of Candahar reached his camp. It was believed that he had
little actual design of advancing beyond the Sutlej. Partly with a
view of enforcing the payment of the Sindh tribute—partly to overawe
the Sikhs, and partly to abstract his own army from the dangerous
vicinity of Candahar and the corrupting influences to which in such a
neighbourhood it was exposed, he had made this move to the southward.
It was very obvious that, in such a condition of his own empire, all
idea of invading Hindostan was utterly wild and chimerical. If such an
idea had ever been formed, it was now speedily abandoned. All other
considerations gave place to the one necessity of saving his kingdom
from the grasp of his brother. He hastened back to Western Afghanistan;
but an impolitic expedition under the prince Soojah-ool-Moolk, who was
soon destined to play a conspicuous part in the great Central-Asian
drama, had crippled his military resources, and when he retraced his
steps, he found that the strength of Prince Mahmoud had increased
as his own had diminished. He marched against the rebels only to be
defeated. The main body of the royal troops was under the command of
one Ahmed Khan, a chief of the Noorzye tribe. Watching his opportunity,
Futteh Khan seized the person of the Sirdar’s brother, and threatened
to destroy him if the chief refused to come over bodily with his
troops and swell the ranks of the insurgents. The character of the
Barukzye leader certified that this was no idle threat. Ahmed Khan,
already wavering in his loyalty, for the conduct of the Wuzeer had
alienated his heart from the royal cause, at once made his election.
When the troops of Shah Zemaun came up with the advance of the rebel
army, he joined the insurgent force. From that time the cause of the
royalists became hopeless. Disaster followed disaster till its ruin
was complete. The minister and his master fell into the hands of the
enemy. Wuffadar Khan, with his brothers, was put to death. Death, too,
awaited the king—but the man was suffered to live. They doomed him only
to political extinction. There is a cruel, but a sure way of achieving
this in all Mahomedan countries. Between a blind king and a dead king
there is no political difference. The eyes of a conquered monarch
are punctured with a lancet, and he _de facto_ ceases to reign. They
blinded Shah Zemaun, and cast him into prison; and the Douranee Empire
owned Shah Mahmoud as its head.

So fell Zemaun Shah, the once dreaded Afghan monarch, whose threatened
invasion of Hindostan had for years been a ghastly phantom haunting
the Council-Chamber of the British-Indian Government. He survived the
loss of his sight nearly half a century; and as the neglected pensioner
of Loodhianah, to the very few who could rememberer the awe which his
name once inspired, must have presented a curious spectacle of fallen
greatness—an illustration of the mutability of human affairs scarcely
paralleled in the history of the world. He died at last full of years,
empty of honours, his death barely worth a newspaper-record or a
paragraph in a state paper. Scarcely identified in men’s minds with
the Zemaun Shah of the reigns of Sir John Shore and Lord Wellesley, he
lived an appendage, alike in prosperity and adversity, to his younger
brother, Soojah-ool-Moolk. That Soojah had once been reputed and
described as an appendage to Shah Zemaun-“his constant companion at
all times.” They soon came to change places, and in a country where
fraternal strife is the rule and not the exception, it is worthy of
record that those brothers were true to each other to the last.[22]



 The Early Days of Soojah-ool-Moolk—Disastrous Commencement of his
 Career—Defeat of Shah Mahmoud—Reign of Shah Soojah—The Insurrection of
 Prince Kaysur—Tidings of the British Mission.

From the fall of Zemaun Shah we are to date the rise of
Soojah-ool-Moolk. They were brothers by the same father and mother.
At the time of the political extinction of the elder, the younger was
about twenty years of age. He had taken no part in the government; was
but lightly esteemed for courage; and had little place in the thoughts
of the people, except as an appendage of the reigning monarch. In
command of the royal troops, and in charge of the family and property
of the king, whilst Zemaun Shah was striking a last blow for empire
in the West, he had held his post at Peshawur. There he received the
disastrous tidings of the fate that had descended upon his brother
and his prince. He at once proclaimed himself king, began to levy
troops, and in September, 1801, marched upon Caubul with an army of
10,000 men. Victorious at the outset, he did not improve his successes,
and was eventually defeated by the Douranees under Futteh Khan. The
destinies of princes were in the hands of the powerful Barukzye sirdar.
His energies and his influence alone upheld the drooping sovereignty
of Shah Mahmoud. Weak and unprincipled, indolent and rapacious, that
prince had been raised to the throne by Futteh Khan; and, though it
was not in the nature of things that a ruler so feeble and so corrupt
should long retain his hold of the empire, for a while the strong hand
of the minister sustained him in his place.

Soojah-ool-Moolk fled to the fastnesses of the Khybur Pass. In the
winter of 1801 the Ghilzyes broke out into open rebellion against the
Douranee power; but were defeated with great slaughter. The Douranees
returned to Caubul, and erected from the heads of the conquered, a
pyramid of human skulls. In the spring of the following year the same
restless tribe was again in rebellion; and again the energies of
Futteh Khan were put forth for the suppression of the dangerous spirit
of Ghilzye revolt. In March, 1802, the insurgents were a second time
chastised; and, it is said, on the same day, Soojah-ool-Moolk, who had
raised an army in the Khybur and marched upon Peshawur, sustained a
severe defeat at the hands of the Douranee garrison, and was driven
back into the obscurity from which he had fruitlessly emerged.

Thus for a while was tranquillity restored to the Douranee Empire.
Reading and conversing with learned men, and taking council with his
military adherents, Soojah-ool-Moolk, from the time of his defeat,
remained inactive in the Afreedi country. Even there the vigilant
enmity of the Wuzeer tracked the unhappy prince. There was no
security in such retirement. The shadow of Futteh Khan darkened his
resting-place and disturbed his repose. He fled to Shawl; and there,
in the depth of winter and on the verge of starvation, wandered about,
making vain endeavours to subsist himself and a few followers by the
sale of the royal jewels. Among a people little understanding the
worth of such costly articles, purchasers were with difficulty to be
found. In the extremity which then beset him he changed the character
of the pedlar for that of the bandit, and levied money by plundering
caravans, and giving notes of hand for the amount that he raised. In
this manner he collected three lakhs of rupees, and was enabled to
levy troops for an attack upon Candahar. But Providence did not smile
upon his endeavours. He was again repulsed. Again was he involved in a
great ruin; with little hope of extrication by the energy of his own
struggles, or the inherent vitality of his cause.

But in the mean while the sovereignty of Shah Mahmoud was falling to
pieces by itself. He had risen upon the weakness of his predecessor,
and now by his own weakness was he to be cast down. What Shah Zemaun
had done for him, was he now doing for Soojah-ool-Moolk. In the absence
of Futteh Khan, the Kuzzilbashes were suffered to ride roughshod over
the people. The excesses which they committed at Caubul, scattered
the last remnant of popularity which still adhered to the person of
the king. At last an open outbreak occurred between the Sheeas and
the Soonees. The king identified himself with the former; some of his
chief ministers with the latter. In this conjuncture Soojah-ool-Moolk
was sent for to strengthen the hands of the Shah’s opponents. When
he arrived, he found Caubul in a state of siege. Futteh Khan had by
this time returned to aid the royal cause, but too late to regain the
ground that had been lost in his absence. There was an engagement,
which lasted from morning to evening prayer, and at the end of which
Mahmoud was defeated. Futteh Khan fled. Soojah-ool-Moolk entered Caubul
in triumph; and Mahmoud threw himself at his feet.[23] To him, who in
the hour of victory had shown no mercy, mercy was shown in the hour of
defeat. It is to the honour of Shah Soojah that he forbore to secure
the future tranquillity of his empire, by committing the act of cruelty
which had disgraced the accession of the now prostrate Mahmoud. The
eyes of the fallen prince were spared: and years of continued intestine
strife declared how impolitic was the act of mercy.

For from this time, throughout many years, the strife between the royal
brothers was fierce and incessant. In his son Kamran, the ex-King
Mahmoud found a willing ally and an active auxiliary. To the reigning
monarch it was a period of endless inquietude. His resources were
limited, and his qualities were of too negative a character to render
him equal to the demands of such stirring times. He wanted vigour; he
wanted activity; he wanted judgment; and above all, he wanted money. It
is ever the fate of those who have risen, as Soojah rose to monarchy,
to be dragged down by the weight of the obligations incurred and the
promises made in the hour of adversity. The day of reckoning comes
and the dangers of success are as great as the perils of failure. The
Douranee monarch could not meet his engagements without weakening
himself, by making large assignments upon the revenues of different
provinces; and even then many interested friends were turned by
disappointment into open enemies. This was one element of weakness. But
the error of his life was committed when he failed to propitiate the
loyalty of the great Barukzye, Futteh Khan. Upon the accession of Shah
Soojah, that chief had been freely pardoned, and “allowed to salute the
step of the throne.” But the king did not estimate the real value of
the alliance, and, elevating his rival Akrum Khan, refused the moderate
demands of the Barukzye chief. Disappointed and chagrined, Futteh Khan
then deserted the royal standard. He chose his time wisely and well.
The king had set out with an army to overawe Peshawur and Cashmere.
When they had proceeded some way, Futteh Khan, who accompanied him,
excused himself on the plea of some physical infirmity which disabled
him from keeping pace with the royal cortège, and said that he would
join the army, following it by easy stages. Thus, disguising his
defection, he fell in the rear, and as the royal party advanced,
returned to foment a rebellion.

In this distracted country there was at that time another aspirant
to the throne. The son of Zemaun Shah, Prince Kaysur, had set up his
claims to the sovereignty of Caubul. He had been appointed governor of
Candahar by Shah Soojah; and probably would have been satisfied with
this extent of power, if Futteh Khan had not incited him to revolt,
and offered to aid him in his attempts upon the crown. The prince lent
a willing ear to the charmings of the Sirdar; and so it happened that
whilst Shah Soojah was amusing himself on the way to Peshawur-“enjoying
the beautiful scenery and the diversion of hunting,”—his nephew and
the Barukzye chief were raising a large army at Candahar, intent
upon establishing, by force of arms, the claims of the family of his
sightless brother.

This ill-omened intelligence brought the Shah back in haste to his
capital, whence he soon marched towards Candahar to meet the advancing
troops of the prince. And here again, to the treachery of his
opponents, rather than to the valour of his own troops, the Shah owed
his success. On the eve of the expected conflict, the son of Ahmed
Khan, with other Douranee chiefs, deserted to the royal standard.
Disheartened and dismayed, the prince broke up his army, and fled to
Candahar. In the meanwhile, Shah Soojah returned to Caubul to find it
occupied by an insurgent force. According to his own confession, he
was employed for a month in repossessing himself of the capital. The
insurgent prince and the Barukzye chief, during this time, had in some
measure recovered themselves at Candahar, and the king marched again
to the westward. Kaysur fled at his approach; and Futteh Khan betook
himself to Herat, to offer his services to the son of his old master.
The prince was brought back and conducted to the royal presence by Shah
Zemaun and the Mooktor-ood-Dowlah, who besought the forgiveness of the
king on the plea of the youth and inexperience of the offender, and the
evil counsel of the Barukzye sirdar. Against his better judgment, Shah
Soojah forgave him and restored him to the government of Candahar.[24]

The affairs of Candahar being thus settled for a time, Shah Soojah
marched into Sindh to enforce the payment of tribute which had been
due for some years to Caubul. He then returned to his capital, and
after giving his troops a three months’ furlough, began to think of
commencing operations against Kamran, who was again disturbing the
country to the west. In the meanwhile, this prince had marched upon
Candahar, and Kaysur had fled at his approach. This was the second
time the two princes had met as enemies—the second time that the scale
had been turned by the weight of the chief of the Barukzyes. On one
occasion, Futteh Khan had invited Kamran to Candahar, and engaged to
deliver up the city—then suddenly formed an alliance with Kaysur, and,
sword in hand at the head of a small body of Douranees, driven back
the prince with whom he had just before been in close alliance. Now
he forsook the son of Shah Zemaun to unite himself with the heir of
Mahmoud. Forgetful of past treachery, Kamran received the powerful
Barukzye; and they marched together upon Candahar. Kaysur, as I have
said, fled at his approach; and the insurgents took possession of the
city. In the meanwhile, the Persians were advancing upon Herat, and
Shah Soojah was moving up to Candahar. In this critical conjuncture,
Kamran returned in alarm to the former place, and Kaysur joined the
king at the latter. “We again,” says Shah Soojah, “gave him charge
of Candahar, at the request of our queen-mother, and our brother,
Shah Zemaun. On our return to Caubul, Akrum Khan and the other Khans
petitioned us to pardon Futteh Khan, who was now reduced to poverty.
We assented. He was then brought into the presence by Akrum Khan. We
remained some time in Candahar, in the charge of which we left Prince
Zemaun, and sent Kaysur to Caubul.”

Again was it in the power of Shah Soojah to conciliate the great
Barukzye. Again was the opportunity lost. There was something in
the temper of the monarch adverse to the formation of new, and the
retention of old, friendships. Whilst Futteh Khan was again made to
feel the impossibility of any lasting alliance with a prince who could
not appreciate the value of his services, and who neither invited nor
inspired confidence, the chain which bound the Mooktor-ood-Dowlah
to the sovereign was gradually relaxing, and a new danger began to
threaten the latter. When the Shah was absent in the Sindh territory,
the minister flung himself into the arms of Prince Kaysur, and publicly
proclaimed him king. The rebels moved down upon Peshawur, and took
possession of the city. Shah Soojah immediately began to direct his
operations against that place. It was on the 3rd of March, 1808, that
the two armies came into collision. “The sun rising,” says Shah Soojah,
who had halted for six days in the vicinity of Peshawur, hoping that
the rebellious minister might perhaps repent, “we saw the opposite
armies in battle-array. Khojan Mahommed Khan, with a few Khans,
followers from Mooktor-ood-Dowlah’s army, did great deeds of valour,
and at last dispersed our raw soldiers, leaving us alone in the field,
protected by a few faithful Douranees. We still remained on our guard,
when our attendants warned us of the approach of Khojan Mahommed Khan.
We rushed on the traitor sword in hand, and cut through four of the
iron plates of his cuirass. Our chief eunuch, Nekoo Khan, brought his
horse and accoutrements. Mooktor-ood-Dowlah then attacked our force;
but he and his whole race perished. Prince Kaysur fled to Caubul. We
then marched in triumphant pomp to the Balla Hissar of Peshawur.”
The gory head of the minister, borne aloft on a spear, and carried
behind the conqueror, gave _éclat_ to the procession, and declared the
completeness of his victory.

Prince Kaysur, after a single night spent at Caubul, fled into the
hill country; but was brought back to the capital by the emissaries
of the Shah. The experience of past treachery and past ingratitude
had not hardened the monarch’s heart: and he again “pardoned the
manifold offences of his nephew.” In the meanwhile Mahmoud, who had
been joined by Futteh Khan, and had been endeavouring to raise the
sinews of war by plundering caravans, obtained, by the usual process
of treachery, possession of Candahar, and then marched upon Caubul.
Shah Soojah went out to meet him, and Mahmoud, rendered hopeless
by disaffection in his ranks, broke up his camp and fled. The king
then turned his face towards the west, and ordered his camp to be
pitched on the road to Herat. “Hearing of our approach,” he says, “our
brother, Feroz-ood-Deen, then in charge of the fort of Herat, sent
a petition, requesting our orders, proffering the tribute due, and
offering to become security for Mahmoud’s future behaviour. The same
blood flowed in our veins, and we ordered one lakh of rupees to be
paid him yearly from the tribute of Sindh, and conferred on him the
government of Herat.” This done, he proceeded to Caubul, and thence to
Peshawur, where he “received petitions from the Khan of Bahwulpore and
Moozuffur Khan, Suddozye, stating that ambassadors from the Company’s
territories, by name Elphinstone and Strachey, had arrived, and
requested orders.” “We wrote to the ambassadors,” says the Shah, “and
ordered our chiefs to pay them every attention.”

The history of this mission will be embraced in a subsequent chapter.
It is not without some misgivings that I have traced these early annals
of the Douranee Empire.[25] But the chronicle is not without its uses.
It illustrates, in a remarkable manner, both the general character
of Afghan politics, and the extraordinary vicissitudes of the early
career of the man whom thirty years afterwards the British raised
from the dust of exile, and reseated on the throne of his fathers.
The history of the Afghan monarchy is a history of a long series of
revolutions. Seldom has the country rested from strife—seldom has the
sword reposed in the scabbard. The temper of the people has never been
attuned to peace. They are impatient of the restraints of a settled
government, and are continually panting after change. Half-a-century
of turbulance and anarchy has witnessed but little variation in the
national character; and the Afghan of the present day is the same
strange mixture of impetuosity and cunning—of boldness and treachery—of
generosity and selfishness—of kindness and cruelty—as he was when
Zemaun Shah haunted the Council-Chamber of Calcutta with a phantom of
invasion, and the vision was all the more terrible because “the shape
thereof” no one could discern.



 France and Russia in the East—Death of Hadjee Khalil Khan—The Mission
 of Condolence—Aga Nebee Khan—Extension of Russian Dominion in the
 East—French Diplomacy in Persia—The pacification of Tilsit—Decline of
 French influence in Teheran.

The intestine wars, which rent and convulsed the Afghan Empire, were a
source of acknowledged security to the British power in the East. From
the time when in the first year of the present century Captain Malcolm
dictated at the Court of Teheran the terms of that early treaty, which
French writers freely condemn, and Englishmen are slow to vindicate,
to the date of the romantic pacification of Tilsit, the politics of
Central Asia excited little interest or alarm in the Council-Chamber of
Calcutta. India had ceased to bestir itself about an Afghan invasion.
Instead of a shadowy enemy from beyond the Indus, the British had
now to face, on the banks of the Jumna, a real and formidable foe.
The genius of the two Wellesleys was called into action to curb the
insolence and crush the power of the Mahrattas; and whilst we were
alternately fighting and negotiating with Scindiah and Holkar, we
scarcely cared to ask who reigned in Afghanistan; or if accident made
us acquainted with the progress of events, viewed with philosophic
unconcern the vicissitudes of the Douranee Empire.

Engaged in the solution of more pressing political questions at
home, Lord Wellesley and his immediate successors bestowed little
thought upon the Persian alliance. Throughout the remaining years of
that nobleman’s administration, one event alone occurred to rouse
the Governor-General to a consideration of the temper of the Court
of Teheran. That event filled him with apprehensions of danger
preposterously incommensurate with its own importance, and ridiculously
falsified by the result. An accident, and a very untoward one, it
occurred at a time when the Indian Government had not yet recovered
from the inquietude engendered by their disturbing dreams of French
and Afghan invasion. The story may be briefly told. On the return of
Captain Malcolm from Persia, one Hadjee Khalil Khan had been despatched
to India to reciprocate assurances of friendship, and to ratify and
interchange the treaty. The mission cost the Hadjee his life. He had
not been long resident in Bombay,[26] when the Persian attendants of
the ambassador and the detachment of Company’s sepoys forming his
escort quarrelled with each other in the courtyard before his house,
and came into deadly collision. The Hadjee went out to quell the
riot, and was struck dead by a chance shot. The intelligence of this
unhappy disaster was brought round to Calcutta by a king’s frigate.
The sensation it created at the Presidency was intense. Every possible
demonstration of sorrow was made by the Supreme Government. Minute guns
were fired from the ramparts of Fort William. All levees and public
dinners at Government-House were suspended. Distant stations caught
the alarm from the Council-Chamber of Calcutta. The minor presidencies
were scarcely less convulsed. Bombay having previously thrown itself
into mourning, instructions for similar observances were sent round
to Madras; and two days after the arrival of the _Chiffone_ it was
announced in the Gazette that Major Malcolm, who was at that time
acting as private secretary to Lord Wellesley, had been directed to
proceed to Bombay, for the purpose of communicating with the relations
of the late Hadjee Khalil Khan, taking with him, as secretary, his
young friend and relative, Lieutenant Pasley, who had accompanied him
on his first mission to Persia. At the same time Mr. Lovett, a civilian
of no long standing, was ordered to proceed immediately to Bushire,
charged with an explanatory letter from Lord Wellesley to the Persian
king, and instructed to offer such verbal explanations as might be
called for by the outraged monarch. For some days nothing was thought
of in Calcutta beyond the circle of this calamitous affair. In other
directions a complete paralysis descended upon the Governor-General
and his advisers. The paramount emergency bewildered the strongest
understandings, and dismayed the stoutest hearts at the Presidency. And
yet it was said, not long afterwards, by the minister of Shiraz, that
“the English might kill ten ambassadors, if they would pay for them at
the same rate.”

Major Malcolm left Calcutta on the 30th of August, and beating down
the Bay of Bengal against the south-west monsoon, reached Masulipatam
on the 19th of September. Taking dawk across the country, he spent a
few days at Hyderabad in the Deccan, transacted some business there,
and then pushed on to Bombay. Reaching that Presidency on the 10th of
October, he flung himself into his work with characteristic energy
and self-reliance. Mr. Lovett, who had none of his activity, followed
slowly behind, and fell sick upon the road. Jonathan Duncan, the most
benevolent of men, was at that time Governor of Bombay, and some
members of the Persian embassy had presumed upon his good-nature to
assume an arrogance of demeanour which it now became Malcolm’s duty
to check. He soon reduced them to reason. Before the end of the month
every difficulty had vanished. Many of the Persians were personally
acquainted with the English diplomatist. All were acquainted with his
character. But above all, it was known that he was the bearer of the
public purse. He came to offer the mourners large presents and handsome
pensions from the Supreme Government, and it is no matter of surprise,
therefore, that he had soon, in his own words, “obtained from them a
confidence which enabled him to set aside all intermediate agents, and
consequently freed him from all intrigues.”[27]

It was arranged that the body of the deceased ambassador should be
put on board at the end of October, and that, a day or two later, the
vessel should set sail for the Persian Gulf. Mr. Pasley was directed
to attend the Hadjee’s remains, and was charged with the immediate
duties of the mission.[28] When the vessel reached Bushire, it was
found that the death of the Hadjee had created little sensation in the
Persian territories, and that before the intelligence was ten days old
it had been well-nigh forgotten. The Resident at Bushire, a Persian
of good family, naturalised in India, and employed by the Company—an
astute diplomatist and a great liar—had thought it necessary to testify
his zeal by circulating a false version of the circumstances attending
the death of the Hadjee, and calumniating the memory of the deceased.
There was no need, indeed, of this. The Persian Government seems to
have regarded the death of the Hadjee with exemplary unconcern; and
marvelled why the English should have made so great a stir about so
small a matter. If a costly British mission could have been extracted
out of the disaster, the Court would have been more than satisfied;
whilst they who were most deeply interested in the event, moved by the
same _sacra fames_, thought rather of turning it to profitable account
than of bewailing the death of their relative and friend.

The brother-in-law of the late envoy lost no time in offering his
services to fill the place of the deceased. The name of this man was
Aga Nebee Khan. He was the son, by a second connexion, of the mistress
of Mr. Douglas, chief of the Bussorah factory, and had been Mr. Jones’s
moonshee, on a monthly salary of thirty rupees. The Hadjee himself had
been a person of no consideration. Half-minister and half-merchant,
he had thought more of trading upon his appointment than of advancing
the interests of the state; and Nebee Khan, who had embarked with him
in his commercial speculations, now lusted to succeed his murdered
relative in his diplomatic office, as well as in the senior partnership
of the mercantile concern. And he succeeded at last. It cost him
time, and it cost him money to accomplish his purpose; but partly
by bribery, partly by cajolery, he eventually secured the object of
his ambition.[29] It was not, however, till three full years had
passed away since the death of the Hadjee, that his brother-in-law
reached Calcutta, “not exactly to fill his relative’s place, but to
exercise the triple functions of minister, merchant, and claimant of
blood-money, which he roundly assessed at twenty lakhs of rupees.”

And in those three years a great change had come over the Supreme
Government of India. A long war, prosecuted with extraordinary vigour,
had exhausted the financial resources of the state. The reign of
India’s most magnificent satrap—the “sultanised” Governor-General—was
at an end. A new ruler had been sent from England to carry out a new
policy; and that policy was fatal to the pretensions of such a man as
Nebee Khan.

He had fallen, indeed, upon evil times. Those were not days when
moneyed compensations were likely to be granted even to ambassadors,
or when there was any greater likelihood of an Indian statesman
embarrassing himself with distant engagements which might compel him
to advance an army into unknown regions, or send a fleet into foreign
seas. So there was nothing but disappointment in store for Nebee Khan.
In the month of October, 1805, the vessel bearing the ambassador sailed
into the harbour of Bombay. He was welcomed with all the formalities
befitting his station, and with every demonstration of respect. But a
series of untoward circumstances, like those which, in the reign of
our second James, delayed the public audience of Lord Castlemaine at
Rome, postponed, for the space of many months, the reception of Nebee
Khan at Calcutta. At length, on the 28th of April, 1806, the ceremony
of presentation took place. Sir George Barlow was then at the head of
the Indian Government. The Governor-General lined the public way with
soldiers, and sent the leading officers of the state to conduct the
merchant-minister to his presence. It was an imposing spectacle, and
a solemn farce. The Persian elchee knew that he had come to Calcutta
not to treat of politics, but of pice; and the English governor, while
publicly honouring the Persian, secretly despised him as a sordid
adventurer, and was bent upon baffling his schemes. At the private
interviews which took place between the British functionaries and Nebee
Khan, there was little mention of political affairs. There was a long
outstanding money account between the parties, and the settlement of
the account-current was the grand object of the mission. The Persian,
who thought that he had only to ask, found that times had changed since
the commencement of the century, and was overwhelmed with dismay when
the British secretary demonstrated to him that he was a debtor to our
government of more than a lakh of rupees. Satisfied with existing
relations of friendship between Persia and Great Britain, and never
at any time disposed to embarrass himself with unnecessary treaties,
Barlow declined to enter into new political negotiations, or to satisfy
the exorbitant personal claims of the representative of the Persian
Court. Nebee Khan left Calcutta a disappointed man. The speculation had
not answered. The investment had been a bad one. He had toiled for four
long years; he had wasted his time and wasted his money only to be told
at last, by an officious secretary, that he owed the British-Indian
Government a lakh and seven thousand rupees. In January, 1807, carrying
back a portfolio, not more full of political than his purse of
financial results, the ambassador left Calcutta. Neither the merchant
nor the minister had played a winning game. Compensation and treaties
were alike refused him; and he went back with empty hands.

In the mean while, the French had succeeded in establishing their
influence at the Court of Teheran.[30] They had long been pushing their
intrigues in that quarter, and now at last were beginning to overcome
the difficulties which had formerly beset them. The Malcolm treaty of
1800 bound the contracting parties to a defensive alliance against
France; but the terms of the treaty had been scarcely adjusted, when
French emissaries endeavoured to shake the fidelity of Persia by
large offers of assistance. The offers were rejected. The French were
told, in emphatic language, that “if Napoleon appeared in person at
Teheran, he would be denied admission to the centre of the universe.”
But, undaunted by these failures, they again returned to tempt the
embarrassed Persians. Every year increased the difficulties of the
Shah, and weakened his reliance on the British. He was beset with
danger, and he wanted aid. The British-Indian Government was either too
busy or too indifferent to aid him. The energetic liberality of the
French contrasted favourably with our supineness; and before the year
1805 had worn to a close, Persia had sought the very alliance and asked
the very aid, which before had been offered and rejected.

The assistance that was sought was assistance against Russia. In
1805, the Shah addressed a letter to Napoleon, then in the very
zenith of his triumphant career, seeking the aid of the great western
conqueror to stem the tide of Russian encroachment. For years had
that formidable northern power been extending its conquests to the
east-wards. Before the English trader had begun to organise armies in
Hindostan, and to swallow up ancient principalities, the grand idea
of founding an Eastern empire had been grasped by the capacious mind
of Peter the Great. Over the space of a century, under emperors and
empresses of varying shades of character, had the same undeviating
course of aggressive policy been pursued by Russia towards her eastern
neighbours. The country which lies between the Black Sea and the
Caspian was the especial object of Muscovite ambition. A portion of it,
occupied by a race of hardy, vigorous mountaineers, still defies the
tyranny of the Czar, and still from time to time, as new efforts are
made to subjugate it, new detachments of Russian troops are buried in
its formidable defiles. But Georgia, after a series of wars, notorious
for the magnitude of the atrocities which disgraced them, had been
wrested from the Persians before the close of the last century, and in
1800 was formally incorporated with the Russian Empire by the Autocrat

These encroachments beyond the Caucasus brought Russia and Persia into
a proximity as tempting to the one as it was perilous to the other.
The first few years of the present century were years of incessant and
sanguinary strife. In the Russian Governor-General, Zizianoff, were
combined great personal energy and considerable military skill, with
a certain ferocity of character which seldom allowed him to display
much clemency towards the vanquished. A Georgian by extraction, and
connected by marriage with the princes of that country, he never forgot
the cruelties which had alienated for ever the hearts of the Georgian
people from their old Mahomedan masters. The restless aggressive spirit
of the great Muscovite power was fitly represented by this man. He was
soon actively at work. He entered Daghistan—defeated the Lesghees with
great slaughter—carried Ganja by assault, and massacred the garrison—a
second time defeated the Lesghees, after a sanguinary engagement;
and then returning to Tiflis, addressed the governors of Shamakhee,
Sheesha, and other fortresses to the north of the Aras, threatening
them with the fate of Ganja if they did not make instant submission in
compliance with the orders of the Russian monarch, who had instructed
him not to pause in his career of conquest until he had encamped his
army on the borders of that river.

In the spring of 1804, Abbas Mirza, the heir-apparent to the throne of
Persia, took the field at the head of a formidable army, and marched
down upon Erivan, the capital of Armenia. The governor refused to
abandon his charge, and when the prince prepared to attack him, called
the Russian general to his aid. The result was fatal to the Persian
cause. In the month of July, the army of the Crown-Prince of Persia
and the Russian and Georgian force under Zizianoff, twice encountered
each other, and twice the Persian army was driven back with terrible
loss. On the second occasion the rout was complete. Abbas Mirza lost
everything. Taking refuge in a small fort, he endeavoured to negotiate
terms with Zizianoff; but the Russian general told him haughtily, that
the orders of his sovereign were, that he should occupy all the country
along the Aras River, from Erivan to the borders of the Caspian, and
that he chafed under the instructions which confined his conquests to a
limit so far within the boundaries of his own ambition.

The disasters of the heir-apparent brought the king himself into the
field. Moving down with a large army to the succour of the prince,
he again encountered the Russian forces, but only to see his troops
sustain another defeat. Disheartened by these repeated failures, the
Persians then changed their tactics, and adopting a more predatory
style of warfare, harassed their northern enemy by cutting off his
supplies. The year being then far advanced, Zizianoff drew off his
forces, and prepared to prosecute the war with renewed energy in the
following spring. That spring was his last. An act of the blackest
treachery cut short his victorious career. He was conducting in
person the siege of Badkoo, when the garrison, making overtures of
capitulation, invited the Russian general to a conference for the
settlement of the terms. He went unattended to a tent that had been
pitched for his reception, and was deliberately set upon and slain by
a party of assassins stationed there for the bloody purpose. The King
of Persia, when the tidings reached him, grew wild with delight. In an
ecstasy of joy he published an inflated proclamation, setting forth
that he had achieved a great victory, and slain the celebrated Russian
commander. But other thoughts soon forced themselves upon the king and
his ministers. A black cloud was brooding over them—the retribution
of an outraged nation. A signal chastisement was expected. New armies
were looked for; new encroachments anticipated from the North; new
forfeitures of dominion seemed inevitable—the righteous result of an
act of such atrocious perfidy. Persia felt her weakness, and, in an
extremity which seemed to threaten her very existence, trusted to
foreign European aid to rescue her from the jaws of death.

It was at this time, when threatened with the vengeance of Russia,
that the Persian Court addressed a letter to Napoleon, then in the
full flush of unbroken success, seeking the aid of that powerful
chief. It was at this time, too, that Aga Nebee Khan commenced his
journey to India, and it is probable that if the Indian Government
had shown any disposition to aid the Persian monarch in his efforts
to repel the aggressions of the Muscovite, the French alliance would
have been quietly but effectually relinquished. But the supineness of
England was the opportunity of France. The Indian Government had left
the settlement of the Persian question to the Cabinet of St. James’s,
and the Cabinet had dawdled over it as a matter that might be left to
take care of itself. In this extremity, the Persian monarch forgot the
treaty with the British, or thought that the British, by deserting him
in his need, had absolved him from all obligations to observe it, and
openly flung himself into the arms of the very enemy which that treaty
so truculently proscribed.

In the autumn of 1805, an accredited French agent arrived at Teheran.
The result of the Indian mission was then unknown; and Colonel Romieu
was received with that barren courtesy which almost amounts to
discouragement. It would probably, too, have been so regarded by the
French envoy, had not death cut short his diplomatic career, after a
few days spent at Teheran, and a single audience of the king. But the
following spring beamed more favourably on the diplomacy of France. The
cold indifference of England had been ascertained beyond a doubt, and
the danger of Russian aggressiveness, now sharpened by revenge, was
becoming more and more imminent. All things conspired to favour the
machinations of the French; and they seized the opportunity with vigour
and address. Another envoy appeared upon the scene. Monsieur Jaubert
was received with marked attention and respect. He came to pave the
way for a splendid embassy, which Napoleon proposed to despatch to the
Persian Court. Overjoyed at these assurances of friendship, the king
eagerly grasped the proffered alliance. He was prepared to listen to
any proposal, so that his new allies undertook to co-operate against
his Russian enemies. He would join in an invasion of Hindostan, or,
in concert with the French, amputate any given limb from the body of
the Turkish Empire. There was much promise of aid on either side, and
for a time French counsels were dominant at the Persian capital. Two
years passed away, during which the emissaries of Napoleon, in spite
of accidental hindrances, contrived to gain the confidence of the
Court of Teheran. They declared that England was a fallen country—that
although protected for a time by its insular position, it must fall a
prey to the irresistible power of Napoleon—that, as nothing was to be
expected from its friendship, nothing was to be apprehended from its
enmity; and so, industriously propagating reports to our discredit,
they established themselves on the ruins of British influence, and for
a time their success was complete.

And so it happened, that when the British Governments in London and
Calcutta awoke almost simultaneously to the necessity of “doing
something,” they found a well-appointed French embassy established
at Teheran, under General Gardanne, an officer of high reputation,
whom even hostile diplomatists have delighted to commend; they found
a numerous staff of officers,[31] civil and military, with engineers
and artificers, prepared to instruct and drill the native troops, to
cast cannon, and to strengthen the defences of the Persian cities;
they found French agents, under the protection of duly constituted
_mehmendars_, visiting Gombroon, Bushire, and other places, surveying
the harbours of the gulf, and intriguing with the ambassadors of the
Ameers of Sindh. And it was pretty well ascertained that the invasion
of India by a French and Persian army was one of the objects of the
treaty, which, soon after the arrival of Gardanne at Teheran, was sent
home for the approval of Napoleon.

But a mighty change had, by this time, passed over the politics of
Europe. It was in July, 1807, that on a raft floating upon the bosom of
the River Niemen, near the city of Tilsit, in the kingdom of Prussia,
the Emperor Alexander and Napoleon Buonaparte, after a brief and bloody
campaign, embraced each other like brothers. In the short space of ten
days, fifty thousand of the best French and Russian troops had been
killed or disabled on the field of battle. Yet so little had been the
vantage gained by either party, that it is even to this day a moot
point in history, as it was in the contemporary records of the war,
whether the first peaceful overture was made by the Russian monarch
or the Corsican invader. Both powers eagerly embraced the opportunity
of repose; and in a few days the scene was changed, as by magic,
from one of sanguinary war and overwhelming misery to one of general
cordiality and rejoicing. The French and Russian soldiers, who a few
days before had broken each other’s ranks on the bloody plains of Eylau
and Friedland, now feasted each other with overflowing hospitality,
and toasted each other with noisy delight. Such, indeed, on both sides
was the paroxysm of friendship, that they exchanged uniforms one with
the other, and paraded the public streets of Tilsit in motley costume,
as though the reign of international fraternity had commenced in
that happy July. And whilst the followers of Alexander and Napoleon
were abandoning themselves to convivial pleasures, and the social
affections and kindly charities were in full play, those monarchs were
spending quiet evenings together, discussing their future plans, and
projecting joint schemes of conquest. It was then that they meditated
the invasion of Hindostan by a confederate army uniting on the plains
of Persia. Lucien Buonaparte, the brother of the newly-styled emperor,
was destined for the Teheran mission; and no secret was made of the
intention of the two great European potentates to commence, in the
following spring, a hostile demonstration “contre les possessions de la
Compagnie des Indes.”

But by this time both the British and the Indian Governments had
awakened from the slumbers of indifference in which they had so
long been lulled. They could no longer encourage theories of
non-interference whilst the most formidable powers in Europe were
pushing their conquests and insinuating their intrigues over the
countries and into the courts of Asia. Lord Minto had succeeded Sir
George Barlow as head of the Supreme Government of India. Naturally
inclined, as he was instructed, to carry out a moderate policy, and
to abstain as much as possible from entanglements with native rulers,
he would fain have devoted himself to the details of domestic policy,
and the replenishment of an exhausted exchequer. But the unsettled
state of our European relations compelled him to look beyond the
frontier. What he saw there roused him into action. It is observable
that statesmen trained in the cabinets and courts of Europe have ever
been more sensitively alive to the dangers of invasion from the North
than those whose experience has been gathered in the fields of Indian
diplomacy. Lord Wellesley and Lord Minto were ever tremulous with
intense apprehension of danger from without, whilst Sir John Shore and
Sir George Barlow possessed themselves in comparative confidence and
tranquillity, and, if they were not wholly blind to the peril, at all
events did not exaggerate it. There is a sense of security engendered
by long habit and familiarity with apparent danger, which renders a
man mistrustful of the reality of that which has so often been shown
to be a counterfeit. The inexperience of English statesmen suddenly
transplanted to a new sphere of action, often sees in the most ordinary
political phenomena strange and alarming portents. It is easy to be
wise after the event. We know now that India has never been in any
real danger from French intrigue or French aggressiveness; but Lord
Wellesley and Lord Minto saw with different eyes, and grappled the
shadowy danger as though it were a substantial fact. In those days such
extraordinary events were passing around us, that to assign the limits
of political probability was beyond the reach of human wisdom. The
attrition of great events had rubbed out the line which separates fact
from fiction, and the march of a grand army under one of Napoleon’s
marshals from the banks of the Seine to the banks of the Ganges did not
seem a feat much above the level of the Corsican’s towering career.

Rightly understood, the alliance between the two great continental
powers which seemed to threaten the destruction of the British Empire
in the East, was a source of security to the latter. But in 1807 it
was not so clearly seen that Persia was more easily to be conciliated
by the enemies, than by the friends, of the Russian Autocrat—that
the confederacy of Alexander and Napoleon was fatal to the Persian
monarch’s cherished hopes of the restitution of Georgia, and the
general retrogression of the Russian army; and that, therefore, there
was little prospect of the permanency of French influence at the Court
of Teheran. Forgetful as we were of this, the danger seemed imminent,
and only to be met by the most active measures of defence. To baffle
European intrigue, and to stem the tide of European invasion, it then
appeared to the British Indian Government expedient to enlace in one
great network of diplomacy all the states lying between the frontier
of India and the eastern points of the Russian Empire. Since India had
been threatened with invasion at the close of the last century, the
Afghan power had by disruption ceased to be formidable. We had formerly
endeavoured to protect ourselves against France on the one side, and
Afghanistan on the other, by cementing a friendly alliance with Persia.
It now became our policy, whilst endeavouring to re-establish our
influence in that country, to prepare ourselves for its hostility, and
to employ Afghanistan and Sindh as barriers against encroachments from
the West; and at the same time to increase our security by enlisting
against the French and Persian confederacy the friendly offices of
the Sikhs. That strange new race of men had by this time erected a
formidable power on the banks of the Sutlej, by the mutilation of the
Douranee Empire; and it was seen at once that the friendship of a
people occupying a tract of country so situated, and inspired with a
strong hatred of the Mahomedan faith, must, in such a crisis as had now
arrived, be an object of desirable attainment. Whilst, therefore, every
effort was to be made to wean the Court of Teheran from the French
alliance, preparations were commenced, in anticipation of the possible
failure of the Persian mission, for the despatch of British embassies
to the intervening countries.

The duty of negotiating with the Sikh ruler was entrusted to Mr.
Metcalfe, a civil servant of the Company, who subsequently rose to the
highest place in the government of India, and consummated a life of
public utility in a new sphere of action, as Governor-General of our
North American colonies. Mr. Elphinstone, another civil servant of the
Company, who still lives, amidst the fair hills of Surrey, to look back
with pride and contentment upon a career little less distinguished
than that of his contemporary, was selected to conduct the embassy to
the Court of the Douranee monarch. Captain Seton had been previously
despatched to Sindh; and Colonel Malcolm, who was at that time Resident
at Mysore, was now again ordered to proceed to the Persian Court,
charged with duties which had been rendered doubly difficult by our own
supineness, and the contrasted activity of our more restless Gallic



 The Second Mission to Persia—Malcolm’s Visit to Bushire—Failure of
 the Embassy—His Return to Calcutta—Mission of Sir Harford Jones—His
 Progress and Success.

When, in the spring of 1808, Colonel Malcolm a second time steered
his course towards the Persian Gulf, another British diplomatist had
started, from another point, upon the same mission. Moved as it were
by one common impulse, the Cabinet of England and the Supreme Council
of India had determined each to despatch an embassy to the Court of
Teheran. A curious and unseemly spectacle was then presented to the
eyes of the world. Two missions, in spirit scarcely less antagonistic
than if they had been despatched by contending powers, started for the
Persian Court; the one from London—the other from Calcutta. The Court
of St. James’s had proposed to assist Persia by mediating with St.
Petersburgh, and Mr. Harford Jones, a civil servant of the Company,
who was made a baronet for the occasion, was deputed to Teheran to
negotiate with the ministers of the Shah. It was originally intended
that he should proceed to Persia, taking the Russian capital in his
route; but the pacification of Tilsit caused a departure from this
design, and Sir Harford Jones sailed for Bombay with the mission on
board one of his Majesty’s ships. He reached that port in the month
of April, 1808, just as the embassy under Brigadier-General Malcolm,
despatched by the Governor-General to the Court of Teheran, was
putting out to sea on its way to the Persian Gulf.[32]

Sir Harford Jones, therefore, rested at Bombay, awaiting the result
of Malcolm’s proceedings. On the 10th of May, the latter reached
Bushire, and on the 18th wrote to Sir George Barlow, who had succeeded
to the governorship of Madras, “I have not only received the most
uncommon attention from all here, but learnt from the best authority
that the accounts of my mission have been received with the greatest
satisfaction at Court. The great progress which the French have made
and are daily making here satisfied me of the necessity of bringing
matters to an early issue. I have a chance of complete victory. I
shall, at all events, ascertain exactly how we stand, and know what
we ought to do; and if I do not awaken the Persian Court from their
delusion, I shall at least excite the jealousy of their new friends. I
send Captain Pasley off to-morrow for Court—ostensibly, with a letter
for the king; but he has secret instructions, and will be able to
make important observations. He is charged with a full declaration of
my sentiments and instructions in an official form, and you will, I
think, when you see that declaration of the whole proceeding, think it
calculated for the object. I have endeavoured to combine moderation
with spirit, and to inform the Persian Court, in language that cannot
irritate, of all the danger of their French connexion. Captain
Pasley will reach Court on the 20th of June, and on the 15th of July
I may expect to be able to give you some satisfactory account of his

But in this he was over-sanguine. The French envoy had established
himself too securely at Teheran to be driven thence by the appearance
of Malcolm at Bushire. A little too impetuous, perhaps—a little too
dictatorial, that energetic military diplomatist commenced at the
wrong end of his work. He erred in dictating to the Persian Court
the dismissal of the French embassy as a preliminary to further
negotiations, when in reality it was the end and object of his
negotiations. He erred in blurting out all his designs, in unfolding
the scheme of policy he intended to adopt, and so committing himself to
a line of conduct which after-events might have rendered it expedient
to modify or reject. He erred in using the language of intimidation at
a time when he should have sought to inspire confidence and diffuse
good-will among the officers of the Persian Court. These may not have
been the causes of his want of success; but it is certain that he was
completely unsuccessful. The large promises and the prompt movements of
the French contrasted favourably with our more scanty offers and more
dilatory action; and although Malcolm now came laden with presents, and
intending to pave his way to the Persian capital with gold, the British
mission was received with frigid indifference, if not with absolute
disrespect. The despatch of Captain Pasley to the capital was negatived
by the Persian Government. His progress was arrested at Shiraz; and
there, at that provincial town, whilst a French and a Russian agent
were basking in the royal sunshine at Teheran, and were entertained as
guests of the prime minister, the representative of Great Britain was
told that he must conduct his negotiations and content himself with
the countenance of lesser dignitaries of state. Persian officers were
instructed to amuse the British envoys, and to gain time. “The earnest
desire of the king,” wrote the prime minister to Nussur-ood-Dowlah, at
Shiraz, “is to procrastinate, and to avoid all decided measures. You
must, therefore, amuse General Malcolm by offering your assistance;”
and in this and other letters the local officers at Shiraz were
instructed by every means in their power to detain Captain Pasley at
that place; but he had departed before they were received, or it is
difficult to say in what manner the imperial mandate might not have
been obeyed.[34] “A consideration of all these things,” wrote Captain
Pasley to Government, “induces me to conclude that the subsisting
alliance between the Government of France and Persia is more intimate
than we have yet imagined—that its nature is more actively and
decidedly hostile to our interests than has hitherto been suspected,
and that the reliance of the king on the promises and assurances of the
French agents must be founded on better grounds than have yet come to
our knowledge.”[35]

Chafed and indignant at the conduct of the Persian Court, General
Malcolm at once came to the determination to return immediately to
Calcutta, and to report to the Supreme Government the mortifying result
of his mission. On the 12th of July he sailed from Bushire, leaving
the charge of the embassy in the hands of Captain Pasley, who remained
at his post only to be insulted, and at last narrowly escaped being
made prisoner by a precipitate retreat from the Persian dominions.[36]
The failure of the mission, indeed, was complete. Persia continued to
make professions of friendship to the British Government; but it was
obvious that at that moment neither British diplomacy nor British gold,
which was liberally offered, could make any way against the dominant
influence of the French mission. Napoleon’s officers were drilling the
Persian army, casting cannon, and strengthening the Persian fortresses
by the application, for the first time, to their barbaric defences, of
that science which the French engineers had learnt in such perfection
from the lessons of Vauban and Cormontagne.

Of the wisdom of Malcolm’s abrupt departure from Bushire, different
opinions may be entertained. On the day after he embarked for
Calcutta, one of the most sagacious men then in India was seated at
his writing-table discoursing, for Malcolm’s especial benefit, on
the advantages of delay. “As to the real question,” wrote Sir James
Mackintosh to the Brigadier-General, “which you have to decide in the
cabinet council of your own understanding, whether delay in Persia be
necessarily and universally against the interests of Great Britain, it
is a question on which you have infinitely greater means of correct
decision than I can pretend to, even if I were foolish enough, on such
matters, to aspire to any rivalship with a man of your tried and
exercised sagacity. I should just venture in general to observe, that
delay is commonly the interest of the power which is on the defensive.
As long as the delay lasts, it answers the purpose of victory, which,
in that case, is only preservation. It wears out the spirit of
enterprise necessary for assailants, especially such as embark in very
distant and perilous attempts. It familiarises those who are to be
attacked with the danger, and allows the first panic time to subside.
It affords a chance that circumstances may become more favourable; and
to those who have nothing else in their favour, it leaves at least the
‘chapter of accidents.’”[37] The ‘chapter of accidents’ is everything
in Oriental diplomacy. Malcolm, too impetuous to profit by it, left his
successor to reap the harvest of altered circumstances. Sir Harford
Jones, who had been waiting his opportunity at Bombay, entered the
arena of diplomacy a few months later than Malcolm, and his progress
was a long ovation. It was the ‘chapter of accidents’ that secured his

On the first receipt of intelligence of General Malcolm’s withdrawal,
Lord Minto despatched a letter to Sir Harford Jones, urging him to
proceed to Persia with the least possible delay. But he very soon
revoked those orders, and addressed to the English envoy stringent
communications, desiring him to remain at Bombay.[38] Malcolm had
reached Calcutta in the interval; and set forth, in strong colours,
the nature of the influence that had been opposed to his advance, and
mapped out a plan of action which, in his estimation, it would now be
expedient to adopt. Lord Minto appears to have fallen readily into the
views of the military diplomatist; but he failed altogether to cut
short the career of Sir Harford Jones. Letters travelled slowly in
those days; and before the missive of the Governor-General, ordering
his detention, had reached Bombay, the vessel which was to bear the
representative of the Court of London to the Persian Gulf had shaken
out its sails to the wind.

On the 14th of October the Mission reached Bushire. Sir Harford Jones
set about his work earnestly and conscientiously. He had difficulties
to contend against of no common order, and it must be admitted that
he faced them manfully. He found the Persian authorities but too
well disposed to arrogance and insolence; and he met their pompous
impertinence with a blustering bravery, which may have been wanting
in dignity, but was not without effect. He bullied and blasphemed,
and, after a series of not very becoming scenes, made his way to
Teheran, where he was graciously received by the Shah. The ‘chapter
of accidents’ had worked mightily in his favour. The reign of Gallic
influence was at an end. Our enemies had overreached themselves, and
been caught in their own toils. Before Napoleon and the Czar had thrown
themselves into each other’s arms at Tilsit, it had been the policy of
the French to persuade the Persian Court that the aggressive designs
of Russia could be successfully counteracted only by a power at enmity
with that state; and now Napoleon boasted that he and the Emperor were
“invariablement unis pour la paix comme pour la guerre.”

Skilfully taking advantage of this, Sir Harford Jones ever as he
advanced inculcated the doctrine which had emanated in the first
instance from the French embassy, and found every one he addressed most
willing to accept it. There was, fortunately for us, a galling fact
ever present to the minds of the Persian ministers to convince them
of the truth of the assertion that it was not by the friends, but by
the enemies of Russia that their interests were to be best promoted.
The French had undertaken to secure the evacuation of Georgia; but
still the Russian eagles were planted on Georgian soil. The star
of Napoleon’s destiny was no longer on the ascendant. The “Sepoy
General,” whom he had once derided, was tearing his battalions to
pieces in the Spanish peninsula. Moreover, the French had lost ground
at Teheran, in their personal as in their political relations. They had
not accommodated themselves to the manners of the Persian Court, nor
conciliated, by a courteous and considerate demeanour, the good-will
of their new allies. They were many degrees less popular than the
English, and their influence melted away at the approach of the
British envoy. The Shah, too, had by this time, not improbably, become
suspicious of the designs of the French. It was urged with some force
that if the French invaded India they would not leave Persia alone.
Mahomed Shereef Khan, who was sent by Nussur-oolah-Khan to General
Malcolm just before his departure from Bushire, to repeat the friendly
assurances of the Persian Government, very sagaciously observed, “If
the French march an army to India, will they not make themselves
masters of Persia as a necessary prelude to further conquests, and who
is to oppose them after they have been received as friends? But our
king,” continued the old man, “dreams of the Russians. He sees them in
Aderbijan, and within a short distance of the capital, and, despairing
of his own strength, he is ready to make any sacrifice to obtain a
temporary relief from his excessive fear. In short,” he concluded,
whilst strong emotion proved his sincerity, “affairs have come to that
state that I thank my God I am an old man, and have a chance of dying
before I see the disgrace and ruin of my country.”[39] Had Malcolm
remained a little longer at Bushire, he would have seen all these
dreams of French assistance pass away from the imaginations of the
Persian Court, and might, under the force of altered circumstances,
have carried everything before him.

When Sir Harford Jones reached the Persian capital, General Gardanne
had withdrawn; and there was little difficulty in arranging
preliminaries of a treaty satisfactory alike to the Courts of Teheran
and St. James’s. The work was not done in a very seemly manner; but
it was not less serviceable when done, for the manner of its doing.
Perhaps there is not another such chapter as this in the entire history
of English diplomacy. Jones had left Bombay under the impression that
he was acting in accordance with the wishes of Lord Minto; but he had
not been long in Persia before he found that the Indian Government
were bent upon suspending his operations, and, failing in this, were
resolute to thwart him at every turn. They dishonoured his bills and
ignored his proceedings. A totally opposite course of policy had been
determined upon in the Council-Chamber of Calcutta. The proceedings
of Brigadier Malcolm at Bushire had not been viewed with unmixed
approbation by Lord Minto and his council; but he was the employé of
the Indian Government; they had confidence in the general soundness of
his views; and they felt that in the maintenance of their dignity it
was expedient to support him. In no very conciliatory mood of mind had
that eager, energetic officer returned to Calcutta. Chewing the cud of
bitter fancies as he sailed up the Bay of Bengal, he prepared a plan
for the intimidation of Persia, and was prepared with all the details
of it when, on the 22nd of August, he disembarked at Calcutta. There
was no unwillingness in the Council-Chamber to endorse his schemes. It
was agreed that an armament should be fitted out to take possession of
Karrack, an island in the Persian Gulf, or, in the delicate language
of diplomacy, “to form an establishment” there, as “a central position
equally well adapted so obstruct the designs of France against India,
as to assist the King of Persia (in the event of a renewal of the
alliance) against his European enemies.”

These measures were described as “entirely defensive, and intended even
to be amicable.” The command of the force was of course conferred on
Brigadier Malcolm. “I am vested,” he wrote to his friends at Madras,
“with supreme military and political authority and control in the
Gulf, to which, however threatening appearances may be, I proceed
with that species of hope which fills the mind of a man who sees a
great and unexpected opportunity afforded him of proving the extent of
his devotion to the country.”[40] It was to be a very pretty little
army, with a compact little staff, all the details of which, even to
the allowances of its members, were soon drawn up and recorded. An
engineer officer was called in and consulted about the plan of a fort,
with a house for the commandant, quarters for the officers, barracks
for the men, a magazine to contain five hundred barrels of gunpowder,
and everything else complete. The activity of the Brigadier himself
at this time was truly surprising. He drew up elaborate papers of
instructions to himself, to be adopted by the Governor-General. One
of these, covering twenty-six sheets of foolscap, so bewildered Lord
Minto in his pleasant country retreat at Barrackpore, that he could
come to no other conclusion about it than that the greater part had
better be omitted. Every conceivable contingency that could arise out
of the movements of France or Russia, or dispensations of Providence in
Persia, was contemplated and discussed, and instructions were sought or
suggested; but a new series of contingencies occurred to the Brigadier
after he had embarked, and a new shower of _ifs_ was poured forth from
the Sand-heads still further to perplex the government. Lord Minto
had by this time fully made up his mind that the French were coming;
wrote of it, not as a possible event, but as a question merely of
time; and contemplated the probability of contending in Turkey for the
sovereignty of Hindostan.[41] But the French had too much work to do
in Europe to trouble themselves about operations in the remote Asiatic

At the beginning of October, Malcolm started for Bombay, from which
Presidency the details of his army were to be drawn. But before the
vessel on which he had embarked had steered into the black water, he
was recalled, in consequence of the receipt of intelligence of Sir
Harford Jones’s intended departure for Bushire. This was, doubtless,
very perplexing; but Malcolm did not despair. “I am this instant,” he
wrote, on the 5th of October, “recalled to Calcutta in consequence
of advices from Sir Harford, stating his intention of leaving Bombay
on the 11th of September. As it appears possible that he may not be
ready to sail before the 13th, he will, I think, receive a letter from
this government of the 22nd, desiring him to stay; and if that has the
effect of stopping him, the letter of the Supreme Government, dated
the 29th, will probably put an end to the mission.”[42] Vain hope! Sir
Harford Jones was at that time not many days’ sail from Bushire; and
before Malcolm finally quitted Calcutta, had started fairly on his race
to Teheran.

The Supreme Government now more urgently than before addressed
instructions to the nominee of the British Cabinet, ordering him to
retire from Persia. The Council were all agreed upon the subject.
Mr. Lumsden and Mr. Colebrooke, who were Members of Council at the
time, expressed themselves even more strongly on the subject than the
Governor-General. All were certain that Sir Harford Jones must either
fail signally, or disgrace and embarrass the government by a delusive
success. He might be repulsed at Bushire—or baffled at Shiraz—or drawn
into a treaty favourable to the French. In any case, it was assumed
that he was sure to bring discredit on the British Government and the
East India Company. Without asserting that the conduct of the Persian
Court had been such as to call for a declaration of war from the rulers
of British India, it was contended, and not, perhaps, without some
show of reason, that any advances made at such a time would compromise
its dignity, and that the attitude to be assumed should be rather one
of reserve than of solicitation. Both parties were in an embarrassing
position. Whilst Lord Minto was writing letters to Sir Harford Jones,
telling him that if he did not immediately close his mission, all his
proceedings would be publicly repudiated,[43] Sir Harford Jones, as
representative of the sovereign, was repudiating the proceedings of the
Supreme Government of India, and offering to answer with his fortune
and his life for any hostile proceedings on the part of the British,
not provoked by the Persians themselves. The government did its best to
disgrace Sir Harford Jones by dishonouring his bills and ignoring his
proceedings; and Sir Harford Jones lowered the character of the Indian
Government by declaring that it had no authority to revoke his measures
or to nullify his engagements with the Persian Court.

In the mean while, Brigadier Malcolm had sailed down the Bay of Bengal,
and reached Bombay by the first day of December. His instructions
had preceded him; a select force of some two thousand men was ready
to receive his orders; and by the 18th of January the expedition was
prepared, at all points, to take ship for the Gulf, to pounce upon
Karrack, and to strike a great panic into the rebellious heart of
the Persian nation. “But,” says Malcolm, in one of his voluminous
narratives, “the accounts I heard of the great change caused in
the affairs of Europe by the general insurrection of Spain, and
the consequent improbability of Buonaparte making an early attack
upon India, combined with the advance of Sir Harford Jones into
Persia, led me to suspend the sailing of the expedition. My conduct
on that occasion was honoured by approbation, and the expedition
countermanded.” But though the military expedition was countermanded,
the Mission was not. Malcolm, confident that the proceedings of such
a man as Jones, for whom he entertained the profoundest possible
contempt, could be attended only with disastrous failure, determined
to proceed to Persia, in spite of the civilian’s accounts of his
favourable reception. “I have private accounts from Bushire,” he
wrote on Christmas-eve, “which state that Sir Harford Jones is, or
pretends to be, completely confident of a success which every child
with him sees is unattainable through the means he uses. His friends
now believe he will go on in spite of any orders he may receive from
the Governor-General. _I mean to go on too_ (there is, indeed, nothing
in these despatches that can stop me for a moment), so we shall have
a _fine mess_ (as the sailors say) in the Gulf.”[44] Such, indeed,
was the feeling between the two diplomatists, and so little was it
disguised, that the Shah, perceiving plainly the true state of the
case, abused Malcolm before Jones, and Jones before Malcolm, as the
best means, in his opinion, of ingratiating himself with them both.

In March, 1809, the preliminary treaty was interchanged, on the part
of their respective sovereigns, by Sir Harford Jones and Meerza
Sheffee. No treaty before or since was ever interchanged under such
extraordinary and unbecoming circumstances. Meerze Sheffee, the prime
minister of Persia, was an old and infirm man. His age and rank among
his own people had given him a sort of license to speak with an amount
of freedom such as is not tolerated among Europeans in social, much
less in diplomatic converse. There was an intentional indefiniteness
in one of the articles of the treaty, which was to be referred to the
British Government for specific adjustment, and Meerza Sheffee, not
understanding or approving of this, blurted out that the British envoy
designed to “cheat” him. The figure used in the Persian language is
gross and offensive, and the word I have employed but faintly expresses
the force of the insult. Jones had not patience to bear it. He started
up, seized the counterpart treaty lying signed on the carpet before
him, gave it to Mr. Morier, and then turning to the astonished Wuzeer,
told him that he was a stupid old blockhead to dare to use such words
to the representative of the King of England, and that nothing but
respect for the Persian monarch restrained him from knocking out the
old man’s brains against the wall. “Suiting the action to the word, I
then,” says Jones, in his own narrative of his mission, “pushed him
with a slight degree of violence against the wall which was behind him,
kicked over the candles on the floor, left the room in darkness, and
rode home without any one of the Persians daring to impede my passage.”
It is not surprising that, after such a scene as this, the Persians
should have shaken their heads, and said, “By Allah! this Feringhee is
either drunk or mad.”

But, in spite of this and other untoward occurrences, the preliminary
treaty was duly interchanged. It bears date the 12th of March, 1809.
By this treaty, the Shah of Persia, declaring all other engagements
void, covenanting “not to permit any European force whatever to pass
through Persia, either towards India, or towards the ports of that
country.” He further undertook, in the event of the British dominions
in India being attacked or invaded by the Afghans or any other power,
“to afford a force for the protection of the said dominions.” On the
part of the British Government, it was stipulated that, in case any
European force had invaded, or should invade, the territories of the
King of Persia, his Britannic Majesty should afford to the Shah a
force, or, in lieu of it, a subsidy, with warlike ammunition, “such as
guns, muskets, &c., and officers, to the amount that might be to the
advantage of both parties, for the expulsion of the force so invading.”
The general provisions of the treaty were included in this, but the
anticipated arrival of Brigadier Malcolm with a military expedition in
the Persian Gulf rendered it necessary that certain specific articles
should be inserted with especial reference to this movement. It was
provided that the force should on no account possess itself of Karrack
or any other places in the Persian Gulf; but that, unless required by
the Governor-General for the defence of India, it should be held at
the disposal of the Persian shah, the Shah undertaking to receive it
in a friendly manner, and to direct his governors to supply it with
provisions “at the fair prices of the day.” This preliminary treaty
was conveyed by Mr. Morier, accompanied by a Persian ambassador, to
England, where it was duly ratified and exchanged; and Sir Harford
Jones was confirmed in the post of Resident Minister at the Court of

The success of Sir Harford Jones embarrassed the British-Indian
Government even more than did the apprehension of his failure. Lord
Minto and his councillors were sorely perplexed. It was desirable,
as they all acknowledged, that the engagements entered into by the
representative of the Court of England should be completed; but it was
not desirable that the Indian Government should be degraded in the eyes
of the Persian Court. Between their anxiety to accept the thing done
and to disgrace the doer, they were thrown into a state of ludicrous
embarrassment.[45] The resolution, however, at which they arrived was,
under all the circumstances of the case, as reasonable as could be
expected. It was determined to accept Sir Harford Jones’s treaty, and
to leave the dignity of the British-Indian Government to be vindicated
on a future occasion. Perhaps it would have been even better quietly
to have lived down the slight; for it cost a large sum of money to
satisfy the British-Indian Government that it had re-established its
name at the Court of the Persian, and confounded the malignity of

This is a curious chapter of diplomatic history. It is one, too,
which has evoked from the partisans of both parties an extraordinary
amount of bitterness. It hardly comes within the proper compass of
this history to narrate the incidents of the ambassadorial war, still
less to comment upon them. But it may be briefly remarked that all
parties were wrong. Mistakes were unquestionably committed by Malcolm,
by Jones, and by the Indian Government. There was an old feud between
the two former, which certainly did not tend to smooth down the
difficulties which had arisen; and the Government of India was not
very patient of the home-born interference with what it conceived to
be its rightful diplomatic prerogative. Jones, though receiving his
credentials from the Crown, was placed in subordination to the local
government, and ought to have obeyed its mandates. That he would have
done so, had he received instructions to withdraw before he had fairly
entered upon his work, it is only just to assume; but having once made
his appearance in Persia as the representative of his sovereign, he
thought that he could not abandon his mission under orders from the
Indian Government without lowering the dignity of the Crown.

He did not commence his expedition to Persia until some time after
Malcolm had retired; and when he went at last, it was under urgent
solicitations from the Governor-General to proceed there without delay.
He cannot, therefore, be charged with indelicacy or precipitancy. He
went only when the coast was clear. That he succeeded better than
Malcolm must be attributed mainly to the “chapter of accidents,” for
he was a man of vastly inferior parts. Malcolm says that it was owing
to his measures that Jones was enabled to advance—that the rumour of
his military preparations overawed the Persian Court—and that all the
rest was done by bribery. That there was at that time little hope
of any mission succeeding without bribery, no man knew better than
Malcolm.[47] But Malcolm could not bribe his way to Teheran in the
spring, because the French were then dominant at Court. Had he waited
till the autumn, the road would have been lubricated for him. One
thing at least is certain. Nothing could have been more fortunate
than the miscarriage of Malcolm’s military expedition. It would have
embarrassed our future proceedings, and entailed a large waste of
public money. As to the question of prerogative, it would be little use
to discuss it. It has been settled long ago. The Crown ministers have
taken into their own hands the appointment of our Persian ambassadors,
and the conduct of all subsequent negotiations with the Persian Court.
Henceforth we shall have to regard the relations subsisting between
Persia and Great Britain as affairs beyond the control of the East
India Company and their representatives, and to look upon the ministers
of the Crown as responsible for all that we have to contemplate in that
quarter of the world.[48]

 NOTE TO NEW EDITION (1856).—The arguments with which Malcolm supported
 the proposal for the occupation of the island of Karrack, may be
 advantageously given in this place, as they are set forth in his own
 words in his “Life and Correspondence”:—

 _First._ That in the event of an attempt to invade India being made
 by an European State, it was impossible to place any dependence on
 the efforts of the King of Persia or the Pacha of Baghdad, unless
 we possessed the immediate power of punishing their hostility and

 _Secondly._ That the States of Persia, Eastern Turkey, and Arabia
 were, from their actual condition, to be considered less in the
 light of regular Governments than as countries full of combustible
 materials, which any nation whose interests it promoted, might throw
 into a flame.

 _Thirdly._ That though the French and Russians might, no doubt, in
 their advance, easily conquer those States, in the event of their
 opposing their progress, it was their obvious policy to avoid any
 contest with the inhabitants of the country through which they passed,
 as such must, in its progress, inevitably diminish the resources of
 those countries, and thereby increase the difficulty of supporting
 their armies—which difficulty formed the chief, if not the sole,
 obstacle to their advance.

 _Fourthly._ That though it was not to be conceived that the King of
 Persia or Pacha of Baghdad would willingly allow any European army to
 pass through his country, but there was every ground to expect that
 the fear of a greater evil was likely not only to make these rulers
 observe a neutrality, but to dispose them to aid the execution of a
 plan which they could not resist, and make them desire to indemnify
 themselves for submission to a power they dreaded by agreeing to share
 in the plunder of weaker States—a line of policy to which it was too
 obvious they would be united, and to which their fear, weakness, and
 avarice made it probable that they would accede.

 _Fifthly._ That under a contemplation of such occurrences, it appeared
 of ultimate importance that the English Government should instantly
 possess itself of means to throw those States that favoured the
 approach of its enemies, into complete confusion and destruction, in
 order that it might, by diminishing their resources, increase the
 principal natural obstacle that opposed the advance of an European
 army, and this system, when that Government had once established a
 firm footing and a position situated on the confines of Persia and
 Turkey, it could easily pursue, with a very moderate force, and
 without any great risk or expenditure.

 _Sixthly._ That with an established footing in the Gulf of Persia,
 which must soon become the emporium of our commerce, the seat of
 our political negotiations, and a dépôt for our military stores,
 we should be able to establish a local influence and strength that
 would not only exclude other European nations from that quarter, but
 enable us to carry on negotiations and military operations with honour
 and security to any extent we desired; whereas, without it, we must
 continue at the mercy of the fluctuating policy of unsteady, impotent,
 and faithless Courts, adopting expensive and useless measures of
 defence at every uncertain alarm, and being ultimately obliged either
 to abandon the scene altogether, or, when danger actually came, to
 incur the most desperate hazard of complete failure by sending a
 military expedition which must trust for its subsistence and safety,
 to States who were known, not only from the individual character of
 their rulers, but from their actual condition and character, to be
 undeserving of a moment’s confidence.

 _Seventhly._ That there was great danger in any delay, as the plan
 recommended could only be expected to be beneficial if adopted when
 there was a time to mature it and to organise all our means of defence
 before the enemy were too far advanced; otherwise that momentary
 irritation which must be excited by its adoption, would only add to
 the many other advantages which our want of foresight and attention to
 our interests in that quarter had already given to our enemies.



 The Missions to Lahore and Caubul—The Aggressions of Runjeet
 Singh—Mr. Metcalfe at Umritsur—Treaty of 1809—Mr. Elphinstone’s
 Mission—Arrival at Peshawur—Reception by Shah Soojah—Withdrawal of the
 Mission—Negotiations with the Ameers of Sindh.

It was while Sir Harford Jones was making his way from Bombay
to Bushire, in the months of September and October, 1808, that
the Missions to Caubul and Lahore set out for their respective
destinations. Since the time when the rumoured approach of an army of
invasion under Zemaun Shah had troubled the hearts of the English in
India, the might of the Douranee rulers had been gradually declining,
as a new power, threatening the integrity of the Afghan dominions,
swelled into bulk and significance, and spread itself over the country
between the Sutlej and the Indus. It was no longer possible to regard
with indifference the growth of this new empire. We had supplanted
the Mahrattas on the banks of the Jumna, and brought ourselves into
proximity with the Sikhs. A group of petty principalities were being
rapidly consolidated into a great empire by the strong hand and
capacious intellect of Runjeet Singh, and it had become apparent to the
British that thenceforth, for good or for evil, the will of the Sikh
ruler must exercise an influence over the councils of the rulers of

It was part of Lord Minto’s policy at this time, as we have seen,
to include the Lahore chief in the great Anti-Gallican confederacy
with which he had determined to frustrate the magnificent designs of
Napoleon. But the posture of affairs on our northern frontier was such
as to occasion some embarassment in the Council-Chamber of Calcutta.
The military power of the Sikh rajah had been put forth, with almost
unvarying success, for the subjection of the petty principalities
within his reach; and now it appeared that he was desirous of reducing
to a state of vassalage all the chiefs holding the tract of country
which lies between the Sutlej and the Jumna. There was much in this to
perplex and embarrass Lord Minto and his colleagues. It was desirable,
above all things, to maintain a friendly power beyond the frontier;
but whether this were to be done by supporting the Sikh chiefs in
the Cis-Sutlej territories, even at the risk of actual hostilities
with Runjeet Singh, or whether, on the other hand, it were expedient
to sacrifice the petty chieftains to Runjeet’s ambition, and enter
into an offensive and defensive alliance against the Persians and the
French with that prince, were questions which agitated the minds of
our Indian statesmen, and found no very satisfactory solution in the
elaborate minutes which they provoked. Lord Minto, whilst expressing
his natural inclination to assist a weak country against the usurpation
of a powerful neighbour, and fully recognising the principle of
non-interference, so consistently inculcated by the Government at home,
maintained that the emergency of the case was such as to justify a
departure from ordinary rules of conduct, and a violation of general
maxims of policy. The defence of India against the dangers of French
invasion was stated to be the most pressing object of attention, and
entitled to most weight in the deliberations of the state; but it was
doubted whether the alliance with Runjeet Singh would effectually
secure that desirable end,[49] whilst it was certain that the gradual
extension of his dominions would be permanently injurious to British
interests in the East. It was desirable, in a word, to secure his
alliance and to check his presumption at the same time. Any act of
hostility and discourtesy on our part might throw him into the arms of
Holkar and Scindiah, and other native princes; and a confederacy might
be formed against us, that would disturb the peace of India for years.
Starting, however, with the assumption that the French were undeniably
about to invade Hindostan, it was contended by the Governor-General,
that whilst the native princes would be inclined to wait the coming of
the great western liberator, it was our policy to husband our strength
for the grand struggle with our terrible European opponent. “We are,
in reality,” wrote Lord Minto, “only waiting on both sides for a more
convenient time to strike. We know that Holkar and Scindiah, the Rajah
of Bhurtpore, and probably other chiefs, have taken their part, and are
sharpening their weapons in expectation of a concerted signal.”

Thus, oscillating between two courses of policy, and considering the
question solely as one of expediency—that kind of expediency, however,
to which something of dignity is imparted by a great national crisis,
real or supposed—the Governor-General at last came to favour an opinion
that sound policy dictated a strenuous effort on the part of the
British Government to curb the aggressive spirit of the Sikh conqueror,
and to set a limit to his dominions. It was seriously debated by
Lord Minto whether Runjeet should not at once be deprived of all
power to work us mischief; but the recollection of the advantages of
maintaining, if possible, a longer peace, and of the non-interference
system so strenuously enforced upon him by the home authorities,
suggested the expediency of following a more cautious line of policy,
and merely simulating, in the first instance, an intention to oppose a
hostile front to the aggressiveness of the Sikhs. “If it were not found
expedient,” wrote Lord Minto, “ultimately to pursue or to favour these
views, the apprehension alone of so great danger brought home to him,
may be expected to render Runjeet Singh more subservient to our wishes
than any concessions or compliances will ever make him.”

In this conjuncture the Governor-General, harassed and perplexed by
doubts, was fortunate in the personal character of the officer to
whom had been entrusted the conduct of the mission to the Sikh ruler.
Mr. Charles Metcalfe had early recommended himself to the favourable
consideration of Lord Wellesley, who was never slow to recognise in
the junior officers of the state the promise of future eminence.[50]
He had been but a short time in the service, when the Governor-General
placed him in his own Office—that best nursery of Indian statesmen—and
he soon confirmed the expectations that had been formed of his
judgment and intelligence by proving himself, in the camp of the
Commander-in-Chief, and at the Court of Delhi, an officer of equal
courage and sagacity. The estimate which Lord Wellesley had formed of
his talents was accepted by Lord Minto; and in the whole range of the
civil service—a service never wanting in administrative and diplomatic
ability of the highest order—it is probable that he could not now have
found a fitter agent to carry out his policy at Lahore.

On the 1st of September, 1808, Mr. Metcalfe crossed the Sutlej, and on
the 11th of the same month met the Sikh ruler at Kussoor. The conduct
of the Rajah was arbitrary and capricious. At one time courteous and
friendly, at another querulous and arrogant, he now seemed disposed
to enter into our views and to aid our designs; and then, complaining
bitterly of the interference of the British Government, insisted on his
right to occupy the country beyond the Jumna. Nor did he confine his
opposition to mere verbal argument, for whilst the British envoy was
still in his camp, he set out to illustrate his views by crossing the
river, seizing Furreedkote and Umballah, and otherwise overawing the
petty Sikh chiefs between the Sutlej and the Jumna.[51]

On the receipt of this intelligence by the Calcutta Council, it was
debated whether it would be expedient to adopt the more dignified
course of ordering Mr. Metcalfe to withdraw at once from the Sikh camp,
and, regarding the conduct of Runjeet Singh as an outrage against the
British Government, to take measures at once to chastise him;—whether,
as recommended by Mr. Edmonstone, who always brought a sound judgment
to bear upon such questions, and whose opinions were seldom disregarded
by the Governor-General, to limit the negotiations with Runjeet Singh
to defensive measures against the French, leaving the question of
the subjugation of the Cis-Sutlej states for future adjustment;—or
whether it would not be more prudent to direct Mr. Metcalfe to encumber
himself as little as possible with engagements of any kind—to adopt a
cautious and temporising line of policy, so as to admit of frequent
references to Calcutta in the course of his negotiations, and to wait
for anything that might chance to be written down in our favour in
that great “chapter of accidents,” which so often enabled us to solve
the most perplexing questions, and to overcome the most pressing

This was the course finally adopted. On one point, however, the tone
of Government was decided. Runjeet Singh had required the British
Government to pledge itself not to interfere with his aggressions
against Caubul; and Mr. Metcalfe was now informed, that “were the Rajah
to conclude engagements with the British Government in the true spirit
of unanimity and confidence, we could not accede to any proposition
upon the part of Caubul injurious to his interests: uncombined with
such engagements, that question (of his aggressions against the Caubul
territories) cannot possibly form an article of agreement between
this government and the Rajah of Lahore; and on this ground the
discussion of it may be properly rejected. At the same time, if the
occasion should arise, you may inform the Rajah that Mr. Elphinstone
is not authorised to conclude with the State of Caubul any engagements
injurious to his interests. You will be careful, however, as you have
hitherto been, to avoid any pledge on the part of government which
might preclude any future engagements with the State of Caubul on that
subject.” And whilst Mr. Metcalfe was carrying out this temporising
policy inculcated by the Calcutta council, troops were pushed forward
to the frontier to watch the movements of the Punjabee chief. A body
of King’s and Company’s troops, under General St. Leger, and another
under Colonel Ochterlony, composed entirely of native regiments, were
posted in the neighbourhood of Loodhianah, ready, at a moment’s notice,
to take the field against the followers of Nanuk. Vested with political
authority, the latter officer, on the 9th of February, 1809, issued
a proclamation calling upon the Sikh ruler to withdraw his troops
to the further side of the Sutlej, and placing all the Cis-Sutlej
principalities under the protection of the British Government. It was
plain that we were no longer to be tampered with, and that there was
nothing left to Runjeet Singh but to yield a reluctant compliance to
our terms.

Up to this time the primary object of the British Government had been
the establishment of such an alliance with the rulers of the Punjab,
as might ensure a strenuous conjoint opposition to an European army
advancing from the West. But those were days when a constant succession
of great changes in the European world necessarily induced a shifting
policy on the part of our Indian statesmen. It was difficult to
keep pace with the mutations which were passing over the political
horizon—difficult to keep a distant mission supplied with instructions
which were not likely to become totally useless before they could be
brought into effective operation. With Mr. Metcalfe at Umritsur it was
comparatively easy to communicate. He had been ordered to temporise—to
do nothing in a hurry; and he had succeeded so well as to protract his
negotiations until the spring of 1809. The delay was most advantageous
to British interests. The “chapter of accidents” worked mightily
in our favour. The war with Napoleon had now been carried into the
Spanish peninsula, and it demanded all the energies of the Emperor
to maintain his position in Europe. The necessity of anti-Gallican
alliances in India became less and less urgent. The value of Sikh
friendship dwindled rapidly down, and the pretensions of the Sikh ruler
naturally descended with it. The sight of a formidable British force
on the frontier—the intelligence of the European successes of the
great “Sepoy General” who, a few years before, on the plains of Berar,
had given the Mahrattas a foretaste of the quality of his military
skill[53]—the declining influence of the French in Central Asia,—and
more than all, perhaps, the wonderful firmness and courage of the young
English diplomatist—suggested to the wily Sikh Rajah the expediency of
ceasing to tamper with us, and of forming at once a friendly alliance
with the British.[54] He was now in a temper to accede to the terms
proposed to him by the British diplomatist; and accordingly, on the
25th of April, 1809, a treaty was executed by Runjeet Singh in person,
and by Mr. Metcalfe on the part of the British Government, in which
there was no more mention of the French than if the eagles of Napoleon
had never threatened the eastern world. It was stipulated that the
Rajah should retain possession of the territories to the north of the
Sutlej, but should abstain from all encroachments on the possessions
or rights of the chiefs on the left bank of the river. This limitation
was merely a prospective one. It had been intended to deprive Runjeet
of the tracts of country which he had previously occupied to the
south of the Sutlej; and the rough draft of the treaty contained, as
a part of the first article as it now stands, the words, “And on the
other hand, the Rajah renounces all claim to sovereignty over the Sikh
chiefs to the southward of that river, and all right of interference
in their affairs;”[55] but this passage had been subsequently erased
by Lord Minto, and Runjeet Singh was now left in possession of the
tracts he had originally occupied, though restrained from all further
encroachments. The Sikh chiefs between the Sutlej and the Jumna, not
already under the yoke of Runjeet Singh, were taken under British
protection, and on the 5th of May a proclamation was issued declaring
the nature of the connection which was thenceforth to exist between
them and the dominant power on the south of the Jumna.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission was making its way to
the Court of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk. The envoy had been originally
instructed that he was empowered to receive from the King of Caubul
proposals having for their basis the employment of the power and
resources of that state against the advance of any European army.
He was authorised to express a conviction, as regarded offensive
operations, that in the event of Persia being found decidedly
confederated with the French in their projected expedition to India,
the British Government “would not hesitate to adopt any plan of
hostility against Persia consonant to the views of the King of Caubul.”
But he was cautioned against entering into any permanent arrangement,
or pledging his government to any ulterior line of conduct. Everything
was to be limited to the occasion. It was to be the policy of the envoy
rather to draw the Court of Caubul into solicitations to the British
Government, than to make any spontaneous offers of assistance. And he
was instructed especially to impress upon the mind of the King, that
both as regarded security from without, and the internal safety and
tranquillity of his own dominions, it was above all things the interest
of the Douranee monarch to break up the alliance existing between the
Court of Teheran and those of St. Petersburgh and Paris.

But this alliance was already in a state of dissolution. The spring
of 1809 brought, as we have seen, glad tidings from Europe to the
Anglo-Indian capital, and all fear of a French invasion passed away
from the minds of our rulers. Whilst Mr. Metcalfe was bringing
to a conclusion, irrespective of all reference to the French,
his long-pending negotiations with Lahore, Mr. Elphinstone was
instructed[56] that the important events which had occurred in Europe
would necessarily induce a modification of the course of policy to
be pursued at the Court of Caubul. He was told that it was no longer
necessary to entertain a thought of offensive operations against
Persia, but that the British Government would accede to engagements
of a nature purely defensive against that state, should such a
stipulation appear to be an object of solicitude to the Afghan monarch.
This was merely stated as an admissible course. The Governor-General
declared that he would wish, if possible, to avoid contracting even
defensive engagements with the Court of Caubul; and added, “Should the
contracting those engagements be absolutely required by the King, the
eventual aid to be afforded by us ought to be limited to supplies of
arms, ordnance, and military stores, _rather than of troops_.”[57]

The Mission proceeded through Bekanier, Bahwulpore,[58] and Mooltan;
and ever as they went the most marked civility was shown to the British
ambassadors. But one thing was wanting to render the feeling towards
them a pervading sentiment of universal respect. They had not long
crossed the frontier before they discovered that a more liberal display
of the facial characteristics of manhood would elevate them greatly
in the eyes of a people who are uniformly bearded and moustached.[59]
Our officers have ever since carefully abstained from incurring this
reproach; and it may be doubted whether, ever again, any hint will be
required to stimulate them to encourage an Asiatic development of hair
on the lower part of the face.

I do not intend to trace the progress of the Mission. The story has
been told with historical fidelity and graphic distinctness in a book
which is still, after the lapse of nearly forty years, the delight
of Anglo-Indian readers, and which future generations of writers
and cadets will turn to with undiminished interest. On the 25th of
February, the Mission entered Peshawur. Crowds of wondering inhabitants
came out to gaze at the representatives of the nation which had reduced
the great Mogul to a shadow, and seated itself on the throne of Tippoo.
Pushing forward with the outstretched neck of eager curiosity, they
blocked up the public ways. The royal body-guards rode among the foot
passengers; lashed at them with their whips; tilted with their lances
at grave spectators sitting quietly in their own balconies; and cleared
the way as best they could. But fast as they dispersed the thronging
multitude, it closed again around the novel cavalcade. Through this
motley crowd of excited inhabitants, the British Mission was with
difficulty conducted to a house prepared for them by royal mandate.
Seated on rich carpets, fed with sweetmeats, and regaled with sherbet,
every attention was paid to the European strangers. The hospitality of
the King was profuse. His fortunes were then at a low ebb; but he sent
provisions to the Mission for two thousand men, with food for beasts of
burden in proportion, and was with difficulty persuaded to adopt a less
costly method of testifying his regal cordiality and respect.

Some dispute about forms of presentation delayed the reception of the
English ambassadors. But in a few days everything was arranged for the
grand ceremonial to take place on the 5th of March. When the eventful
day arrived, they found the King, with that love of outward pomp
which clung to him to the last, sitting on a gilded throne, crowned,
plumed, and arrayed in costly apparel. The royal person was a blaze of
jewellery, conspicuous among which the mighty diamond, the Koh-i-noor,
destined in after days to undergo such romantic vicissitudes, glittered
in a gorgeous bracelet upon the arm of the Shah. Welcoming the English
gentlemen with a graceful cordiality, he expressed a hope that the
King of England and all the English nation were well, presented the
officers of the embassy with dresses of honour, and then, dismissing
all but Mr. Elphinstone and his secretary, proceeded to the business of
the interview. Listening attentively to all that was advanced by the
British envoy, he professed himself eager to accede to his proposals,
and declared that England and Caubul were designed by the Creator to
be united by bonds of everlasting friendship. The presents which Mr.
Elphinstone had taken with him to Afghanistan were curious and costly;
and now that they were exposed to the view of the Shah, he turned upon
them a face scintillating with pleasure, and eagerly expressed his
delight. His attendants, with a cupidity that there was no attempt
to conceal, laid their rapacious hands upon everything that came in
their way, and scrambled for the articles which were not especially
appropriated by their royal master. Thirty years afterwards, the memory
of these splendid gifts raised longing expectations in the minds of the
courtiers of Caubul, and caused bitter disappointment and disgust, when
Captain Burnes appeared with his pins and needles, and little articles
of hardware, such as would have disgraced the wallet of a pedlar of low

At subsequent interviews the impression made by the Shah upon the minds
of the English diplomatists was of a description very favourable to the
character of the Afghan ruler. Mr. Elphinstone was surprised to find
that the Douranee monarch had so much of the “manners of a gentleman,”
and that he could be affable and dignified at the same time. But he had
much domestic care to distract him at this epoch, and could not fix his
mind intently on foreign politics. His country was in a most unsettled
condition. His throne seemed to totter under him. He was endeavouring
to collect an army, and was projecting a great military expedition. He
hoped to see more of the English gentlemen, he said, in more prosperous
times. At present, the best advice that he could give them was that
they should retire beyond the frontier. So on the 14th of June the
Mission turned its back upon Peshawur, and set out for the provinces of

Three days after the Mission commenced its homeward journey, the treaty
which had been arranged by Mr. Elphinstone was formally signed at
Calcutta by Lord Minto. The first article set out with a mis-statement,
to the effect that the French and Persians had entered into a
confederacy against the State of Caubul. The two contracting parties
bound themselves to take active measures to repel this confederacy, the
British “holding themselves liable to afford the expenses necessary
for the above-mentioned service, _to the extent of their ability_.”
The remaining article decreed eternal friendship between the two
States: “The veil of separation shall be lifted up from between them;
and they shall in no manner interfere in each other’s countries; and
the King of Caubul shall permit no individual of the French to enter
his territories.” Three months before these articles were signed Sir
Harford Jones had entered into a preliminary treaty with the Persian
Court, stipulating that in case of war between Persia and Afghanistan,
his Majesty the King of Great Britain should not take any part therein,
unless at the desire of both parties. The confederacy of the French and
Persians had been entirely broken up, and all the essentials of the
Caubul treaty rendered utterly null and useless.

But before this rapid sketch of the diplomacy of 1808-9 is brought
to a close, some mention must be made of another subordinate measure
of defence against the possibility of a foreign invasion. The low
countries lying on the banks of the river Indus, from its junction
with the Punjabee tributaries to the sea, were known as Upper and
Lower Sindh. The people inhabiting the former were for the most part
Beloochees—a warlike and turbulent race, of far greater physical
power and mental energy than their feeble, degraded neighbours, the
Sindhians, who occupied the country from Shikarpoor to the mouths of
the Indus. The nominal rulers of these provinces were the Talpoor
Ameers, but they were either tributary to, or actually dependent
upon the Court of Caubul. The dependence, however, was in effect but
scantily acknowledged. Often was the tribute to be extracted only
by the approach of an army sent for its collection by the Douranee
monarch. There was constant strife, indeed, between Sindh and
Caubul—the one ever plotting to cast off its allegiance, and the other
ever putting forth its strength more closely to rivet the chains.

In July, 1808, Captain Seton was despatched by the Bombay Government to
the Court of the Ameers at Hyderabad. Misunderstanding and exceeding
his instructions, he hastily executed a treaty with the State of Sindh,
imposing, generally and unconditionally, upon each party an obligation
to furnish military aid on the requisition of the other. The mind of
the envoy was heavy with thoughts of a French invasion, which seem to
have excluded all considerations of internal warfare and intrigue in
Central Asia. But the Ameers were at that time intent upon emancipating
themselves from the yoke of Caubul, and Captain Seton found that he
had committed the British Government to assist the tributary State of
Sindh against the Lord Paramount of the country, thereby placing us
in direct hostility with the very power whose good offices we were so
anxious to conciliate. There was, indeed, a Persian ambassador at that
very time resident at the Sindh capital, charged with overtures for
the formation of a close alliance between Persia and Sindh subversive
of the tributary relations of the latter to the State of Caubul.[62]
He was acting, too, as the secret agent of the French; and the Ameers
made no secret of the fact, that but for the friendly overtures of
the British they would have allied themselves with the Persians and
French. They now grasped at the proffered connexion with the Indian
Government, believing, or professing to believe, that it entitled them
to assistance against the State of Caubul, and industriously propagated
a report of the military strength which they had thus acquired.
The danger of all this was obvious.[63] Captain Seton’s treaty was
accordingly ignored; and Mr. Elphinstone was instructed that, in the
event of Shah Soojah remonstrating against Captain Seton’s treaty,
he might, without hesitation, apprise the Court of Caubul that the
engagements entered into were “totally unauthorised and contrary to the
terms of the instructions given him;” and that, in consequence of these
errors, Captain Seton had been officially recalled, and another envoy
despatched to Sindh to negotiate the terms of a new treaty.

The agent then appointed was Mr. N. H. Smith, who had been filling,
with credit to himself, the office of Resident at Bushire. He was
instructed to annul the former treaty, and to “endeavour to establish
such an intercourse with the chiefs of Sindh as would afford the
means of watching and counteracting the intrigues of the French in
that and the neighbouring States.” It was no easy thing to establish
on a secure basis friendly relations with so many different powers,
if not at open war with one another, in that antagonistic state of
conflicting interests which rendered each principality eager to obtain
the assistance of the British to promote some hostile design against
its neighbour. But partly by open promises, and partly by disguised
threats, our agents at this time succeeded in casting one great network
of diplomacy over all the states from the Jumna to the Caspian Sea.
The Ameers of Sindh coveted nothing so much as assistance against
the Douranee monarch. The British envoy was instructed to refuse all
promises of assistance, but to hint at the possibility of assistance
being given to the paramount State in the event of the tributary
exhibiting any hostility to the British Government. It was distinctly
stated that the object of Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission to Caubul was
exclusively connected with the apprehended invasion of the Persians
and the French; that the affairs of Sindh would not be touched upon by
the Caubul embassy, and that, therefore, the affairs of Caubul could
not with propriety be discussed by the ambassador to Sindh; and it was
adroitly added, that the relations between Caubul and Sindh could only
be taken into consideration by the British Government in the event of
the latter state exhibiting a decided disposition to encourage and
assist the projects of our enemies.

Nor was this the only use made of the conflicting claims of Caubul and
Sindh. It happened, as has been said, that Persia had been intriguing
with the Ameers, and had promised to assist them in the efforts to
cast off the Douranee yoke. The French had favoured and assisted
these intrigues; and Mr. Elphinstone was accordingly instructed to
instigate the resentment of the Afghan monarch against the French and
Persian allies, and to demonstrate to him that the very integrity of
his empire was threatened by the confederacy. It was the policy of the
British-Indian Government to keep Sindh in check by hinting at the
possibility of British assistance rendered to Caubul for its coercion;
and, at the same time, to alarm Caubul by demonstrating the probability
of Sindh being assisted by Persia to shake off the Douranee yoke.
Operating upon the fears of both parties, our diplomatists found little
difficulty in bringing their negotiations to a successful termination.
The Ameers of Sindh entered readily into engagements of general amity,
and especially stipulated never to allow the tribe of the French to
settle in their country. But before these treaties were executed,
France had ceased to be formidable, and Persia had become a friend. The
Sindh and Caubul treaties were directed against exigencies which had
ceased to exist; but they were not without their uses. If the embassies
resulted in nothing else, they gave birth to two standard works on the
countries to which they were despatched; and brought prominently before
the World the names of two servants of the Company, who have lived to
occupy no small space in the world’s regard, and to prove themselves
as well fitted, by nature and education, to act history as to write



 The Mid-Career of Shah Soojah—His Wanderings and Misfortunes—Captivity
 in Cashmere—Imprisonment at Lahore—Robbery of the Koh-i-noor—Reception
 of the Shah by the Rajah of Kistawar—His Escape to the British

Before Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission had cleared the limits of the
Douranee Empire, Shah Soojah had given battle to his enemies, and
been disastrously defeated. The month of June, 1809, had not worn to
a close, before it was evident that his cause was hopeless. Still he
did not abandon the contest. Despatching his Zenana, with which was
his blind brother, to Rawul Pindee, he made new efforts to splinter
up his broken fortunes. But sustaining several defeats, and narrowly
escaping, on more than one occasion, with his life, he desisted for a
time from operations, of which every new struggle demonstrated more
painfully the utter fruitlessness. He wanted military genius, and he
wanted the art to inspire confidence and to win affection. Deserted by
the chiefs and the people, he withdrew beyond the frontier, and there
entered upon new preparations for the renewal of the contest under
circumstances more favourable to success. Entertaining and drilling
troops, he spent a year at Rawul Pindee. Some defections from his
brother’s party inspiring him with new hopes, he marched thence to
Peshawur, and took possession of the Balla Hissar, or royal fortress.
But here the treachery of his friends was likely to have proved more
fatal to him than the malice of his enemies. The chiefs on whom he
most relied were bribed over by the Governor of Cashmere to seize the
person of the King. Persuading him, before he commenced the expedition
to Caubul, to send out the horses of his troopers to graze in the
neighbouring villages, and thus stripping him of his only defence, they
escaladed the Balla Hissar, seized the royal person, and carried the
unfortunate monarch to the valley of Cashmere. Here he was offered his
release at the price of the Koh-i-noor; but he refused to surrender
this magnificent appendage to the Crown of Caubul, and rescued it from
the hands of one plunderer only to suffer it to fall into the grip of

It was in 1812 that Shah Soojah was carried off a prisoner to Cashmere.
He appears to have remained there about a year, and, during that time,
to have been treated with little kindness and respect. Mahmoud was then
in comparative quiet and security at Caubul, and, in his good fortune,
seems to have regarded with compassion the fate of his unhappy brother.
“When Shah Mahmoud heard of the way in which we were treated,” writes
the royal autobiographer, “the latent feelings of fraternal affection
were aroused within him, and he immediately sent a force into the
Barukzye country. After plundering the whole tribe of Atta Mahmoud
Khan, he carried men, women, and children into captivity. Finding that
this had not the desired effect, viz., our release from bondage, he
sent a force to Cashmere, under Futteh Khan.” Atta Mahmoud advanced
to give him battle; but his followers deserted to the standard of the
Barukzye Wuzeer, and he fled homewards to Cashmere. Here, threatened
by Futteh Khan, he implored the assistance of his captive. “Seeing
his escape could not be effected without our aid, he came,” says Shah
Soojah, “to our place of confinement, bare-headed, with the Koran in
one hand, a naked sword in the other, and a rope about his neck, and
requested our forgiveness for the sake of the sacred volume.” The
Shah, who, according to his own statements, was never wanting in that
most kingly quality of forgiveness, forgave him on his own account,
and recommended him to make submission to Futteh Khan. The Wuzeer was
advancing upon Cashmere from one direction, and the Sikhs from another;
and it was plain that the rebellious Nazim had nothing before him but
to submit.

I wish to believe Shah Soojah’s history of the amiable fraternal
impulses which dictated the expedition to Cashmere. But it is difficult
to entertain a conviction that it was not directed towards other
objects than the release of the exiled monarch. The result was,
that Atta Mahmoud, the rebellious Nazim, made submission to Futteh
Khan;—that Mokhum Chund, the leader of the Sikh expedition, met the
Douranee minister about the same time, and that both recommended Shah
Soojah to proceed on a visit to Runjeet Singh.[65] The Maharajah, it
soon became very clear, coveted the possession of the great Douranee
diamond. On the second day after Shah Soojah entered Lahore, he was
waited on by an emissary from Runjeet, who demanded the jewel in the
name of his master. The fugitive monarch asked for time to consider
the request, and hinted that, after he had partaken of Runjeet’s
hospitality, he might be in a temper to grant it. On the following
day, the same messenger presented himself again, and received a
similar reply. Runjeet Singh was in no mood to brook this delay.
Determined to possess himself of the Koh-i-noor, he now resorted to
other measures to extort it from the luckless owner. “We then,” says
Shah Soojah, “experienced privations of the necessaries of life, and
sentinels were placed over our dwelling. A month passed in this way.
Confidential servants of Runjeet Singh then waited on us, and inquired
if we wanted ready cash, and would enter into an agreement and treaty
for the above-mentioned jewel. We answered in the affirmative, and
next day, Ram Singh brought 40,000 or 50,000 rupees, and asked again
for the Koh-i-noor, which we promised to procure when some treaty was
agreed upon. Two days after this, Runjeet Singh came in person, and,
after friendly protestations, he stained a paper with safflower, and
swearing by the Grunth of Baba Nanuck and his own sword, he wrote the
following security and compact:—That he delivered over the provinces
of Kote Cumaleeh, Jung Shawl, and Khuleh Noor, to us and our heirs for
ever; also offering assistance in troops and treasure for the purpose
of again recovering our throne. We also agreed, if we should ever
ascend the throne, to consider Runjeet Singh always in the light of an
ally. He then proposed himself that we should exchange turbans, which
is among the Sikhs a pledge of eternal friendship, and we then gave him
the Koh-i-noor.”

Having thus obtained possession of the great diamond, Runjeet Singh,
who at no time of his life had very high ideas of honour, was unwilling
to give up the jagheer which he had promised as the price of it.
Whilst Shah Soojah was still thinking over the non-performance of
the contract, Runjeet invited him to accompany an expedition which
was proceeding under the Maharajah to Peshawur, and held out to him
hopes of the recovery of his lost dominions. The Shah joined Runjeet
at Rotas, and they proceeded together to Rawul Pindee. There the
Maharajah, seeing little chance of success, abandoned the expedition,
and, according to the account given by Shah Soojah, desired him to
proceed onward in the company of Ram Singh. Left alone with that chief,
he was shamelessly plundered by robbers of higher note than the Sikh
chiefs would willingly admit. All thought of proceeding to Peshawur was
now abandoned, and, accompanied by Ram Singh and the heir-apparent,
Shah Soojah returned to Lahore.

