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all surrounding nations not of Uzbek race, similar to that formerly practised against the Christian powers of Europe by the Barbary pirates. If the imprisonment of the Russian envoy, and the attack on the Orenburg caravan, had been promptly answered and avenged by the march of an army, the retaliation would have been well-timed and justifiable; but the ambitious views of Russia in Central Asia were not then sufficiently matured or distinct to render the possession of Khiva necessary for their immediate furtherance. Persia,
also, was then erect and independent, under the government of the crafty and sagacious Futteh-Ali, who would have viewed with distrust the approxi mation of Russian arms and machinations to his turbulent and scarcely subdued province of Khorassan.
time, in short, was not yet come for developing the schemes, of which the countries east of the Caspian were the destined theatre; and the insults offered to the majesty of Russia were thus suffered to pass with impunity. But the events of 1838 and 1839 have given a widely different aspect to Asiatic politics. The victorious entrance of an English army into Candahar and Cabul has rendered it essential for Russia, in accordance with her invariable policy, to counteract by an instant demonstration the moral influence thus accruing to England, and to acquire, by a step in advance of her present Siberian frontier, a counterpoise to the extension of the Anglo-Indian dominion towards the north. Hence the conquest of Khiva, (originally planned two years back, as the organs of Russia admit, but postponed in consequence of the repulse of the Persians before Herat,) becomes an object of paramount importance to the cabinet of Petersburg; and the marauding habits of the people, combined with their bygone infractions of diplomatic courtesies, furnish the same ready pretext for invasion which was at hand to France, when, by the capture of Algiers on similar grounds, she laid the foundation of a dominion which bids fair to extend, at no distant period, over the whole of Northern Africa. That the advantageous results to be expected from the conversion of Khiva into an appendage to Asiatic Russia were long ago per ceived and pointed out, the following extract, given in the Quarterly Re
view from the work of Mouraviev, will, we think, sufficiently prove; and though his prognostications were dismissed with little ceremony by the writer in the Quarterly, which then held as an article of its creed that all danger from Russia to our Indian empire was chimerical and visionary, we suspect that few will be found in the present day to question their general correctness or practicability.
"Even now, caravans from the countries of the South arrive at Khiva; and if commerce does not acquire a greater degree of extension, it is because it is shackled by the frequent depredations of the nomade tribes. If we possessed Khiva, the conquest of which would not be diffi cult, the nomades of Central Asia would dread our power, and a route for commerce would be established by the Sind (Indus) and Amoo-deria (Oxus) to Russia; all the riches of Asia would then flow into our country, and we should see the brilliant projects of Peter the Great realized. Once masters of Khiva, many other states would become dependent upon us. word, Khiva is at this moment an advanced post, opposed to the commerce of Russia with Bokhara and Northern India; but if subject to us, the Khivan territory would become a stronghold, which would defend this commerce against the attacks of the tribes dispersed over Southern Asia. This oasis, situated in the midst of an ocean of sand, would become the point of re-union of all the commerce of Asia, and would shake, even to the centre of India, the enormous commercial preponder ance of the dominators of the sea. route from Khiva to Astrakhan might be greatly shortened, since it is but seventeen days' march from Orgunj to the Bay of Krasnovodsk, whence, with a favourable wind, Astrakhan may be reached in a few
days."-MOURAVIEV, pp. 344-5. (Quart. Rev. vol. xxxvi. p. 127.)
