Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

should come from her side ; and the strictly enjoined to watch over his Persian envoy at Herat became prime welfare, and punish the disturbers of director of the enterprise. It was his dominion.* his custom to take a ride of twenty It may easily be believed that Dost or thirty miles every afternoon, re- Mahomed of Cabool, and his broturning to the city about ten at night, ther chiefs of the Barukzee clan, by the gate being regularly opened to no means relished the appearance him. On these occasions he was of a prince of the Suddozee line at escorted by about a hundred horse- Herat. The Persian Government men, and generally rode towards had placed him there as a means of Gorian, on the road to Meshed, the establishing its influence in AffghanPersian capital of Khorassan. Now, istan, and as a thorn in the side of there was stationed between Gorian the old Ameer; and one of the and Meshed, for the purpose of keep- prince's first acts was to push foring in check the wild Turkomans, a ward a detachment to take possession certain Prince Yusoof, nephew to the of Furrah, a town half-way on the departed Shah Kamram, and there- road to Candahar. Upon this, the fore well fitted to be the instrument Barukzee chiefs resolved to forget for effecting a revolution in Herat. their disagreements, and unite to With this prince and Esa Khan, a prevent the encroachments of the chief of Herat, the Persian envoy common foe. Indeed, the aspect of arranged the plans for a surprise; affairs had begun to look menacing and when all was ready, he was for the independence of Affghanistan. joined on his ride one afternoon by Not only had Herat been revoluPrince Yusoof and a body of Persian tionised by Persian agency, but cavalry. The first quarter of the Khiva had fallen under the dominight was passed when they arrived nation of Persia and Russia ; and at the gates of Herat; and on ad- the king of Bokhara was so conmission being given to the envoy cerned by these menacing events, as usual, his escort sabred the guard, and by the increasing number of and the Prince with his cavalry rush- Persian troops in Khorassan, that ed in, took possession of the city, and a letter from Bokhara (Sept. 1855) advanced against the Arg citadel. states that “owing to his disquiet The besotted ruler, in his cups, shot he frequently fails in going to the the servant who first reported to him Friday prayers

in the Great that the enemy was in the city, but Mosque." Kokan, the third and at length, arousing himself, ordered remaining state of Central Asia, was a charge when it was too late. The likewise apprehensive of a Musresult was that he and all his rela- covite attack; and several Russian tives were captured and put to death ; agents were reported to be wandering and Prince Yusoof, a member of the about in Turkistan as petty traders, royal Suddozee race, mounted the professing themselves "Jews. The throne of Herat. His first act was danger had been early descried by to thank the Shah for his success,

the shrewd old Ameer of Cabool, and to beg

him to continue his pro- who had sent a friendly embassy and tection and freely command his ser- presents to the king of Khiva ; but vices ; – to which the Shah replied by ere they arrived the king had been assuring him of aid against his pre- killed, the Russians and Persians sent or future enemies, and informing were in possession, and the Affghan him that all the commanders of the embassy was treated with the utmost Persian forces in Khorassan had been contumely. Indeed, the ambitious

The relation subsisting between Prince Yusoof and the Shah was openly acknowledged by the latter, who, even as reported by the Teheran Rouz Name, or official journal of court news, thus addressed the Prince, when subsequently captured by the Persian army which besieged Herat:-“At that time we considered thee as one of our faithful servants, and thou wert under the shadow of our protection; and as it was for the advantage of our kingdom, and of the independence of Herat, to resist the overwhelming march of Dost Mahomed Khan, we therefore sent thee the reinforcements which thou didst require.”

projects of the Persian government within 200 miles of Herat, and that had been revealed to himself by an he had made no preparations for such offer from the Shah to aid him an attack. The Persian Government with money and troops against all at the same time announced its inforeign powers, if he would consent tention of despatching a corps of to own the suzerainty of Persia. 20,000_men to Candahar, to reinTurning a deaf ear to the insidi- state Kohendil Khan's son in the ous proposal, the old Ameer sent a

government, trusty messenger to Mahomed Said Last spring the Persian army comat Herat, a short time before that menced its march to Herat, and in prince's death, to warn him of his due course reached its destination. danger from Persia ; but that dis- At Gorian, thirty miles to the solute wretch being in his cups when west of Herat, they met and cut the messenger arrived, ordered his up a body either of Affghans or of beard to be shaved, and nearly had Turkoman cavalry coming to the ashim blown out of the mouth of a sistance of the menaced city. Prince cannon! Turning to the British, Yusoof inclined to favour the PerDost Mahomed contracted with our sian cause ; and with his consent Indian Government a treaty of gene- the first Persian detachment that ral amity, but failed to obtain from it arrived, under Sano Khan, was adthe guarantee which he desired for mitted into the city. But the Barthe independence of Affghanistan and ukzee party is strong in Herat; the Herat.

