« AnteriorContinuar »
tual state of affairs rendered it more than ever essential to maintain, would have confirmed all the calumnies of the French. He therefore returned to Calcutta, and proposed to the governor-general a plan for completely overawing the faithless and impotent councils of the Persian court. This was by taking possession of the island of Kismis in the Persian gulph, as an emporium of commerce, the seat of political negociation, and the depôt of military stores: by thus establishing a local influence and power, we might not only exclude the French from this quarter, to which they had long armed their attention, but be enabled to carry on negociations or military operations with honour and security to any extent that might be required. This plan was readily adopted, and Colonel Malcolm arrived at Bombay in January, 1809, with a force amounting to 2000 men, to carry it into execution.
A great change however had taken place in his absence. The embassy of Gardanne had determined the British cabinet to send an envoy extraordinary from his Majesty to the king of Persia. Sir Harford Jones, who was selected for this service, hearing on his arrival at Bombay of the successful influence of the French and the failure of Colonel Malcolm, was doubtful what line to pursue, when the total failure of the French in their engagements to prevail on the Russians to evacuate Georgia, and the intelligence of the Spanish insurrection, determined him to proceed. On his arrival at Bushire he was met by accounts of peace between the Porte and Great Britain. This intelligence gave him additional confidence; and, not unacquainted with the character of the people with whom be had to deal, he exacted from the beglerbegs, scheiks, and khans, all due homage to his Majesty's mission; mounted his catabee, or hawl cloak, which princes only are allowed to wear; and paraded his Majesty's letter, his picture surrounded with diamonds, and other valuable presents to the amount of many thousand pounds, to such advantage, that the fame of his magnificence had reached Tehraun before he himself had advanced to Shiraz. Under all these favourable circumstances, the timid and venal government of Persia hailed his approach with joy, dismissed Gardanne_before his arrival at the capital, and cheerfully accepted a pecuniary Subsidy from a power from which they were very sensible they merited punishment rather than reward. The temper in which Gardanne and his suite quitted Persia may partly be collected from an inscription on the wall of a room in which Mr. Morier halted. Venimus, vidimus et malediximus Persidi, regique aulæque magnatibusque populoque.'
This short statement, which we know to be correct, will suffi ciently explain the success of Sir Harford Jones and the failure of Colonel Malcolm-of the merchant of Bushire, a character not in
high respect among the Persians, and the soldier, whose profession they admire, and who, on a former occasion, was received and caressed with the utmost warmth by all descriptions of people.
The present situation of Sir Gore Ouseley, in Persia, is not very different from that of Gardanne. Under his sanction British officers have been employed to discipline Persian troops, and lead them against the Russians. This employment must of course now cease; and the natural step for our ambassador to take will be that of mediator. We imagine however there is little hope of success in the attempt to reconcile two parties, who, for the last fifteen years, have been at war, the one to acquire additional territory, the other to regain what it has lost. Russia considers it of the utmost importance to establish the Araxes as a frontier, which would leave her in possession of the line of the Kur and Rione, the ancient Cyrus and Phasis, by which would be opened a direct communication between the Caspian and the Black Sea. Persia is most anxious to retain Georgia, were it only for the supply of beautiful ladies with which the royal harems are stocked; but, in addition to Georgia, the establishment of this frontier would deprive her of Daghestan and Schirvan, which, to any other power, would be important from their situation along the western shore of the Caspian. If however France should succeed in bribing Turkey to renew hostilities with Russia, in order to distract her attention from the north to the south of Europe, the best service our ambassador could perform would be that of bringing about an alliance of the Russian and Persian arms, and turning them against the Turkish provinces of Asia Minor.
The alliance of Persia with England is worth preserving. As a controuling power to the numerous warlike hordes on the northwest frontier of India, it must at all times operate to our advantage. Far greater danger is to be apprehended from those hordes, confederated with the Mahrattas, than from any intrigues or efforts on the side of Buonaparte. If indeed he be not already cured of his predilection for Fontainbleau expeditions,' the internal tranquillity of India, the total extirpation of the French flag from the Indian seas, and the present state of Europe, afford him but little prospect of pleasurement in this quarter. There was a time when discussions on the probability of a successful invasion of India through Persia were not devoid of interest; and as that time, however unlikely, may again occur, we shall take the liberty to offer a word or two on the subject.
It is obvious that an alliance with Russia or Turkey would be necessary for the French to bring an army in contact with Persia. In the strong probability of the latter country being decidedly hostile
to the entrance of such an army, it would be necessary, in the first place, to subdue it, so far at least as to obtain military possession of the country. That a regular and well disciplined army of no very great force would be able to effect this, we see no occasion to doubt. In the most brilliant periods of the Persian empire, her armies were formidable only from their numbers; like swarms of custs they laid waste those countries over which they passed, but they rarely conquered in fight, or rallied after being dispersed. A million of men led by Xerxes made little impression on the small states of Greece, while thirty thousand soldiers under Alexander subdued all Persia. The numbers in the first instance may be exaggerated, but the decisive battle of Platea was won by 110000 confederated Greeks against 350,000 Persians. The well known retreat of the ten thousand' was conducted in the face of several hundred thousand Persians. Alexander Severus overthrew the army of Artaxerxes, consisting of 120,000 horse, 700 elephants, and 1800 chariots, armed with scythes. In later times, the whole empire has been overrun by the Arabs, conquered by the Tartars, and split into fragments by rebellious khans. Constituted as their army is, each troop commanded by its own chief, and each chief jealous of his brother in arms, there can be no concert of action, so indispensably necessary in military affairs. The modern science of war is utterly unknown to them; they are ignorant of the principles of fortification, and of the arts of attack and defence. Their infantry are few and despicable. 'Their field artillery is chiefly composed of zambarooks, or small swivels, fired from the backs of camels.' They have no good officers; a civilian who never saw a shot fired, an eunuch who would shudder to see one fired, may command whole armies, Their cavalry act with rapidity and impetuosity, but it is the separate action of each individual, without that united and condensed impulse, which alone is capable of making any serious impression on a body of troops trained and disciplined in the European fashion.