It could hardly be expected that Russia would tamely submit to see these brilliant prospects closed against her by the advance of the "dominators of the sea" beyond the Indus,-an event of which no anticipation existed when the above lines were written; but the commercial value of Khiva cannot be duly estimated without a previous explanation of the change in political relations which will be induced by its conquest; and this point we shall first proceed to consider. Hitherto, contented with a line of southern frontier in Asia, which intersects that continent through its entire length, and
places under her eye every change in the political horizon from the Bosphorus to Pekin, Russia has abstained from any direct interference with the various states which overspread the vast area extending east from the Caspian to the limits of the Chinese empire, and from the Siberian outposts to the Himalaya and the HindooKoosh. With all these regions the intercourse of Russia, up to the present time, has been confined to an occasional embassy; but the possession of Khiva will at once give her the undisputed sovereignty of the Sea of Aral, which, though shallow and encumbered with sandbanks, is navigable by flat-bottomed vessels or steam-boats of small draught of water; and the equipment of flotillas on the streams of the two mighty tributaries to this inland sea, the Amoo or Oxus, and the Sirr or Jaxartes,* will speedily bring within the reach of Russian machination the various intervening territories, up to the Chinese dependencies in Kashgar and Yarkend. The vast tract lying between these two rivers was known in the early ages of Mohammedan conquest by the name of Mawara❜lnahr, or "beyond the river;" and is eulogized by the Arabian geographers as "the garden of Asia, and one of the three earthly paradises;" and Ebn-Haukal declares that if all the rest of the earth were afflicted by famine, the deficiency might be supplied from the superabundance of the last year's crop in Mawara' lnahr. But these flowery descriptions are far from being corroborated by the few recent accounts which we have received, which represent it as being in
great part sterile and desert, probably for want of the artificial irrigation which enriched its soil in its ancient days of superabundance and fertility.†
The territory of Khiva, as noticed above, occupies its north-west division; and from the frontiers of Khiva, the kingdom of Bokhara and its dependencies extend along the course of the Oxus to the borders of the petty state of Koondooz, bounding Affghanistan on the north. The north-east part of Mawara'lnahr, along the course of the Sirr, and immediately contiguous to Chinese Tartary, consists of the small Uzbek kingdom of Kokan or Ferghana, (the former patrimony of the house of Timur,) with which, since the mission of Nazaroff ‡ in 1812, an occasional intercourse has been kept up by Russia. With the districts lying along the valley of the Sirr, and their cities of Khojend, Otrar, and Taskend, Europe is at the present day absolutely unacquainted and we are not aware that any European (with the exception, perhaps, of a stray Russian trader) is even known to have visited them since the days of Timur, when Clavijo appeared at his court in 1402, as ambassador from Henry III. of Castile.
The state of the kingdom of Bokhara, the most extensive and important division of the Uzbek nation, over which its sovereign assets a nominal supremacy, has been made better known in Europe by the travels of Moorcroft, Conolly, and Burnes, especially the last-named author, whose invaluable work forms a text-book on the commerce, power, and resources of the regions bordering on the Oxus.
*The navigation of the Oxus ceases only at a short distance from Cabul; and once masters of this river and the towns on its banks, the Russians may proceed against the capital of Shah Shooja unopposed by England, with much more facility than an army from Herat."-Le National (French journal.)-The Jaxartes is navigable about 600 miles, nearly up to the city of Kokan.
We cannot agree with the writer in the Quarterly, (vol. xxxvi. 128,) above referred to, in considering the ancient accounts of the fertility and population of Mawara'Inahr entirely in the light of Arab exaggeration. The inhabitants appear to have been nearly exterminated by the devastating fury of the Moguls, whose first attack fell on this devoted region; and the consequent ruin of the ancient water-courses, traces of which are found in the midst of the desert at the present day, reduced the tracts distant from the rivers to the arid state into which Egypt, or any other country destitute of rain, would fall under similar circumstances.
The journal of this embassy was published at the private expense of Count Romanzoff; but the charts were suppressed by order of Government. All that is known of the geography of this and the adjacent regions is given in the introduction to the Memoirs of Baber, translated by Erskine and Leyden.