At the capital his property was not more secure than on the line of
march. There was something yet left to be plundered, and the plunderers
were of still higher rank. Runjeet Singh stripped the wretched monarch
of everything that was worth taking, and “even after this,” says
Shah Soojah, “he did not perform one of his promises.” Instead of
bestowing new favours upon the man who had yielded up his treasures
so unsparingly, the Maharajah began to heap new indignities upon him.
Spies were set over him, and guards surrounded his dwelling. Five
months passed in this way; and as time advanced, the condition of
the wretched Douranee Prince became more hopeless; his escape from
this wretched thraldom more to be coveted, and yet more difficult
to encompass. He remembered the friendly overtures of the British
Government, and sighed for a peaceful asylum under the shelter of the
wings of the great power beyond the Sutlej. “We thought,” he says,
“of the proffered friendship of the British Government, and hoped for
an asylum in Loodhianah. Several Mussulmans and Hindoos had formerly
offered their services, and we now engaged them and purchased several
of the covered hackeries of the country. Every stratagem was defeated
by the spies, until at last we found that Abdool Hussan had disclosed
our plans to Runjeet Singh. At last, being hopeless, we called Abdool
Hussan and Moollah Jaffier into the presence, and after offering them
bribes, and giving expectations of reward, we bought them to our
purpose; and the members of the seraglio, with their attendants, all
dressed in the costume of the country, found a safe conveyance in the
hackeries above mentioned to the cantonments of Loodhianah. When we
received accounts of their safe arrival, we gave sincere thanks to
Almighty God!”

But his own escape was yet to be effected. Outwitted to this extent,
Runjeet Singh redoubled his precautions, and in no very conciliatory
mood of mind hemmed in the ex-King with guards, and watched him day
and night with the keenest vigilance. “Seven ranges of guards,” says
the royal autobiographer, “were put upon our person, and armed men
with lighted torches watched our bed. When we went as far as the
banks of the river at night, the sentinels upon the ramparts lighted
flambeaux until we returned. Several months passed in this manner,
and our own attendants were with difficulty allowed to come into the
presence. No relief was left but that of our holy religion, and God
alone could give us assistance.” And assistance was given, in the
shape of unwonted resolution and ingenuity. In this critical hour
the resources of the Shah seem to have developed themselves in an
unexampled manner. He foiled all Runjeet’s efforts to secure his
prisoner, and baffled the vigilance of his guards. A few faithful
attendants aided his endeavours, and he escaped from the cruel walls of
Lahore. “We ordered,” he says, “the roof of the apartment containing
our camp equipage to be opened, so as to admit of a person passing
through; apertures were formed by mining through seven other chambers
to the outside of the building.” Everything being thus prepared, the
unhappy King disguised himself as a mendicant, and leaving one of his
attendants to simulate the royal person on his bed, crept through the
fissures in the walls, escaped with two followers into the street, and
emerged thence through the main sewer which ran beneath the city wall.

Outside Lahore he was joined by his remaining followers. He had been
thinking, in confinement, of the blessings of a safe retreat at
Loodhianah; but no sooner did he find himself abroad than he courted
new adventures, and meditated new enterprises. Instead of hastening to
the British provinces, he turned his face towards the hills of Jummoo.
Wandering about in this direction without seemingly any fixed object,
he received friendly overtures from the Rajah of Kistawar, and was
easily persuaded to enter his dominions.

The Rajah went out to meet him, loaded him with kindness, conducted him
to his capital, and made the kingly fugitive happy with rich gifts and
public honours. Offering up sacrifices, and distributing large sums
of money in honour of his royal guest, the Rajah spared nothing that
could soothe the grief or pamper the vanity of the exiled monarch.
But the novelty of this pleasant hospitality soon began to wear away,
and the restless wanderer sighed for a life of more enterprise and
excitement. “Tired of an idle life,” he says, “we laid plans for an
attack on Cashmere.” The Rajah of Kistawar was well pleased with the
project, and placed his troops and his treasury at the command of his
royal guest. The Shah himself, though robbed of all his jewels, had a
lakh of rupees remaining at Lahore, but as soon as he began to possess
himself of it, the Maharajah stretched out his hand, and swept it into
his own treasury. Nothing daunted by this accident, the Kistawar chief,
who was “ready to sacrifice his territory for the weal” of the Shah,
freely supplied the sinews of war; troops were levied, and operations

But it was not written in the Shah’s book of life that his enterprises
should result in anything but failure. The outset of the expedition
was marked by some temporary successes; but it closed in disaster and
defeat. The Shah’s levies charged the stockaded positions of the enemy
sword in hand, and were pushing into the heart of the country, when
the same inexorable enemy that has baffled the efforts of the greatest
European states raised its barriers against the advance of the invading
army. “We were only three coss,” relates Shah Soojah, “from Azim Khan’s
camp, with the picturesque city of Cashmere full in view, when the
snow began again to fall, and the storm continued with violence, and
without intermission, for two days. Our Hindostanees were benumbed with
a cold unfelt in their sultry regions; the road to our rear was blocked
up with snow, and the supplies still far distant. For three days our
troops were almost famished, and many Hindostanees died. We could not
advance, and retreat was hazardous. Many lost their hands and feet from
being frost-bitten, before we determined to retreat.”

These calamities, which seemed to strengthen the devotion of the Rajah
of Kistawar to the unfortunate Shah, and which were borne by him with
the most manly fortitude, sobered the fugitive Afghan monarch, and
made him again turn his thoughts longingly towards a tranquil asylum
in the Company’s dominions. At the earnest request of his new friend,
he remained during nine months beneath the hospitable roof of the
Rajah, and then prepared for a journey to Loodhianah.[66] Avoiding the
Lahore territory, lest he should fall into the hands of Runjeet Singh,
willing rather to encounter the eternal snows of the hill regions than
his ruthless enemies on the plains, he tracked along the inhospitable
mountains of Thibet, where for days and days no signs of human life
or vegetation appeared to cheer his heart and encourage his efforts.
“The depth of the eternal snows,” he says, “was immense. Underneath
the large bodies of ice the mountain torrents had formed themselves
channels. The five rivers watering the Punjaub have their rise here
from fountains amid the snows of ages. We passed mountains, the snows
of which varied in colour, and at last reached the confines of Thibet,
after experiencing the extremes of cold, hunger, and fatigue.”

His trials were not yet over. He had still to encounter dangers and
difficulties among the hill tribes. The people of Kulloo insulted and
ill-treated him; but the Rajah came to his relief, and, after a few
days of onward travelling, to the inexpressible joy of the fugitive
monarch the red houses of the British residents at one of our hill
stations appeared in sight. “Our cares and fatigues were now,” says
the Shah, “forgotten, and giving thanks to Almighty God, who, having
freed us from the hands of our enemies, and led us through the snows
and over the trackless mountains, had now safely conducted us to the
land of friends, we passed a night, for the first time, with comfort
and without dread. Signs of civilisation showed themselves as we
proceeded, and we soon entered a fine broad road. A chuprassie from
Captain Ross attended us; the hill ranas paid us every attention; and
we soon reached Loodhianah, where we found our family treated with
marked respect, and enjoying every comfort after their perilous march
from Lahore.”

It was in the month of September, 1816, that Shah Soojah joined his
family at Loodhianah. He sought a resting-place, and he found one
in the British dominions. Two years of quietude and peace were his.
But quietude and peace are afflictions grievous and intolerable to
an Afghan nature. The Shah gratefully acknowledged the friendly
hospitality of the British, but the burden of a life of inactivity
was not to be borne. The Douranee Empire was still rent by intestine
convulsions. The Barukzye sirdars were dominant at Caubul; but their
sovereignty was threatened by Shah Mahmoud and the Princes of Herat,
and not, at that time, professing to conquer for themselves, for the
spirit of legitimacy was not extinct in Afghanistan, they looked abroad
for a royal puppet, and found one at Loodhianah. Azim Khan invited
Shah Soojah to re-assert his claims to the throne; and the Shah, weary
of repose, unwarned by past experience, flung himself into this new
enterprise, only to add another to that long list of failures which it
took nearly a quarter of a century more to render complete.



 Dost Mahomed and the Barukzyes—Early days of Dost Mahomed—The fall of
 Futteh Khan—Defeat of Shah Mahmoud—Supremacy of the Barukzyes—Position
 of the Empire—Dost Mahomed at Caubul—Expedition of Shah Soojah—His
 Defeat—Capture of Peshawur by the Sikhs.

Among the twenty brothers of Futteh Khan was one many years his junior,
whose infancy was wholly disregarded by the great Barukzye Sirdar.
The son of a woman of the Kuzzilbash tribe, looked down upon by the
high-bred Douranee ladies of his father’s household, the boy had begun
life in the degrading office of a sweeper at the sacred cenotaph of
Lamech.[67] Permitted, at a later period, to hold a menial office
about the person of the powerful Wuzeer, he served the great man with
water, or bore his pipe; was very zealous in his ministrations; kept
long and painful vigils; saw everything, heard everything in silence;
bided his time patiently, and when the hour came, trod the stage of
active life as no irresolute novice. A stripling of fourteen, in the
crowded streets of Peshawur in broad day, as the buyers and the sellers
thronged the thoroughfares of the city, he slew one of the enemies of
Futteh Khan, and galloped home to report the achievement to the Wuzeer.
From that time his rise was rapid. The neglected younger brother of
Futteh Khan became the favourite of the powerful chief, and following
the fortunes of the warlike minister, soon took his place among the
chivalry of the Douranee Empire.

The name of this young warrior was Dost Mahomed Khan. Nature seems to
have designed him for a hero of the true Afghan stamp and character.
Of a graceful person, a prepossessing countenance, a bold frank
manner, he was outwardly endowed with all those gifts which most
inspire confidence and attract affection; whilst undoubted courage,
enterprise, activity, somewhat of the recklessness and unscrupulousness
of his race, combined with a more than common measure of intelligence
and sagacity, gave him a command over his fellows and a mastery over
circumstances, which raised him at length to the chief seat in the
empire. His youth was stained with many crimes, which he lived to
deplore. It is the glory of Dost Mahomed that in the vigour of his
years he looked back with contrition upon the excesses of his early
life, and lived down many of the besetting infirmities which had
overshadowed the dawn of his career. The waste of a deserted childhood
and the deficiencies of a neglected education he struggled manfully
to remedy and repair. At the zenith of his reputation there was not,
perhaps, in all Central Asia a chief so remarkable for the exercise of
self-discipline and self-control; but he emerged out of a cloudy morn
of vice, and sunk into a gloomy night of folly.

As the lieutenant of his able and powerful brother, the young Dost
Mahomed Khan displayed in all the contests which rent the Douranee
Empire a daring and heroic spirit, and considerable military address.
Early acquiring the power of handling large bodies of troops, he was
regarded, whilst yet scarcely a man, as a dashing, fearless soldier,
and a leader of good repute. But, in those early days, his scruples
were few; his excesses were many. It was one of those excesses, it is
supposed, which cost the life of Futteh Khan, and built up his own
reputation on the ruin of his distinguished brother.

It was shortly after the retirement of Shah Soojah to the British
possessions that Futteh Khan set out, at the head of an army, to the
western boundary of Afghanistan. Persia had long been encroaching upon
the limits of the Douranee Empire, and it was now to stem the tide
of Kujjar invasion that the Afghan Wuzeer set out for Khorassan. At
this time he was the virtual ruler of the country. Weak, indolent, and
debauched, Shah Mahmoud, retaining the name and the pomp of royalty,
had yielded the actual government of the country into the hands of
Futteh Khan and his brothers. The Princes of the blood royal quailed
before the Barukzye Sirdars. Ferooz-ood-Deen, brother of the reigning
monarch, was at that time governor of Herat. Whether actuated by
motives of personal resentment or ambition, or instigated by Shah
Mahmoud himself, Futteh Khan determined to turn the Persian expedition
to other account, and to throw Herat into the hands of the Barukzyes.
The execution of this design was entrusted to Dost Mahomed. He entered
Herat with his Kohistanee followers as a friend; and when the chiefs
of the city were beyond its gates, in attendance upon the Wuzeer, with
characteristic Afghan treachery and violence he massacred the palace
guards, seized the person of the Prince, spoiled the treasury, and
violated the harem. Setting the crown upon this last act of violence,
he tore the jewelled waistband from the person of the royal wife of one
of the royal Princes.[68] The outraged lady is said to have sent her
profaned garment to Prince Kamran, and to have drawn from him an oath
that he would avenge the injury. He was true to his vow. The blow was
struck; but it fell not on the perpetrator of the outrage: it fell upon
Futteh Khan.

Dost Mahomed had fled for safety to Cashmere. The Wuzeer, returning
from the Persian expedition, fell into the hands of Prince Kamran,
who punctured his eyes with the point of a dagger.[69] What followed
is well known. Enraged by so gross an outrage on a member of the
Suddozye family, alarmed at the growing power of the Barukzyes, and
further irritated by the resolute refusal of Futteh Khan to betray his
brothers, who had effected their escape from Herat, Kamran and his
father, Shah Mahmoud, agreed to put their noble prisoner to death.
They were then on their way from Candahar to Caubul. The ex-minister
was brought into their presence, and again called upon to write to his
brothers, ordering them to surrender themselves to the Shah. Again he
refused, alleging that he was but a poor blind captive; that his career
was run; that he had no longer any influence; and that he could not
consent to betray his brethren. Exasperated by the resolute bearing
of his prisoner, Mahmoud Shah ordered the unfortunate minister—the
king-maker to whom he owed his crown—to be put to death before him;
and there, in the presence of the feeble father and the cruel son,
Futteh Khan was by the attendant courtiers literally hacked to pieces.
His nose, ears, and lips were cut off; his fingers severed from his
hands, his hands from his arms, his arms from his body. Limb followed
limb, and long was the horrid butchery continued before the life of the
victim was extinct. Futteh Khan raised no cry, offered no prayer for
mercy. His fortitude was unshaken to the last. He died as he had lived,
the bravest and most resolute of men—like his noble father, a victim
to the perfidy and ingratitude of princes. The murder of Poyndah Khan
shook the Suddozye dynasty to its base. The assassination of Futteh
Khan soon made it a heap of ruins.[70]

From this time, the rise of Dost Mahomed was rapid. He had the blood
of kindred to avenge. The cruelty and ingratitude of Mahmoud and his
son were now to be signally punished by the brother of the illustrious
sufferer. Azim Khan, who ruled in Cashmere, counselled a course of
forbearance; but Dost Mahomed indignantly rejected the proposal; and
declaring that it would be an eternal disgrace to the Barukzyes not
to chastise the murderers of their chief, swore that he would march
upon Caubul, at the head of an army of retribution. Inclined neither
to enter personally upon so perilous an undertaking, nor to appear, in
such a juncture, wholly supine, Azim Khan presented his brother with
three or four lakhs of rupees to defray the charges of the expedition—a
sum which was exhausted long before the Sirdar neared Caubul. But in
spite of every obstacle, Dost Mahomed reached Koord-Caubul, two marches
from the capital, and there encamped his army.

The youthful son of Kamran, Prince Jehangire, was then the nominal
ruler of Caubul. But the actual administration of affairs was in
the hands of Atta Mahomed. A Sirdar of the Bamezye tribe, a man of
considerable ability, but no match for Dost Mahomed, he was now guilty
of the grand error of underrating such an adversary. He had acted
a conspicuous part in the recent intestine struggles between the
Suddozye brothers; but he had no love for the royal family—none for the
Barukzyes. He it was who had instigated Kamran to the cruel murder of
Futteh Khan, and had with his own hands commenced the inhuman butchery.
Now to advance ambitious projects of his own, he was ready to betray
his masters. Simulating a friendship which he did not feel, he leagued
himself with their enemies, and covenanted to betray the capital into
the hands of the Barukzye Sirdars. But Dost Mahomed and his brethren
had not forgotten the terrible tragedy which had cut short the great
career of the chief of their tribe. In a garden-house which had once
belonged to the murdered minister, they met Atta Mahomed, there to
complete the covenant for the surrender of the city. A signal was
given, when one—the youngest—of the brothers rushed upon the Bamezye
chief, threw him to the ground, and subjected him to the cruel process
which had preceded the murder of Futteh Khan. They spared his life; but
sent him blind and helpless into the world, with the mark of Barukzye
vengeance upon zhim—an object less of compassion than of scorn.

The seizure of the Balla Hissar was now speedily effected. The
Shah-zadah was surrounded by treachery. Young and beautiful, he was
the delight of the women of Caubul; but he had few friends among the
chivalry of the empire. Too weak to distinguish the true from the
false, he was easily betrayed. Persuaded to withdraw himself into
the upper citadel, he left the lower fortress at the mercy of Dost
Mahomed. The Sirdar made the most of the opportunity; ran a mine under
the upper works, and blew up a portion of them. Death stared the
Shah-zadah in the face. The women of Caubul offered up prayers for the
safety of the beautiful Prince. The night was dark; the rain descended
in torrents. To remain in the citadel was to court destruction. Under
cover of the pitchy darkness, it was possible that he might effect his
escape. Attended by a few followers, he made the effort, and succeeded.
He fled to Ghuzni, and was saved.

Dost Mahomed was now in possession of Caubul. But threatened from two
different quarters, his tenure was most insecure. Shah Mahmoud and
Prince Kamran were marching down from Herat, and Azim Khan was coming
from Cashmere to assert his claims, as the representative of the
Barukzye family. But the spirit of legitimacy was not wholly extinct in
Afghanistan. The Barukzyes did not profess to conquer for themselves.
It was necessary to put forward some scion of the royal family, and
to fight and conquer in his name. Dost Mahomed proclaimed Sultan Ali,
whilst Azim Khan invited Shah Soojah to emerge from the obscurity of
Loodhianah and re-assert his claims to the throne.[71]

Weary of retirement and inactivity, the Shah consented, and an
expedition was planned. But the covenant was but of short duration. The
contracting parties fell out upon the road, and, instead of fighting
a common enemy, got up a battle among themselves. The Shah, who
never lived to grow wiser, gave himself such airs, and asserted such
ridiculous pretentions, that Azim Khan deserted his new master, and let
loose his troops upon the royal cortège. Defeated in the conflict which
ensued,[72] Shah Soojah fled to the Khybur hills, and thence betook
himself to Sindh. Another puppet being called for, Prince Ayoob, for
want of a better, was elevated to that dignity, and the new friends set
out for Caubul.

In the meanwhile the royal army, which had marched from Herat under
Shah Mahmoud and Prince Kamran approached the capital of Afghanistan.
Unprepared to receive so formidable an enemy, weak in numbers, and
ill-supplied with money and materials, Dost Mahomed could not, with
any hope of success, have given battle to Mahmoud’s forces. The danger
was imminent. The royal troops were within six miles of the capital.
Dost Mahomed and his followers prepared for flight. With the bridles
of their horses in their hands, they stood waiting the approach of the
enemy. But their fears were groundless. A flight ensued; but it was not
Dost Mahomed’s, but Mahmoud’s army that fled. At the very threshold
of victory, the Suddozye Prince, either believing that there was
treachery in his ranks, or apprehending that the Barukzyes would seize
Herat in his absence, turned suddenly back, and flung himself into the
arms of defeat.

The Barukzyes were now dominant throughout Afghanistan. The
sovereignty, indeed, of Azim Khan’s puppet, Ayoob, was proclaimed;
but, Herat alone excepted, the country was in reality parcelled out
among the Barukzye brothers. By them the superior claims of Azim Khan
were generally acknowledged. Caubul, therefore, fell to his share.
Dost Mahomed took possession of Ghuzni. Pur Dil Khan, Kohan Dil Khan,
and their brothers, occupied Candahar. Jubbar Khan, a brother of Dost
Mahomed, was put in charge of the Ghilji country. Sultan Mahomed
and his brothers succeeded to the government of Peshawur, and the
Shah-zadah Sultan Ali, Dost Mahomed’s puppet, sunk quietly into the
insignificance of private life.

But this did not last long. Shah Soojah had begun again to dream of
sovereignty. He was organising an army at Shikarpoor. Against this
force marched Azim Khan, accompanied by the new King, Ayoob. Recalled
to the capital by the intrigues of Dost Mahomed, and delayed by one
of those complicated plots which display at once the recklessness and
the treachery of the Afghan character,[73] the Wuzeer was compelled
for a while to postpone the southern expedition. The internal strife
subsided, the march was renewned, and Azim Khan moved down on
Shikarpoor. But the army of Shah Soojah melted away at his approach.

Then Azim Khan planned an expedition against the Sikhs. He had no
fear of Runjeet Singh, whom he had once beaten in battle. Dost
Mahomed accompanied his brother, and they marched upon the frontier,
by Jellalabad and the Karapa Pass. But the watchful eye of Runjeet
was upon them, and he at once took measures for their discomfiture.
He well knew the character of the Barukzye brothers—knew them to be
avaricious, ambitious, treacherous; the hand of each against his
brethren. He thought bribery better than battle, and sent agents to
tamper with Sultan Mahomed and the other Peshawur chiefs. Hoping to
be enabled, in the end, to throw off the supremacy of Azim Khan, they
gladly listened to his overtures. Dost Mahomed received intelligence of
the plot, and signified his willingness to join the confederacy. His
offer was accepted. This important accession to his party communicated
new courage to Runjeet Singh. Everything was soon in train. Azim Khan
was at Minchini with his treasure and his Harem, neither of which, in
so troubled a state of affairs, could he venture to abandon. Sultan
Mahomed wrote to him from the Sikh camp that there was a design upon
both. The intelligence filled the Sirdar with grief and consternation.
He beheld plainly the treachery of his brothers, shed many bitter
tears, looked with fear and trembling into the future; saw disgrace on
one side, the sacrifice of his armies and treasure on the other; now
resolved to march down upon the enemy, now to break up his encampment
and retire. Night closed in upon him whilst in this state of painful
agitation and perplexity. Rumours of a disastrous something soon
spread through the whole camp. What it was, few could declare beyond
the Sirdar’s own tent; but his followers lost confidence in their
chief. They knew that some evil had befallen him; that he had lost
heart; that his spirit was broken. The nameless fear seized upon the
whole army, and morning dawned upon the wreck of a once formidable
force. His troops had deserted him, and he prepared to follow, with his
treasure and his Harem, to Jellalabad. Runjeet Singh entered Peshawur
in triumph; but thought it more prudent to divide the territory between
Dost Mahomed and Sultan Mahomed, than to occupy it on his own account,
and rule in his own name. The division was accordingly made. In the
mean while Azim Khan, disappointed and broken-spirited, was seized with
a violent disorder, the effect of anxiety and sorrow, and never quitted
the bed of sickness until he was carried to the tomb.[74]

This was in 1823. The death of Azim Khan precipitated the downfal of
the Suddozye monarchy, and raised Dost Mahomed to the chief seat in the
Douranee Empire. The last wretched remnant of legitimacy was now about
to perish by the innate force of its own corruption. The royal puppet,
Ayoob, and his son attempted to seize the property of the deceased
minister. Tidings of this design reached Candahar, and Shere Dil Khan,
with a party of Barukzye adherents, hastened to Caubul to rescue the
wealth of his brother and to chastise the spoliators. The Prince was
murdered in the presence of his father, and the unhappy King carried
off a prisoner to that ill-omened garden-house of Futteh Khan, which
had witnessed the destruction of another who had done still fouler
wrong to the great Barukzye brotherhood.[75]

In the mean while, Habib-oolah-Khan, son of Azim Khan, had succeeded
nominally to the power possessed by his deceased parent. But he had
inherited none of the late minister’s intellect and energy, and none
of his personal influence. Beside the deathbed of his father he had
been entrusted to the guidance of Jubbar Khan, but he had not the good
sense to perceive the advantages of such a connexion. He plunged into
a slough of dissipation, and, when he needed advice, betook himself to
the counsels of men little better and wiser than himself. The ablest
of his advisers was Ameen-oolah-Khan, the Loghur chief—known to a
later generation of Englishmen as “the infamous Ameen-oolah.” This
man’s support was worth retaining; but Habib-oolah, having deprived
Jubbar Khan of his government, attempted to destroy Ameen-oolah-Khan;
and thus, with the most consummate address, paved the way to his own
destruction. Dost Mahomed, ever on the alert, appeared on the stage at
the fitting moment. Alone, he had not sufficient resources to compete
with the son of Azim Khan; but the Newab speedily joined him; and soon
afterwards, in the midst of an engagement in the near neighbourhood
of Caubul, the troops of Ameen-oolah-Khan went over bodily to Dost
Mahomed; and the son of Azim Khan sought safety within the walls of the
Balla Hissar.

Dost Mahomed, having occupied the city, invested the citadel, and
would, in all probability, have carried everything before him, if
the Candahar chiefs, alarmed by the successes of their brother, and
dreading the growth of a power which threatened their own extinction,
had not moved out to the ostensible assistance of their nephew. Dost
Mahomed retreated into the Kohistan, but the unfortunate Habib-oolah
soon found that he had gained nothing by such an alliance. His uncles
enticed him to a meeting outside the city, seized him, carried him
off to the Loghur country; then took possession of the Balla Hissar,
and appropriated all his treasure. Dost Mahomed, however, was soon in
arms again, and the Peshawur brothers were before Caubul. The affairs
of the empire were then thrown into a state of terrible confusion.
The Barukzye brothers were all fighting among themselves for the
largest share of sovereignty; but it is said that “their followers
have been engaged in deadly strife when the rival leaders were sitting
together over a plate of cherries.” To this fraternal cherry-eating,
it would appear that Dost Mahomed was not admitted.[76] Sitting over
their fruit, his brothers came to the determination of alluring him
to an interview, and then either blinding or murdering him. The plot
was laid; everything was arranged for the destruction of the Sirdar;
but Hadjee Khan Kakur, who subsequently distinguished himself as a
traitor of no slight accomplishments, having discovered in time that
Dost Mahomed was backed by the strongest party in Caubul, gave him a
significant hint, at the proper moment, and the Sirdar escaped with
his life. After a few more fraternal schemes of mutual extermination,
the brothers entered into a compact by which the government of Ghuzni
and the Kohistan was secured to Dost Mahomed, whilst Sultan Mahomed of
Peshawur succeeded to the sovereignty of Caubul.

The truce was but of short duration. Shere Dil Khan, the most
influential of the Candahar brothers, died. A dangerous rival was
thus swept away from the path of Dost Mahomed. The Kuzzilbashes, soon
afterwards, gave in their adherence to him; and thus aided, he felt
himself in a position to strike another blow for the recovery of
Caubul. Sultan Mahomed had done nothing to strengthen himself at the
capital. Summoned either to surrender or to defend himself, he deemed
it more prudent to negotiate. Consenting to retire on Peshawur, he
marched out of one gate of Caubul whilst Dost Mahomed marched in at
another, and the followers of the latter shouted out a derisive adieu
to the departing chief.

From this time (1826) to the day on which his followers deserted him
at Urghandi, after the capture of Ghuzni by the British troops, Dost
Mahomed was supreme at Caubul. His brothers saw that it was useless to
contest the supremacy; and at last they acknowledged the unequalled
power of one whom they had once slighted and despised. And now was
it that Dost Mahomed began fully to understand the responsibilities
of high command, and the obligations of a ruler both to himself and
his subjects. He had hitherto lived the life of a dissolute soldier.
His education had been neglected, and in his very boyhood he had been
thrown in the way of pollution of the foulest kind. From his youth he
had been greatly addicted to wine, and was often to be seen in public
reeling along in a state of degrading intoxication, or scarcely able
to keep his place in the saddle. All this was now to be reformed.
He taught himself to read and to write, accomplishments which he had
before, if at all, scantily possessed. He studied the Koran, abandoned
the use of strong liquors, became scrupulously abstemious, plain in his
attire, assiduous in his attention to business, urbane, and courteous
to all. He made a public acknowledgment of his past errors and a
profession of reformation, and did not belie by his life the promises
which he openly made.[77]

It is not to be questioned that there was, at this time, in the conduct
of Dost Mahomed, as a ruler, much that may be regarded with admiration
and respect even by Christian men. Success did not disturb the balance
of his mind, nor power harden his heart. Simple in his habits, and
remarkably affable in his manner, he was accessible to the meanest of
his subjects. Ever ready to listen to their complaints and to redress
their grievances, he seldom rode abroad without being accosted in
the public streets or highways by citizen or by peasant waiting to
lay before the Sirdar a history of his grievances or his sufferings,
and to ask for assistance or redress. And he never passed the
petitioner—never rode on, but would rein in his horse, listen patiently
to the complaints of the meanest of his subjects, and give directions
to his attendants to take the necessary steps to render justice to the
injured, or to alleviate the sufferings of the distressed. Such was his
love of equity, indeed, that people asked, “Is Dost Mahomed dead that
there is no justice?”

He is even said, by those who knew him well, to have been kindly and
humane—an assertion which many who have read the history of his early
career will receive with an incredulous smile. But no one who fairly
estimates the character of Afghan history and Afghan morals, and the
necessities, personal and political, of all who take part in such
stirring scenes, can fail to perceive that his vices were rather the
growth of circumstances than of any extraordinary badness of heart.
Dost Mahomed was not by nature cruel; but once embarked in the strife
of Afghan politics, a man must fight it out or die. Every man’s hand
is against him, and he must turn his hand against every man. There
is no middle course open to him. If he would save himself, he must
cast his scruples to the winds. Even when seated most securely on the
musnud, an Afghan ruler must commit many acts abhorrent to our ideas of
humanity. He must rule with vigour, or not at all. That Dost Mahomed,
during the twelve years of supremacy which he enjoyed at Caubul, often
resorted, for the due maintenance of his power, to measures of severity
incompatible with the character of a humane ruler, is only to say that
for twelve years he retained his place at the head of affairs. Such
rigour is inseparable from the government of such a people. We cannot
rein wild horses with silken braids.

Upon one particular phase of Barukzye policy it is necessary to speak
more in detail. Under the Suddozye Kings, pampered and privileged,
the Douranee tribes had waxed arrogant and overbearing, and had, in
time, erected themselves into a power capable of shaping the destinies
of the empire. With one hand they held down the people, and with the
other menaced the throne. Their sudden change of fortune seems to
have unhinged and excited them. Bearing their new honours with little
meekness, and exercising their new powers with little moderation,
they revenged their past sufferings on the unhappy people whom they
had supplanted, and, partly by fraud, partly by extortion, stripped
the native cultivators of the last remnant of property left to them
on the new allocation of the lands. In the revolutions which had rent
the country throughout the early years of the century, it had been
the weight of Douranee influence which had ever turned the scale.
They held, indeed, the crown at their disposal, and, seeking their
own aggrandisement, were sure to array themselves on the side of the
prince who was most liberal of his promises to the tribes. The danger
of nourishing such a power as this was not overlooked by the sagacious
minds of the Barukzye rulers. They saw clearly the policy of treading
down the Douranees, and soon began to execute it.

In the revolution which had overthrown the Suddozye dynasty, the
tribes had taken no active part, and the Barukzye Sirdars had risen to
power neither by their aid nor in spite of their opposition. A long
succession of sanguinary civil wars, which had deprived them, one by
one, of the leaders to whom they looked for guidance and support, had
so enfeeble and prostrated them, that but a remnant of their former
power was left. No immediate apprehension of danger from such a source
darkened the dawn of the Barukzye brethren’s career. But to be cast
down was not to be broken—to be enfeebled was not to be extinct. There
was too much elasticity and vitality in the order for such accidents as
this to subject it to more than temporary decline. The Douranees were
still a privileged class; still were they fattening upon the immunities
granted them by the Suddozye Kings. To curtail these privileges and
immunities would be to strike at the source of their dominant influence
and commanding strength; and the Barukzye Sirdars, less chivalrous than
wise, determined to strike the blow, whilst the Douranees, crippled and
exhausted, had little power to resist the attack. Even then they did
not venture openly and directly to assail the privileges of the tribes
by imposing an assessment on their lands in lieu of the obligation to
supply horsemen for the service of the state—an obligation which had
for some time past been practically relaxed—but they began cautiously
and insidiously to introduce “the small end of the wedge,” by taxing
the Ryots, or Humsayehs of the Douranees, whose various services,
not only as cultivators but as artificers, had rendered them in the
estimation of their powerful masters a valuable kind of property, to
be protected from foreign tyranny that they might better bear their
burdens at home. These taxes were enforced with a rigour intended to
offend the Douranee chiefs; but the trials to which they were then
subjected but faintly foreshadowed the greater trials to come.

Little by little, the Barukzye Sirdars began to attach such vexatious
conditions to the privileges of the Douranees—so to make them run the
gauntlet of all kinds of exactions short of the direct assessment of
their lands—that in time, harassed, oppressed, impoverished by these
more irregular imposts, and anticipating every day the development of
some new form of tyranny and extortion, they were glad to exchange
them for an assessment of a more fixed and definite character. From a
minute detail of the measures adopted by the Barukzye Sirdars, with
the double object of raising revenue and breaking down the remaining
strength of the Douranees, the reader would turn away with weariness
and impatience; but this matter of Douranee taxation has too much to do
with the after-history of the war in Afghanistan, for me to pass it by
without at least this slight recognition of its importance.

In the heyday of their prosperity, the Douranees had been too arrogant
and unscrupulous to claim from us commiseration in the hour of their
decline. The Barukzye Sirdars held them down with a strong hand; and
the policy was at least successful. It was mainly the humiliation
of these once dominant tribes that secured to Dost Mahomed and his
brothers so many years of comparative security and rest. Slight
disorders, such as are inseparable from the constitution of Afghan
society—a rebellion in one part of the country, the necessity of
coercing a recusant governor in another—occasionally distracted the
mind of the Sirdar from the civil administration of Caubul. But it was
not until the year 1834 that he was called upon to face a more pressing
danger, and to prepare himself for a more vigorous contest. The exiled
Suddozye Prince, Shah Soojah, weary again of inactivity, and undaunted
by past failure, was about to make another effort to re-establish
himself in the Douranee Empire; and, with this object, was organising
an army in Sindh.

Had there been any sort of unanimity among the Barukzye brothers, this
invasion might have been laughed to scorn; but Dost Mahomed felt that
there was treachery within, no less than hostility without, and that
the open enemy was not more dangerous than the concealed one. Jubbar
Khan, Zemaun Khan, and others, were known to be intriguing with the
Shah. The Newab, indeed, had gone so far as to assure Dost Mahomed that
it was useless to oppose the Suddozye invasion, as Soojah-ool-Moolk was
assisted by the British Government, and would certainly be victorious.
He implored the Sirdar to pause before he brought down upon himself
certain destruction, alleging that it would be better to make terms
with the Shah—to secure something rather than to lose everything. But
Dost Mahomed knew his man—knew that Jubbar Khan had thrown himself into
the arms of the Suddozye, laughed significantly, and said, “Lala, it
will be time enough to talk about terms when I have been beaten.” This
was unanswerable. The Newab retired; and preparations for war were
carried on with renewed activity.

In the mean while, Shah Soojah was girding himself up for the coming
struggle with the Barukzye Sirdars. In 1831 he had sought the
assistance of Runjeet Singh towards the recovery of his lost dominions;
but the Maharajah had set such an extravagant price upon his alliance,
that the negotiations fell to the ground without any results.[78] The
language of the Sikh ruler had been insolent and dictatorial. He had
treated the Shah as a fallen prince, and endeavoured, in the event of
his restoration, to reduce him to a state of vassalage so complete,
that even the prostrate Suddozye resented the humiliating attempt.
The idea of making another effort to regain his lost dominions had,
however, taken such shape in his mind, that it was not to be lightly
abandoned. But empires are not to be won without money, and the Shah
was lamentably poor. Jewels he had to the value of two or three lakhs
of rupees; and he was eager to pledge them. But the up-country bankers
were slow to make the required advances. “If 1000 rupees be required,”
said the Shah, “these persons will ask a pledge in property of a lakh
of rupees.” From the obdurate bankers he turned, in his distress, to
the British Government; but the British Government was equally obdurate.

In vain the exiled Shah pleaded that the people of Afghanistan were
anxious for his arrival; and that those of Khorassan would flock to
his standard and acknowledge no other chief. In vain he declared that
the Barukzye Sirdars were “not people around whom the Afghans would
rally”—that they had no authority beyond the streets and bazaars of
Caubul, and no power to resist an enemy advancing from the northward.
Neither up-country bankers nor British functionaries would advance him
the requisite funds. “My impatience,” he said, “exceeds all bounds;
and if I can raise a loan of two or three lakhs of rupees from any
banker, I entertain every expectation that, with the favour of God, my
object will be accomplished.” But although the Persians were at that
time pushing their conquests in Khorassan, and the Shah continued to
declare that the Douranee, Ghilzye, and other tribes, were sighing for
his advent, which was to relieve them from the tyranny and oppression
of the Barukzyes, and to secure them against foreign invasion, Lord
William Bentinck, too intent upon domestic reforms to busy himself with
schemes of distant defence, quietly smiled down the solicitations of
the Shah, and told him to do what he liked on his own account, but that
the British Government would not help him to do it. “My friend,” he
wrote, “I deem it my duty to apprise you distinctly, that the British
Government religiously abstains from intermeddling with the affairs of
its neighbours when this can be avoided. Your Majesty is, of course,
master of your own actions; but to afford you assistance for the
purpose which you have in contemplation, would not consist with that
neutrality which on such occasions is the rule of guidance adopted
by the British Government.” But, in spite of these discouragements,
before the year 1832 had worn to a close, Shah Soojah “had resolved on
quitting his asylum at Loodhianah for the purpose of making another
attempt to regain his throne.”

The British agent on the north-western frontier, Captain Wade,
officially reported this to Mr. Macnaghten, who then held the office
of Political Secretary; and with the announcement went a request, on
the part of the Shah, for three months of his stipend in advance. The
request, at a later period, rose to a _six_ months’ advance; and a
compromise was eventually effected for _four_. So, with 16,000 rupees
extracted as a forestalment of the allowance granted to his family in
his absence, he set out for the re-conquest of the Douranee Empire.

On the 28th of January, 1833, he quitted his residence at Loodhianah,
and endeavouring, as he went, to raise money and to enlist troops for
his projected expedition, moved his camp slowly to Bahwulpore, and
thence, across the Indus, to Shikarpoor, where he had determined to

But having thus entered the territory of the Ameers of Sindh as a
friend, he did not quit it before he had shown his quality as an
enemy, by fighting a hard battle with the Sindhians, and effectually
beating them. The pecuniary demands which he had made upon them they
had resisted; and the Shah having a considerable army at his command,
deeply interested in the event, thought fit to enforce obedience. Early
in January, 1834, an engagement took place near Rori, and the pride of
the Ameers having been humbled by defeat, they consented to the terms
he demanded, and acknowledged the supremacy of the Shah.[79]

Having arranged this matter to his satisfaction, Shah Soojah marched
upon Candahar, and in the early summer was before the walls of the
city. He invested the place, and endeavoured ineffectually to carry it
by assault. The Candahar chiefs held out with much resolution, but it
was not until the arrival of Dost Mahomed from Caubul that a general
action was risked. The Sirdar lost no time in commencing the attack.
Akbar Khan, the chief’s son, who, at a later period, stood out so
prominently from the canvas of his country’s history, was at the head
of the Barukzye horse; Abdul Samat Khan[80] commanded the foot. No
great amount of military skill appears to have been displayed on either
side. Akbar Khan’s horsemen charged the enemy with a dashing gallantry
worthy of their impetuous leader; but a battalion of the Shah’s troops,
under an Indo-Briton, named Campbell, fought with such uncommon energy,
that at one time the forces of the Barukzye chiefs were driven back,
and victory appeared to be in the reach of the Shah. But Dost Mahomed,
who had intently watched the conflict, and kept a handful of chosen
troops in reserve, now let them slip, rallied the battalions which
were falling back, called upon Akbar Khan to make one more struggle,
and, well responded to by his gallant son, rolled back the tide of
victory. Shah Soojah, who on the first appearance of Dost Mahomed had
lost all heart, and actually given orders to prepare for flight, called
out in his desperation to Campbell, “Chupao-chupao,”[81] then ordered
his elephant to be wheeled round, and turned his back upon the field
of battle. His irresolution and the unsteadfastness of the Douranees
proved fatal to his cause.

The Douranee tribes had looked upon the advance of the King with
evident satisfaction. Trodden down and crushed as they had been by the
Barukzyes, they would have rejoiced in the success of the royal cause.
But they had not the power to secure it. Depressed and enfeebled by
long years of tyranny, they brought only the shadow of their former
selves to the standard of the Suddozye monarch. Without horses, without
arms, without discipline, without heart to sustain them upon any great
enterprise, and without leaders to inspire them with the courage
they lacked themselves, the Douranees went into the field a feeble,
broken-spirited rabble. Had they been assured of the success of the
enterprise, they would at least have assumed a bold front, and flung
all their influence, such as it was, into the scales on the side of
the returned Suddozye; but remembering the iron rule and the unsparing
vengeance of the Barukzye Sirdars, they dreaded the consequences of
failure, and when the crisis arrived, either stood aloof from the
contest, or shamefully apostatised at the last.

The few, indeed, who really joined the royal standard contrived to
defeat the enterprise; for whilst the Shah’s Hindostanees were engaging
the enemy in front, the Douranees, moved by an irrepressible avidity
for plunder, fell upon the baggage in the rear, and created such a
panic in the ranks that the whole army turned and fled. It was not
possible to rally them. The battle was lost. The Barukzye troops
pushed forward. Campbell, who had fallen like a brave man, covered
with wounds, was taken prisoner, with others of the Shah’s principal
officers; and all the guns, stores, and camp-equippage of the Suddozye
Prince fell into the hands of the victors. The scenes of plunder and
carnage which ensued are said to have been terrible. The Shah fled to
Furrah, and thence by the route of Seistan and Shorawuk to Kelat. The
Candahar chiefs urged the pursuit of the fugitive, but Dost Mahomed
opposed the measure, and the unfortunate Prince was suffered to escape.

But scarcely had the Sirdar returned to Caubul when he found himself
compelled to prepare for a new and more formidable enterprise. Runjeet
Singh was in possession of Peshawur. The treachery of Sultan Mahomed
Khan and his brothers had rebounded upon themselves, and they had
lost the province which had been the object of so much intrigue and
contention. In their anxiety to destroy Dost Mahomed, they opened a
communication with the Sikhs, who advanced to Peshawur ostensibly as
friends, and then took possession of the city.[82] Sultan Mahomed Khan
ignominiously fled. The Sikh army under Hurree Singh consisted only of
9000 men, and had the Afghans been commanded by a competent leader they
might have driven back a far stronger force, and retained possession
of the place. The Peshawur chiefs were everlastingly disgraced, and
Peshawur lost to the Afghans for ever.

But Dost Mahomed could not submit patiently to this. Exasperated
against Runjeet Singh, and indignant at the fatuous conduct of his
brothers, he determined on declaring a religious war against the Sikhs,
and began with characteristic energy to organise a force sufficiently
strong to wrest Peshawur from the hands of the usurpers. To strengthen
his influence he assumed, at this time, the title of Ameer-al-Mominin
(commander of the faithful[83]), and exerted himself to inflame the
breasts of his followers with that burning Mahomedan zeal which has
so often impelled the disciples of the Prophet to deeds of the most
consummate daring and most heroic self-abandonment. Money was now to be
obtained, and to obtain it much extortion was, doubtless, practised. An
Afghan chief has a rude and somewhat arbitrary manner of levying rates
and taxes. Dost Mahomed made no exception in his conduct to “the good
old rule,” which had so long, in critical conjunctures, been observed
in that part of the world. He took all that he could get, raised a very
respectable force, coined money in his own name, and then prepared for

At the head of an imposing array of fighting men, the Ameer marched
out of Caubul. He had judged wisely. The declaration of war against
the infidel—war proclaimed in the name of the Prophet—had brought
thousands to his banner; and ever as he marched the great stream of
humanity seemed to swell and swell, as new tributaries came pouring in
from every part, and the thousands became tens of thousands. From the
Kohistan, from the hills beyond, from the regions of the Hindoo-Koosh,
from the remoter fastnesses of Toorkistan, multitudes of various tribes
and denominations, moved by various impulses, but all noisily boasting
their true Mahomedan zeal, came flocking in to the Ameer’s standard.
Ghilzyes and Kohistanees, sleek Kuzzilbashes and rugged Oosbegs,
horsemen and foot-men, all who could wield a sword or lift a matchlock,
obeyed the call in the name of the Prophet. “Savages from the remotest
recesses of the mountainous districts,” wrote one, who saw this strange
congeries of Mussulman humanity,[84] “who were dignified with the
profession of the Mahomedan faith, many of them giants in form and
strength, promiscuously armed with sword and shield, bows and arrows,
matchlocks, rifles, spears and blunderbusses, concentrated themselves
around the standard of religion, and were prepared to slay, plunder,
and destroy, for the sake of God and the Prophet, the unenlighted
infidels of the Punjab.”

The Mussulman force reached Peshawur. The brave heart of Runjeet Singh
quailed before this immense assemblage, and he at once determined not
to meet it openly in the field. There was in his camp a man named
Harlan, an American adventurer, now a doctor and now a general, who was
ready to take any kind of service with any one disposed to pay him, and
to do any kind of work at the instance of his master.[85] Clever and
unscrupulous, he was a fit agent to do the Maharajah’s bidding. Runjeet
despatched him as an envoy to the Afghan camp. He went ostensibly to
negotiate with Dost Mahomed; in reality to corrupt his supporters. “On
the occasion,” he says, with as little sense of shame as though he had
been performing an exploit of the highest merit, “of Dost Mahomed’s
visit to Peshawur, which occurred during the period of my service with
Runjeet Singh, I was despatched by the Prince as ambassador to the
Ameer. I divided his brothers against him, exciting their jealousy of
his growing power, and exasperating the family feuds with which, from
my previous acquaintance, I was familiar, and stirred up the feudal
lords of his durbar, with the prospects of pecuniary advantages. I
induced his brother, Sultan Mahomed Khan, the lately deposed chief
of Peshawur, with 10,000 retainers, to withdraw suddenly from his
camp about nightfall. The chief accompanied me towards the Sikh camp,
whilst his followers fled to their mountain fastnesses. So large a
body retiring from the Ameer’s control, in opposition to his will and
without previous intimation, threw the general camp into inextricable
confusion, which terminated in the clandestine rout of his forces,
without beat of drum, or sound of bugle, or the trumpet’s blast, in
the quiet stillness of midnight. At daybreak no vestige of the Afghan
camp was seen, where six hours before 50,000 men and 10,000 horses,
with all the busy host of attendants, were rife with the tumult of wild

Thus was this great expedition, so promising at the outset, brought
prematurely to a disastrous close. Treachery broke up, in a single
night, a vast army which Runjeet Singh had contemplated with dismay.
The Ameer, with the _débris_ of his force, preserving his guns, but
sacrificing much of his camp-equipage, fell back upon Caubul, reseated
himself quietly in the Balla Hissar, and, in bitterness of spirit,
declaiming against the emptiness of military renown, plunged deeply
into the study of the Koran.

From this pleasant abstraction from warlike pursuits, the Ameer was,
after a time, aroused by a well grounded report to the effect that
Sultan Mahomed had been again intriguing with the Sikhs, and that a
plan had been arranged for the passage of a Punjabee force through the
Khybur Pass, with the ultimate intention of moving upon Caubul. An
expedition was accordingly fitted out, in the spring of 1837; but the
Ameer, having sufficient confidence in his sons Afzul Khan and Mahomed
Abkar, sent the Sirdars in charge of the troops with Meerza Samad
Khan, his minister, as their adviser. The Afghan forces laid siege
to Jumrood, and on the 30th of April Hurree Singh came from Peshawur
to its relief. An action took place, in which both the young Sirdars
greatly distinguished themselves, and Shumshoodeen Khan’s conduct was
equally conspicuous. The Sikh chieftain, Hurree Singh, was slain, and
his disheartened troops fell back and entrenched themselves under the
walls of Jumrood. Akbar Khan proposed to follow up the victory by
dashing on to Peshawur; but the Meerza, who, according to Mr. Masson,
had, during the action, “secreted himself in some cave or sheltered
recess, where, in despair, he sobbed, beat his breast, tore his beard,
and knocked his head upon the ground,” now made his appearance,
declaring that his prayers had been accepted, and “entreated the
boasting young man to be satisfied with what he had done.” The advice
was sufficiently sound, whatever may have been the motives which
dictated it. Strong Sikh reinforcements soon appeared in sight, and the
Afghan army was compelled to retire. The battle of Jumrood was long a
theme of national exultation. Akbar Khan plumed himself greatly on the
victory, and was unwilling to share the honours of the day with his
less boastful brother. But it was not a very glorious achievement, and
it may be doubted whether Afzul Khan did not really distinguish himself
even more than his associate. In one respect, however, it was a heavy
blow to the Maharajah. Runjeet Singh had lost one of his best officers
and dearest friends. The death of Hurree Singh was never forgotten or

The loss of Peshawur rankled deeply in the mind of Dost Mahomed. The
empire of Ahmed Shah had been rapidly falling to pieces beneath the
heavy blows of the Sikh spoliator. The wealthy provinces of Cashmere
and Mooltan had been wrested from the Douranees in the time of the
Suddozye Princes, and now the same unsparing hand had amputated another
tract of country, to the humiliation of the Barukzye Sirdars. The
Ameer, in bitterness of spirit, bewailed the loss of territory, and
burned to resent the affront. In spite, however, of the boasted victory
of Jumrood, he had little inclination to endeavour to wrest the lost
territory, by force of arms, from the grasp of the Sikh usurpers.
Mistrusting his own strength, in this conjuncture he turned his
thoughts towards foreign aid. Willing to form almost any alliance so
long as this great end was to be gained, he now looked towards Persia
for assistance, and now invited the friendly aid of the British. It
was in the autumn of this year, 1837, that two events, which mightily
affected the future destinies of Dost Mahomed, were canvassed in the
bazaars of Caubul. A British emissary was about to arrive at the Afghan
capital; and a Persian army was advancing upon the Afghan frontier.
Before the first snows had fallen, Captain Burnes was residing at
Caubul, and Mahomed Shah was laying siege to Herat.[87]



 Later Events in Persia—The Treaty of Goolistan—Arrival of Sir Gore
 Ouseley—Mr. Morier and Mr. Ellis—The Definitive Treaty—The War of
 1826-27—The Treaty of Toorkomanchai—Death of Futteh Ali Shah—Accession
 of Mahomed Shah—His Projects of Ambition—The Expedition against Herat.

It is necessary now to revert, for a little space, to the progress of
affairs in Western Asia. Whilst the Suddozye Princes in Afghanistan
had been gradually relaxing their hold of the Douranee Empire, Persia
had been still struggling against Russian encroachment—still entangled
in the meshes of a long and harassing war. Though enfeebled by the
paramount necessity of concentrating the resources of the empire on
the great European contest, which demanded the assertion of all her
military strength, the aggressive tendencies of the great northern
power were not to be entirely controlled. Little could she think of
remote acquisitions of territory in Georgia, whilst the eagles of
Napoleon were threatening her very existence at the gates of Moscow
itself. Still with little intermission, up to the year 1813, the war
dragged languidly on. Then the good offices of Great Britain were
successfully employed for the re-establishment of friendly relations
between the two contending powers;[88] and a treaty, known as the
treaty of Goolistan, was negotiated between them. By this treaty
Persia ceded to Russia all her acquisitions on the south of the
Caucasus, and agreed to maintain no naval force on the Caspian sea;
whilst Russia entered into a vague engagement to support, in the event
of a disputed succession, the claims of the heir-apparent against all
competitors for the throne.

During these wars, which were carried on with varying success, the
Persian troops upon more than one occasion had been led to the charge
by English officers of approved gallantry and skill. Accompanying
General Malcolm to Persia in 1810, they were retained in the country
by Sir Harford Jones; and were very soon busily employed in drilling
and disciplining the infantry and artillery of the Persian Prince.[89]
Of these officers, the most conspicuous were Captain Christie and
Lieutenant Lindsay, who led into the field the battalions which they
had instructed, and more than once turned the tide of victory against
their formidable European opponents.[90]

In the mean while, Sir Harford Jones had been succeeded in the Persian
embassy by Sir Gore Ouseley, who in the summer of 1811 reached Teheran
in the character of Ambassador Extraordinary from the King of England.
The preliminary treaty which Jones had negotiated, was now to be
wrought into a definitive one. It was somewhat modified in the process.
The new treaty was more liberal than the old. In the preliminary
articles relating to the subsidy, it had been set down that the amount
should be regulated in the definitive treaty; but it was understood
between the British and the Persian plenipotentiary, that the amount
was on no account to exceed 160,000 tomauns, and that the manner in
which it was to be afforded should be left to the discretion of the
British Government. But in the definitive treaty the amount was fixed
at 200,000 tomauns (or about 150,000_l._); and a special article was
introduced, setting forth that “since it is the custom of Persia to pay
her troops six months in advance, the English ambassador shall do all
in his power to pay the subsidy granted in lieu of troops, in as early
instalments as may be convenient and practicable,”—a pleasant fiction,
of which it has been said, with truth, that it might “well be taken for
a burlesque.”

On the 14th of March, 1812, this treaty was signed by Sir Gore Ouseley,
Mahomed Shefi, and Mahomed Hassan; and a week afterwards, the British
ambassador wrote to inform the Court of Directors of the East India
Company that “the good effects of the definitive treaty, and the proofs
of the confidence with which it has inspired the Shah, are already
manifest.” The Persian monarch, having declared his fixed determination
to strengthen Abbas Meerza to the utmost of his ability, by raising
for him a disciplined army of 50,000 men, requested Sir Gore Ouseley
to obtain for him, with the utmost possible despatch, 30,000 stands
of English muskets and accoutrements, the price of which was to be
deducted from the subsidy. “The Shah,” wrote the envoy, “has further
promised me, that this large deduction from the subsidy shall be made
up, through me, to Abbas Meerza’s army from the royal coffers, so that
we may congratulate ourselves on having worked a wonderful (and, by
many, unexpected) alteration in the Shah’s general sentiments.”[91]

Sir Gore Ouseley returned to England, leaving his secretary, Mr.
Morier, in charge of the Mission; but before the treaty was finally
accepted, it was modified by the British Government, and Mr. Henry
Ellis was despatched to Persia, in 1814, to negotiate these alterations
at the Persian Court. A comparison of the treaty, signed by Sir Gore
Ouseley, with that which was subsequently accepted, will show that
the alterations, which were very considerable in respect of words,
were less so in respect of substance. The most important conditions
of the treaty are to be found in both documents. But the progress of
events had rendered it necessary to expunge certain passages from the
treaty negotiated by Sir Gore Ouseley. For example, the 7th article of
that treaty provided, that “should the King of Persia form magazines
of materials for ship-building on the coast of the Caspian Sea, and
resolve to establish a naval force, the King of England shall grant
permission to naval officers, seamen, shipwrights, carpenters, &c., to
proceed to Persia from London and Bombay, and to enter the service of
the King of Persia—the pay of such officers, artificers, &c., shall be
given by his Persian Majesty at the rates which may be agreed upon with
the English ambassador.”[92] But by the treaty of Goolistan, Persia
engaged not to maintain a naval force on the Caspian. The article,
therefore, was necessarily expunged.

On the 25th of November, the definitive treaty, which was finally
accepted, was concluded at Teheran by Messrs. Morier and Ellis. It was
declared to be strictly defensive. The plan of defence thus marked out
was more extensive than practicable. It bound the Persian Government to
engage “not to allow any European army to enter the Persian territory,
nor to proceed towards India, nor to any of the ports of that country;
and also to engage not to allow any individuals of such European
nations, entertaining a design of invading India, or being at enmity
with Great Britain, whatever, to enter Persia.” “Should any European
powers,” it was added, “wish to invade India by the road of Khorassan,
Tartaristan, Bokhara, Samarcand, or other routes, his Persian Majesty
engages to induce the kings and governors of those countries to oppose
such invasion as much as is in his power, either by the fear of his
arms or by conciliatory measures.” In the third article it is laid
down, that “the limits of the territories of the two states of Russia
and Persia shall be determined according to the admission of Great
Britain, Persia, and Russia”—a stipulation of an extraordinary and,
perhaps, unexampled character, inasmuch as Russia had not consented to
this mode of adjudication. The eighth and ninth articles related to
Afghanistan, and are contained in the following words:

VIII. “Should the Afghans be at war with the British nation, his
Persian Majesty engages to send an army against them, in such manner,
and of such force, as may be concerted with the English Government. The
expenses of such an army shall be defrayed by the British Government,
in such manner as may be agreed upon at the period of its being

IX. “If war should be declared between the Afghans and Persians, the
English Government shall not interfere with either party, unless their
mediation to effect a peace shall be solicited by both parties.”[93]

One more clause of the definitive treaty calls for notice in this
place. In Article VI., it is covenanted that “should any European
power be engaged in war with Persia, when at peace with England, his
Britannic Majesty engages to use his best endeavours to bring Persia
and such European power to a friendly understanding.” “If however,” it
is added, “his Majesty’s cordial interference should fail of success,
England shall still, if required, in conformity with the stipulations
in the preceding articles, send a force from India, or, in lieu
thereof, pay an annual subsidy (200,000 tomauns) for the support of a
Persian army, so long as a war in the supposed case shall continue,
and until Persia shall make peace with such nation.” By this article
we, in effect, pledged ourselves to support Persia in her wars with
Russia, even though we should be at peace with the latter state. By
the convention of Goolistan, it is true that amicable relations had
been re-established between the Russian and Persian Governments;
but these relations were likely at any time to be interrupted; and
it was not difficult to perceive, that, before long, the aggressive
policy of Russia would again bring that state into collision with its
Persian neighbour. The article, in reality, exposed us at least to the
probability of a war with Russia; and laid down the doctrine that
every future aggression of the latter against the dominions of the
Persian Shah was to be regarded in the light of a hostile demonstration
against our Indian possessions.

For some time there was little to disturb the even current of affairs,
or to change the character of our relations towards the Persian state.
It was the policy of Great Britain, by strengthening the military
resources of the country, to render Persia an insurmountable barrier
against the invasion of India by any European army. But by this time
France had ceased to be formidable; and what was ostensibly defence
against the powers of Europe, was, in reality, defence against the
ambition of the Czar. It is doubtful, however, how far our policy was
successful. We supplied the Persian army with English arms and English
discipline; our officers drilled the native troops after the newest
European fashions, and for some time the Crown Prince, Abbas Meerza,
was delighted with his new plaything. But the best-informed authorities
concur in opinion that the experiment was a failure; and that the real
military strength of the empire was not augmented by this infusion
of English discipline into the raw material of the Persian army.[94]
It has been said, indeed, and with undeniable truth, by one who was
himself for many years among the instructors of the Persian army, that
“when Persia again came into collision with Russia in 1826, her means
and power as a military nation were positively inferior to those which
she possessed at the close of her former struggle.”

From the date of the convention of Goolistan, up to the year 1826,
there was at least an outward observance of peace between the Russian
and Persian states. The peace, however, was but a hollow one, destined
soon to be broken. The irritation of a disputed boundary had ever
since the ratification of the treaty of Goolistan kept the two states
in a restless, unsettled condition of ill-disguised animosity; and
now it broke out at last into acts of mutual defiance. It is hard to
say whether Russia or Persia struck the first unpardonable blow. The
conduct of the former had been insolent and offensive—designed perhaps
to goad the weaker state into open resentment, and to furnish a pretext
for new wars, to be followed by new acquisitions of Eastern territory.
Both parties were prepared, by a long series of mutual provocations,
for the now inevitable contest. It needed very little to bring them
into open collision.

In Georgia there had been frightful misrule. The officers of the
Christian government had wantonly and insanely outraged the religious
feelings of its Mussulman subjects; and now an outburst of fierce
Mahomedan zeal in the adjoining kingdom declared how dangerous had
been the interference. The Moollahs of Persia rose as one man. Under
pain of everlasting infamy and everlasting perdition, they called upon
the Shah to resent the insults which had been put upon their religion.
The mosques rang with excited appeals to the feelings of all true
believers; and every effort was made by the excited ecclesiastics to
stimulate the temporal authorities to the declaration of a holy war.

The King, however, shrank from the contest. He had no ambition to
face again in the field the formidable European enemy who had so
often scattered the flower of the Persian army, and trodden over the
necks of the vanquished to the acquisition of new dominions. But the
importunity of the Moollahs was not to be withstood. He pledged himself
that if Gokchah—one of the disputed tracts of country occupied by the
Russians—were not restored, he would declare war against the Muscovite
power. Convinced that the Russian Government would yield this strip
of land, acquired as it was without justice, and retained without
profit, the Shah believed that the condition was, in effect, an evasion
of the pledge. The error was soon manifest. It was not in the nature
of Russia to yield an inch of country righteously or unrighteously
acquired—profitably or unprofitably retained. Gokchah was not restored.
The Moollahs became more and more clamorous. The Shah was threatened
with the forfeiture of all claims to paradisaical bliss: and the war
was commenced.

Excited by the appeals of the Moollahs, the Persians flung themselves
into the contest with all the ardour and ferocity of men burning to
wipe out in the blood of their enemies the insults and indignities that
had been heaped upon them. They rose up and massacred all the isolated
Russian garrisons and outposts in their reach. Abbas Meerza took the
field at the head of an army of 40,000 men; and at the opening of the
campaign the disputed territory of Gokchah, with Balikloo and Aberan,
were recovered by their old masters.

These successes, however, were but short-lived. The son of the
Prince Royal, Mahomed Meerza, a youth more impetuous than skilful
in the field, soon plunged the divisions he commanded into a sea of
overwhelming disaster. The Prince himself, not more fortunate, was
in the same month of September, 1826, beaten by the Russian General,
Paskewitch, in open battle, with a loss of 1200 men. The war was
resumed in the following spring, and continued throughout the year
with varying success; but the close of it witnessed the triumph of the
Russians. Erivan and Tabreez fell into their hands.[95] Enfeebled and
dispirited, the Persians shrunk from the continuance of the struggle.
The intervention of Great Britain was gladly accepted, and Persia
submitted to the terms of a humiliating peace.

After some protracted negotiations, a new treaty, superseding that
of Goolistan, was signed at Toorkomanchai, in February, 1828, by
General Paskewitch and Abbas Meerza. By this treaty, Persia ceded to
the Czar the Khanates of Erivan and Nakhichevan; and consented to the
recognition of the line of frontier dictated by the Russian Government.
The frontier line between the two empires, laid down in the fourth
article of the treaty, commenced at the first of the Ottoman States
nearest to the little Ararat mountain, which it crossed to the south of
the Lower Karasson, following the course of that river till it falls
into the Araxes opposite Sherour, and then extending along the latter
river as far as Abbas-Abad.[96] The line of frontier then followed
the course of the Araxes to a point twenty-one wersts beyond the ford
of Ledl-boulak, when it struck off in a straight line drawn across
the plain of Moghan, to the bed of the river Bolgaron, twenty-one
wersts above the point of confluence of the two Rivers Adinabazar
and Sarakamyshe; then passing over the summit of Ojilkoir and other
mountains, it extended to the source of the River Atara, and followed
the stream until it falls into the Caspian Sea.

Such was the boundary laid down in the treaty of Toorkomanchai. The
other articles granted an indemnity to Russia of eighty millions of
roubles for the expenses of the war—yielded to that state the sole
right of having armed vessels on the Caspian—recognised the inheritance
of Abbas Meerza—and granted an amnesty to the inhabitants of Aderbijan.
To Persia this treaty was deeply humiliating; but the manifestoes of
the Emperor, with characteristic mendacity, boasted of its moderation,
and declared that its ends were merely the preservation of peace and
the promotion of commerce. “For us,” it was said, “one of the principal
results of this peace consists in the security which it gives to one
part of our frontiers. It is solely in this light that we consider the
utility of the new countries which Russia has just acquired. Every
part of our conquests that did not tend to this end was restored by
our orders, as soon as the conditions of the treaty were published.
Other essential advantages result from the stipulations in favour of
commerce, the free development of which we have always considered as
one of the most influential causes of industry, and at the same time as
the true guarantee of solid peace, founded on an entire reciprocity of
wants and interests.”

The hypocrisy of all this is too transparent to call for comment.
Russia had thus extended her frontier largely to the eastward; and
England had not interfered to prevent the completion of an act, by
which it has been said that Persia was “delivered, bound hand and
foot, to the Court of St. Petersburgh.”[97] How far the British
Government was bound to assist Persia in the war of 1826-27, still
remains an open question. The treaty of Teheran pledged Great Britain,
in the event of a war between Persia and any European State, either
to send an army from India to assist the Shah, or to grant an annual
subsidy of 200,000 tomauns during the continuance of the war; but
this article was saddled with the condition that the war was to be
one in nowise provoked by any act of Persian aggression. A question,
therefore, arose, as to whether the war of 1826-27 was provoked by
the aggressions of Persia or of Russia. Each party pronounced the
other the aggressor. The Persian Government maintained that the unjust
and violent occupation of Gokchah by a Russian force furnished a
legitimate _casus belli_; but the Russian manifestoes declared that,
“in the midst of friendly negotiations, and when positive assurances
gave us the hope of preserving the relations of good neighbourhood with
Persia, the tranquillity of our people was disturbed on the frontiers
of the Caucasus, and a sudden invasion violated the territory of the
Emperor in contempt of solemn treaties.” Russian statesmen have never
been wanting in ability to make the worse appear the better reason.
Whatever overt acts may have been committed, it is certain that the
real provocation came not from the Mahomedan, but from the Christian
State.[98] The backwardness of England at such a time was of dubious
honesty, as it doubtless was of dubious expediency. A more forward
policy might have been more successful. Had Russia been as well
disposed to neutrality as Great Britain, it would have been to the
advantage of the latter to maintain the most friendly relations with
the Muscovite State; but the unscrupulousness of Russia placed England
at a disadvantage. The game was one in which the more honourable player
was sure to be foully beaten. Russia made new acquisitions of Eastern
territory, and England remained a passive spectator of the spoliation.

It is doubtful whether our statesmen were ever satisfied that, in
refusing the subsidy and hesitating to mediate, they acted up to
the spirit of the treaty of Teheran.[99] Certain it is, that the
claim of the Persian Government, at this time, awakened our British
diplomatists to a re-consideration of those subsidy articles which
had involved, and might again involve us in difficulties, not only of
an embarrassing, but of a somewhat discreditable, character. It was
desirable to get rid of these perplexing stipulations. The time was
opportune; the occasion was at hand. The large indemnity insisted upon
by Russia drove the Persian financiers to extremities, and reduced them
to all kinds of petty shifts to meet the extortionate demand. In this
conjucture, England, like an expert money-lender, was ready to take
advantage of the embarrassments of the Persian State, and to make its
own terms with the impoverished creditor of the unyielding Muscovite.
The bargain was struck. Sir John Macdonald, on the part of the British
Government, passed a bond to the Shah for 250,000 tomauns as the price
of the amendment of the subsidy articles, and subsequently obtained the
required erasures by the payment of four-fifths of the amount.

A season of outward tranquillity succeeded the completion of the treaty
of Toorkomanchai. But the great northern power did not slumber. Though,
during those years it added little outwardly to its dominions, it was
obtaining more and more that great moral ascendancy which, perhaps, was
better calculated to secure its ends than an ostentatious extension
of territory. The game of quiet intimidation was now to be tried.
The experiment succeeded to the utmost. Obtaining such an ascendancy
over its counsels as enabled it to induce Persia to transgress its
legitimate boundaries, and adopt an aggressive policy towards the
countries on its eastern frontier, the European power overawed its
Asiatic neighbour. It was the object of Russia to use the resources
of the Persian State in furtherance of its own ends, without overtly
taking possession of them, and thus bringing itself into collision with
other powers. To secure this ascendancy it was necessary to assume a
commanding—indeed, an offensive—attitude of superiority, and, whilst
abstaining from acts of aggression, sufficiently momentous to awaken
the jealousy of other European States, to keep alive the apprehensions
of its Eastern neighbour by an irritating, dictatorial demeanour,
often implying threats of renewed hostility. Conscious of weakness,
Persia yielded to the influence thus sought to be established; and in
due course became, as was intended, a facile tool in the hands of the
Russian minister.

Such, briefly stated in a few sentences, is the history of the
relations subsisting between Russia and Persia since the treaty of
Toorkomanchai. It need not be added that, during this time, English
influence declined sensibly at the Persian Court. Little pains,
indeed, were taken to preserve it, until it became apparent that
the encroachments of Persia upon the countries between its frontier
and India, instigated as they were by the Russian Government, were
calculated to threaten the security of our Indian Empire. In 1831,
Abbas Meerza, the Prince Royal, against the advice of the Shah,
determined on sending an army into Khorassan; and then projected an
expedition against Khiva, for the chastisement of that marauding state,
which had so often invaded the Persian frontier, and carried off into
slavery so many Persian subjects. The Russian agent encouraged, if
he did not actually instigate, these movements. It was said, indeed,
that the active co-operation of Russia would soon be apparent in both
enterprises—that it was her policy to seek the assistance of Persia
in a movement upon Khiva, and to aid that state in the subjugation of
Khorassan. Not only in Khorassan itself, in Afghanistan and Toorkistan,
but in the bazaars of Bombay,[100] was the advance of the confederate
armies of the two states into Khorassan, and thence upon Herat and
India, generally discussed and believed. Such, indeed, at this time,
was the ascendancy of Muscovite influence over the mind of Abbas
Meerza, that it was reported he had married a Russian Princess, and
adopted the Christian faith.

There was a British officer in the Persian camp, Captain Shee,
whose interference brought about the postponement of the Khivan
expedition, and in the following year it was determined to abandon
the Oosbeg enterprise for the time, and to punish the offending
Afghans. An expedition against Herat was then planned; but British
interference, this time directed by the sagacity of Mr. M’Neill, was
again successfully put forth, and the movement was suspended. In the
mean while the Khorassan campaign was prosecuted with vigour. The arms
of Abbas Meerza were triumphant. The independence which the province
had endeavoured to assert could not be maintained in the face of
the battalions of the Prince Royal, aided, as they were, by European
courage and skill.[101] Ameerabad and Koochan fell before him. The
recusant chiefs made their submission; and before the close of 1832 all
the objects of the campaign had been accomplished, and the subjugation
of Khorassan was complete.

Emboldened by success, Abbas Meerza now contemplated new enterprises.
The project of an expedition against Khiva, to be subsequently extended
to Bokhara, was then revived; and the reduction of Herat, a design
favoured alike by the ambition of the Prince and the insidious policy
of Russia, was again brought under review. Herat, which lies on the
western frontier of Afghanistan, had, on the partition of the Douranee
Empire among the Barukzye Sirdars, afforded an asylum to Shah Mahmoud,
and had ever since remained in the hands of that Prince and Kamran, his
successor. To subjugate this tract of country was to open the gate to
further Eastern conquest. The Russian agent was eager, therefore, to
promote a movement which squared so well with the designs of his own
Government. The expedition against Herat was no longer to be postponed.
In 1833 it was actually put into execution; and the command of the
invading force was entrusted to Mahomed Meerza, the son of the Prince

In the autumn of 1833 Abbas Meerza died at Meshed. Arrested in the
prosecution of the siege of Herat by the tidings of his father’s death,
Mahomed Meerza returned, in no enviable frame of mind, and withdrew
within the Persian frontier. There were some doubts, too, at that
time, regarding the succession; but these were soon set at rest. The
Shah nominated Mahomed Meerza as his heir, and both the British and the
Russian Governments gave their cordial assent to the choice.

A few months afterwards, in the autumn of 1834, Futteh Ali Shah died
at Ispahan; and Mahomed Meerza ascended the throne. The change was
not favourable to British interests. Futteh Ali had ever been our
friend. From him the Russians had received little encouragement—but
his son and his grandson had thrown themselves into the arms of the
Muscovite; and now that the latter had ascended the throne, there was
every prospect of Russian influence becoming paramount at the Persian
Court. Great Britain had done for the young King all that he required.
He believed that those good offices, which mainly had secured for
him the succession to the throne, were employed only for the purpose
of counteracting the dreaded ascendancy of Russia; and he was in no
humour to display his gratitude towards a nation, the character and the
resources of which he so little understood.

The thought of breaking down the monarchy of Herat still held
possession of the mind of Mahomed Shah. Ever since, in the autumn of
1833, he had been arrested in his first expedition against that place
by the death of his father, he had brooded over his disappointment,
and meditated a renewal of the hostile undertaking. It is said,
indeed, that he swore a solemn oath, sooner or later to retrace
his steps to the eastward, and to wipe out his disgrace in Afghan
blood. Seated on the throne of his grandfather, and upheld there by
British influence, he dreamt of Eastern conquest, openly talked of
it in durbar, and delighted to dwell upon his prospective triumphs
over Oosbeg and Afghan hosts. He needed little prompting to push his
armies across the Eastern frontier. But there were promptings from
without as well as from within. Russia was at the elbow of the Shah,
ever ready to drop tempting suggestions into the young monarch’s ear,
and to keep alive within him the fire both of his ambition and his
revenge. It was the policy of Russia at this time to compensate for
its own encroachments on the Western frontier of Persia, by helping
that country to new acquisitions of territory on the East. Mahomed
Shah had little real love for his great Northern neighbour; but he
profoundly reverenced the gigantic power of the Czar, and, mistaking
quiescence for weakness, aggressiveness for strength, contrasted the
resources of Russia and England in a manner very unfavourable to the
pretensions of the latter.[102] The enormous wings of the Russian eagle
seemed to overshadow the whole land of Iran; and the Shah was eager
that they should be stretched over him in protection, and not descend
upon him in wrath. He knew, by bitter experience, what was the might
of the Northern army; he had fled before the Cossacks on the field of
Ganjah, and narrowly escaped with his life. But of the English he knew
little more than that some courteous and accomplished gentlemen were
drilling his native troops, and doing their best to create for him a
well-disciplined army out of the raw materials placed at their disposal.

And so it happened, that in 1835, when Lord Palmerston wrote to Mr.
Ellis, who had been sent out from London to assume charge of the
Mission on the part of the Crown, that he was “especially to warn the
Persian Government against allowing themselves to be pushed on to make
war against the Afghans,” he could obtain no more satisfactory reply
from the ambassador than that the Shah had “very extended schemes of
conquest in the direction of Afghanistan.” “In common with all his
subjects,” added Mr. Ellis, “he conceives that the right of sovereignty
over Herat and Candahar is as complete now as in the reign of the
Suffarean dynasty.” “This pretension,” it was added, “is much sustained
by the success of his father Abbas Meerza, in the Khorassan campaign,
and the suggestions of General Berowski.”[103] The Persian ministers
declared that the rightful dominions of the Shah extended to Ghuzni;
that an expedition against Herat would be undertaken in the following
spring; that the capture of Candahar would shortly follow; and that
then he would launch into new fields of enterprise among the Beloochees
and the Toorkomans.

The Heratee campaign, however, was the most cherished, as it was the
proximate of all these undertakings; and the Russian minister was
ever ready with suggestions for the immediate march of the Persian
army, lest the British Government should step in to discourage the
undertaking, or take measures to thwart its success. It was urged, too,
that the expedition would be rendered more difficult by delay, and at
a later period more extensive military resources would be required to
prosecute the war with success.

The British minister watched all these proceedings with interest and
anxiety. It seemed to him, that whilst the restlessness of Russian
intrigue was constantly threatening to educe a state of things in
Central Asia, embarrassing to the British-Indian Government, it became
the British, on their parts, to make a counter-move that would keep
her dangerous ally fairly in check. It had been seen, long before
this, that the experiment of drilling the Persian army was nothing
better than an expensive failure. It had, to some extent, the effect
of excluding other European disciplinarians; but, beyond this, it did
not increase our influence in the Persian dominions, or the security
of our Indian frontier. It was advisable, therefore, to do something
more. Never doubting that the network of Russian intrigue would soon
extend itself beyond the Persian frontier, it appeared to the British
minister expedient that we should anticipate the designs of Russia
in Afghanistan by sending an envoy to Dost Mahomed, and offering
to despatch British officers to Caubul to discipline the Ameer’s
army.[104] It was obvious that a decided movement was becoming every
day more and more necessary. A mere conciliatory course of policy,
dictating offers of quiet intervention, was found of no avail in such
a conjuncture. The British minister offered to use his influence with
Shah Kamran to induce that ruler to abstain from the commission of
those acts which had offended the Shah-in-Shah of Persia, but the offer
had been coldly received. It was evident that the aggressive designs of
Mahomed Shah were largely promoted by the Russian minister, and that no
peaceful mediation would induce the young King to abandon his projects
of Eastern conquest.

In the spring of 1836 the plan of the campaign was laid down, but
it was doubtful whether the Shah possessed the means of immediately
reducing it to practice. An unhappy expedition against the Toorkomans
in the course of the summer somewhat cooled his military ardour; and
before the year had worn to a close, he opened negotiations with Herat.
A gallant answer was sent back to his demands. “You demand hostages,”
said the Heratee minister. “We gave no hostages during the reign of
the late Shah; and we will give none now. You demand a present; we are
ready to give as large a present as we can afford. If the Shah is not
satisfied with this, and is determined to attack us, let him come. We
will defend our city as long as we can; and if we are driven from it,
it will of course remain in your hands till we can find means to take
it back again from you.” The Shah was, at this time, on the way back to
his capital. He at once summoned a council of war, laid the offensive
answer of Yar Mahomed before the chief officers who attended him in
his tent, and sought their advice. The result was a determination to
return to Teheran for the winter months, and to commence the expedition
against Herat early in the following spring.[105]

But the spring of 1837, like the spring of 1836, passed by, and the
expedition was not commenced. There appeared to be some hope of
bringing matters to an issue by peaceable negotiation. But the demands
of Persia involved the sacrifice of the independence of the state of
Herat, and Shah Kamran could not be persuaded to reduce himself to
a state of vassalage. He had great respect for the Shah of Persia,
he said; but he could not acknowledge him as his sovereign—could not
coin money or suffer prayers to be read in his name. He consented
that hostages should reside for two years at Meshed, as guarantees
for the fulfilment of the terms of the proposed treaty. He consented
that certain sums of money, in the way of tribute, should be paid
annually to the Persian Government. He consented to furnish troops
in aid of any Persian expedition against Toorkistan. He consented to
restrain his subjects from marauding and plundering, and capturing
slaves on the Persian frontier. But he could not consent to relinquish
the title of Shah, and acknowledge himself a dependant of Persia. The
propositions submitted by Herat were moderate and reasonable; they
called for nothing from the Persian Government beyond a pledge of
non-interference in the internal affairs of Herat. But the pretensions
of the King of Kings to the sovereignty of Western Afghanistan were
not to be sobered down, even by the representations of the British
minister, who endeavoured to reconcile conflicting interests, and to
cement a friendly alliance between the contending parties. Mahomed Shah
was determined, either to break down the independence of Herat, or to
batter down its walls. So the enterprise, long projected—long brooded
over, was undertaken in earnest at last.[106]

The Barukzye Sirdars of Candahar watched the advance of the Persians
with evident satisfaction. They had never ceased to see in Shah Kamran
the murderer of Futteh Khan. They had never ceased to regard with
impatience and irritation that last remnant of Suddozye supremacy which
marred the completeness of Barukzye rule, and at times even threatened
to extend itself towards the East in an effort to restore the old
dynasty of the successors of Ahmed Shah. The approach of the Persian
army seemed now to promise at least the overthrow of Shah Kamran; and
the Candahar brothers looked eagerly for the transfer of the Heratee
principality to themselves.[107]

To cement the alliance with Mahomed Shah, and to secure the most
advantageous terms for himself and his brothers, Kohun Dil Khan
determined to send one of his own sons to the Persian camp. Dost
Mahomed disapproved of the movement. “If you look upon me,” he wrote
to the Candahar chief, “as greater than yourself, do not send your
son to Persia. In the event of your not attending to my advice,
such circumstances will happen as will make you bite the finger of
repentance.” But the Candahar chief was not to be turned from his
purpose by the remonstrances of the Ameer. The bait held out by Persia
was too tempting to be resisted; and Russia was standing by, ready to
guarantee the alluring promises of Mahomed Shah. M. Goutte, the Russian
agent with the Persian army, wrote letters of encouragement to Kohun
Dil Khan, and General Berowski endorsed the flattering assurances they
contained. “It is better,” wrote the former, “to despatch Omar Khan
without apprehension, and I will write to the Persian Government to
remove all apprehensions at your sending your son. He will be treated
with great distinction by the Shah and his nobles.” “Nothing but
good,” said the latter, “will result from this your connexion with the
Shah; so much good, indeed, that I cannot put it to paper. Be convinced
that your serving the Shah will turn out every way to your advantage.”
The Candahar chief was easily convinced. He had fixed his eye upon
Herat, and he fell readily into an alliance which he hoped would place
that principality securely in his hands.

With very different feelings Dost Mahomed Khan viewed the advance of
the Persian army. He wished Mahomed Shah to assist him in a religious
war against the Sikhs; but even an alliance based upon these grounds
he was willing to forego, if he could secure the friendly offices of
the British. A new actor was by this time upon the scene, and new
schemes of policy were beginning to unfold themselves before the Ameer.
Little did he think, when he received with honour, and took friendly
counsel with a British officer sent to his Court to discuss matters of
commerce, how soon that officer would again enter the Afghan capital,
accompanied by a British army. Burnes appeared at Caubul—Mahomed Shah
at Herat; and the seeds of the Afghan war were sown.

       *       *       *       *       *

_The various treaties referred to in this Introductory Book will be
found in an Appendix at the end of the volume._





 The Commercial Mission to Caubul—Arrival of Lord Auckland—His
 Character—Alexander Burnes—His Travels in Central Asia—Deputation
 to the Court of Dost Mahomed—Reception by the Ameer—Negotiations at
 Caubul—Failure of the Mission.

In the autumn of 1835, Lord Auckland was appointed Governor-General of
India. The Whigs had just returned to power. The brief Tory interregnum
which had preceded the restoration to office of Lord Melbourne and
his associates, had been marked by the appointment to the Indian
Viceroyship of Lord Heytesbury—a nobleman of high character and
approved diplomatic skill. His official friends boasted largely of
the excellence of the choice, and prophesied that the most beneficial
results would flow from his government of India. But nothing of the
Governor-Generalship ever devolved upon him, except the outfit. The
Whig ministers cancelled the appointment, and, after a time, selected
Lord Auckland to fill the rudely vacated place.

The appointment occasioned some surprise, but raised little
indignation. In India, the current knowledge of Lord Auckland and
his antecedents was of the smallest possible amount. In England, the
general impression was, that if not a brilliant or a profound man, he
was at least a safe one. The son of an eminent diplomatist, who had
been won over to the support of Pitt’s administration, and had been
raised to the peerage in reward for his services, he was generally
regarded as one of the steadiest and most moderate of the Whig party.
As an industrious and conscientious public servant, assiduous in
his attention to business and anxious to compensate by increased
application for the deficiencies of native genius, he was held in
good esteem by his colleagues and respected by all who had official
intercourse with him. India did not, it was supposed, at that time
demand for the administration of her affairs, any large amount of
masculine vigour or fertility of resource. The country was in a state
of profound tranquillity. The treasury was overflowing. The quietest
ruler was likely to be the best. There was abundant work to be done;
but it was all of a pacific character. In entrusting that work to Lord
Auckland, the ministry thought that they entrusted it to safe hands.
The new Governor-General had everything to learn; but he was a man of
methodical habits of business, apt in the acquisition of knowledge,
with no overweening confidence in himself, and no arrogant contempt
for others. His ambition was all of the most laudable kind. It was an
ambition to do good. When he declared, at the farewell banquet given
to him by the Directors of the East-India Company, that he “looked
with exultation to the new prospects opening out before him, affording
him an opportunity of doing good to his fellow-creatures—of promoting
education and knowledge—of improving the administration of justice in
India—of extending the blessings of good government and happiness
to millions in India,” it was felt by all who knew him, that the
words were uttered with a grave sincerity, and expressed the genuine
aspirations of the man.

Nor did the early days of his government disappoint the expectations
of those who had looked for a painstaking, laborious administrator,
zealous in the persecution of measures calculated to develope the
resources of the country, and to advance the happiness of the people.
It appeared, indeed, that with something less of the uncompromising
energy and self-denying honesty of Lord William Bentinck, but with
an equal purity of benevolence, he was treading in the footsteps of
his predecessor. The promotion of native education, and the expansion
of the industrial resources of the country, were pursuits far more
congenial to his nature than the assembling of armies and the invasion
of empires. He had no taste for the din and confusion of the camp; no
appetite for foreign conquest. Quiet and unobtrusive in his manners,
of a somewhat cold and impassive temperament, and altogether of a
reserved and retiring nature, he was not one to court excitement or
to desire notoriety. He would fain have passed his allotted years of
office, in the prosecution of those small measures of domestic reform
which, individually, attract little attention, but, in the aggregate,
affect mightily the happiness of the people. He belonged, indeed, to
that respectable class of governors whose merits are not sufficiently
prominent to demand ample recognition by their contemporaries, but
whose noiseless, unapplauded achievements entitled them to the praise
of the historian and the gratitude of after ages.

It was not possible, however intently his mind might have been fixed
upon the details of internal administration, that he should have
wholly disregarded the aggressive designs of Persia and the obvious
intrigues of the Russian Government. The letters written from time
to time by the British minister at the Persian Court, were read
at first, in the Calcutta Council-Chamber, with a vague interest
rather than with any excited apprehensions. It was little anticipated
that a British army would soon be encamped before the capital of
Afghanistan, but it was plain that events were taking shape in Central
Asia, over which the British-Indian Government could not afford to
slumber. At all events, it was necessary in such a conjuncture to get
together some little body of facts, to acquire some historical and
geographical information relating to the countries lying between the
Indian frontier and the eastern boundaries of the Russian Empire.
Secretaries then began to write “notes,” and members of Council to
study them. Summaries of political events, genealogical trees, tables
of routes and distances, were all in great requisition, during the
first years of Lord Auckland’s administration. The printed works of
Elphinstone, Conolly, and Burnes; of Malcolm, Pottinger, and Fraser,
were to be seen on the breakfast-tables of our Indian statesmen, or
in their hands as they were driven to Council. Then came Sir John
M’Neill’s startling pamphlet on the “Progress and Present Position of
Russia in the East.” M’Neill, Urquhart, and others were writing up the
Eastern question at home; reviewers and pamphleteers of smaller note
were rushing into the field with their small collections of facts and
arguments. It was demonstrated past contradiction, that if Russia were
not herself advancing by stealthy steps towards India, she was pushing
Persia forward in the same easterly direction. If all this was not
very alarming, it was, at least, worth thinking about. It was plainly
the duty of Indian statesmen to acquaint themselves with the politics
of Central Asia, and the geography of the countries through which the
invasion of India must be attempted. It was only right that they should
have been seen tracing on incorrect maps the march of a Russian army
from St. Petersburgh to Calcutta, by every possible and impossible
route, now floundering among the inhospitable steppes, now parching
on the desert of Merve. The Russian army might not come at last; but
it was clearly the duty of an Indian statesman to know how it would
endeavour to come.

It was in the spring of 1836 that Dost Mahomed addressed a letter of
congratulation to Lord Auckland, on his assumption of the office of
Governor-General. “The field of my hopes,” he wrote, “which had before
been chilled by the cold blast of wintry times, has by the happy
tidings of your Lordship’s arrival become the envy of the garden of
paradise.” Then adverting to the unhappy state of his relations with
the Sikhs, he said: “The late transactions in this quarter, the conduct
of reckless and misguided Sikhs, and their breach of treaty, are well
known to your Lordship. Communicate to me whatever may suggest itself
to your wisdom for the settlement of the affairs of this country, that
it may serve as a rule for my guidance. I hope,” said the Ameer, in
conclusion, “that your Lordship will consider me and my country as your
own;” but he little thought how in effect this Oriental compliment
would be accepted as a solemn invitation, and the hope be literally
fulfilled. Three years afterwards Lord Auckland, considering Dost
Mahomed’s country his own, had given it away to Shah Soojah.

To this friendly letter the Governor-General returned a friendly reply.
It was his wish, he said, that the Afghans “should be a flourishing
and united nation;” it was his wish, too, that Dost Mahomed should
encourage a just idea of the expediency of promoting the navigation
of the Indus. He hinted that he should probably soon “depute some
gentlemen” to the Ameer’s Court to discuss with him certain commercial
topics; and added, with reference to Dost Mahomed’s unhappy relations
with the Sikhs, and his eagerness to obtain assistance from any
quarter: “My friend, you are aware that it is not the practice of the
British Government to interfere with the affairs of other independent
states.” With what feelings three years afterwards, when a British army
was marching upon his capital, the Ameer must have remembered these
words, it is not difficult to conjecture.

This project of a commercial mission to Afghanistan was no new
conception of which Lord Auckland was the parent. It had at least been
thought of by Lord William Bentick—and, certainly, with no ulterior
designs. It was suggested, I believe, to Lord William Bentinck by Sir
John Malcolm. That Lord Auckland, when he wrote to Dost Mahomed about
“deputing some gentlemen” to Caubul to talk over commercial matters
with the Ameer, had much more intention than his predecessor of driving
the Barukzye Sirdars into exile, is not to be asserted or believed.
He may have seen that such a mission might be turned to other than
commercial uses; he may have thought it desirable that the gentlemen
employed should collect as much information at the Ameer’s Court as the
advantages of their position would enable them to acquire. But at this
time he would have started back at the barest mention of a military
expedition beyond the Indus, and would have scouted a proposal to
substitute for the able and energetic ruler of Caubul, that luckless
Suddozye Prince—the pensioner of Loodhianah,—whose whole career had
been such a series of disasters as had never before been written down
against the name of any one man.

Apart from the commercial bearings of the case, he had little more
than a dim notion of obtaining a clearer insight into the politics
of Central Asia. But vague and indefinite as were his conceptions,
he was haunted, even at the commencement of his Indian career, by a
feeling of insecurity, engendered by the aspect of affairs beyond the
British frontier. There was a shadow of danger, but he knew not what
the substance might be. Any one of the strange combinations which he
was called upon to consider, might evolve a war;[108] so at least it
behoved him to prepare for the possible contest, by obtaining all the
knowledge that could be acquired, and securing the services of men
competent to aid him in such a conjuncture.

Since distant rumours of an Afghan invasion had disturbed the strong
mind of Lord Wellesley, much had been learnt both in India and in
England concerning the countries between the Indus and the Oxus. The
civil and military services of the East India Company, numbering in
their ranks, as they ever have done, men of lofty enterprise and great
ability, had, since the commencement of the century, brought, by
their graphic writings, the countries and the people of Central Asia
visibly before their home-staying countrymen. Before the close of the
eighteenth century, but one English traveler—a Bengal civilian, named
Forster—had made his way from the banks of the Ganges across the rivers
of the Punjab to the lakes of Cashmere, and thence descending into
the country below, had entered the formidable pass of the Khybur, and
penetrated through the defiles of Jugdulluck and Koord-Caubul to the
Afghan capital, whence he had journeyed on, by Ghuznee, Candahar, and
Herat, to the borders of the Caspian Sea. The journey was undertaken in
1783 and the following year; but it was not until some fifteen years
afterwards, that the account of his travels was given to the world.
Honourable alike to his enterprise and his intelligence, the book
exhibits at once how much, during the last seventy years, the Afghan
Empire, and how little the Afghan character, is changed.

The great work of Mountstuart Elphinstone, published some fifteen years
after the appearance of Mr. Forster’s volume, soon became the text-book
of all who sought for information relating to the history and geography
of the Douranee Empire. But Elphinstone saw little of the country or
the people of Afghanistan; he acquired information, and he reproduced
it with marvellous fidelity and distinctness, and would probably not
have written a better book if he had travelled and had seen more. It
was left for a later generation to explore the tracts of country which
were unvisited by the ambassador; and for a later still to elicit
encouragement and reward.

Years passed away before government began to recognise the value of
such inquiries. When Mr. Moorcroft, of the Company’s Stud-Department,
a man of high courage and enterprise, accompanied by Mr. Trebeck, the
son of a Calcutta lawyer, set out in 1819, in the mixed character of
a horse-dealer and a merchant, upon his long and perilous journey;
spent the last six years of his life in exploring the countries of
Ladakh, Cashmere, Afghanistan, Balkh, and Bokhara; and died at last in
the inhospitable regions beyond the Hindoo-Koosh, nothing but absolute
discouragement and opposition emanated from a government that had not
the prescience to see the importance of such investigations.[109]

In 1828 Mr. Edward Stirling, an officer of the Bengal civil service,
being in England on furlough, undertook to return to India by the route
of Khorassan and Afghanistan. From Sir John Macdonald, the Resident
Minister at Teheran, he received every encouragement and assistance;
but the Indian Government looked slightingly upon his labours, and
neglected the man. The information he had acquired was not wanted;
and he was put out of employment, because he had over-stayed, by a
few weeks, the period of his leave of absence. Those were days when
no thought of an invasion from the westward overshadowed the minds of
our Indian statesmen.[110] But when, a few years afterwards, a young
officer of the Bengal cavalry, named Arthur Conolly—a man of an earnest
and noble nature, running over with the most benevolent enthusiasm,
and ever suffering his generous impulses to shoot far in advance of
his prudence and discretion—set out from London, proceeded, through
Russia, across the Caucasus, and thence through Persia and Khorassan,
accompanying an Afghan army from Meshed to Herat, and journeyed on from
the latter place to Candahar, and, southward, through Beloochistan and
Sindh to India, there was little chance of the information which he
collected on his travels being received with ingratitude and neglect.
The period which elapsed between the time when those travels were
completed and the date at which their written results were given to
the world, deprived Arthur Conolly of some portion of the credit which
he might otherwise have received, and of the interest which attached
to his publication. Another officer had by this time made his way by
another route, through the unexplored regions of Central Asia, and laid
before the government and the country an account of his wanderings. On
him, when Lord Auckland bethought himself of despatching a commercial
agent to Caubul, the choice of the Governor-General fell.

Born in the year 1805, at Montrose, and educated in the academy of
that town, Alexander Burnes proceeded to Bombay at the early age of
sixteen, and, at a period of his career when the majority of young
men are mastering the details of company-drill, and wasting their
time in the strenuous idleness of cantonment life, had recommended
himself, by his proficiency in the native languages, to the government
under which he served. Whilst yet in his teens, he was employed to
translate the Persian documents of the Suddur Court, and, at the age
of twenty, was appointed Persian interpreter to a force assembled
for a hostile demonstration against Sindh, rendered necessary by
the continued border feuds which were disturbing the peace of our
frontier. In a little while he became distinguished as a topographer
no less than as a linguist; and as a writer of memoirs, and designer
of maps of little-known tracts of country, soon rose into favour and
repute. Attached to the department of the Quartermaster-General, he was
employed upon the survey of the north-western frontier of the Bombay
Presidency, and shortly afterwards was appointed Assistant Political
Agent in Cutch, a province with which he had made himself intimately
acquainted. In the young officer a spirit of enterprise was largely
blended with the love of scientific research. He was eager to push
his inquiries and to extend his travels into the countries watered
by the Indus and its tributaries—the fabulous rivers on the banks of
which the Macedonian had encamped his victorious legions. It was not
long before occasion offered for the gratification of his cherished
desires. A batch of splendid English horses had been despatched, in
1830, to Bombay, as a present to Runjeet Singh; and Sir John Malcolm,
then Governor of that Presidency, selected Alexander Burnes to conduct
the complimentary mission to Lahore.[111] Instructed, at the same
time, to neglect no opportunity of acquiring information relative to
the geography of the Indus, he proceeded through the country of the
Ameers of Sindh, though not without some obstruction, from the jealousy
and suspicion of the Talpoor rulers.[112] At the Sikh capital he was
received with becoming courtesy and consideration. The old lion of the
Punjab flung himself into the arms of the young British officer, and
retained him as an honoured guest for a month. Leaving Lahore, Burnes
crossed the Sutlej, and visited Loodhianah, where, little dreaming
of the closer connexion which would one day exist between them, he
made the acquaintance of the ex-King, Soojah-ool-Moolk, and his blind
brother, Zemaun Shah. “Had I but my kingdom,” said the former to
Burnes, “how glad I should be to see an Englishman at Caubul, and to
open the road between Europe and India.”

From Loodhianah the traveller proceeded to Simlah, to lay an account
of his journeying and its results at the feet of the Governor-General.
Lord William Bentinck was then recruiting his exhausted energies in
the bracing climate of that hill station. He received the traveller
with kindly consideration, and listened to his narrations with
interest and attention. Full of enthusiasm, with his appetite for
enterprise stimulated by his recent adventures, Burnes pressed upon the
Governor-General the expediency of extending the fields of geographical
and commercial inquiry upon which he had entered, and succeeded in
obtaining the sanction of the Governor-General to an expedition into
Central Asia, to be undertaken under the patronage of Government, but
not avowedly in connection with any public objects. He set out on his
overland journey to England ostensibly as a private traveller, but
protected by passports designed to show that he was travelling under
the countenance of the government which he served.

Accompanied by Dr. Gerard, an assistant-surgeon on the Bengal
establishment; by a young native surveyor, named Mahomed Ali; and by
Mohun Lal, a Hindoo youth of Cashmerian descent, who had been educated
at the Delhi College, and patronised by Mr. Trevelyan, Burnes set out
on his long and perilous journey. Starting at the commencement of the
new year of 1832, the travellers crossed the Punjab, and proceeded
by the route of Peshawur and Jellalabad to Caubul. Here they were
hospitably received by Dost Mahomed. The character of the Caubul chief
and of the Afghan nation impressed themselves favourably upon the
mind of Alexander Burnes. Of the latter he spoke as a simple-minded,
sober people, of frank, open manners, impulsive and variable almost to
childishness. He had seen and conversed with Shah Soojah at Loodhianah,
and declared his conviction that the exiled Prince had not energy
sufficient to empower him to regain his throne, or tact sufficient
to enable him to keep it. The character of the Barukzye Sirdar now
presented, in the eyes of the English officer, a favourable contrast to
that of the Suddozye Prince. Burnes saw before him a man of no common
ability, with a well-disciplined mind, a high sense of justice, and a
general appreciation of his duties and responsibilities, as a ruler of
the people, not unworthy of a Christian potentate. And I do not believe
that from that time he ever changed his opinion.

Leaving Caubul, Burnes and his fellow-travellers ascended the
mountain-paths of the Hindoo-Koosh, and journeying onward by the route
of Syghan and Koondooz, debouched into the valley of the Oxus, followed
the course of that river for many days, and then made their way to
Bokhara. After two months spent in that city, they re-crossed the
Oxus and journeyed westward to the Persian frontier. Visiting Meshed,
Teheran, Ispahan, and Shiraz, and making the acquaintance on the way
both of Abbas Meerza and the Shah-i-Shah, they proceeded to Bushire and
Bombay. From Bombay, Burnes pushed on to Calcutta, and early in 1833
had laid before the Governor-General the results of his Central-Asian
travels. Lord William Bentinck received him with marked attention and
respect, and sent him to England, that he might impart, in person, to
the home authorities the information with which he was laden.