But though a small and well disciplined army might obtain military possession of Persia, it would not be so easy to retain it for any length of time. Their magazines could not be replenished. The natives, of whom one-half have no fixed habitations, would withdraw to a distance from the military positions of the enemy. His foraging parties would invariably be swept off by the clouds of irregular cavalry, who live chiefly by plunder, and who are more formidable when broken and dispersed into small parties, than when united in large bodies. The strong holds of Persia, which he would necessarily occupy, are the provinces of Ghilan and Mazanderaun, and these are the most unhealthy. In short
we have no doubt that, in the course of twelve months, sickness, famine, and the sword, would destroy any army that France could send into Persia.
But supposing Persia to be favourable to the views of the enemy, and even to assist in the invasion of India, it would be necessary, in the first place, to obtain possession of all Khorassan, and open a passage to Herat. This is the route that Alexander took, and the only route indeed by which an army could have the least chance of entering India. The Great Salt desert, the marshes and rugged mountains of Cohestan, the arid and naked plains of Kirman, the moving sands of Mekrau, and all the mountains and dreary wastes on each side of the Indus, and as far to the eastward of it as Agimere, render any attempt to march an army through the central provinces of Persia towards the lower part of the Indus utterly impracticable. The return of Alexander from Patula, the modern Tatta, near the mouth of the Indus, to Persepolis, was sufficiently wonderful, but by skirting the coast of Mekran, he avoided the more extensive sandy plains and arid deserts of the interior. Yet we are told by Plutarch, that his army suffered dreadfully; violent distempers, ill diet and excessive heats, destroyed multitudes; but famine made still greater ravages, for it was a barren and uncultivated country; the natives lived miserably, having nothing to subsist on but a few bad sheep, which fed on the fish thrown up by the sea.' To say nothing of the distance between Tehraun and Delhi, which exceeds 2000 miles, of the mountains, ravines, unfordable rivers, impenetrable forests; the uncultivated state of the country, the sandy plains, salt lakes and marshes, unwholesome winds which blow in places for several months in the year, and the scarcity of water, on almost the whole line of this march; to say nothing of the roving tribes which infest every part of the country through which it would be necessary to pass-there are several very powerful nations, as the Usbeck Tartars, the Turcomans, the Patans, and above all the warlike Affghans and the Seiks, all of whom must either be conquered or conciliated― the first of which is not to be expected, the second not to be depended on. For such expeditions Persia is not in a state to engage. She has no magazines, no treasures to support her own armies, far less a foreign corps, which the chiefs of every wandering tribe would be more ready to plunder than to assist. In short, so numerous are the obstacles that we deem it wholly unneces sary to pursue the subject.
Mr. Kinneir's book, on the whole, will, undoubtedly, be found useful to future travellers in Persia, from the great number of routes collected from various quarters; and we doubt not that, by means of them, he has adjusted the geographical positions of
everal places, and laid them down with more correctness than beretofore: but his map is still defective, and the whole province of Seistan, Kerman and Mekran are left almost a blank. One great fault in his memoir is the silence which he observes as to the authorities on which it is drawn up; and the reader is left entirely to guess what parts of Persia have been visited by himself, and those for the account of which he is indebted to others.
Mr. Morier's book is of that light desultory kind of writing which never fails to afford pleasure to those who read for mere usement: the large portion of it, which is bestowed in praise of the good management of the mission, must be peculiarly gratifying to Sir Harford Jones.
Atr. VI. Correspondance Littéraire, Philosophique, et Critique, addressée à un Souverain d'Allemagne, depuis 1770 jusqu'en 1782, par le Baron de Grimm et par Diderot. 5 tomes, 8vo,
WE WE have been brought very intimately acquainted, by several late publications, with the state of society at Paris, and with the characters and persons of those who formed its principal ornaments, during the middle and latter end of the last century. It seems to be agreed on all hands that the arts of social intercourse were never, at any period of the civilised world, carried to so high a pitch of refinement and polish; and there are not wanting those even among our less harmonised countrymen, who have been
captivated by the brilliant and seducing picture, as to appear content to fix in such a state the standard for the greatest possible quantity of human happiness. From all such opinions we widely differ, not in disputing the fact, but the inference. To the production of so perfect a specimen of society, it seems to have been necessary to make certain sacrifices; and we are by no means satisfied that the objects sacrificed were not often of much greater importance in the scale of real felicity than those acquired.
We have thought it necessary to explain so much at the outset, that the entertainment which we profess ourselves to derive from these accounts of Parisian society, may not be confounded with any supposed admiration of the principles on which it was established, or desire of seeing them reduced more generally into practice among ourselves. It would be a miserable exchange, that of the heart for the imagination, of the domestic affections for the social graces. After this, we shall have done with the subject, and, instead of moralizing, hasten to convey to our readers as large a por