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while on his way through Afghanistan to Persia in the spring or summer of 1838, heard, as he approached Herat, of the impendtng attack of that place. He perceived and seized the opportunity of rendering a great service to his country. He tendered his services to the King Kamran and his Minister, Yar Moohummud, as an artillery officer, to assist in the defence. Gunnery being the one art wherein a true Moosulman may admit his inferiority to a dog of a Christian, Lieutenant Pottinger's offer was accepted ; and he soon acquired a general control over all the operations of the garrison. So well were these conducted, and so entirely were they felt to proceed from Lieutenant Pottinger, that long after the siege had been raised the Minister for foreign affairs in Persia, Mirza Hajee Aghasee conversing with an English gentleman on the subject, suddenly burst out into an honest encomium of the young officer, by whose skill and courage he had been baffled, and exclaimed
“ He was a clever fellow that Pottinger. Wherever I ran up a battery, there he had always a work to counteract me. But if I had only had 20,000 pounds more of gunpowder I should have blown him up. Yet, it would have been a pity ; for he was a clever fellow.”
In addition to this praise from the lips of a foe, we can give the following anecdote from the pen of a friend who gathered it, we believe, from the people of Herat, where it must be remembered that Lieutenant Pottinger was, during the continuance of the siege, without a single European companion. On one occasion, a storming-party had actually forced the breach and effected a lodgement within the walls. The Afghans were dismayed, and even the Minister, Yar Moohummud, was retiring in despair to shut himself up in his house, when Lieutenant Pottinger, who had been employed in another quarter, hearing of what had happened, hurried to the spot, seized Yar Moohummud by the arm, dragged him towards the point attacked, addressed a few words of encouragement to the men of the garrison, and then led them on to charge and drove back the Persians who had so nearly opened a way for the victorious entry of their king.
A melancholy interest attaches to this anecdote, for it rests on the authority of the gallant Colonel Stoddart, who introduced it into the last letter that he is known, we believe, to have written from Bokhara, because, as he stated, he might never have another opportunity of recording what he knew his friend Pottinger's modesty would not allow him to narrate of hiniself.
But Lieutenant Pottinger's services did not end with the liberation of Herat from a state of siege.
On the retreat of the Persian army, the Minister, Yar Moohummud, began to recruit the shattered finances of the state, by
Lieutenant Pottinger in the Durbar of Kamran. 433 many cunning expedients, among which the most remarkable was that of selling as slaves to the Oosbeck Tartars such heterodox Moosulmans of the Sheeah sect as would not pay for
permission to remain in the town. Against these and other enormities, Lieutenant Pottinger, who had been appointed to be the British Political Agent at Herat, remonstrated so boldly, that one day in open Durbar in the King's presence, the Minister lost his temper and called him a liar. "You are a dog, and a
“ liar too,” was the reply returned by Lieutenant Pottinger, who instantly withdrew with his friend Colonel Stoddart, and prepared, at all hazards, to quit the place. On his intention transpiring grain rose to double its previous price in the Bazaar, and the Minister was constrained to beg it as a favour of him to remain. Lieutenant Pottinger consented, but upon the condition of the cruel measures which he had objected to being abandoned.
In contemplating the position of this young British officer, alone among a fierce and fanatical people, hereditary haters of his race and creed, yet all submitting in war to his guidance, in peace to his dictation, the mind naturally runs back to the earlier intercourse of Europeans with Asiatics, to speculate upon the cause of the unvarying ascendancy of the former over the latter, from the first dawn of authentic history until now. The cause, we suspect, lies too deep for human wisdom to detect; but the fact seems to us to be established by the experience of upwards of twenty centuries—and there is more than a fanciful analogy between the situation in point of influence of Themistocles at the Court of Artaxerxes, and that of Lieutenant Pottinger in the Durbar of Kamran. The speculation is not an idle one, for it is the consciousness of this very moral and intellectual superiority that regulates and accounts for the variations observable in our conduct towards Asiatic from the rules that govern our dealings with European states. International law is unknown in the East, where religion supplies, however imperfectly, its place. If rigidly adhered to, it must often fetter one party without imposing any compensatory restriction on the other. But while a literal observance of its rules may often be, as Mr. Thornton somewhere says, pedantic folly, there can never be a case to warrant our violating its spirit, or, in the pride of our wisdom and our strength, dispensing with such of its restraints as are founded not upon compact or understanding between communities, but
the great principles of justice engraven by our Maker on our hearts. These reflections have been suggested to our minds by the question now pressing on our notice, the policy namely and the propriety of our Afghan expedition from the beginning to its close.
For so long as Herat was in peril there cannot, we think, be a a doubt that the resolution to advance to meet on the threshold, a
VOL, VII, NO, XIV.
danger which at every step would have become more formidable as it drew nigher to our possessions, was as justifiable as it was bold and wise. In this opinion most of those acquainted with India will, we think, agree, though many may regret that the movement was persisted in after the King of Persia had retreated, and Herat was safe. But we had, to conciliate our formidable ally of the Punjaub, become parties to a treaty binding us to cooperate with him in restoring Shah Shooja after 30 years of exile to the throne of Cabool. Our co-operations with native allies have ever proved to be very one-sided operations, and we must leave it to deeper jurists to decide in how far our promise to the ruler of the Sikhs made it incumbent upon us, as men of our word, to take upon ourselves the whole labour of invading and conquering Afghanistan.