His reception in England was of the most flattering character. The
commendations of the East India Company and the Board of Control were
endorsed by the commendations of the public. He published his book.
It was read with avidity. In the coteries of London, “Bokhara Burnes”
became one of the celebrities of the season. Learned societies did him
honour. Fashionable dames sent him cards of invitation. Statesmen and
savans sought his acquaintance. At Holland House and Bowood he was a
favoured guest. He was no niggard of his information; he talked freely;
and he had “some new thing” whereof to discourse. His fine talents and
his genial social qualities recommended him to many; and there was more
than enough in the overflowings of English hospitality to satisfy a
vainer man.

These, however, were but unsubstantial rewards. He looked for promotion
in the paths of Oriental diplomacy; and Lord Ellenborough, who then
presided at the India Board, recommended him for the appointment of
Secretary of Legation at the Persian Court.[113] This offer he was
recommended to decline; and he returned to India, in the spring of
1835, to resume his duties as Assistant to the Resident at Cutch.
Rescued in the autumn from the obscurity of this appointment, he was
despatched to the Court of the Ameers of Sindh. The duties of the
Mission were performed with judgment and ability. The Ameers consented
to the proposal for the survey of the Indus, and would gladly have
entered into more intimate relations with the British Government had it
been considered, upon our part, desirable to strengthen the alliance.

Whilst still in the Sindh country, Burnes received instructions from
the Supreme Government of India to hold himself in readiness to
undertake the charge of the “commercial” mission which it had been
determined to despatch to Afghanistan, and to proceed to Bombay to make
preparations for the journey.[114] He reached that Presidency in the
course of October, 1836, and on the 26th of November, accompanied by
Lieutenant Leech, of the Bombay Engineers, and Lieutenant Wood, of the
Indian Navy,[115] Burnes sailed from Bombay to “work out the policy
of opening the River Indus to commerce”—that policy, the splendid
results of which, years afterwards, when our army, our treasury, and
our reputation, had been buried in the passes of Afghanistan, Lord
Palmerston openly boasted in Parliament amidst the derisive cheers of
the House.

Taking the Sindh route, Burnes presented himself at the Court of the
Ameers, and was hospitably received. The English officer explained
the object of his mission; talked about the navigation of the Indus;
and dwelt encouragingly upon the instructions which he had received,
“to endeavour to infuse confidence into all classes by a declaration
of the happy and close friendship which subsisted between the
British and the powers on the Indus.” From Hyderabad he proceeded to
Bahwulpore; and thence to Dehra Gazee Khan. At the latter place he
received intelligence of the battle of Jumrood; and, pushing on to the
neighbourhood of Peshawur, soon found himself near the theatre of war.
From Peshawur to Jumrood, Avitabile[116] drove the British officers
in his carriage. The deputation that was to conduct them through the
Khybur Pass had not made its appearance. They were suffering martyrdom
from the effluvia of the putrifying corpses of the Afghan and Sikh
soldiers who had fallen in the recent conflict; and, at all hazards,
they determined to push on. The Khybur was cleared without accident or
obstruction. Friendly deputations from the Ameer greeted the British
officers as they advanced. On the 20th of September, they entered

They were received “with great pomp and splendour.” At the head of a
fine body of Afghan cavalry Akbar Khan came out to meet them. Placing
Burnes on an elephant beside him, he conducted the British officers
to his father’s Court. Nothing could have been more honourable than
the reception of the British Mission. A spacious and beautiful garden
within the Balla Hissar, and near the palace, was allotted as the
residence of Burnes and his companions.

On the following day, “with many expressions of his high sense of
the great honour conferred upon him,” Dost Mahomed formally received
the representatives of the British Government. Burnes submitted
his credentials. The letters were opened by the Ameer himself, and
read by his minister, Meerza Samee Khan. They introduced Burnes to
his Highness solely as a commercial agent. The flimsy veil was soon
dropped. It was evident from the first that whatever might have been
his instructions—whatever might have been the proximate, or rather the
ostensible object of the mission, Burnes had ulterior designs, and
that he, in reality, went to Caubul either as a spy or a political
diplomatist. He had not been three days at the Afghan capital, before
he wrote to Mr. Macnaghten, that he should take an early opportunity
of reporting what transpired at the Ameer’s Court; and ten days
afterwards we find him announcing “the result of his inquiries on the
subject of Persian influence in Caubul, and the exact power which
the Kuzzilbash, or Persian party resident in this city, have over the
politics of Afghanistan.” To a private friend he wrote more distinctly:
“I came to look after commerce, to superintend surveys and examine
passes of mountains, and likewise certainly _to see into affairs and
judge of what was to be done hereafter_; but the hereafter has already
arrived.”[117] It is hard to say what our Oriental diplomatists would
do if they were forbidden the use of the word “commerce.” It launched
Burnes fairly into the sea of Afghan politics; and then he cut it

On the 24th of September, Burnes was invited to a private conference
with the Ameer. It took place in “the interior of the Harem” of the
Balla Hissar, and in the presence only of Akbar Khan. Dinner was
served; and “the interview lasted till midnight.” The Ameer listened
attentively to all that Burnes advanced relative to the navigation of
the Indus and the trade of Afghanistan, but replied, that his resources
were so crippled by his war with the Sikhs, that he was compelled to
adopt measures injurious to commerce, for the mere purpose of raising
revenue. He spoke with much warmth of the loss of Peshawur, which, he
alleged, had been basely wrested from him, whilst he was engaged in
war with Shah Soojah. Burnes replied with a number of cut-and-dried
sentences about the ability and resources of Runjeet Singh. To all this
the Ameer cheerfully assented. He acknowledged that he was not strong
enough to cope with so powerful an adversary as the ruler of Lahore.
“Instead of renewing the conflict,” he said, “it would be a source of
real gratification if the British Government would counsel me how to
act: none of our other neighbours can avail me; and in return I would
pledge myself to forward its commercial and its political views.”
Remarking that he heard with pleasure this acknowledgment, Burnes
assured him that the British Government would exert itself to secure
peace between the Punjab and Afghanistan; and added, that although he
could not hold out any promise of interference for the restoration of
Peshawur, which had been won and preserved by the sword, he believed
that the “Maharajah intended to make some change in its management, but
that it sprung from himself, and not from the British Government.” The
Ameer could not repress his eagerness to learn the precise character of
these contemplated arrangements; but all that Burnes could offer was a
conjecture that the Maharajah might be induced to restore the country,
under certain restrictions, to Sultan Mahomed Khan and his brothers, to
whom, and not to the Ameer, it had formerly belonged.

On the evening of the 4th of October, Burnes was again invited to
the Balla Hissar. The Ameer had in the mean time waited upon him in
his own quarters. At this second conference in the palace, the Newab
Jubbar Khan was present. On this occasion, to the surprise of the
British envoy, the Ameer carried his moderation and humility to an
excess which might almost have aroused suspicion. He declared that
if the representative of Great Britain recommended him to do so,
he would express to Runjeet Singh his contrition for the past, and
ask forgiveness; and that if the Maharajah “would consent to give
up Peshawur to him, he would hold it tributary to Lahore; send the
requisite presents of horses and rice; and in all things consider
himself, in that part of his dominions, as holding under Lahore.”
Burnes suggested that such an arrangement would be destructive to the
hopes of Sultan Mahomed, who ought to be regarded with compassion; and
asked whether it would not be equally advantageous to the reputation
of the Ameer that Peshawur should be restored to his brother. To this
the Ameer replied, that the country might as well be in the hands of
the Sikhs as in those of Sultan Mahomed, who had been to him both a
treacherous friend and a bitter enemy. Little more passed at this
meeting. Burnes retired to speculate upon the conduct of the Ameer
and write letters to the political Secretary, Mr. Macnaghten, who was
destined soon to play so conspicuous a part in the great drama, of
which this “Commercial” mission was the prologue.

In the meanwhile the attention of the Mission was directed to the state
of affairs at Candahar. The chief of that place, Kohun Dil Khan, had
not only declared his willingness to embrace the Persian alliance,
but had, as we have seen, determined on sending his second son, with
the Persian agent, to Mahomed Shah, as the bearer of presents to the
Shah and the Russian embassy. Against this course of procedure Dost
Mahomed had protested. “Oh! my brother,” he wrote, “if you will do
these things without my concurrence, what will the world say to it?”
There can be no doubt of the Ameer’s sincerity. Indeed, it was the
conviction that the Caubul chief was entering with his whole soul into
the British alliance, to the exclusion, as it was believed, of the
Candahar Sirdars, that drove the latter to strengthen their alliance
with the Persian Court. Burnes himself had no doubt that the Ameer was
at this time acting a straightforward part. On the 30th of October he
wrote to a private friend: “Here a hundred things are passing of the
highest interest.... Dost Mahomed Khan has fallen into all our views,
and in so doing has either thought for himself or followed my counsel,
but for doing the former I give him every credit, and things now stand
so that I think we are on the threshold of a negotiation with King
Runjeet, the basis of which will be his withdrawal from Peshawur,
and a Barukzye receiving it as a tributary of Lahore, the chief of
Caubul sending his son to ask pardon. What say you to this after all
that has been urged of Dost Mahomed Khan’s putting forth extravagant
pretensions? Runjeet will accede to the plan, I am certain.... I have,
in behalf of Government, agreed to stand as mediator with the parties,
and Dost Mahomed has cut asunder all his connexion with Russia and
Persia, and refused to receive the ambassador from the Shah now at
Candahar. His brothers at that city have, however, caressed the Persian
Elchee all the more for this, and I have sent them such a Junius as,
I believe, will astonish them. I had, indeed, reason to act promptly,
for they have a son setting out for Teheran with presents to the Shah
and the Russian ambassador; and I hope I shall be in time to explain
our hostility to such conduct. Everything here has, indeed, run well;
and but for our deputation at the time it happened, the house we occupy
would have been tenanted by a Russian Agent and a Persian Elchee.”[118]

On the 31st of October, Burnes wrote to Mr. Macnaghten that another
conference had taken place on the 24th between himself and the Ameer,
and that what passed on that occasion “set Dost Mahomed’s conduct in a
light that must prove, as I believe, very gratifying to Government.”
On the British Envoy expressing the regret which he felt on being made
acquainted with the misguided conduct of the Candahar Sirdars, the
Ameer had declared that if such conduct was distressing to the British
agent, it was much more distressing to him; that he himself repented
of having ever listened to the overtures of Persia; that he would take
care publicly to manifest his desire to strengthen his relations with
the British Government, and do everything in his power to induce his
Candahar brothers to adopt a wiser course of policy. Burnes replied
that he was delighted to hear the expression of such sentiments; but
distinctly stated “that neither he nor his brothers were to found hopes
of receiving aid from the British Government;” that so long as they
conducted themselves with propriety they might rely upon the sympathy
of the British Government, but that they must, by no means, expect to
derive anything more substantial from the alliance.[119] Discouraging
as this was, the Ameer still courted the British alliance—still
declared that he would exert himself to the utmost to detach his
Candahar brothers from their connexion with Persia, and even, if
desired by the British agent, would commence active operations against
them. Discountenancing the idea of an active movement against Candahar,
Burnes commended the good feeling of the Ameer, and exhorted him to do
his best, by pacific means, to break down Kohun Dil’s connexion with
Persia—an effort which “could not fail to be received by the British
Government as a strong mark of his desire for our friendship, and of
great good sense.”

Burnes, who had gone to Caubul, as a commercial agent, was at this
time without any political instructions. As he ascended the Indus, he
had received letters from Government, somewhat modifying the character
of his mission, and placing a larger amount of discretion in his
hands.[120] But he did not feel that he was in a position to deal with
the Peshawur question without positive instructions from the Supreme
Government; so all that he could now do was to temporise, to amuse
Dost Mahomed with vague assurances of sympathy and good-will, until
the wishes of the Governor-General were conveyed to him in a specific
shape. He could promise nothing substantial. He could only write for
instructions, and await patiently the receipt of letters from Hindostan.

But Burnes, though he shrunk from compromising his government in
the direction of Lahore, had no such scruples with regard to the
proceedings of the Barukzye Sirdars in the countries to the westward.
He thought that some latitude having been allowed him, he might take
prompt measures to meet a pressing difficulty threatening us from
a quarter so far removed from the ordinary circle embraced by the
deliberations of the Calcutta Council. Before he entered Afghanistan
the conduct of the Candahar chiefs had engaged his serious attention,
and he had written to the British minister at the Persian Court,
saying that he should leave nothing undone to try and put a stop to
their intercourse with the Russian mission. “If matters go rightly,”
he added, “we shall be able to neutralise the power of the Candahar
chiefs, or at all events place them in complete subjection to Dost
Mahomed Khan, whose influence increases daily.” Burnes, as has been
seen,[121] had despatched in October a letter to Kohun Dil Khan,
threatening him with the displeasure of the British Government if he
continued his intrigues with the Persian and Russian Court; and the
measures taken at this time were so far successful, that, encouraged
by their result, the British agent determined to take further steps to
secure the alliance of the chiefs of Candahar. On the 22nd of December,
Burnes became convinced of the improved temper of Kohun Dil Khan, who
declared that he had dismissed the Persian Elchee, had determined
not to send his son to the Persian Court, and was anxious, above all
things, for the counsel and assistance of the British Government, and
of his brother, Dost Mahomed Khan. Mahomed Shah had by this time begun
to cool down in his zeal for the Afghan alliance; and it appeared
to be at least possible that the Sirdar, instead of receiving Herat
from the Shah, would, after the capture of that place, be threatened
with the loss of Candahar. Seizing the opportunity afforded him by
this favorable change in the aspect of affairs, Burnes wrote at once
to Kohun Dil Khan, stating that if the Persian monarch threatened to
subdue his chiefship, he would go at once to Candahar, accompanied by
Dost Mahomed, and assist him by every means in his power, even to the
extent of paying his troops.

In the meanwhile he determined to despatch at once an officer of the
British Mission to Candahar. That officer was Lieutenant Leech. On
Christmas-day, Burnes sat down and wrote him a long and clearly-worded
letter of instructions. It was hoped that the presence of a British
agent at Candahar would keep Persia in check, and if not, he could
despatch to Caubul the earliest intelligence of the advance of the
Persian army, and so enable Burnes to counteract the movement with the
least possible delay.[122]

Burnes exceeded his instructions, and was severely censured by the
Governor-General. Lord Auckland was then on his way to Simlah; and
from Bareilly Mr. Secretary Macnaghten wrote a long letter to the
Caubul agent, at the close of which he touched upon the promises made
to the Candahar chiefs. “It is with great pain,” he said, “that his
Lordship must next proceed to advert to the subject of the promises
which you have held out to the chiefs of Candahar. These promises were
entirely unauthorised by any part of your instructions. They are most
unnecessarily made in unqualified terms, and they would, if supported,
commit the Government upon the gravest questions of general policy.
His Lordship is compelled, therefore, decidedly to disapprove them.
He is only withheld from a direct disavowal of these engagements to
the chiefs of Candahar, because such disavowal would carry with it
the declaration of a difference between you and your Government,
and might weaken your personal influence, and because events might,
in this interval, have occurred which would render such a course
unnecessary. But the rulers of Candahar must not be allowed to rest
in confidence upon promises so given, and should affairs continue in
the same uncertainty as that which prevailed at the date of your last
despatches, you will endeavour to set yourself right with the chiefs,
and will feel yourself bound in good faith to admit that you have
exceeded your instructions and held out hopes, which you find, upon
communication with your Government, cannot be realised. After what has
been stated, his Lordship feels that he need not enlarge on his strict
injunction that you in future conform punctually on all points to the
orders issued for your guidance.”[123] And so Burnes was censured
for a measure which, under all the circumstances of the case, was the
very best that could have been adopted; and the Candahar chiefs threw
themselves again into the Persian alliance, and entered into a formal
treaty with the Shah—under a Russian guarantee.

In the mean while a new actor had appeared on the political
stage, ready to pick up the leavings of the British agent, and to
appreciate what the British Government had been pleased to reject.
On the afternoon of the 19th of December, a Russian officer named
Vickovich,[124] entered the city of Caubul. Born of a good family
in Lithuania, and educated in the national university of Wilna, he
had attracted attention, whilst yet a student, by the liberality of
his sentiments and the fearlessness with which he expressed them.
Associated with others of kindred opinions and equal enthusiasm, he
took part in a demonstration in favour of the Polish cause, which
well-nigh ended in the suppression of the institution; and, whilst
other more formidable conspirators were condemned to end their days
in Siberia, he and his immediate colleagues in the university were
sent to Orenburgh, as a kind of honourable exile, to be employed
in the military colony of the Ural. Here the general intelligence,
the aptitude for instruction, the love of adventure, and the daring
character of young Vickovich, soon distinguished him above his
associates. Attached to the expeditions sent out for the survey of the
Desht-i-Kipchak, he lived for some years among the Calmucks, gaining
an acquaintance with the Nogai and Jaghatai dialects of the Turkish
language, and subsequently, during a residence of some months in
Bokhara, whither he was sent with the Caravan from Orenburgh, acquired
a sufficient knowledge of the Persian language to enable him to
converse intelligibly, if not fluently, in it. When, therefore, the
Russian Government began to meditate a mission to Caubul, and to cast
about for a competent agent, there seemed to be no likelier man than
Vickovich to perform, with advantage to the state, the dubious service
required of him. He was at this time aide-de-camp to the Governor of
Orenburgh. The Caubul agency was entrusted to him without hesitation.
He was despatched at once to Astrakan, whence he crossed over to Resht,
in Ghilan, and received his final instructions from Count Simonich,
at Teheran, in September, 1837. Before the end of December he was at

On the day after the arrival of Vickovich at Caubul, Burnes reported
the incident to the supreme Government, and detailed the circumstances
of his reception. Like almost everything in Burnes’s public letters,
which places the conduct of Dost Mahomed in a favourable light, the
following passages were cut out of the correspondence before it was
placed in the printer’s hands;-“On the morning of the 19th,” wrote
Burnes, “that is, yesterday, the Ameer came over from the Balla Hissar
early in the morning with a letter from his son, the Governor of
Ghuznee, reporting that the Russian agent had arrived at that city
on his way to Caubul. Dost Mahomed Khan said that he had come for my
counsel on the occasion; that he wished to have nothing to do with any
other power than the British; that he did not wish to receive any agent
of any power whatever so long as he had a hope of sympathy from us;
and that he would order the Russian agent to be turned out, detained
on the road, or act in any way I desired him. I asked the Ameer if he
knew on what business the agent had come, and if he were really an
agent from Russia. He replied that I had read all his letters from
Candahar, and that he knew nothing more. I then stated that it was a
sacred rule among civilised nations not to refuse to receive emissaries
in time of peace, and that I could not take upon myself to advise him
to refuse any one who declared himself duly accredited, but that the
Ameer had it in his power to show his feeling on the occasion by
making a full disclosure to the British Government of the errand on
which the individual had come; to which he most readily assented. After
this the Ameer despatched a servant on the road to Ghuznee to prevent
the agent’s entering Caubul without notice; but so rapid has been his
journey, that he met him a few miles from the city, which he entered in
the afternoon, attended by two of the Ameer’s people. He has not yet
seen the Ameer. He has sent a letter from Count Simonich, which I have
seen, and states that he is the bearer of letters from Mahomed Shah and
the Emperor of Russia. I shall take an early opportunity of reporting
on the proceedings of the Russian agent, if he be so in reality; for,
if not an impostor, it is a most uncalled-for proceeding, after the
disavowal of the Russian Government, conveyed through Count Nesselrode,
alluded to in Mr. M’Neill’s letter of 19th of June last.”[126]

The letters of which Vickovich was the bearer, like those brought by
Burnes, were purely of a commercial tendency. One was from the Emperor
himself; the other from Count Simonich—written in the Russian and the
Persian languages. The authenticity of the letter from the Emperor has
been questioned.[127] The fact is, that it was one to be acknowledged
or repudiated, as most convenient. It was intended to satisfy Dost
Mahomed on the one hand, and to be suspected by the European allies of
Russia upon the other. That it came from the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh
there is now little room to doubt.

Burnes, however, for some time, was doubtful of the real character of
the agent and his credentials; but after some weeks of hesitation, he
wrote to Mr. Macnaghten, “Though a month and upwards has elapsed since
Mr. Vickovich reached Caubul, and my suspicions were from the first
excited regarding his real character, I have been unable to discover
anything to invalidate the credentials which he brought, or to cast
a doubt on his being other than he gives himself out, and this, too,
after much vigilance and inquiry.”

This was written on the 22nd of January. In the same letter Burnes
writes: “Mr. Vickovich himself has experienced but little attention
from the Ameer, and has yet received no reply to his communications. He
has been accommodated in a part of a house belonging to Meerza Samee
Khan, and is entertained at the public expense. He paid his respects
to the Ameer on the 12th of January, and has had no other personal
intercourse with him. He has been urging the Ameer to send an agent
to Count Simonich to receive the presents of the Emperor.” Nothing,
indeed, could have been more discouraging than the reception of the
Russian agent. Dost Mahomed still clung to the belief that the British
Government would look favourably upon his case, and was willing to
receive a little from England, rather than much from any other state.
But he soon began to perceive that even that little was not to be
obtained. Before the close of the month of January, Burnes had received
specific instructions from the Governor-General, and was compelled,
with the strongest feelings of reluctance and mortification, to
strangle the hopes Dost Mahomed had encouraged of the friendly
mediation of the British Government between the Ameer and Runjeet Singh.

The whole question of Peshawur was now fully discussed. Burnes, with
his instructions in his hand, miserably fettered and restrained,
enunciated the opinions of his government, from which he inwardly
dissented, and strove, in obedience to the orders he had received, to
make the worse appear the better reason. Dost Mahomed was moderate and
reasonable; and Burnes must have felt that the argument was all in
favour of the Ameer. That others, in higher place, thought so too, is
clearly indicated by the fact that pains have been taken to keep the
world in ignorance of what Dost Mahomed, on this occasion, advanced
with so much reason and moderation in reply to the official arguments
of the British agent, who was compelled to utter words which were
dictated neither by the feelings nor the judgment of the man.

In a letter of the 26th of January, which I now have before me in
an ungarbled state, Burnes forwarded to the Governor-General a full
account of the important conference between the Ameer and himself,
held after the receipt, by the latter, of instructions from the
Governor-General.[128] At this meeting Burnes communicated to Dost
Mahomed the sentiments of the Governor-General, and recommended the
Ameer, in accordance with the opinions expressed by Lord Auckland, to
waive his own claims to Peshawur, and be content with such arrangements
as Runjeet Singh might be inclined to enter into with Sultan Mahomed.
The Ameer replied that he bore no enmity against his brother, though
his brother was full of rancour against him, and would gladly compass
his destruction; but that with Sultan Mahomed, at Peshawur, he would
not be safe for a day; and that it would be less injurious to him to
leave it directly in the hands of the Sikhs, than in the hands of an
enemy ever ready to intrigue with the Sikhs for his overthrow.

“Peshawur,” said he, “has been conquered by the Sikhs; it belongs to
them; they may give it to whomsoever they please; if to Sultan Mahomed
Khan, they place it in the hands of one who is bent on injuring me;
and I cannot therefore acknowledge any degree of gratitude for your
interference, or take upon myself to render services in return.” And
then follow these mollifying sentences, which it was a gross injustice
to Dost Mahomed to omit from the published letter: “I admit,” said
the Ameer, “that it will be highly beneficial in many ways to see the
Sikhs once more eastward of the Indus, but I still can dispense with
none of my troops or relax in my precautionary measures, as equal if
not greater anxieties will attach to me. I have unbosomed myself to
you, and laid bare, without any suppression, my difficulties. I shall
bear in lively remembrance the intended good offices of the British
Government, and I shall deplore that my interest did not permit me
to accept that which was tendered in a spirit so friendly, but which
to me and my advisers has only seemed hastening my ruin. To Runjeet
Singh your interference is beneficial, as he finds himself involved in
serious difficulties by the possession of Peshawur, and he is too glad
of your good offices to escape from a place which is a burden to his
finances, but by that escape a debt of gratitude is exactible from him
and not from me; and if your government will look into this matter,
they will soon discover my opinions to be far from groundless, and my
conclusions the only safe policy I can pursue.”

The Ameer ceased to speak, and Jubbar Khan followed, proposing a
compromise. He suggested that it might be found advisable to deliver
over Peshawur conjointly to the Ameer and Sultan Mahomed—Runjeet Singh
receiving from the two chiefs the value which he might fix as the terms
of surrender. The Ameer observed that such an arrangement[129] would
remove his fears, and that if he appointed Jubbar Khan to represent him
at Peshawur he would be sure of an equitable adjustment of affairs.
Burnes replied in general terms that the withdrawal of the Sikhs to the
eastward of the Indus would be a vast benefit to the Afghan nation;
and asked Dost Mahomed whether he would rather see the Sikhs or Sultan
Mahomed in Peshawur. The Ameer replied that the question put in plain
words was a startling one; but he asked in return if that could be
considered beneficial to the Afghan nation which was especially
injurious to him who possessed the largest share of sovereignty
in Afghanistan. He then observed, in evidence of the truth of his
assertions relative to the dangers to which he was exposed from the
supremacy of Sultan Mahomed at Peshawur: “Sultan Mahomed Khan has just
sent an agent to the ex-King at Loodhianah (Shah Soojah) to offer his
services to combine against me and to secure my brothers at Candahar,
in support of this coalition.” “What security,” asked the Ameer, “am I
to receive against a recurrence of such practices?” He then continued:
“As for the ex-King himself, I fear him not; he has been too often
worsted to make head, unless he has aid from the British Government,
which I am now pretty certain he will never receive. If my brother at
Peshawur, however, under a promise of being made his minister, and
assisted with Sikh agents and money, appears in the field, I may find
that in expressing my satisfaction at his restoration to Peshawur,
I have been placing a snake in my bosom—and I may then, when too
late, lament that I did not let the Sikhs do their worst, instead of
replacing them by another description of enemies.”

All this was carefully erased from the letter before it was allowed
to form a part of the published Blue Book; and the following just
observations of Captain Burnes shared no better fate: “It has appeared
to me that they” (the opinions and views of the ruler of Caubul)
“call for much deliberation. It will be seen that the chief is not
bent on possessing Peshawur, or on gratifying an enmity towards his
brothers, but simply pursuing the worldly maxim of securing himself
from injury; the arguments which he has adduced seem deserving of
every consideration, and the more so when an avowed partisan of
Sultan Mahomed does not deny the justice of the Ameer’s objection.”
And further on, our agent observes: “Since arriving here, I have
seen an agent of Persia with alluring promises, after penetrating
as far as Candahar, compelled to quit the country because no one has
sent to invite him to Caubul. Following him, an agent of Russia with
letters highly complimentary, and promises more than substantial, has
experienced no more civility than is due by the laws of hospitality
and nations. It may be urged by some that the offers of one or both
were fallacious, but such a _dictum_ is certainly premature; the
Ameer of Caubul has sought no aid in his arguments from such offers,
but declared that his interests are bound up in an alliance with the
British Government, which he never will desert as long as there is a
hope of securing one.” There is much more in a similar strain—much
more cancelled from the published correspondence—with the deliberate
intention of injuring the character and misrepresenting the conduct of
Dost Mahomed, and so justifying their after-conduct towards him—but
enough has already been given to prove how mightily the Ameer has been

I cannot, indeed, suppress the utterance of my abhorrence of this
system of garbling the official correspondence of public men—sending
the letters of a statesman or diplomatist into the world mutilated,
emasculated—the very pith and substance of them cut out by the
unsparing hand of the state-anatomist. The dishonesty by which lie
upon lie is palmed upon the world has not one redeeming feature.
If public men are, without reprehension, to be permitted to lie in
the face of nations—wilfully, elaborately, and maliciously to bear
false-witness against their neighbours, what hope is there for private
veracity? In the case before us, _the suppressio veri_ is virtually the
_assertio falsi_. The character of Dost Mahomed has been lied away; the
character of Burnes has been lied away. Both, by the mutilation of the
correspondence of the latter, have been fearfully misrepresented—both
have been set forth as doing what they did not, and omitting to do
what they did. I care not whose knife—whose hand did the work of
mutilation. And, indeed, I do not know. I deal with principles, not
with persons; and have no party ends to serve. The cause of truth must
be upheld. Official documents are the sheet-anchors of historians—the
last courts of appeal to which the public resort. If these documents
are tampered with; if they are made to misrepresent the words and
actions of public men, the grave of truth is dug, and there is seldom
a resurrection. It is not always that an afflicted parent is ready to
step forward on behalf of an injured child, and to lay a memorial at
the feet of his sovereign, exposing the cruelty by which an honourable
man has been represented in state documents, as doing that which was
abhorrent to his nature. In most cases the lie goes down, unassailed
and often unsuspected, to posterity; and in place of sober history, we
have a florid romance.

I ask pardon for this digression—In spite of the declarations of
Burnes that Dost Mahomed had little to hope from the co-operation of
the British Government, the Russian Mission made scant progress at the
Afghan capital. Alluding to the negotiations of our agent, Vickovich
wrote some time afterwards: “All this has occasioned Dost Mahomed
Khan to conduct himself very coldly towards me; and then, as he daily
converses with Burnes, from my arrival here to the 20th of February I
have hardly been two or three times in his presence.” The fact is, that
up to this time, as we are assured on the concurrent testimony of the
British and the Russian agent, the latter was received in a scurvy and
discouraging manner. But on the 21st of February letters were opened
from the Governor-General, stating, in the most decisive language, that
there was no intention to accede to the proposals of the Ameer, and
that Peshawur must be left to the Sikhs. Then, but not till then, a
change came over the conduct of Dost Mahomed, and the Russian Mission
began to rise in importance.

But still another effort was to be made by the Barukzyes to secure
the friendship of the British Government. On the 1st of March, Jubbar
Khan came in from his country-seat, and next morning called upon
Burnes. He had read Lord Auckland’s discouraging letter; but he still
believed that, through his agency, for he was notoriously friendly to
the British, something might yet be done. His efforts, however, were
fruitless. Burnes, tied down by his instructions, could give the Newab
no encouragement. The British Government called upon Dost Mahomed to
abstain from connecting himself with every other state; and promised,
as the price of this isolation, that they would restrain Runjeet Singh
from attacking his dominions; “And that,” said Jubbar Khan, “amounts to
nothing, for we are not under the apprehension of any aggressions from
the side of Lahore.”[130] The Peshawur difficulty, he said, might be
got over; but the offer of so little, in return for so much that was
asked from the Ameer, placed him in a most humiliating position, and
would, if accepted, lower him in the eyes of the world. Meerza Samee
Khan, next day, told the same story;[131] but fettered by the orders of
the Supreme Government, Burnes could give him no hope.

On the 5th of March, Jubbar Khan again appeared before Burnes with a
string of specific demands, dictated by the Ameer. “These consisted of
a promise to protect Caubul and Candahar from Persia; of the surrender
of Peshawur by Runjeet Singh; of the interference of our government
to protect, at that city, those who might return to it from Caubul,
supposing it to be restored to Sultan Mahomed Khan; with several other
proposals.” Upon this Burnes, with an expression of astonishment,
declared that, on the part of the British Government, he could accede
to none of these propositions; and added, that as he saw no hope of a
satisfactory adjustment, he should request his dismissal. “The Newab,”
said Burnes, “left me in sorrow.”

The British agent then sat down, and drew up a formal letter to
the Ameer, requesting leave to depart for Hindostan. In spite of
what had taken place, the letter somewhat startled the Ameer, who
summoned a meeting of his principal advisers, “which lasted till past
midnight.”[132] On the following morning the conference was resumed;
and about mid-day Meerza Samee Khan waited on Burnes, and invited him
to attend the Ameer in the Balla Hissar. Gracious and friendly even
beyond his ordinary courtesy and urbanity, Dost Mahomed expressed
his regret that the Governor-General had shown so little inclination
to meet his wishes; but added, that he did not even then despair of
forming an alliance advantageous both to England and Afghanistan.
A long argument then ensued; but it led to nothing. The old ground
was travelled over again and again. Burnes asked for everything;
but promised nothing. He had no power to make any concessions. The
meeting, though it ended amicably, was productive of no good results.
Burnes took his departure from the Balla Hissar. He might as well have
departed from Caubul.

On the 21st of March, the Ameer wrote a friendly letter to Lord
Auckland, imploring him, in language almost of humility, to “remedy
the grievances of the Afghans;” to “give them a little encouragement
and power.” It was the last despairing effort of the Afghan chief to
conciliate the good-will of the British Government. It failed. The
_fiat_ had gone forth. The judgment against him was not to be reversed.
Other meetings took place; but Burnes knew them to be mere formalities.
He remained at Caubul with no hope of bringing matters to a favourable
issue; but because it was convenient to remain. He was awaiting the
return from Koondooz of Dr. Lord and Lieutenant Wood. The month of
March passed away, and the greater part of April. These officers did
not rejoin the Mission. But one of the Candahar Sirdars, Mehr Dil
Khan, appeared at Caubul, with the object of winning over the Ameer to
the Persian alliance. The “do-nothing policy,” as Burnes subsequently
characterised it, had done its work. The Russians, as he said, had
given us the _coup-de-grace_. Vickovich was publicly sent for, and
paraded through the streets of Caubul. So Burnes determined to depart.
Accordingly, on the 26th of April, he turned his back upon the Afghan

Burnes went; and Vickovich, who had risen greatly in favour, soon
took his departure for Herat, promising everything that Dost Mahomed
wanted—engaging to furnish money to the Barukzye chiefs, and
undertaking to propitiate Runjeet Singh.[134] The Russian quitted
Caubul, accompanied by Aboo Khan Barukzye, a confidential friend of
Dost Mahomed. It had been arranged that Azim Khan, the Ameer’s son,
accompanied by the minister, should be despatched to the Shah; but
this arrangement being set aside, in consequence of the scruples of
the Meerza, Aboo Khan was sent in their place. There were now no half
measures to be pursued. Dost Mahomed had flung himself into the arms of
the Persian King.

Vickovich was received with all honour in Western Afghanistan.[135]
Russian promises now began to carry everything before them. A treaty
between the Candahar brothers and the Shah was drawn up and signed
by the latter. The Russian ambassador to whom it was forwarded sent
it back to the Sirdars, saying, “Mahomed Shah has promised to give
you the possession of Herat: I sincerely tell you that you will also
get Ghorian, on my account, from the Shah.... When Mahomed Omar Khan
arrives here I will ask the Shah to quit Herat, and I will remain here
with 12,000 troops, and, when you join, we will take Herat, which will
afterwards be delivered to you,”—magnificent promises, most refreshing
to the souls of the Candahar chiefs. The letter was sent on to Dost
Mahomed; but it did not fill the heart of the Ameer with an equal
measure of delight. The Russian alliance was unpopular at Caubul.
It had “ruined him in the eyes of all Mahomedans.” It soon became
obvious, too, in spite of the fair beginning, that whilst he was losing
everything by the dissolution of his friendship with the British,
the Russians could really do nothing to assist him. Mahomed Shah was
wasting his strength before Herat. The Persian army, under the command
of the Sovereign himself, moved by Russian diplomacy and directed by
Russian skill, was only precipitating itself into an abyss of failure,
and the Candahar brethren, who had been promised so much, were linking
themselves with a decrepit cause, from which they were likely to gain
nothing. Soon other tidings came to alarm him. The Russian game was
nearly played out; and the resentment of the British was about to break
forth in a manner which threatened the total extinction of Barukzye
supremacy in Afghanistan. He looked out towards the West, and he could
plainly see that, in flinging himself upon Russo-Persian support, he
had trusted to a foundation of sand. The ground was shifting under his
feet. His new friends were not able to assist him. A subaltern of the
British army within the walls of Herat was setting them at defiance.



 The Siege of Herat—Shah Kamran and Yar Mahomed—Return of the
 Shah—Eldred Pottinger—Preparations for the Defence—Advance of the
 Persian Army—Progress of the Siege—Negotiations for Peace—Failure of
 the Attack—The Siege raised.

Surrounded by a fair expanse of country, where alternating corn-fields,
vineyards, and gardens varied the richness and beauty of the scene;
where little fortified villages studded the plain, and the bright
waters of small running streams lightened the pleasant landscape, lay
the city of Herat.[136] The beauty of the place was beyond the walls.
Within, all was dirt and desolation. Strongly fortified on every side
by a wet ditch and a solid outer wall, with five gates, each defended
by a small outwork, the city presented but few claims to the admiration
of the traveller. Four long bazaars, roofed with arched brickwork,
meeting in a small domed quadrangle in the centre of the city, divided
it into four quarters.[137] In each of these there may have been about
a thousand dwelling-houses and ten thousands of inhabitants. Mosques
and caravanserais, public baths and public reservoirs, varied the
wretched uniformity of the narrow dirty streets, which, roofed across,
were often little better than dark tunnels or conduits, where every
conceivable description of filth was suffered to collect and putrify.
When Arthur Conolly expressed his wonder how the people could live in
the midst of so much filth, he was answered, “The climate is fine; and
if dirt killed people where would the Afghans be?”[138]

Such to the eye of an ordinary traveller, in search of the picturesque,
was the aspect of the city and its environs at the time when the
army of Mahomed Shah was marching upon Herat. To the mind of the
military observer both the position and construction of the place
were suggestive of much interesting speculation. Situated at that
point of the great mountain-range which alone presents facilities
to the transport of a train of heavy artillery, Herat has, with no
impropriety of designation, been described as the “Gate of India.”
Within the limits of the Heratee territory all the great roads leading
on India converge. At other points, between Herat and Caubul, a body of
troops unencumbered with guns, or having only a light field artillery,
might make good its passage, if not actively opposed, across the
stupendous mountain-ranges of the Hindoo-Koosh; but it is only by the
Herat route that a really formidable well-equipped army could make
its way upon the Indian frontier from the regions on the north-west.
Both the nature and the resources of the country are such as to favour
the success of the invader. All the materials necessary for the
organisation of a great army, and the formation of his dépôts, are to
be found in the neighbourhood of Herat. The extraordinary fertility of
the plain has fairly entitled it to be called the “Granary of Central
Asia.” Its mines supply lead, iron, and sulphur; the surface of the
country, in almost every direction, is laden with saltpetre; the willow
and poplar trees, which furnish the best charcoal, flourish in all
parts of the country; whilst from the population might at any time be
drawn hardy and docile soldiers to recruit the ranks of an invading
army.[139] Upon the possession of such country would depend, in no
small measure, the success of operations undertaken for the invasion or
the defence of Hindostan.

The city of Herat, it has been said, stood within solid earthen
walls, surrounded by a wet ditch. The four sides were of nearly equal
length, a little less than a mile in extent, facing towards the four
points of the compass. The most elevated quarter of the city was the
north-east, from which it gradually sloped down to the south-west
corner, where it attained its lowest descent.[140] The real defences
of the place were two covered ways, or _fausse-braies_, on the
exterior slope of the embankments, one within and the other without
the ditch. The lower one was on the level of the surrounding country,
its parapet “partly covered by a mound of earth on the counterscarp,
the accumulation of rubbish from the cleansings of the ditch.” On the
northern side, surrounded by a wet ditch, the citadel, once known as
the Kella-i-Aktyar-Aldyn, but now as the Ark, overlooked the city.
Built entirely of good brick masonry, with lofty ramparts and numerous
towers, it was a place of considerable strength; but now its defences,
long neglected, were in a wretched state of repair. Indeed, when, in
1837, tidings of the advance of the Persian army reached Herat, the
whole extent of the fortifications was crumbling into decay.

The population of Herat was estimated at about 45,000 inhabitants. A
large majority of these were _Sheeahs_. It was said that there might
have been 1000 Hindoos, of various callings, in the city; there were
several families of Armenians, and a few families of Jews. The general
appearance of the inhabitants was that of a poor and an oppressed
people. Dirty and ill-clad, they went about in a hurried, anxious
manner, each man looking with suspicion into his neighbour’s face.
Few women were to be seen in the streets. It was hardly safe for a
stranger to be abroad after sunset. Unless protected by an armed
escort, there was too great a likelihood of his being seized and sold
into slavery. There was no protection for life, liberty, or property.
They who should have protected the people were the foremost of their
oppressors. During the absence of the King, in 1837, such was the
frightful misrule—such the reign of terror that had been established by
the chartered violence of the rulers of the city, that the shops were
closed before sunset, and all through the night the noise and uproar,
the challengings and the cries for help were such as could scarcely
have been exceeded if the place had been actually besieged. A son of
Yar Mahomed Khan, the Wuzeer, was then governor of the city. Compelled
to hold office upon a small salary, he enriched himself by plundering
the houses of the inhabitants, and selling the people into slavery. All
who were strong enough followed his example, and when detected, secured
immunity for themselves by giving him a portion of the spoil.[141]
So remorseless, indeed, was the tyranny exercised over the unhappy
Sheeahs by their Afghan masters, that many of the inhabitants of Herat
looked forward to the coming of the Persian King as to the advent of
a deliverer, and would gladly have seen the city given over to the
governance of one who, whatever may have been his political claims, was
not an alien in his religious faith.[142]

Such was the last remnant of the old Afghan monarchy in the hands of
Shah Kamran—the only one of the Suddozye Princes who had retained his
hold of the country he had governed. His government was at this time a
pageant and a name. An old and a feeble man, broken down by long years
of debauchery, he had resigned the active duties of administration
into the hands of his Wuzeer. He was, perhaps, the worst of the royal
princes—the worst of a bad race. His youth had been stained by the
commission of every kind of Oriental crime; and now in his old age, if
the evil passions of his nature were less prominently developed, it
was only because physical decay had limited his power to indulge them.
In his younger days he had set no restraint upon himself, and now it
was nature only that restrained him. The violent gusts of passion,
which had once threatened all who were within his influence, had given
place to an almost incessant peevishness and petulance of manner, more
pitiable to behold than it was dangerous to encounter. He had once
played openly the part of the bandit—placing himself at the head of
gangs of armed retainers, plundering houses by night and slaying all
who opposed him; now he suffered others to commit the violence which he
had before personally enacted, and oppressed, by deputy, the weakness
which he could not see smitten before his face. He had once been
immoderately addicted to sensual pleasure, and in the pursuit of such
gratification—arrested by no feelings of compassion, by no visitings of
remorse—had violently seized the objects of his desires, to whomsoever
they belonged, and cast them adrift when his appetite was sated; now
he sought excitement of another kind, to which age and feebleness were
no impediments, and turned from the caresses of women to seek solace
from the stimulants of wine. Unfaithful to his friends and unmerciful
to his enemies, ingratitude and cruelty were conspicuous in his nature,
and these darker features of his character there was little to lighten
or relieve. Among his countrymen he was esteemed for a certain kind of
courage, and in his younger days he had not been wanting in activity
and address.[143] Though naturally haughty and arrogant, there were
times when he could assume, for his own ends, a becoming courtesy of
demeanour; and, as by assiduous attention to costume, he endeavoured to
compensate for the deficiencies of an unattractive person, there was
something of a high and princely aspect about the outward bearing even
of this degraded man. Short and thickset, with misshapen limbs and an
unseemly gait, his appearance was more comely in repose than in action.
His face was pitted with the small-pox, and there was a harshness in
his countenance stamped by the long possession of arbitrary power and
the indulgence of unbridled passions; but he had a finer, more massive,
more upright forehead, than the majority of his countrymen, with more
of intellect impressed upon it. His voice had once been loud and deep;
but the feebleness of age, much sickness, and much suffering, had
given a querulousness to its tones which was equally undignified and

If in the character and the person of Shah Kamran there was little that
was estimable or attractive, there was less in the person and character
of his Wuzeer. Yar Mahomed Khan was a stout, square-built man, of
middle height, with a heavy, stern countenance, thick negro-like lips,
bad straggling teeth, an overhanging brow, and an abruptly receding
forehead. His face was redeemed from utter repulsiveness by the
fineness of his eyes and the comeliness of his beard. Like his master
he attired himself with care and propriety; but his manner was more
attractive than his appearance. Affable in his demeanour, outwardly
courteous and serene, he seldom gave the rein to his temper, but
held it in habitual control. He talked freely and well, had a fund
of anecdote at his command, was said to be well read in Mahomedan
divinity, and was strict in his attention to the external formalities
of his religion. His courage was never questioned; and his ability was
as undoubted as his courage. Both were turned to the worst possible
account. Of all the unscrupulous miscreants in Central Asia, Yar
Mahomed was the most unscrupulous. His avarice and his ambition knew
no bounds, and nothing was suffered to stand in the way of their
gratification. Utterly without tenderness or compassion, he had no
regard for the sufferings of others. Sparing neither sex nor age, he
trod down the weak with an iron heel; and, a tyrant himself, encouraged
the tyranny of his retainers. As faithless as he was cruel, there was
no obligation which he had not violated, no treachery that had not
stained his career. If there was an abler or a worse man in Central
Asia, I have not yet heard his name.[144]

In the summer of 1837 the bazaars of Herat were a-stir with rumours of
the movements of the royal army. The King and the Wuzeer were absent
from the city on a campaign in Seistan. To gratify the personal rancour
of the latter they had laid siege to the fortress of Jowayn, and in the
vain attempt to reduce a place of no political importance, had crippled
their own military resources in a manner which they soon began bitterly
to lament. The waste of so much strength on so small an enterprise
was unworthy of a man so able and so astute as Yar Mahomed; but the
feeling of personal resentment was stronger in him than either avarice
or ambition. He had a larger game in hand at that time; and he should
have husbanded all his resources for the great struggle by which he
sought to restore to the Suddozye Princes the sovereignty of Caubul and

It was soon buzzed abroad in Herat that the army was about to
return—that it had broken off from the siege of Jowayn—and was coming
back to gird itself up for stirring work at home. Cossids were coming
in daily from the royal camp with instructions for the collection
of grain and the repair of the defences of the city. The meaning of
this was involved in no obscurity. The ambassador who had been sent
to Teheran to seek, among other objects, the assistance of Mahomed
Shah in the projected enterprise for the recovery of Candahar and
Caubul[146] had brought back an answer to the effect that the Persian
monarch claimed both principalities for himself, and intended to take
possession of Herat as a preliminary to further operations. It was said
to be the intention of the King of Kings to proceed to Caubul, and,
receiving as the price of his assistance the submission of the Ameer,
to join Dost Mahomed in a religious war against the Sikhs. Herat was to
be reduced on the road. Kamran was to be deprived of his regal titles.
Prayers were to be said and coin struck in the name of the Persian
King; and a Persian garrison was to be received into the city. These
were the terms dictated by Mahomed Shah, and thrown back by Shah Kamran
with defiance.

The greatest excitement now prevailed throughout the city. There was
but one topic of discourse. Every man met his neighbour with a word
about the coming of the Persian army. The _Sheeahs_, smarting under
the tyranny to which they had long been subjected, spoke of the advent
of the Persian monarch as of the coming of a deliverer, whilst the
_Soonee_ Afghans, whom they taunted with predictions of the success of
the invading force, swore that they would defend, to the last drop of
their blood, the only remnant of the old Afghan monarchy which had not
been violently wrested from the hands of its legitimate possessors.

On the 17th of September the King returned to Herat. Moved by one
common impulse of curiosity, the people went forth to meet him. The
streets were lined with eager thousands, and the house-tops were alive
with gazers. A procession of the true Oriental type, it presented, in
vivid contrasts, strange alternations of the shabby and the superb.
First came a few strong baggage-mules, and a few straggling horsemen,
mounted on fine well-built animals, but lean, and often lame and
wounded. Then, in their high red-cloth caps, appeared the criers and
the executioners, bearing aloft the instruments of their calling;
and, in spite of the grim suggestiveness of the large knives and
tiger-headed brazen maces, presenting an appearance less solemn than
grotesque. Next came a string of horses led by armed grooms, their
fine stag-like heads telling the purity of their blood, and their
handsome equipments the royal ownership they boasted. Then followed,
close behind, in a covered litter of red cloth, carried by Hindostanee
bearers, Shah Kamran himself. Very plainly, but tastefully attired, the
golden bosses on his sword-belt, and the jewels on his dagger-hilt,
being the only ornaments about the royal person, he returned, through
the open curtains of his litter, with a kingly and a graceful courtesy,
the salutations of the people. Next came the Royal Princes, with the
eunuchs, and other personal attendants of the Shah;[147] and then,
but at a long interval, a motley crowd of armed foot-men, the regular
infantry of Herat, in all sorts of irregular costumes. These preceded
the cavalcade of the Wuzeer, Yar Mahomed, who, with all the chiefs of
note around him, headed the main body of the Afghan cavalry, whose low
sheepskin caps and uniform attire made up a very soldierly appearance.
Another body of infantry closed the procession. The guns had been left

Among the many who went forth on that September morning to witness
the entrance of Shah Kamran into his capital, was a young European
officer. Riding out a mile beyond the city walls, he picketed his horse
in the courtyard of a deserted house, and joined a party of Afghans,
who, sitting on the domed roof of the building, were watching the
procession as it passed. He had entered Herat about a month before,
after an adventurous journey from Caubul, through the Imauk and Hazareh
countries. The name of this young officer was Eldred Pottinger. He
was a Lieutenant in the Bombay Artillery; and had been despatched by
his uncle, Colonel Pottinger, who was then Resident in Sindh, for the
purpose of exploring the countries of Afghanistan, and collecting
materials for a full report to be drawn up on his return. He started
in no recognised official capacity, but travelled onward in the most
unostentatious manner, assuming the disguise of a Cutch horse-dealer,
and attracting little attention on his route. Journeying upwards by
Shikarpoor and Dehra Ismael Khan to Peshawur, he proceeded thence to
Caubul, and there changing his disguise for that of an Indian Syud,
made his way through the rude country of the Imauks and Hazarehs to
Herat. Though at this period he was but slightly acquainted with the
Persian language, and was ignorant of the Mahomedan prayers, of their
genuflexions, modes of worship, and similar observances, he passed on
almost unquestioned by the credulous Afghans. In Herat itself, though
he seems to have taken little pains to conceal his real character, he
remained, for some time,[148] lodging in a caravanserai, and mixing
freely with its inmates, but seldom recognised as an European by those
with whom he associated.

The King and the Wuzeer returned to Herat; and Eldred Pottinger soon
sent a message to the latter, offering, as a stranger and a traveller,
to wait upon him, if he desired to see him. To the surprise of the
English officer, Yar Mahomed sent a messenger to him intimating that,
early on the following morning, he would be happy to receive him.
Pottinger went. The minister, who was seated in an alcove in the
dressing-room of his bath, rose as the stranger entered, invited him to
take a seat beside himself, and welcomed him with becoming courtesy. As
the only articles he possessed worthy of the acceptance of the chief,
Pottinger presented his detonating pistols; and the gift was graciously
received. A few days afterwards he paid, “by desire,” a visit to the
King.[149] Little did Shah Kamran and Yar Mahomed, when they received
that unassuming traveller, think how much, under Providence, the future
destinies of Herat were in the hands of the young Englishman.

The spirit of adventure was strong in Eldred Pottinger. It had brought
him to the gates of Herat, and now it kept him there, eager to take
a part in the coming struggle between the Heratees and their Persian
invaders. And when the day of trial came—when the enemy were under the
walls of the city—he threw himself into the contest, not merely in a
spirit of adventure, as a young soldier rejoicing in the opportunity
thus afforded him of taking part in the stirring scenes of active
warfare, but as one profoundly impressed with the conviction that his
duty to his country called upon him, in such a crisis, to put forth all
his energies in aid of those who were striving to arrest a movement
threatening not only the independence of Herat, but the stability of
the British Empire in the East.

Scarcely had the King returned to Herat, when a proclamation went forth
into the surrounding villages, decreeing that all the grain and forage
should be brought into the city, and that the villagers should abide
within its walls, on pain of the Shah’s resentment. The danger seemed
something dim and remote, and the order, at first, was little heeded.
But when, towards the close of October, intelligence reached Herat that
the Persian army had arrived at Toorbut, another more imperative edict
was issued, commanding all the outstanding crops, grain, and forage,
to be destroyed, and the fruit-trees to be cut down in the surrounding
gardens. The soldiery were let loose upon the country to carry out
the royal decree. The policy of this measure is apparent; but there
was unlooked-for evil in the result. It was the object of the Heratee
Government to keep all the available grain, forage, and firewood
outside the city from falling into the hands of the invading army. If
these necessaries could not be stored in Herat, the next best thing was
to destroy them. But the licence thus given to the soldiery completely
unhinged the little discipline that had before kept them together. They
were, indeed, from that time so completely disorganised, that it was
never afterwards found practicable to reduce them to order.

In the mean while, the city was alive with rumours of the progress of
the Persian army. It was ascertained that they were moving forward in
three bodies, the advance of which was a force of 10,000 or 12,000
men, under Alayar Khan.[150] Every now and then a prisoner was brought
in; but the people, who seized them, bitterly complained that they
could not make more captures. The Persian army, they loudly declared,
was composed of a set of the most contemptible cowards, because
they marched in compact bodies, defended by their guns, instead
of straggling boldly about on purpose to be cut off by marauding

Early in November there was a hard frost, and the Heratees began
hopefully to speculate on the chances of a severe winter. Never were
the predictions of the weather-wise so cruelly falsified; but the hope
buoyed them up for a time. Another cheering anticipation was belied in
the same mortifying manner. It was long a matter of anxious conjecture
whether the Persians would attack Ghorian. In 1834-35 they had left
it untouched; and it was believed that now again they would mask it,
for its reputed strength was greater than that of Herat, and it was
defended by a picked garrison, under the command of the brother of Yar
Mahomed. But these hopes were soon dispersed by the arrival of couriers
from Ghorian, with tidings that the place was besieged. On the 15th of
November it was announced that Ghorian had fallen.

Matters now began to wear a more alarming aspect. Cursing with his
whole heart the cowardice or treachery of his brother, who, almost
without a struggle, had shamefully surrendered his charge,[152] Yar
Mahomed, with increased vigour, addressed himself to the defence of
the city. The gates were closed against all egress. The people poured
into Herat in floods from the surrounding country. In every house were
huddled together the members of five or six families. The very ruins
were thickly tenanted. But still the streets were alive with throngs of
people seeking habitations in the city. Everywhere excitement and alarm
were visible in the countenances and the gestures of the Heratees.
It was a strange and fearful conjuncture, and no man felt himself
secure. A fiat had gone forth for the apprehension of all persons of
doubtful loyalty. Many suspected of infidelity were seized, their
persons imprisoned, and their property confiscated, whilst others, in
whom the spirit of rebellion had been more clearly evidenced, were
plunged, with all their family and dependents, into one great sea of
ruin. When it was known that Shums-ood-deen Khan,[153] an Afghan chief
of note, had thrown off his allegiance to Herat, his Persian dependents
were seized and stripped of all they possessed. Some were tortured,
some were sent into slavery, and some were condemned to death. The
women and children were sold or given away. Those of the Afghan tribes
were more mercifully treated; but few escaped imprisonment and fine.
Nor were even the priesthood spared. The Moollahs of the Sheeah sect
were arrested and confined, lest they should stir up intrigue and
disaffection among the people.

Whilst these precautions against internal revolt were taken by the Shah
and his unscrupulous minister, actively and unceasingly they laboured
to defend the city against the enemy advancing from without. The
fortifications now began to bristle with armed soldiers. The hammer of
the artificer rang upon the guns in the embrasures. The spade of the
workman was busy upon the ramparts. Eager for the foray, the trooper
mounted his horse and scoured the country to cut off stragglers. But
still the Persian army moved forward in that compact and well-ordered
mass which had baffled the efforts and kindled the indignation of
marauders along their whole line of march. Soon the contest actually
commenced. On the 22nd of November, the advanced guard of the Persian
army took up its position on the plain to the north-west of the city.
Watching its opportunity, the Afghan horse charged the enemy’s cavalry
with success, and then fell upon an infantry regiment, which stood
firm, and repulsed the attack. The Persian field artillery opened
briskly upon the Afghan force. A couple of guns in the city replied to
them; whilst a party of Afghan horsemen, dismounted, crept under cover,
and with their long rifle-barrelled matchlocks, fired on the Persian
gunners. Upon this, skirmishers were sent out by the Persians, who
turned the flank of the Afghans, and forced them back to the position
which they had taken up before. No advantage was gained by either
party. But the contest was now fairly commenced.

The following day witnessed the opening of the siege of Herat—one,
whether we regard the protracted nature of the operations, the vigour
of the resistance, the gallantry of the chief actors concerned in it,
or the magnitude of the political results, of the most remarkable in
modern history. It was on the 23rd of November that the siege actually
commenced. Taking possession of all the gardens and enclosures to the
west of the city, and establishing themselves in considerable force
among a cluster of ruins that afforded them good shelter, the Persians
began to make their preparations for the attack. The garrison sallied
out as they advanced. The Afghan infantry disputed every inch of
ground, and the cavalry hung on the flanks of the Persian army. But
they could not dislodge the enemy from the position they had taken
up; and after carrying off a few prisoners, were compelled at last to

From the events, however, of that day, two significant facts were to
be deduced. The Persians had tried their artillery upon the walls of
Herat in answer to the guns which the garrison had fired in support
of their skirmishers: and the rotten parapets had fallen like tinder
even to the light shot that was poured upon them. It was plain that
little reliance was to be placed upon the strength of the defences. It
was plain, too, that the war thus commenced would be carried on in a
spirit of unsparing hatred and savage inhumanity—that what was wanting,
on either side, in science or in courage, would be made up for in
cruelty and vindictiveness. The Afghan skirmishers that evening brought
in some prisoners and some heads. The latter were paraded about the
ramparts.[154] The former bartered for horses with the Toorkomans, and
sent off to the slave-markets of Merve.

The siege was soon in full operation. Whilst the Heratees were busily
at work strengthening their defences, the Persians were entrenching
themselves, throwing up their batteries, planting their guns, and
trying their effect upon the walls of the city. After a day or two,
guns, mortars, and rocket batteries were all in full play upon Herat.
The rockets ranged too widely to work any serious mischief to the
besieged; but their grand fiery flight as they passed over the city
struck terror into the hearts of the people, who clustered upon the
roofs of the houses, praying and crying by turns. “The uproar and
confusion inside was tremendous, whilst not a sound was heard from the
ramparts which a few nights before had been shaken by clamour.”[155]
The defenders of the city had too much serious occupation on hand to
expend themselves in much noise. It was no easy thing to repair the
defences which were crumbling to pieces under the fire of the Persian
batteries. Silently, but resolutely, they set about their work,
repairing the mischief as it arose, and giving a new character of
defence to the battered fortifications.[156]

Day after day, with little change of circumstance and little gain to
either party, the siege continued throughout the months of November and
December. At the end of the former, Pottinger wrote in his journal,
“The Persians have wasted some thousand rounds of ammunition, and
are not more advanced than when the firing commenced.” The dreaded
artillery of Mahomed Shah was less formidable in reality than in
the excited imaginations of the Heratees; and the besieged gathered
new courage from the success of their resistance. The fire from the
Persian batteries was irregular and spasmodic; sometimes maintained
with exceeding spirit, and at others languid and uncertain. The round
shot from the guns went over the batteries, often clearing the entire
city, but sometimes falling within it. The vertical firing from the
mortars told with better effect. The shells[157] were thrown less at
random, and many houses were destroyed. The loss of life was not great
in the city; but those domestic episodes of war, which give so painful
an interest to the annals of an attack upon a fortified town, were not
absent from the siege of Herat. In the next house to that in which
Eldred Pottinger resided, a shell descended close to the spot on which
an infant was sleeping. The terrified mother rushed between the deadly
missile and her child. The shell exploding carried off her head; and
the corpse of the mother fell upon the babe, and suffocated it.

In the mean while, with a vigour and a constancy worthy of any
garrison, in ancient or in modern times, the besieged continued to
conduct their defensive operations. Three of the five gates of the city
were kept open, and the communications with the surrounding country
were preserved. The cattle were sent out to graze. Firewood and other
commodities were brought into the city. Every night the garrison
sallied out, attacked the working parties, carried off their tools,
often destroyed their entrenchments, wounded and sometimes killed the
workmen, and carried their bleeding heads, with barbarous triumph, into
the city.

Whilst the activity of the garrison thus sensibly increased, that
of the besiegers was plainly declining. Throughout the month of
December little progress was made. The fire of the Persian batteries
slackened—sometimes altogether ceased. When it was most lively, it was
wild and eccentric—so slovenly, indeed, as to warrant the belief that
every gun was pointed in a different direction, and every gunner firing
at some particular mark of his own. At last, on Christmas Day, when the
siege had been continued for more than a month, Eldred Pottinger wrote
in his journal, “I could not help recollecting the three shots a day
which the Spanish army before Gibraltar fired for some time, and which
the garrison called after the Trinity.”

The following day was one of barbarous retaliation. All the Persian
prisoners in Herat were sent off for sale to Kurookh. There were Afghan
prisoners, at this time, in the Persian camp; and Mahomed Shah had no
refined Christian notions on the score of returning good for evil.
He ripped up the bellies, or destroyed after some cruel fashion, all
the prisoners who fell into his hands. After this, in spite of the
heavy rains that fell during the two succeeding days, there were some
demonstrations of increased vigour in the conduct of the siege. A mine
was sprung, and a practicable breach effected; but the storming party
was driven back with considerable loss. Hadjee Khan, who commanded the
party, was severely wounded, and one Mahomed Sheriff, a deserter from
Herat, and a soldier of very formidable reputation, was killed in the
breach. So much was this man dreaded, and such throughout the city was
the opinion of his prowess, that when intelligence of his death was
conveyed to Kamran, the Shah exclaimed, with eager delight, “Mahomed
Shah, I am well satisfied, will never take Herat _now_.”

The 30th of December was the great day of the festival of the
Eyd-i-Ramzan. On this day the long Mahomedan fast terminates; and it
is ordinarily one of feasting and rejoicing. Even now, with becoming
festivity, was it observed both by besiegers and besieged. On either
side there was a tacit suspension of hostilities. Accompanied by the
royal family, Shah Kamran went in procession to the Juma Musjid, or
great mosque;[158] and, after offering up the accustomed prayers,
distributed sweetmeats among the Moollahs. The holy men scrambled
for the delicacies with surprising activity; but they were deprived
of their accustomed banquet of more substantial food. The liberality
of his Majesty, on this occasion, flowed in a different channel.
It was not a time in which to distribute valuable provender among
such unserviceable people as priests, nobles, and courtiers. The
customary entertainment to these worthies gave place, therefore, to a
distribution of all the disposable provisions to the fighting men and
operatives on the works.

The new year opened with some increase of activity on the part of
the besiegers. Their mining operations alarmed the garrison; and
vigorous efforts were made by a corresponding activity in the works,
to frustrate the designs of the assailants. All true Mahomedans were
called upon, by proclamation, to aid in the defence of the city, as
the danger was very pressing. The assistance of the Moollahs was called
in to organise working parties from among the people; and the houses of
the Sheeahs and all suspected persons were again searched for arms. In
the midst of these preparations, an emissary from the Persian camp made
his appearance in the trenches opposite to the south-west bastion, and
demanded to speak with the Wuzeer. This was the brother of Yar Mahomed,
Shere Mahomed Khan, who had delivered up Ghorian to the Persians. The
Wuzeer refused to see him; but the Sirdar implored the soldiers at the
post to tell his brother that if Herat were not surrendered to Mahomed
Shah, the Persian monarch would put him to death, storm the city, hang
Yar Mahomed like a dog, and give his women and children to be publicly
dishonoured by the muleteers.

The Afghans replied with a volley of abuse, cursing the Sirdar and the
Persians; but the message was delivered to the Wuzeer. It found the
minister in no very gentle mood. The mention of his brother’s name
exasperated him beyond control. “Tell the Sirdar,” he said, “I am
glad that Mahomed Shah intends to save me the trouble of putting the
traitor to death. He is no brother of mine. I disown him. He is not my
father’s son. He is not an Afghan, but a Cashmerian, after his mother.
As for myself, when Mahomed Shah takes the city, he is at liberty to do
with me what he likes. In all other respects, I am his Majesty’s most
obedient servant; but I cannot obey him in this matter, for the Afghans
will not hear of surrender.”[159] And with this message Shere Mahomed
returned, crest-fallen, to the Persian camp.[160]

The siege operations were continued; but with little access of
vigour. The Persians were conducting no less than five several
attacks on different points of the fortifications. The work was not
carried forward in a manner that would have gladdened the heart of
the commanding officer of a corps of English sappers; but the real
nature of the enemy’s movements was so little understood, that the
garrison often exaggerated the danger, and gave the Persians credit
for stratagems that had never entered their minds. One example of this
will suffice. From beneath the rampart opposite the attack, conducted
by General Samson and the Russian regiment, a mysterious noise, as of
mining, was heard to proceed. It was audible to very few, and then
only from a particular point; but abundant confirmation of the worst
apprehensions of the garrison was derived from the fact that there
was a working party in constant activity, throwing out black mud from
the trench in the neighbourhood of the spot whence the mysterious
sounds were heard to issue. The greatest alarm was occasioned by this
intelligence; and the Heratees began at once to take counsel as to the
best means of counteracting the stratagems of the besiegers.

In this crisis, the advice of Eldred Pottinger was sought by the
garrison. His activity was unfailing; he was always on the ramparts;
always ready to assist with his counsel—the counsel of an educated
English officer—the ruder science of the responsible conductors of the
defence, and to inspire with his animating presence new heart into the
Afghan soldiery. They asked him now if it were possible to mine below
the ditch. His answer was in the affirmative; but he represented at the
same time how much more feasible it was to fill up the ditch and sap
across it. “The fear of stratagem, however,” he says, “was predominant;
and they took stronger measures to counteract the supposed danger,
and went to greater trouble about it than they did with actions of
vital importance to their preservation. I recommended that a gallery
of envelope under the lower _fausse-braie_ should be completed, and in
it a few shafts sunk a little below the floor of the gallery. This did
not satisfy them; so they sunk shafts on both sides of the wall and
connected them by galleries; and dug a ditch inside the city, at the
foot of the mound, till the water stood several feet deep in it.” The
sequel of all this is sufficiently diverting. It was not until some
months afterwards, when these extensive and laborious works were nearly
completed, that it was discovered that the mysterious noise, which had
struck so great a terror into the hearts of the garrison, arose from
nothing more formidable than “a poor woman, who was in the habit of
using a hand-mill to grind her wheat, in an excavation at the back of
the mound.”[161]

On the 18th of January, Yar Mahomed besought Eldred Pottinger to
proceed as an envoy, on the part of the Afghans, to the Persian
camp. The young English officer readily assented to the proposal;
and it was arranged that on the morrow he should have an audience of
Shah Kamran, and receive instructions for the conduct of his mission.
Accordingly, on the following day, he was conducted to the residence
of the Shah. As he went along, he observed with pain, in the interior
of the city, the desolating effects of the siege. “Scarcely a shop
had escaped destruction. The shutters, seats, shelves—nay, even the
very beams and door-posts—had in general been torn out for firewood.
Scarcely any business was going on. Here and there were gathered
knots of the pale and anxious citizens, whispering their condolences
and grievances—anxious that they might escape the notice of the rude
Afghans, who were swaggering about the streets.”[162]

The room in which the Shah received the English officer was a dreary,
comfortless place. “I have seen nothing I can compare to it,” wrote
Pottinger, “but an empty store-room carpeted.” Plainly, but richly
attired, attended only by his eunuchs, the Shah welcomed the young
Englishman. But he appeared ill at ease—unhappy about himself—peevish,
and lost in thought; for he was sick. It was plain, indeed, that he
was more concerned about his health than about the safety of the
city. Sending for his chief physician, he consulted him about the
royal symptoms, and in the intervals of this interesting personal
conversation, coughed out, with considerable energy and warmth, his
instructions to the British officer. His cough, indeed, in all
probability, saved him from something more serious. For when he had
worked himself into a passion, it compelled him to pause, and whilst he
was applying himself to the restoratives at hand, he cooled down till
the next paroxysm of rage and coughing brought him to a full stop.

The interview was long and tedious. Much was said in a very wordy
language by the Shah, about his own merits and his own wrongs, and
the ingratitude and injustice of his enemies. Then Pottinger received
his instructions regarding the message which he was to deliver in the
Persian camp. It commenced with a string of reproaches, and ended in a
strain of mingled invective and entreaty.

“How generous!” ran the message, after much more in the same style.
“You look round to see who your neighbours are. I am your weakest one.
You, therefore, assemble all your force to rob me of my last of eighty
cities. You answer my supplication for aid by the roar of your cannon
and bombs. Raise the siege; retire and give me the troops and guns I
want to recover my kingdom; and I will give you Herat on my return.
Send the Afghan traitors out of your camp. If you persist in your
present purpose, future ages will call you a robber, who preyed upon
the aged and helpless. If you do not act generously, God is great; and
on him we rely. We have still got our swords.”

Such was the pith of the message which Pottinger was commissioned to
deliver to the Shah of Persia. It came out by snatches, in an excited
spasmodic manner; but was understood by the British officer. Having
heard all that was to be said, he took his departure, and joined the
Wuzeer upon the works. But, for some time, the projected negotiations
never advanced beyond the threshold. It occurred to Shah Kamran that
it would be well to strike a blow, and to achieve some demonstrable
success, before despatching an emissary to the Persian camp, lest
the overtures should be attributed to conscious weakness, and rather
increase than lower the pretensions of the Shah.

An attempt was soon made to strike an important blow, but it was
singularly unsuccessful. On the 21st of January, the Afghans determined
to make a night attack, in considerable force, upon the camp of Sirdar
Mahomed Khan at Karta. Nearly the whole garrison turned out, and was
reviewed by the Wuzeer. The King himself, looking out from a tower of
the citadel, surveyed in secret the gathering below, as Yar Mahomed,
on the _terre-pleine_ of the rampart, surrounded by all the principal
chiefs not absolutely on duty elsewhere, mustered the fighting men on
the lower part of the works. Twelve hundred men were selected for the
sortie, and told off in detachments, under the command of different
chiefs. Divesting themselves of whatever could, in any way, encumber
their movements—of everything, indeed, but their shirts, drawers,
skull-caps, and swords—they filed out of the Kootoobchak gate, the
chief of each party naming his men, one by one, as they crossed the
drawbridge. Futteh Mahomed Khan, to whom the command of the entire
party had been entrusted, followed last, upon foot. But of all these
great preparations nothing came at last. “The business failed; no
attack was made; and every one was blamed by his neighbour.”[163]

This lamentable failure determined the Shah to postpone Pottinger’s
departure for the Persian camp. To commence negotiations immediately
after a miscarriage of so formidable a nature, would have been a
confession of weakness, very impolitic in such a conjuncture. The King,
therefore, imperatively arrested the movements of the young English
ambassador, whilst the Wuzeer began to bethink himself of the best
means of removing the impediment which loomed so largely before the
eyes of the King. Accordingly it was determined that, on the 26th of
January, both the cavalry and the infantry should be sent out to draw
the Persians into action. It was a fine, bright morning. The whole city
was in an unusual state of excitement. Partly impelled by curiosity,
partly moved by a more laudable ambition to fill the places of those
whose services were required beyond the walls, the citizens flocked
to the ramparts. Along the whole eastern face of the fortifications
the parapets and towers were alive with men. “The old Afghans and
relatives of the military,” writes Pottinger, “in like manner crowded
the _fausse-braies_. I do not think that less than 7000 men were
assembled on one side in view of the enemy.” The scene on which they
looked down, was a most exciting one. It stirred the hearts of that
eager multitude as the heart of one man. The Afghan cavalry, on issuing
from the city, had spread themselves over the open country to the east,
and the foot-men had taken possession of a neighbouring village and
its surrounding gardens. The Persian videttes had fallen back; the
trenches and batteries had been manned; and the reserves had stood to
their arms, when, looking down from the ramparts, the excited Heratees
saw the Persian Sirdar, Mahomed Khan, with a large body of troops,
prepare himself for an offensive movement, and push onward to the
attack. At the head of the column were the Persian cavalry. As soon as
they appeared in sight, the Afghan horse streamed across the plain, and
poured themselves full upon the enemy.

The charge of the Afghans was a gallant and a successful one.
Whilst the ramparts of Herat rang with the excited acclamation of
“_Shabásh! Shabásh! Chi Roostumány!_” (”Bravo! Bravo! conduct worthy
of Roostum himself!”) the Persian column gave way before its impetuous
assailants, and retreated amongst the buildings from which it had
debouched. For a short time the progress of the struggle was lost sight
of by the gazers on the ramparts; but the sharp, quick rattle of the
musketry, the loud booming of the guns, and the columns of dust that
rose against the clear sky, told that the infantry and artillery had
covered the retreat of the Persian horsemen. The tide of victory now
turned against the Afghan force. The Heratees, who before had driven
back the Persian cavalry, were now in turn driven back by the enemy.
The squadrons in the rear, instead of closing up, wheeled about, and
the whole column was soon in flight. Recovering themselves, however,
for a short time, the struggle was briefly renewed on the plain; but
the Persian horse being well supported by the infantry planted in the
gardens on both sides, whilst the rear of the Afghan cavalry afforded
no support to the troops in front, the flight of the Heratees was
renewed, and a gun was brought to bear upon their retreating columns.
With varying success the battle was continued throughout the day.
Towards evening the Afghans regained the advantage which they had
lost at an earlier period of the engagement; and as the shades of
evening fell over the scene, the Persians evacuated the posts they had
occupied, and the Afghans were left in possession of the field.

The engagement, though a long, was not a sanguinary one. The loss on
the side of the Afghans was not estimated at more than twenty-five or
thirty killed. The Heratees, of course, claimed the victory; but the
Sheeah inhabitants, who had made their way to the walls of the city,
and were among the spectators of the fight, could not repress their
inclination to sneer at a success of so dubious a character.[164] To
the young English officer who had watched the events of the day, it
was very clear that neither army was of a very formidable character.
The Afghan cavalry made a better show than that of the enemy, but
in the infantry branch the advantage was greatly on the side of
the Persians. The whole affair was nothing better than a series of
skirmishes, now resulting in favour of one party, now of the other.
But the crafty Wuzeer boasted of it as a great triumph; and on the
following morning went round to all those parts of the works from which
the scene below could not be observed, rendering a highly embellished
account of the events of that memorable day. “Though so changed,” says
Pottinger, “that scarcely any one could recognise it, those who had
been present in the fight, finding themselves such heroes, commenced
swelling and vapouring.” The soldiery gathered round in the greatest
excitement, and their opinion of their own superiority to the Persians
was greatly increased. Many of them would say, “If we had but guns!”
Others, evidently disliking the Persian cannon, would improve on this,
and say, “Ah! if the infidels had no guns, we would soon send them

On the 8th of February, Pottinger received permission to visit the
Persian camp. In the public baths of the city, where Yar Mahomed, with
other men of note, in a state of almost entire nudity, was sitting at
breakfast on the floor—his officers and servants standing around him
armed to the teeth—the English officer took leave of the Wuzeer. “Tell
Hadjee Meerza Aghassi” (the Persian minister), said Yar Mahomed, “that
ever since he has honoured me with the title of son, and the Hadjee
has assumed that of my father, I have been most desirous of showing
him filial affection, and have endeavoured to do so. But the Hadjee,
in a most unpaternal manner, has brought the Shah-in-Shah with an army
to besiege Herat; and I am bound, by the salt I am eating, to stand by
my old master. If, however, they will return to Persia, I will follow
and show my obedience as the son of the Hadjee and the servant of the
Shah-in-Shah. Further, tell him, that whatever may be my own wish, the
Afghans would never surrender the city, nor dare I propose it to them.
And you may tell him, too, that we have all heard of the bad treatment
received by the Afghans who have joined the camp of Mahomed Shah, and
are thereby deterred from joining his Persian Majesty.”

Carrying this message with him, Pottinger left the city, accompanied
by a small party of Afghans. They attended him some distance beyond
the walls; and then shouting out their good wishes, left him to pursue
his journey. A single attendant, Syud Ahmed, and a cossid went with
him. Pushing on through narrow, tortuous lanes, bounded by high mud
walls, and every moment expecting to be saluted by a bullet from some
zealous sentinel posted on his line of road, the young English officer
pushed on towards the Persian camp. “I kept a good look-out,” he wrote
in his journal; “and fortunately I did so, as, through one of the
gaps in the wall, I observed the Persians running to occupy the road
we were following. I therefore stopped and made Syud Ahmed wave his
turban, for want of a better flag of truce. The Persians, on this,
came towards us in a most irregular manner—so much so that, if twenty
horsemen had been with me, the whole Persian picket might have been
cut off. Some were loading as they ran; and one valiant hero, who came
up in the rear after he had ascertained who we were, to prevent danger,
I suppose, loaded his musket and fixed his bayonet. They were a most
ragged-looking set, and, from their dress and want of beard, looked
inferior to the Afghans. They were delighted at my coming; and the
English appeared great favourites among them. A fancy got abroad that
I was come with proposals to surrender, which made the great majority
lose all command over themselves, at the prospect of revisiting their
country so soon. They crowded round; some patting my legs, and others
my horse, whilst those who were not successful in getting near enough,
contented themselves with Syud Ahmed and the cossid—the whole, however,
shouting, ‘Afreen! Afreen! Khoosh amedeed! Anglish hameshah dostan-i
Shah-in-Shah.’” (”Bravo! Bravo! Welcome! The English were always
friends of the King-of-Kings.”)[165]

The officer who commanded the picket, a major in the Persian army
who had served under Major Hart, who knew all the English officers
recently connected with the Persian Court or the Persian army, and who
had, moreover, been the custodian of Yar Mahomed when the Wuzeer was a
prisoner at Meshid, conducted Pottinger to the guard-room. Apologising,
on the plea of military necessity, for any interference with his free
progress, he stated that discipline required that the emissary should
be taken to the Major-General commanding the attack. It happened that
General Samson,[166] of the Russian regiment, was the officer in
command. The way to the General’s quarters was “through gardens and
vineyards, in which not even the roots of the trees and shrubs were
left.” The General received the British officer with much courtesy,
conceiving him at first to be an Afghan; and was greatly surprised to
find that he was in the presence of an European soldier. Sending for
tea and kalyans (pipes), he regaled his guest with becoming courtesy,
and then sent him on in safety to the Persian camp.

Intelligence of Pottinger’s arrival had preceded him, and the whole
camp came out to meet the ambassador. None knew who or what he was.
A report had gone forth that he was some great Afghan dignitary from
Herat, who brought the submission of Kamran to the terms of Mahomed
Shah. As he advanced, the torrent of people swelled and swelled,
until in the main street of the camp the crowd was so dense that, if
the escort had not plied their iron ramrods with good effect, it is
doubtful whether the embassy would ever have reached the tent of the
Persian Wuzeer. The quarters of the great man were gained at last,
and the envoy was graciously received. The interview was a brief one.
Readily obtaining permission to visit the tent of Colonel Stoddart, and
to deliver the letters of which he was the bearer from the Government
of India, the question of admission to the presence of Mahomed Shah
was left to be decided by the monarch himself. It is easy to imagine
the delight of the two English officers on finding themselves, in so
strange a place and under such strange circumstances, in the presence
of one another.[167] It was cruel to interrupt such a meeting; but
before Stoddart and Pottinger had exchanged many words, and partaken of
a cup of coffee in the former’s tent, a peremptory message came from
the minister to summon the latter to his presence. The two officers
went together to Hadjee Meerza Aghassi’s tent, where the Wuzeer, after
the usual courtesies, asked what was the message brought by Pottinger
from “Prince” Kamran to the King-of-Kings, and what was that which Yar
Mahomed had sent to himself. “I replied,” says Pottinger, “that the
message from the Afghan _King_ was to the Persian King, and that I
could not deliver it to any one else; that regarding his own message,
probably a smaller number of auditors would be desirable.” The tent
accordingly was cleared; and the Hadjee, a small, thin man apparently
in a very bilious and excitable state, twisted himself into all kinds
of undignified contortions, and prepared himself to receive the message
of the Afghan Wuzeer.

Pottinger delivered his message. A long, animated, but profitless
discussion then arose. The Hadjee refused to listen to the Afghan
proposals, and declared that the English had themselves set down
Herat on their maps as a part of the Persian dominions. In proof of
the assertion, Burnes’s map was produced, and, to his inexpressible
chagrin, the Hadjee was shown to be wrong. Colonel Stoddart was then
appealed to; but his answers were shaped in true diplomatic fashion.
He had no instructions on the subject—he would refer the case to the
envoy at Teheran—he was not aware that the British Government had ever
received official information from the Persian Government, of Herat
being annexed to that state, whilst a branch of the Suddozye family,
which the British Government, in conjunction with Futteh Ali Shah, had
acknowledged as sovereign in Afghanistan, still held possession of the
place. The difficulty was not to be solved; and the English officers
took their departure from the tent of the Wuzeer, to be summoned
shortly to the presence of the Shah.

Under a tent, surrounded on all sides by an outer wall of red canvas,
Mahomed Shah, plainly attired in a shawl vest, with a black Persian cap
on his head, received with becoming courtesy the British officers. At
the opposite end of the tent, in posture of profound reverence, heads
bent, and arms folded, stood the personal attendants of the King. The
message of Shah Kamran was delivered; and the Persian monarch, speaking
at first with much dignity and calmness, stated in a clear and forcible
manner, his complaints against Herat and its ruler. But, warming as he
proceeded, he lashed himself into a passion; denounced Shah Kamran as a
treacherous liar; and declared that he would not rest satisfied until
he had planted a Persian garrison in the citadel of Herat. There was
nothing more to be said upon the subject; and the British officers were
formally dismissed.

A violent storm, which broke over Herat on the following day, prevented
Pottinger’s return to the city. But on the 10th of February, he turned
his back upon the Persian camp. “I mounted,” he writes, “and riding
out by the flank of the Persian line, I returned to the city by the
gate I come out at; and so avoided the points where hostilities were
going on. On my coming back the whole town was in a ferment. What they
had expected I do not pretend to know; but from the instant I entered
the gate, I was surrounded by messengers requesting information. I,
however, referred them all to the Wuzeer, and went there myself. After
a short interview, I was summoned by a messenger from the Shah. His
Majesty having seen my return with his glass, was awaiting my arrival,
anxious to hear Mahomed Shah’s message. When he had heard it, he
replied by a gasconading speech, abusing every one.” And so terminated
these first negotiations for a suspension of hostilities, in an utter
and mortifying failure.

With little variation from the procedure of the two previous months,
the siege operations were continued. The Persians had expected much
from the addition to their siege train of an immense sixty-eight
pounder, which was to batter down the defences of Herat as easily as
though they had been walls of glass.[168] But the gun was so badly
mounted that, after the fifth or sixth round, the light carriage gave
way, and this formidable new enemy, that was to have done such great
things, sank into an useless incumbrance.

The siege continued without intermission; but it was evident that
both parties were anxious to conclude a peace. Not many days after
Pottinger’s return to Herat, a Persian officer[169] came into the
city with instructions from General Samson, privately endorsed by the
Wuzeer, to endeavour to persuade the Afghans to consent to the terms
offered by Mahomed Shah. It was better, he said, for them to settle
their differences among themselves, than to employ the mediation of
infidels.[170] At the same time, he assured the Afghans that Mahomed
Shah had no desire to interfere in the internal administration of
Herat. What he required them to do was, to supply his army with
soldiers, as they had, in times past, supplied the armies of Nadir
Shah. The present movement, he said, was not an expedition against
Herat, but an expedition against Hindostan, and that it behoved,
therefore, all true Mahomedans to join the army of the King-of-Kings.
Let them only unite themselves under the banner of the great defender
of the faith, and he would lead them to the conquest and the plunder of
India and Toorkistan.

The Persian emissary returned, on the following day, bearing
promises of a vague and delusive kind, and suggestions that, if
the Persians were really inclined for peace, the best proof they
could give of the sincerity of their inclinations would be the
retirement of the besieging force. Great was the excitement after his
departure, and various the views taken of his mission. By some, the
young and thoughtless, it was conjectured that his visit betokened
a consciousness of weakness on the part of the enemy; and they
already began to picture to themselves the flight and plunder of the
Persian army. But the elder and more sensible shook their heads,
and began, with manifest anxiety, to canvass the Persian terms. It
mattered little, they said, whether Kamran were designated Prince or
King—whether the supremacy of the Persian Shah were, or were not,
acknowledged in Herat, so long as they did not endeavour to plant a
Persian garrison in the city. But the Wuzeer declared that he had
no confidence in the Persians—that he desired to be guided by the
advice, and to be aided by the mediation of the English; and that
if the Shah would place the conduct of negotiations in the hands of
Colonel Stoddart, he on his part would trust everything to Lieutenant
Pottinger, and agree to whatever was decided upon by the two English
officers. “This,” wrote the latter, “was a most politic measure. It
threw all the odium of continuing the war off the shoulders of the
Afghan war party on those of the Persians, whom every one would blame,
if they declined to trust their guest, Colonel Stoddart; and it would
tend to make the Afghans believe that nothing but their destruction
would satisfy Mahomed Shah.”

On the 20th of February, the Persian emissary again appeared with
a letter from the camp of the besiegers. It stated that the Shah
had no desire to possess himself of Herat; he only claimed that his
sovereignty should be acknowledged. The answer, sent back on the
following day, was full of compliments and promises. Everything asked
for would be done, if the Persian army would only retire. On the
24th, the negotiations were continued—but with no result. The siege,
in the mean while, proceeded. The garrison continued their sallies
and sorties—sent out foraging parties—carried off large quantities of
wood—and generally contrived to return to the city without suffering
any injury from the activity of the investing force.

On the part of the latter, as time advanced, the firing became more
steady; but the severity and uncertainty of the weather, and the
scarcity of food, which was now beginning to be painfully felt, damped
the energy of the besiegers. Continuing, however, to push on their
approaches, they did at least mischief enough to keep the garrison in
a constant state of activity. Some unimportant outworks were carried;
and on the 8th of March, to the great mortification of the Wuzeer, the
enemy gained possession of a fortified post about 300 yards from the
north-east angle of the fort. The Afghans who manned the post were
found wanting in the hour of danger, and were visited with summary
punishment for this cowardly offence. Their faces were daubed with mud,
and they were sent round the works and through the streets of the
city, accompanied by a crier, commissioned to proclaim their cowardice
to the world.

From the moment that this post fell into the hands of the enemy,
“the investment,” says Pottinger, “began to be really felt.” The
operations of the besiegers were pushed forward with some vigour, but
the constancy of the garrison was not to be shaken.[171] Towards the
end of March, the Asoof-ood-dowlah, whose force had encamped on the
plain to the north-west of the city, sent in a message to the Afghan
minister, offering to be the medium of negotiations for the suspension
of hostilities. The Afghans sent word back that they were prepared to
listen to any reasonable overtures; but that if peace were to be made,
it must be made quickly. Seed-time, it was said, was passing; and once
passed, peace was impossible. Their subsistence would then depend upon
their plunder. After a few days, an interview was arranged between Yar
Mahomed and the Asoof-ood-dowlah, and on the 2nd of April it was held
on the edge of the ditch opposite the north-east tower. But the Wuzeer
returned, hopeless of any arrangement.[172] On the following day a
grand meeting of chiefs was held; but there was an end of all thought
of peace.

On the 6th of April, Mr. M’Neill, the British minister at the Persian
Court, arrived in the camp of Mahomed Shah. He had left Teheran on
the 10th of March; and, in spite of efforts made by the Persian
ministers to arrest his progress at Ghorian, had pushed on with all
possible rapidity to the Persian camp. It was urged that his presence
could not fail to encourage the Heratees in their resistance. But the
British minister pleaded his duty to his sovereign, and was not to be
detained. He was coldly received in the Persian camp; but he demanded
and obtained admittance to the Shah, and having exacted the customary
formalities of reception, presented his credentials recently received
from the Queen. The impression made upon the King, and subsequently
upon the minister, was favourable to the British envoy, and soon his
discreet and conciliatory bearing smoothed down the irritation which
had been engendered by his advance. But the Russian minister, Count
Simonich, was also on his way from Teheran; and Mr. M’Neill felt that
the approach of this man might be fatal to his success.[173]

On the 13th of April, Mr. M’Neill had an audience of the Persian
monarch, in the course of which he stated that the proceedings of
Persia in Afghanistan were an obvious violation of the treaty between
Great Britain and the former state; and that the British Government
would be justified, therefore, in declaring it to be at an end, and in
taking active measures to compel the withdrawal of the Persian army
from Herat. The audience lasted two hours. The Shah solemnly protested
that he had never meditated anything injurious to the interests of
Great Britain; and the minister, with still stronger emphasis, repeated
the declaration. At a subsequent interview, the Shah consented to
accept the mediation of the British mission; and on the 16th of April,
the Persian soldiers proclaimed from the trenches that Mahomed Shah
had determined to send Shere Mahomed Khan into Herat, accompanied by
the British minister. But it was not Mr. M’Neill, but an inferior
officer of the embassy, who was about to present himself on the morrow,
in the character of a mediator, beneath the walls of the beleagured

The 18th of April was one of the most memorable days of the siege. The
Persian batteries opened before noon, with unwonted activity, against
the ramparts behind the great mosque. The walls soon began to crumble
beneath the heavy fire of the enemy. First the thin parapets fell;
then the _terre-plein_ came down; “the old walls sliding into masses
at every round.”[174] Before evening, on the eastern and northern
sides, the breaches were practicable, and that on the west was greatly
enlarged. But the Afghans were in no way disheartened. They saw their
walls crumbling beneath the heavy fire of the Persian batteries, and
were neither alarmed nor discouraged by the spectacle. They had never
trusted, they said, to their walls. The real defence, they declared,
was the _fausse-braie_. About noon the Persians, having pushed on a
gallery at this point, the garrison exploded it with a mine, and taking
advantage of the alarm occasioned by the explosion, the Afghans rushed
upon the besiegers, and at first carried everything before them. But
in a short time the trenches of the enemy were lined with musketeers.
The small-arm fire of the Persians overwhelmed that of the garrison,
whilst the breaching batteries resumed their fire against the wall. Yar
Mahomed and Pottinger were both upon the works. The Wuzeer ordered the
men to cease firing, and to sit down, that they might be sheltered from
the storm of musket-balls; but instead of this they drew their swords,
brandished them over their heads, and calling to the Persians to come
on, rushed down to the attack. They paid dearly for this bravado.[175]
Pottinger himself narrowly escaped a bullet, which entered the lungs of
Aga Ruhem, a favourite and devoted eunuch of Yar Mahomed, and sent him
to his grave.

In the evening, the Persians in the trenches announced that an
Englishman in their camp sought admittance to the city. The
announcement was received with peals of derisive laughter and abuse.
The Englishman was Major Todd, an officer of the Bengal artillery,
who had been for many years employed with the Persian army, and whose
great attainments and estimable personal qualities had won for him
the respect of all with whom he had been associated. When a note was
conveyed to the Wuzeer stating that the officer who sought admittance
was the _naib_ of the English ambassador, Yar Mahomed sent for his
young English ally. Pottinger immediately joined him. The Wuzeer and
many other chiefs were sitting on the _fausse-braie_ near the breach.
Making room for him on the charpoy on which he was seated, Yar Mahomed
laughingly remarked, “Don’t be angry with me. I have thrown ashes on
it (the offered mediation), and blackened its face myself.” Pottinger
asked for an explanation, and was told that the Wuzeer had sent back
word to the Persian camp that the Afghans wanted neither the Turks,
the Russians, nor the English to interfere—that they trusted to their
good swords; that at that hour of the evening they would not allow the
Shah-in-Shah himself to enter; and that no one should be allowed to
enter at that point. But if, they added, the English naib would present
himself on the morrow at the south-east angle, he would be granted
admittance to the city. Much of this was mere bravado. Yar Mahomed
acknowledged that he only wished to impress the Persians with the
belief that he was careless about British mediation.[176]

On the following day, Major Todd made his appearance. A vast crowd
went out to gaze at him. He was the first European who had ever
appeared in Herat in full regimentals; and now the tight-fitting coat,
the glittering epaulettes, and the cocked hat, all excited unbounded
admiration. The narrow streets were crowded, and the house-tops were
swarming with curious spectators. The bearer as he was of a message
from Mahomed Shah, announcing that the Persian sovereign was willing to
accept the mediation of the British Government, he was received with
becoming courtesy by Shah Kamran, who, after the interview, took the
cloak from his own shoulders, and sent it by the Wuzeer to Major Todd,
as a mark of the highest distinction he could confer upon him.[177]
The English officer returned to the Persian camp with assurances of
Kamran’s desire to accept the mediation of the British minister. But
there was no suspension of hostilities. That evening the aspect of
affairs was more warlike than ever. “The Persian trenches were filled
with men. The parties of horse and guards of the line of investment
appeared stronger than usual; and everything betokened an assault of
which at dusk the garrison received intelligence. The Afghans made
all arrangements to meet it; the different chiefs were sent off to
different points either to strengthen the posts or form reserves. Yar
Mahomed’s post was at the gate of Mulik, as the breach close to it was
the most dangerous, and the point was defended by the worst troops.”
It was agreed among the different chiefs that not a shot should
be fired until the enemy reached the counterscarp, on pain of the
immediate loss of the delinquent’s ears.

The assembly had scarcely broken up when intelligence arrived that the
British minister, Mr. M’Neill, had arrived at the edge of the ditch
and sought entrance to the city. The report was presently confirmed
by a messenger who brought letters from the envoy to Yar Mahomed and
Lieutenant Pottinger. Pottinger, who was just composing himself to
sleep, started up and proceeded with all haste to the Wuzeer’s post.
Yar Mahomed mustered the chiefs to receive the Envoy with becoming
respect, and conducted him to his quarters. The greater part of
the night was spent in discussion. It was nearly dawn when M’Neill
accompanied Pottinger to his residence, and they lay down to sleep.

Pottinger rose before seven o’clock, and found M’Neill engaged in
writing. The Wuzeer, having been sent for by the former officer,
soon made his appearance grumbling at, but still honestly commending
the vigilance of the British minister,[178] whom he conducted to the
presence of Shah Kamran. The Shah, with the utmost frankness and
unreserve, placed the negotiations in the hands of Mr. M’Neill, and
said that he would gladly consent to any terms agreed upon by that
officer. After partaking of some refreshment, the British minister took
his departure; and the armistice ceased.

This was on the 21st of April. On the 23rd, Major Todd was despatched
from the Persian camp with intelligence no less surprising than
discouraging. Mahomed Shah had resolutely refused to submit to British
arbitration the disputes between the states of Persia and Herat. In an
abrupt and peremptory manner he had “refused the proposed agreement and
spoke of prosecuting the siege.” “Either,” he said, “the whole people
of Herat shall make their submission, and acknowledge themselves my
subjects, or I will take possession of the fortress by force of arms,
and make them obedient and submissive.”[179] The British minister was
deeply mortified at the result. He had been, however unwittingly, a
party to the deception of the Government of Herat. He had told Yar
Mahomed that the Shah would accept his intervention and abide his
decision; and now his overtures had been peremptorily declined.[180]
It was suggested by some whether it would be expedient to send any
reply to the hostile declaration of Mahomed Shah; but as it had been
forwarded by the British minister, etiquette demanded that an answer
should be returned.[181] That answer was grave and dignified. “If the
Persians,” wrote Yar Mahomed, “will not attend to your words, we must
answer with our bodies and leave the result to God. Be not distressed.
Now that we have suffered so many injuries, and have been kept back
from our tillage and cultivation, and have suffered that loss which
should not have befallen us, what have we now to care for?”[182]

And now the siege was prosecuted with increased activity. A new actor
had appeared on the stage. On the morning of the day which witnessed
Mr. M’Neill’s visit to the city of Shah Kamran, Count Simonich appeared
in camp. He was not one to remain even for a day a passive spectator
of the contest. Freely giving advice and rendering assistance, he
soon began, in effect, to conduct the operations of the siege; whilst
the officers of his suite were teaching the Persian soldiers how to
construct more effective batteries. Nor was Russian skill all that was
supplied, in this conjuncture, to raise the drooping spirits of Mahomed
Shah. Russian money was freely distributed among the Persian soldiers;
and a new impulse was given to them at a time when their energies were
well-nigh exhausted, and their activity was beginning to fail.[183]

Mr. M’Neill remained in the Persian camp, and in spite of the failure
of his endeavours to reconcile the contending parties, determined not
to cease from his efforts, though all hope had well nigh departed of
bringing about a satisfactory arrangement. A strongly worded letter
was addressed to the Persian ministers; and at one time it seemed
likely that the Shah-in-Shah would accede to the terms offered by the
Government of Herat; but the arrival of friendly letters from Kohun-dil
Khan, the Candahar chief, offering to aid him in the prosecution of
the siege, inflated him with new courage, and caused him to rise in
his demands. He demanded compensation for the losses he had sustained;
and the negotiations were again broken off at a time when they seemed
likely, at last, to reach a favourable termination.

Nor was it only in the Persian camp that at this time Russian influence
was making its way. The garrison was beginning to think whether it
would not be expedient for Herat to fling itself into the arms of
the great northern power. On the night of the 23rd of May, there was
a consultation among the chiefs, when it was proposed that an envoy
should be sent to the Russian ambassador, acknowledging the dependence
of Herat upon that State. It was asserted, at the suggestion of M.
Euler, Kamran’s physician, that if such a step as this were taken the
Persians dare not continue the siege, and that the English dare not
interfere. The proposal was favourably received. It was with difficulty
that the chiefs could be induced to listen to a suggestion for delay;
but on the following day intelligence of the energetic course pursued
by Mr. M’Neill found its way into the city. It was announced that the
British minister had threatened Persia with hostilities if Herat should
fall into its hands; that the city would be retaken, at any cost, by
the British, army; and that Major Todd had been sent to India to make
arrangements with the Governor-General for the sustenance of the people
of Herat after the siege.

This intelligence, which was not wholly correct, changed at once the
complexion of affairs. It was plain that the British were, after all,
the best friends of the Afghans, and that it would be folly to reject
their good offices for the sake of the problematical friendship and
good faith of the Russian Government. The announcement, indeed, raised
the spirits of the garrison, and inspired them with new courage. Even
those who, the day before, had been loudest in their support of the
Russian alliance, now abandoned it without reserve.

This feeling, however, was but short-lived. It soon appeared that the
intentions of the British Government, as reported to have been set
forth by Mr. M’Neill, had been overstated; and again the chiefs began
to bethink themselves of the advantages of a Russian alliance. Many
meetings were held, at which the terms to be offered and accepted were
warmly debated. At all of these Pottinger was present. Sometimes he was
received and listened to with respect; at others he was treated with
marked discourtesy. Now the value of the British alliance outweighed
that of the Russian in the estimation of the chiefs; now it was held
of far lighter account; and as the scale of their opinions turned,
so varied with intelligible capriciousness their bearing towards
the English officer. A man of temper and firmness, he was little
disconcerted. The whole assembly might be against him; but he was not
to be overawed.

