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quitted their cantonments, when they were assailed by their implacable foes. On the third day, Akbar Khan appeared to deprecate the imputation of treachery, and to offer protection to the families of the officers if they were given up to him, declaring his inability to restrain the mountain clans through the midst of whom the retreating corps had to pass. Ten days later General Elphinstone, a few of his staff, and the ladies thus surrendered, alone survived. Four thousand troops, and eleven thousand camp followers, perished in the futile effort to reach Jellalabad; one officer only gained that fortress to tell the miserable tale. A disaster like this had never befallen the countrymen of Clive and Wellesley, and wherever the tidings were made known they spread mortification and dismay. Lord Auckland's term of office had already expired, and he was but too glad to leave to other hands the task of retrieving the results of his ill-fated policy.

Lord Ellenborough was sent out as Viceroy, with instructions from Sir Robert Peel to bring the Afghan business to an end as quickly as was compatible with honour; and, for the rest, to keep the peace towards all our neighbours. The first news that greeted him on his arrival was the repulse, with heavy loss, of General Wild's division in an attempt to relieve Jellalabad. This defeat was followed by the surrender of Ghuzni, and the repulse of General England while endeavouring to succour Nott at Candahar. Amid great difficulties Lord Ellenborough acted with energy and judgment. Fresh troops were concentrated under Pollock and Nott. Akbar Khan was defeated and driven from Cabul, which, having been re-occupied and dismantled, was finally abandoned. Shah Sujah had perished early in the struggle, and the claims of his dynasty were thought of no more. Dost Mahommed was set at liberty, and continued to reign over Afghanistan without molestation for more than twenty years. For all the blood and treasure wasted, and all the shame and grief endured, the Government of India had nothing to show but the gates of Somnath, which Lord Ellenborough boasted that our troops had reft from the tomb of Mahmud at Ghuzni, where they had stood for eight hundred years, as a trophy of Afghan spoil; but which it was afterwards discovered were not, as he supposed, the doors which belonged to the Guzerat shrine, but substitutes of modern workmanship made of the pine wood in which Cabul abounds.




“ I have all along said, and ever shall say under all circumstances, and in all societies

and places where I may hear it alluded to, that the case of the Amîrs is the most unprincipled and disgraceful that has ever stamped the annals of our Empire in India. No reasoning can, in my opinion, remove the foul stain it has left on our faith and honour ; and as I know more than any other man living of previous events and measures connected with that devoted country, I feel that I have a full right to exercise my judgment and express my sentiments on the subject. I cannot use too strong language in expressing my disgust and sorrow.”



son of Runjit Singh feasted at Ferozepore the

troops as they withdrew within the British confines ; and amid mutual congratulations at peace restored, eternal vows were offered that nothing now should touch it further. Yet even then the sword was but half returned to the scabbard. A feeling intense and unrestrainable everywhere prevailed, that something must be done to efface the recollection of recent reverses, and to restore, at any risk and at any price, the prestige of irresistibility. Unavowedly preparations were already making for another conquest, to compensate for that which had been missed. Scinde and Cutch had been, in 1839, used without leave as places of rendezvous for the armies of Sir W. Cotton and Sir J. Keane. The military chiefs who, under the title of Amîrs, governed

Letter to Morning Chronicle, 8th January 1844.


their secluded country in a rude and jealous way, had not disguised their reluctance to its being thus made a base of operations against the Afghans; not from any love for them, but from instinctive fear of consequences from us. From those who dwelt in the country previous to its invasion, we learn that the occupiers of the soil, and those who lived by handicraft and other kinds of peaceful industry, had no great cause to complain of their rulers. The Amîrs led their Beloochee followers in war, and administered justice among their people during peace, in a rough, irresponsible fashion, not very different from that which prevailed in most parts of Europe in feudal times. It was the absolutism of chieftainry, but it was absolutism tempered by a looking for sharp and swift vengeance for personal wrong. The spirit of equality, in the eye of the law, which has exercised so potent a spell over the minds of men wherever Islamism prevails, alleviated the weight of arbitrary power. It could not turn the edge of the sword when uplifted in passion, but it often sent it, half-drawn, back to the scabbard, and often snapped it in twain. The daughter of a Kazi of Khairpur, when visiting the Zenana, where she taught its inmates to read the Koran, attracted by her beauty the notice of Mohammed Khan Talpur, by whom she was seduced. Her father did not expostulate or plead, but entering the Amîr's hall, cut him down in the midst of his retainers : and instead of being sacrificed for what he had done, he was protected by the other Amîrs, who judged the provocation to have been intolerable, and the penalty no more than fair.

In the administration of justice they “erred on the side of clemency.” They were “most averse to the shedding of blood.” Over the hill tribes they had no control : but their subjects generally were contented, and “ their condition might have borne advantageous com


parison with that of the people of many of our own provinces.”] The Hindus stood in somewhat the same relation

to the professors of the ruling faith as Dissenters in England and Catholics in Ireland did with reference to the Home Government fifty years ago. Plantations of sugarcane, and rich fields of grain, with innumerable waterwheels, attested the activity of labour and the sense of security. To the honour of the Amîrs it should also be remembered, that to political fugitives, whence soever they came, they fearlessly afforded the rights of asylum, which is more than can be said for certain Governments of the West, lofty in their pretensions to regard for the highest duties of civilisation.

Their mistrust of European intermeddling in their affairs had early been shown. A factory, planted at Tatta in 1775, had been abandoned in 1792, and an attempt to re-establish it in 1799 proved unsuccessful. In 1809, Lord Minto had with difficulty induced the Amîrs to make a general treaty of friendship, by which they engaged not to have any political or commercial dealings with the French. This was followed in 1820 by another, opening up, in a qualified manner, intercourse and trade. In 1831, when Sir Alexander Burnes explored the country on the right bank of the Indus, a Syud whom he encountered exclaimed, “ Alas! Scinde is now gone, since the English have seen the river which is the high road to its conquest. Next year Colonel Pottinger concluded a treaty of commerce, which gave English merchants access to ports and inland towns, but stipulated that they should not settle in the country; that having completed their business, they should depart; and that neither road nor river should be

" 2

1 Mr E. B. Eastwick, M.P., Dry Leaves from Young Egypt, p. 69. 2 The Conquest of Scinde, by General T. W. Napier, part i. p. 40.

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