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it was pregnant with danger; and Keane, immediately before his departure, remarked to an officer, who was to accompany him“I wished you to remain in Affghanistan for the good of the public service; but, since circumstances have rendered that impossible, I cannot but congratulate you on quitting the country: for, mark my words, it will not be long before there is here some signal catastrophe.”
No such foreboding found place in the minds of the Envoy, or of the Shah. The former sent for Lady Macnaghten; and the Shab, without compunction, gave away to British officers and others the houses of chiefs who had withdrawn from Cabul, as if their property was confiscated and no door open to conciliation. The first mission to Cabul had established for the British moral character an ill reputation : and, as the conduct of some individuals, whom it is needless to particularize, was not calculated to remove this unfavourable impression, the con• sequence was that, even before Keane marched from Cabul, officers searching for residencies in the city, with the desire of purchasing them from the owners, heard their guides execrated by the neighbourhood for bringing licentious infidels into the vicinity.
Let us now proceed, hy as concise a review as the subject admits, to connect the normal errors, which have been noticed, with the chain of events which really linked them to the insurrection, more immediately the subject of present contemplation. The general unanimous revolt of a people, composed of a great variety of mountain tribes, often hostile among themselves, is not the work of a moment, or of a single measure; before old feuds can be staunched, and cordial co-operation have place, the minds and hearts of men must be wrought into sympathy and deep hate of a common object of execration by a widely ramified series of events, embracing the length and breadth of the land, and bringing home to the hearths of all the imperative need of allaying local animosities and of wreaking vengeance on the common foe.
Among the first, we may almost say the immediate, results of the anomalous Government, established at Cabul by Macnaghten, was the rising of the Khyber tribes. They had motives for viewing with favour the establishment of Shah Shuja on the throne of his ancestors; for they might reasonably hope for a grateful return from the monarch, whom they had received, concealed, and faithfully protected, when formerly driven from his throne and deserted by his dependents. These hopes had been countenanced by Wade, who, whilst skirmishing with the Khyberis, was also treating with their chiefs, and assuring them of the confirmation by Shah Shuja of their ancient privileges. Shah Shuja had not forgotten their generous conduct, of which he never spoke without warmth and emotion; and, sensible of the extreme value to the British troops in Affghanistan of a free passage of the defile for their convoys, he had not hesitated, as one of his first acts, to gratify his own inclinations, and to evince good will to the staunch friends of his adversity, by promising to the Khyberis, unknown to Macnaghten, the annual subsidy, which, in former times, they had been accustomed to receive. During the troubled sway of Dost Mahomed, this black mail had dwindled down to 12,000 rupees, but was again raised by him to 20,000–a sum far less, however, than the amounts paid in former days by the kings of Cabul; and it was to these higher scales that Shah Shuja was held to have referred.
Wade, on his return from Cabul, being entrusted with no power to treat with the Khyberis, but having to pass their defile, finessed, and got through without obstruction; but left matters in such a state, that when Mackeson, who was empowered to treat, arrived, he found affairs thoroughly embroiled, and the chiefs in no humour to be quickly or easily appeased. They had attacked Ali Musjid ; and, though they had failed to carry the fort, they had destroyed a corps of Nujibs entrenched in the valley below the fort, and had only withdrawn on the news of Keane's approach with the troops returning to India; these they erroneously over-estimated; and, awed by what they deemed the vicinity of an army, opened negociations with Mackeson. But Macnaghten's terms were less liberal than the chiefs had been led to expect by the Shah, and the payment of the subsidy offered, shackled with conditions novel to the Khyberis, entirely superseding their authority and influence in the defile. The proffered terms were consequently very unpalatable; and, as Keane was through, and his infantry was known to be insignificant in strength, the tribes re-assembled to infest Ali Musjid and to close the Pass. Keane indeed threw provision and ammunition into the fort, sending them back from Peshawur; but, through mis-management, the detachment on its return lost between four and five hundred camels: and the Khyberis could boast, not only of having cut off a battalion of Nujibs, but of having worsted & strong detachment of regular troops, British and Sikh, and of having taken the cattle of the convoy. We shall not attempt a detail of Mackeson's negociations, and of Wheeler's march into the Pass and occupation of a post at Ali Musjid. Wheeler was indeed saved the trouble of attacking, as he had threatened, by the conclusion of a treaty, which was announced by Mackeson to have opened the Pass, and according to which an annual subsidy of £8,000 was to be paid : but the detachment, which marched, ably protected by Wheeler, with 2,000 camels towards Keane's camp, soon had practical experience of their new allies and the security of the Pass. Though they failed in their attempt to carry off the convoy, the Khyberis celebrated the conclusion of Mackeson's treaty with a rough farewell to Keane's returning detachments.
Whilst Keane had been thus delayed at Peshawur, in consequence of the rising of the Khyber tribes, Macnaghten’s alarm on account of Russian battalions had received a fresh spur, from the information which reached him of the advance from Orenberg, and the alleged capture of Khiva; he wrote therefore, expressing his wish that the Bombay column, marching on Kelat, should be detained in Affghanistan. Keane ridiculed such fears; and even Lord Auckland's patience and credulity were wearied by these repeated requisitions for additional troops, evidently and avowedly founded on an uncalculating dread of a far distant and scarce rival power.
Wiltshire marched and took Kelat. For former hospitality and for protection from sanguinary pursuers, the gratitude of Shah Shuja, under British influence, awarded to Mebrab Khan the loss of his poor capital and a soldier's death in its defence. After his fall, documents were found, which proved the manner in which the Khan had been betrayed, and his endeavours to negociate frustrated; nevertheless it was thought advisable to consummate the threat formerly made to the Khan, and to place Shah Nawaz Khan, to the exclusion of the son of the fallen man, upon the musnud of Kelat.