It is no longer ruled by the descendants of Jenghiz, who were dethroned, not many years after the transient conquest by Nadir, by their vizier Shah Mourad Beg, who made himself famous throughout Asia as a Moslem saint, by the title of Beggi-Jan, and transmitted an hereditary character for sanctity to his descendants, the present reigning family. It has maintained a friendly correspondence from time to time with Russia, ever since the days of Peter the Great, who left no means untried for the realization of his darling visions of overland commerce from India; and when these were resumed in the reign of Catharine II., an attempt was made to conciliate the good-will of Beggi-Jan by the gift of 40,000 silver rubles, which that saintly personage expended in the erection of a college of theology. The object, however, was gained; and from that time the traffic with Russia, by caravans through Khiva to the Caspian, as noticed above, has continued with little interruption; and since the legation of Négri, twenty years ago, more than one embassy from Bokhara has appeared at Petersburg. Though the observations of Burnes led him to suppose that amicable relations might easily be established with the government of this state, the overtures recently made for that purpose have not only been rejected, but our envoy, Colonel Stoddart, has been forcibly detained at Bokhara, where Dost Mohammed, the dethroned ruler of Cabul, has found an asylum, after maintaining himself for some time in the small border state of Koondooz, the chief of which had declared himself hostile to the British. But these steps have probably been dictated less by animosity against Britain than by solicitude to avoid the resentment of the Russians, whose occupation of Khiva will place them in alarming proximity -the position of Bokhara, lying in the direct track by which two mighty and constantly encroaching powers are advancing from opposite quarters to the encounter, leaves her no chance of
escaping destruction in the shock, (destitute as she is both of military strength and natural fastnesses,) unless by siding at once with the more formidable. It is currently rumoured, indeed, in India, that Bokhara is to be summarily taken under Russian protection, as soon as the conquest of Khiva shall have been achieved; and the Bombay Gazette of December last goes even further, confidently asserting that "the designs of the Emperor of Russia extend not only to the establishment of a force at Khiva and Bokhara, but even at Herat. He meditates not only an incursion into the territory of a prince with whom he is at war, such as is the Khan of Khiva, but intends putting himself in an attitude of hostility to Great Britain, as the arbitress of Central Asia."
Whatever may be the proportion of truth and error in the statements just quoted, there can be little doubt that the plans of Russia for her future operations are now fully matured, and that the blow struck against Khiva will be vigorously followed up. The schemes originally sketched out in 1791 by the Prince of Nassau and M. de St Genie, for "gaining over the Affghans to the interest of Russia, and sending an army through Bokhara to the north of India,* are at length, after the lapse of half a century, considered ripe for execution. It is known that troops and artillery, to a considerable amount, have been silently assem bled at Asterabad, and the consent of the Shah obtained for their passage through Persia, ostensibly to co-operate, if necessary, by a flank movement on Khiva with General Peroffski's army; but it is surmised that their real instructions are to await the issue of the intrigues now in progress at Herat, where every effort has been made to induce Kamran to abandon the English alliance, and throw himself into the arms of Russia. The language held to our envoy by the vizier (who rules in the name of his debauched and drunken master) shows the extent of the offers thus made. He openly avowed that the subsidy of
See the "Miscellaneous Papers" appended to the work of Eaton on the Turkish Government, 1798. The Indian Moslems, according to this project, were to be attracted by the prospect of seeing the Mogul Emperor restored under Russian pro
† Yar-Mohammed Khan, vizier of Herat, one of the most distinguished men, both as a statesman and warrior, whom Asia now possesses.
three lacs of rupees (L.30,000) was indifferent to him, as Russia had promised four times as much; and this demeanour, coupled with the rumoured refusal to admit our troops and artillery, shows that our interests are on but a precarious footing in the city for the security of which we first involved ourselves in an Affghan war. The threat of a renewed attack from the Persians, (who have all along retained the fortress of Ghorian, near Herat, which was taken in the former invasion,) is probably another ruse to sway the determination of Kamran, as it is obvious that a hint from Russia to Mohammed Shah would at once avert the impending danger; while, on the other hand, the stipulation that he should recognise his uncle and rival, Shah Shooja, as king of Cabul, (which was exacted as the price of British aid,) is said to have given him deep offence; and if, by working on his ambition or fear, or by tempting his avarice, he is won over to the side of Russia, the key of British India will be lost to us after all; unless, reversing the characters in which the two powers previously appeared, we resort to the ultima ratio of force, and become the assailants of the fortress which our ostensible object was to defend a measure which (even if our troops had not already sufficient employment) could scarcely be justified by even the utmost latitude of AngloIndian notions on international law. If, therefore, the Russians succeed in excluding us from Herat, they will be enabled to move forward to the Indus from a double point of departure Herat and Bokhara; and the only advantage (though not a trifling one) which we shall have gained by our expenditure of blood and treasure, will be the removal of the theatre of war from the territories directly subject