Alekozee clan, to which Yar MahoIt is manifest that the Persian med belonged, and of which Esa government was resolved to find or Khan is a chief, likewise declared make a pretext for the actual inva against the Persians; and the result sion of Affghanistan. In December was that Sano Khan was ejected, and 1855, when Prince Yusoof was still preparations made for a vigorous deits obedient vassal, the Teheran fence. Messengers were sent to Dost Official Gazette announced the inten- Mahomed, then at Candahar, and tion of the government to despatch to the British Commissioner in an army to Herat,—alleging in ex- Scinde, urgently entreating aid ; and cuse that Dost Mahomed had made several successful sorties were made, himself master of Candahar, to the blowing up the Persian magazines, prejudice of the relatives of the de- and destroying their supplies. The ceased sirdar of that place, Kohendil defence was conducted jointly by Khan (a half-brother of 'Dost Ma- Prince Yusoof and Esa Khan. Meanhomed, who with his family leant while the main body of the Permuch to Persia), and that he meditated sian army arrived under Murad an attack upon Herat. In the same Mirza, the commander-in-chief, raisarticle it was insinuated that these ing the besieging force to 30,000 proceedings on the part of the Dost men; but it was not till the end were instigated and aided by the Brit- of August that any serious action ish Government; nevertheless the took place. Of the two great Persian Court, following the usual sects which divide the Mahomedan Muscovite ruse, professed its desire world, the Persians belong to one to maintain inviolate its position of (Sheahs) and the Affghans and Turks neutrality. In a subsequent mani- to the other (Sunnees). A portion of festo, published before despatching the population of Herat, probably the army, the Shah represented Mr descendants of the Persian colony Murray's retirement as a mere per- planted by Nadir Shah, are Sheeites; sonal misunderstanding, and ex- and betwixt certain chiefs of this sect plained the Herat expedition as one and their co-religionists without, a undertaken at the urgent entreaty of secret correspondence was opened ; Prince Yusoof, in order to save the and it was concerted that about noon, place from the threatened attack of when Esa Khan and his chief officers Dost Mahomed's forces. In refuta- were at prayers in the mosque, a tion of these allegations, it is suffi- body of Persians should surprise and cient to say that neither the Ameer take possession of one of the gates nor a single soldier of his had been and the tower which commanded it. On the 29th August the attempt was been erected at a former time by the made with success, and the gate and advice of British officers. The Pertower were seized by a detachment sian attacking columns, composed of of the besieging force ; but the main picked troops, rushed forward to the body remained inactive, and Esa assault with intrepidity; and the Khan, hastily collecting his troops, Affghans, though they stood the first gallantly led them against the enemy. shock, were soon obliged to give way The mêlée was so confused that the Upon this, seeing that further resistPersians were unable to use their ance was impossible, Esa Khan (25th muskets, and, overpowered by the October) surrendered, and Herat was rush of the Affghans, armed with taken possession of by the Persians. hanjars, were driven out with great Nor was Herat the goal of Persian slaughter. Being pursued by the Aff- aggression. At an early period of the ghans beyond the gates, the routed siege, a Persian corps had been pushed Persians suffered still more severely, forward to Furrah, an Affghan town till they were carried off by a brigade about 180 miles due south from sent to their rescue. Reinforcements, Herat, at the point where the main however, continued to arrive to the road turns eastward towards Candabesieging army; intrenchments were har. Furrah, although surrounded thrown up around each gate, to make by a high earthen rampart, appears the blockade complete ; and a native to have