On the evening of the 27th of May, Pottinger sought a private interview
with Yar Mahomed. Telling the Wuzeer that his conduct towards the
Persians had caused him to be suspected by the British ambassador, he
insisted upon the necessity of acting decidedly upon two points—Kamran,
he said, must never submit to be called the servant of Persia; nor must
he on any account admit the interference of the Russians. Yar Mahomed
assented to these conditions—declared that he would never sacrifice
the independence of Herat, and, finally, with Pottinger’s approval,
despatched a letter into the Persian camp, intimating that “he agreed
to the suppression of slavery, and would aid in its extinction; that
he would release from bondage, and send back the people of Jam and
Bakhurs if possible, and he would try to make the Soonee Hazarehs serve
Persia; that he would pay a yearly present after the current year, and
would also give his son and one of the King’s sons as hostages. Persia
should, on her part, restore Ghorian, and when his son joined the
Persian camp, his brother, Shere Mahomed Khan, should be sent back, and
that Mahomed Shah should give them an order for five or six thousand
kurwars of grain on the Governor of Khorassan.” “If these terms be not
accepted,” it was added, “nothing but the possession of Herat will
satisfy you.”

Pottinger had no easy part to play, at the best; but now his
difficulties began to thicken around him. He could only hope to
counteract Russian influence by impressing Yar Mahomed with a
conviction that the British Government would do great things for Herat.
But on the 29th of May he received instructions from Mr. M’Neill on no
account to commit the government by any offers of aid to Herat as he
had received no authority to make them. Startled and embarrassed by
these injunctions, for, seeing that without such promises Yar Mahomed
would have accepted the mediation of Russia, he had already committed
the government, Pottinger went at once to the Tukht-i-pool, where the
chiefs were assembled, and honestly stated that in his anxiety to bring
affairs to a satisfactory adjustment, he had exceeded his powers.
Exasperated by this announcement, the chiefs broke out into violent
reproaches against Pottinger, M’Neill, and the whole British nation,
and then began to discuss the advantages of the Russian alliance.
Firm in the midst of all this storm of invective, the young British
officer declared that he had only spoken the truth—that such were the
instructions of the British minister—that he had no power to disobey
them; but that a representation to Mr. M’Neill of the disappointment
they had occasioned might induce him to depart from this cautious
policy. To this the chiefs were induced to listen; and it was finally
resolved to await the results of another reference to the British

But the influence of Mr. M’Neill at the Persian Court was now rapidly
declining; and his departure was at hand. His position, ever since
his arrival in the camp of Mahomed Shah, had been one of no little
difficulty and embarrassment. Unhappily, at that time, one of those
petty perplexities, which, arising between state and state, often
evolve more serious misunderstandings than affairs of far higher
moment, was constantly obtruding, in the way of a satisfactory
adjustment of differences, an obstruction of a very annoying and
irritating kind. A courier of the British minister, Ali Mahomed Beg
by name, had been making his way from Herat to Teheran, bearing some
letters from Yar Mahomed, Pottinger, and others, to Mr. M’Neill, and
escorting some horses, sent by Futteh Mahomed Khan, the Herat agent, as
presents to the same officer. Without any interruption he had passed
the Persian camp and was within three stages of Meshed, when Berowski
recognised the man and officiously reported him at head-quarters.
Immediately, horsemen were despatched to carry him to the Persian
camp. What followed could not be narrated better or more briefly than
in the language of Mr. M’Neill:-“He was forced,” wrote the minister
to Lord Palmerston, “to return with them; a part of his clothes were
taken from him; the horses which he was bringing for me from Herat
were seized; he was dragged to camp, and there placed in custody. He
succeeded, however, in making his way to the tent of Colonel Stoddart,
and was by that officer conducted to the prime minister, who, after he
had been informed by Colonel Stoddart that the man was in the service
of this Mission, again placed him in custody, while Hadjee Khan, an
officer of the rank of Brigadier in the service of the Shah, not only
used offensive language in addressing Colonel Stoddart in presence
of the prime minister, but after the messenger had been released by
order of his Excellency, seized him again in the midst of the camp;
stripped him to search for any letters he might have concealed about
his person;[185] took from him Lieutenant Pottinger’s letter, which
was sent to the prime minister; used to the messenger the most violent
threats and the most disgusting and opprobrious language, and took from
him a portion of his accoutrements.”[186]

This was, doubtless, a grievous insult; and Mr. M’Neill believed that
it was intended to be one. It was designed, he thought, “to exhibit
to the Afghans and to the Persian army an apparent contempt for the
English, with a view to diminish the moral effect which might have been
produced on either party, by the general belief that we were opposed
to the conquest of Herat by the Persians.” It was an insult for which
reparation, if not offered by one state, might be rightfully exacted
by the other; and Mr. M’Neill was not a man to sit down tamely under
such an outrage as this. But the incident had taken place in October,
and now, in May, though the subject had been repeatedly forced upon
the attention of Mahomed Shah and his ministers, no fitting reparation
had been offered to the British Government. The Persian Government
had, indeed, asserted their right to seize, punish, or put to death,
without reference to the British minister, the Persian servants in his
employment. The breach was thus palpably widening. The Governor of
Bushire, too, had used offensive language towards the British Resident
in the Persian Gulf; and the redress, which had been sought by Mr.
M’Neill, had not been granted by the Persian Government. Then there was
another grievance of which the British minister complained. The Persian
Government had continued to evade the conclusion of the commercial
treaty, which was guaranteed to us in the general treaty of friendship
between the two states.

All these cumulative offences, added to the great subject of
complaint—the conduct of Persia towards Herat—made up such an amount
of provocation, that Mr. M’Neill felt his position at the Persian
Court was little likely to be one of much longer continuance. The Shah
had declared that he would raise the siege, if the British minister
would afford him a pretext for the retrograde movement, satisfactory
in the eyes of his countrymen, by threatening, on the part of his
government, to attack Persia if she continued her offensive operations
against Herat; but from this promise he had receded, or thrown such
difficulties in the way of its fulfilment, as practically to nullify
the pledge. Mr. M’Neill massed all his demands upon the Persian
Government. The Shah required that he should keep the question of Herat
distinct from the others, and, on the British minister refusing to do
so on his own responsibility, declared that he would do it himself, by
acceding to all the demands except that which related to Herat. “The
Shah then,” says Mr. M’Neill, in his report of these proceedings to the
Foreign Secretary, “immediately dismissed me, with an assurance that
he should adopt that course; but before I had left the area on which
the royal tent was pitched, he called after me, that on his agreeing to
the other demands, he should expect me to avoid all further discussion
of the affairs of Herat, and to order Mr. Pottinger to quit that city.
In answer, I represented that I could not tie up the hands of my own
government in respect to the question of Herat, and that Mr. Pottinger
was not under my orders.”[187]

There was obviously now little hope of bringing these long-protracted
negotiations to a favourable conclusion. The British Mission was fast
falling into contempt. The Russians were exalted at the Persian Court.
The British were slighted and humiliated. There was not a tent-pitcher
in camp who did not know that the British Mission was treated with
intentional disrespect. It was time, therefore, to bring matters to
a crisis. So, on the 3rd of June, Mr. M’Neill addressed a letter to
the Foreign minister in the Persian camp, announcing his intention to
depart for the frontier on the following day. “I feel myself called
upon,” he concluded, “to inform you that, until the reparation and
satisfaction I have demanded, for the indignities already offered,
shall have been fully given, the Queen of England cannot receive at her
Court any minister who may be sent thither by the Shah of Persia.” The
decisive language of the British minister called forth an evasive reply
from the Persian Government. The Shah professed not to understand “his
Excellency’s object in all these writings,” and declared that there
had been no indignity or disrespect ever offered to him. But M’Neill
was not to be thus appeased. He sent back, in a few plain words,
a statement of his demands. He demanded that Hadjee Khan, who had
outraged the servant of the British minister, should be removed from
office; that Hadjee Meerza Aghassy, who had connived at the outrage,
should go to the British minister’s tent, and apologise for the insult;
that a firman should be issued, commanding the servants of the Persian
Government not to interfere with the dependants of the British Mission;
that the Governor of Bushire should be removed from office for his
insults to the British Resident; and that the commercial treaty should
be forthwith concluded and ratified. All these demands but the last
were to be carried into effect within three days of the date of the

Again the Persian minister declared, on the part of the Shah, that no
indignities had ever been offered to the British Mission; and again
Mr. M’Neill requested his dismissal. The Shah was not ready to grant
it. “No,” he said; “never shall we consent to the departure of his
Excellency. Let him by all means lay aside his intention, and let him
not allow this idea to enter his mind.” But he was not to be persuaded
to lay aside his intentions. The Persian ministers continued to
declare that no insults had been offered the British Mission. So,
reluctant as he was abruptly to terminate our diplomatic intercourse
with Persia, Mr. M’Neill, on the 7th of June, took his departure from
the Persian camp. From the ramparts of Herat they looked out upon
the striking of the English ambassador’s tents, and a large party of
horsemen were seen making their way across the plain. The rupture was
now complete. Persia was no longer an ally of Great Britain.

In the mean while, as the year advanced, the miseries and privations
of the siege were more and more severely felt by the inhabitants. The
wonder is, that at a still earlier period they had not become wholly
unendurable. Houses were pulled down to supply fuel.[188] Horses were
killed for food. The vast number of people assembled within the walls
had not only created an extreme scarcity of provisions, but was in a
fair way to generate a pestilence. The city was altogether without
sewers or other means of drainage. The accumulations of filth had
therefore become inconceivable, and the stench hardly to be borne.
The decaying bodies of the dead had polluted the air to a still more
horrible extent; so that there was every probability of some fearful
epidemic breaking out among the people.[189] Indeed, at the beginning
of May, famine and sickness pressed so severely upon the inhabitants,
that it was debated whether it would not be expedient to suffer a
number of them to depart out of the city. Fever and scurvy were rife
among them; and it appeared that the enemies outside the gates were
less terrible than the viewless ones within. In this extremity they
mustered in large numbers, and petitioned the Shah to suffer them to
depart. The Shah referred the matter to the Wuzeer; and the Wuzeer
consulted the chiefs. The discussion was long and animated. The
decision was against the departure of the people. The petitioners were
mainly women and children; and to suffer them to depart would be to
throw them into the hands of the licentious Persian soldiery, and to
expose them to a fate more terrible than famine and death.[190]

The Persians now, under Russian direction, continued to prosecute the
siege with increased vigour and judgment. The whole of the investing
force, some portion of which had before been scattered over the great
plain, was now drawn in more closely round the city.

On the 13th of June an assault was attempted at the south-west angle,
but gallantly repulsed by the garrison. Informed by some deserters
from Herat that the defence of the _fausse-braie_ was comparatively
neglected during the mid-day heats, the Persians surprised the guards
at the outer works, and pushed on towards the _fausse-braie_. But a
little party of Afghans—not more than three or four in number—stood at
bay in the passages of the traverses, and heroically defended the post
until assistance was at hand. The relieving party came down gallantly
to the defence. Headed by Sultan Mahomed Omar, they flung themselves
over the parapet of the upper _fausse-braie_, and pouring themselves
down the exterior slope overwhelmed the assailants and dislodged them
with great slaughter.[191]

Another attempt, made at the same time, to effect a lodgment at the
south-east angle, was equally unsuccessful. Twice the storming column
advanced, and twice it was repulsed. The fortune of the day was against
the Persians.

In nowise disheartened by these failures, the besiegers now redoubled
their exertions, and pursued their mining operations with a vigour and
an activity which the garrison could not match. The Afghans were now
becoming dispirited and inert; even the chiefs began to despond, and
the wonted constancy of the Wuzeer forsook him. Everywhere Pottinger
saw with uneasiness signs of failing courage and impaired activity.
He had been deputed by Mr. M’Neill to act as British Agent at Herat,
and now, in his official capacity, he redoubled his exertions. There
was need, indeed, of his best efforts. The siege was being pushed
forward, not only with an energy, but with an intelligence that had
not marked the earlier stages of the attack. The breaches had become
more practicable. The Persians were filling up the ditch at some parts,
and constructing bridges to span it at others. Another assault of a
more formidable character than any before attempted was said to be in
contemplation; and as these rumours were circulated through the works,
and the obscure terms of the future were magnified by the palpable
dangers of the present, the defenders scarcely strove to conceal the
fear which had crept into their hearts.

The threatened assault was at hand. The 24th of June was a memorable
day in the annals of the siege. It opened with a heavy fire from the
Persian batteries on all the four sides of the city. Then there was a
perfect lull, more ominous than the uproar that preceded it. The signs
of the coming assault were plain and intelligible; but strangely were
they disregarded. The Wuzeer was at his quarters. The garrison were off
their guard. Many, indeed, had composed themselves to sleep. The enemy
had been seen assembling in great force; but no heed was taken of the
movement. Suddenly the stillness was broken by the booming of a gun and
the flight of a rocket; another gun—then another—and presently a heavy
fire of ordnance from all sides, supported by a discharge of musketry,
which, feeble at first, grew presently more vigorous and sustained.
There was no longer any doubt of the intentions of the besieging force.
The enemy had braced themselves up for a general assault upon the city,
and were moving to the attack of five different points of the works.

At four of these points they were repulsed.[192] At the fifth,
gallantly headed by their officers, the storming column threw itself
into the trench of the lower _fausse-braie_. The struggle was brief,
but bloody. The defenders fell at their post to a man, and the work
was carried by the besiegers. Encouraged by this first success, the
storming party pushed up the slope. A galling fire from the garrison
met them as they advanced. The officers and leading men of the column
were mown down; there was a second brief and bloody struggle, and the
upper _fausse-braie_ was carried. A few of the most daring of the
assailants pushing on in advance of their comrades gained the head of
the breach. But now Deen Mahomed came down with the Afghan reserve.
Thus recruited, the defenders gathered new heart. The Persians on the
breach were driven back. Again and again, with desperate courage, they
struggled to effect a lodgment, only to be repulsed and thrown back in
confusion upon their comrades who were pressing on behind. The conflict
was fierce; the issue was doubtful. Now the breach was well-nigh
carried; and now the stormers, recoiling from the shock of the defence,
fell back upon the exterior slope of the _fausse-braie_. It was an hour
of intense excitement. The fate of Herat was trembling in the balance.

Startled by the first noise of the assault, Yar Mahomed had risen
up, left his quarters, and ridden down to the works. Pottinger went
forth at the same time, and on the same errand. There was a profound
conviction in his mind that there was desperate work in hand, of
which he might not live to see the end. Giving instructions to his
dependents, to be carried out in the event of his falling in the
defence, he hastened to join the Wuzeer. It was a crisis that demanded
all the energy and courage of those two resolute spirits. The English
officer was equal to the occasion. The Afghan Sirdar was not.

As they neared the point of attack, the garrison were seen retreating
by twos and threes; others were quitting the works on the pretext of
carrying off the wounded. These signs of the waning courage of the
defenders wrought differently on the minds of the two men who had
hitherto seemed to be cast in the same heroic mould—soldiers of strong
nerves and unfailing resolution. They saw that the garrison were
giving way. Pottinger was eager to push on to the breach. Yar Mahomed
sat himself down. The Wuzeer had lost heart. His wonted high courage
and collectedness had deserted him in this emergency. Astonished and
indignant at the pusillanimity of his companion, the English officer
called upon the Wuzeer again and again to rouse himself—either to move
down to the breach or to send his son, to inspire new heart into the
yielding garrison. The energetic appeal of the young Englishman was
not lost upon the Afghan chief. He rose up; advanced further into the
works; and neared the breach where the contest was raging. Encouraged
by the diminished opposition, the enemy were pushing on with renewed
vigour. Yar Mahomed called upon his men, in God’s name, to fight; but
they wavered and stood still. Then his heart failed him again. He
turned back; said he would go for aid; sought the place where he had
before sat down, and looked around, irresolute and unnerved. Pointing
to the men, who, alarmed by the backwardness of their chief, were
now retreating in every direction, Pottinger in vehement language
insisted upon the absolute ruin of all their hopes that must result
from want of energy in such a conjuncture. Yar Mahomed roused himself;
again advanced, but again wavered; and a third time the young English
officer was compelled, by words and deeds alike, to shame the unmanned
Wuzeer. The language of entreaty was powerless; he used the language
of reproach. He reviled; he threatened; he seized him by the arm
and dragged him forward to the breach. Such appeals were not to be
resisted. The noble example of the young Englishman could not infuse
any real courage into the Afghan chief; but it at least roused him into
action. The men were retreating from the breach. The game was almost
up. The irresolution of the Wuzeer had well-nigh played away the last
stake. Had Yar Mahomed not been roused out of the paralysis that had
descended upon him, Herat would have been carried by assault. But the
indomitable courage of Eldred Pottinger saved the beleaguered city.
He compelled the Wuzeer to appear before his men as one not utterly
prostrate and helpless. The chief called upon the soldiery to fight;
but they continued to fall back in dismay. Then seizing a large staff,
Yar Mahomed rushed like a madman upon the hindmost of the party, and
drove them forward under a shower of heavy blows. The nature of the
works was such as to forbid their falling back in a body. Cooped up
in a narrow passage, and seeing no other outlet of escape, many of
them leapt wildly over the parapet, and rushed down the exterior slope
full upon the Persian stormers. The effect of this sudden movement was
magical. The Persians, seized with a panic, abandoned their position
and fled. The crisis was over; Herat was saved.[193]

But no exultation followed a victory so achieved. The bearing of the
Afghans was that of men who had sustained a crushing defeat. The
garrison were crest-fallen and dispirited. A general gloom seemed to
hang over the city. Yar Mahomed, long after the danger was past, moved
about as one confused and bewildered. There were few of the chiefs
whose minds were not so wholly unhinged by the terrors of that great
crisis as to be unable, for days afterwards, to perform calmly their
wonted duties. A complete paralysis, indeed, descended upon men of all
ranks. The loss on both sides had been severe; but if half the garrison
had fallen in the defence of the breach, Herat could not have been
more stunned and prostrated by the blow. The Persian camp was equally
dispirited; and a week of inaction supervened.[194] Even the work of
repairing the damaged fortifications was slowly recommenced by the
garrison; and when at last the men returned to their accustomed duties
it was plain that they had no heart. Nor was there anything strange
and unaccountable in this. The Afghans had repulsed the Persians on the
24th of June; but they felt that nothing but a miracle could enable
them to withstand another such assault. The resources of the government
had failed them. Food was scarce; money was scarce. The citizens could
not be fed. The soldiers could not be paid.

In all of this there was much to disquiet with painful doubts and
misgivings the mind of Eldred Pottinger. To protract the siege was
to protract the sufferings of the Heratees. The misery of the people
was past counting. The poor were perishing for want of food; the rich
were dying under the hands of the torturers. The soldiers clamoured
for their pay; and wherever money was known or suspected to be, there
went the ruthless myrmidons of Yar Mahomed to demand it for their
master, or to wring from the agonised victim the treasure which he
sought to conceal. To tear from a wretched man, at the last gasp of
life, all that he possessed; then, demanding more, to torture him anew,
until, sinking under the accumulated agony, the miserable victim was
released by death; and then to fling his emaciated corpse, wrapped in
an old shawl or blanket down at the threshold of his desolated home,
was no solitary achievement of the Wuzeer. Even ladies of rank were
given over to the torturers. The very inmates of the Shah’s Zenana
were threatened. A reign of terror was established such as it sickened
Pottinger to contemplate. He felt that he was the cause of this. Many
reproached him openly. The despairing looks and gaunt figures of
others reproached him more painfully still. All that he could do to
redress the wrongs of the injured and alleviate the sufferings of the
distressed he did in this fearful conjuncture. Men of all kinds came
to him imploring his aid and importuning him for protection. Some he
was able to save, stepping between the wrong-doer and the wronged;
but from others he was powerless to avert by his intervention the ruin
that was impending over them. Every day brought palpably before him
new illustrations of the unsparing cruelty of the Wuzeer. But dire
political necessity compelled him to protract a conjuncture laden with
these terrible results. It is impossible to read the entrances in his
journal at this time without feeling how great was the conflict within
him between the soldier and the man.

The events of the 24th of June, though they had raised Pottinger’s
character, as a warrior, in the Afghan city, in the Persian camp,
and in the surrounding country, had, greatly indeed, diminished his
popularity in Herat and increased the difficulties of his position.
In the negotiations which followed, Mahomed Shah insisted upon
Pottinger’s dismissal. The young English officer had excited the
measureless indignation of the Persian King; and the Afghan Wuzeer was
not disinclined to reproach him with presenting a new obstacle to the
adjustment of the differences between the two states. The Afghan envoys
said that they had always thought Pottinger was one man, but that the
importance the Persians attached to his departure showed that he was
equal to an army.[195] Pottinger was always ready with a declaration
that no thoughts of personal safety or convenience should ever suffer
him to stand in the way of an arrangement conducive to the safety
of Herat and the welfare of his country, and that if these objects
were to be gained by his departure, he was willing to depart. But Yar
Mahomed, whilst unwilling to retain him, was unwilling to persuade him
to go. The dismissal of the man who had saved Herat from the grasp of
the Persians, would have been an act that might have fixed a stain
upon the character of the Wuzeer, prejudicial to the success of his
after-career. Moreover, it was possible that Pottinger’s assistance
might be wanted at some future time—that the Persians, having obtained
his dismissal, might hesitate to perform their promises, and rise in
their demands on the strength of the advantage which they had thus

The month of July was not distinguished by any great activity on the
part of the besiegers. The siege, indeed, now began to assume the
character of a blockade. The question of surrender had become a mere
question of time. It seemed impossible much longer to protract the
defence. Yar Mahomed, with all the resources of unscrupulous cruelty
at his command, could not extort sufficient money from his victims to
enable him to continue his defensive operations with any prospect of
success. But it appeared to him, as it did to Pottinger, expedient
to postpone the inevitable day of capitulation, in the hope that
something might yet be written down in their favour in the “chapter of
accidents,” out of which so often had come unexpected aid. Yar Mahomed
looked for the coming of an Oosbeg army. He had long anxiously expected
the arrival of a relieving force from Toorkistan; and scarcely a day
had passed without some tidings, either to elevate or depress him,
of the advent or delay of the looked-for succours. Pottinger, though
unwilling to encourage in others expectations which might not be
realised, was inwardly convinced that something of a decisive character
respecting the intentions of his own government must soon be heard, and
that the knowledge of those intentions would have an effect upon the
Afghan garrison and the Persian camp very advantageous to the former.
With the object, therefore, of gaining time, the Wuzeer renewed his
exertions to raise money for the payment of the troops. Assemblies of
the chiefs were held, at which every practicable method of recruiting
their exhausted finances was discussed. The Sirdars addressed
themselves to the discussion as men wholly in earnest, determined to
do their best.[196] The resolutions of the chiefs in this conjuncture
surprised and delighted Pottinger, who was little prepared for the
unanimity with which they determined on protracting the defence. “With
open breaches, trembling soldiery, and a disaffected populace, they
determined to stand to the last. How I wished,” exclaimed Pottinger,
“to have the power of producing the money!”

The plan which was at last resolved upon—one which threw into the hands
of a single chief the power of seizing the property of whomsoever he
thought fit to mulct for the service of the state—under a written
pledge from the other chiefs not to interfere, as had been their wont,
for the protection of their own friends, threw the city into such
confusion, and produced so many appeals to the assembly of chiefs, that
Pottinger, anxious to establish a less arbitrary system of levying
contributions, suggested that all who voluntarily brought their money
would be reimbursed, at his recommendation, by the British Government.
But money came in slowly. The difficulties of the garrison seemed to
thicken around them. Negotiations were, therefore, again resumed, with
a determination at last to bring them to an issue; and messengers were
constantly passing and repassing between the city and the Persian camp.

But in the mean while, far beyond the walls of Herat, events were
taking shape mightily affecting the issue of the contest. Lord
Auckland, who had watched with much anxiety the progress of affairs in
the West, had, in the course of the spring, determined on despatching
an expedition to the Persian Gulf, to hold itself in readiness for
any service which Mr. M’Neill might deem it expedient to employ it
upon, “with a view to the maintenance of our interests in Persia.”
Instructions to this effect were forwarded to Bombay. In conjunction
with Sir Charles Malcolm, the chief of the Indian navy, the Bombay
Government despatched the _Semiramis_ and _Hugh Lindsay_ steamers,
and some vessels of war, with detachments of the 15th, 23rd, and
24th Regiments, and the Marine battalion, to the Persian Gulf; and
instructed the resident, Captain Hennell, to land the troops on the
island of Karrack, and concentrate the squadron before it. On the 4th
of June, the _Semiramis_ steamed out of the Bombay harbour, and on the
19th anchored off Karrack. The troops were immediately landed. The
governor of the island, greatly alarmed by the coming of the steamer
and the fighting men, but somewhat reassured by the appearance of
Captain Hennell, said that the island and everything it contained,
himself and its inhabitants, were at the disposal of the British
Resident; and at once began to assist in the disembarkation of the

The demonstration was an insignificant one in itself; but by the time
that intelligence of the movement had reached the Persian camp, the
expedition, gathering new dimensions at every stage, had swollen into
bulk and significance. The most exaggerated reports of the doings and
intentions of the British soon forced themselves into currency. The
Persian camp was all alive with stories of the powerful British fleet
that had sailed into the gulf, destroyed Bunder-Abassy and all the
other ports on the coast, taken Bushire, and landed there a mighty
army, which was advancing upon Shiraz, and had already taken divers
towns in the province of Fars. Nothing could have been more opportune
than the arrival of these reports. Mr. M’Neill was making his way
towards the frontier, when intelligence of the Karrack expedition met
him on the road. About the same time he received letters of instruction
from the Foreign-office, issued in anticipation of the refusal of
Mahomed Shah to desist from his operations against Herat; and thinking
the hour was favourable, he resolved to make another effort to secure
the withdrawal of the Persian army, and to regain for the British
Mission the ascendancy it had lost at the Persian Court.

Fortified by these instructions from the Foreign-office, Mr. M’Neill
despatched Colonel Stoddart to the Persian camp, with a message to
the Shah. The language of this message was very intelligible and very
decided. The Shah was informed that the occupation of Herat or any part
of Afghanistan by the Persians would be considered in the light of a
hostile demonstration against England; and that he could not persist in
his present course without immediate danger and injury to Persia. It
was stated, that already had a naval armament arrived in the Persian
Gulf, and troops been landed on the island of Karrack, and that if the
Shah desired the British Government to suspend the measures in progress
for the vindication of its honour, he must at once retire from Herat,
and make reparation for the injuries which had been inflicted upon the
British Mission.

On the 11th of August, Colonel Stoddart arrived in the Persian camp.
Repairing at once to the quarters of the minister, he found the son
of the Candahar chief and a party of Afghans waiting in the tent. The
Hadjee, on his return, received him with courtesy and friendliness,
and fixed the following day for an interview with the Shah. Stoddart
went at the appointed hour. The King was sitting in a raised room, up
six or seven steps. Beckoning to the English officer to come up more
closely to him, he welcomed him with much cordiality, and listened to
the message from the British Government. Taking advantage of a pause
in the recital, the King said: “The fact is, if I don’t leave Herat,
there will be war, is not that it?” “It is war,” returned Stoddart;
“all depends upon your Majesty’s answer—God preserve your Majesty!”
The message, written in the original English, was then given to
the King. “It is all I wished for,” he said. “I asked the minister
plenipotentiary for it; but he would not give it to me. He said he was
not authorized.” “He was not authorized then,” returned Stoddart; “but
now he has been ordered to do it. No one could give such a message
without especial authority from his Sovereign.” The Shah complained
that the paper was in English, which he could not understand; but said
that his Meerzas should translate it for him, and then that he would
give a positive answer to its demands. Two days afterwards Stoddart
was again summoned to the royal presence. “We consent to the whole of
the demands of the British Government,” said the Shah. “We will not
go to war. Were it not for the sake of their friendship, we should
not return from before Herat. Had we known that our coming here might
risk the loss of their friendship, we certainly would not have come at
all.”[197] The English officer thanked God that his Majesty had taken
so wise a view of the real interests of Persia; but hinted to the
Foreign Minister as he went out, that although the Shah’s answer was
very satisfactory, it would be more satisfactory still to see it at
once reduced to practice.

Whilst, in the Persian camp, Mahomed Shah was promising the English
diplomatists to withdraw his army from Herat, an officer of the Russian
Mission—M. Goutte, who had approved himself an adept in intrigue—was
busying himself in Herat to bring about an arrangement that would
give a colour of victory to the achievements of the investing force.
If Kamran could have been persuaded to come out and wait upon Mahomed
Shah in token of submission, the army might have been withdrawn with
some show of credit, and the Russian Mission might have claimed a
diplomatic victory. The Afghans were not, in their present reduced
state, disinclined to acknowledge the supremacy of Mahomed Shah, and to
consent that Kamran should visit the Persian monarch at Ghorian: but
the Russian envoy demanded that he should come out of Herat, and make
his obeisance to the King of Kings, as a preliminary to the withdrawal
of the Persian army.[198]

This was on the 17th of August. On the morning of the 18th, Yar
Mahomed sent a messenger to Pottinger, requesting his attendance at
the Wuzeer’s quarters. The English officer was received with coldness
almost amounting to discourtesy. Scarcely a word was spoken to him
whilst the levee lasted; but when the assembly broke up, Pottinger, in
a tone of voice that showed he was not to be trifled with, asked him
why he had sent for him if he had nothing to communicate and nothing to
ask. The Wuzeer took him by the hand and was about to leave the room;
when Pottinger, arresting his progress, demanded a private interview.
The room was cleared. The young English officer and the Afghan Sirdar
sate down together, and were soon in friendly discourse. Yar Mahomed,
the most plausible and persuasive of men,[199] soon stilled the tempest
that was rising in Pottinger’s breast. All patience and gentleness now,
he was ready to submit to any rebuke, and to utter any apology. They
were soon in earnest conversation, as friends and brothers, regarding
the general condition of the garrison and its available resources.
The Wuzeer declared that “he regretted much the step he was obliged
to take, but that indeed no alternative was left him—that every
resource which even tyranny commanded was exhausted—that he dared not
lay hands on the property of the combatants, though many of them had
large funds.” The chiefs, he declared, were misers. The eunuch, Hadjee
Ferooz, he said, could easily contribute two lakhs of rupees towards
the expenses of the war, and the Shah might contribute ten; but neither
would advance a farthing. “They are all,” he said, “equally niggardly.
They have money, but they will not advance it. When their wives are
being ravished before their faces, they will repent of their avarice;
but now it is impossible to convince them of the folly and the danger
of the course they are pursuing. With such people to deal with, and the
soldiery crying out for pay and subsistence, how can I hold out longer
by force?” He consented, however, to protract the negotiations to the
utmost—to amuse the Persians—and to gain time. And in the mean while,
he extracted from the weak and unresisting all that he could wring from
them by torture. On the night after this conference with Pottinger, the
Moonshee-Bashee died under the hands of the torturers.

The struggle, however, was now nearly at an end. The movements in the
Persian camp appear, at this time, to have been but imperfectly known
within the walls of Herat. Whilst Mahomed Shah was making preparations
for the withdrawal of his army, Yar Mahomed and the Afghan Sirdars
were busy with their financial operations for the continuance of the
defence. A Finance Committee was appointed. Kamran was told that he
must either provide money for the payment of the soldiery, or authorise
the Committee to set about their work after their own manner. Eager
to save his money, he sacrificed his people, and armed the Committee
with full powers to search the houses of the inhabitants, to order
the expulsion of all who had less than three months’ provisions, and
to take from those who had more all that they could find in excess.
The Topshee-Bashee, or chief artilleryman, to whom the executive
duties of the Committee were entrusted, contrived to extort from the
inhabitants several days’ food, and a large supply of jewels, with
which he enriched the Wuzeer and himself. It was always believed that
the former had amassed large sums of money during the siege; that
he had turned the scarcity to good account, by retaining in his own
coffers no small portion of the coin which he had wrung by torture from
the wretched inhabitants. Now when the soldiery, lacking the means
of subsistence, entered upon a course of plundering that threw the
whole city into confusion, the Wuzeer, whilst issuing a proclamation
forbidding such irregularities, and declaring severe penalties for the
offence, allowed a continuation of the license to his own people, that
he might avoid the necessity of paying them at his own cost. It is
not strange, therefore, that when reports were circulated throughout
the city that the Persian army was about to move, the _Soonee_
Parsewans, scarcely less than the _Sheeahs_, should have received the
intelligence, some with sorrow, and some with a forced incredulity,
“preferring the miseries of the siege with the ultimate prospect of
the city being taken and sacked, to the raising of the siege and the
prospect of Kamran’s and Yar Mahomed’s paternal government.” “All I
wonder,” said Pottinger, recording this fact, “is, that not a man is
to be found among them bold enough to terminate their miseries by the
death of their oppressors.”[200]

But it was now becoming every day more obvious that Mahomed Shah
was about to break up his camp. Some countrymen came into Herat and
reported that the Persians were collecting their guns and mortars,
and parking them as though in preparation for an immediate march.
Parties of horsemen also had been seen moving out of camp. Others
brought in word that the enemy had destroyed their 68-pounders, were
assembling their carriage-cattle, and were about to raise the siege.
The English, it was said, had taken Shiraz; but the Persians in the
trenches, declaring that they were ready for another assault, cried
out, that though the English army had advanced upon that city, the
Prince-Governor had defeated it. All kinds of preposterous rumours
were rife. Some asserted that the Russians had attacked and captured
Tabreez; others that the Russians and English had formed an alliance
for the overthrow of Mahomedanism, and the partition of the countries
of the East between the two great European powers. But amidst all these
rumours indicating the intended retrogression of the Persian army,
the garrison was kept continually on the alert by alarming reports
of another attack; and it was hard to say whether all these seeming
preparations in Mahomed Shah’s camp were nor designed to lull the
Heratees into a sleep of delusive security, and render them an easier

But the month of September brought with it intelligence of a more
decided character. There was no longer any doubt in Herat, that Mahomed
Shah was breaking up his camp. Letters came in from the Persian
authorities intimating the probability of the “King-of-Kings” forgiving
the rebellion of Prince Kamran on certain conditions which would give
a better grace to the withdrawal of the Persian monarch. To some of
these, mainly at Pottinger’s suggestion, the Heratees demurred; but on
the 4th of September, the Persian prisoners were sent into camp; and
the Shah-in-Shah promised Colonel Stoddart that the march of the army
should commence in a few days. There was, indeed, a pressing necessity
for the immediate departure of the force. “The forage in camp,” wrote
Colonel Stoddart to Mr. M’Neill, “will only last for five or six days
more, and as messengers have been sent to turn back all cafilas, no
more flour or grain will arrive. The advanced guard under Humza Meerza
leaves camp on Friday evening.”

Everything was now ready for the retreat. The guns had been withdrawn
from their advanced positions, and were now limbered up for the march.
The baggage-cattle had been collected. The tents were being struck. The
garrison of Herat looked out upon the stir in the Persian camp, and
could no longer be doubtful of its import. The siege was now raised.
The danger was at an end. Before the 9th of September, the Persian army
had commenced its retrograde march to Teheran; and on the morning of
that day the Shah mounted his horse “Ameerj,” and set his face towards
his capital.

To Mahomed Shah this failure was mortifying indeed; but the interests
at stake were too large for him to sacrifice them at the shrine of his
ambition. He had spent ten months before the walls of Herat, exhausting
his soldiery in a vain endeavour to carry by assault a place of no real
or reputed strength. He had succeeded only in reducing the garrison to
very painful straits; and had retired at last, not as one well-disposed
to peaceful negotiation and reasonable concession, submitting to the
friendly intervention of a neutral power, and willing to wave the
chances of success; but as one who saw before him _no_ chance of
success, and was moved by no feeling of moderation and forbearance,
but by a cogent fear of the consequences resulting from the longer
prosecution of the siege. On the whole, it had been little better than
a lamentable demonstration of weakness. The Persian army under the
eye of the sovereign himself, aided by the skill of Russian engineers
and the wisdom of Russian statesmen, had failed, in ten months, to
reduce a place which I believe, in no spirit of national self-love, a
well-equipped English force, under a competent commander, would have
reduced in as many days.

The real cause of the failure is not generally understood. The fact
is, that there was no unity in the conduct of the siege. Instead
of devising and adhering to some combined plan of operations, the
Sirdars, or Generals, under Mahomed Shah, to whom the prosecution of
the siege was entrusted, acted as so many independent commanders,
and each followed his own plan of attack. The jealousy of the chiefs
prevented them from acting in concert with each other. Each had his
own independent point of attack, and they would not even move to the
assistance of each other when attacked by the Heratees in the trenches.
Except when Mahomed Shah insisted on a combined assault, as on the
24th of June, and the Russian minister directed it, there was no union
among them. Each had his own game to follow up; his own laurels to
win; and was rather pleased than disappointed by the failures of his
brethren. It was not possible that operations so conducted should have
resulted in anything but failure. But it was the deliberate opinion of
Eldred Pottinger, expressed nearly two years after the withdrawal of
the Persian army, that Mahomed Shah might have taken Herat by assault,
within four-and-twenty hours after his appearance before its walls, if
his troops had been efficiently commanded.[201]

Whether Mahomed Shah ever rightly understood this matter I do not
pretend to know, but he felt that it was necessary to make an effort
to patch up the rents which this grievous failure had made in his
reputation. So he issued a firman, setting forth all the great results
of his expedition to the eastward, and attempted to demonstrate, after
the following fashion, that he gained a victory, even at Herat:-“At
last,” so ran the royal proclamation, “when the city of Herat
existed but in name, and the reality of the government of Kamran was
reduced to four bare walls, the noble ambassadors of the illustrious
British Government, notwithstanding that three separate treaties of
peace between the two governments of England and Persia, negotiated
respectively by Sir Harford Jones, Sir Gore Ouseley, and Mr. Ellis,
were still in force, disregarding the observance of the conditions of
these treaties, prepared to undertake hostilities, and as a warlike
demonstration, despatched a naval armament with troops and forces to
the Gulf of Persia. The winter season was now approaching, and if
we protracted to a longer period our stay at Herat, there appeared
a possibility that our victorious army might suffer from a scarcity
of provisions, and that the maintenance of our troops might not be
unaccompanied with difficulty; the tranquillity of our provinces was
also a matter of serious attention to our benevolent thoughts; and
thus, in sole consideration of the interest of our faith and country,
and from a due regard to the welfare of our troops and subjects, we set
in motion our world-subduing army upon the 19th of _Jumady-al-Akber_,
and prepared to return to our capital.... During the protracted siege
of Herat, a vast number of the troops and inhabitants had perished, as
well from the fire of our cannon and musketry as from constant hardship
and starvation; the remainder of the people, amounting to about 50,000
families, with a large proportion of the Afghan and Persian chiefs, who
had been treated with the most liberal kindness by the officers of our
government, and who being compromised, could not possibly, therefore,
hold any further intercourse with Yar Mahomed Khan, marched away with
us, with zealous eagerness, to the regions of Khain and Khorassan, and
there was no vestige of an inhabited spot left around Herat.”

But although the failure of Mahomed Shah is mainly to be attributed
to the jealousy, and consequent disunion, of his generals, it would
be an injustice to the garrison of Herat not to acknowledge that they
owed their safety, in some measure, to their own exertions. Their
gallantry and perseverance, however, were not of the most sustained
character, and might have yielded to the assaults of the Persians if
there had been any union among the assailants. They gathered courage
from the languid movements of the besiegers; and, surprised at the
little progress made by the once dreaded army of Mahomed Shah, they
came in time to regard themselves as heroes, and their successful
sorties as great victories. When, on the other hand, the Persians
really attempted anything like a combined movement against their works,
the garrison began to lose heart, and were with difficulty brought
to repulse them. To what extent they were indebted to the unfailing
constancy and courage of Eldred Pottinger, has been set forth, but
I believe very imperfectly, in this narrative of the siege. Enough,
however, has been shown to demonstrate that, but for the heroism of
this young Bombay artilleryman, Herat would have fallen into the hands
of Mahomed Shah. The garrison were fast breaking down, not so much
under the pressure from without as the pressure from within. The chiefs
were desponding—the people were starving. But still the continued cry
of Eldred Pottinger was, “A little longer—a little longer yet.” When
the chiefs talked of surrender—when they set forth the hopelessness of
further efforts of defence—he counselled still a little further delay.
His voice was ever for the manlier course; and what he recommended in
speech he was ever eager to demonstrate in action. Yar Mahomed did
great things at Herat. It would be unjust to deny him the praise due
to his energetic exertions in the prosecution of the defence, however
unscrupulous the means he employed to sustain it. But his energies
failed him at last; and it was only by the powerful stimulants applied
by his young European associate that he was supported and invigorated
in the great crisis, when the fate of Herat was trembling in the
balance. There was one true soldier in Herat, whose energies never
failed him; and History delights to record the fact that that one true
soldier, young and inexperienced as he was, with no knowledge of active
warfare that he had not derived from books, rescued Herat from the
grasp of the Persian monarch, and baffled the intrigues of his great
northern abettor.[202]

About these intrigues something more should be said. No sane man ever
questions the assertion that Russian diplomatists encouraged Mahomed
Shah to undertake the expedition against Herat, and that Russian
officers aided the operations of the siege. No reasonable man doubts
that, so encouraging and so aiding Persia in aggressive measures
against the frontier of Afghanistan, Russia harboured ulterior designs
not wholly unassociated with thoughts of the position of the British
in Hindostan. At all events, it is certain that the first word, spoken
or written in encouragement of the expedition against Herat, placed
Russia in direct antagonism with Great Britain. “The British minister
at Teheran was instructed to dissuade the Shah from such an enterprise;
urging reasons of indisputable force, and founded upon the interests of
the Shah himself. But the advice given by the Russian ambassador was
all of an opposite tendency. For while Mr. M’Neill was appealing to
the prudence and the reason of the Shah, Count Simonich was exciting
the ambition and inflaming the passions of that Sovereign; whilst
the one was preaching moderation and peace, the other was inciting
to war and conquest; and whilst the one pointed out the difficulties
and expense of the enterprise, the other inspired hopes of money and

Such, very plainly stated, in grave, official language, had been the
relative positions of Russia and Great Britain. But when Lord Durham,
in 1837, was directed to seek from the Russian minister an explanation
of conduct so much at variance with the declarations of the Muscovite
Government, the answer was, that if Count Simonich had encouraged
Mahomed Shah to proceed against Herat, he acted in direct violation of
his instructions.

But for a man disobeying the instructions of an arbitrary government,
Simonich acted with uncommon boldness. He advanced to the Persian
ruler 50,000 tomauns, and promised, that if Mahomed Shah took Herat,
the balance of the debt due by Persia to Russia should be remitted.
Thus encouraged, Mahomed Shah advanced upon Herat. How Simonich
followed M’Neill to the Persian camp, and how he thwarted the efforts
of the British diplomatist to bring about an accommodation of the
differences between the two contending states, and how Russian officers
subsequently directed the siege, has been already shown. It has been
shown, how a Russian agent guaranteed a treaty injurious to British
interests, between Mahomed Shah and the Sirdars of Candahar. It has
been shown, too, how a Russian agent appeared at Caubul, and how he
endeavoured to detach Dost Mahomed from an alliance with the British,
and to encourage him to look for support from the Persian King and his
Muscovite supporters.

Considering these things, the British Government asked whether the
intentions of Russia towards Persia and Afghanistan were to be judged
from Count Nesselrode’s declarations, or from the actions of Simonich
and Vickovich. The answer was, that Vickovich had been despatched
to Caubul on a “Commercial Mission,” and that, if he had treated of
anything but commerce, he had exceeded his instructions; and that
Simonich had been instructed, not only to discourage Mahomed Shah
from prosecuting the expedition against Herat, but to withdraw the
Russian-deserter regiment, which formed no insignificant portion of
the invading army. “Not upon the cabinet of Russia,” it was said,
“can fall the reproach of having encouraged or suggested that fatal
enterprise.”[204] The proceedings of the agents were repudiated.
Vickovich, being a person of no account, was remorselessly sacrificed,
and he blew out his brains. But an apology was found for Count
Simonich. It was said that he only assisted a friendly state when in
extreme difficulty, and that any English officer would have done the

There was some truth in this. At all events, when it was added by the
Russian minister that his government had more reason to be alarmed by
the movements of Great Britain, than Great Britain by the movements of
Russia; and that England sought to monopolise the privilege of intrigue
in Central Asia, it was difficult for any candid and unprejudiced
observer of events to comment harshly upon the injustice of the
imputation. When, too, some time afterwards, Baron Brunow said to Sir
John Hobhouse, “If we go on at this rate, the Cossack and the Sepoy
will soon meet on the banks of the Oxus,”[206] it would have been hard
to have laid the contemplated collision wholly to the account of the
restlessness of the Czar. True it is, that the policy of Russia in the
East had been distinguished for its aggressive tendencies;[207] and
it is equally true, that in the plenitude of our national self-love,
we encouraged the conviction that Great Britain had conquered the
entire continent of Hindostan by a series of purely defensive measures.
Looking merely at the recognised policy of the East India Company, the
distinction may be admitted. For a century have this great body been
steadfastly setting their face against the extension of their empire;
but their empire has been extended in spite of them, and their agents
have been less pacific than themselves. The general tendency of the
Eastern policy worked out by the English in India, has not been purely
defensive, and they are, perhaps, the last people in the world entitled
to complain of the encroachments of their allies. England and Russia
seemed at one time to be—and, perhaps, they are still—approaching each
other on the vast Central-Asia battle-field; but when the account
between the two great European states comes to be struck, it is
doubtful whether History will set down against the Muscovite power any
greater transgression than that which it is the object of these volumes
to record.[208]



 Policy of the British-Indian Government—Our Defensive
 Operations—Excitement in British India—Proposed Alliance with Dost
 Mahomed—Failure of Burnes’s Mission considered—The claims of the
 Suddozye Princes—The Tripartite Treaty—Invasion of Afghanistan
 determined—Policy of the Movement.

Whilst the Persians were pushing on the siege of Herat to an
unsuccessful termination, and the Russians were extending over them
the wings of encouragement and assistance, the English in India were
devising measures for the security of their own dominions, which seemed
to be threatened by these movements on the frontier of Afghanistan.

But what these measures were to be it was not easy to determine. It was
believed that the danger was great and imminent. There was a Persian
army, under the command of the “King-of-Kings” himself, investing
Herat, and threatening to march upon Candahar and Caubul. There were
Russian diplomatists and Russian engineers in his camp, directing the
counsels of the Shah and the operations of the siege. The Barukzye
Sirdars of Afghanistan were intriguing with the Persian Court; and
far out in the distance, beyond the mountains of the Hindoo-Koosh,
there was the shadow of a great northern army, tremendous in its
indistinctness, sweeping across the wilds and deserts of Central Asia,
towards the frontiers of Hindostan.

The remoteness of the countries in which these incidents were passing,
might have reconciled our Anglo-Indian statesmen to dangers of a
character so vague, and an origin so distant; but the result of all
these disturbing rumours was an after-growth of new perils springing
up almost at our very doors. The Native States on our own borders were
beginning to evince signs of feverish unrest. From the hills of Nepaul
and the jungles of Burmah came mutterings of threatened invasion,
which compelled the British-Indian Government to look well to their
lines of frontier. Even in our own provinces, these rumours of mighty
movements in the countries of the north-west disquieted the native
mind; there was an uneasy, restless feeling among all classes, scarcely
amounting to actual disaffection, and perhaps best to be described as
a state of ignorant expectancy—a looking outwards in the belief of
some coming change, the nature of which no one clearly understood.
Among our Mussulman subjects the feeling was somewhat akin to that
which had unsettled their minds at the time when the rumoured advent
of Zemaun Shah made them look for the speedy restoration of Mahomedan
supremacy in Hindostan. In their eyes, indeed, the movement beyond the
Afghan frontier took the shape of a Mahomedan invasion, and it was
believed that countless thousands of true believers were about to pour
themselves over the plains of the Punjab and Hindostan, and to wrest
all the country between the Indus and the sea from the hands of the
infidel usurpers. The Mahomedan journals, at this time, teemed with the
utterances of undisguised sedition. There was a decline in the value
of public securities: and it went openly from mouth to mouth, in the
streets and the bazaars, that the Company’s Raj was nearly at an end.

The dangers which threatened the security of our Anglo-Indian Empire,
in 1837-38, were seen through the magnifying medium of ignorance,
and greatly exaggerated in the recital. But the appearance of the
Persian army before Herat; the presence of the Russian officers in the
Persian camp; and the intrigues of the Barukzye Sirdars of Afghanistan,
were, at all events, substantial facts. It was little doubted that
Herat would fall. There seemed, indeed, no possibility of escape. The
character of Mahomed Shah was well known; and it was not believed
that, having conquered Herat, he would there stop short in his career
of conquest. It had been long officially reported, by Mr. Ellis and
others, to the Anglo-Indian Government, that Mahomed Shah encouraged
very extensive ideas of Afghan conquest, and that the Russian officers
about his Court were continually exerting themselves to foster the
flame of his ambition. It seemed probable, therefore, that Herat,
having fallen into the hands of Mahomed Shah, the Persian monarch
would either push on his conquests to Candahar and Caubul, or, having
transferred the Heratee principality to the hands of the Candahar
Sirdars, and rendered Dost Mahomed such assistance in his wars against
the Sikhs as would make him, in effect, the vassal of Persia, would
erect, in Afghanistan, a platform of observation which might serve
as the basis of future operations to be undertaken, not only by the
Persians themselves, but also by their great northern allies.

It was plainly the policy of the British Government to preserve the
independence of Afghanistan, and to cement a friendly alliance with the
ruler or rulers of that country. But it was not very easy to discern
how this was to be effected. Our Indian statesmen had never exhibited
any very violent friendship for the Barukzye Sirdars. Lord William
Bentinck had refused to connect himself in any way with the politics of
Afghanistan; but he had suffered Shah Soojah to raise, in 1833-34, an
army of invasion under the shadow of the British flag, and had done
everything but openly assist the enterprise he was undertaking for
the recovery of his lost dominions. Some nice ideas of legitimacy and
usurpation, suggested by our own position in India, may have closed the
sympathies of our Anglo-Indian rulers against men who were simply the
_de facto_ rulers of Afghanistan, and who laboured under the imputation
of having rather acquired their dominions by right of conquest than
possessed them by right of birth. The British-Indian Government had
not concerned itself for a quarter of a century about the government
of the Douranee Empire; but it now appeared that, because Zemaun Shah
had threatened to invade India, and Shah Soojah had demonstrated his
incapacity to maintain himself in security on the throne, and to
preserve the integrity of his dominions, the English in India, when
they thought of establishing a friendly and a permanent power in the
country beyond the Indus, turned to the Suddozye Princes as the fittest
instruments for the furtherance of these ends. Even in 1833-34 it was
plain that the success of Shah Soojah would have delighted our Indian
statesmen. Though we declined to aid him in a very substantial manner,
our sympathies went with him; and now again it was obvious that we
had very little desire to conciliate the friendship of the Barukzye
Sirdars, who had long been eager for a closer alliance with the great
European power beyond the waters of the Sutlej, but who had always been
condemned to have their advances coldly received.

Before Mahomed Shah had advanced upon Herat, the British Minister at
the Court of Teheran, well acquainted with the ambitious projects of
the Persian monarch, had earnestly pressed upon the attention of the
British Government the expediency of some counteracting movement in
the country between Persia and Hindostan. And when it was known to
Mr. M’Neill that Lord Auckland had despatched Captain Burnes upon a
mission to the Court of Dost Mahomed, he wrote a long confidential
letter to that officer, setting forth the advantages of subsidising the
Ameer, and placing both Herat and Candahar under his rule. The letter
was dated March 13th, 1837. “I sincerely wish,” wrote Mr. M’Neill, “if
the Ameer Dost Mahomed Khan and you come to a good understanding, that
he were in possession of both Candahar and Herat.”[209]

And again, in the same communication, he wrote more explicitly: “Dost
Mahomed Khan, with a little aid from us, could be put in possession
of both Candahar and Herat. I anxiously hope that aid will not be
withheld. A loan of money would possibly enable him to do this, and
would give us a great hold upon him. He ought to be precluded from
receiving any other foreign representative or agent of any kind at his
Court, and should agree to transact all business with foreign powers
through the British agent. Unless something of this kind should be
done, we shall never be secure; and until Dost Mahomed Khan or some
other Afghan shall have got both Candahar and Herat into his hands, our
position here must continue to be a false one.”[210]

At this time, the Envoy in Persia, though profoundly convinced that
the Candahar Sirdars were not to be trusted, and that the game they
were playing was one injurious to the interests of Great Britain,
seemed to repose confidence in the good feeling of Dost Mahomed, and to
believe that it would be easy to secure his alliance. Of the intrigues
of the former he wrote: “Kohun Dil Khan is playing a double game, and
trying to strengthen himself by the alliance with Persia against both
Caubul and Herat. He has put himself in communication with the Russian
minister here, who has sent by the return envoy, Tej Mahomed Khan,
Barukzye, a letter and presents. The letter will not find its way to
the Khan,[211] for I am sending it to Lord Palmerston; but the presents
have been forwarded, and it appears that Kohun Dil was the first to
open the correspondence, and I think it not improbable that he had been
advised to do so by Aziz Mahomed Khan, the agent formerly sent hither,
who found the Court apparently devoted to Russia. I hope you will be
able to put a stop to the intercourse, which I have only been able to
impede and interrupt for a time.”

Such were the views and recommendations of Mr. M’Neill. Among the few
officers in the Company’s service who at that time had any knowledge
of the politics of Central Asia, not one was more conspicuous than
Captain Claude Wade, who had held for some years the delicate and
responsible office of Governor-General’s agent on the North-Western
Frontier. It was natural that, in such a conjuncture, the opinions of
so well-informed and experienced an officer should have been sought
by the Supreme Government. Captain Wade, through whose office the
Trans-Indian correspondence passed, now therefore, on forwarding to
government a copy of Mr. M’Neill’s letter, freely expressed his opinion
against the proposal to consolidate the Afghan Empire under the rule of
the Caubul Ameer. “In my opinion,” he wrote to Mr. Colvin, the private
secretary of the Governor-General, “such an experiment on the part
of our government would be to play into the hands of our rivals, and
to deprive ourselves, as it were by a _felo-de-se_, of the powerful
means which we have in reserve of controlling the present rulers of
Afghanistan. The attempt to reduce the country to the sway of one of
them would be an arduous enterprise. The chief obstacle in the way
of Dost Mahomed would be in the opposition of those who are inimical
to him and his family, and these include every other Douranee tribe
in the country, to whom, therefore, the knowledge of such a design
would render our name generally odious—whilst the attempt itself would
undoubtedly lead the Toorkomans and other great bordering tribes to
view with jealousy the powers of a chief whose interests they would
soon have the sagacity to discover we had adopted for the purpose of
serving our own interests at their expense.”

“Our policy,” continued Captain Wade, “ought not to be to destroy,
but to use our endeavours to preserve and strengthen the different
governments of Afghanistan as they at present stand; to promote among
themselves a social compact, and to conduce, by our influence, to the
establishment of that peace with their neighbours, which we are now
endeavouring to produce between them and the Sikhs on one side, and
the Sikhs and Sindhians on the other. Whilst distributed into several
states, the Afghans are, in my opinion, more likely to subserve the
views and interests of the British Government than if we attempted to
impose on them the yoke of a ruler to whose authority they can never be
expected to yield a passive obedience. Though undoubtedly weak, they
would collectively be fully adequate to the defence of their country,
when they have derived the advantages of a more decided intercourse
with our government than at present exists.... Supposing that we were
to aid Dost Mahomed to overthrow in the first place his brother at
Candahar, and then his Suddozye rival at Herat, what would be the
consequence? As the system, of which it is intended to be a part, would
not go to gratify the longing wish of Mahomed Shah for the annexation
of Herat to his dominions, the first results would be, that the
Shah-zadah Kamran would apply to Persia, and offer, on the condition of
her assistance to save him from the fate which impended over his head,
to submit to all the demands of that general, which Kamran has hitherto
so resolutely and successfully resisted, and between his fears and the
attempts of Dost Mahomed Khan to take it (Herat), which is regarded
by every one who has studied its situation as the key to Afghanistan,
would inevitably fall prostrate before the arms of Persia, by the
effect of the very measures which we had designed for her security from
Persian thraldom.”[212]

The expediency of maintaining the integrity of Herat was not at this
time more palpable than the injustice of destroying it. But it hardly
seems to have entered into the consideration of our Indian statesmen,
that to transfer Herat, or any other unoffending principality from
the hands of one ruler to those of another, was to perpetrate an act
of political tyranny not to be justified by any reference to the
advantages resulting from such a course. We had not, at that time,
the shadow of a pretext for breaking down the independence of Herat.
Kamran, indeed, was at this time about to play the very game that
tended most to the advancement of British interests. Had he formed an
alliance with Persia, having for its end the recovery of his father’s
dominions—had he advanced, with a confederate Persian army, upon Caubul
and Candahar, and consented to abandon Herat as the price of Kujjur
assistance—some pretext might have been found in these aggressive
measures for the confiscation of the principality. But Herat was now
about to erect itself into a barrier against Russo-Persian invasion,
and to fight single-handed the first great battle of resistance at the
gates of Afghanistan.

Mr. M’Neill’s project for the consolidation of the Afghan Empire found
little favour in the eyes of our Indian statesmen; but there were many
who thought that, without any acts of spoliation and oppression, the
_de facto_ rulers of Afghanistan might be so encouraged and conciliated
by small offers of assistance, as to secure their friendly co-operation
in the great work of resisting invasion from the westward. But when
Captain Burnes was despatched to Caubul, his powers were so limited,
that, although he was profuse in his expressions of sympathy, he had
not the authority to offer substantial assistance; and when he ventured
to exceed the instructions of government, he was severely censured for
his unauthorised proceedings.

His mission failed. What wonder? It could by no possibility have
succeeded. If utter failure had been the great end sought to be
accomplished, the whole business could not have been more cunningly
devised. Burnes asked everything; and promised nothing. He was tied
hand and foot. He had no power to treat with Dost Mahomed. All that he
could do was to demand on one hand and refuse on the other. He talked
about the friendship of the British Government. Dost Mahomed asked for
some proof of it; and no proof was forthcoming. The wonder is, not that
the Ameer at last listened to the overtures of others, but that he did
not seek other assistance before.

No better proof of his earnest desire to cement an alliance with the
British Government need be sought for than that involved in the fact
of his extreme reluctance to abandon all hope of assistance from the
British, and to turn his eyes in another direction. It was not until
he was driven to despair by resolute refusals from the quarter whence
he looked for aid, that he accepted the offers so freely made to him
by other States, and set the seal upon his own destruction. “Our
government,” said Burnes, “would do nothing; but the Secretary of the
Russian Legation came with the most direct offers of assistance and
money, and as I had no power to counteract him by a similar offer, and
got wigged for talking of it at a time when it would have been merely a
dead letter to say Afghanistan was under our protection, I was obliged
of course to give in.”[213] What better result Lord Auckland could
have anticipated, it is hard to say. If the failure of the Mission
astonished him, he must have been the most sanguine of men.

I am unable to perceive that there was anything unreasonable or
unfriendly in the conduct of Dost Mahomed at this time. That, from
the very first, he was disappointed, there is no doubt. He had formed
exaggerated ideas of the generosity and munificence of the British
Government in the East, and, doubtless, expected great things from the
contemplated alliance. The Mission had scarcely been a day in Caubul,
when the feelings of the Ameer were shocked, the exuberance of his
hopes somewhat straitened, and his dignity greatly offended, by the
paltry character of the presents of which Burnes was the bearer. No
one ignorant of the childish eagerness with which Oriental Princes
examine the ceremonial gifts presented to them by foreign potentates,
and the importance which they attach to the value of these presents,
as indications of a greater or less degree of friendship and respect
on the part of the donor, can appreciate the mortification of Dost
Mahomed on discovering that the British Government, of whose immense
resources and boundless liberality he had so exalted a notion, had
sent him nothing but a few trumpery toys. Burnes had been directed to
“procure from Bombay such articles as would be required to be given in
presents to the different chiefs.” And it had been characteristically
added: “They ought not to be of a costly nature, but should be chosen
particularly with a view to exhibit the superiority of British
manufacturers.” Accordingly the envoy had provided himself with a
pistol and a telescope for Dost Mahomed, and a few trifles for the
inmates of the Zenana—such as pins, needles, and play-things.[214]
The costliness of the presents lavished upon Shah Soojah, when the
Mission under Mountstuart Elphinstone had entered Afghanistan, was
still a tradition throughout the country. The Ameer was disappointed.
He thought that the niggardliness of the British Government, in this
instance portended no good. Nor was he mistaken. He soon found that the
intention to give little was manifest in all the proceedings of the

It has been said that the Ameer asked more than could reasonably be
granted; that he had no right to look for the restoration of Peshawur,
as that tract of country, since the dismemberment of the Douranee
Empire, had fallen to the share of Sultan Mahomed. It is very true
that the country had once been governed by Sultan Mahomed. Now to
have re-established him at Peshawur would have been to have paved the
way for the march of Runjeet Singh’s army to Caubul. So thought Dost
Mahomed. It was better to submit quietly to the unassisted enmity
of the Maharajah, than to have an insidious enemy on the frontier,
by whose agency Runjeet Singh might have accomplished that which he
could not have achieved alone. It was the treachery of Sultan Mahomed
that had lost Peshawur to the Afghans. It was the personal energy,
the martial prowess, of Dost Mahomed that had secured the supremacy
of the Barukzyes in Afghanistan; and as Sultan Mahomed Khan wanted
the ability, or the honesty, to hold his own at Peshawur, it was but
natural and fitting that the chief of the Barukzyes should endeavour to
enter into arrangements better calculated to preserve the integrity of
the Afghan frontier. He desired, in the first instance, the absolute
possession of Peshawur on his own account. He subsequently consented
to hold it, conjointly with Sultan Mahomed, in vassalage to Runjeet
Singh. Had the British Government endeavoured to effect an amicable
arrangement between the Ameer and the Maharajah, there is no room to
doubt that Dost Mahomed would have rejected all overtures from the
westward, and proved to us a firm and faithful ally. But, instead of
this, we offered him nothing but our sympathy; and Dost Mahomed, with
all respect for the British Government, looked for something more
substantial than mere meaningless words.

That his conduct throughout the long negotiations with Burnes
was characterised by an entire singleness of purpose and
straightforwardness of action is not to be maintained; but it may with
truth be said that it evinced somewhat less than the ordinary amount
of Afghan duplicity and deceit. Singleness and straightforwardness do
not flourish in the near neighbourhood either of Eastern or Western
diplomacy; and perhaps it is not wise, on our own account, to look too
closely into these matters. The wonder is, not that the Ameer was so
deceitful, so tortuous, so arrogant, and so exacting, but that he was
so sincere, so straightforward, so patient, and so moderate. He might
have possessed all these qualities in much scantier measure, and yet
have been a very respectable Afghan chief.

It was, however, decreed that Dost Mahomed was a hostile chief; and the
policy of the British Government soon made him one. Had Burnes been
left to obey the dictates of his own reason and to use the light of
his own experience, he would have conciliated both the Candahar Sirdars
and the Caubul Ameer, and raised up an effective bulwark in Afghanistan
against Persian invasion and Russian intrigue. We refused to detach
Kohun Dil Khan from the Persian alliance, and we deliberately drove
Dost Mahomed Khan into it. In fact, our policy, at this time, seems
to have been directed to the creation of those very difficulties to
encounter which the British Government launched into the Afghan war.

Unfortunately, at this time, Lord Auckland was separated from his
Council. He was on his way to that pleasant hill Sanitarium, at Simlah,
where our Governors-General, surrounded by irresponsible advisers,
settle the destinies of empires without the aid of their legitimate
fellow-counsellors, and which has been the cradle of more political
insanity than any place within the limits of Hindostan. Just as Mahomed
Shah was beginning to open his batteries upon Herat, and Captain Burnes
was entering Caubul, Lord Auckland, taking with him three civilians,
all men of ability and repute—Mr. William Macnaghten, Mr. Henry
Torrens, and Mr. John Colvin—turned his back upon Calcutta.

Mr. Macnaghten was at this time chief secretary to Government. He
had originally entered the service of the East India Company in the
year 1809, as a cadet of cavalry on the Madras establishment; and
whilst yet a boy acquired considerable reputation by the extent of
his acquirements as an Oriental linguist. Transferred in 1814 to the
Bengal civil service, he landed at Calcutta as the bearer of the
highest testimonials from the government under which he had served;
and soon justified by his distinguished scholarship in the college of
Fort William the praises and recommendations of the authorities of
Madras. It was publicly said of the young civilian by Lord Hastings,
that “there was not a language taught in the college in which he had
not earned the highest distinctions which the Government or the College
could bestow.” On leaving college he was appointed an assistant in the
office of the Register of the Sudder Dewany Adawlut, or High Court of
Appeal; and in 1818 he quitted Calcutta to enter upon the practical
duties of the magistracy, but after a few years was recalled to the
Presidency and to his old office, and in a little while was at the
head of the department in which he had commenced his career. During a
period of eight years and a half, Mr. Macnaghten continued to occupy
the responsible post of Register of the Sudder Dewany Adawlut, and
was only removed thence to accompany Lord William Bentinck, in the
capacity of secretary, on the tour which that benevolent statesman
was about to commence, at the close of 1830, through the Upper and
Western Provinces of India. The objects of this journey were connected
entirely with measures of internal reform; but having approached the
territories of Runjeet Singh, the Governor-General met the old Sikh
chief at Roopur, and there Macnaghten, who had up to this time been
almost wholly associated with affairs of domestic administration,
graduated in foreign politics, and began to fathom the secrets of the
Lahore Durbar. Returning early in 1833 to Calcutta, with his experience
greatly enlarged and his judgment matured by the opportunities
afforded him on his journey, as well as by his intimate relationship
with so enlightened and liberal a statesman as Lord William Bentinck,
Macnaghten now took charge of the Secret and Political Department
of the Government Secretariat, and remained in that office during
the interregnum of Sir Charles Metcalfe, and the first year of Lord
Auckland’s administration, until summoned by the latter to accompany
him on his tour to the North-Western Provinces.

Such, briefly narrated, were the antecedents of Macnaghten’s official
life. That he was one of the ablest and most assiduous of the many able
and assiduous civil servants of the East India Company all men were
ready to admit. With a profound knowledge of Oriental languages and
Oriental customs, he combined an extensive acquaintance with all the
practical details of government, and was scarcely more distinguished as
an erudite scholar than as an expert secretary. In his colleague and
assistant, Mr. Henry Torrens, there were some points of resemblance to
Macnaghten; for the younger officer was also an accomplished linguist
and a ready writer, but he was distinguished by a more mercurial
temperament and more varied attainments. Perhaps there was not in all
the presidencies of India a man—certainly not so young a man—with the
lustre of so many accomplishments upon him. The facility with which he
acquired every kind of information was scarcely more remarkable than
the tenacity with which he retained it. With the languages of the East
and the West he was equally familiar. He had read books of all kinds
and in all tongues, and the airy grace with which he could throw off a
French canzonet was something as perfect of its kind as the military
genius with which he could sketch out the plan of a campaign, or the
official pomp with which he could inflate a state paper. His gaiety
and vivacity made him a welcome addition to the Governor-General’s
vice-regal court; and perhaps not the least of his recommendations
as a travelling companion was that he could amuse the ladies of Lord
Auckland’s family with as much felicity as he could assist the labours
of that nobleman himself.

Mr. John Colvin was the private secretary of the Governor-General, and
his confidential adviser. Of all the men about Lord Auckland, he was
believed to exercise the most direct influence over that statesman’s
mind. Less versatile than Torrens, and less gifted with the lighter
accomplishments of literature and art, he possessed a stronger will
and a more powerful understanding. He was a man of much decision and
resolution of character; not troubled with doubts and misgivings; and
sometimes, perhaps, hasty in his judgments. But there was something
noble and generous in his ambition. He never forgot either the claims
of his country or the reputation of his chief. And if he were vain, his
vanity was of the higher, but not the less dangerous class, which seeks
rather to mould the measures and establish the fame of others than to
acquire distinction for self.

Such were the men who accompanied Lord Auckland to the Upper Provinces
of India. About him also clustered the common smaller staff of military
_aides-de-camp_; and not very far in the background were the two
sisters of his lordship—ladies of remarkable intelligence and varied
accomplishments, who are supposed to have exercised an influence not
wholly confined to the social amenities of the vice-regal camp. Lord
Auckland was not wanting in judgment or sagacity, and his integrity
of purpose is undoubted; but he lacked decision of character; he too
often mistrusted his own opinions, and yielded his assent to those of
irresponsible advisers less single-minded and sagacious than himself.
The men by whom he was surrounded were among the ablest and most
accomplished in the country; but it was for the most part a dangerous
kind of cleverness that they possessed; there was too much presumption
in it. These secretaries, especially the two younger ones, were too
ardent and impulsive—they were of too bold and ambitious a nature to
be regarded as anything better than perilous and delusive guides. But
Lord Auckland entrusted himself to their guidance. Perhaps, he scarcely
knew to what extent he was swayed by their counsels; but it is my
deliberate conviction, that if he had not quitted Calcutta, or if he
had been surrounded by older and more experienced advisers, he would
have followed a line of policy more in accordance with his own feelings
and opinions, and less destructive to the interests of the empire.

But, so surrounded, Lord Auckland journeyed by easy stages towards the
cool mountain-ranges of the Himalayah; and as he advanced, there came
to the vice-regal camp tidings, from time to time, of the progress
or no-progress of Mahomed Shah’s army before Herat, and of Burnes’s
diplomatic movements at the Court of the Caubul Ameer. There was
much in all this to perplex Lord Auckland. He was in all sincerity
a man of peace. They who best knew his character and that of his
chief secretary,[215] predicted that if war could, in any way, be
avoided, there would be no war. But from all quarters came disturbing
hints and dangerous promptings; and Lord Auckland thus assailed, had
not resolution enough to be true to his own moderate and cautious
character.[216] Mr. M’Neill had despatched Major Todd from Herat to the
camp of the Governor-General; and had urgently solicited Lord Auckland
to adopt vigorous measures for the intimidation of Persia and the
defence of Herat, which, it was alleged, could not much longer resist
the efforts of the investing force. Nothing short of the march of a
British army upon Herat was thought by some sufficient to stem the tide
of Russo-Persian invasion. The British Government, seeing everywhere
signs of the restless aggressive spirit of Russia, and the evident
tendency of all her movements towards the East, had written strong
letters to the Governor-General, urging him to adopt vigorous measures
of defence. His own immediate advisers were at hand to second the
suggestions both of Mr. M’Neill and the British Minister; and so Lord
Auckland, though he hesitated to undertake a grand military expedition
across the Indus, was persuaded to enter upon defensive measures of a
dubious character, affecting the whole question of the sovereignty of
the Douranee Empire.

The open, acknowledged danger, to be met by vigorous measures on the
part of our Anglo-Indian statesmen, was the attempt of Mahomed Shah
to destroy the integrity of Herat, and his asserted claims to the
sovereignty of Ghuznee and Candahar. It is true that by the ninth
article of the treaty with Persia, England was especially bound not
to interfere in any quarrels between the Afghans and the Persians;
but our statesmen both in the East and the West, saw a ready means of
escape from these conditions in the circumstances of the assault on
Mr. M’Neill’s courier, which, however contemptible in themselves, were
sufficient to bring about a temporary rupture between Persia and Great
Britain. Lord Auckland was slow to encourage an idea of the expediency
of such direct interference as would be involved in the passage of a
British army across the great boundary line of the Indus. But he saw
the necessity of so establishing our influence in Afghanistan as to
erect a secure barrier against invasion from the westward; and now
that he had abandoned all desire to propitiate Dost Mahomed and the
Barukzye chiefs, and had begun to think of carrying out his objects
through other agency, it was only natural that he should have turned
his thoughts, in the first instance, to the Suddozye pensioner of
Loodhianah, who had made so many unsuccessful efforts to reseat himself
upon the throne of the Douranee Empire.

Shah Soojah had lived so long upon the bounty of the British
Government, that it was only reasonable to believe that we should find
in him a fast friend and a faithful ally. But when in the month of
May, 1838, Lord Auckland, then at Simlah, wrote an elaborate minute,
setting forth his opinions regarding the measures best calculated
to secure the integrity of the western frontier of Afghanistan, and
suggesting the restoration of the exiled Suddozye Prince, it was
evident that he had not, at that time, grasped the grand, but perilous
idea, of sending a British army into the fastnesses of Afghanistan
to break down the dynasty of the Barukzyes, to set up a monarch of
our own, and so to roll back for ever the tide of western invasion.
He meditated nothing more at this time than the encouragement of an
expedition to be undertaken by Shah Soojah and Runjeet Singh, the
British Government supplying money, appointing an accredited agent to
accompany the Shah’s camp, and furnishing a certain number of British
officers to direct the movements of the Shah’s army.[217] It appeared
to him that there were but three courses open to him; “the first to
confine our defensive measures to the line of the Indus, and to leave
Afghanistan to its fate; the second, to attempt to save Afghanistan,
by granting succour to the existing chiefships of Caubul and Candahar;
the third, to permit or to encourage the advance of Runjeet Singh’s
armies upon Caubul, under counsel and restriction, and as subsidiary
to his advance to organise an expedition headed by Shah Soojah, such
as I have above explained.” “The first course,” argued Lord Auckland,
“would be absolute defeat, and would leave a free opening to Russian
and Persian intrigue upon our frontiers. The second would be only to
give power to those who feel greater animosity against the Sikhs, than
they do against the Persians, and who would probably use against the
former the means placed at their disposal; and the third course, which
in the event of the successful resistance of Herat, would appear to be
most expedient, would, if the state were to fall into the hands of the
Persians, have yet more to recommend it, and I cannot hesitate to say,
that the inclination of my opinion is, for the reasons which will be
gathered from this paper, very strongly in favour of it.”[218]

All this is sufficiently moderate, if it is not sufficiently just.
The whole question is argued simply as one of expediency. It appeared
to Lord Auckland to be most expedient to construct an alliance between
Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah for the recovery of the lost dominions
of the latter. England was to remain in the background jingling the
money-bag. At this time, it had been arranged that Macnaghten should
proceed, with little delay, to the Court of Lahore. It had been
intended, in the first instance, that the mission should be merely a
complimentary one. But as events began to thicken in the north-west, it
appeared impossible to confine to such narrow limits the communications
which he was instructed to make to the Maharajah. He was now enjoined
to sound Runjeet Singh on the subject of the proposed confederate
expedition against the Barukzye Sirdars of Afghanistan. These
instructions were written three days after the minute of the 12th of
May. It seems that in this brief interval some idea of the employment
of British troops in support of the Suddozye prince had dawned upon
the understanding of the Governor-General. It is certain, at least,
that the letter written by Mr. Torrens speaks of a demonstration to be
made “by a division of the British army occupying Shikarpoor.”[219]
This was a step in advance. The great project to which Lord Auckland
subsequently lent himself was only then beginning to take shape in his

The Mission crossed the Sutlej, and on the 31st of May were presented
to Runjeet Singh at Adeenanuggur. In a mango-grove—each under the
shadow of its own tree—the Sikh ruler had ordered a number of mud-huts
to be erected for the accommodation of Macnaghten and his companions.
Small and comfortless as were these abodes, the officers of the Mission
joyfully resorted to them for shelter from the intolerable summer-sun
and the burning winds, which had scorched them in their own tents.
Even now something horrible in the retrospect to the survivors of the
Mission is the fiery heat of that June weather.

In the midst of much pomp and splendour, surrounded by his courtiers,
the Maharajah received the English gentlemen[220] with befitting
cordiality and respect. As Macnaghten entered the hall, the aged
Prince rose from his seat, and tottering along the whole length of the
presence-chamber, warmly embraced the British minister, and welcomed
the other gentlemen of the Mission. After the usual compliments had
been exchanged, and the presents sent by the British Government had
been examined by the Maharajah with curious minuteness, a conversation
ensued on an infinite variety of topics. “The Maharajah,” wrote
Macnaghten to the Governor-General, “passed from war to wine, and from
learning to hunting, with breathless rapidity. He was particularly
anxious to know how much each member of the Mission had drunk of some
ardent liquor he had sent them the night before. He was equally anxious
to know the distance at which a shrapnel shot could do execution. It is
impossible to say on which of these subjects his interrogatives were
most minute. He asked me if I was a good huntsman, and on replying in
the negative, he asked me if I knew Arabic and Sanscrit. On receiving
a reply in the affirmative, as if doubtful of what I had said, he
insisted on my reciting a couplet of the former language. He asked
about Herat—about Dost Mahomed Khan, about the Persian army and their
connection with the Russians, and the possibility of their invading
India.”[221] It was not prudent to enter too minutely into this matter
in open Durbar. Macnaghten replied, briefly and generally, to the
questions about Russo-Persian invasion, and laughed the idea to scorn.
“I can enter more fully into the question,” he added, “at a private

On the morning of the 3rd of June, Macnaghten and the other members
of the Mission, accompanied also by Captain Wade and Lieutenant
Mackeson,[222] appeared by invitation at Durbar. There was some
general conversation about the relations between Russia and Persia;
and then a signal was made to the British officers to retire into
an inner apartment. There the business of the conference was now
to be transacted. On the part of the Lahore government there were
present—Dhyan Singh, the minister; his son Heerat Singh, the favourite
of the Maharajah; Lehna Singh, Adjeet Singh, and other Sirdars, with
the doctor-secretary, the Fakir Aziz-ood-deen. On the part of the
Mission, there were present with Macnaghten, Captains Osborne and Wade.
Macgregor, Mackeson, and Dr. Drummond remained outside with some other
officers of the Maharajah’s Court.

Runjeet Singh commenced the conference. The letter of the
Governor-General, he said, had been read to him, and he fully
understood its contents. He desired that all present should hear it;
and accordingly the Fakir Aziz-ood-deen, whose polished manners and
admirable address presented a striking contrast to the ruder bearing
of the Sikh chiefs by whom he was surrounded, read the letter aloud,
and, with that unequalled power of interpretation of which he was
the master, distinctly explained every sentence. Macnaghten was then
requested to state what he had to say on the part of the British
Government. This he did fluently and well. Whether all he advanced
was strictly true it is hardly necessary to inquire. Diplomacy is not
intended to be subjected to such a test. The tender interest taken
in the honour and dignity of the Maharajah were descanted upon, on
the one side, and the unreasonableness of Dost Mahomed on the other.
The failure of Burnes’s Mission was spoken of as the result of the
unwillingness of the Caubul Ameer to break off negotiations with
other foreign agents, though even at that time Dost Mohamed, after
Burnes’s departure, was making a last despairing effort to win back
the friendship of the British Government.[223] Then came a somewhat
inflated eulogium on the resources of the British Government, and the
200,000 soldiers who could at any time be brought into the field to
resist a simultaneous invasion from all the four sides of India. If
then, urged Macnaghten, such were the unaided power of the British
Government, what must that power be when united with the strength of
the Sikh Empire? There was nothing, indeed, of a palpable character
to be apprehended from the movements of the Russians and Persians, or
the hostility of the Barukzye Sirdars, but as their intrigues, it
was said, must have the effect of unsettling men’s minds, both in the
British and the Sikh dominions, it was desirable to concert measures
for the future suppression of all these disturbing influences. He had,
therefore, been despatched by the Governor-General of India to the
Court of the Maharajah, to ascertain the wishes of his Highness.

Runjeet listened very patiently to this address, only interrupting
the speaker now and then to express his assent to Macnaghten’s
statements; and when asked what were his wishes, replied that they
were the wishes of the British Government. After some further
interchange of compliments, Runjeet asked what were the wishes of
the British Government; and the British Envoy then began guardedly
to state them after the manner of the instructions he had received.
There were two courses, he said, open to the Maharajah—the one was, to
act independently; the other was, to act in concert with the British
Government. A murmur of approbation arose from the assembled chiefs,
when Runjeet broke in with the assertion that it was his wish to act
in concert with the British Government. Entreating him not to decide
hastily, but to weigh well the details of the two schemes, Macnaghten
then said, “Your Highness some time ago formed a treaty with Shah
Soojah-ool-Moolk. Do you think it would be still for your benefit that
the treaty should stand good, and would it be agreeable to your wishes
that the British Government should become a party to that treaty?”
“This,” replied Runjeet, “would be adding sugar to milk.” “If such,”
said Macnaghten, “be decidedly the wish of your Highness, I do not
think that the Governor-General would object to supply Shah Soojah
with money and officers to enable him to recover his throne.” He then
proceeded to state what were the views of the Governor-General—that the
Shah should advance by the route of Candahar, whilst the Sikh troops
should advance upon Caubul through the Khybur Pass. “Circumstances,”
it was added, “might arise to render it necessary for the British
Government to send some of its own troops down the Indus, to repel any
threat of aggression in that direction.” “How many?” asked Runjeet. The
answer was, “As many as the exigency of the occasion may require; but
their employment in that direction will only be temporary.”

Macnaghten next launched into a panegyric on the general moderation of
the British Government; and then having entered into some particulars
relating to the necessary modification and extension of the treaty
between Shah Soojah and Runjeet Singh,[224] proceeded to call the
attention of the Maharajah to the second plan suggested by the
Governor-General—the plan of independent action on the part of the Sikh
ruler, which Lord Auckland declared that he was more inclined to favour
than the other project. But it was with difficulty that Runjeet Singh
could be induced to listen to this proposal. His impatience broke out
openly. His mind, he said, was made up on the subject. He would have
nothing to do with the independent expedition. The plan first set forth
by the British Envoy was the one which he purposed to accept; and so
Macnaghten could only say in reply, that though the Governor-General
approved of the course last stated, his Lordship set too much value on
the friendship of the Maharajah to wish to force it upon him.

It now only remained to settle the details of the project for the
subversion of Barukzye ascendancy in Afghanistan. So little at this
time was it in contemplation that the brunt of the expedition should
fall upon the British army, that Runjeet, who soon began to have his
misgivings regarding the success of an undertaking in which his own
troops and the raw levies of Shah Soojah were to be the main actors,
sent the Fakir Aziz-ood-een to ask Macnaghten whether, in the event of
the allies sustaining a reverse, the British Government were prepared
to support them. The affirmative reply hardly seemed to satisfy the
Sikh agent, who spoke of the remoteness of our resourses from the
scene of action; and it was obviously then the desire of his master
that the British troops should take a more prominent part in the
coming expedition. He seemed, indeed, to think that too large a share
of the danger[225] devolved upon him, and that he was to be allowed
too little of the spoil.[226] The advantages to be derived from the
alliance with Shah Soojah were not, he said, so great that he might
not reasonably ask for something beyond what had been set forth in the
proposals of the British Government; and it is not to be denied that
there was at this time some show of truth in the assertion. Macnaghten
continued to reply that the Maharajah, if he were not satisfied with
the terms of the treaty, was at liberty to act independently, and
that it would be no offence to the British Government if he preferred
that scheme to the other. But he took the opportunity, in the course
of one of his conferences with the Sikh agents, to hint that it was
possible that “circumstances might occur to render it necessary for
us to counteract danger, and that if it seriously threatened us, we
might be compelled to arrest the advance of the Persians by the advance
of our own troops; and in this case we might find it expedient to
support the cause of Shah Soojah.” This, however, was uttered in a
precautionary spirit, “in order to guard against the possibility of its
being supposed hereafter that we designedly concealed our intentions
from his Highness, and that we had sinister and exclusive views of our

On the 23rd of June, by which time the Mission had followed the camp of
the Maharajah to Lahore, and the patience of the British negotiators
had been well-nigh exhausted by the vexatious claims and frivolous
objections of the Sikh party, a statement to the same effect was made
on Macnaghten’s authority by Lieutenant Mackeson[228] to Runjeet Singh
himself; and the Maharajah told the British officer at once, in his
hurried, emphatic manner, to prepare the treaty. It seemed as though
the many objections which had been started, had originated from the
Maharajah’s advisers rather than from himself, and that they had
kept out of his way the probability of the British Government acting
for themselves independently in the matter before him. But now that
the case had been plainly stated in his own hearing, Runjeet at once
grasped the whole question; fully comprehended his own position;
and resolutely decided for himself. But, never forgetful of his own
interests, he clamoured still for the cession of Jellalabad;[229] and,
with seeming coquettishness consented to receive two lakhs of rupees in
the shape of an annual subsidy, instead of the territorial accession,
which the British agent had resolutely refused.

On the 26th of June, the treaty was formally signed by the Maharajah.
It had been slightly modified since the original draft was prepared;
but, with the exception of the introduction of the subsidy article,
had undergone no essential alterations. It was, in effect, a treaty
between Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah, guaranteed by the British
Government; and it ran in the following words:

 _Treaty of alliance and friendship executed between Maharajah
 Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, with the approbation of, and
 in concert with, the British Government._

Whereas a treaty was formerly concluded between Maharajah Runjeet
Singh and Soojah-ool-Moolk, consisting of fourteen articles, exclusive
of the preamble and the conclusion; and whereas the execution of the
provisions of the said treaty was suspended for certain reasons; and
whereas at this time Mr. W. H. Macnaghten, having been deputed by the
Right Honourable George Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India, to
the presence of Maharajah Runjeet Singh, and vested with full powers
to form a treaty in a manner consistent with the friendly engagements
subsisting between the two states, the treaty aforesaid is revived
and concluded with certain modifications, and four new articles have
been added thereto, with the approbation of, and in concert with,
the British Government, the provisions whereof as contained in the
following eighteen articles, will be duly and faithfully observed.

1st. Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk disclaims all title on the part of himself,
his heirs, successors, and all the Suddozyes, to whatever territories
lying on either bank of the River Indus that may be possessed by the
Maharajah—viz., Cashmere, including its limits, east, west, north, and
south, together with the Fort of Attock, Chuch Hazara, Khebel, Amb,
with its dependencies on the left bank of the aforesaid river; and on
the right bank Peshawur, with the Eusafzae territory, Kheteks, Husht
Nagger, Mechnee, Kohat, Himgoo, and all places dependent on Peshawur,
as far as the Khybur Pass; Bunnoo, the Vezeree territory, Dour Tuwk,
Goraug Kulabagh, and Kushulgher, with their dependent districts; Dera
Ishmael Khan, and its dependency, together with Dera Ghazee Khan, Kut,
Methen, Omerkoth, and their dependent territory; Secughur, Heren Dajel,
Hajeepore, Rajenpore, and the three Ketchees, as well as Mankeera, with
its districts, and the province of Mooltan, situated on the left bank.
These countries and places are considered to be the property and to
form the estate of the Maharajah; the Shah neither has, nor will have,
any concern with them. They belong to the Maharajah and his posterity
from generation to generation.

2nd. The people of the country on the other side of Khybur will not
be suffered to commit robberies, or aggressions, or any disturbances
on this side. If any defaulter of either state who has embezzled the
revenue take refuge in the territory of the other, each party engages
to surrender him, and no person shall obstruct the passage of the
stream which issues out of the Khybur defile, and supplies the fort of
Futtehgurh with water according to ancient usage.

3rd. As agreeably to the treaty established between the British
Government and the Maharajah, no one can cross from the left to the
right bank of the Sutlej without a passport from the Maharajah; the
same rule shall be observed regarding the passage of the Indus whose
waters join the Sutlej; and no one shall be allowed to cross the Indus
without the Maharajah’s permission.

4th. Regarding Shikarpoor and the territory of Sindh lying on the right
bank of the Indus, the Shah will agree to abide by whatever may be
settled as right and proper, in conformity with the happy relations of
friendship subsisting between the British Government and the Maharajah,
through Captain Wade.

5th. When the Shah shall have established his authority in Caubul
and Candahar, he will annually send the Maharajah the following
articles—viz., 55 high-bred horses of approved colour and pleasant
paces, 11 Persian cimeters, 7 Persian poniards, 25 good mules; fruits
of various kinds, both dry and fresh, and surdees or musk melons of a
sweet and delicate flavour (to be sent throughout the year), by the way
of Caubul River to Peshawur; grapes, pomegranates, apples, quinces,
almonds, raisins, pistales or chronuts, an abundant supply of each;
as well as pieces of satin of every colour, choghas of fur, kimkhobs
wrought with gold and silver, and Persian carpets altogether to the
number of 101 pieces; all these articles the Shah will continue to send
every year to the Maharajah.

6th. Each party shall address the other in terms of equality.

7th. Merchants of Afghanistan, who will be desirous of trading to
Lahore, Umritsur, or any other parts of the Maharajah’s possessions,
shall not be stopped or molested on their way. On the contrary, strict
orders shall be issued to facilitate their intercourse, and the
Maharajah engages to observe the same line of conduct on his part in
respect to traders who may wish to proceed to Afghanistan.

8th. The Maharajah will yearly send to the Shah the following articles
in the way of friendship: 55 pieces of shawls, 25 pieces of muslin, 11
dooputtas, 5 pieces of kinkhob, 5 scarves, 55 tinbuns, 55 loads of Bara
rice (peculiar to Peshawur).

9th. Any of the Maharajah’s officers who may be deputed to Afghanistan
to purchase horses, or on any other business, as well as those who may
be sent by the Shah into the Punjab for the purpose of purchasing piece
goods or shawls, &c., to the amount of 11,000 rupees, will be treated
by both sides with due attention, and every facility will be afforded
to them in the execution of their commission.

10th. Whenever the armies of the two states may happen to be assembled
at the same place, on no account shall the slaughter of kine be
permitted to take place.

11th. In the event of the Shah taking an auxiliary force from the
Maharajah, whatever booty may be acquired from the Barukzyes in jewels,
horses, and arms great and small, shall be equally divided between
the two contracting parties. If the Shah should succeed in obtaining
possession of their property without the assistance of the Maharajah’s
troops, the Shah agrees to send a portion of it by his own agents to
the Maharajah, in the way of friendship.

12th. An exchange of missions, charged with letters and presents, shall
constantly take place between the two parties.

13th. Should the Maharajah require the aid of any of the Shah’s troops
in furtherance of the object contemplated by this treaty, the Shah
engages to send a force commanded by one of his principal officers;
in like manner, the Maharajah will furnish the Shah, when required,
with an auxiliary force composed of Mahomedans, and commanded by one
of his principal officers as far as Caubul, in furtherance of the
objects contemplated by this treaty. When the Maharajah may go to
Peshawur, the Shah will depute a Shah-zadah to visit him; on which
occasions the Maharajah will receive and dismiss him with the honour
and consideration due to his rank and dignity.

14th. The friends and enemies of each of the three high powers—that is
to say, the British and Sikh Governments and Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk,
shall be the friends and enemies of all.

15th. Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk agrees to relinquish for himself, his
heirs, and successors, all claims of supremacy and arrears of tribute
over the country now held by the Ameers of Sindh (which will continue
to belong to the Ameers and their successors in perpetuity), on
condition of the payment to him by the Ameers of such a sum as may be
determined, under the mediation of the British Government, of such
payment being made over by him to Maharajah Runjeet Singh. On these
payments being completed, article 4 of the treaty of the 12th of March,
1833, will be considered cancelled, and the customary interchange of
letters and suitable presents between the Maharajah and the Ameers of
Sindh shall be maintained as heretofore.

16th. Shah Soojah engages, after the attainment of his object, to pay
without fail to the Maharajah the sum of two lakhs of rupees of the
Nanukshahee or Kuldar currency, calculating from the date on which
the Sikh troops may be despatched for the purpose of reinstating his
Majesty in Caubul, in consideration of the Maharajah stationing a
force of not less than 5000 men—cavalry and infantry—of the Mohamedan
persuasion, within the limits of the Peshawur territory for the support
of the Shah, and to be sent to the aid of his Majesty whenever the
British Government, in concert and counsel with the Maharajah, shall
deem the aid necessary; and when any matter of great importance may
arise to the westward, such measures will be adopted with regard to it
as may seem expedient and proper at the time to the British and Sikh
Governments. In the event of the Maharajah requiring the aid of the
Shah’s troops, a deduction shall be made from the subsidy proportioned
to the period for which such aid may be afforded; and the British
Government holds itself responsible for the punctual payment of the
above sum annually to the Maharajah, so long as the provisions of this
treaty are duly observed.

17th. When Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk shall have succeeded in establishing
his authority in Afghanistan, he shall not attack or molest his nephew,
the ruler of Herat, in the possession of his territories, now subject
to his government.

18th. Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk binds himself, his heirs, and successors,
to refrain from entering into negotiations with any foreign state,
without the knowledge and consent of the British and Sikh Governments,
and to oppose any power having the design to invade the British and
Sikh territories by force of arms, to the utmost of his ability.

The three powers parties to this treaty—namely, the British Government,
Maharajah Runjeet Singh, and Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk—cordially agree to
the foregoing articles. There shall be no deviation from them, and in
that case the present treaty shall be considered as binding for ever;
and this treaty shall come into operation from and after the date on
which the seals and signatures of the three contracting parties shall
have been affixed thereto. Done at Lahore, this 26th day of June, in
the year of our Lord 1838, corresponding with the 15th of the month of
Assar, 1895. Area of Bekramajeet.

The treaty was despatched to Simlah for the signature of the
Governor-General, which Runjeet Singh expressed some anxiety to obtain
with the least possible delay. But Lord Auckland at once decided
that he could with no propriety attach his name to the treaty until
it had been sanctioned and signed by Shah Soojah. Anxious as he
was to conclude the negotiation, Runjeet Singh could not demur to
this decision. His patience, however, was not to be severely taxed.
Macnaghten was directed to proceed with all possible expedition to
obtain the consent of the Shah; and so, on the 13th of July, the
Maharajah gave the English gentlemen their audience of leave; and,
amidst the most profuse expressions of friendship and attachment, they
took their departure from Runjeet’s Court.

They turned their faces towards Loodhianah. A pensioner on the bounty
of the British Government, Shah Soojah, ever since his last disastrous
attempt to regain his empire, had dwelt there in the midst of his
family as one not yet reconciled to a life of peaceful obscurity, but
somewhat sobered down by the repeated failures which had beset his
unfortunate career. It is probable that no political vicissitudes in
Afghanistan, however favourable to the restoration of the monarchy,
would have tempted him to head another expedition for the recovery of
Caubul and Candahar. But when reports reached him of the designs of
the British Government, and the probability that he would be supplied
with British money and British skill for the support and conduct of the
army which he was to lead against the Barukzye Sirdars, he saw more
clearly his way to his old place in the Balla Hissar of Caubul; and
long dormant hopes and expectations began to revive within him. But he
could not wholly suppress his suspicions of the sincerity both of the
British and the Sikhs; and his delight was straitened by the thought
that he would, in effect, be little more than a passive instrument in
the hands of his powerful and ambitious allies.

On the evening of the 15th of July, accompanied by Captain Wade
and Lieutenant Mackeson, Mr. Macnaghten waited on Shah Soojah at
Loodhianah. Seated on a musnud slightly elevated above the level
of the room, the Shah received the British gentlemen with becoming
cordiality, and desired them to seat themselves on a carpet beside
him. Macnaghten commenced the conference. He spoke of the friendly
feeling that had always existed between the British Government and the
Suddozye Princes, since Mr. Elphinstone’s mission to Afghanistan. He
said that, although unable actively to co-operate with the Shah in his
first attempts to regain his kingdom, the British Government had always
desired the success of his undertakings. He explained the circumstances
under which a mission had been sent to the Court of Dost Mahomed. And
then, with as little truth as had marked his previous communications
to Runjeet, commented upon the unfriendly manner in which the Mission
had been received, and the conduct of the Ameer in “rejecting our good
offices;” conduct which had rendered it necessary to counteract his
hostile designs by establishing a friendly power in the territories of

To all of this the Shah listened attentively, and then said that he
had always foretold the result of the mission to the Court of Dost
Mahomed—(which was a piece of good luck the Ameer was not able to
appreciate)—that he who had not been true to his own master was little
likely to be true to a foreign power; but that now he would see the
result of his folly, and be baffled in his attempt to betray his
country into the hands of the Persian invaders.

Upon this Macnaghten at once announced the intention of the British
Government to restore Shah Soojah to his hereditary dominions. It
would have been more agreeable, he said, to his government to act
in such a matter without consulting any other state; but that the
Sikhs were now in actual possession of so many of the provinces of
the old Douranee Empire, and their interests so intimately associated
with those of the British in that part of the country, that it was
impossible to omit them from the compact—that, consequently, the
Governor-General had instructed him to wait on Runjeet Singh, and
that the result had been the formation of a treaty which was now to
be submitted for his Majesty’s approval, together with a letter from
Lord Auckland. The letter was then read; and Macnaghten reverting first
to the old treaty between Shah Soojah and Runjeet Singh, said that it
was the intention of the British Government to become a party to its
stipulations under certain alterations and additions. With the utmost
unconcern the Shah said that a paper of some kind had been exchanged
with Runjeet Singh, but that it was merely to the effect that if he
regained his dominions there should be an interchange of friendly
letters, presents, and missions between the two Courts.

Whether Macnaghten smiled at this version of the old alliance is
not on record. But he began now to read and explain the articles of
the amended treaty. The Shah’s comments were frequent and emphatic.
Sneering at the minuteness with which the possessions of Runjeet Singh
were defined in the first article, he declared that Peshawur was only
a burden to the Sikh government, and that Runjeet would willingly
hand it over to any one but Dost Mahomed. Indeed, he said, that the
Maharajah’s vakeel had often pledged his word to him that, in the event
of his recovering his throne, Peshawur should be reannexed to his
dominions. But when Captain Wade and Moollah Shikore[230] recalled,
to his Majesty’s recollection that Peshawur had been expressly named
in the old treaty among the possessions of Runjeet Singh, the Shah
acknowledged that it was so, and yielded the point.

Other articles were then commented on by the Shah and his agent; but
that which seemed most to stagger them was the stipulation for the
annual payment by Caubul of two lakhs to the state of Lahore. Little
advantage, observed the Shah, could the British Government expect to
derive from his restoration, if they placed him in a position inferior
to that held by the present ruler of Caubul, who paid no tribute to
the Sikhs. “He had long,” he said, “indulged a hope that the day would
come when the British Government, whose honoured guest he had been for
more than twenty years, would restore him to the throne and possessions
of his ancestors—that the British Government must be aware that, after
such a period of dependence on them, in whatever manner they chose to
send him forth, his fair name was identified with their own—that in
this world a good name alone deserved to be prized—that half a loaf
with a good name were better than abundance without it. He then alluded
to the small revenues of Afghanistan—said that Caubul and Candahar
yielded nothing—that when Shikarpoor paid its revenues regularly, the
amount realised was only three lakhs—that to enable him to establish
his government, and keep it, he would require to maintain 15,000
troops; and how were they to be paid?—that it would be less irksome
if the money were only required to be paid whenever he had occasion
to make use of the services of Runjeet Singh’s troops.”[231] To all
this Macnaghten replied, that the payment was not by any means, to
be regarded in the light of tribute from a weaker to a more powerful
state, but simply as remuneration for services performed. Adroitly
alluding to the subsidy recently paid by the British Government to
the Persian state, the English Envoy said that a powerful government
often subsidised, for its own uses, a weaker one; and that if Runjeet
did not furnish the troops, the Shah would be exempted from paying
the money; but that as the former was bound to hold them always in
readiness for service, it would not be reasonable to pay them only when
they were called into the field. Indeed, he urged, Runjeet Singh had
with difficulty been persuaded to consent to the terms of this very
article, which imposed upon him no light conditions, and had, moreover,
been substituted as a compensation to the Maharajah for withdrawing
the demands he had made for actual territorial concessions both at
Shikarpoor and Jellalabad.