On the score of policy, our mistake seems to have been that of relying on a power of our own erection to second and carry out our own peculiar views. No restored sovereign can ever be of much service to those, if strangers, through whom he regains his throne ; for his very obligations to them must, by destroying his popularity as a ruler, impair his efficiency as an ally. This inefficiency must of course be aggravated, when the reinstated Prince is forced to square his administration by the wishes and principles of those who bring him back, instead of suiting it to the feelings and habits of those to whom he returns. Shah Shooja laboured under both of these difficulties; he was not only replaced by the English, but he was daily obliged to recall this mortifying fact to the recollection of his subjects, by the European cast and colour of his measures. He is said to have expressed this rather quaintly in taking leave of a British officer who was returning to India. “Tell the Governor-General," he said, “that all the good that is done here is done by Sir W. Macnaghten, and all the evil too; for I do nothing."
Far be it from us to cast any blame upon the envoy for labouring as he did, with all the powers of his well stored mind, to render the reinstated monarchy a blessing to the people, or for striving to give them a taste for a mild and well ordered government. Indeed, neither he nor the Governor-General could have allowed Shah Shooja to rule upon Afghan principles, without being themselves soon called to account by their own countrymen for a disregard of Christian principles. But wbile the people of England would not have tolerated a head-lopping administration, they were sure soon to complain of the enormous cost of a milder system. Hence arose those orders for economizing which, as hinted rather than asserted by Mr. Thornton, (page 241,) became the proximate cause of the final revolt. In his anxiety to carry out the policy of his superiors, the envoy, conscious of the real
Sir William Macnaghten.
good that he was daily doing, may have overlooked how entirely the power of Shah Shooja rested upon the two props of bullion and bayonets; but Mr. Thornton does not say that he either suggested or approved of the reductions to which it devolved upon him to give effect. Timely warning of the probable consequences of these measures upon the Ghibzye Chiefs in the Kohistan was, we believe, given by Lieutenant Pottinger, who, now raised to the rank of major, had been removed from Herat, and was stationed as political agent at Charikar, about 20 miles to the North of Cabool, whence, though wounded, he effected his escape (as stated at page 268,) with only one companion, and passing through the Afghan force, entered the beleaguered cantonments in the middle of November 1841.
The events that followed belong to military history, and lię beyond the limit assigned to our comments. The direct authority of the envoy and the political agents, ceased with the commencement of open hostilities; but as those functionaries have been often alluded to, as instrumental in some way or other towards inducing the disasters that ensued, we think it right to try to explain their real position. It is distinctly asserted by Mr. Thornton (page 264,) that it is a bare act of justice to Sir William Macnaghten to state, " that whatever of promptitude and energy was displayed in the higher departments at Cabool during these unhappy scenes, seems traceable to him," and even the unfriendly Quarterly Reviewer admits (No. 156, page 494,) that, " when the abyss of danger at last discovered itselt, Sir William showed no want of manhood; on the contrary, whatever energy can be said to have been displayed in the crisis itself, was displayed by the unfortunate diplomatist.”
With such concurrent testimony in favour of the envoy's conduct, and with our knowledge of his long-established character for eminent ability, we cannot resist the conclusion that it was to his want of authority to command, that the absence of all plan and decision in the subsequent operations is to be ascribed ; and yet, there are those, in high place too, who scruple not to speak of our disasters as in some degree caused by his perplexing presence and interference. In one passage of the Article in the Quarterly Review, above cited (page 494,) a parallel is drawn between the “small birds” at Cabool, and the strong man” at Candahar; but when it is remembered that the danger at the former place was at least four times greater than at the latter, and that General Nott was free to order and to act as he thought fit, while Sir William Macnaghten could only suggest, we think that the unshaken constancy evinced by the diplomatist, might have averted the disparaging comparison here implied between him and the more fortunate military commander.
There is a prevailing error also, as to the manner and degree of the envoy's mistakes, antecedently to the revolt, upon which our author throws no light whatever. That outbreak does not appear to have been, as many suppose, the result of any undetected plot, and in fact, came unexpectedly even upon those who took the most active part in it. The account given of its origin by a Moonshee, or native secretary of the envoy's, who escaped with the loss of the points of his fingers and toes into Hindostan, carries a good deal of probability on its face. His story is, that on the night of the 1st November 1841, Ubdoola, a chief, afterwards killed at Belunaroo on the 23d of that month, came to Ameenoola Khan, one of our most inveterate foes, and said, “ Macnaghten is going, and Burnes” (to whom he bore a private but deadly grudge,) “will succeed to his place, and once in power may get beyond the reach of my vengeance. To make sure of my revenge, I will attack and murder him tomorrow morning.” How he acted upon that resolution is matter of history, although Mr. Thornton narrates the assault upon the house of Sir A. Burnes, as if it had been a consequence, instead of the precursor, of the insurrection in the city (page 252.) This we apprehend to be a mistake, and we wish the authority were given for that want of decision, and “ostentatious moderation” on that officer's part, but for which he thinks “ the outbreak might have been at once checked.” We agree with our author in thinking that the spark might have been trodden down before it spread into a flame; and the Moonshee's narrative confirms this by stating that, for two hours after the murder of Sir A. Burnes, the town's-people were all aghast, looking for what was to follow; but nothing, we are convinced, could possibly have prevented that lamented officer and his gallant companions from becoming, in the very words used by the Chiefs at Cabool, in an
, nouncing the event to those of the Khyber pass, “ the food of the sword.”
We must now glance at the situation of the gallant little army at Julalabad, and see in how far political agency contributed to its maintaining its ground, and thus proving a barrier to the
torrent, that with its fall might have poured through the Punjaub into our provinces. Sir R. Sale entered Julalabad on the 12th November 1841, with provisions for not more than a week, and with the loss of all his baggage, and the greater part of his ammunition. Happily, the treasure was preserved, and this, in the hands of the political agent, Major George Macgregor, proved the means of procuring the other necessaries of existence. Speaking their language with fluency, and understanding their character thoroughly, this worthy colleague of the gallant chief, who was ever forward to bear witness to his merits, open