been captured without oppoeyewitness states that “the Persians sition; and thereafter a further adbuilt barracks for their troops, so vance was made towards Geerishk that there are so many buildings in (a town lying between Furrah and the camp that it appears to form Candahar, and within 60 miles of the another city rivalling Herat.” M. latter city), where some skirmishing Buhler, a French officer, who was took place between the Persians and sent to the camp with special recom- the advanced guard of the Ameer's mendations from the Shah, gave an forces, -- about 8000 of whom were impulse of energy to the whole army; stationed for the defence of Candaand by his advice the trenches were har. The latest intelligence reports pushed far in advance, till at several that the Persian army has greatly points the head of the boyau was extended itself in Affghanistan. It within from ten to fifteen yards of has pushed southwards from Furrah, the ditch. Discouragement began to taking possession of the province of spread in the city ; provisions were Seistan—as well as eastwards, threatscarce; the Sheeites were deserting ening Khelat and Candahar. And and taking service with the enemy; the result of these successes, followthe succours promised by Dost Ma- ing the capture of Herat, has been to homed were not forthcoming, and induce not a few of the Affghan chiefs defections were reported among the to lean to Persia as the winning side, Affghan chiefs. Finding his affairs among others, Sultan Mahomed, desperate, Prince Yusoof made an at- the ex-chief of Peshawur, who was tempt to escape from the city-other caught intriguing with the Persians accounts say he was ejected by the against his brother the Ameer, and Affghans; and, being taken by the by the latter was summarily ordered Persians, was sent as a prisoner to off to Cabool. Teheran, where he received the par- Independently of any treaty fordon of the Shah.

bidding Persia to invade AffghanisThe defence now devolved wholly tan, it is obvious that the British had upon Esa Khan, who appears to have as clear a right to defend that country acted throughout with much gallan- as the Persians had to attack it. Our try. But it was impossible to avert aid, moreover, had been urgently sothe fall of the place. By the third licited by the Affghans themselves. week of October a considerable breach A proclamation of war, accordingly, had been made at the foot of one of was made at Calcutta, on the 1st of the numerous towers which flank the November; and a fortnight afterwalls of the town; but in order to wards a naval expedition was desreach that spot it was necessary to patched from Bombay for the Percarry an advanced work, which had sian Gulf, where the island of Karrak (seized in the former war) has “ While the British Government has been reoccupied, and the town and faithfully and constantly adhered to the port of Bushire taken possession of obligations which it accepted [?] under the In the proclamation of war (as is too agreement of January 1853, the Governcommonly the case in diplomatic do- ment of Persia has manifested a delibercuments), the reasons of common

ate and persevering disregard of the sense and national interest are passed same time it became bound, and is now

reciprocal engagements, by which at the over in silence; and the whole ground endeavouring to subvert by force the of hostilities is made to rest upon independence of Herat, which was the the convention concluded between declared object of the agreement in quesColonel Sheil and the Persian Go- tion." vernment in January 1853–of which more anon. As it is important to Herat, the proximate cause of this note the terms of the proclamation, war, needs a word of description. we quote its principal clauses. After The Times asks, “Where is Herat ?" referring to the convention of 1853, and as it is obvious that every year it proceeds as follows :

will give the British nation a livelier

interest in that part of the world, "By those articles the Persian Govern- it may be useful to give a general ment engaged not to send troops to sketch of the locality. Let us say, Herat on any account, unless foreign then, that Affghanistan, with its troops—that is, troops from the direc- five millions of a warlike race, intion of Cabool or Candahar, or other tervenes like a huge quadrangular foreign country-should invade Herat. In the event of troops being sent, the mountain-citadel between India and Persian Government engaged that the Persia, and that Herat is the only said troops should not enter the city of gate by which entrance can be obHerat; and that, on the return of the tained to this citadel from the west. foreign troops towards their own terri. The lofty Suleiman range of mountory, the Persian troops should be im- tains, running parallel with the mediately withdrawn from the neigh. Indus, bounds Affghanistan on the bourhood of Herat to Persian soil. east; the still more lofty range of

“The Persian Government also engag. the Hindoo Koosh (a continuation of ed to abstain from all interference what. soever in the internal affairs of Herat, north ; to the south, the sandy plains

the Himalayas) bounds it on the whether 'in taking possession, or occupy of Beloochistan stretch between it and ing, or assuming the sovereignty, or governing, except in so far as interference the sea; and on the west it is separexisted between the two parties during ated from Persia by the deserts of the lifetime of the late Yar Mahomed.' Khorassan. Across those deserts the