There was little to be said in reply to this. The Shah yielded a
reluctant assent. The remaining articles of the treaty were read, and
called forth but slight comment. Macnaghten then invited the Shah to
state unreservedly his opinions on the whole question. Thus appealed
to, the exiled King spoke out cordially and unrestrainedly, but with a
full sense of what was due to himself. “He spoke of his long connexion
with the British Government, of his fortune being entirely in their
hands—said that he had entertained the hope, in his long exile, that
it would sooner or later stretch out its arm to restore him to all
the possessions and powers of his ancestors; but that if this hope
could not at once be fulfilled, he must content himself with what now
remained of the disjointed kingdom of Afghanistan; that in the event of
the straitened revenue of Candahar and Caubul being further reduced by
the payment of two lakhs of rupees annually to the Sikhs, he must look
to support from the British Government to meet and oppose any increased
danger from the approach of more powerful enemies from the westward. On
this point full assurance was given him. He then observed that there
were one or two other points in which he wished to have assurance
given him, and that, in other respects, he was at the disposal of the
British Government:—1stly. That no interference should be exercised
with his authority over those of his tribe and household; 2ndly. That
he should be allowed to raise forces of his own to go with some show
of power, and not as though he were a mere puppet in the hands of
the British Government to work out their views. He then dwelt on the
importance of this in the eyes of his people who would come to join
his standard; said that if they found he was no longer the source of
honour and reward, they would desert him and return to their homes, as
they would have no object in connecting themselves with the schemes of
foreigners—that he should therefore be allowed to commence recruiting
men, as many were waiting to enter his service—that when his adherents
flocked to his standard, he should be able to give them hopes of reward
for their services.”[232]

On all these points the fullest assurances were given to the Shah. Then
Macnaghten began to set forth how it was the desire of the British
Government that one of their own functionaries should be stationed at
the Shah’s Court;[233] and that British officers should be furnished to
discipline the Shah’s levies, to command them during the expedition,
and to remain with him after his restoration. To all of this the Shah
readily assented. Declaring himself confident of success, he then
expressed an eager hope that no delay would be permitted, but that
the expedition would set out as soon as ever the troops could be
raised for the purpose. When the beginning of the ensuing cold weather
was named as the time for commencing operations, the Shah expressed
surprise and regret that the movement should be so long delayed; and
urged the expediency of moving whilst Herat was still holding out. His
appearance in the neighbourhood of Candahar, he said, would doubtless
compel Mahomed Shah to withdraw his investing army, and secure the
frontier against all future attacks.[234]

Then Macnaghten asked the King whether it were his desire to advance
by the Khybur Pass, or the route of Sindh. To this Shah Soojah replied
that the Khyburees were his slaves—that they were willing to sacrifice
themselves at his bidding—that he frequently received imploring letters
from the Momunds, the Eusofzyes, and other tribes in the neighbourhood
of Peshawur, but that there were so many solid advantages in the
combined movement by Candahar and Peshawur, which would completely
paralyse the movements of Dost Mahomed, that he gave it the preference.
His own force, he said, should advance by Candahar, whilst his eldest
son, Prince Timour, might accompany the Sikh army through the Khybur

Little more now remained to be said. But before taking his leave of the
Shah, Macnaghten invited him to state in writing the points on which
he required the assurances of the British Government, and expressed
a hope that, as the Mission had received instructions to return
immediately to Simlah, his Majesty’s wishes might be laid before him
with the least possible delay. Desiring the British Envoy to call upon
him again on the following evening, after leisure had been allowed
him to study well the contents of the proposed treaty, the Shah then
bade him adieu; and the English officers took their departure. It did
not appear to those present, on this occasion, when the sovereignty
of Afghanistan was offered to the long-exiled monarch, and now, for
the first time since his dethronement, there dawned upon him something
like a certainty of recovering his lost dominions, that he received
the announcements of the English Mission with feelings of very earnest
exultation and delight. There were evidently some misgivings in the
mind of the Shah, who mistrusted both Runjeet Singh and the British
Government. Everything seemed to have been already arranged between
the two parties, whilst he himself, it appeared, was designed to be a
passive instrument for the furtherance of their ends—a puppet in their
hands, to give grace to the show and character to the expedition.

An hour before the time appointed for the second meeting between Shah
Soojah and the British Emissary, Moollah Shikore waited upon the latter
with a paper, setting forth the points upon which the Shah especially
desired to have the assurances of the British Government. They ran to
the following effect:

 _Firstly._ That as regards the descendants of the King of the
 Douranees (Ahmed Shah), and the sons and relations of myself, whoever
 they may be, the right of providing for them or not, and the direction
 of all that concerns them, belong to me alone; in this matter neither
 the British Government nor other shall exercise any interference.[236]

 _Secondly._ After I have been re-instated in Caubul and Candahar,
 if, in consequence of the smallness of my possessions, I should
 desire to send an army against Balkh, Seistan, Beloochistan, and
 the neighbourhood and dependencies of Caubul and Candahar, and take
 possession of them, no hindrance shall be offered.[237]

 _Thirdly._ When Caubul and Candahar become mine, the dependencies of
 those places, as they existed in the time of the monarchy, ought to
 belong to me.[238]

 _Fourthly._ When I have been re-instated at Caubul, and the officers
 of the British Government prepare to return, should I desire to retain
 one of them as an envoy, and some others for the purpose of forming
 and disciplining my army, they will not be refused.[239]

 _Fifthly._ The British officers shall exercise no authority over
 the people of Afghanistan, whether soldiers or subjects, without my
 approbation and concurrence.[240]

 _Sixthly._ With respect to giving two lakhs of rupees, and something
 besides from Shikarpoor, it appears to me very hard and difficult;
 firstly, because my country will not afford means sufficient for
 the expenses of my government and the maintenance of my troops; and
 secondly, because the measure will be considered by the world as
 payment of tribute. It rests, however, with the British Government,
 and if it is of opinion that the country has the means, and that the
 measure is a proper one, I do not object. The conduct of my affairs is
 in the hands of the British Government.[241]

 _Seventhly._ After the decay of the monarchy, in the same manner
 as my servants rebelling usurped the country, so did the Sindhians
 place officers in possession of Shikarpoor; now that I shall regain
 possession of my kingdom, the Sindhians must release Shikarpoor. It is
 a royal possession, and must belong to me.[242]

 _Eighthly._ With respect to slave-girls who ran away from their
 masters, although to deliver them up may be against the regulations,
 yet it is a matter of necessity, for respectable people (females)
 cannot dispense with servants, however the regulations may be enforced
 with other people, it is not right to apply them to a guest, it is
 proper that the slave-girls of the _Vilaitis_ (native of Afghanistan)
 attached to me, who may run away from their masters, be made to

Having mastered the contents of this paper, Macnaghten proceeded to the
audience, and after the first salutations, began, with his Majesty’s
permission, to read over the several articles, and comment on them as
he proceeded. He then went on to say that it was now plain that the
Shah’s mind had been set at rest on all the points which had before
occasioned him doubt, and as his Majesty was now prepared without
scruple to ratify the treaty, he hoped that he would furnish him with
a written paper to this effect. To this the Shah readily assented, and
the following postscript was then appended to the document:

 After a reperusal of the treaty, and hearing the representations
 made by the British officers of high rank, it appeared to me right
 that, in the foregoing enumeration of the objects to be desired, the
 mention of Shikarpoor should not be introduced, and with respect to
 the objections which I have stated, to giving two lakhs of rupees to
 Runjeet Singh, in exchange for the services of his troops, as it does
 not appear to me injurious to my dignity, I have omitted all mention
 of that also, and am now prepared with willingness and satisfaction to
 sign the treaty.[244]

The negotiation now at an end; the Shah expressed his eagerness to
commence work without delay; and was argent in his solicitations for
an immediate supply of money, arms, and ammunition. He again, too,
expressed his desire to conduct the expedition for the recovery of his
dominions, as one relying mainly upon the strength of his own army.
He wished to obtain the assistance of British officers in raising and
disciplining his troops, but he hoped “that the immediate operations
for regaining his throne might be conducted” by those troops. Such
reliance on his own arms would raise, he said, his character in the
estimation of the people, “while the fact of his being upheld by
foreign force alone could not fail to detract, in a great measure,
from his dignity and consequence.”[245] He had already, he declared,
in reply to a suggestion from the British Envoy, sent letters to many
persons of influence in Afghanistan, calling upon them to join his
standard, and he was certain that thousands would flock to it from all
parts of the country.[246] He appeared to be in the highest spirits,
and spoke strongly of the debt of gratitude which he owed to the
British Government, both for the protection that had been yielded him
during past years, and for the more active assistance which was about
to confer upon him so much power and grandeur.

Macnaghten now took his leave of the Shah, and proceeded with the
officers of the Mission to pay a visit to Zemaun Shah, who, blind and
powerless, had remained since his dethronement an appendage to the
faded Court of his younger brother, dreaming over the past grandeur of
his magnificent reign, and sighing to revisit the scene of his bygone
glories. Vague rumours of the intention of the British Government to
restore the Suddozye Princes to the sovereignty of Afghanistan had
reached him in his dreary exile; and now that the British Envoy was at
his door, so eager was he to learn the whole truth, that almost before
the ordinary salutations had been exchanged, he pressed Macnaghten for
a full revelation of the glad tidings of which he was the bearer. The
intelligence, which the English gentleman imparted to him, stirred
the heart of the old blind Prince with joy and exultation. “He seemed
filled with delight at the prospect of being permitted to revisit the
land of his ancestors.”[247] This was the first gleam of good fortune
that had burst upon him for many years; and it was a curious and
affecting sight to mark the effect which the announcement of the good
offices of the British wrought upon one, who, forty years before, had
threatened vast expeditions to the southward, which had filled the
British in India with anxiety and alarm.

On the 17th of July, Macnaghten and his suite turned their backs upon
Loodhianah, and repaired, with all possible haste, to Simlah, there
to discuss with Lord Auckland and the secretaries who had remained
with him, the measures now to be adopted for the restoration of Shah
Soojah-ool-Moolk to the long-lost empire of Ahmed Shah.


[July—October, 1838.]

 The Simlah Manifesto—The Simlah Council—Influence of Messrs. Colvin
 and Torrens—Views of Captains Burnes and Wade—Opinions of Sir Henry
 Fane—The Array of the Indus—The Governor-General’s Manifesto—Its
 Policy considered.

It is obvious that, in all the negotiations detailed in the preceding
chapter, the paramount idea was that of an alliance between Runjeet
Singh and Shah Soojah, guaranteed by the British Government, and a
conjoint expedition into Afghanistan from the two sides of Peshawur and
Shikarpoor, to be undertaken by the armies of the Lahore ruler and the
Suddozye Prince. It was hinted to Runjeet Singh that events might be
developed, which would render necessary the more active co-operation
of the British army; but Shah Soojah, who was desirous above all
things that the British should not take the foremost part in the
coming expedition, was led to believe that, assisted by a few British
officers, he would be left to recover for himself his old dominions,
and that he would by no means become a puppet in the hands of his
Feringhee allies.[248]

But these moderate views were about now to be expanded into a political
scheme of far wider scope and significance. Whilst Macnaghten was
negotiating the tripartite treaty at Lahore and Loodhianah, John Colvin
and Henry Torrens remained at Simlah, as the scribes and counsellors
of the Governor-General. To what extent their bolder speculations
wrought upon the plastic mind of Lord Auckland it is not easy, with
due historical accuracy, to determine. But it is generally conjectured
that the influences then set at work overcame the scruples of the
cautious and peace-loving statesman, and induced him to sanction an
enterprise of a magnitude commensurate with the bold and ambitious
views of his irresponsible advisers. The direct influence mainly
emanated from John Colvin. It is probable, indeed, that the counsels
of a man so young and so erratic as Henry Torrens would have met
with no acceptance from the sober-minded nobleman at the head of the
government, but for a circumstance which gave weight to his opinions
and cogency to his advice. By all the accidents of birth and early
associations, as well as by the bent of his own genius, the young
civilian was a true soldier. The son of a distinguished officer and
an approved military teacher, he had graduated, whilst yet a boy,
in the learning of the camp, and his after studies had done much to
perfect his acquaintance with the tactics and strategy of modern
warfare. He possessed, indeed, the very knowledge which the other
members of the Simlah Council most wanted; and hence it was that he
came to exercise considerable influence over Lord Auckland, more
perhaps through his brother secretaries than directly brought to bear
upon the mind of the Governor-General himself. It was urged that the
expedition, if entrusted entirely to Shah Soojah and the Sikhs, would
set in disastrous failure; and there was at least some probability
in this. Runjeet Singh was no more than lukewarm in the cause; and
the Sikhs were detested in Afghanistan. Lord Auckland shrunk from the
responsibility of despatching a British army across the Indus; but,
warned of the danger of identifying himself with a slighter measure
promising little certainty of success, he halted, for a time, between
two opinions, and slowly yielded to the assaults of his scribes.[249]

There were two other men then on the frontier whose opinions Lord
Auckland had been naturally desirous to obtain. Captain Burnes and
Captain Wade were at least acquainted with the history and politics of
Afghanistan, and they had freely placed their sentiments on record.
It has been advanced that the course of policy eventually pursued was
in accordance with the views of these two officers. It is important,
therefore, that it should be clearly ascertained what those views
actually were.

On the 20th of July Captain Burnes joined the Simlah Council. On the
29th of May, whilst halting at Peshawur, he had received a letter from
Mr. Macnaghten, instructing him to proceed at once to join the British
Mission, and in obedience to the summons had started at once on his
downward journey. In the middle of June he had joined the camp of the
British Envoy at Lahore, and taken part in the later deliberations
which had preceded the acceptance by Runjeet Singh of the terms
proposed by the British Government; and on the departure of the Mission
for Loodhianah had proceeded to join Lord Auckland and his advisers at

Burnes had already placed his opinions on record. At Hussan Abdool
he had received Macnaghten’s letter calling upon him for his views
regarding the best means of counteracting the hostile influence of
the Barukzye chiefs, and on the 2nd of June he had despatched a
long demi-official letter, stating the policy which, under the then
existing circumstances, he conceived it expedient to adopt, “not,” in
his own emphatic words, “what was best; but what was best under the
circumstances, which a series of blunders had produced.”

It is plain that no advice offered by Burnes could have had any effect
upon the question of the restoration of Shah Soojah. Macnaghten, on
reaching Adeenanuggur, had determined not to await the arrival of the
agent from Caubul before stating the views of the British Government
to Runjeet Singh. He had, indeed, given the Maharajah the option of
participating in an expedition for the restoration of Shah Soojah
before he had received, either orally or by letter, the recommendations
of Captain Burnes. When Burnes joined the British Mission, our
Government was irretrievably committed to a course of policy which he
either might or might not have supported. If he had any influence on
the future out-turn of events, it was rather as the adviser of Runjeet
Singh[251] than as the adviser of the British Mission. The fatal offer
had been made to the Maharajah before Burnes joined the Mission camp.

What Burnes really recommended, as the growth of his own free and
unfettered opinion was, that the case of Dost Mahomed should be
reconsidered, and that the British Government should act with him and
not against him. “It remains to be reconsidered,” he wrote,[252] “why
we cannot act with Dost Mahomed. He is a man of undoubted ability,
and has at heart a high opinion of the British nation; and if half
you must do for others were done for him, and offers made which he
could see conduced to his interests, he would abandon Russia and
Persia to-morrow. It may be said that opportunity has been given him;
but I would rather discuss this in person with you, for I think there
is much to be said for him. Government have admitted that he had at
best a choice of difficulties; and it should not be forgotten that we
promised nothing, and Persia and Russia held out a great deal.” But
Burnes had been asked for his advice, not regarding the best means
of counteracting Persian or Russian influence in Afghanistan, but
the best means of counteracting Dost Mahomed; and he gave it as his
opinion, that if Dost Mahomed were to be counteracted, the restoration
of Shah Soojah was a more feasible project than the establishment of
Sikh influence at Caubul. Captain Wade had declared his conviction
that the disunion of the Afghan chiefs was an element of security to
the British; but this opinion Burnes controverted, and pronounced
himself in favour of the consolidation of the Afghan Empire. “As things
stand,” he wrote, “I maintain that it is the best of all policy to make
Caubul in itself as strong as we can make it, and not weaken it by
divided forces. It has already been too long divided. Caubul owed its
strength in bygone days to the tribute of Cashmere and Sindh. Both are
irrevocably gone, and while we do all we can to keep up the Sikhs, as a
power east of the Indus, during the Maharajah’s life or afterwards, we
should consolidate Afghan power west of the Indus, and have a king, and
not a collection of chiefs. _Divide et impera_ is a temporising creed
at any time; and if the Afghans are united, we and they bid defiance to
Persia, and instead of distant relations we have everything under our
eye, and a steadily progressing influence all along the Indus.”

Such were the general views that Burnes enunciated, in the knowledge
that the Simlah Cabinet had determined on the deposition of Dost
Mahomed. In fulfilment of the object thus contemplated, he recommended
that the empire should be consolidated under Shah Soojah, rather
than under Sultan Mahomed or any other chief. He believed that the
restoration of the ex-King could be accomplished with the greatest
facility, at a very trifling expenditure of the resources and display
of the power of the British Government. “As for Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk,
personally,”[253] he wrote, “the British Government have only to send
him to Peshawur with an agent, and two of its own regiments as an
honorary escort, and an avowal to the Afghans that we have taken up his
cause, to ensure his being fixed for ever on the throne. The present
time is perhaps better than any previous to it, for the Afghans, as a
nation, detest Persia, and Dost Mahomed having gone over to the Court
of Teheran, though he believes it to be from dire necessity, converts
many a doubting Afghan into a bitter enemy. The Maharajah’s opinion has
only, therefore, to be asked for the ex-King’s advance on Peshawur,
granting him, at the same time, some four or five of the regiments
which have no Sikhs in their ranks, and Soojah becomes King. He need
not move from Peshawur, but address the Khyburrees, Kohistanees of
Caubul, and all the Afghans from that city, (stating) that he has the
co-operation of the British and the Maharajah, and with but a little
distribution of ready money—say, two or three lakhs of rupees—he will
find himself the real King of the Afghans in a couple of months. It is,
however, to be remembered always, that we must appear directly, for
the Afghans are a superstitious people, and believe Shah Soojah to have
no fortune—but our name will invest him with it.”

Such were the sanguine expectations of Captain Burnes, and the very
moderate policy which he was inclined to recommend, on the presumption
that all amicable relations with Dost Mahomed had now been repudiated
by the British Government. The opinions of Captain Wade were scarcely
less in accordance with those which found favour in the Simlah
Council-Chamber. It had ever been the belief of this officer that
the consolidation of Afghanistan would prove injurious to British
interests. He had insisted that it was the wisest policy to support
the existing rulers, and to encourage the disunion among them. Of Dost
Mahomed, personally, Captain Wade entertained no favourable opinion.
He underrated both the character of the man and his influence over his
countrymen; but so little was he disposed to counsel the subversion
of the existing rule in Afghanistan, that he was always willing
to endeavour to bring about an arrangement with Dost Mahomed, by
recommending Runjeet Singh to accept the overtures of the Ameer.[254]
It was his opinion, that if the consolidation of the country were to be
attempted at all, it would be more expedient to support the claims of
Shah Soojah than of Dost Mahomed; but he regarded the restoration of
the Shah only as a last resort, and would rather have seen the Barukzye
chiefs left quietly in their own possessions. Indeed, in the very
letter of the 1st of January, 1838, on which so much stress has been
laid, Captain Wade, even in the printed version, says: “Shah Soojah’s
recognition could only, however, be justified or demanded of us, in
the event of the prostration of Herat to the Persian Government;” and
in the unprinted portion of this letter the writer says: “I can see
nothing in the state of parties at present in the Punjab to deter us
from pursuing a line of policy” (in Afghanistan), “every way consistent
with our engagements, our reputation, and our interests—viz., that
of recognising the present holders of power, and discouraging any
ambitious schemes of one party to the detriment of another.” And in
conclusion, Captain Wade sums up what he believes to be the true policy
of the British, declaring that “if Dost Mahomed is kept, as he now is,
at Caubul, whether as a Governor of the province, under Shah Soojah, or
in independence of him, and Peshawur be restored to Sultan Mahomed, or
remain as at present, we might not only be safe from disturbances, or
any sudden inroads from the western powers, but be enabled to secure
the integrity of the Sikh nation as far as the Indus, and would mould
these people and their already more than half-disciplined troops to
our wishes.”[255] Captain Wade over-estimated the popularity of Shah
Soojah. He was in constant receipt of information to the effect that
the Douranees and other tribes were eager for his return; and he did
not, perhaps, sufficiently consider that the Afghans always long for
what they have not, and are seldom unripe for revolution. But although
he believed it would be safer to attempt to re-establish the integrity
of Afghanistan under Shah Soojah than under Dost Mahomed, he thought
that it would be better policy still to leave untouched the disunion
and antagonism of the Barukzye Sirdars.

Such, read by the light of their unmutilated despatches, were the
genuine opinions of Burnes and Wade. But the Simlah Council had more
ambitious views, and were disposed towards more extensive plans of
operation. First one project, then another, had been discussed. It
had been debated, firstly, whether the movement on Candahar could be
undertaken by the Shah’s raw levies, supported only, as originally
intended, by a British army of reserve at Shikarpoor; and secondly,
whether some two or three regiments of British troops would not
be sufficient to escort the Shah’s army into the heart of his old
dominions. Both of these projects were abandoned.

Sir Henry Fane was at this time commander-in-chief of the British
forces in India. He had pitched his tent at Simlah, and was in
frequent consultation with the Governor-General. He was a fine old
soldier of the Tory school, with very strong opinions regarding the
general “shabbiness” of all Whig doings, and a strenuous dislike of
half-measures, especially in military affairs. It is believed that
he did not approve of the general policy of British interference in
the affairs of Afghanistan,[256] but he was entirely of opinion that
it was the duty of government, in the conjuncture that had arisen,
either not to interfere at all, or to interfere in such a manner as
to secure the success of our operations. Always by nature inclined
towards moderate measures, the Governor-General for some time resisted
the urgent recommendations of those who spoke of the formation of a
grand army, drawn from our own regular establishment, to be headed by
the commander-in-chief in person, and marched upon Candahar, perhaps
upon Herat itself. But Lord Auckland was never the most resolute of
men. His own confidential advisers had long been endeavouring to
convince him of the necessity of adopting more vigorous measures.
The commander-in-chief was not only recommending such measures, but
insisting upon his right, as the first military authority in the
country, to determine the number of British troops to be employed,
and the manner of their employment. And the ministers of the Crown,
fortified by the knowledge that the expenses of the war would fall
upon the treasury of the East India Company, and that they would
not be called by the British people to account for any expenditure,
however lavish, upon remote warlike operations, which the public might
easily be persuaded to regard as the growth of the most consummate
wisdom, were exhorting Lord Auckland to adopt effectual measures for
the counteraction of Russian intrigue and Persian hostility in the
countries of Afghanistan. So, after some weeks of painful oscillation,
Lord Auckland yielded his own judgment to the judgment of others, and
an order went forth for the assembling of a grand army on the frontier,
to be set in motion early in the coming cold weather, in support of
Shah Soojah and his levies; to cross the Indus; and to march upon

In August, the regiments selected by the commander-in-chief were
warned for field-service, and on the 13th of September he published a
general order, brigading the different components of the force, naming
the staff-officers appointed, and ordering the whole to rendezvous at
Kurnaul. The reports, which all through the dry summer months had been
flitting about from cantonment to cantonment, and making the pulses
of military aspirants, old and young, beat rapidly with the fever of
expectancy, now took substantial shape; and everywhere the approaching
expedition became the one topic of conversation. Peace had reigned over
India for so many years, that the excitement of the coming contest
was as novel as it was inspiriting. There was not an officer in the
army who did not long to join the invading force; and many from the
distant Presidency, or from remote provincial stations, leaving the
quiet staff-appointments which had lapped them long in ease and luxury,
rushed upwards to join their regiments. Even in that unpropitious
season of the year, when the country was flooded by the periodical
rains, corps were set in motion towards Kurnaul, from stations as low
down as Benares, and struggled manfully, often through wide sheets of
water, to their destination at the great northern rallying point. There
had been no such excitement in military circles since the grand army
assembled for the reduction of Bhurtpore; and though the cause was
not a popular one, and there was scarcely a mess-table in the country
at which the political bearings of the invasion of Afghanistan were
discussed without eliciting the plainest possible indications that the
sympathies of our officers were rather with the Barukzye chief than the
Suddozye monarch, there was everywhere the liveliest desire to join the
ranks of an army that was to traverse new and almost fabulous regions,
and visit the scenes rendered famous by the exploits of Mahmoud of
Ghuzni and Nadir Shah.

The army now warned for field-service consisted of a brigade of
artillery, a brigade of cavalry, and five brigades of infantry. Colonel
Graham was to command the artillery; Colonel Arnold the cavalry; whilst
the brigades of infantry were assigned respectively to Colonels Sale
and Dennis, of the Queen’s; and Colonels Nott, Roberts, and Worseley,
of the Company’s service. The infantry brigades were told off into two
divisions under Sir Willoughby Cotton, an old and distinguished officer
of the Queen’s army, who had rendered good service in the Burmese war,
and was now commanding the Presidency division of the Bengal army, and
Major-General Duncan, an esteemed officer of the Company’s service,
who was then in command of the Sirhind division of the army, and was
therefore on the spot to take the immediate management of details.

The regiments now ordered to assemble were her Majesty’s 16th Lancers,
13th Infantry, and 3rd Buffs; the Company’s European regiment;
two regiments of Native light cavalry, and twelve picked Sepoy
corps.[257] Two troops of horse artillery and three companies of foot,
constituted the artillery brigade; and some details of sappers and
miners, under Captain Thomson, completed the Bengal force. The usual
staff-departments were formed to accompany the army,[258] the heads
of departments remaining in the Presidency whilst their deputies
accompanied the forces into the field.

Whilst the Bengal army was assembling on the northern frontier of
India, under the personal command of Sir Henry Fane, another force was
being collected at Bombay. It was composed of a brigade of cavalry,
including her Majesty’s 4th Dragoons, a brigade of artillery, and a
brigade of foot, consisting of two Queen’s regiments (the 2nd Royals
and 17th Foot) and one Sepoy corps. Major-General Thackwell commanded
the cavalry; Major-General Wiltshire the infantry; and Colonel
Stevenson the artillery brigade. Sir John Keane, the commander-in-chief
of the Bombay army, took command of the whole.

Such was the extent of the British force warned for field-service in
the autumn of 1838. At the same time another force was being raised for
service across the Indus—the force that was to be led by Shah Soojah
into Afghanistan; that was to be known distinctively as _his_ force;
but to be raised in the Company’s territories, to be commanded by the
Company’s officers, and to be paid by the Company’s coin.

To this army was to have been entrusted the work of re-establishing
the authority of the Suddozye Princes in Western Afghanistan; but
it had now sunk into a mere appendage to the regular army which the
British-Indian Government was about to despatch across the Indus;
and it was plain that, whatever opposition was to be encountered,
the weight of it would fall, not upon Shah Soojah’s raw levies, but
upon the disciplined troops of the Indian army that were to be sent
with them, to secure the success of the otherwise doubtful campaign.
Whatever work there might be in store for them, the recruiting went on
bravely. For this new service there was no lack of candidates in the
Upper Provinces of India. The Shah himself watched with eager pride
the formation of the army which was to surround him on his return to
his own dominions, but was fearful lest the undisguised assumption
of entire control by the British officers appointed to raise his new
regiments should deprive him of all the _éclat_ of independence with
which he was so anxious to invest his movements. It was, indeed, no
easy matter, at this time, to shape our measures in accordance with
the conflicting desires of the old king, who wished to have everything
done for him, and yet to appear as though he did it himself. To Captain
Wade was entrusted the difficult and delicate duty of managing one
who, by nature not the most reasonable of men, was rendered doubly
unreasonable by the anomalous position in which he found himself after
the ratification of the tripartite treaty. It was difficult, indeed,
to say what he was at this time. At Loodhianah he had hitherto been
simply a private individual. He had held no recognised position. He
had been received with no public honours. He had gone hither and
thither, almost unnoticed. He had excited little interest, and met with
little attention. Some, perhaps, knew that he had once been an Afghan
monarch, and that he received four thousand rupees a month from the
British Government as a reward for his incapacity and a compensation
for his bad fortune. Beyond this little was known and nothing was
cared. But now, suddenly, he had risen up from the dust of Loodhianah
as a recognised sovereign and framer of treaties—a potentate meeting
on equal terms with the British Government and the Maharajah of the
Punjab. He could not any longer be regarded as a mere tradition. He had
been brought prominently forward into the light of the Present; and it
was necessary that he should now assume in men’s eyes something of the
form of royalty and the substance of power.

It was natural that, thus strangely and embarrassingly situated, the
Shah should have earnestly desired to bring his sojourn at Loodhianah
to a close, and to launch himself fairly upon his new enterprise. The
interval between the signing of the treaty and the actual commencement
of the expedition was irksome in the extreme to the expectant monarch.
It was plain that he could not move without his army; he therefore did
his best to expedite its information. Constantly attending the parade
where the work of recruiting was going on, he desired personally to
superintend both the payment and the enlistment of his men; and was
fearful lest a belief should become rooted in the public mind that
he was not about to return to Afghanistan as an independent Prince,
ruling his own people on his own account. The tact and discretion
of Captain Wade smoothed down all difficulties. Whilst preventing
such interference on the part of Shah Soojah as might embarrass the
movements of the British officers appointed to raise and discipline
his regiments, he contrived to reconcile the mind of the King to the
system in force by directing that certain reports should be made to
him on parade, and at other times through an appointed agent, of the
number of men enlisted into his service, and the amount of pay that was
due to each.[259] At the same time, it was suggested to the commanding
officer of the station that, as one entitled to the recognitions due
to royalty, the Shah should be saluted by the troops when he appeared
in public. The suggestion was promptly acted upon; and the King, whose
inveterate love of forms and ceremonies clung to him to the end of his
days, rejoiced in these new demonstrations of respect, and bore up till
his time of trial was over.

In the meanwhile Lord Auckland, having thus mapped out a far more
extensive scheme of invasion than had ever been dreamt of, a few months
before, in his most speculative moments, was thinking of the agency
which it was most desirable to employ for the political management
of the ensuing campaign. It had been determined that a British Envoy
should accompany Runjeet Singh’s army by the Peshawur route, and that
another should accompany Shah Soojah’s camp on its march towards the
western provinces of Afghanistan. There was no difficulty in naming the
officer who was to superintend the demonstration to be made by the Sikh
troops through the formidable passes of the Khybur. Captain Wade was
nominated to this office. He was to be accompanied by the eldest son of
Shah Soojah, the Prince Timour, a man of respectable character, but not
very brilliant parts, whose presence was to identify the Sikh movement
with the immediate objects of his father’s restoration, and to make
obvious to the understandings of all men that Runjeet Singh was acting
only as Shah Soojah’s ally.

But it was not so easy to determine to whom should be entrusted the
difficult and responsible duty of directing the mind of Shah Soojah,
and shaping, in all beyond the immediate line of military operations,
the course of this great campaign. It seemed at first that the claims
of Alexander Burnes could not be set aside. No man knew the country and
the people so well; no man had so fairly earned the right to be thus
employed. But it soon appeared to Burnes himself, sanguine as he was,
that Lord Auckland designed to place him in a subordinate position;
and chafing under what appeared to him a slight and an injustice, he
declared that he would either take the chief place in the British
Mission, or go home to England in disgust.[260] But these feelings
soon passed away. It had been debated whether the chief political
control should not be placed in the hands of the commander-in-chief;
and Sir Henry Fane, naturally favouring an arrangement which would have
left him free to act as his own judgment or his own impulses might
dictate, wished to take Burnes with him as his confidential adviser.
But this plan met with little or no encouragement. The Governor-General
appreciated Burnes’s talents, but mistrusted his discretion. He
thought it advisable to place at the stirrup of Shah Soojah an older
head and a steadier hand. Men, who at this time watched calmly the
progress of events, and had no prejudices and predilections to gratify,
and no personal objects to serve, thought that the choice of the
Governor-General would fall upon Colonel Henry Pottinger, who had been
familiar from early youth with the countries beyond the Indus, and was
now in charge of our political relations with the Court of Hyderabad,
in Sindh. But Lord Auckland had no personal knowledge of Colonel
Pottinger. There was little identity of opinion between them; and the
Governor-General recognised the expediency of appointing to such an
office a functionary with whom he had been in habitual intercourse, who
was necessarily, therefore, conversant with his views, and who would
not scruple to carry them out to the utmost.

The choice fell on Mr. Macnaghten. It seems, at one time, to have been
the design of the Governor-General to associate this gentleman with the
Commander-in-Chief, in a kind of Commission for the management of our
political relations throughout the coming expedition;[261] but this
idea seems to have been abandoned. It was finally determined that Mr.
W. H. Macnaghten should be gazetted as “Envoy and Minister on the part
of the Government of India at the Court of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk.”
And at the same time it was resolved that Captain Burnes should be
employed, “under Mr. Macnaghten’s directions, as Envoy to the chief
of Kelat or other states.” It was believed, at this time, that Shah
Soojah having been reseated on the throne, Macnaghten would return to
Hindostan, leaving Burnes at Caubul, as the permanent representative
of the British-Indian Government at the Court of the Shah. It was this
belief that reconciled Burnes to the subordinate office which was
conferred upon him in the first instance, and made him set about the
work entrusted to his charge with all the zeal and enthusiasm which
were so conspicuous in his character.[262]

And so Burnes was sent on in advance to smooth the way for the progress
of the Shah through Sindh, whilst Macnaghten remained at Simlah to
assist the Governor-General in the preparation of the great official
manifesto which was to declare to all the nations of the East and of
the West the grounds upon which the British Government had determined
to destroy the power of the Barukzye Sirdars, and to restore Shah
Soojah-ool-Moolk to the throne of his ancestors.

On the 1st of October the manifesto, long and anxiously pondered
over in the bureau of the Governor-General, received the official
signature and was sent to the press. Never, since the English in India
first began the work of King-making, had a more remarkable document
issued from the council-chamber of an Anglo-Indian viceroy. It ran in
the following words, not one of which should be omitted from such a
narrative as this:


  Simlah, _October, 1, 1838_.

 The Right Hon. the Governor-General of India having, with the
 concurrence of the Supreme Council, directed the assemblage of a
 British force for service across the Indus, his Lordship deems it
 proper to publish the following exposition of the reasons which have
 led to this important measure.

 It is a matter of notoriety that the treaties entered into by the
 British Government in the year 1832, with the Ameers of Sindh, the
 Newab of Bhawalpore, and Maharajah Runjeet Singh, had for their
 object, by opening the navigation of the Indus, to facilitate the
 extension of commerce, and to gain for the British nation in Central
 Asia that, legitimate influence which an interchange of benefits would
 naturally produce.

 With a view to invite the aid of the _de facto_ rulers of Afghanistan
 to the measures necessary for giving full effect to those treaties,
 Captain Burnes was deputed, towards the close of the year 1836, on
 a mission to Dost Mahomed Khan, the chief of Caubul. The original
 objects of that officer’s mission were purely of a commercial nature.
 Whilst Captain Burnes, however, was on his journey to Caubul,
 information was received by the Governor-General that the troops of
 Dost Mahomed Khan had made a sudden and unprovoked attack on those
 of our ancient ally, Maharajah Runjeet Singh. It was naturally to
 be apprehended that his Highness the Maharajah would not be slow to
 avenge the aggression; and it was to be feared that, the flames of war
 being once kindled in the very regions into which we were endeavouring
 to extend our commerce, the peaceful and beneficial purposes of the
 British Government would be altogether frustrated. In order to avert
 a result so calamitous, the Governor-General resolved on authorising
 Captain Burnes to intimate to Dost Mahomed Khan, that if he should
 evince a disposition to come to just and reasonable terms with the
 Maharajah, his Lordship would exert his good offices with his Highness
 for the restoration of an amicable understanding between the two
 powers. The Maharajah, with the characteristic confidence which he has
 uniformly placed in the faith and friendship of the British nation,
 at once assented to the proposition of the Governor-General, to the
 effect that, in the mean time, hostilities on his part should be

 It subsequently came to the knowledge of the Governor-General that
 a Persian army was besieging Herat; that intrigues were actively
 prosecuted throughout Afghanistan, for the purpose of extending
 Persian influence and authority to the banks of, and even beyond,
 the Indus; and that the Court of Persia had not only commenced a
 course of injury and insult to the officers of her Majesty’s Mission
 in the Persian territory, but had afforded evidence of being engaged
 in designs wholly at variance with the principles and objects of its
 alliance with Great Britain.

 After much time spent by Captain Burnes in fruitless negotiation at
 Caubul, it appeared that Dost Mahomed Khan, chiefly in consequence of
 his reliance upon Persian encouragement and assistance, persisted,
 as respected his misunderstanding with the Sikhs, in urging the
 most unreasonable pretensions, such as the Governor-General could
 not, consistently with justice and his regard for the friendship
 of Maharajah Runjeet Singh, be the channel of submitting to
 the consideration of his Highness; that he avowed schemes of
 aggrandisement and ambition injurious to the security and peace of the
 frontiers of India; and that he openly threatened, in furtherance of
 those schemes, to call in every foreign aid which he could command.
 Ultimately he gave his undisguised support to the Persian designs in
 Afghanistan, of the unfriendly and injurious character of which, as
 concerned the British power in India, he was well apprised, and by his
 utter disregard of the views and interests of the British Government,
 compelled Captain Burnes to leave Caubul without having effected any
 of the objects of his mission.

 It was now evident that no further interference could be exercised by
 the British Government to bring about a good understanding between
 the Sikh ruler and Dost Mahomed Khan, and the hostile policy of the
 latter chief showed too plainly that, so long as Caubul remained under
 his government, we could never hope that the tranquillity of our
 neighbourhood would be secured, or that the interests of our Indian
 Empire would be preserved inviolate.

 The Governor-General deems it in this place necessary to revert to the
 siege of Herat, and the conduct of the Persian nation. The siege of
 that city has now been carried on by the Persian army for many months.
 The attack upon it was a most unjustifiable and cruel aggression,
 perpetrated and continued, notwithstanding the solemn and repeated
 remonstrances of the British Envoy at the Court of Persia, and after
 every just and becoming offer of accommodation had been made and
 rejected. The besieged have behaved with a gallantry and fortitude
 worthy of the justice of their cause; and the Governor-General would
 yet indulge the hope that their heroism may enable them to maintain
 a successful defence, until succours shall reach them from British
 India. In the meantime, the ulterior designs of Persia, affecting
 the interests of the British Government, have been, by a succession
 of events, more and more openly manifested. The Governor-General has
 recently ascertained by an official despatch from Mr. M’Neill, her
 Majesty’s Envoy, that his Excellency has been compelled, by a refusal
 of his just demands, and by a systematic course of disrespect adopted
 towards him by the Persian Government, to quit the Court of the Shah,
 and to make a public declaration of the cessation of all intercourse
 between the two Governments. The necessity under which Great Britain
 is placed of regarding the present advance of the Persian arms into
 Afghanistan as an act of hostility towards herself, has also been
 officially communicated to the Shah, under the express order of her
 Majesty’s Government.

 The chiefs of Candahar (brothers of Dost Mahomed Khan of Caubul) have
 avowed their adherence to the Persian policy, with the same full
 knowledge of its opposition to the rights and interests of the British
 nation in India, and have been openly assisting in the operations
 against Herat.

 In the crisis of affairs consequent upon the retirement of our Envoy
 from Caubul, the Governor-General felt the importance of taking
 immediate measures for arresting the rapid progress of foreign
 intrigue and aggression towards our own territories.

 His attention was naturally drawn at this conjuncture to the position
 and claims of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, a monarch who, when in power, had
 cordially acceded to the measures of united resistance to external
 enmity, which were at that time judged necessary by the British
 Government, and who, on his empire being usurped by its present
 rulers, had found an honourable asylum in the British dominions.

 It had been clearly ascertained, from the information furnished by
 the various officers who have visited Afghanistan, that the Barukzye
 chiefs, from their disunion and unpopularity, were ill fitted, under
 any circumstances, to be useful allies to the British Government, and
 to aid us in our just and necessary measures of national defence. Yet
 so long as they refrained from proceedings injurious to our interests
 and security, the British Government acknowledged and respected
 their authority; but a different policy appeared to be now more than
 justified by the conduct of those chiefs, and to be indispensable to
 our own safety. The welfare of our possessions in the East requires
 that we should have on our western frontier an ally who is interested
 in resisting aggression, and establishing tranquillity, in the place
 of chiefs ranging themselves in subservience to a hostile power, and
 seeking to promote schemes of conquest and aggrandisement.

 After serious and mature deliberation, the Governor-General was
 satisfied that a pressing necessity, as well as every consideration
 of policy and justice, warranted us in espousing the cause of Shah
 Soojah-ool-Moolk, whose popularity throughout Afghanistan had been
 proved to his Lordship by the strong and unanimous testimony of
 the best authorities. Having arrived at this determination, the
 Governor-General was further of opinion that it was just and proper,
 no less from the position of Maharajah Runjeet Singh, than from his
 undeviating friendship towards the British Government, that his
 Highness should have the offer of becoming a party to the contemplated

 Mr. Macnaghten was accordingly deputed in June last to the Court of
 his Highness, and the result of his mission has been the conclusion of
 a triplicate treaty by the British Government, the Maharajah, and Shah
 Soojah-ool-Moolk, whereby his Highness is guaranteed in his present
 possessions, and has bound himself to co-operate for the restoration
 of the Shah to the throne of his ancestors. The friends and enemies
 of any one of the contracting parties have been declared to be the
 friends and enemies of all.

 Various points have been adjusted, which had been the subjects
 of discussion between the British Government and his Highness
 the Maharajah, the identity of whose interests with those of the
 Honourable Company has now been made apparent to all the surrounding
 States. A guaranteed independence will, upon favourable conditions, be
 tendered to the Ameers of Sindh, and the integrity of Herat, in the
 possession of its present ruler, will be fully respected; while by the
 measures completed, or in progress, it may reasonably be hoped that
 the general freedom and security of commerce will be promoted; that
 the name and just influence of the British Government will gain their
 proper footing among the nations of Central Asia; that tranquillity
 will be established upon the most important frontier of India; and
 that a lasting barrier will be raised against hostile intrigue and

 His Majesty, Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk will enter Afghanistan, surrounded
 by his own troops, and will be supported against foreign interference
 and factious opposition by a British army. The Governor-General
 confidently hopes that the Shah will be speedily replaced on his
 throne by his own subjects and adherents; and when once he shall be
 secured in power, and the independence and integrity of Afghanistan
 established, the British army will be withdrawn. The Governor-General
 has been led to these measures by the duty which is imposed upon
 him of providing for the security of the possessions of the British
 Crown; but, he rejoices that, in the discharge of his duty, he will be
 enabled to assist in restoring the union and prosperity of the Afghan
 people. Throughout the approaching operations, British influence will
 be sedulously employed to further every measure of general benefit, to
 reconcile differences, to secure oblivion of injuries, and to put an
 end to the distractions by which, for so many years, the welfare and
 happiness of the Afghans have been impaired. Even to the chiefs, whose
 hostile proceedings have given just cause of offence to the British
 Government, it will seek to secure liberal and honourable treatment,
 on their tendering early submission, and ceasing from opposition to
 that course of measures which may be judged the most suitable for the
 general advantage of their country.

 By order of the Right Hon. Governor-General of India.

  Secretary to the Government of India, with the


 With reference to the preceding Declaration, the following
 appointments are made:—Mr. W. H. Macnaghten, Secretary to Government,
 will assume the functions of Envoy and Minister on the part of the
 Government of India at the Court of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk. Mr.
 Macnaghten will be assisted by the following officers:—Captain A.
 Burnes, of the Bombay establishment, who will be employed, under Mr.
 Macnaghten’s directions, as Envoy to the Chief of Kelat, or other
 States; Lieutenant E. d’Arcy Todd, Bengal Artillery, to be Political
 Assistant and Military Secretary to the Envoy and Minister; Lieutenant
 Eldred Pottinger, Bombay Artillery; Lieutenant R. Leech, of the Bombay
 Engineers; Mr. P. B. Lord, of the Bombay Medical Establishment, to be
 Political Assistants to ditto, ditto; Lieutenant E. B. Conolly, 6th
 Bengal Cavalry, to command the escort of the Envoy and Minister, and
 to be Military Assistant to ditto, ditto; Mr. G. J. Berwick, of the
 Bengal Medical Establishment, to be Surgeon to ditto, ditto.

  Secretary to the Government of India, with the

It was not to be supposed that such a manifesto as this could be
published in every newspaper in India and in Europe, and circulated,
in an Oriental dress, throughout all the states of Hindostan and
the adjoining countries, without provoking the keenest and the most
searching criticism. In India there is, in reality, no Public; but
if such a name can be given to the handful of English gentlemen who
discuss with little reserve the affairs of the government under which
they live, the public looked askance at it—doubting and questioning its
truth. The Press seized upon it and tore it to pieces.[263] There was
not a sentence in it that was not dissected with an unsparing hand. If
it were not pronounced to be a collection of absolute falsehoods, it
was described as a most disingenuous distortion of the truth. In India
every war is more or less popular. The constitution of Anglo-Indian
society renders it almost impossible that it should be otherwise. But
many wished that they were about to draw their swords in a better
cause; and openly criticised the Governor-General’s declaration, whilst
they inwardly rejoiced that it had been issued.

Had the relief of Herat been the one avowed object of the expedition,
a war now to be undertaken for that purpose would have had many
supporters.[264] The movement might have been a wise, or it might
have been an unwise one; but it would have been an intelligible,
straightforward movement, with nothing equivocal about it. It would
have been addressed to the counteraction of a real, or supposed danger,
and would have been plainly justifiable as a measure of self-defence.
But it was not equally clear that because Mahomed Shah made war upon
Herat, England was justified in making war upon Dost Mahomed. The
siege of Herat and the failure of the Caubul Mission were mixed up
together in Lord Auckland’s manifesto; but with all his own and his
secretary’s ingenuity, his Lordship could not contrive, any more than I
have contrived in this narrative, to make the two events hang together
by any other than the slenderest thread. It was believed at this time
that Herat would fall; and that Candahar and Caubul would then make
their obeisance to Mahomed Shah. But we had ourselves alienated the
friendship of the Barukzye Sirdars. They had thrown themselves into the
arms of the Persian King, only because we had thrust them off. We had
forced them into an attitude of hostility which they were unwilling
to assume; and had ourselves aggravated the dangers which we were now
about to face on the western frontier of Afghanistan. That in the
summer of 1838, there existed a state of things calling for active
measures on the part of the British Government is not to be denied; but
I believe it to be equally undeniable that this state of things was
mainly induced by the feebleness of our own policy towards the Barukzye

The comments which might be made in this place on Lord Auckland’s
Simlah manifesto have been, for the most part, anticipated. How far
Dost Mahomed “persisted in using the most unreasonable pretensions,”
and “avowed schemes of aggrandisement and ambition, injurious to
the security and peace of the frontiers of India,” I have shown in
a former chapter. I have shown, too, how far the best authorities
were of opinion that the Barukzye Sirdars were “ill-fitted, under
any circumstances, to be useful allies to the British.”[265] Little
comment is called for beyond that involved in the recital of facts, the
studious suppression of which by the Government of the day is the best
proof of the importance attached to them.[266]

The oldest, the most experienced, and the most sagacious Indian
politicians were of opinion that the expedition, though it might be
attended at the outset with some delusive success, would close in
disaster and disgrace. Among those, who most emphatically disapproved
of the movement and predicted its failure, were the Duke of Wellington,
Lord Wellesley, Sir Charles Metcalfe, Mr. Edmonstone, Mountstuart
Elphinstone, Sir Henry Willock, and Mr. Tucker.

The Duke of Wellington said that our difficulties would commence where
our military successes ended. “The consequence of crossing the Indus,”
he wrote to Mr. Tucker, “once to settle a government in Afghanistan,
will be a perennial march into that country.” Lord Wellesley always
spoke contemptuously of the folly of occupying a land of “rocks, sands,
deserts, ice and snow.” Sir Charles Metcalfe from the first protested
against Lord Auckland’s measures with respect to the trade of the
Indus; and in 1835-36, when Mr. Ellis’s proposal to assist Dost Mahomed
with British officers and drill-instructors to discipline his army,
came down to Calcutta, said, one day after council, “Depend upon it,
the surest way to bring Russia down upon ourselves is for us to cross
the Indus and meddle with the countries beyond it.” Mr. Edmonstone
always hung down his head, and almost groaned aloud, when the Afghan
expedition was named. Mr. Elphinstone wrote in a private letter to
Sir A. Burnes: “You will guess what I think of affairs in Caubul. You
remember when I used to dispute with you against having even an agent
in Caubul, and now we have assumed the protection of the state, as
much as if it were one of the subsidiary allies in India. If you send
27,000 men up the _Durra-i-Bolan_ to Candahar (as we hear is intended),
and can feed them, I have no doubt you will take Candahar and Caubul
and set up Soojah; but for maintaining him in a poor, cold, strong,
and remote country, among a turbulent people like the Afghans, I own
it seems to me to be hopeless. If you succeed, I fear you will weaken
the position against Russia. The Afghans were neutral, and would have
received your aid against invaders with gratitude—they will now be
disaffected and glad to join any invader to drive you out. I never
knew a close alliance between a civilised and an uncivilised state
that did not end in mutual hatred in three years. If the restraint of
a close connection with us were not enough to make us unpopular, the
connection with Runjeet and our guarantee of his conquests must make us
detested. These opinions formed at a distance may seem absurd on the
spot; but I still retain them notwithstanding all I have yet heard.”
Sir Henry Willock, whose extensive local knowledge and long experience
entitled his opinions to respect, addressed a long letter to the
Foreign Secretary, in which he elaborately reviewed the mistake which
had been committed. And Mr. Tucker, in the Court of Directors, and out
of the Court, lost no opportunity of protesting against the expedition
in his manly uncompromising way. “We have contracted an alliance with
Shah Soojah,” he wrote to the Duke of Wellington, “and have appointed
a minister to his Court, although he does not possess a rood of ground
in Afghanistan, nor a rupee which he does not derive from our bounty,
as a quondam pensioner. We thus embroil ourselves in all the intricate
and perplexed concerns of the Afghan tribes. We place Dost Mahomed,
the _de facto_ sovereign in open hostility against us; we alienate the
Prince Kamran of Herat, who is nearer than Shah Soojah in the line of
succession of the Douranee Family; and even if we succeed in ousting
Dost Mahomed and placing Shah Soojah on the throne of Caubul, we must
maintain him in the government by a large military force, at the
distance of 800 miles from our frontier and our resources.”

As a body the Court of Directors of the East India Company were
strongly opposed to the war, and had no part in its initiation beyond
the performance of such mechanical duties as are prescribed by act
of Parliament. The members of the Secret Committee are compelled to
sign the despatches laid before them by the Board of Control; and the
President of the Board of Control has unreservedly admitted that,
beyond the mere mechanical act of signing the papers laid before them,
they had no part in the recommendation or authorisation of the war.
The policy of the East India Company is a policy of non-interference.
They had seldom lost an opportunity of inculcating upon their governors
the expediency of refraining from intermeddling with the Trans-Indian
states.[267] The temper, indeed, of this great body is essentially
pacific; all the instructions which emanate from them have a tendency
towards the preservation of peace and the non-extension of empire; and
when the merits and demerits of their government come to be weighed in
the balance, it can never be imputed to them that they have been eager
to draw the sword from the scabbard, or have willingly squandered the
resources of India upon unjust and unprofitable wars.

But it is stated in the manifesto itself that the war was undertaken
“with the concurrence of the Supreme Council of India.” It would
be presumptuous to affirm the absolute untruth of a statement thus
publicly made in the face of the world by a nobleman of Lord Auckland’s
unquestionable integrity; but so certain is it that the manifesto was
not issued with the concurrence of the Supreme Council, that when the
document was sent down to Calcutta to take its place among the records
of the empire, there issued from the Council-Chamber a respectful
remonstrance against the consummation of a measure of such grave
importance, without an opportunity being afforded to the counsellors
of recording their opinions upon it. The remonstrance went to England,
and elicited an assurance to the effect that the Governor-General could
have intended no personal slight to the members of the Supreme Council;
but those members were far too high-minded to have thought for a moment
about the personalities of the case; they thought only of the great
national interests at stake, and regretted that they should ever be
jeopardised by such disregard of the opinions of the Governor-General’s
legitimate advisers. Such a manifesto as this would never have been
cradled in Calcutta.

It would not be just, however, to scrutinise the policy of Lord
Auckland at this time by the light of our after experience. We know
now, that before the Simlah manifesto was issued, the Persians
had raised the siege of Herat,—that, for all purposes of defence
against encroachments from the westward, the expedition to Kurrack,
contemptible as it was in itself, had sufficed. We know that the
handful of “rotten Hindoos,” as Mahomed Shah subsequently designated
them, magnified by report into an immense armament, had caused that
monarch to strike his camp before Herat, and march back his baffled
army to Teheran. But, on the 1st of October, 1838, Lord Auckland
believed, and had good grounds for believing, that the fall of Herat
was inevitable. At this time it may have been questioned whether the
restoration of Shah Soojah to the sovereignty of the Douranee Empire
were the best means of resisting Persian aggression and combating
Russian intrigue, but few doubted the propriety of doing something
to meet the dangers that threatened us from those sources. Had Herat
fallen to the Persian arms, the Barukzye Sirdars, without some
intervention on our part, would have prostrated themselves at the feet
of the Persian monarch; and Russia would have established an influence
in Afghanistan which we should have striven in vain to counteract.
There was a real danger, therefore, to be feared. Though the means
employed were of doubtful justice and expediency, the end to be
accomplished was one of legitimate attainment.

But before the Simlah proclamation had obtained general currency
throughout India, authentic intelligence of the retrograde movement
of the Persian army had reached the camp of the Governor-General. The
tidings which arrived, in the first instance, from various native
sources, and had been conveyed to Lord Auckland by the political
officers on the frontier, were now officially confirmed. The siege of
Herat had been raised. Mahomed Shah had “mounted his horse, Ameerj,”
and turned his face towards his own capital. The legitimate object
of the expedition across the Indus was gone. All that remained was
usurpation and aggression. It was believed, therefore, that the army
assembling on the north-western frontier would be broken up; and Shah
Soojah and Runjeet Singh left to pursue their own policy, as might
seem most expedient to them. The Simlah proclamation had placed the
siege of Herat in the foreground as the main cause of the contemplated
expedition; and now that the pretext for the invasion of Afghanistan
was removed, political consistency seemed to require that the sword
should be returned to the scabbard. With no common anxiety, therefore,
was the result of this unexpected intelligence from Herat awaited by
the regiments which had been warned for active service, and were now
in all the excitement of preparation for a long and adventurous march.
The disappointment anticipated by many descended only upon a few. On
the 8th of November, all doubts were set at rest, and all anxieties
removed by the publication of an order by the Governor-General, setting
forth that, although the siege of Herat had been raised, the expedition
across the Indus would not be abandoned:


  Camp de Buddee, _8th November_.

 The Right Honourable the Governor-General of India is pleased to
 publish, for general information, the subjoined extract of a letter
 from Lieutenant-Colonel Stoddart, dated Herat, the 10th September,
 1838, and addressed to the Secretary to the Government of India.

 “I have the honour, by direction of her Britannic Majesty’s Envoy
 Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, and the Hon. East India
 Company’s Envoy at the Court of Persia, to acquaint you, for the
 information of the Right Hon. the Governor-General of India in
 Council, that his Majesty the Shah of Persia yesterday raised the
 siege of this city, and with the whole of the royal camp marched to
 Sangbust, about twelve miles, on his return to his own dominions. His
 Majesty proceeds without delay, by Torrbut Sheki Jaum and Meshid, to

 “This is in fulfilment of his Majesty’s compliance with the demands
 of the British Government, which I had the honour of delivering on
 the 12th inst., and of the whole of which his Majesty announced his
 acceptance on the 14th of August.

 “His Majesty Shah Kamran and his Vuzeer, Yar Mahomed Khan, and the
 whole city, feel sensible of the sincerity of the friendship of the
 British Government, and Mr. Pottinger and myself fully participate
 in their gratitude to Providence for the happy event I have now the
 honour to report.”

 In giving publicity to this important intelligence, the
 Governor-General deems it proper at the same time to notify, that
 while he regards the relinquishment by the Shah of Persia of his
 hostile designs upon Herat as a just cause of congratulation to the
 Government of British India and its allies, he will continue to
 prosecute with vigour the measures which have been announced, with
 a view to the substitution of a friendly for a hostile power in the
 eastern provinces of Afghanistan, and to the establishment of a
 permanent barrier against schemes of aggression upon our north-west

 The Right Hon. the Governor-General is pleased to appoint Lieutenant
 Eldred Pottinger, of the Bombay Artillery, to be Political Agent at
 Herat, subject to the orders of the Envoy and Minister at the Court of
 Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk. This appointment is to have effect from the 9th
 of September last, the date on which the siege of Herat was raised by
 the Shah of Persia.

 In conferring the above appointment upon Lieutenant Pottinger, the
 Governor-General is glad of the opportunity afforded him of bestowing
 the high applause which is due to the signal merits of that officer,
 who was present in Herat during the whole period of its protracted
 siege, and who, under circumstances of peculiar danger and difficulty,
 has, by his fortitude, ability, and judgment, honourably sustained the
 reputation and interests of his country.

 By order of the Right Hon. the Governor-General of India,

  Secretary to the Government of India, with the

When the Persian army was before Herat—when the Afghan garrison was
on the eve of surrender—when the chiefs of Caubul and Candahar were
prostrating themselves at the feet of Mahomed Shah, the expedition
for the restoration of Shah Soojah was one of doubtful honesty and
doubtful expediency. The retrogression of the Persian army removed it
at once from the category of questionable acts. There was no longer
any question about it. The failure of Mahomed Shah cut from under the
feet of Lord Auckland all ground of justification, and rendered the
expedition across the Indus at once a folly and a crime. The tripartite
treaty did not pledge the British Government to send a single soldier
beyond the frontier. The despatch of a British army into the heart of
Afghanistan was no part of the covenant either with Runjeet Singh or
Shah Soojah. It was wholly an after thought. When Macnaghten, after
his conferences with the Maharajah of the Punjab and the ex-King of
Caubul, returned to Simlah to lay the result of his mission before
the Governor-General, the British Government had pledged itself only
to furnish a handful of European officers to raise and discipline the
Shah’s regiments; and so little had any obligation been imposed upon us
to surround the ex-King with our battalions, on his restoration to his
old dominions, that he himself expressed an eager hope that he would be
suffered to advance as an independent prince, and not as a mere puppet
in our hands.[268]

To march a British army into Afghanistan was not, therefore, an
obligation upon the Indian Government; it was their deliberate choice.
The avowed object of the expedition, as set forth in the November
declaration, was the establishment of a friendly power in Afghanistan.
But the subversion of an existing dynasty could only be justified on
the ground that its hostility threatened to disturb the peace and
tranquillity of our own dominions. Whatever the hostility of the
Barukzye Sirdahs may have been when Mahomed Shah was before the gates
of Herat, it had now ceased to be formidable. It was obvious that the
chiefs of Caubul and Candahar were little likely to exaggerate the
power of a Prince that had brought all his military resources to bear
upon the reduction of a place of no reputed strength, and, after an
ineffectual struggle of nine months’ duration, had retreated, either
because he was unequal to the longer continuance of the contest, or
because the British Government had landed 500 Sepoys on an island in
the Persian Gulf. It was only in connection with the Russo-Persian
movement that an alliance with the rulers of Afghanistan had become
a matter of concernment to the British Government. It was only by
a reference to the crisis which had thus arisen that the Indian
Government could in any way justify their departure from the course of
non-interference laid down by the Court of Directors, and recognised
by Lord Auckland and his predecessors. But now that the danger, to the
counteraction of which the expedition across the Indus was directed,
had passed away, the expedition was still to be undertaken. A measure
so hazardous, and so costly as the march of a British army to the foot
of the Hindoo-Koosh, was only justifiable so long as it was absolutely
indispensable to the defence of our Indian possessions; but if so
extreme a measure had ever been, it was no longer necessary to the
security of India, now that the army of Mahomed Shah, defeated and
disgraced, was on its way back to the capital of Persia. The expedition
now to be undertaken had no longer any other ostensible object than
the substitution of a monarch, whom the people of Afghanistan had
repeatedly, in emphatic, scriptural language, spued out, for those
Barukzye chiefs who, whatever may have been the defects of their
government, had contrived to maintain themselves in security, and their
country in peace, with a vigour and a constancy unknown to the luckless
Suddozye Princes. Had we started with the certainty of establishing a
friendly power and a strong government in Afghanistan, the importance
of the end would have borne no just relation to the magnitude of the
means to be employed for its accomplishment. But at the best it was
a mere experiment. There were more reasons why it should fail than
why it should succeed.[269] It was commenced in defiance of every
consideration of political and military expediency; and there were
those who, arguing the matter on higher grounds than those of mere
expediency, pronounced the certainty of its failure, because there
was a canker of injustice at the core. It was, indeed, an experiment
on the forbearance alike of God and of man; and therefore, though it
might dawn in success and triumph, it was sure to set in failure and




 The Army of the Indus—Gathering at Ferozepore—Resignation of Sir
 Henry Fane—Route of the Army—Passage through Bahwulpore—The Ameers
 of Sindh—The Hyderabad Question—Passage of the Bolan Pass—Arrival at

The army destined for the occupation of Afghanistan assembled at
Ferozepore, on the north-western frontier of the British dominions, in
the latter part of the month of November. It had been agreed that the
expedition across the Indus should be inaugurated by a grand ceremonial
meeting between Lord Auckland and Runjeet Singh;[270] and that the
troops of the two nations should be paraded before the illustrious
personages then reciprocating hospitalities and interchanging marks of
friendship and respect.

The Governor-General reached Ferozepore on the 27th of November.
The Commander-in-Chief and the infantry of the Army of the Indus had
arrived a day or two before; and on the following day the main body
of the cavalry and artillery took up their ground on the plain.[271]
On the 29th,[272] the first meeting between Lord Auckland and Runjeet
Singh took place amidst a scene of indescribable uproar and confusion.
The camp of the Governor-General was pitched at the distance of some
four miles from the river Gharra. In the centre of a wide street of
tents were those set apart for the purposes of the Durbar. A noble
guard of honour lined the way, as amidst the roar of artillery and
the clang of military music, Runjeet Singh, escorted by the English
secretaries and some of the principal political and military officers
in camp, rode up, in the centre of a line of elephants to the Durbar
tent. The Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief came forth
to meet them. Then came the crush of the two lines of elephants,
urged forward by the goads of their drivers, and meeting with a
terrific shock—the clangour of a tumultuous crowd of Sikh horsemen
and foot-men—a rush of English officers eager to see the show; and
presently, amidst such tumult and such noise as had seldom before
been seen or heard, the elephants of the Governor-General and the
Maharajah were brought side by side, and Lord Auckland, in his uniform
of diplomatic blue, was seen to take a bundle of crimson cloth out of
the Sikh howdah, and it was known that the lion of the Punjab was then
seated on the elephant of the English ruler. In a minute the little,
tottering, one-eyed man, who had founded a vast empire on the banks of
the fabulous rivers of the Macedonian conquests, was leaning over the
side of the howdah, shaking hands with the principal officers of the
British camp, as their elephants were wheeled up beside him. Then the
huge phalanx of elephants was set in motion again. There was a rush
towards the Durbar tent; the English and the Sikh _cortège_ were mixed
up together in one great mass of animal life. Such was the crush—such
was the struggle—that many of the attendant Sikhs believed that there
was a design to destroy their old decrepit chief, and “began to blow
their matches and grasp their weapons with an air of mingled distrust
and ferocity.”[273] But in time a passage was made, and the imbecile
little old man was to be seen tottering into the Durbar tent, supported
on one side by the Governor-General, and on the other by Sir Henry
Fane, whose fine manly proportions and length of limb, as he forced
his way through the crowd, presented a strange contrast to the puny
dimensions of the Sikh chieftain who leant upon his arm.

In the gorgeous tent of the Governor-General, the ladies of Lord
Auckland’s family, and of the principal military and political
officers, were seated, ready to receive his Highness. The customary
formalities were gone through, and civilities interchanged; and then
the Maharajah was conducted into an inner chamber, where the presents
intended for his reception were laid out in costly and curious array.
Here, a picture of Queen Victoria, from the easel of Miss Eden, whose
felicitous pencil has rendered the European eye familiar with the
persons of many of the principal Sikh chieftains who graced the
Ferozepore gathering, was presented to Runjeet Singh. Sir Willoughby
Cotton bore it, with becoming reverence, into the tent, and as he
presented it to the Maharajah, who bowed before it, the guns of the
camel battery roared forth a royal salute. Then Runjeet was escorted
to another tent, where specimens of British ordnance, caparisoned
elephants, and horses of noble figure, stood ready for his Highness’s
acceptance. All these were inspected with due expressions of admiration
and a becoming interchange of courtesies; and then, amidst an uproar of
hurras, a crash of military music, and another scene of indescribable
confusion, Runjeet Singh ascended his elephant and turned his back upon
the British camp.[274]

On the following day, Lord Auckland returned the visit of Runjeet
Singh. It was said by one present on this occasion, that the Sikhs
“shone down the English.”[275] The camp of the Maharajah was on
the other side of the river; and there, amidst a scene of Oriental
splendour, difficult to describe or imagine, the great Sikh chieftain
received the representative of the British nation. The splendid
costumes of the Sikh Sirdars—the gorgeous trappings of their horses—the
glittering steel casques and corslets of chain armour—the scarlet and
yellow dresses—the tents of crimson and gold—made up a show of Eastern
magnificence equally grand and picturesque. As the Maharajah saluted
the Governor-General, the familiar notes of the national anthem arose
from the instruments of a Sikh band, and the guns of the Khalsa poured
forth their noisy welcome. In the splendid Durbar tent of the ruler of
the Punjab, the British Statesman and British General, after the due
formalities had been observed and some conversation had been carried
on through the medium of interpreters, were regaled with an unseemly
display of dancing girls, and the antics of some male buffoons. The
evening entertainments were still less decorous. It was a melancholy
thing to see the open exhibition, even on this great public occasion,
of all those low vices which were destroying the life, and damning the
reputation, of one in whom were some of the elements of heroism—who,
indeed, but for these degrading sensualities, would have been really
one of the greatest, as he was one of the most remarkable, men of
modern times.

Then came a grand display of the military resources of the two nations.
On one day the British force was manœuvred by Sir Henry Fane; and on
another the Sikh troops were exercised by the Sirdars. The consummate
skill with which the British chief attacked an imaginary enemy was
equalled by the gallantry with which he defeated it. He fought, indeed,
a great battle on the plain, and only wanted another army in his front
to render his victory a complete one. The Sikh Sirdars were contented
with less elaborate movements; but what their troops were ordered to
do they did readily and well, and military critics in the British camp
admitted that their allies made no contemptible show of the tactics
which they had learnt from their French instructors.[276]

Runjeet Singh returned to Lahore, and the Governor-General followed
him, on a complimentary visit, to the Sikh capital; whilst the British
troops prepared to cross the frontier in furtherance of the objects
mapped out in the great Simlah manifesto. But there was no longer a
Persian army to be encountered at Herat—no longer a Russian force in
the background. The expedition had lost half its popularity with the
army; and the force that was to take the field had been shorn of a
portion of its original dimensions. On the 27th of November it had
been publicly announced by the Commander-in-Chief, “that circumstances
in the countries west of the Indus had so greatly changed since the
assembly of the army for service, that the Governor-General had deemed
that it was not requisite to send forward the whole force; but that a
part only would be equal to effecting the future objects in view.” It
had become the duty therefore of the Commander-in-Chief to determine
what regiments should cross the Indus, and what should remain in
Hindostan. Sir Henry Fane had selected for service the corps whose
efficiency, on his recent tour of inspection, had been most clearly
demonstrated; and now that it devolved upon him to dash the hopes of
some of those regiments, unwilling to make an invidious choice, he
had decided the difficult question by lot. Instead of two divisions,
the Bengal army was now to consist of one, under the command of Sir
Willoughby Cotton. The brigades of infantry commanded by Colonels
Denniss and Paul were to be left behind;[277] the Irregular Cavalry,
under that fine old veteran, Colonel Skinner, of the Local Horse, were
to share the same fate; and the artillery force, greatly reduced in
strength, now lost its Brigadier (Colonel Graham), and was ordered to
go forward under Major Pew, who had organised the camel battery, and
had joined the brigade in command of that experimental section of the
ordnance corps. Nor were these the only changes which the intelligence
of the defeat of Mahomed Shah had wrought upon the Bengal force. Sir
Henry Fane, as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian army, had determined
to take command in person of the forces assembled for the expedition
across the frontier. The assemblage of regiments ordered upon this
service was to be called “The Army of the Indus.” Both the extent
of the force, and the objects of the expedition, seemed to demand
the supervision of the chief military authority in the country. But
now that the force had been greatly reduced, and the objects of the
campaign had dwindled down into a measure of interference with the
internal government of an independent country, Sir Henry Fane had no
ambition to command such a force, or to identify himself with such
an expedition. There was no want of physical energy or mental vigour
in the man, but his health was failing him at this time; and it was
expedient that he should altogether escape from the fiery climate of
the Eastern world. He determined, therefore, to resign the command of
the expedition into other hands, and to set his face towards his native

Sir John Keane, the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay army, was coming
round from the western presidency, in command of the Bombay division,
which was to be conveyed by water from that port to Kurrachee. On the
junction of the two divisions, the chief command would fall into his
hands. In Sir Henry Fane the Bengal army had unbounded confidence. They
knew him to be a strict, but a good officer. They may have thought that
he made of too much account external forms and appearances, better
suited to the mild, cloudy atmosphere of Great Britain, than to the
fiery skies of Hindostan. But they admired the energy of his character;
the decision of his judgment; the promptitude of all his actions. The
initial measures which had been entrusted to him had been carried out
with remarkable ability. There was a coolness in all that he did; a
clearness in all that he said; which inspired with unlimited confidence
the officers with whom he was associated. They knew that he had the
welfare of the army at heart;—that their safety and honour could not be
confided to one less likely to abuse the trust. It was with no common
regret, therefore, that they saw him yield into other hands the command
of the Army of the Indus. Of Sir John Keane they knew little, and what
little they did know did not fill them with any very eager desire to
place themselves under his command.

Such was the position of affairs at the commencement of December. The
Bengal army, then encamped at Ferozepore, consisted of about 9500 men
of all arms. The levy that had been raised for the immediate service
of Shah Soojah was then passing through Ferozepore. It comprised two
regiments of cavalry; four regiments of infantry; and a troop of horse
artillery—in all about 6000 men. It had marched from Loodhianah on
the 15th of November, under the command of Major-General Simpson; and
was now about, on the 2nd of December, to commence its progress across
the frontier. On the 10th of the same month the Bengal division was to
break ground from Ferozepore.

The line of march to be followed by the invading army ran, in a
south-westerly direction, through the territories of Bahwulpore, and
thence crossed, near Subzulkote, the frontier of Sindh, striking
down to the banks of the Indus, and crossing the river at Bukkur. It
then took a north-westerly course, passing through Shikarpoor, Bhag,
and Dadur to the mouth of the Bolan Pass; thence through the pass to
Quettah, and from Quettah through the Kojuck, to Candahar. A glance at
any map of the countries on the two sides of the Indus will satisfy the
reader at once that this was a strangely devious route from Ferozepore
to Candahar. The army was about to traverse two sides of a triangle,
instead of shaping its course along the third.

But it was hardly a subject for after-consideration, when the
tripartite treaty had been signed, what route should be taken by the
army destined for the restoration of Shah Soojah to his old dominions.
It had from the first been intended that the Shah should proceed
through the Sindh country, whilst Runjeet’s troops were advancing
through the Khybur Pass. It was not, indeed, a geographical but a
political question. It was necessary that the army should proceed
through Sindh, for Runjeet Singh did not will that it should traverse
the Punjab; and the Ameers were to be coerced.

It had been determined, in the first instance, that twenty lakhs of
rupees should be paid by the Ameers of Sindh, as ransom-money, for
Shikarpoor. Runjeet, as has been seen, asked for more than a moiety
of the money, which it was proposed to divide equally between him
and Shah Soojah; and, as it was not deemed expedient by the British
Government to gratify Runjeet’s cupidity at the expense of the King,
it was determined that the amount demanded from the Ameers should be
increased, and that Runjeet should receive fifteen instead of ten
lakhs, without injury to the claims of his ally. But there seemed to
be some doubt whether the Ameers would consent to pay the money thus
appropriated to others’ uses. The Shikarpoor question, indeed, required
some definite settlement by Shah Soojah himself; and as Shah Soojah was
to proceed through Sindh, for the purpose of bringing the Ameers to a
proper understanding of their duties, it was necessary that the British
army that escorted him should march by the same route.

That the Ameers should have demurred to the payment of the money
claimed by an exile of thirty years’ standing would, under any
circumstances, have been a result of the demand, exciting no surprise
in the mind of any reasonable being on one side of the Indus or on the
other. But that, having already received a formal release from the
Shah, they should have objected to the revival of an abandoned claim,
is something so natural and so intelligible that it would have been a
miracle if they had not resisted the demand. Colonel Pottinger saw this
at once: he saw the injustice of the whole proceeding; and he wrote to
the Supreme Government: “The question of a money-payment by the Ameers
of Sindh to Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk is, in my humble opinion, rendered
very puzzling by two releases written in Korans, and sealed and signed
by his Majesty, which they have produced. Their argument now is, that
they are sure the Governor-General does not intend to make them pay
again for what they have already bought and obtained, in the most
binding way, a receipt in full.”[278]

Injustice ever begets injustice. It was determined by the Simlah
Council that Shah Soojah and the Army of the Indus should be sent
through the country of the Ameers. To accomplish this, it was necessary
that, in the first instance, an existing treaty should be set aside.
When the Ameers consented to open the navigation of the Indus, it
was expressly stipulated that no military stores should be conveyed
along the river. But as soon as ever Lord Auckland had resolved to
erect a friendly power in Afghanistan, and to march a British army
across the Indus, it became necessary to tear this prohibitory treaty
to shreds, and to trample down the scruples of the Ameers. “Whilst
the present exigency lasts,” it was intimated to Colonel Pottinger,
“you may apprise the Ameers that the article of the treaty with them,
prohibiting the using of the Indus for the conveyance of military
stores, must necessarily be suspended during the course of operations
undertaken for the permanent establishment of security to all those who
are a party to the treaty.” And that there might be no miscomprehension
of the general course of policy, which the Governor-General desired to
pursue towards the Ameers, a letter was addressed to Colonel Pottinger,
stating that “he (the Governor-General) deems it hardly necessary to
remind you that in the important crisis at which we are arrived, we
cannot permit our enemies to occupy the seat of power: the interests
at stake are too great to admit of hesitation in our proceedings; and
not only they who have shown a disposition to favour our adversaries,
but they who display an unwillingness to aid us in the just and
necessary[279] undertaking in which we are engaged, must be displaced,
and give way to others on whose friendship and co-operation we may be
able implicitly to rely.” This was the dragooning system now to be
carried out in Sindh. Sensible of the injustice of such proceedings,
and the discreditable breach of faith that they involved, Colonel
Pottinger did his best to soften down these intimations; but still
the naked fact remained, that if the Ameers of Sindh displayed any
unwillingness to co-operate with the parties to a treaty under which
they were to be fined a quarter of a million of money, they were at
once to be dragooned into submission and deprived of their possessions,
at the point of our bayonets and the muzzles of our guns.[280]

The system now to be adopted was one of universal intimidation and
coercion. Along the whole line of country which the armies were to
traverse, the will and pleasure of the British Government was to be the
only principle of action recognisable in all our transactions with the
weaker States, which were now to be dragooned into prompt obedience.
Their co-operation was not to be sought, but demanded. Anything short
of hearty acquiescence was to be interpreted into a national offence.
The Khan of Bahwulpore and the Ameers of Sindh were ordered not only
to suffer the passage of our troops through their dominions but also
to supply them on their way. The former had ever been regarded as
one of the staunchest friends of the British Government; but when
he was called upon to collect camels and to place supplies at the
different stages for the use of the army, the work was carried on with
obvious reluctance. It was found necessary to remind the Khan of his
“obligations” and “responsibilities.” His officers affected to believe
that the British force would not march, and, whilst laying in supplies
for the Shah’s troops, hesitated to make an effort in behalf of our
supporting columns. The “obstinacy and perversity”—the “duplicity
and equivocation”—the “neglectful, if not reckless conduct of the
Bahwulpore authorities,” was severely commented upon by our political
officers;[281] and it was apprehended that the march of the army would
be delayed by the misguided conduct of our respectable ally.

The reluctance of the Bahwulpore authorities was soon overcome; but
the demands made upon the forbearance of the Ameers of Sindh were
of a more oppressive and irritating character. The Bahwul Khan has
ever been held up to admiration as the most consistently friendly
of all the allies of the British Government; but the expedition was
distasteful to him and his people, and the real feeling broke out in
the beginning, though, after a while, it was suppressed. It is not
strange, therefore, that the Talpoor Ameers, of whom so much more was
demanded, should have co-operated somewhat unwillingly in a measure
which had openly exacted from them a large amount of treasure, and was
not unlikely in the end to deprive them of all that they possessed.
Interpreted into homely English, the language now to be addressed to
these unhappy Princes was simply, “Your money or your life.” Colonel
Pottinger was the agent employed, in the first instance, to dictate
terms to the Court of Hyderabad; but he was too clear-headed and
too high-minded a man not to perceive the injustice of the course
prescribed by his government, and to feel painfully unwilling to
pursue it. The instructions he had received, divested of the specious
outside dress of diplomatic phraseology, and rendered in plain English
by Colonel Pottinger himself, were truly of a startling character.
The British agent was directed to tell the Ameers that “the day they
connected themselves with any other power than England would be the
last of their independence, if not of their rule.” “Neither,” it was
added, “the ready power to crush and annihilate them, nor the will to
call it into action, were wanting, if it appeared requisite, however
remotely, for the safety or integrity of the Anglo-Indian Empire or
frontier.” The Ameers were known to be weak; and they were believed to
be wealthy. Their money was to be taken; their country to be occupied;
their treaties to be set aside at the point of the bayonet—but amidst a
shower of hypocritical expressions of friendship and good-will.

Whilst Colonel Pottinger, not without some scruples, was enclosing the
Ameers of Lower Sindh in the toils of his diplomacy, Captain Burnes,
who by this time had reaped the reward of his services in knighthood
and a lieutenant-colonelcy, was proceeding to operate upon the Princes
of Beloochistan. Originally sent upon a mission to Mehrab Khan of
Khelat, he had turned aside, however, to negotiate with the Ameers
of Khyrpore, in Upper Sindh, and had found them more tractable than
the Hyderabad Princes in Colonel Pottinger’s hands. It was deemed
expedient that the British troops should cross the Indus at Bukkur, and
Burnes was instructed to obtain the temporary cession of the island.
The fortress stands on a rock, dividing the river into two channels.
Apprehending that the incursion of British troops into their country
would be followed by acts of territorial spoliation, the Ameers of
Khyrpore, whilst expressing in general terms their willingness to
co-operate with our government, expressly stipulated that the forts on
either bank of the river were to be untouched. But as Bukkur stood on
neither bank, but on an island, it appeared to the British diplomatist
that the wording of the memorandum actually placed the fortress in his
hands. Ashamed, however, of such an exhibition of legal acuteness, he
declared that he had no intention to take advantage of such a reading
of the document; he cited it merely as an instance of the manner in
which very cunning people sometimes overreach themselves. There was
no need, indeed, to look for flaws in a state paper, when the Army of
the Indus was assembling to help itself to what it liked. The Ameers
were told that, whatever might be their dislike to the march of our
troops through Sindh, “the Sindhian who hoped to stop the approach of
the British army might as well seek to dam up the Indus at Bukkur.” The
fiat had gone forth, an army was to march, and it was now on the road.

There was every reason why the restoration of Shah Soojah, who was
famous for the extravagance of his pretensions in the direction of
Sindh, should have been viewed with apprehension and alarm by the
Talpoor Ameers. But the matter now began to wear a much more formidable
aspect. The British Government had not only announced its intention to
assist the long-exiled monarch in his attempt to regain his crown, but
had encouraged him to assert long dormant claims, and had announced its
intention to march an army into the country of the Ameers, to plant a
subsidiary force there, to compel the Princes of Sindh to pay for it,
to knock down and set up the Princes themselves at discretion, to take
possession of any part of the country that might be wanted for our
own purposes—in fact, to treat Sindh and Beloochistan in all respects
as though they were petty principalities of our own. That the Ameers
thus struggling in our grasp, conscious of their inability openly to
resist oppression, should have writhed and twisted, and endeavoured to
extricate themselves by the guile which might succeed, rather than by
the strength which could not, was only to follow the universal law of
nature in all such contests between the weak and the strong. Macnaghten
complained, some time afterwards, that no civilised beings had ever
been treated so badly as were the British by the Princes of Sindh. If
it were so, it was only because no civilised beings had ever before
committed themselves to acts of such gross provocation. Throughout the
entire period of British connection with Afghanistan, a strange moral
blindness clouded the visions of our statesmen: they saw only the
natural, the inevitable results of their own measures, and forgot that
those measures were the dragon’s teeth from which sprung up the armed
men. The Ameers of Sindh viewed all our proceedings at this time with
mingled terror and indignation. Our conduct was calculated to alarm and
incense them to the extremest point of fear and irritation; and yet we
talked of their childish distrust and their unprovoked hostility.

The Ameers of Sindh were told that, whether they were friendly or
unfriendly to the movement, the British army would cross the Indus when
and where our government directed, and do whatsoever our government
pleased—that resistance on their part would be not only useless, but
insane, as it would bring down inevitable destruction on the head of
all who stood up to oppose us. From that time these unhappy Princes
felt that they ruled only by sufferance of the British. They knew their
helplessness, and if at any time they thought of open resistance, the
idea was speedily abandoned. Two British armies were bearing down
upon their dominions—the one from Upper India; the other from the
Sea. Burnes and the Commissariat officers were in advance, laying in
supplies for the consumption of the invading force, and threatening
with heavy penalties all who refused to co-operate with them. It would
be difficult to conceive anything more distressing and more irritating;
and yet we expected the Ameers to open their arms and to lay down their
treasures at our feet.

The Bengal army moved from Ferozepore on the 10th of December.[282]
Availing themselves of the water-carriage, they moved down parallel
to the river. The sick, the hospital stores, and a portion of our
Commissariat supplies were forwarded on boats, which were subsequently
to be used for the bridging of the Indus. The force consisted of about
9500 men and 38,000 camp-followers. Some 30,000 camels accompanied the
army.[283] There was an immense assemblage of baggage. Sir Henry Fane
had exhorted the officers of the Army of the Indus not to encumber
themselves with large establishments and unnecessary equipages; but
there is a natural disposition on the part of Englishmen, in all
quarters of the globe, to carry their comforts with them. It requires a
vast deal of exhortation to induce officers to move lightly equipped.
The more difficult the country into which they are sent—the more
barbarous the inhabitants—the more trying the climate—the greater is
their anxiety to surround themselves with the comforts which remote
countries and uncivilised people cannot supply, and which ungenial
climates render more indispensable. In the turmoil of actual war,
all these light matters may be forgotten; but a long, a wearisome,
and unexciting march through a difficult but uninteresting country,
tries the patience even of the best of soldiers, and fills him with
unappeasable yearnings after the comforts which make endurable the
tedium of barrack or cantonment life. It is natural that with the
prospect of such a march before him, he should not be entirely
forgetful of the pleasures of the mess-table, or regardless of the less
social delights of the pleasant volume and the solacing pipe. Clean
linen, too, is a luxury which a civilised man, without any imputation
upon his soldierly qualities, may, in moderation, desire to enjoy. The
rudeness and barrenness of the country compel him to supply himself at
the commencement of his journey with everything that he will require
in the course of it; and the exigencies of the climate necessarily
increase the extent of these requirements. The expedition across the
Indus had been prospectively described as a “grand military promenade;”
and if such were the opinion of some of the highest authorities, it
is not strange that officers of inferior rank should have endorsed
it, and hastened to act upon the suggestion it conveyed. And so
marched the Army of the Indus, accompanied by thousands upon thousands
of baggage-laden camels and other beasts of burden, spreading
themselves for miles and miles over the country, and making up with the
multitudinous followers of the camp one of those immense moving cities,
which are only to be seen when an Indian army takes the field, and
streams into an enemy’s country.

It was clear, bright, invigorating weather—the glorious cold season of
Northern India—when the army of the Indus entered the territories of
Bahwul Khan. Nature seemed to smile on the expedition, and circumstance
to favour its progress. There was a fine open country before them;
they moved along a good road;[284] supplies were abundant everywhere.
The coyness of the Bahwulpore authorities, which had threatened to
delay the initial march of the army, had yielded in good time, and at
every stage Mackeson and Gordon had laid up in depôt stores of grain,
and fodder, and firewood, for the consumption of man and beast.[285]
Officers and soldiers were in the highest spirits. “These,” it was said
by one who accompanied the army on the staff of its commander, and
has chronicled all its operations,[286] “were the halcyon days of the
movements of this force.” To the greater number who now crossed the
frontier this was their virgin campaign. The excitement was as novel
as it was inspiriting. They might be about to meet mighty armies and
to subdue great principalities; or they might only be entering upon a
“grand military promenade.” Still in that bright December weather the
very march through a strange country, with all that great and motley
assemblage, was something joyous and animating. The army was in fine
health, full of heart, and overflowing with spirits. It seemed as if an
expedition so auspiciously commenced must be one great triumph to the

There was but one thing to detract from the general prosperity of the
opening campaign. Desertion was going on apace—not from the ranks
of the fighting men, but from the mass of officers’ servants, camel
drivers, and camp-followers which streamed out from the rear of the
army. The cattle, too, were falling sick and dying by the way-side. The
provisions with which they were supplied were not good, and dysentery
broke out among them. Many were carried off by their owners, who shrunk
from the long and trying journey before them; and it soon became
manifest that the most formidable enemy with which the advancing army
would have to contend, would be a scarcity of carriage and supplies.

Even in those early days the voice of complaint was not wholly
silent;[287] but when the army began to make its toilsome way through
Sindh and Beloochistan, there were few in its ranks who did not look
back with regret to the march through Bahwulpore, when all their wants
had been supplied in a manner which they were little likely to see
again. It was on the 29th of December that the head-quarters of the
army reached the capital of Bahwul Khan’s country. Sir Henry Fane, who
had been proceeding down the river by water, landed from his boats, and
held a Durbar on the following day; and on the 31st returned the visit
of state which the Khan had paid him.[288] On the first day of the new
year the army broke ground again, and set out for the frontier of Sindh.

On the 14th of January, the head-quarters of the Army of the Indus
entered the Sindh territory near Subzulkote. On the preceding day,
Sir Alexander Burnes had joined the British camp; and though he had
obtained by his negotiations the cession of Bukkur to the British
Government,[289] for such time as it might seem expedient to us to
retain it, and had thus secured the peaceful passage of the Indus,
the report which he made of the general feeling of the Sindhians was
not very encouraging. It was plain that our armed passage through the
country of the Ameers was extremely distasteful to them; and that if
they did not break out into acts of open hostility, their conduct
towards us was likely to be marked by subterfuges, evasions, and deceit
of every possible kind.

And presently it began to be suspected that the temper of at least
some of the Talpoor Princes was such, that a hostile demonstration
against them was little likely to be avoided. The Hyderabad Ameers had
assumed an attitude of defiance. They had insulted and outraged Colonel
Pottinger, and were now collecting troops for the defence of their
capital. Sir John Keane, with the Bombay army, had landed at Vikkur at
the end of November, and, after a long and mortifying delay, had made
his way on to Tattah. Having come by sea, he was necessarily without
carriage. He had relied upon the friendly feelings of the Sindh rulers;
but the Sindh rulers were not disposed to do anything for him, but
everything against him. They regarded the British General as an enemy,
and threw every obstacle in his way. Sir John Keane was compelled,
therefore, to remain in inactivity on the banks of the river until the
24th of December. A supply of carriage from Cutch, by no means adequate
to the wants of the force, but most welcome at such a time, came
opportunely to release Sir John Keane from this local bondage, and the
Bombay column then commenced its march into Sindh. Proceeding up the
right bank of the Indus to Tattah, and thence to Jerruk, he awaited at
the latter place the result of the negotiations which were going on at
Hyderabad. Captain Outram and Lieutenant Eastwick had been despatched
to the Court of the Ameers with Lord Auckland’s ultimatum; and Keane
with the Bombay column, was now, at the end of January, awaiting the

Surrounded by his own contingent, Shah Soojah had proceeded in
advance of the Bengal column; and his force had crossed the Indus, in
very creditable order, before the end of the third week of January.
Shikarpoor had been fixed upon as the place of rendezvous. There the
force was now encamped, and there the Envoy and Minister joined the
suite of the Douranee monarch.

Cotton was to have crossed the Indus at Rohree, which lies opposite
to the fort of Bukkur. Some delay had taken place in the cession of
the fortress; for the Bengal column had arrived on the banks of the
river before the treaty with the Ameer of Khyrpore, by which it was to
be ceded, had arrived with the ratification of the Governor-General;
and after its arrival, some further delay was occasioned, either by
the mistrust or by the guile of the Sindh ruler. He was not ignorant
of the state of affairs at Hyderabad. He knew, or suspected, that
there was a likelihood of a large portion of the Bengal column being
detached, and he was eager to temporise. Something might be written
down in the chapter of accidents, that might enable him to retain
possession of Bukkur; or something might be gained by the detention
of Cotton’s troops. It was not, therefore, till the 29th of January
that the British flag waved from the fort of Bukkur—and even when the
detachment of troops, which was to receive possession, crossed the
river, opposition seemed so probable, that some powder-bags, wherewith
to blow in the gates of the fort, were stowed away in one of the boats.

The military authorities now determined to despatch the greater part
of the Bengal column down the left bank of the Indus to co-operate
with Sir John Keane against Hyderabad. Burnes entirely approved of
the movement.[290] It does not appear that Keane had then made any
requisition for more troops.[291] The two columns, indeed, were
entirely ignorant of each other’s operations. Thus early the want of an
intelligence-department was painfully apparent; but up to the last day
of our connection with Afghanistan nothing was done, nor has anything
been done in more recent wars, to remedy the admitted evil. Down the
left bank of the Indus went Cotton with his troops, glorying in the
prospect before them. The treasures of Hyderabad seemed to lie at their
feet. Never was there a more popular movement. The troops pushed on
in the highest spirits, eager for the affray—confident of success.
An unanticipated harvest of honour—an unexpected promise of abundant
prize-money was within their reach. A march of a few days would bring
them under the walls of Hyderabad, to humble the pride of the Ameers,
and to gather up their accumulated wealth.

But there was one man then on the borders of the Indus to whom
this movement down the left bank of the river was a source of
unmixed dissatisfaction. Mr. Macnaghten, who, under the title of
Envoy-and-Minister at the Court of Shah Soojah, had been appointed
political director of the campaign, viewed with alarm the departure of
Sir Willoughby Cotton from Rohree, just as it was hoped that the Bengal
column was about to cross to the right bank of the river. The Shah,
with his contingent, was at Shikarpoor. Macnaghten had joined the royal
camp. The King and the Envoy were alike eager to push on to Candahar;
but, deserted by the Bengal troops, they were compelled to remain in
a state of absolute paralysis. Seldom has any public functionary been
surrounded by more embarrassing circumstances than those which, at
this time, beset Macnaghten. At the very outset of the campaign there
was a probability of the civil and military authorities being brought
into perilous collision. The Envoy looked aghast at the movement
upon Hyderabad, for he believed it involved an entire sacrifice of
the legitimate objects of the campaign. It appeared to him, in this
conjuncture, to be plainly his duty, as the representative of the
British-Indian Government, to take upon himself the responsibility of
preventing the march for the restoration of Shah Soojah from being
converted into a campaign in Sindh. Yet to no man could the assertion
of such authority be more painful than to one of Macnaghten’s temper
and habits. It was certain that the military chiefs would resent his
interference, and that the whole army would be against him. But he
turned his face steadfastly towards Candahar; and determined to arrest
the progress of the Bengal column on its march to the Sindh capital.

In what light this diversion was viewed by him, and for what reasons
he deprecated it, Macnaghten’s letters, written at this time, indicate
with sufficient distinctness; and it is just, therefore, that in a
matter which has entailed some odium upon him, he should be suffered to
speak for himself:

 “The Governor-General,” he wrote to Burnes, “never seems to have
 contemplated the diversion of the army of the Indus from its original
 purpose, except on emergency. No such emergency appears to have
 arisen. We are utterly ignorant of the state of affairs below. It is
 hardly possible to conceive that matters should not have been settled,
 unless under the very improbable supposition that Sir J. Keane should
 be waiting for reinforcements, or that a suspension of hostilities may
 have been agreed upon, pending the receipt of further instructions
 from the Governor-General. In the first place it may be presumed that
 the Bombay reserve will reach Sir John Keane long ere Sir Willoughby
 Cotton can do so. In the latter case, it is probable that the
 suggestions with which I have this day furnished Colonel Pottinger,
 will bring matters to an amicable conclusion. As far as I have learnt
 the motives of Sir W. C.’s movement down the left bank of the Indus,
 it was with a view of creating a diversion, and never with any
 intention of actually proceeding all the way to Hyderabad. The effect
 of the movement whatever it may have been, must have been already
 produced. At all events, by crossing to this side of the river, the
 effect will rather be heightened than lessened; while, if the force
 should not be required further, it might be all ready to proceed
 at the proper season to its original destination in Afghanistan. I
 should hope in less than ten days from this date to receive a reply
 from Colonel Pottinger; and, in the mean time, the boats might be got
 ready to proceed with the troops downwards, should their services
 be required. Thus no time would be lost. But, as in that case there
 could be little hope of the return of the troops to proceed this
 season into Afghanistan, I would strongly urge that a force, to the
 extent specified in the second paragraph of this letter (one European
 regiment, one Native cavalry, a troop of horse artillery, with a
 suitable battering train), with a sufficiency of carriage-cattle
 for itself and Shah Soojah’s army, should be directed to proceed to
 Shikarpoor. With such a force I am clearly of opinion that the views
 of the Governor-General, in regard to Afghanistan, could be carried
 into effect during the present season. The consequences of losing a
 whole season are not to be foreseen.”[292]

In another letter he wrote to the Governor-General—and the passage has
an additional interest, as affording, for the first time, a glimpse of
the unreasonable character of Shah Soojah, and the extent to which his
Majesty’s peculiarities heightened the difficulties of Macnaghten’s

 We should not, I think, on any account, lose the season for advancing
 upon Candahar. With our European regiment, some more artillery, a
 couple of Native regiments, and a small battering train, we might not
 only occupy Candahar, but relieve Herat; and by money, if we have no
 disposable troops, make Caubul too hot for Dost Mahomed.

 The Shah is very solicitous about future operations, and, I am sorry
 to say, talks foolishly every time I see him on the subject of his
 confined territories that are to be—and frequently says it would be
 much better for him to have remained at Loodhianah. The next time he
 touches on the subject, I intend to remind him of the verse of Sadi,
 “If a king conquers seven regions he would still be hankering after
 another territory.” I have little doubt of being able to bring him
 into a more reasonable temper of mind. He is much delighted with the
 four six-pounders presented to him by your Lordship.... I hardly think
 it probable that 50,000 rupees per mensem will suffice for the Shah’s
 expenses, but on this point I will write to your Lordship more fully
 on another occasion.[293]

And again he wrote, soon afterwards, to Mr. Colvin:

 I grieve to say that I have no consolation to afford you. Our
 accounts from every quarter as to what is really passing are most
 unsatisfactory, and Sir Willoughby Cotton is clearly going on a
 wild-goose chase. He cannot possibly, I think, be at Hyderabad under
 twenty-five days from this date, and he seems to be travelling by a
 route which has no road. He will soon, I fear, find himself in the
 jungle. If this goes on as it is now doing, what is to become of our
 Afghan expedition. Burnes’s letters are most unsatisfactory.[294]

He had hardly despatched the letter from which this last passage is
taken, when a communication from the Governor-General was put into
his hands, and it became more than ever obvious from its contents,
that Lord Auckland’s first wish was, that the Bengal column should
accompany Shah Soojah and his contingent as expeditiously as possible
to Candahar. Fortified by these advices, Macnaghten, on the following
day, wrote, in emphatic language to Sir Willoughby Cotton, in virtue
of the power vested in him by the Governor-General, requiring that
military chief to furnish him with a force sufficient to enable him to
give effect to his Lordship’s plans in Afghanistan:

 “I have already urged,” he added, “in the strongest terms, your
 crossing over to this side of the river with your whole force. Of
 Sir John Keane’s army there can be no apprehension. His Excellency
 will always be able to keep up his communication with the sea,
 whilst your presence on this side would enable us to establish a
 strong post at the extremity of the Sindh territories, and ensure
 the safety of the supplies for the Army of the Indus in its advance
 into Afghanistan. The Ameers cannot for any length of time keep up
 an army—they must be reduced to act on the defensive, and then the
 result could hardly be doubtful. Dangerous as the experiment might
 be, it would, in my opinion, be infinitely better that we should let
 loose fifteen or twenty thousand of Runjeet Singh’s troops (who would
 march down upon Hyderabad in a very short space of time), than that
 the grand enterprise of restoring Shah Soojah to the throne of Caubul
 and Candahar should be postponed for an entire season. By such a
 postponement it might be frustrated altogether.”