Whilst the Khyber and Kelat, the northern and the southern lines of access to Affghanistan from India, were the scenes of the foregoing events, Dr. Lord, having arrived at Bamían, lost no time in making the north-western (or Usbeg) frontier of Affghanistan, the field of petty aggressive operations. The Syghan valley, which lay between himself and Khúlúm, to which place Dost Mahomed had in the first instance fled, had been tributary both to the rulers of Cabul and to those of Kúndúz, according as the strength of either enabled them temporarily to assert and enforce their supremacy. Latterly, in consequence of the ruler of Kúndúz being weakened by the revolt of Khúlúm and its adjacent districts, Dost Mabomed's son, Mír Akram Khan, had taken Syghan and Kamurd, and had marched as far as Khúlúm. Syghan was in fact debateable territory, and exposed not only to the antagonistic claims and raids of Cabul and Khúnduz, but also to a subordinate struggle between
two petty chiefs for the possession of local rule and authority. The weaker of these contending chiefs applied to Khúlúm for aid ; and, as the ruler of that petty place was desirous of extending his authority and of strengthening bimself in his newlyacquired independence, he so far complied with his request, as to send a detachment of Usbegs, who beleaguered his successful rival in the chief fort of the valley, Sar-i-Sung, proposing to subject Syghan to Khúlúm. The opportunity was favourable to Dr. Lord for proving alike the necessity and importance of his mission, and his ability to fulfil its objects. The connection of this purely Usbeg attempt on Sar-i-Sung with the influence of Dost Mahomed, and the assumption that it had been made at his instigation, were matters of no difficulty to Dr. Lord, who determined to march to the aid of the beleaguered chief, and to drive back the Usbegs. The valley of the Syghan river is separated from that of Bamían by lofty mountains; and intercommunication in winter is difficult. In engaging to secure the ascendancy of an insignificant chief, supposed to have usurped power by the murder of his rival's father and uncle, and in making a hostile attack upon a race, with whom neither the British nor the Shah's authorities could pretend a cause of quarrel, Dr. Lord had not even the excuse that the security of the troops was threatened. The aggression, purely arbitrary, was wholly indefensible, both in point of principle and of ex• pediency. Dr. Lord's protégée was established in the Syghan valley; and the Doctor himself returned to Bamían, ingeniously to devise and quash embryo insurrections, and to intrench the troops, in the depth of winter, to their very teeth, for fear of being overwhelmed by the march of Dost Mahomed from Bokhara with a large army! We will not proceed with a detail of Dr. Lord's further doings, for to lay them before the reader in their full absurdity would require too much space: but well might Lord Auckland bemoan the inattention to his wishes, and Lord Keane ridicule the despatches, when the report of such vagaries reached them. These proceedings, however, merited marked disapproval; for they bore out Dost Mahomed's assertions of the danger, which threatened the countries on the Oxus from the advance of the Anglo-Indian power to the sources of that river, and from the British occupation of Affghanistan. The Khan of Bokhara, foiled in designs which he knew to be fathomed by the astute fugitive who had fled to him for protection, avenged himself for being outwitted by casting Dost Mahomed into confinement, accompanied by threats of a speedy termination to its continuance by a violent death; but Dr. Lord's measures to the west of the Hindu
Kúsh procured his liberation. The policy, which Dr. Lord pursued, had created alarm throughout the neighbouring countries, the rulers of which naturally began to entertain apprehensions of the ulterior designs of the Anglo-Indian power, and to regard with favour the victim (for such to them he appeared) of British aggression.
Hence the Khan of Kokan not only remonstrated with the Bokhara ruler against the line of policy he was pursuing, but also moved a force from the banks of the Jaxartes to compel attention to demands in behalf of a Moslem ruler, expelled by unbelievers from bis territory, and oppressed by the person, from whom he sought asylum, protection, and support. The irritating aggressions of Dr. Lord thus raised up a friend for Dost Mahomed, where he otherwise would have found none, and, instead of disturbing our occupation of Affghanistan, might only have ultimately obtained deliverance through British interference and diplomacy.
The reader will think that having carried him to Bokhara viâ Bamían, he need scarcely be carried thither viâ Herat ; but we should fail in enabling him to explore all the springs of action connected with the insurrection, were advertence to the scene of Todd's labours omitted. Sometimes designated the outwork of India, at others styled the frontier of Affghanistan, Macnaghten had accustomed himself and his subordinates to regard that place as of vital importance to our dominion in India and our sway in Affghanistan. Jealous of a fortress to which he attached such great importance, and not concealing his dissatisfaction with Pottinger's proceedings, the Envoy had, when Keane's army was at Candahar, despatched Todd from thence to Herat upon a special mission, the main objects of which were to draw Shah Kamran into closer and more cordial alliance with the British, and to examine and place in a state of defence the works of the fortress. This avowed object was to be secured by the negociation of a treaty of friendship and alliance between the British Government and Shah Kamran, guaranteeing the independence of the Herat state, stipulating that the slave dealing, which had justified the advance of Persia, should be abolished, and that the Herat Government would abstain from correspondence with foreign powers without the knowledge and consent of the British authorities. Todd found some difficulty in concluding a treaty upon these terms: but, by pledging tbe British Government to the payment of a fixed monthly stipend, equal to the original revenues of the country, for the maintenance of Kamran's Government, and the exemption of the people from all taxation until after the harvest of 1840,