“ And, lastly, the Persian Govern. only passage for an army is to be found ment engaged to relinquish all preten- at their north side, where two or three rion to and demand for the coinage, or routes exist more or less practicable the reading of the Klootbeh, or any for troops. These routes all converge other acknowledgment of allegiance or suljootion on the part of the people of west angle of Afghanistan, where

and unite as they approach the northHernt to the government of Persia. " It was, at the same time, stipulated

stands HERAT. This city, then, that, so long as there should be no inter is the door which must be opened ference of any sort whatever on the part before entrance can be obtained to of the British Government in the affairs the quadrangular mass of mounof Hernt, tho engagements contracted tains, valleys, and waterless plateaus Ar the Persian Government, as afore- which constitute Affghanistan. Its

and should remain in full force and situation is one of great military W Ou the other hand, it was agreed and commercial importance. The Hi the name of the British Government,

peaceful files of the caravan, and the What wil may Rouvign power, such as the

dread battalions of war, alike pass w others,' should wish to inbuy with, or take possession of Herat,

through it on their march from India

to Persia, or from Persia to India. wiele babiah Coverament, on the requisito hide what the Persian Ministers, would not The long camel-trains from Delhi, w w restrain such foreign power by Mooltan, and Lahore pass through it, delay Advice, so that Herat might re- bearing the merchandise of India and este de a illa own state of independence." the manufactures of England to the

distant towns and oases of Persia fruit known in Persia, are supplied by and Turkistan; and so completely is the fertile region around; and though Herat a gateway of commerce that it cattle are not very numerous, there are is called Bunder, or Port,-although large flocks of the broad-tailed sheep the only sea upon which it borders so well known and prized in Central are seas of sand. The march of con- Asia. Thus no better camping-ground quest has passed through it from time and quarters could be found for an immemorial. The cavalry-host of army; and as an intermediate station Timour and the disciplined army of between the deserts on the west and Nadir Shah, in their invasions of the Affghan mountains on the east, India, went and came by this route; it is for such a purpose invaluable. and though Alexander the Great, It is a vast place d'armes, where all Gengis Khan, and Baber marched by assaulting columns from the west Balkh, and crossed the Hindoo Koosh must unite and recruit before making immediately to the north of Cabool, their final attack upon the defences the route by Herat is the only one of our Indian empire. To speak in practicable for an army with the usual miniature, it is just such a place as a complement of artillery. The country skilful defender of India would desire around Herat affords an admirable to cover with a horn-work, in order halting-place for armies. It is a spa- to prevent the enemy from getting cious plain, thirty miles long and half possession of a spot where they could as broad, once studded with villages, collect their forces under cover, and and still exhibiting a fair expanse of from which they could so advantagegardens, vineyards, and corn-fields; ously push forward their assault upon while the Herat river and “ thé our interior works of defence. bright waters of small running “ We have a garden, which is Instreams (canals ?] lighten the pleasant dia; the walls are the fortified towns landscape," and fertilise the plain. In of Tartary and Affghanistan. Let the the hamlets and gardens around, Russians once seize them, and our the celebrated attar, or otto of roses, garden is theirs." So said Sir Richis manufactured ; and such is the mond Shakspere to the Khan of profusion of this regal flower that Khiva, in language not more finely Herat has been styled the City of figurative than true; and M. Ferrier, Roses. In the midst of the plain the French officer who lately wanderstands the city, now much fallen from ed with the caravans throughout that its olden prosperity, but still contain- region, and who has elaborately spe, ing a population of about fifty thou- culated on the future of Russian and sand, and destined ever to retain Anglo-Indian power in the East, adds, much wealth and importance from “I believe he is right.”. In the imlying in the track of the caravans. perial policy of Russia, designs upon Its staple commodities are silk, assa, India have been very long cherished. foetida, and saffron; and the principal First sighted by the genius of Peter, merchants of the place are Hindoos. and first practically contemplated by Like most Asiatic towns, there is the madman Paul; talked of by Alexmuch dirt and desolation within; yet ander and Napoleon, and sketched water, that prime necessity of Orien- out like a grand dream by the latter, tal life, is so abundant that almost the invasion of India is a design never every house has a fountain, besides laid aside at the Court of Sť Petersthe public ones in the bazaars. The burg. But apart from the question city, which forms a square, each side of design, look at the mere facts. of which is about a mile long, is Russia is advancing farther and farstrongly fortified for an Eastern town, ther into Asia, nearer and nearer to being encircled by a solid bastioned the bulwarks of our Indian empire. earthen wall and wet ditch ;and with- “ If we go on at this rate," said Baron in there is a citadel, a square castle Brunow to Sir John Hobhouse, in built of burnt brick, · elevated on a

“ the Cossack and the Sepoy mound, sufficiently strong to consti- will soon meet on the banks of the tute a rallying-point, but incapable of Oxus." They will so meet some day. separate defence. Abundant crops of Russia knows this, and intends this ; wheat and barley, and every kind of and it were well that the grand issue

1837,

« AnteriorContinuar »