Thus were the military and political authorities brought into a
state of undisguised antagonism. Circumstances, however, had already
occurred to unravel the web of difficulty that had been cast around
them. The progress of the Bengal column towards Hyderabad was arrested
by the receipt of intelligence to the effect that the Ameers, awed
by impending danger, had submitted to the demands of the British
Government. Outram and Eastwick had been from the 20th of January to
the 4th of February at Hyderabad negotiating with them, and after much
reasonable doubt of the issue had received their submission.[295] They
had consented to pay the money which had been required from them, and
it was believed that it would soon be paid.[296] They had consented
to the terms of a stringent treaty, which had been fastened upon them
by the British authorities, and agreed to pay annually three lakhs
of rupees for the support of a British subsidiary force in their
dominions. Cotton was, therefore, instructed to halt his division;
and on the very 7th of February on which Macnaghten had written and
despatched the letter which I have above quoted, the hopes of the
Bengal column were dashed by the announcement that Hyderabad and its
treasures were no longer lying at their feet. The Ameers paid an
instalment of the tribute-money, and Cotton, to the great joy of the
Envoy, but to the extreme disappointment of his troops, retraced his
steps to Rohree, and prepared to effect the passage of the river,
whilst Keane, with the Bombay column, moved up along the right bank of
the Indus, and saw, through the dusty atmosphere of Lower Sindh, the
palace and the city where was stored the gathered wealth which was to
have enriched his army.

Halting for some days opposite Hyderabad,[297] the Bombay troops
received intelligence to the effect that the Reserve which had been
sent to their assistance from the Presidency had arrived at Kurachee,
under Brigadier Valiant. The 40th Queen’s Regiment formed a portion
of this brigade. It had been brought from Bombay in a seventy-four
gun-ship—the _Wellesley_—and Admiral Sir Frederick Maitland was on
board. In the position which affairs had assumed in Lower Sindh, it
seemed desirable that the English should possess themselves of the fort
of Kurachee; so the Admiral summoned it to surrender. The answer of
the Commandant was a gallant one. “I am a Beloochee,” he said, “and I
will die first.” With characteristic mendacity the Sindhian boatmen in
the harbour declared that the place was prepared to withstand a siege,
and that one of the Ameers had come down with an army of 3000 men. The
English sailor had now an answer to give as gallant as that of the
Beloochee chief. “The more the better,” he said; “we shall have the
first trial of them.” Everything was soon ready for the attack. But
British humanity again interposed, and Maitland a second time summoned
the garrison to surrender. The reply was a word of defiance, and a shot
from the fort. Then was heard by the garrison that which had never been
heard there before, and of which they had no conception—a broadside
from an English man-of-war. The _Wellesley’s_ guns did their work in
less than an hour, and the British colours soon floated over the place.
The garrison had consisted of only some twenty men.[298]

On the 20th of February, Sir Willoughby Cotton, with the head-quarters
of his force, arrived at Shikarpoor. On the morning of that day the
General and the Envoy were for some time in conference with each other.
The discussion was a long and a stormy one. The General seems to have
anticipated the interference of Macnaghten, and to have resented it
before it took any really offensive shape. The two officers looked on
each other with suspicion. The General leapt hastily to the conclusion
that the civilian was determined to overrule his military authority;
and the Envoy, on the other side, thought that the soldier regarded
him, the King and the King’s army, with something very like contempt.
Macnaghten wanted carriage for the Shah’s force, and asked for 1000
camels. Sir Willoughby resented this as an act of interference; accused
the Envoy of wishing to assume the command of the army, and declared
that he knew no superior authority but that of Sir John Keane. At
this, and at subsequent meetings, the Envoy urged that he had no
intention of interfering with the military movements of the General,
but that if he thought it for the good of the service that Shah Soojah
should be left behind, the matter must be referred for the decision
of the Governor-General. In the evening they met at dinner in the
Envoy’s tent. The meal was not over when important despatches from the
Governor-General were placed in Macnaghten’s hands. In the Envoy’s
private tent they were read and discussed. Burnes and Todd were present
at the conference. Late at night the General and the Envoy parted “very
good friends,”[299]

It was decreed that the Bengal column should at once move in advance.
On the following day it was manœuvred in presence of the King.
The parching heats of Sindh, and the evil effects of a failing
Commissariat, had not then begun to impair our army; and, in full
health and fine condition, the troops moved before the well-pleased
Shah. On the 23rd, Sir Willoughby Cotton began to put his force again
in motion. But the Shah’s contingent remained halted at Shikarpoor.
There was not carriage sufficient for its advance.

The difficulties of the march now began to obtrude themselves. Between
Sukkur and Shikarpoor the camels had dropped down dead by scores. But
there was a worse tract of country in advance. The officers looked at
their maps, and traced with dismay the vast expanse of sandy desert,
where no green pasture met the eye, and no sound of water spoke to the
ear. But the season was favorable. Escaping the arid and pestilential
blasts of April and May, and the noxious exhalations of the four
succeeding months, the column advanced into Cutch-Gundawa. The hard,
salt-mixed sand, crackled under their horses’ feet as the General
and his staff crossed the desert, on a fine bright night of early
March—so cool that only, when in a full gallop, the riders ceased to
long for the warmth of their cloaks.[300] The distance from Shikarpoor
to Dadur is 146 miles. It was accomplished by the Bengal column in
sixteen painful marches. Water and forage were so scarce that the
cattle suffered terribly on the way. The camels fell dead by scores
on the desert; and further on the Beloochee robbers carried them
off with appalling dexterity. When the column reached a cultivated
tract of country, the green crops were used as forage for the horses.
The _ryots_ were liberally paid on the spot; but the agents of the
Beloochee chiefs often plundered the unhappy cultivators of the money
that had been paid to them, even in front of the British camp.

It was on the 10th of March that the Bengal column reached Dadur, which
lies at the mouth of the Bolan Pass. Whatever doubts may before have
been entertained regarding the provisionary prospects of the Army of
the Indus, they were now painfully set at rest. Major Leech had been
long endeavouring to collect supplies for the army at this place; but,
in spite of all his zeal and all his ability, he had signally failed.
Mehrab Khan of Khelat, under whose dominion lay the provinces through
which the army was now passing, had thrown every impediment in the way
of the collection of grain for our advancing troops. The prospect,
therefore, before them was anything but an encouraging one. At Dadur
they found themselves, on the 10th of March, with a month’s supplies
on their beasts of burden. Cotton saw that there was little chance of
collecting more; so he determined to push on with all possible despatch.

On the 16th he resumed his march; and entered the Bolan Pass. Burnes
had gone on in advance with a party under Major Cureton, to secure a
safe passage for the column; and had been completely successful. The
Beloochee authorities rendered him all the aid in their power;[301] and
when Cotton appeared with his troops on a clear, still morning, at the
mouth of the defile, there was little likelihood of any obstacle being
opposed to his free progress. But the baggage-cattle were falling dead
by the way-side; the artillery horses were showing painful symptoms of
distress. The stream of the Bolan river was tainted by the bodies of
the camels that had sunk beneath their loads. The Beloochee freebooters
were hovering about, cutting off our couriers, murdering stragglers,
carrying off our baggage and our cattle. Among the rocks of this
stupendous defile our men pitched their tents; and toiled on again
day after day, over a wretched road covered with loose flint stones,
surmounting, at first, by a scarcely perceptible ascent, and afterwards
by a difficult acclivity, the great Brahoo chain of hills. The Bolan
Pass is nearly sixty miles in length. The passage was accomplished
in six days. They were days of drear discomfort, but not of danger.
A resolute enemy might have wrought mighty havoc among Cotton’s
regiments; but the enemies with which now they had to contend were the
sharp flint stones which lamed our cattle, the scanty pasturage which
destroyed them, and the marauding tribes who carried them off. The way
was strewn with baggage—with abandoned tents, and stores; and luxuries
which, a few weeks afterwards, would have fetched their weight twice
counted in rupees, were left to be trampled down by the cattle in the
rear, or carried off by the plunderers about them.

Happy was every man in the force when the army again emerged into the
open country. The valley of Shawl lay before them, a favoured spot in a
country of little favour. The clear crisp climate braced the European
frame; and over the wide plain, bounded by noble mountain-ranges,
intersected by many sparkling streams, and dotted with orchards and
vineyards, the eye ranged with delight; whilst the well-known carol of
the lark, mounting up in the fresh morning air, broke with many home
associations charmingly on the English ear.[302] On the 26th of March
the Bengal column reached Quettah-“a most miserable mud town, with a
small castle on a mound, on which there was a small gun on a rickety
carriage.”[303] Here Sir Willoughby Cotton was to halt until further
orders. Starvation was beginning to stare his troops in the face.

Seldom has a military commander found himself in the midst of more
painful perplexities than those which now surrounded Cotton. It seemed
to be equally impossible to stand still or to move forward. His
supplies were now so reduced, that even upon famine allowances his
troops could not have reached Candahar with provisions for more than a
few days in store; and to remain halted at Quettah would necessarily
aggravate the evil. There appeared to be no possibility of obtaining
supplies. All the provisions stored in Quettah and the surrounding
villages would not have fed our army for many days. In this painful
conjuncture, Cotton acted with becoming promptitude. He despatched his
Adjutant-General to Sir John Keane for orders, whilst Burnes proceeded
to Khelat to work upon the fears or the cupidity of Mehrab Khan; and,
in the meanwhile, reduced to the scantiest dole the daily supplies
meted out to our unfortunate fighting men and our more miserable
camp-followers.[304] These privations soon began to tell fearfully
upon their health and their spirits. The sufferings of the present were
aggravated by the dread of the future; and as men looked at the shrunk
frames and sunken cheeks of each other, and in their own feebleness and
exhaustion felt what wrecks they had become, their hearts died within
them at the thought that a day was coming when even the little that was
now doled out to them might be wholly denied.

Burnes hastened to Khelat. He was courteously received. He found Mehrab
Khan an able and sagacious man. Suspicious of others, but with more
frankness and unreserve in his character than is commonly found in
suspicious men, the Khan commented freely on our policy—said, with
prophetic truth, that we might restore Shah Soojah to Afghanistan,
but that we should not carry the Afghan people with us, and that we
should, therefore, fail in the end; and then, after launching into an
indignant commentary on the ingratitude of Shah Soojah, for whom he had
suffered much and reaped nothing in return, he proceeded to set forth
the evils which had resulted to him and his people from the passage of
the British army through his dominions.[305] “The English,” he said,
“had now come, and by their march through his country, in different
directions, destroyed the crops, poor as they were; helped themselves
to the water which irrigated the lands, made doubly valuable in this
year of scarcity;”-“but he had stood,” he added, “quiescent, and hoped
from the English justice, from the Shah justice; hoped that his claims
might be regarded in a proper light, and he for ever relieved from
the mastery of the Suddozye Kings.” He then spoke freely and fluently
of our policy in Central Asia, of the position in which we had placed
ourselves at Herat by supporting such a miscreant as Yar Mahomed, and
of the failure of our negotiations at Caubul and Candahar. “I might
have allied myself,” he said, “with Persia and Russia—but I have
seen you safely through the great defile of the Bolan, and yet I am

Burnes had brought with him the draft of a treaty, which, on the
following day, he sent to the Khan. He had made it a condition of all
peaceable negotiation with the Beloochee Prince, that he should wait
upon Shah Soojah in his camp—a condition which Mehrab Khan disliked and
resisted, and from which he could extricate himself only by pleading
sickness. The treaty, by which the supremacy of Shah Soojah was
distinctly acknowledged, bound the British Government to pay Mehrab
Khan a lakh and a half of rupees annually, in return for which the Khan
engaged to “use his best endeavours to procure supplies, carriage,
and guards to protect provisions and stores going and coming from
Shikarpoor, by the route of Rozan, Dadur, the Pass of Bolan, through
Shawl to Koochlak, from one frontier to another.”

Mehrab Khan affixed his seal to the treaty. But he disliked the
bargain he had made. He was altogether suspicions of Shah Soojah and
the Suddozyes. He was by no means certain of the success of the present
enterprise. He believed that, by paying homage to the Shah, he would
raise up a host of powerful enemies, and plunge himself into a sea of
ruin. Striving to allay the apprehensions of the Khan, Burnes made some
trifling concessions, which were not without their effect; and then
proceeded to press upon him the subject which at that moment was of
most immediate importance to British interests—the matter of supplies;
and earnestly pointed out the imperative necessity of every possible
exertion being made by the Khan to provide them. But it was easier to
suggest such provision than to make it. Mehrab Khan said that he would
do his best—that he would place men at Burnes’s disposal to proceed
to Nooshky and other places, where the crops were nearly ripe (”and,”
said Burnes, parenthetically, “he has done so”)—that he would “give
grain in Gundava and Cutchee, and if we would send for our stores at
Shikarpoor to Dadur, he would actively aid in passing them through the
Bolan—that he might also aid us at Moostung in getting a small quantity
of grain; but that there was really very little grain at Khelat, or in
the country—that he had reduced his escort to wait on the Shah to 1000
men, on account of the scarcity—and that he could not then furnish the
grain, but each man must bring his own.” “This intelligence,” wrote
Burnes to Macnaghten, “is very distressing in our present position;
but my inquiries serve to convince me that there is but a small supply
of grain in this country, and none certainly to be given us, without
aggravating the present distress of the inhabitants—some of whom are
feeding on herbs and grasses gathered in the jungle. It is with some
difficulty we have supported ourselves, whilst the small quantities we
have procured have been got by stealth. This scarcity is corroborated
by a blight in last year’s harvest. Under such circumstances, the only
way of turning the Khan to account is in supplying sheep; and here he
can and is willing to assist us to a great extent. Probably 10,000
or 15,000 may be procured; and arrangements are now being made for
purchasing and sending them down to Shawl.”[306]

In the meanwhile, the Shah’s Contingent and the Bombay division of the
Army of the Indus were making their way through Sindh.[307] Greatly
straitened for carriage, it had been for some time doubtful whether the
whole of the Shah’s army would be able to proceed to Candahar. There
had been a disposition on the part of Sir Willoughby Cotton to look
with contempt upon the Suddozye levies, and to make the King and his
regiments play a part in the coming drama, by no means in accordance
with the estimate which Macnaghten had formed of their importance. And
now Sir John Keane seemed equally inclined to throw into the background
the King, the Envoy, and the Contingent. But Macnaghten had claimed
for the Shah a prominent place in the coming operations,[308] and the
military chief had yielded to his representations, and even placed at
his disposal a number of baggage-cattle which he greatly needed for his
own force. Anxious to conciliate the commander of the army, and never
unmindful of the public interests, the Envoy gratefully declined the
offer.[309] Keane was, at that time, “in a wretched plight for want
of cattle,” and the Bengal Commissariat were compelled to supply him
largely both with camels and grain.

Sir Willoughby Cotton had suggested to Macnaghten the expediency
of a movement upon Khelat; but the Envoy was then little inclined
to take the same unfavourable view of the conduct of Mehrab Khan,
which Cotton, smarting under the privations to which his force had
been subjected, was prone to encourage. “With regard to moving upon
Khelat,” he wrote on the 15th of March to the Bengal General, “I am
not prepared at present to take upon myself the responsibility of
that measure; and I am in great hopes that Sir Alexander Burnes will
be able to arrange everything satisfactorily.”[310] The further he
advanced, indeed, the more obvious it became that the Khan of Khelat
had just grounds of complaint against the English army. Everywhere
traces of the devastation—much of it unavoidable devastation—which our
advancing columns had left behind them, spoke out intelligibly to him;
and he plainly saw how extremely distasteful both our officers and our
measures had become to the Beloochees. Pondering these things, he sate
down and wrote the following letter to Lord Auckland—a significant
letter, which shows how early had burst upon Macnaghten the truth,
that only by a liberal expenditure of money was there any hope of
reconciling to our operations the chiefs and people beyond the Indus:

  Camp Bagh, _March 19_.

 I found the Khelat authorities in the worst possible humour. Our
 enemies have evidently been tampering with them, and they had good
 cause for dissatisfaction with us; their crops have been destroyed,
 and the water intended for the irrigation of their fields has been
 diverted to the use of our armies. A great portion of these evils was
 perhaps unavoidable, but little or no effort seems to have been made
 either to mitigate the calamity or to appease the discontent which
 has been created by our proceedings. Our officers and our measures
 are alike unpopular in this country, and I very much fear that Sir
 A. Burnes may be led, by vague rumours of the Khan’s unfriendly
 disposition, to recommend offensive operations against him. In what
 difficulties we might be involved by such a proceeding it would be
 impossible to foretell. My most strenuous efforts have been day and
 night directed towards reconciling all persons of influence to our
 operations; and in this I have been successful; but considerable sums
 must be expended, not only in remunerating the people for the severe
 losses they have sustained, but in bribing the authorities. Your
 Lordship may rely upon it, that I shall not expend one rupee of the
 public money more than I deem indispensably necessary; but here we are
 quite at the mercy of the Beloochees. This very day, had they been
 inimically inclined, they might with the greatest ease have turned
 an inundation into our camp, which would have swept away our entire
 force and everything belonging to us. The change in the demeanour of
 the authorities since yesterday is wonderful. They are now our devoted
 servants, and the Vizier has promised to write off instantly to his
 master at Khelat, advising him to give us his entire and unqualified
 friendship and support. Sir John Keane is in a wretched plight for
 want of cattle, and I cannot help thinking he has been neglected in
 a very unwarrantable manner by the Bengal authorities.... I went out
 myself this morning to see what damage had been done to the crops.
 The devastation is grievous; but the interest which the people saw
 me take in their complaints has done more to pacify them than I ever
 expected. Another source of great dissatisfaction has been the seizure
 by our troops of different individuals, and even families, on the plea
 of being robbers. This I have done all in my power to remedy.[311]

More and more sensible, after every march, of the miserable country
through which he was passing, and the difficulties which now beset
the expedition, Macnaghten was anxious to push on with all possible
expedition. But Sir John Keane, who was in the rear with the Bombay
column, dreading the assemblage, on the same spot, of so large a body
of troops as would be brought together by the junction of the three
forces, urged upon him the expediency of halting, whilst his Excellency
went forward to ascertain the chances of finding forage and provisions
in the Bolan Pass. So the Shah and his Contingent halted for a few days
at Bagh,[312] whilst Sir John Keane pushed on with his escort. On the
28th of March, the King, the Minister, and the Commander-in-Chief were
all assembled together at Dadur. “Their united camps displayed all the
pomp and circumstances of a triple head-quarter.” The passage of the
Bolan was accomplished without difficulty, and on the 4th of April,
Sir Willoughby Cotton, having ridden out with his staff from Quettah,
greeted the General-in-Chief and his companions as they were resting
at the entrance to the Shawl Valley, after the fatigues of the passage
through the defile. The tidings which he had to communicate were of the
gloomiest hue. He reported that his men were on quarter-rations, and
that there was every prospect of the army, as it entered Afghanistan,
being opposed at every step. Macnaghten, however, more sanguine, was
already beginning to think and to write about the means of disposing
of the Barukzye Sirdars. On that 4th of April he wrote to the
Governor-General a letter, which indicates the tone of his own feelings
and of those of the Afghan Prince:

  _April, 4, 1839._

 We are now encamped within ten miles of Shawl. Sir Willoughby came in
 here this morning, and talks in a most gloomy strain of his prospects.
 He says he has but twelve days’ supplies, and his men are already
 on quarter-rations. We cannot reckon on being at Candahar under a
 fortnight, and it will go hard with us if we cannot get supplied in
 the meantime from other quarters. Sir Willoughby is a sad croaker;
 not content with telling me we must all inevitably be starved, he
 assures me that Shah Soojah is very unpopular in Afghanistan, and
 that we shall be opposed at every step of our progress. I think I
 know a little better than this. My accounts from Candahar lead me
 to believe that the religious excitement is subsiding, and that the
 Sirdars are only thinking how they can make good terms for themselves;
 or, failing that, how they may best contrive to effect their escape.
 It will be as well not to reduce them to desperation; for though
 they cannot oppose us in the field, yet they make sad havoc with our
 supplies. Large bands of camel-plunderers kept hovering over our line
 of march, and it certainly looks as if they had been incited by some
 one of influence. The mistakes and contretemps which are constantly
 occurring in our motley camp, require the exercise of much patience
 and discrimination. The Shah is in good health and spirits; but says
 he never had so much trouble and bother in his lifetime as he has
 met with during this campaign. The reason is obvious; the people on
 former occasions helped themselves to everything they wanted, and no
 complaint was permitted to approach the sacred person of his Majesty.
 His opinion of the Afghans as a nation is, I regret to say, extremely
 low. He declares that they are a pack of dogs, one and all, and, as
 for the Barukzyes, it is utterly impossible that he can ever place the
 slightest confidence in any one of that accursed race. We must try
 and bring him gradually round to entertain a more favorable opinion
 of his subjects. I cannot yet say how the Barukzye chiefs shall be
 disposed of, but I am decidedly of opinion that it would be a wise
 measure to get them quietly out of Afghanistan and pension them, if we
 can do so at an expense not exceeding a lakh of rupees per annum. If
 they oppose us and are taken, the Shah must, I imagine, be permitted
 to do what he likes with them short of putting them to death; and his
 own human nature is a sufficient security that he will not proceed to

On the 6th of April, Sir John Keane fixed his head-quarters at
Quettah, and assumed the personal command of the army. Reviewing all
the circumstances of his position, he came to the determination to
push forward with all possible despatch to Candahar. There was no
prospect of obtaining supplies through the agency of Mehrab Khan.
Already was the Envoy convinced of the treachery of that Prince—already
was he beginning to talk about dismembering the Khanate of Khelat,
and annexing the provinces of Shawl, Moostung, and Cutchee to the
Douranee Empire. On that day he wrote to the Private Secretary of the

  Camp Quettah, _April 6, 1839._

 * * * Sir John Keane has represented to me in the strongest terms the
 necessity for moving on. The fact is, the troops and followers are
 nearly in a state of mutiny for food, and the notion of waiting for
 such a person as Mehrab Khan, who has done his best to starve us,
 seems utterly preposterous. I trust the Governor-General will see fit
 to annex the provinces of Shawl, Moostung, and Cutchee to the Shah’s
 dominions. This would be the place for cantoning a British regiment.
 It is so cold now that I can hardly hold my pen, and the climate is
 said to be delightful all the year round. I am certain the annexation
 could be made without the slightest difficulty.... Now for Candahar.
 The game is clearly up with the Sirdars. I had a letter from the
 triumvirate yesterday, brought by Syud Muhun Shah, whom they have
 sent to treat, or rather to get the best terms for themselves they
 can. As to opposition, it is quite clear that they look upon that as
 hopeless, and they have not even the power to retreat. I am unwilling
 to reduce them to desperation, and shall try and get the Shah to make
 some provision for them; but he is very loth to do so. Their demands
 now are extravagant beyond measure; but I do not think that a lakh of
 rupees per annum, distributed among the three brothers, would be too
 much for the King to give, if they agreed upon that to sink into the
 retirement of private life. Notwithstanding all the croaking about
 Shah Soojah’s want of popularity, feel certain that my prediction will
 be verified, and that his Majesty will be cordially welcomed by all
 classes of the people.[314]

On the 7th of April the army resumed its march.[315] On the 9th it was
at Hykulzye, a spot rendered famous in the later annals of the war.
From this place Macnaghten wrote again to the same correspondent:

  Camp Hykulzye, _April, 9_.

 * * * I have reason to believe that the Sirdars of Candahar are at
 their wit’s end. They make resolutions one day and break them the
 next. But all accounts concur in reporting that they are abandoned by
 the priesthood, and that if there is any religious feeling extant,
 it is all in favour of Shah Soojah. In a fit of desperation the last
 resolve of Kohun-dil-Khan is stated to be, that he will make a night
 attack on our camp with about 2000 followers who are still attached
 to his person. This I fully believe to be fudge. The whole of the
 force, from Sir W. Cotton downwards, are infected with exaggerated
 fears relating to the character of the King and the prospects of the
 campaign. They fancy that they see an enemy in every bush. The Khan
 of Khelat is our implacable enemy, and Sir J. Keane is burning with
 revenge. There never was such treatment inflicted upon human beings as
 we have been subjected to on our progress through the Khan’s country.
 I will say nothing of Burnes’s negotiations. His instructions were to
 conciliate, but I think he has adhered too strictly to the letter of
 them. The Commander-in-Chief is very angry. I would give something
 to be in Candahar; and there, _Inshallah_, we shall be in about a
 week; but, in the meantime, this union of strictly disciplined troops
 with lawless soldiers is very trying to my patience. With a less
 tractable king than Shah Soojah the consequences might be fatal. I
 have references every minute of the day, and we are compelled to tell
 his Majesty’s people that they must not touch the green crops of the
 country. This they think very hard, and so I believe does the King,
 but he has, nevertheless, forbidden them. Supplies are now coming in,
 but they are yet very dear—2½ seers of flour for a rupee! But this
 price will, no doubt, daily fall. The great thing is to give people
 confidence. All the villages in the Khan of Khelat’s territory were
 deserted at our approach, and not a soul came near us, except with
 the view of plundering and murdering our followers. The instant we
 crossed the frontier the scene was entirely changed. The inhabitants
 remained in their villages, and have manifested the greatest possible
 confidence in our justice and good faith. Is it possible to conceive
 that the difference of feeling in the Khelat country has not been
 brought about by design? * * *

Macnaghten was naturally of a sanguine temperament. Civilians seldom
estimate military difficulties aright. It is true that our political
difficulties were melting away. The Candahar Sirdars, deserted and
betrayed, seemed to have given themselves up to despair, and there was
little chance of the progress of our army being disputed by an Afghan
force. But the scarcity, which had pressed so severely on our troops,
and had nearly destroyed our horses, was not less a reality because no
enemy appeared to educe all the disastrous results which were likely
to flow from such deterioration of the _physique_ of our army. The army
of the Indus surmounted the Kojuck Pass as safely as it had traversed
the Bolan. The Shah, with his Contingent, was now in advance, leading
the way, as it became him, into his restored dominions; and many of
the chiefs and people of Western Afghanistan were flocking to his
standard.[316] There were not wanting those who said that, if there had
been any prospect of opposition at Candahar, the King and his levies
would not have been the first to appear under the walls of the city.
But authentic intelligence had reached Macnaghten, to the effect that
Kohun-dil-Khan and his brothers had fled from Candahar—that there was
no union among the Barukzye brotherhood—and that, if a stand were to
be made at all, the battle-field would be nearer the northern capital.
The way, indeed, was clear for the entry of the Suddozye monarch; so
he pushed on in advance of Sir John Keane and his army, to receive, it
was said, the homage of his people. Money had been freely scattered
about; and the Afghans had already begun to discover that the gold
of the Feringhees was as serviceable as other gold, and that there
was an unfailing supply of it. Early in the campaign, Macnaghten had
encouraged the conviction that the allegiance of the Afghans was to be
bought—that Afghan cupidity would not be proof against British gold.
So he opened the treasure-chest; scattered abroad its contents with an
ungrudging hand; and commenced a system of corruption which, though
seemingly successful at the outset, wrought, in the end, the utter
ruin of the policy he had reared.[317]


[April-August, 1839.]

 Arrival at Candahar—The Shah’s Entry into the City—His
 Installation—Nature of his Reception—Behaviour of the Douranees—The
 English at Candahar—Mission to Herat—Difficulties of our
 Position—Advance to Ghuznee.

On the 25th of April, Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk re-entered the chief city
of Western Afghanistan. As he neared the walls of Candahar, riding
in advance of his Contingent, some Douranee horsemen had gone out
to welcome him; and as the cavalcade moved forward, others met him
with their salutations and obeisances, and swelled the number of his
adherents. It is said that some fifteen hundred men, for the most part
well dressed and well mounted, joined him before he reached the city.

Accompanied by the British Envoy, his Staff, and the principal officers
of his Contingent, and followed by a crowd of Afghans, the Shah entered
Candahar. There was a vast assemblage of gazers. The women clustered
in the balconies of the houses, or gathered upon the roofs. The men
thronged the public streets. It was a busy and an exciting scene.
The curiosity was intense. The enthusiasm may have been the same. As
the royal _cortège_ advanced, the people strewed flowers before the
horses’ feet, and loaves of bread were scattered in their way. There
were shouts and the sound of music, and the noise of firing; and the
faces of the crowd were bright with cheerful excitement. The popular
exclamations which were flung into the air have been duly reported.
The people shouted out, “Welcome to the son of Timour Shah!” “We look
to you for protection!” “Candahar is rescued from the Barukzyes!” “May
your enemies be destroyed!” It was said, by some who rode beside the
Shah, to have been the most heart-stirring scene they ever witnessed
in their lives. Thus greeted and thus attended, the King rode to the
tomb of Ahmed Shah, and offered up thanksgivings and prayers. Then the
procession returned again through the city, again to be greeted with
joyous acclamations; and “the eventful day,” as the Court chroniclers
affirmed, “passed off without an accident.”

The welcome thus given to the Shah, on his public entry into his
western capital, filled Macnaghten with delight. The future appeared
before him bright with the promise of unclouded success. It seemed to
him that the enthusiastic reception of the Shah would be a death-blow
to the hopes of Dost Mahomed, and that in all probability the Ameer
would fly before us like his brothers. It was encouraging intelligence
to communicate to the Governor-General; so on his return from the royal
progress through the city, Macnaghten sate down and wrote thus to Lord

  Candahar, _April 25, 1839._

 We have, I think, been most fortunate in every way. The Shah made a
 grand public entry in the city this morning, and was received with
 feelings nearly amounting to adoration. I shall report the particulars
 officially. I have already had more than one ebullition of petulance
 to contend with. The latest I send herewith, and I trust that a soft
 answer will have the effect of turning away wrath. There are many
 things which I wish to mention, but I really have no leisure. Of this
 your Lordship may judge, when I state that for the last three days I
 have been out in the sun, and have not been able to get my breakfast
 before three in the afternoon. I think it would be in every way
 advantageous to the public interests if, after Shah Soojah gains
 possession of Caubul, I were to proceed across the Punjab to Simlah,
 having an interview with Runjeet Singh, and giving him a detail of
 all our proceedings; perhaps getting him to modify the treaty in
 one or two respects. I have broached the subject of our new treaty
 to his Majesty, but my negotiations are in too imperfect a state to
 be detailed. Of one thing I am certain, that we must be prepared to
 look upon Afghanistan for some years as an outwork yielding nothing,
 but requiring much expenditure to keep it in repair. His Majesty has
 not yet nominated a Prime Minister, nor has he as yet, I believe,
 determined his form of administration. His new adherents are all
 hungry for place; and in answer to their premature solicitations, he
 tells me that he has informed them that, since it took God Almighty
 six days to make heaven and earth, it is very hard they will not allow
 him, a poor mortal, even the same time to settle the affairs of a
 kingdom. I am gratified at being able to assure your Lordship that
 the best feeling is manifested towards the British officers by the
 entire population here, and I devoutly hope that nothing may occur to
 disturb the present happy state of things. Dost Mahomed will, I doubt
 not, take himself off like his brothers, though not, perhaps, in quite
 so great a hurry, when the intelligence reaches him of the manner in
 which Shah Soojah has been received at Candahar. The Sirdars have
 carried off my elephants, and I am informed that the animals proved of
 the greatest service to them in crossing their ladies over a deep and
 rapid river not far from this. We have heard nothing since our arrival
 here of the embassy from Herat. If I go to Simlah from Caubul, Sir A.
 Burnes could be left to officiate for me, and in case of my return he
 might go to Candahar and relieve Major Leach, who might be left there
 in the first instance.

  I remain, my Lord, yours, &c.
  W. H. MACNAGHTEN.[318]

Encouraged by the presumed “adoration” of the people, it was now
determined to give them another opportunity of testifying the
overflowing abundance of their loyalty and affection. So the 8th of
May was fixed upon for a general public recognition of the restored
sovereign, on the plains before Candahar. Both columns of the British
army had now arrived. The troops were to pass in review-order before
the king; and other ceremonial observances were to give _éclat_ to the
inauguration. Upon a raised platform, under a showy canopy, sate the
restored monarch of the Douranee Empire. He had ridden out at sunrise
under a royal salute. The troops had presented arms to him on his
ascending the musnud, and a salute of a hundred and one guns had been
fired in honour of the occasion. Around him were the chief military and
political officers of the British Government. Everything went off as
it had been ordered and arranged, and most imposing was the spectacle
of the review-march of the British troops. But the King had then been
a fortnight at Candahar, and the curiosity of the people had subsided.
There was no popular enthusiasm.[319] The whole affair was a painful
failure. The English officers saluted the King; and the King made a
speech about the disinterested benevolence of the British Government.
Greatly pleased was his Majesty with the exhibition; and when the
troops had been dismissed, he said that its moral influence would be
felt from Pekin to Constantinople.[320] But the miserable paucity of
Afghans who appeared to do homage to the King, must have warned Shah
Soojah, with ominous significance, of the feebleness of his tenure upon
the affections of the people, as it bitterly disappointed and dismayed
his principal European supporters. Every effort had been made to give
publicity to the programme of the ceremony; and yet it is said, by the
most trustworthy witnesses, that barely a hundred Afghans had been
attracted, either by curiosity or by loyalty, to the installation of
the adored King.

Such were the mere outward facts of Shah Soojah’s reception as recorded
by the chroniclers of the day. Surrounded by his own Contingent, and
supported by the British army, he had advanced unopposed to Candahar.
But the brief local excitement, which his entrance into the city
had aroused, cannot be regarded as national enthusiasm. When the
first outbreak of curiosity had subsided the feeling which greeted
the restored King was rather that of sullen indifference than of
active devotion. In the vicinity of Candahar the Douranee tribes
constituted the most influential section of the inhabitants. They
had been oppressed and impoverished by the Barukzye Sirdars, and had
longed to rid themselves of the yoke of their oppressors. But when
the representative of the Suddozye dynasty, under which they had been
pampered and protected, appeared at the gates of the Douranee Empire,
they had neither spirit nor strength to make a strenuous effort to
support or to oppose the restored monarch. It is doubtful whether,
in the conjuncture which had then arisen, the Douranees, had they
possessed any military strength, would have openly arrayed themselves
on the side of the Shah; for although they hated the Barukzyes who
had oppressed them, there were the strongest national and religious
feelings to excite them against a Prince who had brought an army of
Franks to desolate their country. Had they stood erect in their old
pride of conscious power, a mighty conflict would have raged within
them. The antagonism of personal and national interests would have rent
and convulsed them; and it is not improbable that in the end, abhorring
the thought of an infidel invasion, they would have determined to
support the cause of the Sirdars. But when Shah Soojah was advancing
upon Candahar, the Douranees were in a state of absolute feebleness and
paralysis. They held aloof, for they had neither power nor inclination
to take any conspicuous part in the revolution which was then brooding
over the empire.

But when, supported by his Feringhee allies, the Shah had established
himself in Candahar, the Douranees, offering their congratulations
and tendering their allegiance, gathered round the restored monarch.
The issue of the contest seemed no longer doubtful. The dominion of
the Barukzye Sirdars had received its death-blow. The restoration
of the Suddozye dynasty was certain; and with whatever feelings the
Douranees may have inwardly regarded it, it was politic to make an
outward show of satisfaction and delight. The change had been effected
without their agency; but they might turn it to good account. So they
clustered around the throne, and began to clamour for the wages of
their pretended forbearance. They put forward the most extravagant
claims and pretensions; bargained for the restoration of all the old
privileges and immunities which they had enjoyed under Ahmed Shah and
his successors; and would fain have swept the entire revenues of the
state into their own hands.

It was plain that the King could not recognise the claims which were
thus profusely asserted. But it would have been imprudent, at such a
time, to have offended or disappointed these powerful tribes. The Shah
had established himself at Candahar. Kohun-dil-Khan and his brothers
had fled for safety across the Helmund, and sought an asylum in
Persia.[321] But Dost Mahomed was still dominant at Caubul. There was
work yet to be done. There were dangers yet to be encountered. It was
necessary, therefore, to conciliate the Douranees. So steering, as well
as he could, a middle course, the Shah granted much that was sought
from him; but he did not grant all. He restored the Sirdars to the
chieftainships of their clans, and to the offices which they had been
wont to hold about the Court. He gave them back the lands of which they
had been denuded, and granted them allowances consistent with the rank
which they had been suffered to reassume. Some vexatious and oppressive
imposts were removed, and a considerable remission of taxation was
proclaimed. But the system of assessment which the Barukzye Sirdars
had introduced was continued in operation; and the same revenue
officers continued to collect the tax. These men were thoroughly
hateful to the Douranees. They had been the willing instruments of
Barukzye oppression, and had carried out the work of their masters
with a ferocity, strengthened by the recollection of one of those old
hereditary blood-feuds, which keep up from generation to generation a
growth of unextinguishable hate.

If any feelings of delight at the thought of the restoration of the
Suddozye dynasty welled up anywhere in the breasts of the people of
Afghanistan, it was among these Douranee tribes. As the grandson of
Ahmed Shah, they were prepared to welcome Shah Soojah. They were
prepared to welcome him as the enemy of the Barukzye Sirdars. But the
ugly array of foreign bayonets in the background effectually held in
control all their feelings of national enthusiasm. They regarded
the movement for the restoration of the Suddozye Prince in the light
of a foreign invasion; and chafed when they saw the English officers
settling themselves in the palaces of their ancient Princes.

In the meanwhile, the Army of the Indus remained inactive at Candahar.
The halt was a long and a weary one. Provisions were miserably scarce.
It was necessary to remain under the city walls until a sufficiency
could be obtained, and to obtain this sufficiency it was necessary to
await the ripening of the crops. Every one was impatient to advance.
The delay was painful and disheartening. There were no compensating
advantages to be obtained from a halt under the walls of Candahar. Save
a few who had the real artist’s eye to appreciate the picturesque,
the officers of the force were disappointed with the place. They had
believed that they were advancing upon a splendid city; but they now
found themselves before a walled town, presenting so few objects of
interest that it was scarcely worth exploring. After the desolate
tracts over which they had passed, the valley of Candahar appeared
to the eye of our officers to be a pleasant and a favoured spot.
There were green fields, and shady orchards, and running streams, to
vary the surrounding landscape. But they found the city itself to be
little better than a collection of mud-houses, forming very unimposing
streets.[322] The city was in ruins. “The interior consisted only of
the relics of houses of forgotten Princes.”[323] There was altogether
an air of dreariness and desolation about the place. Many of the houses
had been thrown down by repeated shocks of earthquake, and had not been
rebuilt. The public buildings were few; but conspicuous among them
was the tomb of Ahmed Shah, whose white dome, seen from a distance,
stood up above the houses of the city, whilst a spacious mosque, with
its domes and minarets, seen also from afar, enshrined a relict of
extraordinary sanctity—the shirt of the Prophet Mahomed.

When the British arrived before Candahar in April, 1839, it was said
that the principal inhabitants had forsaken the place. But enough
remained to give an animated and picturesque aspect to the city. The
streets and bazaars were crowded with people of different castes and
different costumes—Afghans, Persians, Oosbegs, Beloochees, Armenians,
and Hindoos; whilst strings of laden camels everywhere passing and
repassing, enhanced the picturesque liveliness of the scene.

There was little to break the monotony of the halt at Candahar. The
movements of the enemy, and the probabilities of a stirring or a
languid campaign were discussed in our officers’ tents; and when, on
the 9th of May, a brigade under Colonel Sale—an officer who had already
done much good service to his country, and was destined now to play
a conspicuous part in the great Central-Asian drama—was despatched
to Ghiresk, a place some seventy-five miles in a westerly direction
from Candahar, in pursuit of the fugitive Sirdars, there were few
officers in Keane’s army who did not long to accompany it. But the
campaign was a brief and an inglorious one—Sale marched to Ghiresk and
returned to Candahar. The Sirdars had abandoned the place, and fled
across the Persian frontier. They had but a handful of followers, and
they were powerless to offer any resistance to our advancing troops.
From Kohun-dil-Khan and his brothers nothing was to be apprehended.
Their very names were soon almost forgotten by the Feringhees who had
driven them from their homes. Candahar and the surrounding country was
in possession of the restored Suddozye Princes. But Shah Soojah and
his supporters still looked anxiously towards the north, where Dost
Mahomed, the ablest and the most powerful of the Barukzye brotherhood,
was still mustering his fighting men—still endeavouring to rouse
the chiefs to aid him in the defence of his capital against the
often-rejected King, who had now come back to them again, supported by
the gold and bayonets of the infidels.

But the very circumstances which might be supposed to work to our
disadvantage, and to give strength to the enemy, really favoured our
cause. The protracted halt at Candahar gave Dost Mahomed and his
adherents abundant time to mature their measures of defence. Whilst
the British army was starving in that city, the Barukzyes at Caubul
might have been collecting troops and strengthening their defences for
a vigorous and well-organised opposition. But to Dost Mahomed this
continued halt was altogether unintelligible. He could not understand
why, if they really purposed to advance upon Caubul, Macnaghten and
Keane were wasting their strength in utter idleness at Candahar. It was
the Ameer’s belief that the British were projecting a movement upon
Herat; that the Army of the Indus would branch off to the westward; and
that its operations against Caubul would be deferred to the following
year. Believing this, Dost Mahomed turned his thoughts rather to the
defence of the eastern than of the western line of road. It had been
arranged, under the Tripartite treaty,[324] that Prince Timour, the
eldest son of Shah Soojah, accompanied by Captain Wade and a Sikh
force, should penetrate the passes beyond Peshawur, and advance upon
Caubul by the road of Jellalabad and Jugdulluck. This force was now
advancing. Dost Mahomed sent out against it some of his best fighting
men, under the command of his favourite son, Akbar Khan—the young chief
who was destined to stand out with such terrible prominence from among
the leading personages distinguished in the later history of the war.

No thought, however, of a movement upon Herat weighed at this time
on Macnaghten’s mind. It appeared to him little desirable to march a
British army into the dominions of Shah Kamran, so long as there was a
possibility of attaining the desired results by any means less costly
and hazardous. There was little immediate prospect then of Mahomed
Shah returning for the re-investment of Herat. There was no pressing
danger to be combated. So Macnaghten determined to send, instead of a
British army, a British mission to Herat, with a handful of engineer
and artillery officers, and a few lakhs of rupees, to be expended on
the defences of the place.

It was in the month of September, 1838, that, after a nine months’
investment of Herat, Mahomed Shah struck his camp, and turned his face
towards his own capital. Eldred Pottinger had saved the city from the
grasp of the Persians. But his work was not yet done. The wretched
people were starving. The necessary evils of the protracted siege had
been greatly enhanced by the grinding cruelty of Yar Mahomed. To have
left Herat immediately on the departure of the Persian army would have
been to have left the inhabitants to perish. Moreover, the accursed
traffic in human flesh, which the Persian Prince had set forth as
the just cause of his invasion of Herat, had not been suppressed.
So Pottinger remained in Herat, and Stoddart, having witnessed the
breaking up of the Persian camp, joined his brother-officer in the
city, and then the two began to labour diligently together in the great
cause of universal humanity.

But these labours were distasteful to the Wuzeer. Pottinger and
Stoddart had done the work which Yar Mahomed required of them. The
one had driven off, and the other had drawn off, the Persian army.
He did not desire that they should interfere with his internal
tyranny. To oppress the helpless people at his will seemed to be his
rightful prerogative. The slave-trade, which he carried on with such
barbarous activity, was the main source of the Heratee revenue. The
English officers did not propose to effect its suppression without
securing adequate compensation to the slave-dealing state. But Yar
Mahomed viewed all their proceedings with jealousy and suspicion;
and two months after the close of the siege of Herat, they were
grossly insulted in the presence of the King, and ordered to withdraw
themselves beyond the limits of the Heratee territory.

Stoddart had work to do in another quarter. He quitted Herat and
made his way to Bokhara. But Pottinger was solicited to postpone his
departure, and the dawn of the new year still found him at the Court
of Herat. He only remained to be insulted. In January, 1839, another
outrage was committed upon him. His house was attacked by the retainers
of Yar Mahomed. One of his public servants was seized and mutilated.
As the year advanced, the hostile temper of the Wuzeer became more and
more apparent. Tidings of the advance of Shah Soojah and his British
allies had reached Herat; and although the integrity of that state had
been especially guaranteed by the Tripartite treaty, and British money
was then maintaining both the government and the people of Herat, Yar
Mahomed began to intrigue both with the Persian Court and the Candahar
Sirdars, and endeavoured to form a confederacy for the expulsion of the
Shah and his allies from Afghanistan.[325]

But the Persian Court was little inclined to commit itself to an
act of such direct hostility against Great Britain. The Army of the
Indus continued to advance; there was no prospect of any organised
opposition. Our success was sufficiently intelligible to Yar Mahomed.
He respected success. So, when Shah Soojah entered Candahar, and
the British army encamped beneath its walls, the Wuzeer hastened to
congratulate the Shah upon his restoration, and sent a friendly mission
to the British camp. In return for this, Macnaghten now determined to
despatch a British officer to Herat, to negotiate a friendly treaty
with Shah Kamran. His first thought was to entrust the duty to Burnes;
but Burnes was disinclined to undertake it; and Sir John Keane was of
opinion that he could not be spared.

So the choice of the Envoy fell upon Major Todd, an officer of the
Bengal Artillery, who had been for many years employed in Persia,
instructing the artillerymen of Mahomed Shah in the mysteries of
his profession, and assisting the British Mission in matters lying
beyond the circle of mere military detail. Thoroughly acquainted
with the languages and politics of Western Asia, a man of good
capacity, good temper, and good principle, he appeared to be well
fitted for the office which the Envoy now thought of delegating to
him. He had been in the camp of Mahomed Shah during the siege of
Herat, and had been employed in the negotiations which had arisen
between the two contending states. He had subsequently travelled
down through Afghanistan to India, charged with information for the
Governor-General, and had then recommended himself, by the extent of
his local knowledge and general acquirements, scarcely more than by
the integrity of his character and the amiability of his disposition,
for employment upon the Minister’s staff. He was military secretary
and political assistant to Mr. Macnaghten when the Envoy deputed him
to Herat. There went at the same time other officers, whose names
have since been honourably associated with the great events of the
Central-Asian War—James Abbott and Richmond Shakespear, of the Bengal
Artillery; and Sanders, of the Engineers, who fell nobly upon the
field of Maharajhpore.[326] They went to strengthen the fortifications
of the place, and they took with them guns and treasure.

A few days after the departure of the Mission to Herat, the army
recommenced its march. It had been halted at Candahar from the 25th
of April to the 27th of June. During this time the harvest had
ripened; the carriage-cattle had gained strength; but sickness had
broken out among our troops. The heat under canvass had been extreme.
Fever, dysentery, and jaundice had been doing their work; and many
a good soldier had been laid in a foreign grave. Money, too, had
been painfully scarce. It had been scattered about so profusely on
our first arrival at Candahar, that now an empty treasury stared
Macnaghten in the face; and he tried in vain to negotiate a loan. All
these were dispiriting circumstances; and there were others which
pressed heavily upon the mind of the Envoy. It was becoming clearer to
him every day that the Afghans regarded the intrusion of the British
into their dominions with the strongest feelings of national hatred
and religious abhorrence. A different class of men from the Belooch
marauders, who had carried off our cattle and plundered our stores in
the southern country, were now surrounding our camp. If our people
straggled far from their supports, they did it at the peril of their
lives. “Remember, gentlemen, you are not now in Hindostan,”[327] was
the significant warning which broke from Shah Soojah, when two young
officers,[328] returning from a fishing excursion along the banks of
the Urghundab, had been cut down by a party of assassins. It was plain,
too, that the Ghilzyes of Western Afghanistan—the original lords of
the land—were disinclined to bend their necks to the Suddozye yoke.
They had rejected the overtures made to them. They were not to be
bought by British gold, or deluded by British promises. Perhaps they
may have doubted the sincerity of the latter. Already were Shah Soojah
and Macnaghten scattering about those promises even more freely than
their money; and already were they ceasing to respect the obligation
of fulfilling them. The Ghilzyes now regarded us with unconquerable
mistrust. There was every prospect of their long continuing to be a
thorn in the flesh of the restored monarch and his supporters—a wild
and lawless enemy, not to be reduced to loyalty by Douranee Kings, or
to subjection by foreign bayonets.

This, at all events, had been learnt at Candahar during the two
months’ halt of our army, which, when everything has been said on
the subject of supplies, seems still to demand from the pen of the
historian something more in the way of explanation. The supplies had
now come into camp. They might not be available for the troops on the
line of march to Caubul;[329] but there was no longer any excuse for
protracting the halt. So, on the 27th of June, as Runjeet Singh, the
old Lion of Lahore, was wrestling with death at his own capital, the
British army resumed its march; and on the 21st of July was before the
famous fortress of Ghuznee.


[June—August: 1839.]

 The Disunion of the Barukzyes—Prospects of Dost Mahomed—Keane’s
 Advance to Ghuznee—Massacre of the Prisoners—Fall of Ghuznee—Flight of
 Dost Mahomed—Hadjee Khan, Khaukur—Escape of Dost Mahomed—Entry of Shah
 Soojah into Caubul.

The disunion of the Barukzye brethren lost Afghanistan to the Sirdars.
The bloodless fall of Candahar struck no astonishment into the soul of
Dost Mahomed. He had long mistrusted his kinsmen. Candahar, too, was
the home of the Douranees. He knew that the Barukzyes had nothing to
expect from the allegiance of that powerful tribe. He knew that they
were little inclined to strike a blow for the existing dynasty; but he
knew at the same time, that they were so prostrate and enfeebled, that
the Suddozye Prince would derive no active assistance from them—that
they would only throw into the scale the passive sullenness and
harmless decrepitude of men broken down by a long course of oppression.

If Dost Mahomed and the Candahar Sirdars had leagued themselves firmly
together, without jealousy and without suspicion—if they had declared a
religious war, and appealed to the Mahomedan feelings of the people—if
they had, by their own energy and activity, encouraged Mehrab Khan of
Khelat to array himself against the invaders, and throwing themselves
heart and soul into the cause, had opposed our passage through the
Bolan and Kojuck Passes, they might have turned to the best recount
the sufferings of our famine-stricken army, and have given us, at
the outset of the campaign, a check from which we should not have
speedily recovered. But it seems to have been the design of Providence
to paralyse our enemies at this time, and so to lure us into greater
dangers than any that could have beset us at the opening of the

But although with slight feelings of astonishment Dost Mahomed now
contemplated the successful establishment of Shah Soojah at Candahar,
it could not have been without emotions of bitterness and mortification
that he beheld his countrymen either flying ignobly before the
invaders, or bowing down without shame before the money-bags of the
infidels. It was a sore trial to him to see how almost every chief
in the country was now prepared to sell his birthright for a mess of
pottage. He had not sufficient confidence in his own strength, or the
loyalty of his people, to believe that he could offer any effectual
resistance to the approach of the Suddozye King, supported as he was
by British bayonets and British gold. His enemies were advancing upon
Caubul, both along the eastern and western lines of approach; and he
was necessitated to divide his strength. Nor could he even give his
undivided attention to his foreign enemies. There were danger and
disaffection at home. The Kohistan was in rebellion.[330] He could
see plainly that the Kuzzilbashes were against him. Indeed, all the
bulwarks of national defence which he could hope to oppose to the
advancing enemy, were crumbling to pieces before his eyes. Believing
that all nationality of feeling was utterly extinct in the souls of his
brethren, it had, ever since he had established himself at Caubul, been
his policy to place the least possible amount of power in their hands,
and to entrust all his delegated authority to the hands of his sons.
His only trust now was in them. Akbar Khan had been despatched through
the eastern passes to oppose the march of Wade and the Sikhs; Hyder
Khan was in command of the garrison of Ghuznee; and Afzul Khan, with a
body of horse, was in the neighbourhood of that fortress, instructed
to operate against the flanks of our army in the open country. The
Ameer himself was at the capital waiting the progress of events, and
husbanding his strength for the final conflict.

In the Ameer’s camp there seems to have been little knowledge of the
movements and designs of the enemy. It had been for some time believed
that it was the intention of the British chiefs to march upon Herat,
and now again it was the opinion that they purposed to mask Ghuznee
and move at once upon Caubul. It seems, therefore, to have been the
design of Dost Mahomed that Afzul Khan and Hyder Khan, having suffered
us to advance a march or two beyond Ghuznee, should fall upon our rear,
whilst Dost Mahomed himself was to give us battle from the front.[331]
But he had not measured aright the policy of the British Commander. It
was not Sir John Keane’s intention to mask Ghuznee, but to reduce it.

The strength of Ghuznee was the boast of the Afghans. They believed
that it was not to be carried by assault. On the other hand, Sir John
Keane, persuaded that it was not a place of any strength, had advanced
upon Ghuznee without any siege guns. A battering train had been brought
up, with great labour and at great expense, to Candahar, and now that
it was likely to be brought into use, and so to repay the labour and
the expense, Sir John Keane dropped it by the way. He was nearing the
strongest fortress in the country; he knew that it was garrisoned by
the enemy, and that, if he advanced upon it, it would be vigorously
defended. He determined to advance upon it; and yet, with an amount
of infatuation which, although after-events have thrown it into the
shade, at the time took the country by surprise, and was, perhaps,
unexampled in Indian warfare, he left his heavy guns at Candahar, and
advanced upon Ghuznee with nothing but light field-pieces. He had been
told that it was a place of no considerable strength, and that it
would give him no trouble to take it. Major Todd and Lieutenant Leech
had seen Ghuznee, and their reports had dissipated the anxieties of
the Commander-in-Chief. So he found himself before a place which he
subsequently described as one of “great strength both by nature and by
art,” without any means of effecting a breach in its walls.

The city of Ghuznee lies between Candahar and Caubul—about 230 miles
distant from the former, and ninety miles from the latter place. The
entire line of country from Candahar to Caubul is, in comparison with
that which lies between Caubul and Peshawur, an open and a level
tract, opposing no difficulties to the march of an army encumbered
with artillery and baggage. As a city, it was of less importance than
either Caubul or Candahar.[332] But the strength of the citadel had
been famous throughout many generations; and the first sight of the
fortress, as it burst suddenly on the view of our advancing army, “with
its fortifications rising up, as it were, on the side of a hill, which
seemed to form the background to it,” must have thrust upon every
officer of the force the conviction that, at Candahar, they had all
underrated the strength of the place. It obviously was not a fortress
to be breached by nine-pounder and six-pounder guns.

From the fortifications of the citadel Hyder Khan looked out through a
telescope, and beheld our British columns advancing slowly and steadily
across the plain. Some preparations had been made for external defence;
but not on any extensive scale. Parties of the enemy were posted in
the villages and gardens around the fort; but our light companies soon
dislodged them. The morning was spent in brisk skirmishing;[333] the
range of the enemy’s guns was tried; the engineers reconnoitred the
place; and then it was determined that the camp should be pitched upon
the Caubul side of the city. It was reported that Dost Mahomed himself
was advancing from the capital, and it was expedient to cut off his
direct communication with the fort. Not without some confusion the camp
was pitched. Had Afzul Khan descended with his cavalry upon us at this
time, he might have wrought dire mischief amongst us.

Day had scarcely dawned on the 22nd of July, when Sir John Keane,
accompanied by Sir Willoughby Cotton and the engineers, ascended the
heights commanding the eastern face of the works, and reconnoitred
the fortress. He had determined on carrying the place by assault. In
ignorance of the means whereby this was to be accomplished, the King
had recommended that the army should leave Ghuznee to itself, and march
on at once to Caubul. It was evident that the light field-pieces which
Keane had brought up with him from Candahar could not breach the solid
walls of Ghuznee. “If you once breach the place,” said the Shah, “it
is yours; but I cannot understand how you are to breach it—how you are
to get into the fort.” But Sir John Keane did understand this; for his
engineers had taught him. He understood, though he had left his siege
train behind, that there was still a resource remaining to him. Though
the walls could not be breached, a gate, Captain Thomson assured him,
might be blown in with gunpowder.

The gate to be blown in was the Caubul gate. All the others had been
built up. The military historians leave it to be surmised by the
reader that the knowledge of this important fact was derived from the
_reconnaissances_ of the British Commander and his engineers. The
truth is, that the British had then in their camp a deserter from the
Ghuznee garrison—a Barukzye of rank, who had been induced to turn his
traitorous back upon his tribe. Abdool Reshed Khan was the nephew of
Dost Mahomed. When the “Commercial Mission” was in Afghanistan, Mohun
Lal had made the acquaintance of this man. The Moonshee seems to have
been endowed with a genius for traitor-making, the lustre of which
remained undimmed to the very end of the war. He now began to operate
upon his friend; and he achieved a brilliant success. Abdool Reshed was
not deaf to the voice of the charmer. Mohun Lal wrote him a seductive
letter, and he determined to desert. As the British army approached
Ghuznee he joined our camp. “I introduced him,” says Mohun Lal, “to
the Envoy, who placed him under the immediate disposal of Lord Keane.
The information which he gave to Major Thomson, the chief engineer,
relative to the fortifications of Ghuznee, was so valuable and
necessary, that my friend Abdool Reshed Khan was requested to attend
upon him in all his reconnoitring expeditions.” He was precisely the
man we wanted. He gave us all the information we required. He taught us
how to capture Ghuznee.

Having determined to enter Ghuznee through an entrance effected by
an explosion of gunpowder, Keane began to issue his instructions for
the assault, which was to take place before daybreak on the following
morning. Every preparation was made, and every precaution was taken
to ensure success. It was a day of expectation and anxiety, and not
wholly uneventful. On that 22nd of July was made known to us, with
fearful demonstrativeness, the character of those fanatic soldiers
of Islam, who have since become so terribly familiar to us under the
name of _Ghazees_. Incited by the priesthood, they flock to the green
banner, eager to win Paradise by the destruction of their infidel foes,
or to forestall the predestined bliss by dying the martyr’s death in
the attempt. A party of these fearless followers of the Prophet had
assembled in the neighbourhood of Ghuznee, and now they were about to
pour down upon the Shah’s camp, and to rid the country of a King who
had outraged Mahomedanism by returning to his people borne aloft on the
shoulders of the infidels. A gallant charge of the Shah’s Horse, led by
Peter Nicolson, who took no undistinguished part in the after-events of
the war, checked the onslaught of these desperate fanatics; and Outram,
with a party of foot, followed them to the heights where the cavalry
had driven them, and captured their holy standard. Some fifty prisoners
were taken. It is painful to relate what followed. Conducted into the
presence of Shah Soojah, they gloried in their high calling, and openly
reviled the King. One of them, more audacious than the rest, stabbed
one of the royal attendants. Upon this, a mandate went forth for the
massacre of the whole.

The Shah ordered them to be beheaded, and they were hacked to death,
with wanton barbarity, by the knives of his executioners. Coolly and
deliberately the slaughter of these unhappy men proceeded, till the
whole lay mangled and mutilated upon the blood-stained ground.[334]
Macnaghten, a little time before, had been commending the humane
instincts of the King. The humanity of Shah Soojah was nowhere to be
found except in Macnaghten’s letters. It is enough simply to recite the
circumstances of a deed so terrible as this. It was an unhappy and an
ominous commencement. The Shah had marched all the way from Loodhianah
without encountering an enemy. And now the first men taken in arms
against him were cruelly butchered in cold blood by the “humane”
monarch. The act, impolitic as it was unrighteous, brought its own sure
retribution. That “martyrdom” was never forgotten. The day of reckoning
came at last; and when our unholy policy sunk unburied in blood and
ashes, the shrill cry of the _Ghazee_ sounded as its funeral wail.

A gusty night had heralded a gusty morn, when Keane, inwardly bewailing
the absence of his heavy guns, planted his light field-pieces on some
commanding heights opposite the citadel, and filled the gardens near
the city walls with his Sepoy musketeers. No sound issued from the
fortress, nor was there any sign of life, whilst unseen under cover
of the night, and unheard above the loud wailings of the wind, the
storming column was gathering upon the Caubul road, and the engineers
were carrying up their powder-bags to the gate. The advance was under
Colonel Dennie, of the 13th Light Infantry; and the main column under
Brigadier Sale.[335] Captain Thomson, of the Bengal Engineers, directed
the movements of the explosion party; and with him were his two
subalterns, Durand and Macleod, and Captain Peat, of the Bombay corps.
Three hours after midnight everything was ready for the assault.

Then Keane ordered the light batteries to open upon the works of
Ghuznee. It was a demonstration—harmless but not useless; for it fixed
the attention of the enemy, and called forth a responsive fire. A row
of blue lights along the walls now suddenly broke through the darkness
and illuminated the place. The enemy had been beguiled by the false
attack, and were now looking out towards our batteries, eager to learn
the nature of the operations commenced by the investing force. And
whilst the Afghans were thus engaged, anticipating an escalade and
manning their walls, the British engineers were quietly piling their
powder-bags at the Caubul gate.

The work was done rapidly and well. The match was applied to the hose.
The powder exploded.[336] Above the roaring of the guns and the rushing
of the wind, the noise of the explosion was barely audible.[337] But
the effect was as mighty as it was sudden. A column of black smoke
arose; and down with a crush came heavy masses of masonry and shivered
beams in awful ruin and confusion. Then the bugle sounded the advance.
Dennie at the head of his stormers, pushed forward through the smoke
and dust of the aperture; and soon the bayonets of his light companies
were crossing the swords of the enemy who had rushed down to the point
of attack. A few moments of darkness and confusion; and then the
foremost soldiers caught a glimpse of the morning sky, and pushing
gallantly on, were soon established in the fortress. Three hearty,
animating cheers—so loud and clear that they were heard throughout the
general camp[338]—announced to their excited comrades below that Dennie
and his stormers had entered Ghuznee.

Then Sale pressed on with the main column, eager to support the
stormers in advance; and as he went he met an engineer officer of the
explosion party, who had been thrown to the ground, shattered and
bewildered by the concussion,[339] and who now announced that the gate
was choked up, and that Dennie could not force an entrance. So Sale
sounded the retreat. The column halted. There was a pause of painful
doubt and anxiety; and then the cheering notes of the bugle, sounding
the advance, again stirred the hearts of our people. Another engineer
officer had reported that, though the aperture was crowded with fallen
rubbish, Dennie had made good his entrance. Onward, therefore, went
Sale; but the enemy had profited by the brief pause. The opposition at
the gateway now was more resolute than it would have been if there had
been no check. The Afghans were crowding to the gate; some for purposes
of defence, others to escape the fire which Dennie was pouring in upon
them. Sale met them amidst the ruins—amidst the crumbled masonry and
the fallen timbers. There was a sturdy conflict. The Brigadier himself
was cut down;[340] but after a desperate struggle with his opponent,
whose skull he clove with his sabre, he regained his feet, again issued
his commands; and the main column was soon within the fortress. The
support, under Colonel Croker, then pushed forward; the reserve in due
course followed; the capture of Ghuznee was complete; and soon the
colours of the 13th and 17th regiments were flapping in the strong
morning breeze on the ramparts of the Afghans’ last stronghold.[341]

But there was much hard fighting within the walls. In the frenzy of
despair the Afghans rushed out from their hiding-places, sword in
hand, upon our stormers, and plied their sabres with terrible effect,
but only to meet with fearful retribution from the musket-fire or the
bayonets of the British infantry. There was horrible confusion and
much carnage. Some, in their frantic efforts to escape by the gateway,
stumbled over the burning timbers, wounded and exhausted, and were
slowly burnt to death. Some were bayoneted on the ground. Others were
pursued and hunted into corners like mad dogs, and shot down, with
the curse and the prayer on their lips. But never, it is said by the
historians of the war, after the garrison had ceased to fight, did the
wrath of their assailants overtake them. Many an Afghan sold his life
dearly, and, though wounded and stricken down, still cut out at the
hated enemy. But when resistance was over, mercy smiled down upon him.
The appeals of the helpless were never disregarded by the victors in
their hour of triumph. The women, too, were honourably treated. Hyder
Khan’s zenana was in the citadel; but not a woman was outraged by the

Resistance over, the Commander-in-Chief and the Envoy entered Ghuznee
by the Caubul gate. Shah Soojah, before the contest was over, had
ridden down to the point of attack, and watched the progress of events
with the deepest interest, but with no apparent want of collectedness
and nerve.[343] Keane and Macnaghten now led him up to the citadel.
The wife of Hyder Khan, and the other women of his zenana, were
conducted, under the orders of the political and military chiefs, by
John Conolly, a cousin of the Envoy, to a house in the town, where
they were placed under the charge of the Moonshee Mohun Lal.[344] But
Hyder Khan himself had not yet been discovered. The Suddozye Prince
and the British chiefs were inquiring after the commander of the
garrison; but no tidings of him were to be obtained. He might have
been concealed in the fortress, or he might have effected his escape.
Accident only betrayed the position of the young Sirdar. He was found
in a house near the Candahar gate, by an officer of the Company’s
European regiment.[345] At once acknowledging that he was the governor
of Ghuznee, he threw himself upon the mercy of his captors. Conducted
to Keane’s tent, the Sirdar was guaranteed his personal safety, and
placed under the charge of Sir Alexander Burnes.[346] He was unwilling
at first to appear in the presence of Shah Soojah; but the assurances
of the Commander-in-Chief overcame his reluctance, and Keane conducted
him both to the Mission and to the King. Instructed as to the reception
he was to accord to the fallen Barukzye chief, the Suddozye monarch
received him with an outward show of kindness, and, with a dignified
courtesy which he so well knew how to assume, declared that he forgave
the past, and told him to go in peace.

And so Ghuznee fell to the British army, and was made over to the
Suddozye King. It cost the victors only seventeen killed and a hundred
and sixty-five wounded. Of these last eighteen were officers. The
carnage among the garrison was most fearful. Upwards of five hundred
men were buried by the besiegers; and many more are supposed to have
fallen beyond the walls, under the sabres of the British horsemen.
Sixteen hundred prisoners were taken. Immense stores of grain and
flour, sufficient for a protracted defence, fell into our hands; and
a large number of horses and arms swelled the value of the captured

The fall of Ghuznee—a fortress hitherto deemed by the Afghans
impregnable—astounded Dost Mahomed and his sons, and struck terror into
their souls. Afzul Khan, who was hovering about the neighbourhood,
prepared to fall upon our baffled army, found, to his wonderment, that
the British colours were waving over the far-famed citadel of Ghuznee,
and immediately sought safety in flight. Abandoning his elephants and
the whole of his camp-equipage which fell as booty into the hands of
Shah Soojah, the Sirdar fled to Caubul. His father, greatly incensed,
ordered him immediately to halt, and “peremptorily refused to receive
him.”[347] He had expected something better from one who had done such
good service on the boasted battle-field of Jumrood.

In little more than four-and-twenty hours after the fall of Ghuznee,
intelligence of the event reached the camp of the Ameer. He at once
assembled his chiefs, spoke of the defection of some of his people,
expressed his apprehension that others were about to desert him, and
declared his conviction that, without the aid of treachery, Ghuznee
would not have fallen before the Feringhees. Then he called upon all
present, who wavered in their loyalty, at once to withdraw from his
presence, that he might know the extent of his resources, and not rely
upon the false friendship of men who would forsake him in the crisis of
his fate. All protested their fidelity. A council of war was held, and
the Newab Jubbar Khan was despatched to the British camp[348] to treat
with Shah Soojah and his allies.

The Newab mounted his horse and rode with unaccustomed rapidity to
Ghuznee. Mohun Lal went out to meet him some miles beyond the camp;
and Burnes received him at the piquets. A tent was pitched for his
accommodation near the Envoy’s; and he was well received by the British
Mission. The King received him, too, with the same well-trained
courtesy that he had bestowed on Hyder Khan—but the efforts of the
Newab were fruitless. He tendered on the part of the Ameer submission
to the Suddozye Prince; but claimed, on the part of the brother of
Futteh Khan, the hereditary office of Wuzeer, which had been held so
long and so ably by the Barukzyes. The claim was at once rejected,
and the mockery of an “honourable asylum” in the British dominions
offered in its stead. Jubbar Khan spoke out plainly and bluntly, like
an honest man. His brother had no ambition to surrender his freedom and
become a pensioner on the bounty of the British Government. Had his
cause been far more hopeless than it was, Dost Mahomed, at that time,
would have rather flung himself upon the British bayonets than upon
the protection of the Feringhees. Jubbar Khan then frankly stating his
own determination to follow the fortunes of his brother, requested and
received his dismissal.[349]

The Newab returned to the Ameer’s camp. All hope of negotiation was
now at an end, and Dost Mahomed, with resolution worthy of a better
fate, marched out to dispute the progress of the invaders. At the head
of an army, in which the seeds of dissolution had already been sown,
he moved down upon Urghundeh. There he drew up his troops and parked
his guns. But it was not on this ground that he had determined to give
the Feringhees battle. The last stand was to have been made at Maidan,
on the Caubul river—a spot, the natural advantages of which would
have been greatly in his favour. But the battle was never fought. At
Urghundeh it became too manifest that there was treachery in his camp.
The venal Kuzzilbashes were fast deserting his standard. There was
scarcely a true man left in his ranks. Hadjee Khan Khaukur, on whom
he had placed great reliance, had gone over to the enemy, and others
were fast following his example. This was the crisis of his fate.
He looked around him and saw only perfidy on the right hand and on
the left. Equal to the occasion, but basely deserted, what could the
Ameer do? Never had the nobility of his nature shone forth more truly
and more lustrously. In the hour of adversity, when all were false,
he was true to his own manhood. Into the midst of his own perfidious
troops he rode, with the Koran in his hand; and there called upon his
followers, in the names of God and the Prophet, not to forget that they
were true Mahomedans—not to disgrace their names and to dishonour their
religion, by rushing into the arms of one who had filled the country
with infidels and blasphemers. He besought them to make one stand,
like brave men and true believers; to rally round the standard of the
commander of the faithful; to beat back the invading Feringhees or
die in the glorious attempt. He then reminded them of his own claims
on their fidelity. “You have eaten my salt,” he said, “these thirteen
years. If, as is too plain, you are resolved to seek a new master,
grant me but one favour in requital for that long period of maintenance
and kindness—enable me to die with honour. Stand by the brother of
Futteh Khan, whilst he executes one last charge against the cavalry
of these Feringhee dogs; in that onset he will fall; then go and make
your own terms with Shah Soojah.”[350] The noble spirit-stirring appeal
was vainly uttered; few responded to it. There was scarcely a true
heart left. With despairing eyes he looked around upon his recreant
followers. He saw that there was no hope of winning them back to their
old allegiance he felt that he was surrounded by traitors and cowards,
who were willing to abandon him to his fate. It was idle to struggle
against his destiny. The first bitter pang was over; he resumed his
serenity of demeanour, and, addressing himself to the Kuzzilbashes,
formally gave them their discharge. He then dismissed all who were
inclined to purchase safety by tendering allegiance to the Shah; and
with a small handful of followers, leaving his guns still in position,
turned his horse’s head towards the regions of the Hindoo-Koosh.[351]

It was on the evening of the 2nd of August that Dost Mahomed fled from
Urghundeh. On the following day the British army, which had moved from
Ghuznee on the 30th of July, received tidings of his flight. It was
now determined to send a party in pursuit. It was mainly to consist
of Afghan horsemen; but some details from our cavalry regiments were
sent with them, and Captain Outram, ever ready for such service,
volunteered for the command. Other officers—bold riders and dashing
soldiers[352]—were eager to join in the pursuit; and a party of ten,
with about five hundred mounted men, mustered that afternoon before the
Mission tents, equipped for the raid.

If the success of this expedition had depended upon the zeal and
activity of the officers, Dost Mahomed would have been brought back a
prisoner to the British camp; for never did a finer set of men leap
into their saddles, flushed with the thought of the stirring work
before them. But when they set out in pursuit of the fallen Ameer,
a traitor rode with them, intent on turning to very nothingness all
their chivalry and devotion. There was an Afghan chief known as Hadjee
Khan Khaukur, of whom mention has been made. He was a man of mean
extraction, the son of a goat-herd,[353] but from this low estate had
risen into notice, and obtained service with Dost Mahomed. It was not
in his nature to be faithful. He deserted Dost Mahomed, and attached
himself to the Candahar Sirdars. On the advance of the British army he
deserted the Sirdars, and flung himself at the feet of the Suddozye.
Delighted with such an accession to his strength, the King appointed
him Nassur-ood-dowlah, or “Defender of the State,” and conferred on him
a Jaghire of the annual value of three lakhs of rupees.

At Candahar, whence the Sirdars had fled, the Hadjee, profoundly
conscious of the hopelessness of their cause, broke out into loyalty
and enthusiasm, and was, to all outward seeming, a faithful adherent of
the Shah. But as he entered the principality of the Caubul Ameer, he
seemed to stand upon more uncertain ground; the issue of the contest
was yet doubtful. Dost Mahomed and his sons were in the field. So the
Hadjee made many excuses; and fell in the rear of the British army. He
was sick; it was necessary that he should march easily; he could not
bear the bustle of the camp. Keeping, therefore, a few marches in the
rear, he followed our advancing columns, with his retainers; and there,
it is said, “enjoyed the congenial society of several discontented and
intriguing noblemen.”[354]

If Ghuznee had not fallen, Hadjee Khan and his friends would have
gone over in a body to the Ameer, and on the slightest information
of a reverse having befallen us, would have flung themselves on our
rear. But the fall of this great Afghan stronghold brought the Hadjee
again to the stirrup of the Shah; and he was again all loyalty and
devotion. Confident of his fidelity, and perhaps anxious to establish
it in the eyes of all who had viewed with suspicion the proceedings of
the Hadjee, the King now put it to the proof. The man had once been
Governor of Bameean. He knew the country along which the Ameer had
taken his flight. What could be better than to entrust the conduct
of the expedition to the veteran chief? The King and Macnaghten were
of the same mind; so Hadjee Khan, who had been for some time in
treasonable correspondence with Dost Mahomed, was now despatched to
overtake him and bring him back a prisoner to the camp of the Shah.

The result may be easily anticipated. Hadjee Khan cheerfully undertook
the duty entrusted to him. The enterprise required the utmost possible
amount of energy and promptitude to secure its success. The Ameer and
his party were more than a day’s journey in advance of his pursuers.
Every hour’s delay lessened the chance of overtaking the fugitive. So
the Hadjee began at once to delay. The pursuers were to have started
four hours after noon; Hadjee Khan was not ready till nightfall. Then
he was eager to take the circuitous high road instead of dashing
across the hills. His people lagged behind to plunder. He himself, when
Outram was most eager to push on, always counselled a halt, and in
the hour of need the guides deserted. The Ameer was now but little in
advance; he was encumbered with women, and children, and much baggage.
He had a sick son,[355] on whose account it was necessary to diminish
the speed of his flight. Outram seemed almost to have the Ameer in his
grasp; when Hadjee Khan again counselled delay. It was necessary, he
said, to wait for reinforcements. The Ameer had two thousand fighting
men. The Afghans under Hadjee Khan were not to be relied upon. They
had no food: their horses were knocked up; they were unwilling to
advance. Angry and indignant, Outram broke from the Hadjee in the
midst of his entreaties, and declared that he would push on with his
own men. Again and again there was the same contention between the
chivalrous earnestness of the British officer and the foul treachery
of the Afghan chief. At last, on the 9th of August, they reached
Bameean, where Hadjee Khan had repeatedly declared that Dost Mahomed
would halt, only to learn that the fugitives were that morning to be
at Syghan, nearly thirty miles in advance. The Ameer was pushing on
with increased rapidity, for the sick Prince, who had been carried
in a litter, was now transferred to the back of an elephant, and his
escape was now almost certain. The treachery of Hadjee Khan had done
its work. Outram had been restricted in his operations to the limits of
the Shah’s dominions; and the Ameer had now passed the borders. Further
pursuit, indeed, would have been hopeless. The horses of our cavalry
were exhausted by over-fatigue and want of food. They were unable any
longer to continue their forced marches. The game, therefore, was up.
Dost Mahomed had escaped. Hadjee Khan Khaukur had saved the Ameer; but
he had sacrificed himself. He had overreached himself in his career
of treachery, and was now to pay the penalty of detection. Outram
officially reported the circumstances of the Hadjee’s conduct, which
had baffled all his best efforts—efforts which, he believed, would
have been crowned with success[356]—and the traitor, on his return to
Caubul, was arrested by orders of the Shah. Other proofs of his treason
were readily found; and he was sentenced to end a life of adventurous
vicissitude as a state prisoner in the provinces of Hindostan.[357]

So fled Dost Mahomed Khan across the frontier of Afghanistan. His
guns were found in position at Urghundeh by a party of cavalry and
horse artillery sent forward to capture them. They were mostly light
pieces;[358] and neither the ordnance nor the position which had been
taken up, could be considered of a very formidable character.[359] It
has been already said, however, that the Ameer had fixed upon another
spot on which to meet the advancing armies of the Shah and his allies—a
spot well calculated for defence, which, three years afterwards,
Shumshoodeen Khan selected for his last stand against the battalions of
General Nott; but on which, like his distinguished clansman, he never
gave us battle.

On the 6th of August, Shah Soojah and the British army appeared before
the walls of Caubul. On the following day the King entered the capital
of Afghanistan. The exile of thirty years—the baffled and rejected
representative of the legitimacy of the Douranee Empire, was now at
the palace gates. The jingling of the money-bags, and the gleaming of
the bayonets of the British, had restored him to the throne which,
without these glittering aids, he had in vain striven to recover.
The Balla Hissar of Caubul now reared its proud front before him,
It was truly a great occasion. The King, gorgeous in regal apparel,
and resplendent with jewels, rode a white charger, whose equipments
sparkled with Asiatic gold.[360] It was a goodly sight to see the
coronet, the girdle, and the bracelets which scintillated upon the
person of the rider, and turned the fugitive and the outcast into a
pageant and a show. There were those present to whom the absence of the
_Koh-i-noor_, which, caged in Hyde Park, has since become so familiar
to the sight-seers of Great Britain, suggested strange reminiscences of
the King’s eventful career. But the restored monarch, wanting the great
diamond, still sparkled into royalty as he rode up to the Balla Hissar,
with the white-faced Kings of Afghanistan beside him. In diplomatic
costume, Macnaghten and Burnes accompanied the Suddozye puppet. The
principal military officers of the British army rode with them. And
Moonshee Mohun Lal, flaunting a majestic turban, and looking, in his
spruceness, not at all as though his mission in Afghanistan were to do
the dirty work of the British diplomatists, made a very conspicuous
figure in the gay cavalcade.[361]

But never was there a duller procession. The King and his European
supporters rode through the streets of Caubul to the palace in the
citadel; but as they went there was no popular enthusiasm; the voice of
welcome was still. The inhabitants came to the thresholds of the houses
simply to look at the show. They stared at the European strangers
more than at the King, who had been brought back to Caubul by the
Feringhees; and scarcely even took the trouble to greet the Suddozye
Prince with a common salaam. It was more like a funeral procession
than the entry of a King into the capital of his restored dominions.
But when Shah Soojah reached the palace from which he had so long been
absent, he broke out into a paroxysm of childish delight—visited the
gardens and apartments with eager activity—commented on the signs of
neglect which everywhere presented themselves to his eyes—and received
with feelings of genial pleasure the congratulations of the British
officers, who soon left his Majesty to himself to enjoy the sweets of
restored dominion.

The restoration of Shah Soojah-ool Moolk to the sovereignty of
Afghanistan had thus been outwardly accomplished. The Barukzye Sirdars
had been expelled from their principalities; a British garrison had
been planted in Candahar and in Ghuznee; and a British army was now
encamping under the walls of Caubul. A great revolution had thus
been perfected. The Douranee monarchy had been restored. The objects
contemplated in the Simlah manifesto had been seemingly accomplished,
and the originators of the policy which had sent our armies thus to
triumph in Afghanistan shouted with exultation as they looked upon
their first great blaze of success.


[Vol. I., page 70.]

_Preliminary Treaty with Persia, concluded by Sir Harford Jones on the
12th of March, 1809._

 In the Name of Him who is ever necessary, who is all-sufficient, who
 is everlasting, and who is the only Protector.

In these times distinguished by felicity, the excellent Ambassador,
Sir Harford Jones, Baronet, Member of the Honourable Imperial Ottoman
Order of the Crescent, has arrived at the Royal City of Teheran, in
quality of Ambassador from His Majesty the King of England (titles),
bearing His Majesty’s credential letter, and charged with full powers
munited with the great seal of England, empowering him to strengthen
the friendship and consolidate the strict union subsisting between
the high states of England and Persia. His Majesty the King of Persia
(titles) therefore, by a special firmaun delivered to the said
Ambassador, has appointed the most excellent and noble Lords Meerza
Mahomed Sheffeeh, qualified with the title of Moatumed-ed-Dowlah, his
First Vizier, and Hajee Mahomed Hoossein Khan, qualified with the
title of Ameen-ed-Dowlah, one of the Ministers of Record, to be his
Plenipotentiaries to confer and discuss with the aforesaid Ambassador
of His Britannic Majesty, all matters and affairs touching the
formation and consolidation of friendship, alliance, and strict union
between the two high states, and to arrange and finally conclude the
same for the benefit and advantage of both Kingdoms. In consequence
whereof, after divers meetings and discussions, the aforesaid
Plenipotentiaries have resolved that the following Articles are for the
benefit and advantage of both the high states, and are hereafter to be
accordingly for ever observed:

ART. I.—That as some time will be required to arrange and form a
definitive treaty of alliance and friendship between the two high
states, and as the circumstances of the world make it necessary for
something to be done without loss of time, it is agreed these Articles,
which are to be regarded as preliminary, shall become a basis for
establishing a sincere and everlasting definitive treaty of strict
friendship and union; and it is agreed that the said definitive treaty,
precisely expressing the wishes and obligations of each party, shall be
signed and sealed by the said Plenipotentiaries, and afterwards become
binding on both the high contracting parties.

II. It is agreed that the preliminary articles, formed with the hand of
truth and sincerity, shall not be changed or altered, but there shall
arise from them a daily increase of friendship, which shall last for
ever between the two most serene Kings, their heirs, successors, their
subjects, and their respective kingdoms, dominions, provinces, and

III. His Majesty the King of Persia judges it necessary to declare that
from the date of these preliminary articles, every treaty or agreement
he may have made with any one of the powers of Europe, becomes null
and void, and that he will not permit any European force whatever to
pass through Persia, either towards India, or towards the ports of that

IV. In case any European forces have invaded, or shall invade, the
territories of His Majesty the King of Persia, His Britannic Majesty
will afford to His Majesty the King of Persia, a force, or, in lieu
of it, a subsidy with warlike ammunition, such as guns, muskets, &c.,
and officers, to the amount that may be to the advantage of both
parties, for the expulsion of the force so invading; and the number
of these forces, or the amount of the subsidy, ammunition, &c., shall
be hereafter regulated in the definitive treaty. In case His Majesty
the King of England should make peace with such European power, His
Britannic Majesty shall use his utmost endeavours to negotiate and
procure a peace between His Persian Majesty and such power. But if
(which God forbid) His Britannic Majesty’s efforts for this purpose
should fail of success, then the forces or subsidy, according to the
amount mentioned in the definitive treaty, shall still continue in
the service of the King of Persia as long as the said European forces
shall remain in the territories of His Persian Majesty, or until
peace is concluded between His Persian Majesty and the said European
power. And it is further agreed, that in case the dominions of His
Britannic Majesty in India are attacked or invaded by the Afghans or
any other power, His Majesty the King of Persia shall afford a force
for the protection of the said dominions, according to the stipulations
contained in the definitive treaty.

V. If a detachment of British troops has arrived from India in the
Gulf of Persia, and by the consent of His Persian Majesty landed on
the Island of Karrak, or at any of the Persian ports, they shall not
in any manner possess themselves of such places; and, from the date
of these preliminary articles, the said detachment shall be at the
disposal of His Majesty the King of Persia, except his Excellency the
Governor-General of India judges such detachment necessary for the
defence of India, in which case they shall be returned to India, and
a subsidy, in lieu of the personal services of these troops, shall be
paid to His Majesty the King of Persia, the amount of which shall be
settled in the definitive treaty.

VI. But if the said troops remain, by the desire of His Majesty the
King of Persia, either at Karrak, or any other port in the Gulf of
Persia, they shall be treated by the Governor there in the most
friendly manner, and orders shall be given to all the Governors of
Farsistan, that whatever quantity of provisions, &c., may be necessary,
shall, on being paid for, be furnished to the said troops at the fair
prices of the day.

VII. In case war takes place between His Persian Majesty and the
Afghans, His Majesty the King of Great Britain shall not take any part
therein, unless it be at the desire of both parties, to afford his
mediation for peace.

VIII. It is acknowledged the intent and meaning of these preliminary
articles are defensive. And it is likewise agreed, that as long as
these preliminary articles remain in force, His Majesty the King of
Persia shall not enter into any engagements inimical to His Britannic
Majesty, or pregnant with injury or disadvantage to the British
territories in India.

This treaty is concluded by both parties, in the hope of its being
everlasting, and that it may be productive of the most beautiful fruits
of friendship between the two most serene Kings.

 In witness whereof we, the said Plenipotentiaries, have hereunto set
 our hands and seals in the Royal City of Teheran, this twelfth day of
 March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine,
 answering to the twenty-fifth of Mohurrum el Haram, in the year of the
 Hegira one thousand two hundred and twenty-four.


[Vol. I., page 85.]

_Treaty with Runjeet Singh, the Rajah of Lahore, dated 25th April,

Whereas certain differences which had arisen between the British
Government and the Rajah of Lahore, have been happily and amicably
adjusted, and both parties being anxious to maintain the relations of
perfect amity and concord, the following articles of treaty, which
shall be binding on the heirs and successors of the two parties, have
been concluded by Rajah Runjeet Singh on his own part, and by the
agency of Charles Theophilus Metcalfe, Esquire, on the part of the
British Government:

ART. I. Perpetual friendship shall subsist between the British
Government and the State of Lahore. The latter shall be considered,
with respect to the former, to be on the footing of the most favoured
powers; and the British Government will have no concern with the
territories and subjects of the Rajah to the northward of the river

II. The Rajah will never maintain, in the territory occupied by him and
his dependents on the left bank of the river Sutlej, more troops than
are necessary for the internal duties of that territory, nor commit, or
suffer, any encroachment on the possessions or rights of the chiefs in
its vicinity.

III. In the event of a violation of any of the preceding articles, or
of a departure from the rules of friendship, on the part of either
state, this treaty shall be considered null and void.

IV. This treaty, consisting of four articles, having been settled and
concluded at Umritser, on the 25th day of April, 1809, Mr. Charles
Theophilus Metcalfe has delivered to the Rajah of Lahore a copy of the
same in English and Persian, under his seal and signature; and the
said Rajah has delivered another copy of the same under his seal and
signature; and Mr. Charles Theophilus Metcalfe engages to procure,
within the space of two months, a copy of the same, duly ratified by
the Right Honourable the Governor-General in Council, on the receipt
of which by the Rajah, the present treaty shall be deemed complete and
binding on both parties, and the copy of it now delivered to the Rajah
shall be restored.

[Vol. I., page 92.]

_Treaty with the King of Caubul, dated 17th June, 1809._

Whereas in consequence of the confederacy with the state of Persia,
projected by the French for the purpose of invading the dominions of
His Majesty the King of the Douranees, and ultimately, those of the
British Government in India, the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone
was despatched to the Court of His Majesty, in quality of Envoy
Plenipotentiary, on the part of the Right Honourable Lord Minto,
Governor-General, exercising the supreme authority over all affairs,
civil, political, and military, in the British possessions in the East
Indies, for the purpose of concerting with His Majesty’s Ministers the
means of mutual defence against the expected invasion of the French
and Persians; and whereas the said Ambassador having had the honour
of being presented to His Majesty, and of explaining the friendly
and beneficial object of his mission, His Majesty, sensible of the
advantages of alliance and co-operation between the two states, for
the purpose above described, directed his Ministers to confer with the
Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, and, consulting the welfare of both
states, to conclude a friendly alliance; and certain articles of treaty
having accordingly been agreed to between His Majesty’s Ministers
and the British Ambassador, and confirmed by the Royal Signet, a
copy of the treaty so framed has been transmitted by the Ambassador
for the ratification of the Governor-General, who, consenting to the
stipulations therein contained without variation, a copy of these
articles, as hereunder written, is now returned, duly ratified by the
seal and signature of the Governor-General, and the signatures of the
members of the British Government in India. And the obligations upon
both governments, both now and for ever, shall be exclusively regulated
and determined by the tenor of those Articles which are as follow:

ART. I. As the French and Persians have entered into a confederacy
against the state of Caubul, if they should wish to pass through the
King’s dominions, the servants of the heavenly throne shall prevent
their passage, and exerting themselves to the extent of their power in
making war on them and repelling them, shall not permit them to cross
into British India.

II. If the French and Persians, in pursuance of their confederacy,
should advance towards the King of Caubul’s country in a hostile
manner, the British state, endeavouring heartily to repel them, shall
hold themselves liable to afford the expenses necessary for the
above-mentioned service, to the extent of their ability. While the
confederacy between the French and Persians continues in force, these
articles shall be in force, and be acted on by both parties.

III. Friendship and union shall continue for ever between these two
states. The veil of separation shall be lifted up from between them,
and they shall in no manner interfere in each other’s countries; and
the King of Caubul shall permit no individual of the French to enter
his territories.

The faithful servants of both states having agreed to this treaty, the
conditions of confirmation and ratification have been performed, and
this document has been sealed and signed by the Right Honourable the
Governor-General and the Honourable the Members of the Supreme British
Government in India, this 17th day of June, 1809, answering to the 1224
of the Hegira.

[Vol. I, p. 96.]

_Treaty with the Ameers of Sindh, dated 22nd August, 1809._

ART. I. There shall be eternal friendship between the British
Government and that of Sindh, namely, Meer Gholam Alee, Meer Kurreem
Alee, and Meer Murad Alee.

II. Enmity shall never appear between the two states.

III. The mutual despatch of the Vakeels of both Governments, namely,
the British Government and Sindhian Government, shall always continue.

IV. The Government of Sindh will not allow the establishment of the
tribe of the French in Sindh.

Written on the 10th of the month of Rujeeb-ool-Moorujub, in the year of
the Hegira, 1224, corresponding with the 22nd of August, 1809.

[Vol. I., p. 144.]

_Definitive Treaty with Persia, concluded at Teheran, by Messrs. Morier
and Ellis, on the 25th November, 1814._

Praise be to God, the all-perfect and all-sufficient.

These happy leaves are a nosegay plucked from the thornless Garden of
Concord, and tied by the hands of the Plenipotentiaries of the two
great states in the form of a definitive treaty, in which the articles
of friendship and amity are blended.

Previously to this period, the high in station, Sir Harford Jones,
Baronet, Envoy Extraordinary from the English Government, came to
this Court, to form an amicable alliance, and in conjunction with the
Plenipotentiaries of Persia, their Excellencies (titles) Meerza Mahomed
Sheffeeh and Hajee Mahomed Hussein Khan, concluded a preliminary
treaty, the particulars of which were to be detailed and arranged in
a definitive treaty; and the above-mentioned treaty, according to its
articles, was ratified by the British Government.

Afterwards, when His Excellency Sir Gore Ouseley, Ambassador
Extraordinary from His Britannic Majesty, arrived at this exalted and
illustrious Court, for the purpose of completing the relations of amity
between the two states, and was invested with full powers by his own
government to arrange all the important affairs of friendship, the
ministers of this victorious state, with the advice and approbation
of the above-mentioned Ambassador, concluded a definitive treaty,
consisting of fixed articles and stipulations.

That treaty having been submitted to the British Government, certain
changes in its articles and provisions, consistent with friendship,
appeared necessary, and Henry Ellis, Esquire, was accordingly
despatched to this court, in charge of a letter explanatory of the
above-mentioned alterations. Therefore, their Excellencies Meerza
Mahomed Sheffeeh, Prime Minister, Meerza Bozoork, Caimacan (titles),
and Meerza Abdul Wahab, Principal Secretary of State (titles), were
duly appointed, and invested with full powers to negotiate with the
Plenipotentiaries of His Britannic Majesty, James Morier, Esquire,
recently appointed minister at this court, and the above-mentioned
Henry Ellis, Esquire. These Plenipotentiaries having consulted on the
terms most advisable for this alliance, have comprised them in eleven
articles. What relates to commerce, trade, and other affairs, will be
drawn up and concluded in a separate commercial treaty.

ART. I. The Persian Government judge it incumbent on them, after
the conclusion of this definitive treaty, to declare all alliances
contracted with European nations in a state of hostility with Great
Britain, null and void, and hold themselves bound not to allow any
European army to enter the Persian territory, nor to proceed towards
India, nor to any of the ports of that country; and also engage not to
allow any individuals of such European nations, entertaining a design
of invading India, or being at enmity with Great Britain, whatever,
to enter Persia. Should any European powers wish to invade India by
the road of Kharazm, Tartaristan, Bokhara, Samarcand, or other routes,
His Persian Majesty engages to induce the Kings and Governors of those
countries to oppose such invasion, as much as is in his power, either
by the fear of his arms, or by conciliatory measures.

II. It is agreed, that these articles, formed with the hand of truth
and sincerity, shall not be changed or altered; but, there shall arise
from them a daily increase of friendship, which shall last for ever
between the two most serene Kings, their heirs, successors, their
subjects and their respective kingdoms, dominions, provinces, and
countries. And His Britannic Majesty further engages not to interfere
in any dispute which may hereafter arise between the princes, noblemen,
and great chiefs of Persia; and if one of the contending parties should
even offer a province of Persia, with view of obtaining assistance, the
English Government shall not agree to such a proposal, nor by adopting
it, possess themselves of such part of Persia.

III. The purpose of this treaty is strictly defensive, and the object
is that from their mutual assistance both states should derive
stability and strength; and this treaty has only been concluded for the
purpose of repelling the aggressions of enemies; and the purport of the
word aggression in this treaty is, an attack upon the territories of
another state. The limits of the territory of the two states of Russia
and Persia shall be determined according to the admission of Great
Britain, Persia, and Russia.

IV. It having been agreed by an article in the preliminary treaty
concluded between the high contracting parties, that in case of any
European nation invading Persia, should the Persian Government require
the assistance of the English, the Governor-General of India, on
the part of Great Britain, shall comply with the wish of the Persian
Government, by sending from India the force required, with officers,
ammunition, and warlike stores, or, in lieu thereof, the English
Government shall pay an annual subsidy, the amount of which shall be
regulated in a definitive treaty to be concluded between the high
contracting parties; it is hereby provided, that the amount of the said
subsidy shall be two hundred thousand (200,000) tomauns annually. It is
further agreed, that the said subsidy shall not be paid in case the war
with such European nation shall have been produced by an aggression on
the part of Persia; and since the payment of the above subsidy will be
made solely for the purpose of raising and disciplining an army, it is
agreed that the English minister shall be satisfied of its being duly
applied to the purpose for which it is assigned.

V. Should the Persian Government wish to introduce European discipline
among their troops, they are at liberty to employ European officers for
that purpose, provided the said officers do not belong to nations in a
state of war or enmity with Great Britain.

VI. Should any European power be engaged in war with Persia when at
peace with England, His Britannic Majesty engages to use his best
endeavours to bring Persia and such European power to a friendly
understanding. If, however, His Majesty’s cordial interference should
fail of success, England shall still, if required, in conformity with
the stipulations in the preceding articles, send a force from India,
or, in lieu thereof, pay an annual subsidy of two hundred thousand
(200,000) tomauns for the support of a Persian army, so long as a war
in the supposed case shall continue, and until Persia shall make peace
with such nation.

VII. Since it is the custom of Persia to pay the troops six months in
advance, the English minister at that court shall do all in his power
to pay the subsidy in as early instalments as may be convenient.

VIII. Should the Afghans be at war with the British nation, His Persian
Majesty engages to send an army against them in such manner and of such
force as may be concerted with the English Government. The expenses
of such an army shall be defrayed by the British Government, in such
manner as may be agreed upon at the period of its being required.

IX. If war should be declared between the Afghans and Persians, the
English Government shall not interfere with either party, unless their
mediation to effect a peace shall be solicited by both parties.

X. Should any Persian subject of distinction, showing signs of
hostility and rebellion, take refuge in the British dominions, the
English Government shall, on intimation from the Persian Government,
turn him out of their country, or, if he refuse to leave it, shall
seize and send him to Persia.

Previously to the arrival of such fugitive in the English territory,
should the governor of the district to which he may direct his flight
receive intelligence of the wishes of the Persian Government respecting
him, he shall refuse him admission. After such prohibition, should such
person persist in his resolution, the said governor shall cause him to
be seized and sent to Persia; it being understood that the aforesaid
obligations are reciprocal between the contracting parties.

XI. Should His Persian Majesty require assistance from the English
Government in the Persian Gulf, they shall, if convenient and
practicable, assist him with ships of war and troops. The expenses of
such expedition shall be accounted for and defrayed by the Persian
Government, and the above ships shall anchor in such ports as shall be
pointed out by the Persian Government, and not enter other harbours
without permission, except from absolute necessity.

The articles are thus auspiciously concluded:

A definitive treaty between the two states having formerly been
prepared, consisting of twelve articles, and certain changes, not
inconsistent with friendship, having appeared necessary, we the
Plenipotentiaries of the two states comprising the said treaty in
eleven articles, have hereunto set our hands and seals, in the royal
city of Teheran, this twenty-fifth day of November, in the year of our
Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen, corresponding with the
twelfth Zealhajeh, in the year of the Hegira one thousand two hundred
and twenty-nine.


[Vol. I., page 153.]

 _Bonds given by Abbas Meerza, Prince Royal of Persia, and by the Shah,
 cancelling the Subsidy Articles of the Treaty of 25th November, 1814._

 _Bond granted by Abbas Meerza, Prince Royal of Persia, to
 Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonald, British Envoy._

Be it known to Colonel Macdonald, British envoy at our Court, that we,
the heir apparent to the Persian throne, in virtue of the full powers
vested in us by the Shah, in all matters touching the foreign relations
of this kingdom, do hereby pledge our solemn word and promise, that
if the British Government will assist us with the sum of two hundred
thousand tomauns (200,000), towards the liquidation of the indemnity
due by us to Russia, we will expunge, and hereafter consider as
annulled, the IIIrd and IVth articles of the definitive treaty, between
the two states, concluded by Mr. Ellis, and obtain the royal sanction
to the same.

This paper bears the seal of His Royal Highness Abbas Meerza, and that
of His Persian Majesty’s Minister, the Kaim-Mukam.

Dated in the month of Shaban, or March, 1828.

 _Ruckum of His Royal Highness the Heir Apparent, in ratification
 of the Annulment of the IIIrd and IVth Articles of the Treaty with

Relative to the articles III. and IV. of the propitious treaty
between England and Persia, which was concluded by Mr. Ellis, in
the month Zekaud, A.H. 1229, agreeably to the engagements entered
into with your Excellency, that, in consequence of the sum of 200,000
tomauns, the currency of the country, presented as an aid to Persia,
in consideration of the losses she has sustained in the war with
Russia, we, the heir apparent, vested with full powers in all matters
connected with the politics of this nation, have agreed that the said
two articles shall be expunged, and have delivered a bond to your
Excellency, which is now in your hands.

In the month of Zikeyla, A.H. 1243, on our going to wait upon His
Majesty at Teheran, in consistence with the note addressed to your
Excellency by Meerza Abul Hassan Khan, the Minister for Foreign
Affairs, we were appointed sole agent in this matter by His Majesty,
with unlimited authority; therefore, as the Government of England,
through the medium of Colonel Macdonald, have afforded us the
assistance of 200,000 tomauns, we, the representative of His Majesty,
have, on this day, the 14th of the month Suffer, and the 24th of
the Christian month August, annulled the two obnoxious articles of
our propitious treaty. The envoy, considering this document as a
ratification on the subject of the two articles, will know that it is
liable to no further comment from the ministers of His Majesty’s Court.

  Sealed by
  Month of Suffer, A. H. 1244.      H. R. H. ABBAS MEERZA.

 _Firmaun from His Majesty the Shah to Colonel Macdonald, British Envoy
 in Persia._


Let it be known to Colonel Macdonald, the English envoy, exalted by our
munificence, that our noble son having represented to us his having
recently come to an arrangement relative to the two articles of the
treaty with England, we have ordered that what has been executed by our
son, touching this transaction, in conformity with the firmaun of full
powers granted to him by us, be confirmed by our royal ratification
and consent; and we duly appreciate the exertions of your Excellency
during the last year, which have obtained you the good-will of the Shah.

Regarding the crore of tomauns required for the redemption of Khoee,
agreeably to what has been laid before us, H.R.H. Abbas Meerza has
directed the payment of 400,000 tomauns by Mohamed Meerza; and we have
besides instructed the remaining 100,000 tomauns to be delivered to
Meerza Abul Hassan Khan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, for the purpose
of being transmitted to you.

Your Excellency will, therefore, conceiving this firmaun as your
security, become responsible for the payment of the above sum, which
will be afterwards paid to you by the lord of exalted rank, Meerza Abul
Hassan Khan. Also make known to us all your wishes.

  Sealed by

[Vol. I., page 352.]

[The following is the passage, from Mr. Henry Torrens’ letters to the
“Friend of India,” cited by his biographer, (Mr. James Hume), and
referred to in a note to the above page.]

“On the sound historical basis of ‘general opinion’ and ‘well credited
report’ you do me the honour of ascribing to me the creation of a
policy which was a sound and wise one, _had it been carried out as
devised_, and of which I only wish I could claim the authorship; but
you will perhaps allow me to cite against ‘general opinion’ and ‘well
credited report,’ the assurance of a late Cabinet Minister, Lord de
Broughton, that _he_ was the author of the expedition, the which he
undoubtedly was. Without this declaration publicly made, I could not
state what follows.

“The facts now related for the first time are simply these. Mr.
Macnaghten, with me for his under Secretary, most unwillingly
accompanied the Governor-General in 1837 towards the North-West, in
which his presence was not required. Mr. Macnaghten, in the conviction
that with the peculiar turn of mind of the Governor-General, it were
better for him to be with his Council, did his utmost to persuade his
Lordship to return from Cawnpore to Calcutta, the rather that it was
the famine year of 1837-38. Orders were at once given for our return,
but countermanded. Before our arrival at Cawnpore, Mr. Macnaghten,
pressed by his Lordship’s anxiety and uncertainties, had prepared
a scheme, based upon the independent expedition of Shah Soojah in
1832—of which we often spoke together, with reference to the stormy
aspect of the times,—which contained the germ of the famous Afghan
expedition; the scope of this scheme was: 1. According to the policy
of this Government in 1809, to interpose a friendly power in Central
Asia between us and any invasive force from the West. 2. To exhibit the
military resources of the Government which had experienced a dangerous
decline in a native estimation. 3. To set at rest the frontier wars
between Afghans and Sikhs which interfered with the extension of our
trade. 4. To effect these objects by means of our pensioner, Shah
Soojah, acting in concert with Runjeet Singh; settling through our
mediation the claims of the latter on Scinde, and of the former on
Cashmere and Peshawur; satisfying Runjeet as to his demand for Swat
and Booneer, and purchasing from the Ameers of Scinde, by relieving
them of tribute and vassalage to the Douranee Crown (Shah Soojah’s),
the complete opening of the Indus navigation, and the abolition of
all tolls. 5. To establish in the person of a subsidized Monarch in
Afghanistan so firm an ally at the head of a military people as might
assure us that, in the event of Runjeet’s death, the Sikhs would find
occupation on the frontiers of Peshawur, for so large a portion of
their army as might materially interfere with the assemblage of an
imposing force on our own frontier. 6. To pass into Afghanistan, as
Shah Soojah had done in 1832, by the Bolan Pass, place him on his
throne, subsidized at twenty lakhs a year, and march home through the
Punjab, showing our power.

“Such was the project submitted, rather to propose _something_ to
the Governor-General in his uncertainty, than to suggest a plan for
absolute adoption. A few days afterwards, Mr. Macnaghten told me,
that his Lordship had peremptorily rejected it, saying, “_such a
thing was not to be thought of_.” Some fortnight or three weeks
afterwards, letters arrived, I believe from Her Majesty’s Ministers
in England, suggesting various schemes of diversion in the East as
respected the aggressive views of Persia in connection with a great
European power;—one, I believe, was analagous to that suggested by Mr.
Macnaghten, and it was then Lord Auckland asked for the paper which
had been previously submitted to him. I never saw it again after that
time; but on it was framed a scheme in consonance with the views of
Her Majesty’s Ministers _which was approved by them and acted on_;
but which only contemplated the expedition to, not the occupation
of, Afghanistan, and it was the change of policy which fathered our
disasters. My duties, which as under and officiating Secretary were
purely executive, brought me subsequently much into official contact
with the Governor-General, but not until after the policy had been
decided upon as respected Afghanistan, and so thoroughly decided, that
Mr. Macnaghten was ascending the hill with the tripartite treaty in
his pocket, at the time when ‘well credited report’ represents ‘some
body’—myself—as rushing down the hill _to tell him of the adoption
during his absence, of the policy on which the treaty in his pocket was
founded_! I well recollect the subsequent discussions and difficulties
as to execution, and in these Clerk, Wade, Colvin, Mackeson, Burnes,
D’Arcy Todd, Lord, and others had a share. Of those curious councils it
does not behove me to speak—save that previous to one I remember poor
Burnes making his fifth suggestion within the week, to the effect that
‘we had but to send Shah Soojah to the mouth of the Khyber Pass with
two battalions of Sepoys, and the Afghans would carry him through it in
their arms,’[362] when I recollect saying with some asperity—‘surely
it is better not to confuse high authority with fresh plans, when all
our energies are needed to carry out the one decided upon.’ As you have
honoured me with the title of adviser of Lord Auckland, and given me
the opportunity of divesting myself of the unreal credit or discredit,
as you may decide it to be, before the expedition was decided upon, I
will in justice to myself record with you, two of the few opinions I
ever had the opportunity of delivering _after_ it began; the one was
strongly against the fortification of Herat, the other strongly against
the admission of English women of any rank into Afghanistan, for giving
each of which I was strongly reprimanded, and from this anecdote I
leave you to conclude the slight amount of my utility out of my strict
line of duty.”

       *       *       *       *       *

[If there is anything in this at variance with the statements in my
narrative, the reader will now have an opportunity of comparing the
one with the other, and forming his own judgment. It is necessary only
to observe that there are two distinct questions to be considered,
and that it rather appears that Mr. Torrens has evaded the more
important one, and the one, too, with which he is more immediately
concerned. The scheme of the tripartite treaty is one thing, the march
of a British army on Caubul by way of the Bolan Pass is another.
Mr. Torrens appeals triumphantly to the fact that at a time when he
and others are represented (by Mr. Masson) as rushing down the hill
to tell Mr. Macnaghten of the adoption of the policy of the war, he
(Mr. Macnaghten) was ascending the hill with the treaty in his pocket
founded on that policy. But, in the first place, the story to which Mr.
Torrens refers (and which will be found in a note at page 353 of this
volume) was not told with respect to Mr. Macnaghten’s, but to Captain
Burnes’s, arrival at Simlah, in Mr. Macnaghten’s absence. And in the
second place, the policy into which Lord Auckland is said to have been
persuaded at this time was not the policy of the tripartite treaty,
but the policy of marching a British army into Afghanistan. It will
have been seen that when Mr. Macnaghten negociated the treaty with
Runjeet Singh and Shah Soojah, it was no part of the scheme that the
restoration of the Shah should be mainly accomplished by our British
bayonets. This was obviously an after-thought. The question then is,
how it arose—how “the army of the Indus,” to which Macnaghten at
Lahore and Loodhianah had never once alluded, grew into a substantial
fact. This is not explained by Mr. Torrens: I therefore leave the
statements in the text of my narrative as they were originally written,
and I will only add in this place—what I could produce living testimony
of the highest order to prove—that when the war in Afghanistan was
believed to be a grand success, Mr. Torrens boasted, not merely of his
participation in the councils from which it emanated, but of the actual
authorship of the war. He said, indeed, _totidem verbis_, that he “made
the Afghan war,” an assertion which need not be taken too literally,
but which, at all events, warrants the presumption that he counselled
and approved the war in the shape in which it was undertaken. K.]

[Vol. I., page 356.]

[The following is the letter from Sir A. Burnes referred to in this

  _Husn Abdul, 2nd June, 1838_,

Just as I was entering this place, I had the pleasure to receive your
letter of the 23rd, requesting me to state my views on the means of
counteraction which should be presented to Dost Mahomed Khan, in the
policy that he is pursuing. I should have liked to have conversed
with you on this important subject, for it has so many bearings, and
involves so many conflicting interests, that it is impossible to do it
justice; but I do not delay a moment in meeting your wishes, as far as
can be done in a letter.

It is clear that the British Government cannot, with any credit or
justice to itself, permit the present state of affairs at Caubul to
continue. The counteraction applied must, however, extend beyond Dost
Mahomed Khan, and to both Persia and Russia. A demand of explanation
from the Cabinet of St. Petersburgh would, I conceive, be met by an
evasive answer, and gain for us no end; besides, the policy of Russia
is now fairly developed, and requires no explanation, for it explains
itself, since that government is clearly resolved upon using the
influence she possesses in Persia (which is as great there as what the
British command in India), to extend her power eastward. It had better,
therefore, be assumed at once that such are her plans, and remonstrate
accordingly. If we can do but little with Russia, the cause is widely
different with Persia. She should at once be warned off Afghanistan,
and our continuance of an alliance with her should depend upon her
compliance. I believe that a letter from the Governor-General of India,
sent to the Shah of Persia at Herat, would gain our end, and this
effected, there is nothing to fear from the proceedings of Dost Mahomed
Khan, or any other of the Afghan chiefs. If this be left undone,
they will succumb to Persia and Russia, and become the instruments
for whatever those powers desire. I therefore distinctly state my
conviction that the evil lies beyond Afghanistan itself, and must be
dealt with accordingly.

If it is the object of government to destroy the power of the present
chief of Caubul, it may be effected by the agency of his brother,
Sultan Mahomed Khan, or of Soojah-ool-Moolk; but to ensure complete
success to the plan, the British Government must appear directly in
it; that is, it must not be left to the Sikhs themselves. Let us
discuss the merits of these two plans; but first I must speak on the
establishment of Sikh power in Afghanistan, to which you refer as a
general question.

No one entertains a more exalted opinion than I do of the Maharajah’s
head to plan, and ability to achieve; but I look upon the power of the
Sikhs beyond the Indus to be dependent on his life alone. It is mere
temporising, therefore, to seek to follow up any such plan; and were
this of itself not conclusive against it, the fact of its alienating
the Afghan people, who are cordially disposed as a nation to join us,
would be a sufficiently valid objection for not persevering in it. I
conclude always that our object is to make the Afghans our own, and to
guide Afghanistan by Afghans, not by foreigners. It is, I assure you,
a mere visionary delusion to hope for establishing Sikh ascendancy in
Caubul. For argument’s sake, I will admit that the Maharajah may take
it; but how is it to be retained? Why, he cannot keep his ground with
credit in Peshawur, and the Sikhs themselves are averse to service
beyond the Indus. But facts are more illustrative than arguments; the
French officers could not with safety leave their homes to an evening
dinner whilst we were at Peshawur and our intercourse was confined to
breakfasts. I saw this morning two tumbrils of money the followers of
dozens of others, on their way to Peshawur to pay the troops, and the
Maharajah only wishes a road of honour to retreat from it. If you use
him, therefore, as an agent to go further a-head, the first request he
will make of the British will be for money, and we shall waste our
treasure without gaining our ends, which, as I understand them, are an
influence in Caubul, to exclude all intrigues from the West.

Of Sultan Mahomed Khan, the first instrument at command, you will
remember that his brother Dost Mahomed, plainly confessed his dread of
him if guided by Sikh gold, and with such aid the ruler of Caubul may
be readily destroyed; but Sultan Mahomed has not the ability to rule
Caubul; he is a very good man, but incapable of acting for himself; and
though fit as an instrument in getting rid of a present evil, he would
still leave affairs as unsettled as ever when fixed in Caubul, and he
is consequently a very questionable agent to be used at all.

As for Soojah-ool-Moolk personally,[363] the British Government
have only to send him to Peshawur with an agent, and two of its own
regiments as an honorary escort, and an avowal to the Afghans that we
have taken up his cause, to ensure his being fixed for ever on his
throne. The present time is, perhaps, better than any previous to it,
for the Afghans as a nation detest Persia, and Dost Mahomed having gone
over to the Court of Teheran, though he believes it to be from dire
necessity, converts many a doubting Afghan into a bitter enemy.

The Maharajah’s permission has only, therefore, to be asked for the
ex-king’s advance on Peshawur, granting him at the same time some
four or five of the regiments which have no Sikhs in their ranks, and
Soojah becomes king. He need not remove from Peshawur, but address
the Khyburees, Kohistanees of Caubul, and all the Afghans from that
city, that he has the co-operation of the British and the Maharajah,
and with but a little distribution of ready money—say two or three
lakhs of rupees—he will find himself the real King of the Afghans in
a couple of months. It is, however, to be remembered always that we
must appear directly, for the Afghans are a superstitious people, and
believe Soojah to have no fortune (bukht); but our name will invest him
with it. You will also have a good argument with the Maharajah in the
honour of “Taj Bukhshie;” but still his Highness will be more disposed
to use Sultan Mahomed Khan as an instrument than Soojah, for he will,
perhaps, have exaggerated notions of Afghan power in prospect; but our
security must be given to him, and we must identify ourselves with all
the preceedings to make arrangements durable.

I have thus pointed out to you how the chief of Caubul is to be
destroyed, and the best means which have occurred to me for effecting
it; but I am necessarily ignorant of the Governor-General’s views
on what his Lordship considers the best mode of hereafter managing
Afghanistan. It has been notified to me in various despatches, that
this end may best be gained by using one small state to balance
another, to keep all at peace, and thus prevent any great Mahomedan
power growing up beyond the Indus, which might cause future
inconvenience. It is with every respect that I differ; but these are
not my sentiments, and though in theory nothing may appear more just
and beneficial, I doubt the possibility of putting the theory into
practice, and more than doubt the practice producing the benefit
expected from it; for while you were trying to bring it about, another
power steps in, paves the way for destroying the chiefships in detail,
and the policy along with it. Our fears of a powerful Mahomedan
neighbour are quickened by what we read of Ahmed Shah’s wars in India,
and the alarms spread even by Shah Zemaun, so late as the days of
Lord Wellesley; but our knowledge of these countries has wondrously
improved since that time; and though the noble Marquis, in his splendid
administration, made the Afghans feel our weight through Persia, and
arrested the evil, we should have had none of these present vexations
if we had dealt with the Afghans themselves. We then counteracted
them through Persia. We now wish to do it through the Sikhs. But
as things stand, I maintain it is the best of all policy to make
Caubul _in itself as strong as we can make it_, and not weaken it by
divided power; it has already been too long divided. Caubul owed its
strength in bygone days to the tribute of Cashmere and Sindh. Both are
irrevocably gone; and while we do all we can to keep up the Sikhs as a
power east of the Indus during the Maharajah’s life, or afterwards, we
should consolidate Afghan power west of the Indus, and have a King and
not a collection of chiefs. _Divide et impera_ is a temporising creed
at any time; and if the Afghans are united, we and they bid defiance to
Persia, and instead of distant relations, we have everything under our
eye, and a steadily progressing influence all along the Indus.

I have before said, that we cannot with justice to our position in
India allow things to continue as at present in Caubul; and I have
already, in my despatch of the 30th April, suggested a prompt and
active counteraction of Dost Mahomed Khan, since we cannot act with
him. But it remains to be reconsidered why we cannot act with Dost
Mahomed. He is a man of undoubted ability, and has at heart a high
opinion of the British nation; and if half you must do for others
were done for him, and offers made which he could see conduced to his
interests, he would abandon Persia and Russia to-morrow. It may be
said that that opportunity has been given to him, but I would rather
discuss this in person with you, for I think there is much to be said
for him. Government have admitted that at best he had but a choice of
difficulties; and it should not be forgotten that we promised nothing,
and Persia and Russia held out a great deal. I am not now viewing the
question in the light of what is to be said to the rejection of our
good offices as far as they went, or to his doing so in the face of
a threat held out to him; but these facts show the man has something
in him; and if Afghans are proverbially not to be trusted, I see no
reason for having greater mistrust of him than of others. My opinion
of Asiatics is, that you can only rely upon them when their interests
are identified with the line of procedure marked out to them; and this
seems now to be a doctrine pretty general in all politics.

I shall say no more at present. It will give me great pleasure again
to meet you. I shall be on the banks of the Jhelam on the 7th or 8th,
and my progress beyond that depends on the dawk being laid: but if that
goes right, I ought to join you in ten days at the furthest.

  Believe me, my dear Mr. Macnaghten,
  Yours sincerely,

P.S.—I have thought it advisable to send a duplicate of this letter,
which Mr. Lord has been so good as to copy for me, by the Maharajah’s
dawk, as it prevents accidents, and may reach you sooner.

                             END OF VOL. I



[1] In most cases I have had the original letters and documents in
my possession—in the rest, authenticated copies. The translations
are official translations, verified, in some of the most important
instances, as in the treaties in Book V., by one of the most
accomplished Persian scholars in the kingdom.

[2] And again in the cold weather of 1798-99 he advanced as far as
Lahore, but was recalled by the invasion of Khorassan by the Persian
troops. Lord Wellesley had by this time succeeded to the government of
India. The danger was then considered sufficiently cogent to call for
an augmentation of the native army.

[3] I find this fact, which however is to be referred rather to
dread of the Mahrattas than to hatred of the British, stated, among
other answers to queries put in 1800-1 by Captain Malcolm to Mahomed

[4] Of the two, perhaps, Lord Wellesley regarded the movements of the
Douranee monarch with the livelier concern. Sir John Shore wrote:
“Report speaks of an invasion of Hindostan by Zemaun Shah, and with
respect to his intention is entitled to credit.... The execution of
his intentions will be hazardous unless he can obtain the co-operation
of the Sikhs and hostages for the continuance of it; and I have great
doubt as to his success.” Lord Wellesley, two or three years later,
spoke of the threatened invasion “creating the liveliest sensation
throughout India;” and added, “Every Mahomedan, even in the remotest
region of the Deccan, waited with anxious expectation for the advance
of the champion of Islam.”

[5] Men who lived to occupy a space in history, as the Duke of
Wellington, Sir Barry Close, and Sir Thomas Munro. Malcolm was
Secretary to the Commission, and Munro his assistant.

[6] “Captain Malcolm,” he wrote to the Secret Committee, “returned from
his embassy in the month of May, after having completely succeeded
in accomplishing every object of his mission, and in establishing a
connection with the government of the Persian Empire, which promises to
the interests of the British nation in India political and commercial
advantages of the most important description.”—[_MS. Records._]

[7] A writer in the _Calcutta Review_, who betrays an acquaintance with
his subject such as could only have been acquired in the countries
of which he writes, or by the examination of an immense mass of
contemporary records, justly observes: “That the storm was dissipated
in the manner suggested by Lord Wellesley was creditable to his
lordship’s foresight, but was entirely independent of his measures. The
second expedition of Futteh Ali Khan into Khorassan in 1800, which drew
Shah Zemaun from Candahar to Herat, took place almost simultaneously
with Captain Malcolm’s journey from the south of Persia to the
capital. His majesty received the British mission at Subzewar; and the
subsequent proceedings of Shah Mahmood, which led, in the sequel, to
his dethronement, so far from originating in British instigation or in
Persian support, were in reality indebted for their success to their
entire independence of all foreign aid. As the minion of Persia, Shah
Mahmood could never have prevailed against his elder brother. As the
popular Douranee champion he was irresistible.”—[_Calcutta Review_,
vol. xii.] Malcolm was at Shiraz in June, 1800, when he received
intelligence of the Shah’s successes in Khorassan.

[8] _MS. Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm._

[9] Before Malcolm left Shiraz he began to have some misgivings on the
score of his lavish expenditure. “I trust I will not disappoint your
hopes,” he writes from that place, under date July 26, 1800, “but the
expense I have incurred is heavy, and it is on that score alone I am
alarmed. Not that it is one farthing more than I have to the best of
my judgment thought necessary to answer, or rather further, the ends
of my mission, and to support the dignity of the British Government;
but people sometimes differ in their opinions on such points. However,
‘All’s well that ends well.’”—[_MS. Correspondence of Sir John

[10] _Brigadier-General Malcolm to Lord Minto, October, 1810._

[11] Kishm is a large island, and Angani a small one at the entrance of
the Persian Gulf. They properly belonged to the Arabs. Kharrack is at
the further end of the Gulf, nearly opposite Bushire.

[12] _MS. Correspondence._—In another letter Malcolm says: “Had I to do
with men of sense and moderation I should not fear, but I have to deal
with a race that are possessed of neither.” The necessity of adopting
in all his negotiations the most flowery language, somewhat puzzled him
at first; but in time he fell into the right vein of discourse. On one
occasion, wishing to demonstrate the advantages of simplicity of style,
he produced a copy of an Indian treaty, when the Meerza, after reading
two articles of it, declared that he would “give in his resignation to
his sovereign rather than that such a document should be copied into
the records of the office over which he presided.”

[13] These treaties, which have never been officially published, are
printed for the first time I believe in the appendix to Vol. I., “Life
of Sir John Malcolm.”

[14] There was a considerable trade in horses; but rather through than
from Afghanistan. The animals were brought from Balkh and Toorkistan,
fattened at Caubul, and sold in India.

[15] “Five or six cafilas of this indigo leave the Derajat annually,
which on an average consist of seven hundred camels, each carrying
eighty Tabrizee maunds. These come into Persia by the route of Candahar
and Herat.”—[_Mahomed Sadik’s Answers to Captain Malcolm, 1800-1_

[16] And even this obligation ceased to be recognised by Ahmed Shah,
who paid the Douranee horsemen for their services, alleging that their
lands had been bestowed upon them as a free and unencumbered gift. In
Zemaun Shah’s time they held pay-certificates, available when they were
called out on active service, and realised, if they could, the amount
due to them by means of orders on Cashmere, Mooltan, and other outlying
provinces.—[_MS. Records—Rawlinson and Malcolm._]

[17] Or, more strictly, for every parcel of land demanding the services
of a single _kulba_, or plough; from which the division of land, and
the assessment founded upon it, took its name.

[18] To an elaborate report on the revenue system of Western
Afghanistan, especially as affecting the Douranee tribes, drawn up by
Major Rawlinson in 1842, I am indebted for much valuable information,
which will be found incorporated with subsequent portions of the

[19] The authority for this, according to Malcolm’s informant, was the
Caubul records. Forster, who travelled in Afghanistan in the reign of
Timour Shah, says that his entire army did not exceed 30,000 men, nor
his revenue a million of our money. How these men contrived to pay
themselves, may be gathered from a passage in Forster’s Travels, which
is worth transcribing: “This day a body of Afghan cavalry encamped in
the environs of Akorah, and overspread the country like a swarm of
locusts, devouring and destroying wherever they went. It seemed as if
the land was invaded; they entered in a violent manner every village
within their scope, and fed themselves and horses at the expense of the
inhabitants. Such expeditions afford these hungry creatures almost the
only means of subsistence; for when inactive, they are often reduced
to such distress by the blind parsimony of their prince, that their
horses, arms, and clothes, are sold for a livelihood.” The same writer,
speaking generally of the Afghan army, says that he “felt a sensible
disappointment at seeing it composed of a tumultuous body, without
order or common discipline.”

[20] And even the character of Futteh Khan was at that time very little
understood and appreciated. He was described to Captain Malcolm as a
man of influence, but of low, dissipated habits, who spent all his
time in drinking wine and in smoking bang. It should be mentioned that
Prince Ferooz, Mahmoud’s brother, was associated in this enterprise. He
became master of Herat, whilst Mahmoud pushed on to Candahar.

[21] The Kuzzilbashes, of whom frequent mention will be made in the
course of this narrative, are Persian settlers in Afghanistan; many of
whom are retained in the military service of the state.

[22] Since this passage was written, I have had reason to think that
it ought to be accepted with some qualification. In October, 1840,
when Dost Mahomed was flitting about the Kohistan, and the greatest
anxiety prevailed among our political officers at Caubul, Shah Soojah
said to Sir William Macnaghten, just as he was taking leave after
an excited conference, “You know I have from the first expressed to
you a mean opinion of my own countrymen. If you want further proof,
look at that from my own brother.” The Shah then showed Macnaghten an
intercepted letter, bearing the seal of Shah Zemaun, to the address
of Sultan Mahomed Barukzye, purposing that, as Shah Soojah had made
over the country to the infidels, the Barukzyes and the Sikhs united
should make him (Shah Zemaun) King of Afghanistan.—[_Unpublished
Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._] This story may seem to be
at variance with the statement in the preceding page,—that “between a
blind king and a dead king there is no political difference;” but I
am acquainted with no Mahomedan law that excludes a blind prince from
the throne. The exclusion is based upon the popular assumption that
blindness disqualifies a man from managing the affairs of an empire.
If, however, in Mahomedan countries, there have been no exceptions to
this rule—of which I am doubtful—in the regal line, it is certain that
many provincial governments have been in the hands of men who have been
deprived of their sight. The case of Shah Allum, the blind King of
Delhi, is hardly to the point; for during the years of his darkness,
his royalty was only a name.

[23] This was in July, 1803. Shah Soojah’s own account of these
transactions, which forms part of the autobiography written by him at
Loodhianah in 1826-27, is contained in the following words:-“After
our arrival at Kazee, we had scarcely prepared our force, when Futteh
Khan’s army appeared; our troops immediately were drawn up in battle
array, and an attack made upon them. The battle lasted from the
morning to the evening prayer, when the enemy gave way, and retreated
in great disorder to the valley Advaz, and then to Kamran’s camp in
Candahar, where the drunkenness of the Kuzzilbash soldiery, and the
ill-treatment which the Soonee doctors received, soon disgusted all
our subjects, who entirely refused to give Kamran assistance. On
hearing this we immediately returned to our capital. Shah Mahmoud was
so disheartened by the news of our victory, that after swearing on the
Koran he would not again be guilty of treachery, he sent some of his
principal attendants to request the royal pardon, which we granted;
and had him conveyed from the outer to the inner fort with all due
respect to his rank. We then entered the Balla Hissar with regal
pomp, and seated ourselves on the throne of Caubul.” Mr. Elphinstone
says of this “victory,” that “Futteh Khan was at first successful; he
routed the party of the enemy which was immediately opposed to him,
and was advancing to the city, when the desertion of a great lord to
Soojah threw the whole into confusion: his own party then fell off
by degrees, till he found himself almost alone, and was compelled to
provide for his safety by a precipitate flight. Next morning Shah
Soojah entered Caubul in triumph. Mooktor-ood-Dowlah walked on foot by
the side of his horse, and many other Douranee ameers followed in his
train.”—[_Elphinstone’s “Caubul”—Appendix._]

[24] “While in Candahar,” writes Shah Soojah, “we received letters
from our beloved brother Shah-zadah Mooktor-ood-Dowlah, requesting
Prince Kaysur’s pardon, as his inexperience and the advice of Futteh
Khan and other rebels had led him from his duty. Out of respect to our
brother we agreed to this. Prince Kaysur being in Dehleh, Shah Zemaun
and Mooktor-ood-Dowlah went there and brought him into the presence.
Shah Zemaun then requested that we would give him Candahar once more,
and became security for his good behaviour in future. We agreed to
this in spite of our good judgment.” It was whilst still engaged
with the settlement of affairs at Candahar, not after their complete
adjustment, and Soojah’s subsequent expedition to Sindh (as stated by
Mr. Elphinstone), that ambassadors arrived at Bokhara to negotiate a
marriage between the Khan’s daughter and the Shah. “A suitable answer,”
says the Shah, “being given to the royal letter, and dresses of honour
being given to the ambassadors, we dismissed them with gifts. _Our
thoughts were then directed to the state of Candahar._” The point is
of little importance in Afghan history; and only worth noticing in
illustration of the difficulty of determining with precision, the dates
of different events, and the order in which they occurred. No two
narratives altogether agree—but except where Shah Soojah speaks of his
“victories,” we may regard him as a tolerably good authority in all
that relates to himself.

[25] The number of Oriental names which it is necessary to
introduce—the repetition of incidents, greatly resembling each other,
of conquest and re-conquest, of treachery and counter-treachery, of
rebellions raised and suppressed—creates a confusion in the mind of the
European reader. It is difficult to interest him in these indistinct
phantasmagoric transitions. The events, too, which I have narrated
have been chronicled before. I have endeavoured, however, to impart
some novelty to the recital by following, and sometimes quoting,
Shah Soojah’s autobiography, which was not accessible to preceding

[26] Hadjee Khalil Khan reached Bombay on the 21st of May, 1802, and
was killed on the 20th of July.

[27] _MS. Correspondence._

[28] “I shall send,” wrote Major Malcolm, “Mr. Pasley with the Hadjee’s
body, which will not only be considered a high compliment, but be
useful in a thousand ways. It will preserve this transaction from the
_touch_ of Mr. Manesty and Mr. Jones. It will enable me to convey a
correct state of the feeling here on the subject to many respectable
Persians, and I shall obtain from Mr. P. a true account of the manner
in which the transaction is received in Persia. He will give Lovett
information which will secure him from error at the outset, and be
of the highest utility to him during his residence in India.”—[_MS.
Correspondence._] It is not certain, however, that the high compliment
here designed was duly appreciated by the Persians. Sir Harford Jones
(from whose “touch” the transaction was to be preserved) says that
“it seems to have escaped Marquis Wellesley that that which might be
considered a compliment at Calcutta, might in Arabia, Turkey, and
Persia, be regarded as so improper as almost to become an insult.....
The Persian moollahs as well as the Persian merchants at Bagdad, were
shocked, and on my applying to old Sulemein Pacha for certain honours
to be paid to the corpse, when removed from Bagdad to be carried to
Nejeef, he said, ‘Very well: as you desire it to be done, it shall
be done: but Hadjee Khalil Khan lived an infidel, and with infidels,
and was, therefore, destined to hell; he was, however, murdered by
infidels, and so became a _shahyde_ (martyr); but his former friends
have robbed him of this chance, by deputing an infidel to attend his
corpse to the grave; his fate, therefore, is now fixed, and you may
carry him to the devil in any manner you like best.’”—[_Sir Harford
Jones’s account of the transactions of H. M.’s mission to the Court
of Persia, &c. Note_ vii.] It is curious, but somewhat humiliating,
to read the different versions of the same transactions put forth by
Jones and Malcolm, and their respective adherents. For example, Sir
Harford Jones says that when the Hadjee’s body reached Bagdad, Mr.
Day, a Bombay civilian, who had been deputed to accompany it into the
interior, took fright at the plague, and abandoned his charge. “Mr.
Day’s alarm was so great,” he says, “as to become most tormenting to
himself, and most ridiculous and troublesome to us, who had stood the
plague the preceding year. I, therefore, re-shipped him for Bussorah
as soon as possible, and undertook to receive and execute such wishes
as the Khan’s relatives expressed to me.” Now the account given of
this matter by one of the gentlemen of Malcolm’s mission, sets forth
that “Jones had frightened away Mr. Day by alarming accounts of the
plague.”-“On this subject,” it was added, “I need make no remarks
to you, who know him so well. This might be improper, and would, I
imagine, be perfectly unnecessary.” I have dwelt upon these personal
matters at greater length than they deserve, because they illustrate
the feelings, on either side, with which Jones and Malcolm, at a later
and more important period, were likely each to have regarded the
parallel but antagonistic mission of the other to the Persian Court.
The bitterness which then overflowed was the accumulated gall of years.

[29] Especial instructions having been given to the British mission
to secure the appointment of a man of rank as successor to Khalil
Khan, the intrigues of Aga Nebee to obtain the appointment greatly
embarrassed our diplomatists in Persia. But it was acknowledged that
the aspirant was a man of good temper, good abilities, and more than
average respectability. He professed himself to be heart and soul the
friend of the English; and, doubtless, was perfectly sincere in his
attachment to their wealth and profusion. Like all his countrymen, he
was capable of profound dissimulation, and lied without the slightest
remorse. Knowing the views of the British functionaries with regard to
the succession, he sent through his brother to Mr. Lovett an account
of an interview he had had with the Shah, representing that he had
urged upon his majesty the propriety of appointing an elchee of high
rank as successor to Hadjee Khalil Khan, but that the king had insisted
upon appointing him. In the same letter an amusing attempt is made to
persuade Mr. Lovett to proceed to Teheran as an ambassador from the
British-Indian Government, “with handsome and splendid equipments, so
as to exceed by many degrees those with which Major Malcolm travelled:
for this is the particular wish of the king and his ministers, in order
that it may get abroad universally that the English had, for the sake
of apologising, made these new preparations far exceeding the former,
and that it is evident they highly regard the friendship of the king,
and were not to blame for the death of Hadjee Khalil Khan. His majesty,
too, when he hears of the splendour and greatness of your retinue, will
be much pleased, and most favourably inclined.... _Do not be sparing in
expenditure, or presents, or largesses. Every country has its customs;
and every nation may be won somehow or other. The people of Persia
in the manner above stated._” It is hard to say which is to be most
admired, the candour or the craft of this.—[_MS. Records._]

[30] Some French agents, under the feigned character of botanists, had
visited Teheran before Buonaparte invaded Egypt, and wished Aga Mahomed
Khan, the then ruler of Persia, to seize Bussorah and Bagdad. They also
endeavoured to stimulate the Shah to assist Tippoo Sultan against the
British, and endeavoured to obtain permission to re-establish their
footing at Gombroon. Had the emissaries appeared in a more openly
diplomatic character, they might have succeeded, for Aga Mahomed Khan
coveted the territory named, and might have been induced to co-operate
in an attack upon the Turkish dominions; but the doubtful character
of the agents thwarted their schemes, and he gave little heed to the
representations of the _savans_.—[See _Brigadier Malcolm to Lord Minto:
MS. Records_.]

[31] General Gardanne’s suite, according to Colonel Malcolm, consisted
of “twenty-five officers, two clergymen, a physician, some artillery
and engineer officers, thirty European sub-officers, and a number of
artificers.”—[_MS. Records._]

[32] Malcolm wrote from Bombay on the 15th of April, stating the
course of policy he intended to pursue, and the tone of remonstrance
he purposed to adopt, at the same time urging the Governor-General to
suspend the mission of Sir Harford Jones. In this letter he says that
he should despair, “from his knowledge of Sir Harford’s character and
former petty animosities on the same scene, of maintaining concord
and unanimity in the gulf one hour after his arrival. Sir Harford,”
he added, “is not in possession of that high local respect and
consideration in the countries to which he is deputed that should
attach to a national representative.”

[33] _MS. Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm._

[34] _MS. Records._—Copies of these letters were obtained by the
Mission, and are now before me. I do not find in them anything to give
colour to the suspicion that it was intended forcibly to detain Pasley
at Shiraz. But such appears to have been the impression at the time,
and may have been the case. Sir James Mackintosh, writing from Bombay
to his son-in-law, Mr. Rich, at Bagdad, counsels him to be prepared for
a rapid retreat, and adds, “Pasley was very nearly made prisoner at

[35] _MS. Records._

[36] “General Malcolm came round to Calcutta in August to communicate
the information he had been able to collect, leaving his secretary at
Abushire, who was obliged subsequently to quit the place to prevent his
person being seized by the Persian Government, instigated by the French
agents.”—[_From letter of Instructions sent by Supreme Government to
Mountstuart Elphinstone, in 1809._—_MS. Records._]

[37] Another passage from this letter is worth quoting in the
margin:-“What I doubt (for I presume to go no further), is, whether it
be for our interest to force on the course of events in the present
circumstances. You are a man of frank character and high spirit,
accustomed to represent a successful and triumphant government. You
must from nature and habit be averse to temporise. But you have much
too powerful an understanding to need to be told, that to temporise is
sometimes absolutely necessary, and that men of your character only can
temporise with effect. When Gentz was in England, in 1803 (during the
peace), he said to me, that ‘it required the present system, and the
late ministers;’ for nothing required the reality and the reputation
of vigour so much as temporising.”—[_Mackintosh to Malcolm, July 13,

[38] The first letter appears to have been written on the 10th of
August. On the 22nd, Brigadier Malcolm landed at Calcutta. On the
same day a letter was sent to Sir Harford Jones, directing him to
wait for further orders, and on the 29th another and more urgent
communication was addressed to him, with the intent of annulling his
mission. It appears that in those days a letter took more than three
weeks to accomplish the journey between Calcutta and Bombay. The
Governor-General’s letter of the 10th of August must have reached the
latter place about the 5th of September. Jones says, “In seven days
from receiving Lord Minto’s letter, I embarked on board _La Nereide_,
and she, with the _Sapphire_, and a very small vessel belonging to the
Company, called the _Sylph_, sailed out of Bombay harbour for Persia on
the 12th of September, 1808.” Malcolm had calculated that the letter
of August 22nd would reach Bombay by September 13th; and that in all
probability Jones would not embark before that date. But, as usual, he
was over-sanguine.

[39] _MS. Correspondence._

[40] _MS. Correspondence._

[41] For example, in one of his minutes written about this time, he
says: “It appears doubtful whether the partition of European Turkey
will precede the French expedition to India. There appears to be
reason, by the late advices, to suppose that the consent of the Porte
may have been obtained to the passage of the French army. In this case,
the approach of the army may be earlier than on the former supposition,
and it will have less difficulty to encounter. The route of our
divisions must in this event be through the territory of Bagdad.... I
incline, under all the circumstances now known to me, to think that
the force stationed at Karrack should be greater than we before looked
to.”—[_MS. Records._]

[42] _MS. Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm._

[43] In one of these letters, written in February, 1809, it is said:
“I cannot venture to omit acquainting you that, in the event of
your not complying, without further reference or delay, with the
instructions conveyed in this letter, by closing your mission and
retiring from Persia, it has been determined, and measures have been
taken accordingly, to disavow your public character in that country
subsequent to your receipt of my letter of 31st of October.”—[_MS.

[44] _MS. Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm_—_December 24, 1808._

[45] Mr. Lumsden wrote a minute (July 10, 1809), in which he says: “We
must either continue to employ at the Court of Persia an agent in whom
we have no confidence, who has studiously endeavoured to degrade the
authority of the Government of India, under whose orders he was placed;
or by deputing an agent of our own to Teheran, whilst he continues
there acknowledged by the Persian Government as the representative of
his Britannic Majesty, we may expose the public interest to danger from
the presence in Persia of two distinct authorities, who cannot act in
concert, but will, it is to be feared, necessarily counteract each
other, and occasion great perplexity to the Persian minister.” At the
same time, Mr. Colebrooke wrote: “Our situation as regards Sir H. Jones
is certainly difficult and embarrassing in the extreme. We are desirous
of fulfilling the engagements he has contracted, and of maintaining
the alliance concluded by him. And we are glad that he should continue
at the Court of Persia to watch the wavering counsels of that Court,
and to oppose the revival of French influence at it, until he can be
replaced by our own envoy; but by either re-accrediting him with the
Court, or silently executing his engagements, we acquiesce in the
continued degradation of this government.”—[_MS. Records._]

[46] On the details of Malcolm’s supplementary mission it is
unnecessary to dwell. Its political results are compressible into the
smallest possible space. It was, indeed, a mere pageant; and a very
costly, but not wholly a profitless one. It yielded a considerable
harvest of literary and scientific results, among the most important
of which may be mentioned Malcolm’s elaborate and valuable “History of
Persia” and the present Sir Henry Pottinger’s admirable “Account of
Beluchistan;” works which, it has been well said, “not only filled up
an important blank in our knowledge of the East, but which materially
helped to fix the literary character of the Indian services.”

[47] It is just to Sir John Malcolm that his views of this question of
bribery, with reference to his proceedings and those of Sir H. Jones,
should be given in his own words: “Everything then,” he wrote, “with
Jones is a question of money. By cash alone all political questions are
decided—one article of a treaty he values at so much, another has its
price also. Is a French agent to be removed? the price of his dismissal
is as regularly settled as the price of a horse. The dismissal of
one (Monsieur Jouanin) has been purchased four times—three times by
advances of subsidy, and once with 50,000 piastres to monsieur himself;
and I suspect the convenient instrument of extortion is not yet far
from Tabruz. This is a country in which one cannot go on without a
large expenditure of money; but it should never form the basis of our
connection, as it now does; and if we add to our large annual bribe
(for a pecuniary subsidy over the application or which we have no
control, must be considered such) disbursements on every occasion where
Persia shows an inclination towards our enemies, we shall lose both our
money and our reputation.”—[_Brigadier Malcolm to Mr. Manesty, Feb. 23,
1810._ _MS._]

[48] From 1826 to 1835, however, the nomination of the Persian envoy
was again vested in the Indian Government; but the diplomatic control
was not relinquished by the Foreign-office.

[49] “I doubt,” wrote Lord Minto, “whether his jealousy would permit
him to admit, by treaty, our troops freely into his country, and to
consent that we should establish such posts both in front against the
enemy and elsewhere for the purpose of communication, as should render
us independent of his fidelity. If he does not accede to this, we shall
derive little benefit from his alliance.”—[_Minute of Lord Minto: MS.

[50] A remarkably able paper, on the disposal of the subsidiary force
which, under the provisions of the defensive alliance with Scindiah,
that prince had agreed to receive, drawn up by Mr. Metcalfe, in
1804, conduced more, perhaps, than anything else to confirm Lord
Wellesley’s high opinion of the young civilian’s talents. On a
copy of it now before me is the following marginal note, written
in the Governor-General’s fine, bold, characteristic hand:-“This
paper is highly creditable to Mr. Metcalfe’s character and talents.
It may become very useful. A copy of it should be sent to the
Commander-in-Chief, and another to Major Malcolm.—W.”

[51] “The Rajah coupled his acquiescence in the proposed arrangements
of defence against an invading European army with the condition of
being permitted to extend his dominions over all the Sikh territories
between the Sutlej and the Jumna. He also provisionally demanded that
the British Government should not interfere in favour of the King of
Caubul in his aggressions against that monarch’s dominions—at the same
time shackling the advance of the British troops into his country, and
the establishment of the necessary depôts, with conditions which would
render any engagements with him for that purpose entirely inefficient
and nugatory. Even during the reference he made to government on these
demands, he crossed the Sutlej to attack the Sikh territories. The
extreme jealousy and suspicion of us evinced by the Rajah, together
with his own conduct and ambitious character, rendered it indispensably
necessary to resist his pretensions to sovereignty over the territories
on this side of the Sutlej, and the Rajah was required to withdraw his
army.”—[_Statement in Instructions to Mr Elphinstone: MS. Records._]

[52] “The point to aim at in our present transactions with the Rajah of
Lahore,” wrote Lord Minto, “appears to be that we should keep ourselves
as free as can be done without a rupture. I should, on this principle,
rather wish to protract than to accelerate the treaty.”—[_Minute of
Lord Minto: MS. Records._]

[53] “At the time when the proposal was made for the adjustment of
differences, the forces on both sides remained quiet in sight of each
other, when the news of the defeat of Junot (Duke of Abrantes) at
Vimiera, by the British army, under Sir Arthur Wellesley, was received
in the camps of General St. Leger and Colonel Ochterlony, and, as
usual, celebrated by royal salutes. The cause of this firing being
made known to Runjeet Singh, the salute was, by his special command,
repeated from all the artillery in his camp—a circumstance which,
whether it be attributed to politeness towards the British commanders,
with whom he was in treaty, or to a general condemnation of the system
of Buonaparte, was felt equally agreeable.”—[_Asiatic Annual Register._]

[54] An accidental collision between some of the Mahomedan sepoys of
Mr. Metcalfe’s mission, and a far superior body of Sikhs, in which the
inferiority of the latter was most unmistakeably demonstrated, had
no inconsiderable effect upon the mind of Runjeet Singh, who was a
spectator of the discomfiture of his countrymen.

[55] _MS. Records._

[56] Under date March 6, 1809.

[57] _MS. Records._ Another paragraph of these instructions is worth
quoting. “Although there is not now the same immediate exigency for
forming a friendly connexion with the Court of Caubul, yet that measure
is of importance, and contains an object of sound policy, in the event,
however remote, of either the French or any other European power
endeavouring to approach India by that route.”

[58] It is worthy of remark in this place, that Mr. Strachey, who
accompanied Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission in the capacity of secretary,
and who on this as on other occasions evinced the possession of a high
order of intellect, drew up a very able memorandum on the advantages of
forming a connexion with Bahwul Khan. In this paper there occurs the
following prescient passage:-“Bahwul Khan might also be induced, in the
event of actual hostilities, to invade the territories of Runjeet Singh
at any point we might suggest, and thereby form an important diversion,
whilst the British army would be advancing from another quarter of the
Sikh territory.”—[_MS. Records._]

[59] It is said that Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission received this hint
from an European deserter, named Pensley, who had been entertained,
in a military capacity, by Shah Soojah. They might have learnt the
lesson from Mr. Forster, who, twenty years before, had travelled in
Afghanistan. That enterprising gentleman, a civil servant of the
Company, found his beard of the greatest service. He suffered it to
grow for fifteen months, and had reason to regret that before he had
wholly shaken off Eastern associations, he allowed the razor to profane
it. Putting himself on board a Russian frigate in the Caspian, he
thought that he might reduce his face to its old European aspect; but
he tells us that “the Ghilan envoy, then proceeding on the frigate,
expressed a surprise to see me, whom he thought a Mahomedan, eating at
the same board with the Russian gentlemen; but when he saw a barber
commencing an operation on my beard, which I took the opportunity of
having shaved, he evinced great amazement and indignation; nor did he,
until repeatedly informed of my real character, cease his reprehension
of the act; during the process of which he threw on me many a look of
contempt. When the barber began to cut off the moustachios, he several
times, in a peremptory manner, required him to desist, and, seeing them
gone, ‘Now,’ said he, ‘of whatever country or sect you may be, your
disgrace is complete, and you look like a woman.’ Thus, after a growth
of fifteen months fell my beard, which in that period had increased
to a great magnitude, both in length and breadth, though it had been
somewhat shrivelled by the severity of the late winter. When you
advert to the general importance of an Asiatic beard, to the essential
services which mine had rendered, and to our long and intimate
association, I trust that this brief introduction of it to your notice
will not be deemed impertinent. This operation of cutting it ought,
however, to have been postponed till my arrival at Astracan.”

[60] It was the very costliness of these presents, and the lavish
expenditure of the entire Mission, that gave the death-blow to the old
system of diplomatic profusion. When the accounts of the Afghan and
Persian Missions came before the Governor-General in Council, Lord
Minto stood aghast at the enormous expenditure, and, in a stringent
minute, recorded “his deliberate opinion, that the actual expenditure
has far exceeded the necessity of the occasion—that the personal
expenses of the envoys might have been limited with respect both to the
nature and extent of the items composing them, and that the provision
of articles for presents to an extent so enormous as that exhibited in
the accounts of these Missions has been regulated by a principle of
distribution unnecessarily profuse.”—[_MS. Records._]

[61] It is to be regretted that Shah Soojah’s own notices of the
British Mission are very scanty. He says, in his autobiographical
narrative, “On receiving intelligence that the English ambassadors had
arrived at Kohat, we sent an appropriate party to meet and do them
honour. On their arrival, we gave them suitable dwellings, and ordered
their wants and wishes to be attended to. After a few days’ rest the
ambassadors came to the presence, and presented various articles of
European and Hindostanee workmanship, also many elephants with superb
accoutrements. Dresses of honour were conferred on all. We gave strict
orders that the Mission should be treated with every dignity, and
our most confidential Ameers waited on them.... We learned that Shah
Mahmoud had left Caubul, and halted at Chuk-Dilah. Hearing this, we
immediately reflected on the state of the Company’s ambassadors. We
resolved, first, to place them in a state and place of safety; and
proceed to punish the rebels; and then, if God would grant a victory,
we intended to return to treat them in a proper manner.”

[62] The Ameers had sent vakeels to Persia, seeking assistance against
Caubul; and the Persian ambassador had accompanied them on their return
to Sindh.

[63] Nor was this the only error into which Captain Seton had fallen.
That officer was instructed, before Mr. Elphinstone’s Mission had been
determined upon, to ascertain the practicability of sending an embassy
to Candahar or Caubul, by the route of Sindh; and upon the strength of
these instructions, had taken upon himself to address a letter to the
King of Caubul, expressing the desire of the British Government to form
an alliance with that monarch.

[64] I need scarcely write the names of Elphinstone and Pottinger—or
allude to their respective works. Of the former statesman I have
already spoken. The Lieutenant Henry Pottinger, who, early in the
century, accompanied the Sindh Mission, and was attached to General
Malcolm’s staff on his second visit to Persia, after passing, at a
later stage of his career, from the management of the wild tribes of
Beloochistan to play an intricate game of diplomacy with the flowery
courtiers of the Celestial Empire, and thence to the control of the
Caffre savages of Southern Africa, closed his public life in the more
commonplace government of Madras.

[65] The Shah says: “Mokhum Chund, on the part of Runjeet Singh,
informed us, that his master was anxious that we should proceed to
Lahore as soon as at liberty, and visit the residence of our seraglio
in that city; he also mentioned that his master’s fame would be
increased by our going. According to Futteh Khan’s petition, we agreed
to this, and marched towards Lahore with Mokhum Chund and other Singhs,
whilst Futteh Khan returned to Shah Mahmoud in Caubul.”

[66] Shah Soojah records that the faithful Rajah, on the King
announcing his determination to depart, “burst into tears. He urged
the dangers of the road, his wish to sacrifice his wealth for us, and
every excuse which affection could dictate, to prolong our stay.” “The
Rajah,” he adds, “accompanied us two marches, and at parting, which
took place in silence, tears stood in the eyes of both parties. We had
no dress of honour, no khillaut worth his acceptance, but he accepted
our thanks and blessing, and departed with every mark of grief.” Amidst
so much of selfish rapacity and dark ingratitude as marks these annals
of the Douranee Empire, it is a pleasure to chronicle such an episode
as this in the history of Shah Soojah’s fortunes. I am too willing to
believe the whole story to encourage any doubt of its authenticity.
The free use, indeed, which I have made of Shah Soojah’s autobiography
is sufficient proof of my belief in the general fidelity of the
narrative. It was written by the Shah’s Moonshee, under his Majesty’s
superintendence. I have quoted Lieutenant Bennett’s translation, as
published in the _Calcutta Monthly Journal_. It supplies, at the same
time, more interesting and more authentic materials of Afghan history
than are to be found elsewhere, and to the majority of readers is
probably as fresh as manuscript.

[67] “By an honorary or devotional vow of his mother he was consecrated
to the lowest menial service of the sacred cenotaph of Lamech.... This
cenotaph is known in the colloquial dialect of the country by the
appellation of Meiter Lam. In conformity with the maternal vow, when
the young aspirant became capable of wielding a brush, he was carried
to Meiter Lam by his mother, and instructed to exonerate her from the
consequences of a sacred obligation, by sweeping, for the period of a
whole day, the votive area included within the precincts of the holy
place inclosing the alleged tomb of the antediluvian, the father as he
is termed of the prophet Noah.”—[_General Halan._]

[68] There are varying accounts respecting the identity of this lady.
Mr. Vigne says that she was daughter of Timour Shah, and sister to Shah
Mahmoud. Mohun Lall, probably with more correctness, places her in a
lower generation—asserting that she was the sister of Prince Kamran,
and the wife of Prince Malik Quasim, son of Ferooz-ood-Deen. There is
something rather perplexing in these relationships. As Ferooz-ood-Deen
was the brother of Shah Mahmoud, if Mr. Vigne’s account be correct, his
son was the nephew of the lady in question.

[69] So Shah Soojah—who, however, does not allude to the outrage
committed by Dost Mahomed. He merely says, “After the Kujjar campaign,
Futteh Khan grew ambitious, and determined to take into his own hands
the reins of government, and for this purpose resolved to ensnare
Prince Kamran, who, hearing of the plot, seized Futteh Khan, put out
his eyes with the point of a sharp dagger, and after performing on him
an operation similar to the African mode of scalping, placed him in

[70] _Calcutta Review._ This passage, with many others of the present
chapter, is taken, with some additions and curtailments, from a
biography of Dost Mahomed Khan, written a few years ago by the author
of this work. As the article was the result of much research, and
written at least with the greatest care, I do not know that I can much
improve upon it. Of the circumstances attending the death of Futteh
Khan, an elaborate account is given by Captain James Abbott in his
“Journey to Khiva.” He received the story from Sumund Khan, “who had
been much about the person of Shah Kamran.” I subjoin the closing scene
of this tragic episode:-“Futteh Khan was brought into a tent, pitched
between Herat and the river, (?) in which sat a circle of his mortal
foes. They commenced by each in turn accusing him of the injuries
received at his hands, and heaping upon him the most opprobrious
epithets. Atta Mahmoud Khan then stepped up to him, and seizing one of
his ears, cut it off with his knife, saying, ‘This is for such and such
an injury done to such an one of my relatives.’ Shahagaussie Newaub
cut off the other ear. Each, as he wreaked this unmanly vengeance upon
the victim, whom he would have crouched to the day before, named the
wrong of which it was the recompence; thus depriving him of the highest
consolation the mind of man can possess under torment—the conscience
void of offence. Another of the barbarians cut off his nose; Khana
Moolla Khan severed his right hand; Khalook Dad Khan his left hand, the
blood gushing copiously from each new wound. Summurdar Khan cut off
his beard, saying, ‘This is for dishonouring my wife.’ Hitherto the
high-spirited chief had borne his sufferings without either weakness or
any ebullition of his excitable temper. He had only once condescended,
in a calm voice, to beg them to hasten his death. The mutilation of
ears and nose, a punishment reserved for the meanest offences of
slaves, had not been able to shake his fortitude; but the beard of a
Mahomedan is a member so sacred, that honour itself becomes confounded
with it; and he who had borne with the constancy of a hero the taunts
and tortures heaped upon him, seemed to lose his manhood with his
beard, and burst into a passion of tears. His torments were now drawing
to a close. Gool Mahomed Khan, with a blow of his sabre, cut off his
right foot, and a man of the Populzye tribe severed the left. Attah
Mahomed Khan finished his torments by cutting his throat.”

[71] This was in 1818. See close of the last chapter. “Azim Khan,”
says Shah Soojah, in his autobiography, “sent us a fawning petition,
informing us that he had collected all Futteh Khan’s relations,
comprehending the whole of the Barukzye tribe, and swearing, by
everything sacred, that he and the other chiefs had taken an oath
of fidelity to us their lawful king, entreated that we would march
immediately to Peshawur, where he would join the royal standard with
all the troops and the treasury of Cashmere. We sent for Mr. Murray,
and ordered him to make the Resident of Delhi acquainted with this,
and inform us of their opinion. This opinion he gave us, some days
afterwards, namely, ‘That for political reasons no assistance could be
given, but that we were at liberty either to depart or remain in the
asylum allotted to us.’ Two years had been passed in ease, and we now
determined to make an attempt to reascend our throne.”

[72] Shah Soojah attributes his defeat to an accidental explosion of
gunpowder. “Our attendants,” he says, “only amounted to 300, with two
guns, but they had taken up an advantageous position on a bridge,
near the garden. The Meer Akhor charged us with his horse; but the
first fire from the cannon made him bite the dust, when an unfortunate
accident happened. A large quantity of powder had been brought to be
divided among the matchlock men. This caught fire, by which fifty men
were blown up and others wounded. Resistance was now in vain, and we
escaped with difficulty to the Khybur hills.”

[73] The story is worth giving in a note, as eminently characteristic
of Afghan history. Dost Mahomed, who had proclaimed Sultan Ali king,
advised that prince to murder Shah Ayoob; and Azim Khan advised Shah
Ayoob to murder Sultan Ali. Sultan Ali indignantly rejected the
proposal; Shah Ayoob consented, on condition that Azim Khan would
return the compliment, by assassinating Dost Mahomed. This was agreed
upon. Sultan Ali was strangled in his sleep. Shah Ayoob then called
upon Azim Khan to perform his part of the tragedy; but the minister
coolly asked, “How can I slay my brother?” and recommended a renewal of
the expedition to Shikarpoor.

[74] Azim Khan does not appear to have recognised the strength of Dost
Mahomed’s character; and to this grand error must be attributed his
premature death. Shortly before the expedition to the Sikh frontier,
he had not only contemptuously declared that he did not require the
services of his brother, but had actually laid siege to Ghuzni. Azim
Khan’s batteries caused great slaughter; but Dost Mahomed could not be
persuaded to open the gates of the fortress. A negotiation took place;
and the brothers embraced. But they never forgave each other.

[75] “One Haji Ali,” says Mr. Masson, “who is reported to have shot the
Prince, despoiled the Shah of his raiments and clad him in his own;
then by the Sirdar’s orders, placed him behind himself on a horse and
carried him off to the Burj Vazir. A singular spectacle was offered to
the people of the city as Haji Ali bore the degraded monarch along the
streets; but they had become familiar with extraordinary events, and
regarded them with apathy. The Sirdars, when they had given the orders
consequent on the feat they had performed, returned to their dwellings
in the city with the same composure after the deposition of a monarch,
as if they had been enjoying a morning ride.” The unfortunate puppet
subsequently found his way to Lahore, where Runjeet Singh allowed him a
monthly pension of 1000 rupees.

[76] Masson.—Mr. Vigne says, that Dost Mahomed and Shere Dil Khan were
the cherry-eaters. We do not pretend to determine the point.

[77] “The days,” says General Harlan—and the truth of the statement
is not to be questioned-“That Dost Mahomed ascended the musnud,
he performed the ‘Toba,’ which is a solemn and sacred formula of
reformation, in reference to any accustomed moral crime or depravity
of habit. He was followed in the Toba by all his chiefs, who found
themselves obliged to keep pace with the march of mind—to prepare for
the defensive system of policy, this assumption of purity, on the
part of the Prince, suggested. The Toba was a sort of declaration of
principles; and the chiefs, viewing it in that light, beheld their
hopes of supremacy in imminent hazard.... In later life the Ameer
became sensible of the advantages arising from learning. Although
knowledge of literature among Mahomedan nations is confined to a
contracted sphere, at least the reputation of theological science
was essential to the chief, on whom had been conferred the title of
Ameer-ul-Mominin, or Commander of the Faithful. To escape the humility
of dependence upon subordinate agents, more especially the secretaries
necessarily employed in all revenue and judicial transactions, he
tasked his mind with the acquisition of letters, and became worthy, by
his industry and success in the pursuit, of the greatest respect of
the great, as he commanded the admiration of the vulgar, who are ever
accustomed to venerate the divinity of wisdom.”

[78] Among other stipulations was one, that “the heir-apparent of the
Shah shall always attend his highness with a force, having also his
family along with him; that he shall be treated with distinction, and
expected to accompany the Maharajah in all his journeys.” Another
demand put forth by Runjeet was for the delivery to him of the
sandalwood gates of Somnauth (or Juggernauth, as the Maharajah called
them), destined afterwards to confer such celebrity upon the Indian
administration of Lord Ellenborough. Shah Soojah’s answer to the demand
is worth quoting:-“Regarding the demand of the portals of sandal at
Ghiznee, a compliance with it is inadmissible in two ways: firstly, a
real friend is he who is interested in the good name of his friend. The
Maharajah being my friend, how can he find satisfaction in my eternal
disgrace? To desire the disgrace of one’s friend is not consistent
with the dictates of wisdom. Secondly, there is a tradition among all
classes of people that the forefathers of the Sikhs have said that
their nation shall, in the attempt to bring away the portals of sandal,
advance to Ghiznee; but having arrived there, the foundation of their
empire shall be overthrown. I am not desirous of that event. I wish for
the permanence of his highness’s dominion.”

[79] “The Sindhians have agreed to pay a contribution of either five or
seven lakhs of rupees to farm the Shikarpoor territory for a settled
annual sum from Shah Soojah, and to provide him with an auxiliary
force, the Shah taking hostages from them for the entire execution of
these articles.”—[_Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten, March 5, 1834._]

[80] Not the minister—but a Persian adventurer of the same name, who
afterwards obtained service in Bokhara.

[81] Mr. Vigne says that he had this from Campbell himself. The word
indicates more properly a plundering attack; but is employed here to
signify an irregular descent, or rush, upon the enemy.

[82] Shah Soojah, when on his way to Shikarpoor, in 1833, had entered
into a treaty with Runjeet Singh, by one of the articles of which he
ceded Peshawur to the Sikhs. But Runjeet Singh was by no means inclined
to wait until the Shah had established his title to give away any
portion of the Afghan dominions; so he sent his grandson, Nao Nehal
Singh, a boy, who then “took the spear into his hand” for the first
time, to take possession of the place.

[83] He had been recommended by some to assume the titles of royalty,
but he replied, that as he was too poor to support his dignity as a
Sirdar, it would be preposterous to think of converting himself into a

[84] General Harlan.

[85] Harlan originally went out to China and India as supercargo of a
merchant vessel. He left his ship at Calcutta, and obtained service, as
a supernumerary, on the medical establishment of the Company. He was
posted to the artillery at Dum-Dum, and afterwards accompanied Major
(now Sir George) Pollock to Rangoon. He does not appear to have earned
a very good name during his connexion with the Company’s army, which
he soon quitted, and obtained service with Runjeet Singh—afterwards to
seek the patronage of Dost Mahomed, whom he had so foully betrayed.

[86] It would appear that Dost Mahomed, instigated by Meerza Samad
Khan, seized Mr. Harlan, as well as the Fakir Aziz-ood-een, who was
also sent as an ambassador into the Ameer’s camp. The Ameer endeavoured
to throw the odium of the act upon Sultan Mahomed, hoping thereby to
ruin him utterly in the opinion of the Sikhs; but Sultan Mahomed,
after having taken a number of oaths on the Koran, pledging himself
to compliance with the Ameer’s wishes, sent back the prisoners (or
_hostages_, as Dost Mahomed called them) to the Maharajah’s camp. Mr.
Harlan himself, however, says nothing about this. Mohun Lal says that
“the appalling news (of the treachery of Sultan Mahomed) wounded the
feelings of the Ameer most bitterly. There were no bounds to the sweat
of shame and folly which flowed over his face, and there was no limit
to the laughter of the people at his being deceived and ridiculed.
His minister, Meerza Samad Khan, was so much distressed by this sad
exposure of his own trick, and still more by the failure of his plan
in losing the Fakir, that he hung down his head with great remorse and
shame, and then, throwing away his state papers, he exclaimed, that he
would avoid all interference in the government affairs hereafter.”

[87] The authorities consulted in the preparation of this chapter are
the published works of Burnes, Conolly, Vigne, Masson, Mohun Lal,
Harlan, &c.; the autobiography of Shah Soojah; and the manuscript
reports of Colonel Rawlinson. To the latter I am indebted for much
valuable information relative to the Douranee tribes.

[88] Russia refused to accept the formal mediation of Great Britain;
but the good offices of the ambassador were employed with success.

[89] “Poor Captain Christie and Lieutenant Lindsay,” says Sir Harford
Jones, “by their indefatigable perseverance had brought, when I left
Persia, the one, several of the regiments of the Prince’s infantry,
and the other, the corps of horse artillery, considering the shortness
of the time they had been employed, to a state of perfection that was
quite astonishing. And what is equally to the credit of these gallant
officers, they were both adored by the officers and men under their
tuition; though in the beginning they had often been obliged to treat
the latter with a degree of severity that could not then have been
practised with safety at Constantinople. The Prince Royal, however, had
much merit in this respect, for whenever a punishment was inflicted and
complained of to him, he invariably gave the offender a double portion
of it, and by this means soon put an end to complaint.”—[_Sir Harford
Jones’s Account of the Transactions of His Majesty’s Mission to the
Court of Persia, 1807-1811._] Malcolm took with him to Persia, as a
present from the Indian Government to the Shah, twelve field-pieces,
with harness and all necessary equipments for horse artillery.

[90] Captain Christie was an officer of the Bombay army, selected
for employment in Persia, by General Malcolm, on account of his high
reputation for gallantry and personal activity, and his thorough
acquaintance with the native character. Associated with Pottinger, on
their first entry into Beloochistan, he afterwards diverged to the
northward, and, in the guise of a horse-dealer, penetrated through
Seistan to Herat, and thence, by the way of Yezd and Ispahan, reached
the northern regions of Persia. A great part of the line which he
thus traversed had never before, and has never, I believe, since been
explored by an European traveller. Stories of Christie’s extraordinary
personal strength and prowess, are current to the present day in the
north of India and in Persia. In the latter country, indeed, he was
adored by the soldiery, and his name is still a household word among
the old officers of the Azerbijan army. He was killed at the head of
his famous Shegaughee brigade, in the night attack which was made by
the Russians on the Persian camp at Aslandooz, in November, 1812.

Lieutenant Lindsay was an officer of the Madras Horse Artillery,
and, to scientific attainments of no ordinary extent, added the most
imposing personal appearance. He was six feet eight inches in height
(without his shoes), and thus realised, in the minds of the Persians,
their ideas of the old heroes of romance. After many years’ service
in Persia, he resigned his appointment in the Indian service, and,
succeeding to the estate of Kincolquhair, settled in Scotland as
Lindsay Bethune. In 1834 he was again sent to Persia by the British
Government, with a view to his employment in the expected war of the
succession, and was thus enabled, in the following year, to add to
his former laurels, by leading (on the death of Futteh Ali Shah) the
advanced division of the Persian army from Tabreez to Teheran, and
subsequently quelling a very serious rebellion against the authority of
Mahomed Shah, that was set afoot in the south of Persia by the Prince
of Shiraz and his sons. For this service, on his return to England, he
was rewarded with a baronetcy, and in 1836 he was a third time sent
out with a Major-General’s commission, to take command of the Persian
army. Owing, however, to the misunderstanding which arose out of the
advance upon Herat, the Persian Government on this occasion declined to
employ him, and he finally retired from military life in 1839. He lived
more than ten years after this; and at the close of his life, again
travelled in Persia, revisiting the scenes of his former exploits. But
death overtook him before he could return.

[91] _Sir Gore Ouseley to the Court of Directors_: _March 21,
1812._—[_MS. Records._]

[92] _MS. Records._ Sir Gore Ouseley’s treaty is not given in the
collection of treaties in the published “Papers relating to Persia and
Afghanistan.” In another article of this, which does not appear in the
subsequent treaty, the amount of the allowances to be granted by the
Shah to the British officers serving in Persia is laid down.

[93] Of this article it has been said by an experienced writer: “The
obligation which we contracted in the 9th article, to abstain from
interference in the event of a possible contest between the Afghans
and Persians, is hardly intelligible. Such a proposal could not have
proceeded from Great Britain; and if proceeding from Persia, it
indicated that desire of territorial extension which was more fully
developed in the sequel, and which, when developed, compelled us
on general grounds to repudiate the treaty altogether.”—[_Calcutta
Review_, vol. xii.]

[94] The explanation of this failure, given by the same experienced
writer, is worth quoting:-“If it be remembered that when the system
is affected with chronic paralysis, the attempt is vain to restore
any particular member to a healthy action, it will be understood
that, to a nation devoid of organisation in every other department
of government, a regular army was impossible. It thus happened that,
notwithstanding the admirable material for soldiery which were offered
by the hardy peasantry of Azerbijan, and the still hardier mountaineers
of Kermanshah—notwithstanding the aptitude of the officers to receive
instruction—notwithstanding that a due portion of physical courage
appertained generally to the men—the disciplined forces of Persia,
considered as an army, and for the purpose of national defence, were,
from the epoch of their first creation, contemptible. Beyond drill and
exercise, they never had anything in common with the regular armies of
Europe and India. System was entirely wanting, whether in regard to
pay, clothing, food, carriage, equipage, commissariat, promotion, or
command; and under a lath-and-plaster government like that of Persia,
such must have been inevitably the case. At the same time, however, a
false confidence arose of a most exaggerated and dangerous character;
the resources of the country were lavished on the army to an extent
which grievously impoverished it at the time, and which has brought
about at the present day a state of affairs that, in any other quarter
of the world, would be termed a national bankruptcy; above all, the
tribes—the chivalry of the empire, the forces with which Nadir overran
the East from Bagdad to Delhi, and which, ever yielding but ever
present, surrounded, under Aga Mahomed Khan, the Russian armies with
a desert—were destroyed. Truly then it may be said that in presenting
Persia with the boon of a so-called regular army, in order to reclaim
her from her unlawful loves with France, we clothed her in the robe of
Nessus.”—[_Calcutta Review_, vol. xii.] See also _Correspondence of Sir
John Malcolm_.

[95] The characteristic words of the Russian manifesto, announcing
these events, are worth quoting:-“Obliged to pursue the enemy through
a country without roads, laid waste by the troops which were to have
defended it; often opposed by nature itself; exposed to the burning sun
of summer, and the rigour of winter; our brave army, after unparalleled
efforts, succeeded in conquering Erivan, which was reputed impregnable.
It passed the Araxes, planted its standards on the top of Ararat,
and penetrating further and further into the interior of Persia, it
occupied Tabreez itself, with the country depending on it. The Khanate
of Erivan, on both sides of the Araxes, and the Khanate of Nakhichevan,
a part of the ancient Armenia, fell into the hands of the conquerors.”

[96] This fortress, together with the surrounding country, to the
extent of three wersts and a half, was ceded to Russia.

[97] Sir Harford Jones.

[98] The Duke of Wellington wrote to Mr. Canning, in Nov., 1826,
“It will not answer to allow the Persian monarchy to be destroyed,
particularly upon a case of which the injustice and aggression are
undoubtedly on the side of the Russians.” Sir John Malcolm, to whom
the Duke sent a copy of this letter, wrote, “You certainly are right.
There is a positive claim in faith for mediation.” Mr. Canning,
however, affected to doubt whether there had been any aggression
against Persia. “Does not the article,” he asked, “which defines the
_casus fœderis_ to be aggression against Persia, limit the effect of
the whole treaty, and the aim of the sixth article, which promises our
mediation? Are we bound even to mediate in a case in which Persia was
the aggressor.”—[_Life and Correspondence of Sir John Malcolm_, vol.
ii. pp. 452-455.]

[99] A writer in the _Foreign Quarterly Review_, who, if not Sir John
M’Neill himself, has unblushingly appropriated, without acknowledgment,
a large portion of the pamphlet on the “Progress and present position
of Russia in the East,” published some three or four years before,
says: “Assuredly Prince Abbas Meerza relied strongly upon this (the
4th article of the treaty), and without it would never have engaged in
the contest he provoked; we are bound in justice to say, and we say
it on good authority, wantonly and in defiance of the feelings of the
Persian Government and King. But though Persia had fairly executed
all her share of the treaty in question, the English minister, when
called upon to fulfil this condition, hesitated, hung back, negotiated,
and delayed under every possible pretext, while he could not deny the
faith or the claim of Persia. It was clear, however, to all the parties
that Mr. Canning only sought a means of escaping the fulfilment of
the stipulations. He was hard pressed by the reluctance to engaging
in a war with Russia, represented as too probable by the minister of
that power at the British Court, and by the dexterity of a first-rate
female diplomatist, to whom, indeed, the management of the matter was
fairly confided by the Russian Court, and whose influence was fatally
effective in this and the Turkish questions. In affecting to adhere
simply to the policy of his predecessors, Mr. Canning forgot the
immense difference and disgrace of refusing the fulfilment only at the
time when, and because, the need was urgent. He could not foresee that
Persia must become, if further humbled, the tool of Russia against the
East; if he had, no earthly power would have balanced against his duty.
He did not even perceive that the crisis to Persia had arrived; and
contented himself with a double sacrifice to vanity, in assuming to
arbitrate against a sovereign prince, and hearing his praises resounded
by the lips of successful beauty.”

[100] “A letter has been received in town from Persia, which has
excited a good deal of talk in the bazaar, and the substance of which
we give merely as a rumour of the day. It states that Prince Abbas
Meerza has ordered 30,000 men to march upon Herat, and that this
movement is only preparatory to an advance upon India in conjunction
with Russia. This is probably a mere rumour or the echo of a lie—but
‘coming events cast their shadows before,’ and many of these rumours,
combined with the tone which now and then breaks out in the Russian
journals, show but too well the turn of men’s thoughts and wishes, and
should warn us to be prepared.”—[_Bombay Gazette, August 25, 1832._]
About the same time, Dr. Wolff, who was then travelling in Central
Asia, wrote: “It is remarkable that there is a current belief, not
only throughout Khorassan, but, as I found it afterwards, throughout
Toorkistan even to Caubul, that Abbas Meerza had married a Russian
Princess, and adopted the Russian religion; and that 50,000 Russians
would come to Khorassan by way of Khiva, and assist Abbas Meerza in
conquering Khorassan. So much is true that Russia has written to Futteh
Ali Shah, offering him 5000 men for taking Khorassan, and putting down
the chupow—_i.e._, plundering system of the Toorkomans; and I hope to
prove it to a certainty that Russia will be very soon the mistress
of Khiva, under the pretext that the King of Khiva has 8000 Russian
slaves, whilst I know by the most authentic reports that there are not
above 200 Russian slaves and 60 Russian deserters at Khiva.”—[_Calcutta
Christian Observer, September, 1832._] It was stated at one time that
Russia had consented to yield her claim to the balance of the indemnity
money remaining then due by Persia, on condition of the latter joining
in an expedition against Khiva.

[101] Abbas Meerza gratefully acknowledged the assistance he received
from Captain Shee, Mr. Beek, and M. Berowski, the Pole, of whom
subsequent mention will be made. At the siege of Koochan a sergeant
of the Bombay Horse Artillery, named Washbrook, directed the mortar
batteries, which mainly conduced to the reduction of the place.

[102] Nor did he scruple outwardly to evince the relative degrees
of respect which he entertained for the two nations in the persons
of their representatives. On one occasion, for example, when the
Russian envoy, Count Simonich, was returning from an excursion, the
foreign minister went out to meet him, but demurred to paying the same
compliment to the British ambassador.—[_MS. Records._] This incident,
however, which created some sensation in the Calcutta Council-Chamber,
may have had its source in the private feelings of Meerza Massoud, the
foreign minister, who, having long resided at St. Petersburgh, was a
mere creature of the Russian State.

[103] _Mr. Ellis to Lord Palmerston: Teheran, November 13,
1835._—[_Published Papers relating to Persia and Afghanistan._]

[104] The officer whom he proposed to send was Lieutenant Todd, of the
Bengal Artillery, who held the local rank of Major in Persia, and who
had long been employed in instructing the artillery of the Persian army.

[105] The Russian minister had urged the King to undertake a winter
campaign against Herat. But Count Nesselrode always resolutely
maintained that Simonich had endeavoured to persuade the Shah not to
proceed against Herat at all; and Simonich told the same story in his
letters to his own government.

[106] Though we need not seek the causes of this expedition in anything
either nearer or more remote than the ambition of the young Shah and
the intrigues of the Russian Government, a pretext was put forth by, or
for Persia, of a more plausible kind. It was urged that the Heratees
had carried off and sold into slavery the subjects of the Persian
Shah. There is no doubt of the fact. But it was never put prominently
forward by the Shah, who always urged that Herat had no right to be
independent. Another pretext, but a weak one, for undertaking the war
was also alleged. Hulakoo, son of the Prince of Kerman, after his
father was taken and blinded, and Kerman occupied by the Shah’s troops,
fled to Herat, and from thence endeavoured to excite disturbances in
Kain, Khaf, and Eastern Kerman.

[107] Kamran had threatened Candahar on more than one occasion; and at
the end of 1835, Mr. Masson reported to the Supreme Government that the
Sirdars of that place, despairing of obtaining any assistance from Dost
Mahomed, had sent an emissary to the Bombay Government, offering to
cede their country to the British!—[_MS. Records._] I merely give this
as a report sent down by the English news-writer.

[108] “I share with you,” he wrote to Sir Charles Metcalfe, in
September, 1836, “the apprehension of our being at no distant date
involved in political, and possibly military operations upon our
western frontier; and even since I have been here, more than one event
has occurred, which has led me to think that the period of disturbance
is nearer than I had either wished or expected. The constitutional
restlessness of the old man of Lahore seems to increase with his age.
His growing appetite for the treasures and jungles of Sindh—the obvious
impolicy of allowing him to extend his dominions in that direction—the
importance which is attached to the free navigation of the Indus, most
justly I think, and yet perhaps with some exaggeration from its value
not having been tried—the advance of the Persians towards Herat, and
the link which may in consequence be formed between Indian and European
politics,—all lead me to fear that the wish which I have had to confine
my administration to objects of commerce, and finance, and improved
institutions, and domestic policy, will be far indeed from being
accomplished. But as you say, we must fulfil our destiny; and in the
mean while I have entreated Runjeet Singh to be quiet, and in regard to
his two last requests have refused to give him 50,000 musquets, and am
ready to send him a doctor and a dentist.”—[_MS. Correspondence._]

[109] Moorcroft seems to have been upheld only by the kindly
encouragement of Sir Charles (then Mr.) Metcalfe, who, as Resident
at Delhi, took the greatest interest in his enterprise, and afforded
him all possible assistance. He attributed the unwillingness of our
Government to explore the countries beyond our frontier, to some vague
apprehension of alarming the Sikhs. “It is somewhat humiliating,” he
wrote to Metcalfe, “that we should know so little of countries which
touch upon our frontier; and this in a great measure out of respect for
a nation that is as despicable as insolent, whose origin was founded
upon rapine, and which exists by acquiring conquests it only retains by
depopulating the territory.”—[_MS. Correspondence_.]

[110] “The greatest apathy,” says Mr. Sterling, “prevailed, and the
members of the government could not be roused to take an interest
in the subject. The knowledge that I had been in these interesting
countries produced no desire for intelligence regarding them, and my
reception gave no encouragement for the production of it. Neglect
had been preceded by the deprivation of my appointment. I was no
longer collector of Agra; that situation had been disposed of nearly
two months prior to my reaching the Presidency: my return was deemed
hopeless, and my death anticipated.”

[111] Sir William Napier says, that “an enlightened desire to ascertain
the commercial capabilities of the Indus induced Lord Ellenborough,
then President of the India Board of Control, to employ the late Sir
Alexander Burnes to explore the river in 1831, under pretence of
conveying presents to Runjeet Singh.” But the enlightenment of this
measure was questioned at the time by some of the ablest and most
experienced of our Indian administrators. At the head of these Sir
Charles Metcalfe emphatically protested against it. In October, 1810,
he recorded a minute in Council, declaring “the scheme of surveying the
Indus, under the pretence of conveying a present to Runjeet Singh,”
to be “a trick unworthy of our government, which cannot fail when
detected, as most probably it will be, to excite the jealousy and
indignation of the powers on whom we play it.” “It is not impossible,”
he added, “that it may lead to war.”—[_MS. Records._] These opinions
were repeated privately in letters to Lord William Bentinck, and, at a
later date, to Lord Auckland. Metcalfe, indeed, as long as he remained
in India, never ceased to point out the inexpediency of interfering
with the states beyond the Indus.

[112] And doubtless, very absurd and uncalled for the jealousy was
considered in those days. As Burnes ascended the Indus, a Syud on
the water’s edge lifted up his hands, and exclaimed, “Sindh is now
gone, since the English have seen the river, which is the road to
its conquest.” Nearly twenty years before, Sir James Mackintosh had
written in his journal: “A Hindoo merchant, named Derryana, under the
mask of friendship, had been continually alarming the Sindh Government
against the English mission. On being reproved, he said that although
some of his reports respecting their immediate designs might not be
quite correct, yet this tribe never began as friends without ending
as enemies, by seizing the country which they entered with the most
amicable professions.” “A shrewd dog,” said Mackintosh; but he did not
live to see the depths of the man’s shrewdness.

[113] He was promised, too, the reversion of the office of minister.

[114] Burnes, when in England, had endeavoured to impress the Court
of Directors with an idea of the expediency of sending him out as
commercial agent to Caubul; but Mr. Tucker, who was then in the chair,
could see only the evils of such a measure. “The late Sir Alexander
Burnes,” he wrote some years afterwards, “was introduced to me in 1834
as a talented and enterprising young officer, and it was suggested
that he might be usefully employed as a commercial agent at Caubul,
to encourage our commerce with that country and to aid in opening
the river Indus to British industry and enterprise.... I declined
then to propose or to concur in the appointment of Lieutenant Burnes
to a commercial agency in Caubul, feeling perfectly assured that it
must soon degenerate into a political agency, and that we should as a
necessary consequence be involved in all the entanglement of Afghan
politics.”—[_Memoirs of H. St. George Tucker._] Mr. Grant, who was then
at the Board of Control, concurred in opinion with Mr. Tucker; Sir
Charles Metcalfe also wrote a minute in council, emphatically pointing
out the evils of this commercial agency.

[115] Mr. Percival Lord of the Bombay Medical Establishment, joined the
Mission _in transitu_. Mohun Lal also accompanied it.

[116] Avitabile, an Italian by birth, was a General in the service of
Runjeet Singh, and at that time Governor of Peshawur.

[117] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir Alexander Burnes._

[118] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._

[119] And, on the 30th December, Burnes, with reference to this
promised sympathy, wrote, in the following words, to Mr. Macnaghten.
The passage was not published in the official correspondence. It was
thought better to suppress it:-“The present position of the British
Government at this capital appears to me a most gratifying proof of
the estimation in which it is held by the Afghan nation. Russia has
come forward with offers which are certainly substantial. Persia has
been lavish in her promises, and Bokhara and other States have not been
backward. Yet, in all that has passed or is daily transpiring, _the
chief of Caubul declares that he prefers the sympathy and friendly
offices of the British to all these offers, however alluring they may
seem, from Persia or from the Emperor_—which certainly places his good
sense in a light more than prominent, and, in my humble judgment,
proves that, by an earlier attention to these countries, we might have
escaped the whole of these intrigues, and held long since a stable
influence in Caubul.”—[_Ungarbled Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._]

[120] “As I approached Caubul,” he wrote to a private friend, on the
5th of July, “war broke out with the Afghans and Sikhs, and my position
became embarrassing. I was even ordered by express to pause, and while
hanging on my oars another express still cries _pause_, but places a
vast latitude in my hands, and ‘forward’ is my motto—forward to the
scene of carnage, where, instead of embarrassing my government, I feel
myself in a situation to do good. It is this latitude throughout life
that has made me what I am, if I am anything, and I can hardly say how
grateful I feel to Lord Auckland.... I have not as yet got the replies
to my recommendation on our line of policy in Caubul, consequent on a
discovered intrigue of Russia, and on the Caubul chief throwing himself
in despair on Perso-Russian arms. I have at last something to do, and I
hope to do it well.”—[_Private Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._]

[121] _Ante, page 186._ In a letter to another correspondent, written
about the same time, Burnes says: “With war came intrigues, and I
have had the good fortune to find out all the doings of the Czar and
his emissaries here, where they have sent letters and presents. After
proving this, I plainly asked the Governor-General if such things
were to be allowed, and I got a reply a week ago, altering all my
instructions, giving me power to go on to Herat, and anywhere, indeed,
I could do good. The first exercise of the authority has been to
despatch a messenger to Candahar, to tell them to discontinue their
intercourse with Persia and Russia, on pain of displeasure—and not
before it was time, for a son of the chief of that city, with presents
for the Russian ambassador, is ready to set out for Teheran.”—[_Sir
A. Burnes to Captain Jacob_—_Caubul, 29th of October, 1837_: _MS.

[122] “The chiefs of Candahar,” he wrote a few days afterwards, to a
private friend, “had gone over to Persia. I have detached them and
offered them British protection and _cash_ if they would recede, and
if Persia attacked them. I have no authority to do so; but am I to
stand by and see us ruined at Candahar, when the Government tell me
an attack on Herat would be most unpalatable. Herat has been besieged
fifty days, and if the Persians move on Candahar, I am off there with
the Ameer and his forces, and mean to pay the piper myself. We have
good stuff—forty-six guns and stout Afghans, as brave as regular
troops need be. I am on stirring ground, and I am glad to say I am
up to it in health and all that, and was never more braced in my
life.”—[_Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes_—_privately printed._]

[123] _Mr. W. H. Macnaghten to Captain A. Burnes_—_Camp Bareilly,
20th January, 1838._ The letter from which this passage is taken
consists of twenty-four paragraphs, of which three only appear in the
published correspondence. There seems, indeed, to have been a studious
suppression of the entire history of the offers made to the Candahar
chiefs, and of the censure which they called down upon Captain Burnes.
Lord Auckland subsequently, with praiseworthy candour, admitted that
the best authorities at home were of opinion that the measure which had
evoked these expressions of the severe displeasure of his Lordship, was
the very best that could have been adopted.

[124] I have given the vulgar orthography of the name. His real name
was Viktevitck, or Wiktewitch.

[125] The first information relative to the fact of Vickovich’s
mission to Caubul was accidentally obtained by Major Rawlinson, when
on his way to the camp of Mahomed Shah, who was then marching upon
Herat. The circumstances, as set forth in a private letter, from that
officer himself, are not unworthy of narration:-“_Teheran, November 1,
1837._ I have just returned from a journey of much interest. M’Neill
had some business in the Persian camp which he thought I might help
to arrange, and I was bid accordingly to make my way to the ‘Royal
Stirrup,’ with all convenient despatch. I was obliged to ride day and
night, as the post-horses on the road, owing to the constant passage
of couriers, were almost unserviceable, and yet I was only able, after
all, to accomplish the distance of something more than 700 miles in
a week. The last morning of my ride I had an adventure. Our whole
party were pretty well knocked up, and in the dark, between sleeping
and waking, we had managed to lose the road. As morning dawned, we
found ourselves wandering about on the broken plain which stretches
up from Subzewar to the range containing the Turquoise mines, and
shortly afterwards we perceived that we were close to another party
of horsemen, who were also, apparently, trying to regain the high
road. I was not anxious to accost these strangers, but on cantering
past them, I saw, to my astonishment, men in Cossack dresses, and one
of my attendants recognised among the party a servant of the Russian
Mission. My curiosity was, of course, excited, and on reaching the
stage I told one of my men to watch for the arrival of the travellers,
and find out who they were. Shortly afterwards the Russian party rode
up, inquired who I was, and finding I was a British officer, declined
to enter the Khan, but held on their road. In such a state of affairs
as preceded the siege of Herat, the mere fact of a Russian gentleman
travelling in Khorassan was suspicious. In the present case, however,
there was evidently a desire for concealment. Nothing had been heard
of this traveller by our Mission at Teheran. I had been told, indeed,
absurd stories on the road, of a Muscovite Prince having been sent
from Petersburgh to announce that 10,000 Russians would be landed at
Asterabad, to co-operate with the Shah in reducing Herat; and this
was evidently the man alluded to, but I knew not what to believe,
and I thought it my duty, therefore, to try and unravel the mystery.
Following the party, I tracked them for some distance along the high
road, and then found that they had turned off to a gorge in the hills.
There at length I came upon the group seated at breakfast by the side
of a clear sparkling rivulet. The officer, for such he evidently was,
was a young man of light make, very fair complexion, with bright eyes
and a look of great animation. He rose and bowed to me as I rode up,
but said nothing. I addressed him in French—the general language of
communication between Europeans in the East, but he shook his head. I
then spoke English, and he answered in Russian. When I tried Persian,
he seemed not to understand a word; at last he expressed himself
hesitatingly in Turcoman, or Uzbeg Turkish. I knew just sufficient of
this language to carry on a simple conversation, but not enough to be
inquisitive. This was evidently what my friend wanted, for when he
found I was not strong enough in Jaghatai to proceed very rapidly, he
rattled on with his rough Turkish as glibly as possible. All I could
find out was, that he was a _bonâ fide_ Russian officer, carrying
presents from the Emperor to Mahomed Shah. More he would not admit;
so, after smoking another pipe with him, I remounted, and reached the
Royal Camp beyond Nishapoor before dark. I had an immediate audience
of the Shah, and in the course of conversation, mentioning to his
Majesty my adventure of the morning, he replied, ‘Bringing presents
to me! why, I have nothing to do with him; he is sent direct from the
Emperor to Dost Mahomed, of Caubul, and I am merely asked to help him
on his journey.’ This is the first information we have ever had of a
direct communication between Petersburgh and Caubul, and it may be of
great importance. The gentleman made his appearance in camp two days
after my arrival, and I was then introduced to him by Mons. Goutte,
as Captain Vitkavitch. He addressed me at once in good French, and in
allusion to our former meeting, merely observed, with a smile, that ‘It
would not do to be too familiar with strangers in the desert.’ I was so
anxious to bring back to M’Neill intelligence of this Russian Mission
to Caubul, that I remained but a very few days in camp; and here I am
again in Teheran, after a second gallop of 750 miles, accomplished this
time in about 150 consecutive hours.”—[_MS. Correspondence._]

[126] A few days afterwards, in one of those undress communications
from which we often gather more significant truth than from the more
formal official documents, Burnes wrote to a private friend: “We are in
a mess here. Herat is besieged, and may fall; and the Emperor of Russia
has sent an envoy to Caubul, to offer Dost Mahomed Khan money to fight
Runjeet Singh!!!!! I could not believe my eyes or ears; but Captain
Vickovich—for that is the agent’s name—arrived here with a blazing
letter, three feet long, and sent immediately to pay his respects to
myself. I, of course, received him, and asked him to dinner. This is
not the best of it. The Ameer came over to me sharp, and offered to do
as I liked, kick him out, or anything: but I stood too much in fear
of Vattel to do any such thing: and since he was so friendly to us,
said I, give me the letters the agent has brought; all of which he
surrendered sharp; and I sent an express at once to my Lord A., with a
confidential letter to the Governor-General himself, bidding him look
what his predecessors had brought upon him, and telling him that after
this I knew not what might happen, and it was now a neck-and-neck race
between Russia and us; and if his Lordship would hear reason, he would
forthwith send agents to Bokhara, Herat, Candahar, and Koondooz, not
forgetting Sindh. How all this pill will go down I know not, but I know
my duty too well to be silent.”—[_Private Correspondence of Sir A.

[127] Mohun Lal says that he translated the Persian copy of the
letter from the Emperor, but that he lost the translation during the
insurrection of 1841-42. “It plainly acknowledged,” he states, “the
receipt of the Ameers letter, and assured him that all the Afghan
merchants shall be well received in the empire of Russia, justice and
protection shall be extended towards them, and their intercourse will
cause to flourish the respective states.”—[_Life of Dost Mahomed_,
vol. i. p. 300.] Masson declares that it was a forgery, seal and
all, alleging in proof, that it bore no signature. To this Mohun Lal
replies, that the absence of the royal signature is a proof rather of
the genuine than the counterfeit character of the document. The reasons
given are not very conclusive, as regards the general usage of the
Czar; but, under the circumstances of the case, he would have been more
inclined to omit than to attach the signature. The following is the
translated letter; it was excluded from the published papers:

“A.C. In a happy moment, the messenger of your Highness, Meerza Hosan,
reached my Court, with your friendly letter. I was very much delighted
to receive it, and highly gratified by its perusal. The contents of the
letter prove that you are my well-wisher, and have friendly opinions
towards me. It flattered me very much, and I was satisfied of your
friendship to my everlasting government. In consequence of this, and
preserving the terms of friendship (which are now commenced between you
and myself) in my heart, I will feel always happy to assist the people
of Caubul who may come to trade into my kingdom. On the arrival of your
messenger I have ordered him to make preparations for his long journey
back to you, and also appointed a man of dignity to accompany him on
the part of my government. If it pleases God, and he reaches safe,
he will present to you the rarities of my country, which I have sent
through him. By the grace of God, may your days be prolonged.—_Sent
from St. Petersburgh, the capital of Russia, on the 27th of April, 1837
A.D., and in the 12th year of my reign._”

[128] An attempt, in the published Blue Book, was made to conceal
the fact of the receipt of these letters, and to make it appear
that Burnes acted entirely upon his own responsibility. The genuine
letter commenced with the following words:-“I have now the honour to
acknowledge the receipt of your (the Political Secretary’s) letters
of the 25th of November and 2nd of December last, which reached me
about the same time, and conveyed the views of the Right Honourable
the Governor-General regarding the overtures made by Dost Mahomed,
&c., &c.” In the published version the letter commences with the word

[129] Burnes, commenting on the Newab’s proposal, observes: “The
observations coming from the Newab Jubbar Khan are the more remarkable,
since he is devoted to his brother, Sultan Mahomed Khan, and would
rejoice to see him restored to Peshawur. They consequently carried with
me a conviction that the Ameer’s fears are not groundless, and that
they will deserve all due consideration before government entered upon
any measures for attaching this chief to its interests.” This passage
was, of course, suppressed. Whether any attempt was made to bring about
a settlement of the Peshawur question on the basis of this proposal, I
have not been able to ascertain. But Captain Wade, considering it by no
means unreasonable, declared his willingness, with the consent of the
Supreme Government, to urge it upon the acceptance of Runjeet. It is
doubtful, however, whether, even if Runjeet had consented to it, Sultan
Mahomed would have fallen into the arrangement, although Jubbar Khan
declared his ability to reconcile the brothers.

[130] Lord Auckland’s offers to restrain Runjeet from attacking the
country of the Sirdars were laughed at by them. Jubbar Khan said that
they indicated very little knowledge of the state of Afghanistan; for
that, “so far from the proffered protection from Runjeet being of the
value stated, the Maharajah never sought to attack Caubul, and that
hitherto all the aggression had been on the part of the Ameer, and
not the ruler of Lahore.” He added with undeniable truth, that “it
appeared we valued our offers at a very high rate, since we expected,
in return, that the Afghans would desist from all intercourse with
Persia, Russia, Toorkistan,” &c. “Were the Afghans,” he asked, “to
make all these powers hostile, and receive no protection against the
enmity raised for their adhering to the British?” “As for Peshawur,”
he added, “being withheld from the Ameer, it might be got over; and he
believed he did not overrate his influence with Sultan Mahomed Khan,
when he stated that he might bring about a reconciliation between
him and the Ameer; but he must say that the value of the Afghans
had indeed been depressed, and he did not wonder at the Ameer’s
disappointment.”—[_Ungarbled Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._]

[131] “The Meerza made nearly the same observation as the Newab about
the expectations which the Ameer had cherished of doing service for the
British, and devoting himself to it; that it was not the adjustment
of Peshawur affairs that dissipated his hopes, but the indifference
to his sufferings and station, which it was now clear we felt.” The
Meerza truly said that Dost Mahomed had often written to the British
Government about his affairs, and that in reply they answered him about
their own.—[_Ungarbled Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._]

[132] It is probably of this meeting, or one shortly preceding it,
of which General Harlan, who has not much regard for dates, speaks
in the following passage. Harlan had by this time quitted Runjeet
Singh’s camp, and taken service with Dost Mahomed:-“The document (Lord
Auckland’s ultimatum) was handed to me amongst others. I satisfied
myself, by the Governor-General’s signature, of its authenticity,
surveying the contents with extreme surprise and disappointment. Dost
Mahomed was mortified, but not terrified.... The Governor-General’s
ultimatum was handed round, and an embarrassing silence ensued. A
few minutes elapsed, when Abdul Sami Khan recalled the party from
abstraction.... _He_ proclaimed that the Governor-General’s ultimatum
left no other alternative than the dismission of the English agent, for
the spirit of the Kuzzilbash party was supercilious and unyielding,
though full of duplicity.... Nieb Mahomed Ameer Khan, Akhondzadeh,
openly opposed the Kuzzilbash party, and urged many weighty arguments
in favour of a pacific settlement of the Ameer’s relations with the
British Government, which had now assumed a position so inauspicious.
He concluded his oration with these words, addressing the Ameer:
‘There is no other recourse for you but to introduce Mr. Harlan in
the negotiations with Mr. Burnes, and he, through his own facilities
and wisdom, will arrange a treaty according to their European usage,
for the pacific and advantageous settlement of your affairs;’ and to
this proposition the council _unanimously_ assented.” The proposition,
it appears, was made to Burnes; but Burnes declined the honour of
negotiating with the doctor-general. Harland says that he then wrote
to the British envoy, offering to “negotiate upon his own terms;” but
Burnes sent “a reply personally friendly,” but “evincing a deficiency
of knowledge of first principles concerning the rights of independent
powers in political negotiations.” Burnes says nothing about this in
his official or private letters.

[133] Mr. Masson says, that before its departure the Mission had fallen
into contempt, and that the assassination of Burnes was talked of in
Caubul. He explains too, what, according to his account, were the real
causes of Burnes’s departure without his companions; but it does not
come within our province to investigate Masson’s charges against the

[134] Overtures had been made to Runjeet by Vickovich, who offered to
visit the Maharajah’s Court. But British influence at this time was
too strong at Lahore for the Russian to make way against it. Runjeet,
however, who was not ignorant of the Russo-phobia then rampant amongst
us, turned the Cossack’s overtures to some account, and probably
pretended more uncertainty on the score of the answer to be returned
to him than he in reality felt. Mackeson, to whom the business of
counteracting the designs of Vickovich was entrusted, managed it with
great address, and won from the Maharajah a promise to have nothing to
do with the Muscovite agent. But the knowledge that the Russian agent
was, as it were, knocking at the gates of Lahore, made our authorities
especially anxious to conciliate the Maharajah, by refraining from
entering into any negotiations with Caubul which might possibly give
umbrage to Runjeet.

[135] What befel the unhappy agent after this, it is painful to
relate. When he returned to Persia, in 1839, after giving a full
report of his mission to M. Duhamel, the new minister at Teheran, he
was instructed to proceed direct to St. Petersburgh. On his arrival
there, full of hope, for he had discharged the duty entrusted to him
with admirable address, he reported himself, after the customary
formality, to Count Nesselrode; but the minister refused to see him.
Instead of a flattering welcome, the unhappy envoy was received with a
crushing message, to the effect that Count Nesselrode “knew no Captain
Vickovich, except an adventurer of that name, who, it was reported,
had been lately engaged in some unauthorised intrigues at Caubul and
Candahar.” Vickovich understood at once the dire portent of this
message. He knew the character of his government. He was aware of the
recent expostulations of Great Britain. And he saw clearly that he
was to be sacrificed. He went back to his hotel, wrote a few bitter
reproachful lines, burnt all his other papers, and blew out his brains.

[136] Arthur Conolly. The correctness of this description is confirmed
by Eldred Pottinger, in his unpublished journal. I have been obliged
to write it in the past tense. “The late war,” says Pottinger, “and
its consequences have so changed the entire neighbourhood of the city,
that, under its present appearance, it would not be recognised by its
former visitants. Moreover, the city and its surrounding places have
been so well described by Lieut. A. Conolly, that I need not repeat the
description.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[137] Of these bazaars Pottinger writes: “The interior of the city is
divided into four nearly equal divisions, by two streets which, at
right angles, cross each other in the centre of the city. The principal
one joins the gate of Candahar to the Pay-i-Hissar, and was formerly
covered by a succession of small domes, springing from arches which
cross the streets. About two-thirds of this magnificent bazaar still
remain; but so choked up with rubbish, and so ruinous, that it has
lost much of its attraction to the eye. This bazaar was about 1300
yards long and 6 in width. The solidity of the masonry of this work
should have insured its stability; but unfortunately the arches are all
defective—not one has a keystone. They are built, as all others in this
country are, with a vacancy at the apex, filled merely with bits of
broken bricks, ... The whole of the lower floors on each side are used
as shops.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[138] Conolly says: “The town itself is, I should imagine, one of the
dirtiest in the world.... No drains having been contrived to carry off
the rain which falls within the walls, it collects and stagnates in
ponds which are dug in different parts of the city. The residents cast
out the refuse of their houses into the streets, and dead cats and dogs
are commonly seen lying upon heaps of the vilest filth.”—[_Conolly’s
Journey to the North of India._]

[139] _Report of Major Eldred Pottinger to the Supreme Government of
India on the defences of Herat. Calcutta: July, 1840._—[_MS. Records._]

[140] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[141] Eldred Pottinger, from whose manuscript journal the materials of
this chapter are mainly drawn, gives a remarkable illustration of the
manner in which justice was then administered. “During this period,” he
says, “a Heratee detected a noted robber in his outhouse, and with the
aid of his neighbours arrested him. In the morning, when taken before
the Sirdar by the cutwal, to request the order for punishment might be
given as the case was proved, the robber declared, that on hearing the
citizen call for aid, he had run to his help, and, being immediately
laid hold of, made prisoner and accused. He also accused the cutwal of
being a partner in the plan. The young Sirdar, with an acumen to be
wondered at but not described, decided that his was the truth of the
story—sold the accuser, and so severely fined the witnesses, that they
were reduced to poverty and debt to the soldiers—the sure precursor of
slavery. He then gave the thief, who was his own servant, a _khelat_
(or dress of honour) and released him. Under such a governor the misery
of the people would require a more eloquent pen than mine to narrate.”

[142] It need scarcely be said that the Persians are generally of the
Sheeah, and the Afghans of the Soonee sect. At Herat the rulers and
the soldiery were Soonees, whilst the shopkeepers and other peaceful
citizens were Sheeahs. The oppression of the Sheeahs by their Afghan
masters was one of the circumstances by a reference to which Mahomed
Shah sought to justify his invasion of Herat.

[143] Pottinger says that “he was much devoted to field-sports, and
spent the greater part of his time in their pursuit. He was an unerring
shot with a matchlock; he could divide a sheep in two by a single cut
of his sabre, and with a Lahore bow send an arrow through a cow.”—[_MS.

[144] Yar Mahomed was the nephew of Atta Mahomed, an influential Sirdar
of the Alekozye tribe, who was Minister to Shah Mahmoud and Hadjee
Feroz, and afterwards of Shah Kamran. This man left two sons, Deen
Mahomed and Sultan Mahomed; but neither possessed the same capacious
mind and energetic character which distinguished their cousin Yar
Mahomed, who was always, more or less, at enmity with them, and at last
drove them out of Herat, in 1841.

[145] Pottinger says, with reference to this ill-judged movement, that
“the Wuzeer played away the last stake of his master by which he could
have hoped to recover his former dominions or to defend his present.
Indeed, after-events have shown that the body of cavalry which he
thus frittered away and destroyed was strong enough to have prevented
the Persian army leaving its own frontier.” There was, however, some
compensation which, whether the result of the siege or not, is worth
mentioning, in the fact that when Herat was attacked by the Persians,
many of the old garrison of Jowayn came to the assistance of their
former enemies.

[146] It is doubted by some, whose opinions are entitled to the highest
respect, whether either Kamran or Yar Mahomed ever really contemplated
an expedition for the recovery of Candahar and Caubul; but it is
certain that they talked about it. In the letter which Kamran sent to
Mahomed Shah, by Futteh Mahomed Khan, he expressed a “hope of obtaining
the favour of his Majesty, so that with the aid of the well-wishers
of Persia he might subdue his hereditary dominions, and overwhelm his
rebellious enemies;” and in a message which Pottinger was commissioned
to deliver to the Persian monarch, it was distinctly declared that
Futteh Mahomed Khan had been sent to Teheran to beg for aid towards the
recovery of Kamran’s paternal kingdom.

[147] Among these was M. Euler, the Shah’s European physician.

[148] “I have heard him,” writes one who knew Pottinger well, “describe
how on two occasions, when challenged about not praying or turning
towards Mecca, he silenced all questioning by appealing to the usage of
India.”—[_Private Correspondence._]

[149] Pottinger, who is provokingly chary, in his journal, of
information about himself, does not say whether he appeared at
these interviews in his true character of a British officer; but I
conclude that he did not, on these occasions, attempt to conceal
his nationality. Nor does it seem that, in his intercourse with the
higher class of Heratees, he wore any disguise; for we soon find him
taking part in a conversation about Arthur Conolly, and addressed as a
countryman of that fine-hearted young Englishman. I cannot transcribe,
without a glow of pleasure, the following passage in Pottinger’s
journal:-“I fell in with a number of Captain Conolly’s acquaintances.
Every person asked after him, and appeared disappointed when I told
them I did not know him. In two places I crossed Mr. Conolly’s
route, and on his account received the greatest hospitality and
attention—indeed, more than was pleasant, for such liberality required
corresponding upon my part; and my funds were not well adapted for any
extraordinary demand upon them. In Herat, Mr. Conolly’s fame was great.
In a large party, where the subject of the Europeans who had visited
Herat was mooted, Conolly’s name being mentioned, I was asked if I knew
him, and on replying, ‘Merely by report,’ Moollah Mahomed, a Sheeah
Moollah of eminence, calling to me across the room, said, ‘You have a
great pleasure awaiting you. When you see him, give him my salutation,
and tell him that I say he has done as much to give the English nation
fame in Herat, as your ambassador, Mr. Elphinstone, did at Peshawur;’
and in this he was seconded by the great mass present.”—[_Eldred
Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[150] Better known by his title of Asoof-ood-dowlah. He was the head
of the _Yukhaw-bash_ division of the Kajjar tribe, and, according to
the heraldry of the clans, was thus of higher rank than the Shah,
who was merely the chief of the _Ashagha-bash_, or younger branch.
Futteh Ali Shah, to stanch an old tribe feud, had married his son and
heir-apparent, Abbas Meerza, to the heiress of the rival branch, an
Mahomed Shah being the issue of this marriage, the Asoof-ood-dowlah was
his maternal uncle. The Asoof was Governor of Khorassan, with almost
independent powers, from 1835 to 1847. He is now in exile at Baghdad.

[151] As the army approached Herat some important captures were made.
Among others, the secretary of the Asoof-ood-dowlah was carried off,
with all his papers.

[152] This was Yar Mahomed’s first angry view of the case; but it may
be doubted whether Shere Mahomed Khan was fairly to be censured for the
loss of Ghorian. Of small dimensions, and unfurnished with bomb-proofs,
the place was ill calculated to sustain the heavy vertical fire of shot
and shell which the Persian artillery poured into it. A magazine and
storehouse took fire; and at the time of its surrender Colonel Stoddart
pronounced it to be quite untenable.

[153] Shums-ood-deen Khan of Herat was a Populzye nobleman of very good
family, and in great favour with Shah Kamran before the commencement
of the siege of Herat. His sister was the Shah’s favourite wife, and
he was entirely in his Majesty’s confidence. A position of so much
power, however, made Yar Mahomed his enemy, and it was to escape the
minister’s persecution that he deserted to the Persian camp on the
approach of the invading army. Had he remained in the city, he would
certainly have been imprisoned or assassinated, for the Shah was
powerless to protect him. It was surmised, indeed, that his Majesty
counselled, or at any rate connived at, his flight, as his only means
of escape.

[154] Of this barbarous custom of bringing in the heads of the enemy,
Pottinger speaks with becoming indignation. “I have not thought it
necessary,” he writes in his journal, “to recount the number of heads
that were brought in daily, nor indeed do I know. I never could speak
of this barbarous, disgusting, and inhuman conduct with any temper.
The number, however, in these sorties was always insignificant, and
the collecting them invariably broke the vigour of the pursuit, and
prevented the destruction of the trenches. There is no doubt great
terror was inspired by the mutilation of the bodies amongst their
comrades. But there must have been, at least, equal indignation—and
that a corresponding exaltation was felt by the victors at the sight
of these barbarous trophies, and the spoils brought in.”—[_MS.
Journal._] As rewards were always given for these bloody trophies,
the garrison were naturally very active in their endeavours to obtain
them. Sometimes their avarice outstripped both their honesty and their
nationality. On one occasion, after an unsuccessful sortie, an Afghan
brought in a pair of ears. A cloak and some ducats were given him as
a reward for his butchery. Before any questions could be put to the
fellow, he suddenly vanished. About half an hour afterwards, another
man, covered with mud, made his appearance with a head in his hand. The
Wuzeer, thinking it looked as though it had no ears, ordered one of his
retainers to examine it. On this the bearer of the ghastly trophy threw
it down, and ran away with all the speed he could command. The head
was picked up by one of the Wuzeer’s retainers, and found to be that
of a comrade, who had fallen during a sortie of the preceding night.
The fellow was pursued, and soundly beaten and kicked—but the more
successful bringer-in of the ears was not to be found, though several
rough unscrupulous fellows were told by the Wuzeer that they might
possess themselves of both cloak and ducats if they could.

[155] _MS. Journal of Eldred Pottinger._

[156] “The enemy’s fire being directed to the parapet at all points,
the rubbish began to shelter the foot of the escarp. Strong working
parties commenced building up backs to the rampart at the point fired
at, so that the body of the old rampart may become a parapet, and the
summit of the new back a terre-pleine from which to defend the breaches
when formed.”—[_MS. Journal of Eldred Pottinger._]

[157] “A great number of these shells are carved out of slate-rock, and
their chamber contains little more than a bursting charge. Hence they
are unable to do much execution.”—[_MS. Journal of Eldred Pottinger._]

[158] “They made,” says Pottinger, “but a beggarly appearance.”

[159] The Wuzeer was too crafty a man to do anything to exasperate the
Shah of Persia whilst there was the least prospect of his success.
Pottinger’s opinion on the subject is worth quoting:-“The minister
throughout all the negotiations constantly addressed Mahomed Shah
as his sovereign, and called both Hadjee Akasy (the Persian prime
minister) and Alayar Khan (Asoof-ood-dowlah) his father. He also
invariably threw the blame of the defence on some one else, and
regretted being obliged to fight. He constantly talked of his being
bound in honour to serve his master, Kamran, but in inclination to
serve Mahomed Shah. He also invariably avoided mixing himself up
individually in any act decidedly hostile to Persian feelings or
prejudices; allowing some of his friends to act, and then, under (to
the Persians) a show of inquiry, sharing the advantages; so that
in reality very few tangible instances could be mentioned of his
hostility, and none but what, as a good talker, he could easily assert
were not so; and that he had taken the Persian side. He knew that
the King was aware that all the chiefs of the Persian army supported
themselves by the same means as he did; and in many instances without
adding the lip-loyalty which he always gave vent to—that, moreover,
he could say that he did not oppress the Persian people—that it was
the other chiefs who did so—that without aid, he could not check it
in his equals, who would otherwise join to overthrow him—that the
aylayats (wandering tribes) always acted so—that he would not desert
the cause of his patron and benefactor. In a despot, who only looks
in his followers for personal attachment, and prefers the hardiest
and most unscrupulous, less than this would have secured favour;
nay, more, among chiefs who support themselves in the same way, such
arguments would have secured popularity; and as parties also ran
high in the Persian camp, and he had secured the favour of the two
chiefs, both sides would have been anxious to secure so knowing and
powerful an assistant by exertions in procuring his liberty. Yar
Mahomed, with that shrewdness which characterises the Afghan nation,
saw the favourable position he was in, and availed himself of it to
the utmost. He had an overweening idea of the valour of his countrymen
in arms, and a corresponding low one of that of the Persians. From
having failed in a siege with his own people, he thought no other army
could succeed against his nation; and in the event of being taken, his
eyes, overlooking the danger to which the Persian wrath might expose
him, were dazzled with visions of the wealth, the power, and glory he
might acquire in the service of what he thought a rich and ill-managed
government. I do not mean to say that any persons had recommended this
plan to Yar Mahomed, or that it had been [_obscure in MS._]; but that
from the multitude of his counsellors, some recommending war, some
submission, this must have been the mean opinion; and, added to the
knowledge that, whether he defended himself or not, his life was in the
same danger, and that the promise of a Kajar was only to be trusted
as a last resource. He, therefore, addressed himself to the task of
defence; but, at the same time, took steps to secure his interest in
case of a reverse. I do not think that he could have succeeded in
the latter point but he, doubtless, had hopes of succeeding.”—[_MS.

[160] On the 10th of January, “money being wanted, the houses of the
Persian followers of Shere Mahomed were confiscated on a charge of
treason, in giving up Ghorian.”—[_Pottinger’s Journal: MS._]

[161] “The digging a gallery,” writes Pottinger, “under the wall, and
entering in the midst of the town, appeared a most capital plan, and
suited much better their cunning than any other. Consequently, they
were seriously alarmed, and for a time serious consequences resulted to
the Sheeah inhabitants; and many domiciliary visits were paid in search
of the gallery, whilst the ruins and empty houses were particularly
patrolled for many nights.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[162] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._ “No matter,” he adds, “how the
cowardice and meanness of these men might be despised, no one could
help pitying the wretchedness they were suffering. Even the better
class of the Afghans used to say, ‘Afsoos ast, lekin chi koonym’—‘It is
a pity, but what can we do?’ In the Pay Hissar (esplanade in front of
the drawbridge) were lying half a dozen Persian heads lately brought

[163] _MS. Journal of Eldred Pottinger._

[164] Contending emotions of sympathy, now with their co-religionists,
and now with their fellow-citizens, agitated the breasts of the
Heratees. “I went,” writes Pottinger, on the 2nd of February, “to see a
Sheeah: he was grieving over the fate which hung over him; one moment
cursing Mahomed Shah’s pusillanimity—the next, the Afghan tyranny. But
through the whole of his discontent, I observed he felt a sort of pride
and satisfaction in being the countryman of those who set the Persians
at defiance. But he appeared fully impressed with the idea that the
city must fall, whilst the Afghans I had just left were talking of
plundering Teheran with the aid of our artillery and infantry.”—[_MS.

[165] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[166] Samson was a Russian in the Persian service, commanding a corps
of Russian refugees.

[167] “I then proceeded to Colonel Stoddart’s tent, whom I found in the
greatest astonishment possible, as his servants, taking up the general
report of my rank, had announced me as the Mooshtehid of Herat. He
had been undressed; and putting on his coat to do honour to the high
dignitary, gave me time to enter his tent before he could get out, so
we met at the door, where he overwhelmed me with a most affectionate
Persian welcome, to which I, to his great surprise, replied in English.
No one who has not experienced it, can understand the pleasure which
countrymen enjoy when they thus meet—particularly when of the same
profession, and pursuing the same object.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS.

[168] They fired from this piece eight-inch shells full of lead, or
twelve or eighteen-pound shot, with an outer case of copper. These were
of so much value, that the garrison fought for them.

[169] The same man, a major in the army, whom Pottinger had first met
in the Persian camp.

[170] “The man,” says Pottinger, “was also instructed to say that
warning should be taken from our conduct in India, where we had
pretended friendship and trade to cover our ambition, and finally, by
such deceit, had mastered all India.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[171] It would be tedious to narrate all the details of the siege, and
difficult to render them intelligible, even to the scientific reader,
without the aid of a series of elaborate plans.

[172] “The point,” says Mr. M’Neill, “on which the negotiation broke
off was, I believe, the demand of the Shah, that Shah Kamran and
Yar Mahomed should wait upon him in his camp, and there make their
submission to him. I learn that the Persians did not, as on a former
occasion, require that a garrison of their troops should be admitted
into the town.”—[_Mr. M’Neill to Lord Auckland, April 11, 1838.
Published Correspondence._]

[173] _Mr. M’Neill to Lord Auckland, April 11, 1838. Papers relating to
Persia and Afghanistan._

[174] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[175] “Several men,” says Pottinger, “received bullets through the
hands and arms. One fellow, more fool-hardy than the rest, kept
brandishing his huge Afghan knife, after the others had complied
with the repeated orders to sheath their weapons, and had the knife
destroyed by a bullet, which struck it just above his hand. I had
gone down to the spot to see the mine sprung, and was sitting on the
banquette with the Wuzeer and a party of chiefs, who, whilst tea was
preparing, were bantering the man whose knife was broken, and who came
to beg a sword instead, when a bullet came in through a loophole over
my head, and, smashing a brick used for stopping it, lodged in Aga
Ruhem’s lungs, who was standing opposite—one of the splinters of the
brick at the same time wounding him in the face. The poor fellow was
an eunuch of Yar Mahomed’s, and was always to be seen wherever any
danger was. He died in two or three days. I had been but the moment
before looking through the top of the parapet, with my breast resting
against the loophole, watching the Persians, who were trying to
establish themselves in the crater of the mine, and the Afghans on the
counterscarp, who were trying to grapple the gabions and overset them,
so that the scene was very interesting; and I had not sat down with the
chiefs until Deen Mahomed Khan actually pulled me down by my cloak to
listen to the jokes passed on the man who had his knife destroyed; and
I thus escaped Aga Ruhem’s bullet.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[176] “I was much annoyed,” says Pottinger, “and told him he had
probably prevented the English ambassador interfering, and he excused
himself by saying that he acted so to make the Persians think he was
not solicitous for the English to interfere.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[177] “A horse,” says Pottinger, “was also given; but Major Todd was as
anxious not to accept presents, as the Afghans were to make them—so he
would not wait for the horse, notwithstanding they set about cutting
away the parapet of the _fausse-braie_, and making a ramp up the
counterscarp to get the nag out. The Wuzeer was obstinately bent upon
sending out the horse; but as there was no use in destroying a parapet
in the only entire work left, or making an easy road across the ditch,
when there were four practicable breaches.

* * * As soon as the Persians were gone, my people led the horses off
in another direction, and I told the workmen to stop and repair the
damage done, so that the Wuzeer did not know of the ruse till late in
the afternoon, when his master of the horse reported the return of
the horses. He immediately sent them to me, saying he had given them
to the English and would not take them. I told him I had not enough
of grain to keep them: and suggested that if he did not like to keep
them, they might be eaten. The people present, on the receipt of the
message, highly approved of the latter part; and Yar Mahomed gave to
the most clamorous the horse intended for the Persian, which was duly
roasted. I believe the other one underwent the same fate a few weeks
subsequently.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[178] “I was a good deal surprised on awaking at half-past six to
see the Envoy already up and busy writing. At seven, according to
engagement, I sent to let the Wuzeer know that his Excellency was ready
to receive him. Yar Mahomed was asleep when the message arrived; but
they awoke him, and he joined us in a short time with a whole posse of
chiefs. On my meeting him at the door he asked me was it customary for
our ministers not to sleep at night, declaring that he had scarcely
closed his eyes when he was told that Mr. M’Neill was waiting for
him; and further remarked, ‘I do not wonder your affairs prosper when
men of such high rank as your minister plenipotentiary work harder
than an Afghan private soldier would do even under the eye of the
Shah.’”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[179] _Mr. M’Neill to Yar Mahomed—Published Correspondence._

[180] Pottinger explained to Kamran the manner in which Mr. M’Neill
had been deceived. “On the 24th,” he says, “I had an audience of
Shah Kamran to explain the manner in which the Persians had deceived
the British Envoy. His Majesty said that he never expected anything
else—that the Kajars have been noted for their want of faith ever
since they have been heard of—that his father and himself had several
times tried their promises, but always been miserably deceived.”—[_MS.

[181] _Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[182] _Yar Mahomed to Mr. M’Neill_—_Published Correspondence._

[183] _Mr. M’Neill to Lord Palmerston_—_Published Correspondence._
Intelligence of Simonich’s movements soon reached the beleaguered
garrison. “We were told,” says Pottinger, “that Count Simonich had
reconnoitred the city, and had examined with a telescope from the top
of the Masula, and given his opinion that all the points attacked were
too strong to be taken; and that the only vulnerable side was the
eastern side.”

[184] “Notwithstanding,” says Pottinger, “that I might then be
considered a doubtful friend, it was never contemplated that I should
be kept out of their assembly.”—[_MS. Journal._]

[185] _Published Correspondence relating to Persia and Afghanistan._

[186] The Gholam’s own account of the treatment he received from Hadjee
Khan is worth quoting:-“Hadjee Khan then turned to me, and threatened
me with instant death. I demanded the reason, but he gave me no other
answer than abuse, calling me a traitor and a rascal, and said that he
himself would be my executioner. He then began to unbutton his coat
sleeves, threatening me all the while, and every now and then half
unsheathing his dagger, ‘I will be your executioner myself,’ said
the Khan. ‘If there be an enemy to the English, I am the man—you are
a traitor and a rascal—your eyes shall be plucked out; the Shah has
ordered me to kill you; I will first cut off your hands. You must have
papers from Herat, and unless you instantly deliver them up, you shall
be cut to pieces.’ Hadjee Khan went on in this strain for a long time,
during which I was stripped nearly to my skin, the air being so cold
that water, on being exposed, instantly froze. I was silent under all
these threats and demonstrations, merely observing that, having such
a noble executioner as Hadjee Khan, I was content to die, and I hoped
the office would remain in his family.”—_Statement of Ali Mahomed
Beg._—_Published Correspondence relating to Persia and Afghanistan._

[187] _Mr. M’Neill to Lord Palmerston: Meshed, June 25, 1838._

[188] The Jew’s synagogue had been devoted to this unholy use; but they
had contrived to accomplish its redemption.

[189] An amusing illustration of the unsavoury condition of the city at
this time is given in Pottinger’s Journal. He had made the acquaintance
of a magician, and wished to have a specimen of his art. “People of
his class,” he writes, “are very careful of exposing themselves; and
are excessively suspicious and bigoted. It was therefore a long time
before I could venture to request a turn of his art. However, I at
last did so, but was disappointed at finding he was not a regular
practitioner; and as we had got now intimate he told me that he as yet
had not commenced the practice; that he wanted to pursue the science
allowed by the _Hudyth_; not the accursed magic—_Sihr Malown_; that
he wished but for power to summon the _gins_ and angels to his aid.
Though this was not exactly what I wanted, I should have been most
happy of an introduction to either of these classes; and, therefore,
not to lose my labour, I used my utmost endeavours to get my friend to
commence his incantations at once. He made many excuses. First, he had
not got clean clothes to change, as the scarcity had obliged him to
part with everything extra to buy grain whilst it was tolerably cheap.
This and sundry other excuses were easily overcome; but he evidently
wished to avoid the employment, or to make excuses for use when he
failed. As soon as one objection was overruled another was raised; but
I overcame all except that the stench of the dead bodies from the city
would prevent these spirits from venturing, except under extraordinary
strong incantations, within its walls; as angels and _gins_ are said to
be particularly fond of sweet odours, and excessively angered by the
contrary. The argument was a clencher, and no ingenuity could overturn
it, for certainly the smell was abominable, and in a calm, or when the
wind came from the southward, in which direction the greatest number
had been buried, the human kind could scarcely withstand the horrible
effluvia of putrid flesh.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[190] A few days afterwards, however, a party of some 600 or 700,
mostly old men, women, and children, were put out of the gates. “The
enemy,” says Pottinger, “opened a heavy fire on them until they found
out who they were, when they tried to drive them back with sticks and
stones; but Naib Dustoo, to whom the business was entrusted, liker a
fiend than a man, opened a fire upon the wretched citizens from the
works, and the Persians thus let them pass. From the besiegers’ fire
no one suffered, as a rising ground was between, but from that of the
garrison it is said several fell.”

[191] It was said that Mahomed Shah had come down in person to witness
the assault; but the Royal amateur was only the Shah’s brother, who,
attended by a party of idlers, and a small body of horse, was a
spectator of the defeat of his countrymen.

[192] “The assault on the gate of Candahar was repulsed, and the
Persians chased back into their trenches; but the danger at the
south-east angle prevented them following up the advantage. At the
south-west angle, or Pay-in-ab, the Persians can scarcely be said to
have attacked, as they never advanced beyond the parapet of their own
trenches. It was evidently a mere feint. At the western, or Arak gate,
a column composed of the Russian regiment, and other troops under
Samson, and those under Wully Khan, marched up to the counterscarp; but
Wully Khan being killed, and Samson carried off the field wounded, the
men broke and fled, leaving an immense number killed and wounded. The
latter were nearly all shot by idlers on the ramparts, or murdered by
the plunderers, who crept out to strip the slain. The other attack, on
the centre of the north-west face, was repulsed in like manner, after
reaching the counterscarp.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._] Wully
Khan’s body was found on the following day, and his head was brought
into the city. On his person were found several letters relating to
the plan of assault, which satisfactorily proved that it had been
designed by the Russian officers in the Persian camp. There were two
letters among them from Mahomed Shah himself—one addressed to Wully
Khan, ordering him to conform to the plan of the Russian ambassador,
and another to Hadjee Meerza Aghassy, directing him to give similar
instructions to Wully Khan.

[193] There is nothing finer in the annals of the war in Afghanistan
than the heroic conduct of Eldred Pottinger on this 24th of June. But
I should as little discharge my duty as an historian, as I should
gratify my inclinations as a man, if I were not to say that I have
extracted, with some difficulty, from Pottinger’s manuscript journal,
the real history of the service that he rendered to his country on this
memorable day. The young Bombay artilleryman was endowed with a rare
modesty, which made him unwilling to speak or to write about himself.
In the copy of the journal before me he has erased, throughout the
entire record of this day, every entrance made in the first person; and
only by giving rein to a curiosity, which I should not have indulged,
or considered pardonable in any ordinary case, have I succeeded in
extracting the real history of an incident which has already, in one
or two incorrect shapes, been given to the world. Wherever Pottinger
had written in the original copy of his journal “I,” he had erased
the egotistical monosyllable, and substituted the words, “the people
about the Wuzeer,” or had otherwise disguised the record of his own
achievements. For example, the words, “I had several times to lay hold
of the Vizier, and point to him the men, who turned as soon as he did,”
are altered into, “the people about abused, and several times had
to lay hold of the Vizier, &c. &c.” What was thought of Pottinger’s
conduct beyond the walls of Herat, may be gathered from the fact,
that a few days afterwards a man came in from Kurookh, bringing some
important intelligence, who immediately on his arrival, went up to
Pottinger, seized his hands, kissed them, said he was indeed “rejoiced
that he had made so great a pilgrimage,” and spoke with enthusiastic
praise of the repulse of the Persian stormers.

[194] The loss upon the Persian side was very heavy. A large number of
officers, including several chiefs of note, were killed and wounded.
Mr. M’Neill wrote from camp near Teheran, to Lord Palmerston: “The
number of the killed and wounded of the Persian army is variously
stated; but the best information I have been able to obtain leads me
to believe that it cannot be less than 1700 or 1800 men. The loss in
officers, and especially those of the higher ranks, has been very great
in proportion to the whole number killed and wounded. Major-General
Berowski and Sirteps Wully Khan and Nebbee Khan, have been killed;
Sirteps Samson Khan, Hossein Pasha Khan, and Jaffier Kooli Khan, have
been wounded; and almost all the field-officers of these brigades have
been killed or wounded.” There is little doubt, however, that the
entire number of casualties is greatly overstated in this passage.

[195] “The Wuzeer told me the whole business hung upon me; that the
Persians made a point of obtaining my dismissal, without which they
would not treat. They were so pressing, that he said he never before
guessed my importance, and that the Afghan envoys who had gone to camp
had told him they had always thought me one man, but the importance
the Persians attached to my departure showed that I was equal to an
army. The Afghans were very complimentary, and expressed loudly their
gratitude to the British Government, to the exertions of which they
attributed the change in the tone of the Persians. They, however,
did not give the decided answers they should have done, but put the
question off by saying I was a guest. The Persians offered to be
security for my safe passage to any place I chose to go to.”—[_Eldred
Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[196] At one of these consultations, held on the 18th of July, “Deen
Mahomed,” said Pottinger, “proposed that each chief should bring what
he had to the Wuzeer. The Wuzeer proposed that each chief should
retain his own men. The Topshee-Bashee said: ‘As the Shah has money,
and won’t give it, we cannot force him; but if you allow me to seize
whom I like, and the chiefs give me their promise that they will not
interfere in favour of any one, I will undertake to provide the expense
of the men for two months.’ The chiefs immediately said ‘Done!’ and
had an agreement made out, and those present sealed it.... They were,
or appeared well satisfied with me; and the Wuzeer quoted my anxiety
and efforts as an example to those who had their women and children to
defend.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[197] _Colonel Stoddart to Mr. M’Neill. Correspondence relating to
Persia and Afghanistan._

[198] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[199] “Yar Mahomed is one of the most persuasive talkers I have met.
It is scarcely possible to talk with him and retain anger. He is ready
in a surprising degree, and is so patient under rebuke, that I never
saw him fail to quiet the most violent of his countrymen, when he
thought it worth his while. A person who disregards truth, and thinks
nothing of denying what he has asserted a few minutes before, is a
most puzzling person to argue with. Until you have thought over what
has been said, you cannot understand the changeable colours which pass
before you.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._]

[200] _Eldred Pottinger’s MS. Journal._

[201] “It is my firm belief that Mahomed Shah might have carried the
city by assault the very first day that he reached Herat, and that
even when the garrison gained confidence, and were flushed with the
success of their sorties, he might have, by a proper use of the means
at his disposal, taken the place in twenty-four hours. His troops were
infinitely better soldiers, and quite as brave men, as the Afghans.
The non-success of their efforts was the fault of their generals. We
can never again calculate on such, and if the Persians again return,
they will do so properly commanded and enlightened as to the causes
of their former failure. Their material was on a scale sufficient to
have reduced a powerful fortress. The men worked very well at the
trenches, considering they were not trained sappers, and the practice
of the artillery was really superb. They simply wanted engineers, and a
general, to have proved a most formidable force.”—[_Eldred Pottinger’s
Report on Herat_: _Calcutta, July, 1840._ _MS. Records._]

[202] It will have been perceived that I have described the operations
of the siege of Herat, almost entirely as from within the walls. I
have done this partly, because I believe that the interest of such
descriptions is greatly enhanced when the reader is led to identify
himself more particularly with one contending party; and partly because
the outside movements of the Persian army have been already detailed
in the published letters of Colonel Stoddart and Mr. M’Neill, whilst
no account has ever yet been given to the public of the defensive
operations of the Heratees. I have already stated that my information
has been, for the most part, derived from the Manuscript Journals of
Eldred Pottinger.

[203] _Draft of a Note to be presented by the Marquis of Clanricarde to
Count Nesselrode. Published Papers._

[204] It is not very clear, however, that the Russian Government,
though doubtless discredited by the failure, regarded it as “a fatal
enterprise.” Russia had a double game to play. In the familiar language
of the turf, she “hedged.” Whether the Persians won or lost, she was
sure to gain something. The views of Russian statesmen have been thus
set forth, not improbably in the very language of one of them:

“Russia,” it is stated, “has played a very successful, as well as a
very safe, game in the late proceedings. When she prompted the Shah to
undertake the siege of Herat, she was certain of carrying an important
point, however the expedition terminated. If Herat fell, which there
was every reason to expect, then Candahar and Caubul would certainly
have made their submission. Russian influence would thus have been
brought to the threshold of India; and England, however much she
might desire peace, could not avoid being involved in a difficult and
expensive war, in order to avert more serious dangers. If, on the other
hand, England interfered to save Herat, she was compromised—not with
the mere court of Mahomed Shah, but with Persia as a nation. Russia
had contrived to bring all Persia to Herat, and to identify all Persia
with the success or failure of the campaign; and she had thus gravelled
the old system of partisanship, which would have linked Azerbijan
with herself, and the rest of the nation with her rival.”—[_Calcutta

[205] _Count Nesselrode’s Instructions to Count Pozzo di Borgo_:
_November 1, 1839._

[206] Sir John Hobhouse’s answer is worth giving. “Very probably,
Baron; but however much I should regret the collision, I should have no
fear of the result.” I give this on the authority of a distinguished
writer on “Our Political Relations with Persia,” in the _Calcutta

[207] For a very interesting and ably written summary of the progress
of Russia in the East, and an elaborate investigation of the question
of the possibility of a Russian invasion of India, see Mr. Robert
Bell’s excellent “History of Russia.” It was written before the British
crossed the Indus—before Russia entangled herself in the steppes,
and England in the defiles of Central Asia. Neither country now,
remembering these disasters, thinks of the meeting of the Sepoy and the
Cossack without a shudder.

[208] I may as well mention here that the chasm between Persia and
Great Britain, created by the events narrated in this chapter, was
not bridged over until the spring of 1841, when Ghorian was given
back to the Heratees. Before the close of that year, Mahomed Shah
was collecting a great army, and contemplating extensive operations,
the object of which, according to Sir John M’Neill, though disguised
under the name of operations against Khiva, was another assault upon
Herat.—[_Sir John M’Neill to Sir Alexander Burnes: January 5, 1842.
MS._] This letter was written more than two months after Burnes had
fallen a victim to the policy which I am now about to elucidate. Sir
John M’Neill wrote: “I have now to inform you, that since the arrival
of Count Medem, the new Russian Minister, about a month ago, the Shah
has given orders for collecting an army in the spring, about two months
hence, which is intended to be numerous, and to be accompanied by two
hundred pieces of Artillery; and he announces his intention to march
in the direction of Meshed, for the purpose of attacking Khiva. The
advance of the Shah with such an army to Meshed, may produce some
commotion in Afghanistan, as you will no doubt hear of his proposing
to go to Herat; and I conclude, therefore, that you will be prepared
to put down any movements that may be caused by the rumour of his
approach, and for any ulterior measures that may be necessary.” But
in a postscript, dated January 6, the very day on which the British
commenced their lamentable retreat from Caubul, he added: “Since
writing the preceding lines, some circumstances which have come to my
knowledge, lead me to think it quite possible that the Shah may not
follow out his intention of going with an army into Khorassan, and it
is even possible that no army may be sent in that direction; but I am
still of opinion, that it is considerably more probable that a force
will be sent, than that it will not; and if a large army should march
to Meshed, its objects will, I think, have reference rather to Herat
than to Khiva.”—[_MS. Correspondence._]

[209] _Mr. M’Neill to Captain Burnes._ _MS. Records._

[210] Id. ibid.

[211] Count Simonich’s letter was intercepted, and taken to M’Neill by
one Meer Mahomed, whom M’Neill subsequently placed at the disposal of

[212] _“Captain Wade to J. R. Colvin” Esq., June 27, 1837._ _MS.

[213] _Private Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes._

[214] See Harlan’s account of the reception of these presents. I see no
reason to question its veracity.

[215] Lord William Bentinck is said to have exclaimed, “What! Lord
Auckland and Macnaghten gone to war! The very last men in the world I
should have suspected of such folly!”

[216] In the preceding year he had written to Sir Charles Metcalfe,
“You are quite right in believing that I have not a thought of
interference between the Afghans and the Sikhs. I should not be sorry
to see strong, independent, and commercial powers established in
Afghanistan; but short of Persian or Russian occupation, their present
state is as unsatisfactory as possible, with national, family, and
religious feuds so inveterate as almost to make one party ready to
join any invader against another. It is out of the question that we
can ever gain direct power or influence amongst them.”—[_Life of Lord
Metcalfe_, vol. ii. p. 307.] It was upon the basis of this assumption
that he subsequently reared the delusive project of re-establishing
“the integrity of the Douranee Empire.”

[217] “Of plans, of this nature, that of granting our aid or
countenance in concert with Runjeet Singh, to enable Shah
Soojah-ool-Moolk to re-establish his sovereignty in the Eastern
division of Afghanistan, under engagements which shall conciliate
the feelings of the Sikh ruler, and bind the restored monarch to the
support of our interests, appears to me to be decidedly the most
deserving of attention. Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk and Maharajah Runjeet
Singh would probably act readily upon such a plan, it being similar to
that in which they were before engaged, but which failed principally
from the want of pecuniary aid, and the absence of our active sanction
and support. In such an enterprise (which both from past experience,
and from the circumstance that it would be undertaken in resistance
of an attempt to establish _Sheeah_ supremacy in the country, would,
we believe, have many partisans in Afghanistan) Runjeet Singh would
assist by the employment of a portion of his troops, and we by some
contribution in money, and the presence of an accredited agent of
the government, and of a sufficient number of officers for the
direction of the Shah’s army.”—[_Minute of Lord Auckland’s, Simlah,
May 12, 1838_—_MS. Records._] A portion of this minute is given in
the published correspondence. The passage quoted, and indeed, all the
latter and more practical portion of it, is omitted.

[218] _Minute of Lord Auckland—Unpublished portion_: _MS. Records._

[219] It is worth while to quote some passages from this letter of
instructions; only a grandiloquent passage setting forth generally the
pacific views of Lord Auckland, and the power of the British Government
having been inserted in the Blue Book. “You can then, as you observe
the disposition of the Maharajah, listen to all he has to say, or, in
the event of his showing no disposition to commence the conference,
you can state to him the views of your own government—that two courses
of proceeding had occurred to his lordship—the one that the treaty
formerly executed between his Highness and Shah Soojah should be
recognised by the British Government—that whilst the Sikhs advanced
cautiously on Caubul, accompanied by British agents, a demonstration
should be made by a division of the British army occupying Shikarpoor
with Shah Soojah in their company, to whom the British Government would
advance money to enable him to levy troops and purchase arms, and to
whom also the services of British officers should be lent, that the
same opportunity should be taken of securing to the Maharajah what it
had been customary for him to receive from the Scindhians, and that
with regard to Shikarpoor, the supplementary article in the treaty now
proposed (and which with a second supplementary article relating to
Herat is annexed to this despatch) should be substituted for Article
IV. in the former treaty—that in the event of his Highness agreeing
to this convention, the Governor-General would be prepared to ratify
it, unless circumstances should intermediately have occurred to induce
his Lordship to alter his views as to its expediency, and that in the
event of the convention being ratified by his Lordship, the descent on
Shikarpoor, for temporary occupation, should be directed as soon as due
preparations could be made, and the season will permit. If his Highness
also approved of this convention, and agreed that the operations of
the allies should be conducted in concert with each other, by means
of British agents in the camp of each, the Governor-General would be
prepared to enter into a general defensive alliance with his Highness
against the attacks of all enemies from the westward.

“You will, at the same time, propound the only other course of
proceedings which, in the opinion of the Governor-General, the case
admits of, which is to allow the Maharajah to take his own course
against Dost Mahomed Khan without any reference to us. Should his
Highness show a decided preference for this course, you are authorised
to tell him at once, that he is at liberty to follow it; but you should
point out to him the possibility of defeat, by the combined army of
the Persians and Afghans, and you will, as far as you can consistently
with propriety, impress upon him the necessity of caution, and of
using Afghan rather than Sikh influence or agency. Should he wish
to make an instrument of Shah Soojah, you will apprise him that the
Governor-General attaches too much importance to the person of the
ex-King to admit of his going forth, otherwise than with the almost
assured certainty of success; but that the ex-King will be permitted to
proceed to Caubul with a view of being re-instated in his sovereignty,
should the Sikhs succeed in taking Caubul, and that arrangement be
desired by his Highness.

“Of the relative advantages which may be derived from these two plans,
you will be better able to judge after you shall have fully opened
them, with the consideration which each has to recommend it to the
Maharajah. His Highness may possibly be unwilling to commit his troops
in the passes of the Khybur, and he may strongly feel the difficulty
which religious and natural animosity will oppose to any measure mainly
resting on Sikh power and Sikh influence. He may not, therefore, reject
the plan that stands first in this paper; and there can be little
doubt that, for ultimate efficiency, and for bringing greater weight
and greater strength to bear in concert upon the objects in view,
that this plan should have the preference; but it is cumbrous, and a
considerable time may elapse before it can be set in motion; and if
it might conciliate Afghan opinion on one hand, on the other it might
impair with the Sikhs that cordiality which would be so essential to
the success of co-operation. His Lordship, on the whole, is disposed
to think that the plan which is second in order is that which will be
found most expedient.”—[_MS. Records._]

[220] Captain Osborne, Lord Auckland’s nephew and military secretary
Captain George Macgregor, of the artillery, one of his aides-de-camp,
whose name has since become associated with some of the most honourable
incidents of the Afghan war; and Dr. Drummond, accompanied Macnaghten.

[221] _MS. Records._

[222] Lieutenant (since Colonel) Mackeson was one of the assistants to
the Governor-General’s agent on the north-west frontier. Whilst Burnes
was at Caubul he was directed to remain at Peshawur; a place with
which his name has since become historically, and now most painfully,
associated. Some two months before the arrival of Macnaghten’s Mission,
he joined Runjeet Singh’s camp and travelled with the Maharajah through
different parts of the Sikh Empire. Runjeet conversed freely with
the young officer regarding the progress of Burnes’s negotiations at
Caubul, the mission of Vickovich, and other matters connected with the
politics of Afghanistan. Rumours had then reached him of the designs of
the British Government to invite him to co-operate in measures for the
overthrow of the Barukzye Sirdars. He discussed the subject with little
reserve; and it was evident that the project had little attraction for

[223] I should not have thought that the drift of this passage could be
misunderstood. And yet it has been said with reference to it [_Hume’s
Memoir of Henry Torrens_] that although I have “emphatically denounced
the disgraceful act of mutilating official papers,” I have “no single
word of censure for diplomatic falsehoods,” but have declared that
“diplomacy _should not be_ subjected to the test of truth.” I said that
it “is not intended to be,” not that “it should not be,” subjected to
such a test. Every writer must be permitted to choose his own weapons
of attack. At one time he may employ invective; at another, sarcasm;
and the latter may express as strong a detestation of falsehood and
baseness as the former. Both in a previous and a subsequent chapter
I have expressed my opinion of the manner in which Lord Auckland and
his ministers misrepresented the conduct of Dost Mahomed; and in the
present passage I do not seek to exculpate Macnaghten, by insinuating
my belief that diplomacy is, in its general intent and practice,
shamefully destitute of honesty and truth.

[224] The greater part of the proposed treaty was substantially
and literally the same as that negotiated in 1833—but some
supplementary articles were added to it. One of these recognised the
independence of the Ameers of Sindh (Runjeet thereby withdrawing all
claims on Shikarpoor), in consideration of the payment by them of
compensation-money to the amount of twenty lakhs of rupees; and another
recognised the integrity of Herat.

[225] Runjeet was always doubtful whether his soldiers would not shrink
from attempting to force the Khybur Pass. He told Mackeson, before
the arrival of Macnaghten’s Mission, that the Khalsa entertained
very strong prejudices against that kind of warfare, of which it may
be added, both he and his chiefs had the vaguest possible idea. He
believed that to force the Khybur Pass was to push a column of troops
into it, somewhat as you would push them over a narrow bridge, the men
in the rear stepping over the bodies of their slaughtered comrades.
He had no notion of turning the pass by flank movements—of crowning
the heights on each side—and accomplishing by skilful dispositions
what could not be done by brute force without a dreadful sacrifice
of life. Subsequently, at his interviews with the officers of the
British Mission, he reverted to this subject. He said that he had
never tried the Khalsa at such work; that he doubted whether they
could be induced to march over the corpses of their countrymen; and
asked whether British troops could be depended on for such service.
He added, that the Sirdars whom he had sent to command his troops at
Peshawur, had often urged him to suffer them to move through the Khybur
upon Jellalabad; but that he had uniformly refused to listen to their
proposals.—[_MS. Notes._]

[226] Runjeet put in a claim for more than a moiety of the
tribute-money of twenty lakhs of rupees that was to be wrung from the
Ameers of Sindh and divided between him and the Shah; and he asked also
for the transfer of Jellalabad to his own rule. The latter demand was
steadfastly refused; but an arrangement was effected with regard to
the former, at the expense of the Ameers of Sindh; Runjeet receiving a
larger amount without detriment to the Shah.

[227] _Mr. Macnaghten to Government. Camp, near Lahore, June 20 1838_:
_MS. Records._ Captain Cunninghame [_History of the Sikhs_], says that
Runjeet was informed that the expedition for the restoration of Shah
Soojah would be undertaken, whether the Maharajah chose to share in
it or not. “That Runjeet Singh,” the author adds in a note, “was told
he would be left out if he did not choose to come in, does not appear
on public record. It was, however, the only convincing argument used
during the long discussions, and I think Major Mackeson was made the
bearer of the message to that effect.” But this is stated somewhat too
broadly. Runjeet Singh was not told that the British, in the event of
his refusing to co-operate with the Shah, would undertake by themselves
the restoration of Shah Soojah, but that they _might_ be compelled
to do so in self-defence. Mackeson told Runjeet, as Macnaghten had
before told the Fakir Aziz-ood-een, that in order “to guard against any
reproach of reserve or concealment, hereafter,” it was right “to inform
him now of the possibility that might occur of our being compelled,
in self-defence, to take our own measures to ward off approaching
danger, and use our own troops to restore Shah Soojah to the throne.”
The Maharajah, receiving this communication as though he had not been
prepared for it by the Fakir Aziz-ood-een, told Mackeson at once to
prepare the treaty. “Not immediately understanding,” says Mackeson, in
his memorandum of this interview, “to what treaty he might allude, I
asked the Fakir whether that with the supplementary articles presented
by Mr. Macnaghten to the Maharajah’s approval was the one alluded
to. The Maharajah observed, ‘That one;’ and the Fakir recalled his
attention to the point by asking how the question of Jellalabad was to
be settled; to which his Highness replied, that if the Sikhs could not
be allowed to hold possession of Jellalabad, some other arrangement
could be made, which would have the effect of making the Khalsa-jee
act in cordial co-operation—that the friendship between the Sikhs and
the British was great, and had lasted many years—that the British and
Sikh Governments had no care, and were both able to act independently,
but that they had a care for the mutual friendship which had lasted so
long. The Fakir hinted to me to suggest some other mode to supersede
that of the Sikhs holding possession of Jellalabad. I observed that
it now rested with the Maharajah to suggest any plan that might have
occurred to his mind. After some further conversation, Runjeet Singh
said that an annual tribute of two lakhs of rupees from Shah Soojah
would satisfy him for the non-possession of Jellalabad; and this
granted, he was willing to co-operate for the restoration of the Shah.
The British agents objected to the payment of tribute, as it would be
an acknowledgment of inferiority on the part of the Shah; but they
consented that the two lakhs should be paid, in the shape of a subsidy,
Runjeet Singh undertaking to keep up a force on the frontier, at the
call of the Afghan monarch.”—[_Lieutenant Mackeson’s Memorandum of a
conversation with the Maharajah, Runjeet Singh, at Lahore, 23d of June,
1838_: _MS. Records._]

[228] Mackeson was the general messenger on the part of the British
agent, as was the Fakir Aziz-ood-een, or Kishen Chund, on the part of
the Maharajah. These functionaries were constantly going backwards and
forwards, in the frightful heat, to communicate the suggestions or
replies of their respective chiefs.

[229] It is probable that the demand for Jellalabad was intended to be
refused, in order that the refusal might strengthen Runjeet’s claims to
increased pecuniary compensation; for before the arrival of the Mission
he was in the habit of speaking of Jellalabad as a possession not to be
coveted by the Khalsa.

[230] Moollah Shikore was at this time the Shah’s agent and
confidential adviser in exile. Further mention will be made of him in a
subsequent portion of the narrative.

[231] _Memorandum, by Lieut. Mackeson, of Mr. Macnaghten’s Interview
with Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk, at Loodhianah, on the 15th of July, 1838_;
_MS. Records._

[232] _Lieutenant Mackeson’s Memorandum_: _MS. Records._

[233] “Who would, however,” it was added, “not interfere with the full
exercise of his authority over his subjects.”

[234] “He mentioned having a few days before sent an emissary to
Kamram to conjure him, for the honour of the Afghans, to hold out
for two short months, and he would hear of miracles worked in his
favour.”—[_Lieutenant Mackeson’s Memorandum_: _MS. Records._]

[235] Some anxiety was expressed by the Shah lest Prince Timour should
be consigned entirely to the guidance of the Sikhs, but he was assured
that the presence of British officers in his camp would effectually
prevent this.

[236] It will be more convenient for purposes of reference to
append, as a note to each article, Macnaghten’s replies to these
several points, as given at the subsequent interview: “With regard
to the _first_ article,” he writes, “I told the Shah that he might
make his mind perfectly at ease, as the British Government had no
intention or wish to interfere between his Majesty and his family and
dependents.”—[_Mr. Macnaghten to Government, July 17, 1838_: _MS.

[237] “With regard to the _second_ article, I pointed out to the Shah,
that the conquest of Shikarpoor would be directly opposed to one of
the articles of the treaty. To the rest of the article I could only
say that it would be naturally the wish of the British Government to
witness the consolidation and extension, to their proper limits, of his
Majesty’s dominions.”—[_MS. Records._]

[238] “On the subject of the _third_ article, I observed that, of
course, the Shah did not mean to include the territories ceded to
Runjeet Singh by the new treaty, and that the mention of Shikarpoor was
inadmissible.”—[_MS. Records._]

[239] “The _fourth_ article I stated would doubtless be approved by the
Governor-General.”—[_MS. Records._]

[240] “The wish, I said, expressed in the _fifth_ article would be
scrupulously attended to.”—[_MS. Records._]

[241] “With respect to the objection urged in the _sixth_ article, to
making money-payments to Maharajah Runjeet Singh, I reiterated the
arguments formerly used, to show the distinctions between a tributary
and a subsidiary obligation. These arguments, it will be observed,
had due weight with his Majesty, for in the written article he brings
forward the objection as one that may occur to the world, not as one
to which he himself attaches any importance. Ultimately, however,
his Majesty admitted that it would be impossible to satisfy all
unreasonable objections, and that to those who understood the subject,
and whose opinions alone were to be valued, the reciprocal nature of
the subsidiary obligation would be sufficiently obvious. With regard
to the objection specified in this article, founded on the anticipated
want of means, I gave his Majesty encouragement to hope that the
British Government would not permit him to be in distress for the means
of discharging his necessary pecuniary obligations.”—[_MS. Records._]

[242] “The _seventh_ article, I observed, was at variance with the
proposed provisions in the new treaty regarding Shikarpoor. His
Majesty, after some conversation, agreed to expunge the article, as
well as to exclude the mention of Shikarpoor in other places where
it had been introduced from his paper of requests; but he seemed to
set great value on his claim to Shikarpoor and the Sindh possessions
generally. The Ameers, he observed, had no legitimate title to their
dominions but what they derived from him. Shikarpoor, he said, he was
particularly desirous to obtain possession of, as being an appropriate
place of refuge and escape for his family in case of reverses; but he
ultimately admitted that the object would be sufficiently secured to
him so long as the British influence prevailed with the Ameers.”—[_MS.

[243] “On the very delicate subject introduced into the last article,
I observed to his Majesty that its connexion with the treaty generally
did not seem to me to be obvious, but that I would nevertheless bring
it to the notice of the Governor-General, who would, I felt persuaded,
take it into consideration with the same anxious desire to gratify his
Majesty in this as in all other matters.”—[_MS. Records._]

[244] _MS. Records._

[245] _Mr. Macnaghten to Government, July 17, 1838_: _MS. Records._

[246] Many of these letters were promptly responded to, and in some
instances voluntary tenders of service were made by chiefs discontented
with the Barukzye rule. Among others, Khan Shereen Khan, chief of the
Kuzzilbashes, wrote to Shah Soojah declaring his intention to join
his standard. “Since we have been so unfortunate,” said the chief,
“as to be far from your royal household, it is only known to God how
wretchedly we pass our days. We have now resolved, as soon as the
troops of your Majesty arrive on the frontier, to lose no time in
waiting upon your Majesty and proving our fidelity by sacrificing
ourselves in your service. For God’s sake do not make this letter
public.” Even before it was known that there was any intention on
the part of the Shah to attempt to regain his kingdom, many of the
chiefs, either offended by Dost Mahomed’s alliance with the Persians,
or warned by the failure of Burnes’s Mission of the danger of clinging
any longer to a falling house, wrote to the Shah, beseeching him to
return. “The faggots,” it was said, “are ready. It merely requires the
lighted torch to be applied.” It is remarkable that one of the first
to tender his services to the Suddozye Prince was that very Abdoollah
Khan, Achetzkye, who was the prime mover of the insurrection at Caubul,
which brought about the restoration of the Barukzyes.—[_Captain Wade
to Mr. Macnaghten, June 5th, 1838_: _MS. Records._] At this time the
Shah was restricted from corresponding with his Afghan friends; but
Captain Wade, whilst reporting to government the receipt of the letters
from Abdoollah Khan and others, recommended that the restriction should
be removed. The Shah seems to have laid before the British agent, in
perfect good faith, all the letters he received from Afghanistan whilst
a pensioner on the British Government.

[247] _Mr. Macnaghten to Government, July 17, 1838_: _MS. Records._

[248] It was, as I have shown, the first wish of the Governor-General
that the Sikhs should undertake, single-handed, the invasion of
Afghanistan (see Lord Auckland’s Minute and instructions to Mr.
Macnaghten in the preceding chapter). Macnaghten, on his way to
Runjeet’s Court, wrote to Mr. Masson: “You will have heard that I
am proceeding on a mission to Runjeet Singh; and as at my interview
with his Highness it is probable that the question of his relations
with the Afghans will come on the _tapis_, I am naturally desirous of
obtaining the opinion of the best-informed men with respect to them.
Would you oblige me, therefore, by stating what means of counteraction
to the policy of Dost Mahomed Khan you would recommend for adoption;
and whether you think that the Sikhs, using any (and what?) instrument
of Afghan agency, could establish themselves in Caubul?”—[_Masson’s
Narrative_, vol. iii.] A letter, with a similar suggestion, was sent
to Captain Burnes, of whose reception of the project I shall speak
more in detail. The matter is further noticeable as an indication of
the unwillingness of Lord Auckland to interfere more actively in the
politics of Afghanistan.

[249] In this revised edition of the present work, I am bound to state
that Mr. Henry Torrens, whose early death, in 1852, is an event to be
deplored far beyond the circle of his own private friends, emphatically
denied, on reading these statements, and the comments made upon them by
the local press of India, his participation in the evil counsels which
led Lord Auckland astray. I am bound to give currency to Mr. Torrens’s
explanations, which will be found in the Appendix to the present
volume, with such comments of my own as they seem to demand.

[250] Mr. Masson says (_Narrative_, vol. iii., p. 495) that Burnes told
him that the expedition across the Indus “had been arranged before
he reached Simlah, and that when he arrived Torrens and Colvin came
running to him and prayed him to say nothing to unsettle his Lordship;
that they had all the trouble in the world to get him into the
business, and that even now he would be glad of any pretext to retire
from it.” I was for a long time, very sceptical of the truth of this
story; and I do not now vouch for it. But I know that some men, with
far better opportunities than my own of determining the authenticity of
the anecdote, are inclined to believe it.

[251] Runjeet was very anxious to obtain Burnes’s private opinion
regarding the state of politics in Afghanistan, and the course which
it was expedient for the Maharajah to adopt. The Fakir Noor-ood-deen
had two or three conferences with Burnes upon these points. The
whole history of the negotiations with Dost Mahomed were gone over
and reported, from notes taken down at the time, by the Fakir to the
Maharajah. Runjeet declared himself very grateful for this information;
and sent again to ask Burnes to tell him, not as a public functionary,
but as a private friend, whether the restoration of Shah Soojah would
be really to his advantage. Burnes’s answer was in the affirmative; and
Runjeet seems to have been, to some extent, influenced by it.—[_Captain
Burnes to Mr. Macnaghten, Lahore, June 20th, 1838_: _MS. Records._]
I do not know whether this letter has ever been made public from any
private source. Like almost everything else relating to the proceedings
at Lahore and Loodhianah in June and July, 1830, it was studiously
suppressed by government.

[252] _To Mr. Macnaghten, June 2, 1838._

[253] Burnes had originally written, “Of Shah Soojah-ool-Moolk,
personally, I have, that is as ex-King of the Afghans, no very high
opinion;” but he had scored out the words. I quote the passages in the
text from a copy, the accuracy of which is certified by two Justices
of the Peace at Bombay. This letter was cited by Sir John Hobhouse in
the House of Commons, in verification of the assertion that Burnes had
recommended the course adopted by Lord Auckland. That I may not be
myself accused of garbling, I give the letter entire in the _Appendix_.

[254] With reference to the final offers of Dost Mahomed to hold
Peshawur, conjointly with Sultan Mahomed, tributary to Lahore (Jebbar
Khan acting as the Ameer’s representative), Captain Wade wrote: “They
seem to be in some accordance with the overture made by Runjeet Singh
to Dost Mahomed before Captain Burnes’s arrival at Caubul, as reported
in my despatch of the 8th of August last, and appear, as far as I
can judge of them at present, to be more reasonable than his former
overtures, though the Maharajah’s opinion of their operation on the
Peshawur branch of the family remains to be disclosed. I am ready, with
the sanction of the Governor-General, to communicate the proposition
now made to Runjeet Singh, and to support by every argument that I can
use the expediency of its acceptance by him.”—[_Captain Wade to Mr.
Macnaghten, March 3, 1838._]

[255] _Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten_: _MS. Records._ Captain Wade’s
letters have been garbled almost as shamelessly as Captain Burnes’s.

[256] In 1837, he had written to Sir Charles Metcalfe, “Every advance
you might make beyond the Sutlej to the Westward, in my opinion adds to
your military weakness.... If you want your empire to expand, expand
it over Oude or over Gwalior, and the remains of the Mahratta empire.
Make yourselves complete sovereigns of all within your bounds. _But let
alone the Far West._”—[_Life of Lord Metcalfe_, Vol. ii. p. 306.]

[257] The 2nd, 5th, 16th, 27th, 28th, 31st, 35th, 37th, 42nd, 43rd,
48th, and 53rd regiments.

[258] The principal staff-officers were Major P. Craigie, Deputy
Adjutant-General; Major W. Garden, Deputy Quartermaster-General;
Major J. D. Parsons, Deputy Commissary-General; Major Hough, Deputy
Advocate-General; and Major T. Byrne, Assistant Adjutant-General of
Queen’s Troops.

[259] _Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten, Loodhianah, September 23rd,
1838_: _MS. Records._

[260] “We are now planning a grand campaign,” he wrote on the 22nd of
July, “to restore the Shah to the throne of Caubul—Russia having come
down upon us. What exact part I am to play I know not, but if full
confidence and hourly consultation be any pledge, I am to be chief.
I can plainly tell them that it is _aut Cæsar aut nullus_, and if I
get not what I have a right to, you will soon see me _en route_ to
England.” On the 23rd of August he wrote: “Of myself I cannot tell
you what is to become. The commander-in-chief wants to go and to
take me—but this will not be, and I believe the chief and Macnaghten
will be made a commission—Wade and myself political agents under
them. I plainly told Lord Auckland that this does not please, and I
am disappointed. He replied that I could scarcely be appointed with
the chief in equality, and pledged himself to leave me independent
quickly, and in the highest appointment. What can I do when he tells
me I am a man he cannot spare. It is an honour, not a disgrace to
go under Sir Henry; and as for Macnaghten, he is secretary for all
India, and goes _pro tem_. Besides, I am not sorry to see Dost Mahomed
ousted by another hand than mine.”—[_Private Correspondence of Sir
A. Burnes._] These letters were written to his brother. In another
letter addressed to Captain Duncan, also on the 23rd of August, Burnes
wrote: “Of my own destinies, even, I cannot as yet give an account. I
go as a Political Agent with the Shah, but whether as _the_ Political
Agent remains to be seen. I find I bask in favour, but Sir Henry Fane
is to go, and he must be the Agent; but it is even hinted that they
will place a civilian with him, and employ me in advance. Be it so.
I succeed to the permanent employ after all is over.... The chief
wishes to go, and to take me with him, and I am highly obliged for his
appreciation.”—[_Private Correspondence of Sir A. Burnes_: _MS._]

[261] See Burnes’s correspondence, quoted in a preceding note.

[262] Lord Auckland, with characteristic kindliness, exerted himself
to allay any feelings of mortification that may have welled up in
Burnes’s mind; and the latter wisely revoked his determination to be
_aut Cæsar aut nullus_. The extracts from Burnes’s letters, given in
a preceding note, explain the motives that induced him to forego his
original resolve; and the following passage, from another private
letter, shows still more plainly the feelings with which he regarded
the considerate conduct of the Governor-General, of whom he writes: “‘I
mean, therefore,’ continued he (Lord Auckland), ‘to gazette you as a
Political Commissioner to Kelat, and when the army crosses, to regard
you as an independent political officer to co-operate with Macnaghten.’
Nothing could be more delicately kind, for I have permission, if I
like, to send an assistant to Kelat. I start in a week, and drop down
the Indus to Shikarpoor, where, with a brace of Commissaries, I prepare
for the advance of the army and the disbursement of many lakhs of
rupees. I care not for the responsibility; I am firm in the saddle, and
have all confidence. I think you will hear the result of my negotiation
to be, that the British flag flies at Bukkur.”—[_Private Correspondence
of Sir A. Burnes._]

[263] I do not mean that the entire Press of India and England
condemned it; but I believe that, at the time it had very few genuine
supporters: and I know that now it has fewer still.

[264] Among others the Duke of Wellington, who wrote to Mr. Tucker: “I
don’t know that while the siege of Herat continued, particularly by
the aid of Russian officers and troops, even in the form of deserters,
the Government of India could have done otherwise than prepare for its
defence.”—[_Life and Correspondence of Henry St. George Tucker._]

[265] The facts may be briefly repeated in a note. M’Neill recommended
the consolidation of Afghanistan under Dost Mahomed. Burnes recommended
the same course. Wade recommended the government to rely upon the
disunion of the Barukzye Sirdars, and was opposed to consolidation of
any kind.

[266] The responsibility of this famous manifesto belongs to Lord
Auckland, though some of his colleagues in the government at home have
declared themselves willing to share it with him. Sir John Hobhouse,
in 1850, told the Official Salaries Committee, in reply to a question
on the subject of the Afghan war, that he “did it himself;” and so far
as the announcement went entirely to acquit the East India Company
of taking part in the origination of the war, it is to be accepted
as a laudable revelation of the truth; but although Lord Palmerston
and Sir John Hobhouse saw the expediency of extricating the British
Government from the difficulties into which the conduct of Mahomed
Shah had thrown them, by encouraging a demonstration from the side of
India, the expenses of which would be thrown upon the Indian exchequer,
they are to be regarded rather as accessories after, than before, the
fact. The truth is, that Lord Auckland had determined on the course
of policy to be pursued, not before the India Board despatches were
written, but before they were received. Sir John Hobhouse stated in the
House of Commons (June 23, 1842) that Lord Auckland “must not bear the
blame of the measure; it was the policy of government; and he might
mention that the despatch which he wrote, stating his opinion of the
course that ought to be taken in order to meet expected emergencies,
and that written by Lord Auckland, informing him that the expedition
had already been undertaken, crossed each other on the way.” When the
Whig ministry went out of office in the spring of 1839, it was believed
that the Peel cabinet would repudiate the Simlah manifesto, and direct
a considerable modification of the measures which were to follow the
declaration of war. The bedchamber _émeute_ arrested the formation of
the Peel ministry; and it was at least surmised, that it was in no
small measure to save Lord Auckland, and to escape the disgrace of a
public reversal of their Indian policy, that the Whigs again took the
reins of government. After this, Sir John Hobhouse never neglected
an opportunity of publicly identifying himself with Lord Auckland’s
policy, and was not deterred, even by the disastrous termination of the
war, from bravely declaring that he was the author of it.

[267] In a despatch from the Court of Directors to the
Governor-General, dated September 20, 1837, there occurs this
remarkable passage:-“With respect to the states west of the Indus,
you have uniformly observed the proper course, which is to have no
political connection with any state or party in those regions, to
take no part in their quarrels, but to maintain so far as possible a
friendly connection with all of them.”

[268] A general assurance had been given to Runjeet Singh, in reply
to a difficulty started by himself, that if the allies met with any
reverses, the British Government would advance to their aid; but he
had failed to elicit from Macnaghten any more specific promise of

[269] Shah Soojah himself said that there would be little chance of his
becoming popular in Afghanistan, if he returned to the country openly
and avowedly supported, not by his own troops, but by those of the
Feringhees. Even the less overt assistance of an infidel government
was likely to cast discredit upon the undertaking in the eyes of “true
believers.” The Shah talked about the bigotry of the Mahomedans; but it
was plain that he had his misgivings on the subject. “During a visit,”
says Captain Wade, “which I paid to the Shah, the day before yesterday,
he informed me that some Mahomedans of Delhi had been writing to him,
to inquire how he could reconcile it to his conscience, as a true
believer in the Koran, to accept the assistance of a Christian people
to recover his kingdom. The Shah said that he contemplated with pity
the bigotry of these people, and began to quote a passage of the
Koran to prove their ignorance of its doctrines with reference to the
subject on which they had presumed to address him. Having a day or two
previously received information that the Newab of Bhopal had made a
particular request of his Lordship to be permitted to place a party
of his kinsmen and retainers at the service of the British Government
on the present occasion, from the desire which he had to testify his
deep sense of gratitude to it for the manner in which it had watched
and protected the interests of their family in every necessitude of
their political existence, I mentioned the circumstance to his Majesty,
to show the different views that prevailed among the followers of
the faith, both with regard to their duty to the state and to their
religion.”—[_Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten, October 5, 1838_: _MS.

[270] The meeting was agreed upon before the British Government had
determined to cross the Indus; and Runjeet complained of its tardy
accomplishment, on the ground of the expense that he was obliged to
incur in keeping his troops together.

[271] It is generally acknowledged that nothing could have been more
orderly or more creditable both to the regiments and their commanding
officers, than the style in which all the components of the “Army of
the Indus” made their way to Ferozepore. Captain Havelock, an excellent
authority on such points, says: “A force has never been brought
together in any country in a manner more creditable and soldier-like
than was the Bengal portion of the Army of the Indus.”

[272] Captain Havelock says the 28th—Colonel Fane, the 29th.

[273] _Captain Havelock’s Narrative_—from which this description has
been mainly written. _Colonel Fane’s Five Years in India_; and _Mr.
Stocqueler’s Memorials of Afghanistan_ also contribute some details.

[274] “It is worthy of notice that a strange accident befel the old
Maharajah in the tent containing the larger gifts of the British
Government. He was not very firm on his legs at any time, but here he
had the misfortune to stumble over a pile of shells, and fell prostrate
before the British guns.”—[_Havelock’s Narrative._] Remembering how the
Sikh Empire fell before the British guns at Goojrat, we may at least
observe that this was a curious type of the destiny then awaiting the
great kingdom founded by Runjeet Singh.

[275] _Stocqueler’s Memorials of Afghanistan._

[276] For an account of the manœuvres both of the British and Sikh
divisions, see _Captain Havelock’s Narrative_.

[277] These brigades consisted of the 3rd Buffs, the 2nd, 27th, 5th,
20th, and 53rd Regiments of Native Infantry. Captain Havelock and
other military authorities have condemned this decision by lot. It
is said that the principle of selection should have been adhered to
on the reduction, as well as on the formation of the force. “Sir
Henry Fane,” says Captain Havelock, “need not thus have distrusted
or paid so poor a compliment to his own sagacity and impartiality;
the one had seldom been at fault in India or in Europe, the other was
above suspicion. Sortilege, after all, did little for the army in one
instance; for it sent forward to the labours of the campaign, the 13th
Light Infantry, then as ever zealous, indeed, and full of alacrity, but
even at Ferozepore shattered by disease; the spirit of its soldiers
willing, but unequal to the task; whilst it doomed to inactivity the
Buffs, one of the most effective European corps in India.” This is the
impartial testimony of an officer of the 13th Light Infantry. It was
written immediately after the first campaign of the Army of the Indus.
No writer would now regret the chance which sent Sale and Dennie into
Afghanistan, and associated the name of the 13th Light Infantry with
some of the most illustrious incidents of the war.

[278] _Colonel H. Pottinger to Government_: _Published Papers relating
to Sindh._


  “Just and necessary!”
          ——Earth is sick,
    And Heaven is weary of the hollow words
    Which States and Kingdoms utter when they talk
    Of truth and justice.

[280] I do not intend to enter into the politics of Sindh more than
is absolutely necessary to the elucidation of the history of the war
in Afghanistan; but it ought to be mentioned here that the harsh
and unjust treatment of the Ameers in 1838-39 has been defended or
extenuated upon the grounds of an alleged traitorous correspondence
with Mahomed Shah of Persia. A letter from one of the Ameers to the
“King of Kings” was intercepted, but Colonel Pottinger declared that it
was of no political importance, but simply an ebullition of Sheeahism,
addressed to Mahomed Shah as Defender of the Faith.—[_Correspondence
relating to Afghanistan._] A letter, also said to have been written by
the Persian King to two of the Ameers (Mahomed Khan and Nussur Khan),
acknowledging the receipt of letters from them, and exhorting them to
look to him for protection, was forwarded from Khelat to Runjeet Singh,
who sent it in through Captain Wade to the Governor-General. But Major
Todd, who by this time had joined Shah Soojah at Loodhianah, “did not
hesitate to pronounce it, from its style and language, to be a palpable
fabrication.”—[_Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten, October 24, 1838._ _MS.

[281] _Captain Wade to Mr. Macnaghten, Nov. 8 and 9, 1838._ _MS.

[282] Shah Soojah’s force passed through Ferozepore on the 2nd.
Major Todd accompanied the Shah. Macnaghten joined the royal camp at

[283] It had been no easy matter to provide carriage-cattle for
that immense assemblage. The camels, which constituted the bulk of
the beasts of burden, had been mostly drawn on hire from Bekaneer,
Jaysulmer, and the northern and north-western provinces of India; but
the country had been so drained, that at last it became necessary to
indent upon the brood-camels of the government stud at Hissar.

[284] This road, some 280 miles in length, had been prepared, under
Mackeson’s directions, to facilitate the march of our troops.

[285] As the army advanced, the Khan, to whose court Mackeson had been
despatched to conclude a treaty of protective alliance, exerted himself
to assist the enterprise, and exhibited the most friendly feeling
towards Shah Soojah. He gave the Shah two guns—made him a present of
money—sent a party of irregular horse, under one of his chief officers,
to escort him through the Bahwulpore dominions; and allowed the
officers of the Shah’s contingent to recruit their regiment from the
ranks of his own regular infantry. The Shah’s regiments were in this
way raised to their full strength, six hundred men having been drawn
from the Bahwulpore army.—[_MS. Notes._]

[286] Captain Havelock.

[287] Some of the Shah’s troops were very unreasonable in their
expectations and their complaints. The raw levies of horse, just
recruited from the grain districts of Upper India, made violent
complaints because they found that to the westward barley was the food
of horses.

[288] Sir Henry Fane was much pleased with the economy of Bahwul
Khan’s Court. Though not on an extensive scale, it was perhaps, better
ordered, on the whole, than that of any native potentate at the time.

[289] The cession of Bukkur was extremely distasteful to Meer Roostum.
It was calculated to lower him in the eyes both of the other Ameers and
of his own subjects; and Burnes, fearing that he would be dissuaded by
his relatives, made the stipulation for the surrender of the place a
separate article of the treaty, in order that the Ameer might conceal
it from them if he feared that they would remonstrate against it. When
Burnes despached Mohun Lal to Khyrpore, to deliver the treaty and the
separate article, “face to face,” to the Ameer, and to demand his
acceptance of its terms, “the consternation,” says Burnes, “caused
by this public declaration, was very great. The Ameer first offered
another fort in its stead; next, to find security that our treasure
and munitions were protected; but the Moonshee, as instructed, replied
to all that nothing but the unqualified cession of the fortress of
Bukkur, during the war, would satisfy me. He said it was the heart
of his country, his honour was centred in keeping it, his family and
children would have no confidence if it were given up, and that if I
came to Khyrpore the Ameer could speak in person to me many things. To
this I had instructed the Moonshee to say, that it was impossible till
he signed the treaty, as I asked a plain question and wanted a plain
answer.”—[_Published Papers._] Earnestly was Meer Roostum entreated by
his family not to sign the treaty, but to resist the unjust demand.
Greatly perplexed and alarmed, he wrote a touching letter of entreaty
to Burnes; but by this time his doom was sealed. It was useless for
him any longer to struggle against his fate; so on the morning of
the 24th of December he sent for Mohun Lal, told him that Burnes had
been the first and best friend of the Khyrpore state, but that he had
made an unexpected demand upon him, and that his good name would be
irrecoverably lost if Lord Auckland did not seize upon Kurachee, or
some other place from the Hyderabad family; who were our enemies, and
now triumphing, whilst he, our dearest friend, was thus depressed. If
they were suffered to escape, he said, that his only course would be to
commit suicide. “With this,” wrote Burnes to Government, “and saying
_Bismillah!_ (in the name of God) he sealed the treaty and the separate
article in the presence of Ali Morad Khan, Meer Zungee, Soolaman Abdur,
and about twenty other people.” A day or two afterwards, Burnes himself
called on Meer Roostum and received his submission in person. The poor
old man, declaring that he was irretrievably disgraced, asked what he
could now do to prove the sincerity of his friendship for the British
Government. “The answer to this declaration,” wrote Burnes, “was
plain—to give us orders for supplies, and to _place all the country
as far as he could at our command_—_and he has done so as far as he
can._”—[_Burnes to Government: Khyrpore, Dec. 28, 1838._ _Published

[290] “The aspect of affairs to the south being anything but
satisfactory, the Commander-in-Chief intimated to me, in the presence
of General Cotton, that the passage of the army across the Indus,
even had the bridge been ready, which it will not be for ten days,
was inexpedient, whilst matters were unadjusted at Hyderabad—that it
was further his decided opinion that a portion of the army should at
once march down towards Hyderabad. Participating entirely in these
sentiments, as far as political matters were concerned, I felt myself
bound to give the fullest effect to the views of his Excellency, and
notify the intended movement of the troops to the south to Meer Roostum
Khan.”—[_Sir A. Burnes to Government: Rohree, January 28, 1839._ _MS.

[291] Some days after Cotton’s force had moved down the river, a
requisition came for a troop of horse artillery, a detachment of
cavalry, and a brigade of infantry.—[_Havelock’s Narrative._]

[292] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[293] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[294] _Ibid., Feb. 5, 1839._

[295] See _Outram’s Rough Notes_.

[296] Their share was twenty lakhs of rupees, a moiety of which was
paid down. Seven more lakhs, making up the gross amount to be paid by
the Talpoor Princes, were paid by the Ameer of Khyrpore.

[297] “The city of Hyderabad,” says Dr. James Burnes, in his _Visit to
the Court of Sindh_, an interesting and valuable work, “is a collection
of wretched low mud hovels, as destitute of the means of defence as
they are of external elegance or internal comfort; and even the boasted
stronghold of the Ameer, which surmounts their capital, is but a
paltry erection of ill-burnt bricks, crumbling gradually to decay, and
perfectly incapable of withstanding for an hour the attack of regular

[298] Kennedy.

[299] “Sir Willoughby,” wrote the Envoy to Mr. Colvin, on the 24th
of February, “made his appearance in camp yesterday morning. He is
evidently disposed to look upon his Majesty and his disciplined
troops and myself as mere cyphers. Any hint from me, however quietly
and modestly given, was received with hauteur; and I was distinctly
told that I wanted to assume the command of the army; that he, Sir
Willoughby, knew no superior but Sir John Keane, and that he would
not be interfered with, &c., &c. All this arose out of my requesting
1000 camels for the use of the Shah and his force. Sir Willoughby was
ably backed by the Commissariat officers. My arguments were urged
throughout in the most mild and conciliatory tone. I was determined
on no account to lose my temper; and we parted at a late hour last
night very good friends. I told him I was the last man in the world
who would presume to interfere with his military arrangements; but I
found it requisite to tell him, during one of our conversations, that
if he thought it for the good of the service to leave Shah Soojah in
the lurch, without the means of moving, I should esteem it my duty, as
a political officer, to protest most strongly against the arrangement,
and that the Governor-General would determine which of us was right.
Sir Willoughby dined with me, and at dinner the important despatches
from the Governor-General and yourself, dated the 5th instant,
were put into my hands. We discussed their contents in my private
tent afterwards—present Sir W. C. Todd, and Burnes.”—[_Unpublished
Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._]

[300] Havelock.

[301] “The conduct of the officers of the Khelat chief has been most
creditable and praiseworthy. Syud Mahomed Sheriff, the Governor of
Gundava, and Moolla Ramzan, a slave of the Khan, have attended me the
whole way, procured a band of eighty of the natives to escort us, and
they likewise addressed the Ameers and the neighbouring Beloochee
tribes to attempt at their peril to molest us. Such has been the
confidence thus given, that a great body of the migratory inhabitants
from Cutchee availed themselves of our escort to ascend into
Afghanistan.”—[_Burnes to Macnaghten: March 16, 1839._ _MS. Records._]

[302] See _Havelock’s Narrative_.

[303] _Hough’s Narrative of the Operations of the Army of the Indus._

[304] Captain Havelock says: “From the 28th of March, the loaf of the
European soldier was diminished in weight, the Native troops received
only half instead of a full seer of _ottah_ (that is a pound of flour)
_per diem_, and the camp-followers, who had hitherto found it difficult
to subsist on half a seer, were of necessity reduced to the famine
allowance of a quarter of a seer.”

[305] “The Khan, with a good deal of earnestness, enlarged upon the
undertaking the British had embarked in—declaring it to be one of vast
magnitude and difficult accomplishment—that instead of relying on
the Afghan nation, our government had cast them aside and inundated
the country with foreign troops—that if it was our end to establish
ourselves in Afghanistan, and give Shah Soojah the nominal sovereignty
of Caubul and Candahar, we were pursuing an erroneous course—that
all the Afghans were discontented with the Shah, and all Mahomedans
alarmed and excited at what was passing—that, day by day, men returned
discontented, and we might find ourselves awkwardly situated if we did
not point out to Shah Soojah his errors, if the fault originated with
him, and alter them if they sprung from ourselves—that the chief of
Caubul was a man of ability and resource, and though we could easily
put him down by Shah Soojah, even in our present mode of procedure, we
could never win over the Afghan nation by it.”—[_Burnes to Macnaghten:
Khelat, March 30, 1839._ _MS. Records._]

[306] _Burnes to Macnaghten: Khelat, April 2, 1839._

[307] The Shah and his Contingent moved from Shikarpoor on the 7th of

[308] “His Majesty the Shah is naturally anxious to occupy a prominent
position in our movements, and it is very desirable, on political
grounds, that he should do so: I trust, therefore, that your Excellency
will see fit to attend to his Majesty’s wishes in this particular, and
to authorise his being in advance with at least a portion of his own
troops, after the junction of the several divisions shall have been
effected, or rather after you have made your final arrangements for
the order of our advance. This you will observe will be conformable to
the wishes of the Governor-General, as expressed in the accompanying
extracts. His Lordship never contemplated the leaving behind any
portion of the Shah’s force, except in the case of opposition being
shown by Sindh and Khelat.”—[_Mr. Macnaghten to Sir J. Keane:
Shikarpoor, Feb. 27, 1839._ _Unpublished Correspondence._]

[309] “I am exceedingly obliged to you for the attention you have paid
to my suggestions regarding the Shah’s troops; but your want of camels
is so pressing, that I feel it impossible to retain the 1000 camels
placed at my disposal. Deeply as I regret, on political grounds, the
necessity of leaving behind any portion of the troops of his Majesty, I
feel that any scruples on this score must give way to the more urgent
exigencies of the public service.”—[_Mr. Macnaghten to Sir J. Keane:
Shikarpoor, March 3, 1839._ _Unpublished Correspondence._]

[310] _Mr. Macnaghten to Sir W. Cotton: March 15, 1839._ _Unpublished

[311] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[312] From Bagh, Macnaghten wrote to the Governor-General’s Private
Secretary: “This is a wretched country in every respect. It may be said
to produce little else but plunderers; but with the knowledge we now
have of it, we may bid defiance to the Russian hordes as far as this
route is concerned. Any army might be annihilated in an hour by giving
it either too much or too little water. The few wells that exist might
easily be rendered unavailable, and by just cutting the Sewee bund the
whole country might be deluged.”—[_Mr. Macnaghten to Mr. Colvin: Camp
Bagh, March 22, 1839._ _Unpublished Correspondence._]

[313] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[314] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[315] The head-quarters of the 2nd brigade were left in garrison at
Quettah, under General William Nott, of the Company’s army, who, at
a later period, so distinguished himself in command of the troops at
Candahar. Whilst Sir Willoughby Cotton was commanding the Bengal army
in chief, Nott had commanded a division; but when Sir John Keane joined
the Bengal column, Cotton fell back to the divisional command, and
Nott returned to the brigade to which he had originally been posted.
Out of this much controversy arose; the command of the other division
of the “Army of the Indus” having been conferred on General Willshire,
of the Queen’s army, a junior major-general, but an older officer and

[316] Foremost among these was the notorious Hadjee Khan, Khaukur,
whose sudden defection broke up the Barukzye camp, just as
Rahun-dil-Khan and Mehr-dil-Khan were meditating a night attack on
the Shah’s Contingent. He joined the Shah on the 20th of April, and
from this time the Sirdars saw that their cause was hopeless. Further
mention of this chief will be found in a subsequent chapter.

[317] I have not attempted in this chapter to give a minute account
of the march of the three columns of the invading army to Candahar.
It is no part of my design to render this work conspicuous for the
completeness of its military details. I do not underrate their
importance; but the operations of the Army of the Indus have already
been so minutely chronicled, that I have only to refer the reader to
the works of Havelock, Kennedy, and Hough. The real history of the
march is to be found in the records of the Commissariat department. The
difficulty of obtaining carriage and supplies was almost unprecedented,
and the expenditure incurred was enormous. There were two different
Commissariat departments (the Bengal and the Shah’s) sometimes to be
found bidding against one another. Everything was paid for at a ruinous
price. The sums paid for the hire and purchase of carriage-cattle were
preposterous; and the loss incurred by government from the deaths
of the animals may be surmised, when it is stated that the number
of deaths between Ferozepore and Candahar has been estimated at not
less than 20,000. Large sums, too, were often paid for demurrage. For
example, on one batch of camels hired from Bekanier and Jaysulmere,
44,000 rupees were paid for demurrage and remuneration for losses
before they reached the place (Shikarpoor) at which their services were
required, or were even seen by our Commissariat officers.—[_MS. Notes._]

[318] _Unpublished Correspondence of Sir W. H. Macnaghten._

[319] Captain Havelock, who is by no means disposed to take an
unfavorable view of the policy out of which emanated the assembling
of the Army of the Indus, says: “Unless I have been deceived, all the
national enthusiasm of the scene was entirely confined to his Majesty’s
immediate retainers. The people of Candahar are said to have viewed the
whole affair with the most mortifying indifference. Few of them quitted
the city to be present in the plains; and it was remarked with justice,
that the passage in the diplomatic programme which presented a place
behind the throne for ‘the populace restrained by the Shah’s troops,’
became rather a bitter satire on the display of the morning.” Compare
Dr. Kennedy’s version of these proceedings. All the private accounts I
have received, confirm the truth of the printed narratives.

[320] Kennedy.

[321] Where they remained as guests of Mahomed Shah until the
withdrawal of the British from Afghanistan.

[322] As at Herat, the four principal streets meet in the centre of the
city, and at their junction are covered over with a great dome. The
picturesque accessories of Candahar are by no one so well described
as by Lieutenant Rattray, in his letter-press accompaniments to his
admirable series of “Views in Afghanistan.” With true artistic feeling,
he writes; “Viewing Candahar from without, or at a distance, there is
no peculiarity in its structure to strike the eye, as nothing appears
above the long, high walls, but the top of Ahmed Shah’s tomb, the
summits of a few minarets, and the upper parapets of the citadel. But
the interior, as seen from the battlements, cannot fail to delight.
Its irregular mud-houses, partly in ruins, varied with trees and
minarets; the square red-brick dwellings, with doors and windows of
Turkish arches; the lofty habitations of the Hindoo; the tents pitched
here and there on the flat house-tops; the long terraces crowded with
people, busied in their various callings in the open air; the dung
and mud-plastered hut of the Khaukur, with his heavy, wild-looking
buffaloes tethered round it; the high enclosures of the different
tribes; the warlike castles of the chieftains; the gaily-decorated
palace of some great Douranee Lord, with its fountains, squares,
and court-yards; and the domed houses of the other inhabitants, the
bazaars, mosques, turrets, and cupolas, rising up in the midst of
stupendous and inaccessible mountains,—from the whole rise a panorama
pleasing to look upon.”

[323] Kennedy. The author adds: “Shah Soojah had sheltered himself in
one, Mr. Macnaghten in another, and Sir Alexander Burnes in a third.
The latter had been rebuilt by one of the chiefs of Candahar for his
favourite wife. It had an air of magnificence and grandeur where it
stood: but in the Mogul Serai of Surat, or in Ahmedabad, would be
passed unobserved.”

[324] See _ante_, page 332.

[325] “Facts regarding our Political Relations with Herat, and the
Conduct of Yar Mahomed Khan, from November, 1837, to February, 1841,”
by Dr. J. S. Login, attached to the Heratee Mission.

[326] Lieutenant North, of the Bombay Engineers, and Drs. Login and
Ritchie, also accompanied them. The Mission left Candahar on the 21st
of June, and reached Herat on the 25th of July.

[327] Havelock.

[328] Inverarity and Wilmer. The former was murdered; the latter
escaped with his life.

[329] A convoy of camels laden with grain had been for some time
expected from the southward, under the charge of a Lohanee merchant,
named Surwar Khan. Some efforts had been made by the enemy to
intercept this convoy, or to corrupt the Lohanee chief; and it is
said that nothing but the determined fidelity of the leader of the
Irregular Horse sent to escort it into Candahar, saved the convoy
from being carried off to the Barukzyes. It reached Candahar, but
there a new difficulty presented itself. The camel-drivers refused to
proceed. There were 20,000 maunds of grain now at the disposal of our
Commissariat officers; but the contumacy of these men was now likely
to render it wholly useless. Surwar Khan had contracted to bring the
convoy to Candahar; but the camel-drivers, afraid of the vengeance of
Dost Mahomed, refused to proceed any further. There was no contending
against this; so the supplies were made over to the Commissariat, and
stored at Candahar, where a detachment of our troops was left.

[330] The Kohistan is the hill country to the north of Caubul, lying
between the capital and the Hindoo-Koosh.

[331] This was the account of the Ameer’s tactics given by Hyder Khan.
Mohun Lal, upon whose authority I instance it, was in daily personal
communication with the Prince after his capture, and ought to be well
informed upon this point.

[332] “The town,” says Lieutenant Rattray, “stands on the extreme point
of a range of hills, which slope upwards and command the north-east
angle of the Balla Hissar, near which is perched the tomb of Belool the
Wise, among ruined mosques and grave-stones. As a city, it will not
bear comparison with Caubul or Candahar; and a previous visit to the
bazaars of either would spoil you for the darkened narrow streets and
small charloo of Ghuznee. However, it possesses snug houses and capital
stabling, sufficient for a cavalry brigade, within its walls; and in
the citadel, particularly, the squares and residences of its former
governors were in many instances spacious and even princely in their
style and decorations.”

[333] The enemy, dislodged from the garden, retreated to an outwork,
whence they directed a heavy fire upon our people, and did some
mischief among them. Captain Graves, of the 16th Native Infantry, and
Lieutenant Homrigh, of the 48th, were wounded.

[334] There has been so much bitter controversy on this unhappy
subject, that I have not written this bare outline of the event without
instituting inquiries among those who were most likely to have had some
personal cognizance of it. That I have rightly characterised these
murders I know, for I have the evidence of one who saw the butchery
going on. An officer of the highest character writes, in reply to my
inquiries: “As regards what is called the Ghuznee massacre, I was
walking one day in camp, and came upon the King’s tents, at the rear of
which I saw a fearfully bloody sight. There were forty or fifty men,
young and old. Many were dead; others at their last gasp; others with
their hands tied behind them; some sitting, others standing, awaiting
their doom; and the King’s executioners and other servants amusing
themselves (for actually they were laughing and joking, and seemed
to look upon the work as good fun) with hacking and maiming the poor
wretches indiscriminately with their long swords and knives. I was so
horrified at coming so suddenly on such a scene of blood, that I was
for the instant as it were, spell-bound. On inquiry, I ascertained
that the King had ordered this wholesale murder in consequence of one
of the number (they were, or were said to be, all _Ghazees_, who had
shortly before been taken prisoners) having stabbed, in his Majesty’s
presence, a Pesh-Khidmut, or body-attendant of the King. My friend and
I made our exit; and he went direct to the Envoy’s tent and reported
the circumstance.”—[_MS. Correspondence._]

[335] The advance consisted of the light companies of the four European
regiments; the remaining companies composed the other sections of the
storming columns. The regiments were: the 2nd, the 13th, and 17th
(Queen’s), and the Company’s European Regiment.

[336] Hough says: “Lieutenant Durand was obliged to scrape the hose
with his finger-nails, finding the powder failed to ignite on the first
application of the port-fire.”

[337] Havelock. Hough says: “The explosion was heard by nearly all.”

[338] Havelock.

[339] Captain Peat.

[340] I give the circumstances of Sale’s escape in the words of Captain
Havelock, who has detailed them with trustworthy minuteness. “One of
their number rushing over the fallen timbers, brought down Brigadier
Sale by a cut in the face with his sharp _shunsheer_ (sabre). The
Afghan repeated his blow as his opponent was falling; but the pummel,
not the edge of his sword, this time took effect, though with stunning
violence. He lost his footing, however, in the effort, and Briton and
Afghan rolled together amongst the fractured timbers. Thus situated,
the first care of the Brigadier was to master the weapon of his
adversary. He snatched at it, but one of his fingers met the edge of
the trenchant blade. He quickly withdrew his wounded hand, and adroitly
replaced it over that of his adversary, so as to keep fast the hilt
of his _shunsheer_. But he had an active and powerful opponent, and
was himself faint from the loss of blood. Captain Kershaw, of the
13th, aide-de-camp to Brigadier Baumgardt, happened in the _mêlée_
to approach the scene of conflict: the wounded leader recognised and
called to him for aid. Kershaw passed his drawn sabre through the body
of the Afghan; but still the desperado continued to struggle with
frantic violence. At length, in the fierce grapple, the Brigadier for
a moment got uppermost. Still retaining the weapon of his enemy in
his left hand, he dealt him with his right a cut from his own sabre,
which cleft his skull from the crown to the eyebrows. The Mahomedan
once shouted, ‘_Ne Ullah!_’ (Oh! God!) and never moved or spoke
again.”—[_Captain Havelock’s Narrative._]

[341] Havelock. The colour of the 13th was first planted by the hand of
Ensign Frere—a nephew of John Hookham Frere.

[342] Havelock. The military historian attributes the forbearance of
the soldiery to the fact, that no spirit rations had been served out to
them during the preceding fortnight. “No candid man,” he says, “of any
military experience, will deny that the character of the scene, in the
fortress and the citadel, would have been far different if individual
soldiers had entered the town primed with arrack, or if spirituous
liquors had been discovered in the Afghan depôts.”

[343] I have been assured by an officer on the staff of the Shah’s
army, that he was near his Majesty at the taking of Ghuznee, when under
fire, and that he exhibited great coolness and courage. He is said by
my informant, who was close beside him, to have sate “as firm as a
rock, not showing the slightest alarm either by word or gesture, and
seeming to think it derogatory to his kingly character to move an inch
whilst the firing lasted.”—[_MS. Correspondence._]

[344] Mohun Lal says: “Captain John Conolly conducted them, with every
mark of deference, to a house in the town, where it fell to my lot to
provide them with everything necessary which they wanted: and that
responsible charge of them I had for a long time, and executed it to
the satisfaction of the ladies, until they were sent to India.”—[_Life
of Dost Mahomed._]

[345] Captain Tayler, Brigade-Major of the 4th Brigade. Mohun Lal
says that “Major Macgregor found him concealed with an armed party
in the tower, waiting for the night.” Mr. Stocqueler (_Memorials
of Afghanistan_) attributes the honour of the capture to Brigadier
Roberts, who directed Captain Tayler to proceed to the house.

[346] “The Sirdar, mounted on a small horse, and accompanied by a few
of his companions, was conducted by Major Macgregor to the tent of the
Commander-in-Chief. Sir Alexander Burnes and myself were sent for, and
as soon as the Sirdar saw him he felt a little easy in his mind; and
discovering me with him, the expression of his countenance was at once
changed, and he asked me for a glass of water. Lord Keane allowed him
to remain in my tent, under the charge of Sir A. Burnes. I clothed him
with my own clothes every day, and he partook of my meals.”—[_Mohun
Lal’s Life of Dost Mahomed._]

[347] Outram.

[348] Whether this step was taken by Dost Mahomed on his own account,
or whether it was recommended or agreed to by his principal partisans,
does not very clearly appear.

[349] Mohun Lal says that the Newab, who had acted with the greatest
friendliness towards Burnes and his Mission, and was known to have been
at the head of the English party in Caubul, begged that the wife of
Hyder Khan might be given up to him; but preferred the request in vain.
He sought an interview, too, with his nephew; and it would have been
granted to him, but the official references caused delay, and the Newab
took his departure without seeing the Sirdar. He said significantly to
the Envoy, in the course of conversation, “If Shah Soojah is really
a King, and come to the kingdom of his ancestors, what is the use of
your army and name? You have brought him, by your money and arms, into
Afghanistan. Leave him now with us Afghans, and let him rule us if he

[350] Havelock.

[351] General Harlan, who was at Caubul at this time, has written
an account of the desertion of Dost Mahomed by his followers at
Urghundeh, which only wants a conviction of its entire truth to
render it extremely interesting. According to this writer, the Ameer
was not only deserted, but plundered by his followers at the last.
“A crowd of noisy disorganised troops,” he says, “insolently pressed
close up to the royal pavilion—the guards had disappeared—the groom
holding the Prince’s horse was unceremoniously pushed to and fro—a
servant audaciously pulled away the pillow which sustained the
Prince’s arm—another commenced cutting a piece of the splendid Persian
carpet—the beautiful praying rug of the Prince was seized on by a
third.... ‘Take all,’ said he, ‘that you find within, together with the
tent.’ In an instant the unruly crowd rushed upon the pavilion—swords
gleamed in the air and descended upon the tent—the canvas, the ropes,
the carpets, pillows, screens, &c., were seized and dispersed among the

[352] The names of many of them were subsequently associated with the
later incidents of the war. They were Captains Wheler, Troup, Lawrence,
Backhouse, Christie, and Erskine; Lieutenants Broadfoot, Hogg, Ryves,
and Dr. Worral. Captains Tayler and Trevor joined them on the 8th.

[353] Outram says he was a melon-seller.

[354] See the “Life of Hadjee Khan Khaukur, the Talleyrand of the
East,” published originally in the _Delhi Gazette_. It is attributed
to the pen of Arthur Conolly. The writer adds: “In the camp of those
chiefs conspiracies against Shah Soojah and his allies were daily
agitated. Their letters formed the pride, the comfort, the hope, and
the amusement of the Caubul Court.... Sometimes it was proposed by the
traitors to attack the English camp in concert with the Ghilzyes at
night. Fear prevented this plot ripening; but had the army met with
a repulse, it would undoubtedly have been attacked in rear. At last,
at a full meeting—I have it from the lips of one present at it—it was
determined to join Dost Mahomed _en masse_. At this meeting were the
Hadjee Khan, Hadjee Dost, Fyztullub Khan, Noorzye, and many others.
They had been deceived by a false report of a partial action of
cavalry the day before; the opportunity had arrived, they thought, for
giving us the _coup de grace_. Hardly had the conclave separated, when
intelligence was received of the capture of Ghuznee. It need hardly
be said that, a few hours afterwards, Hadjee Khan and the rest were
congratulating his Majesty on the splendid victory.”

[355] Akbar Khan, who had by this time been withdrawn from the defence
of the Khybur line, and had joined his father’s camp prostrated by

[356] Others, however, thought that his failure was fortunate, it being
only too probable, in their opinion, that, if he had come up with the
fugitive, his little party would have been overwhelmed by the followers
of the Ameers and the traitorous Afghan horsemen whom Hadjee Khan had
taken with him.

[357] He was confined at Chunar, where he seems to have borne his
imprisonment with considerable philosophy.

[358] “With regard to the ordnance captured at Urghundeh, the guns
were of all calibres, chiefly below 6-pounder—one a 17-pounder, and
a few of different sizes, between 17 and 12-pounders.... The number
of shot left at Urghundeh was 4270, of various sizes.... The shot is
hammered iron, and so uneven, that, unless weighed, their weight could
not be told. They are chiefly much under 6-pounder shot.... With regard
to the other stores taken at Urghundeh, nothing was of the slightest
service, except the old iron of the carriages, and the axle-trees,
also good as old iron only, and to which purpose they have been
appropriated.”—[_Lieutenant Warburton to Sir W. H. Macnaghten; Caubul,
August 15, 1841._ _MS. Records._]

[359] “Onward,” says Captain Havelock, “moved the force, and an
hour had not elapsed since the day broke when it came full upon the
abandoned ordnance of the fallen Barukzye. Twenty-two pieces of various
calibre, but generally good guns, on field carriages, superior to
those generally seen in the armies of Asiatic Princes, were parked in
a circle in the Ameer’s late position. Two more were placed in battery
in the village of Urghundeh, at the foot of the hills.... The route by
which we had advanced was flanked by a deep, impracticable ravine, on
which the Afghan left would have rested: there their artillery had been
parked, and would probably from this point have swept the open plain,
and searched the narrow defile by which we would have debouched upon.
Their front was open for the exertions of a bold and active cavalry,
and here the Ameer might at least have died with honour.”

[360] Havelock.

[361] I am indebted for this, as for much else, to Captain Havelock.
There is but little in the pages of the military analist to disturb the
gravity of the historical inquirer, but it is impossible to restrain
a smile at the happy wording of the following: “Let me not forget to
record that Moonshee Mohun Lal, a traveller and an author, as well
as his talente