But before we abandon this part of the subject, it is necessary to advert again to the arguments by which M. Mouraviev, in the passage above cited, has endeavoured to show that the com mercial advantages alone, to be derived from the seizure of Khiva, would be
Asia in such have excluded markets; and navigation on
sufficient to warrant Russia in under. taking the enterprise; and it only requires a short investigation to demonstrate, that if Britain has reason to dread the political predominance in Transoxiana and Turkestan, which must accrue to Russia from this acqui sition, a not less important considera. tion arises in the extent to which it must operate as a bar to the introduc tion into these countries of British manufactures, which even at present, by the circuitous route of Trebizond and Persia, and overland from India, find their way into Central quantities as almost to Russian goods from the which now, by steam the long course of the Indus, may be supplied with such facility as to render competition impossible for the inferior productions of Russia, burdened besides, as at present they must always be, with the expense and losses at. tendant on a long land journey by caravans. Our trade with these parts is so far from being of recent origin, that its establishment through Russia was the object of our first diplomatic intercourse with that country. Asearly as the reign of Elizabeth, English goods were introduced into Persia and Turkestan by the route of Archangel (the only port then possessed by Russia) and the Caspian; in 1567, Anthony Jenkinson even reached Bokhara; and four years later, was the bearer of an autograph letter from Elizabeth to the reigning Shah of Persia, with the view of effecting a permanent commercial treaty. But the transit through Russia was interrupted by the troubles of which that country became the scene, after the extinction of the House of Rurik: and though, after the accession of the family of Romanoff, the Archangel trade was carried on with fresh vigour, few † English merchants appear to have penetrated into Central Asia during the 17th century. The establishment of an Oriental commerce was among the first objects of the new system of Russian policy introduced by Peter I.; and the insidious mission of Bekevich to Khiva, (the tragical
* Russia did not acquire a port on the Baltic till 1721; and it was not till 1739 that she established herself on the Sea of Azoph.
The Asiatic Journal notices the discovery at Cabul of the tomb of an Englishman named Hicks, who died there in 1666.
result of which has been before mentioned,) was part of the concerted scheme by which it was sought to gain a footing on the eastern shores of the Caspian; but little was effected till the reign of Elizabeth, when British capital and energy were called in to effect what Russian craft had failed to accomplish. An English company (of which the well-known Jonas Hanway was the resident representative in Persia) was formed, and endowed with peculiar privileges by the Empress ; factories, supplied from a depot at Astrakhan, were established at different points on the shores of the Caspian; and the minor states of Central Asia were visited by commercial agents, two of whom (as stated above) were found in Khiva when the Persians
captured it. But these fair prospects were frustrated, partly by the defection of two of the directors of the Caspian navigation — Elton and Woodrowe, who abandoned the service of the Company for that of Persia, and partly by the jealousy of the Russians at the favour shown to foreigners; and the anarchy in which Persia and Transoxiana were involved for many years after the death of Nadir Shah, prevented the resumption of the project. The Company, however, continued in existence till the reign of Catharine II., when the formation, in 1780, of the famous Armed Neutrality, first placed Russian politics in overt opposition to the interests of England, and made the depression of British commerce and influence in Asia an object of primary importance, which has ever since been pursued with the undeviat ing pertinacity which characterises every branch of the Russian administration, neither liable to change with every succeeding ministry, nor made, like our foreign policy, the topic of public debates, where the arguments and revelations dictated by party are proclaimed to friend and foe through the medium of the press.
The state of the Caspian trade at the close of the last century is given in detail, from Soimonoff and other Russian writers, by Jooke, (View of the Russian Empire, book xii. sect. ii.) The exports of Russia in that quarter are stated to have then amounted to no more than 1,200,000 silver rubles, and the imports to 1,000,000; but a great impulse was given by the incorporation of Georgia with Russia in 1801, and still more by the treaty of Goolistan in 1813-14, when Persia surrendered most of her Caspian provinces, with the rivers running through them into that sea, on which she further bound herself to maintain no navy-stipulations which were further extended and confirmed by the peace of Turkmanchai in 1828, which placed Russia in possession of the mouth, and both banks of the navigable part of the Araxes-the last river of any maguitude on that side of the Caspian.* The importance which Russia attaches to the monopoly of the Caspian trade, is even more clearly shown by the eagerness with which she has availed herself of her late rapid strides to political supremacy over Turkey and Persia, to close every avenue through which the manufactures of Western Europe, and especially of Great Britain, might find access to Asia. The occupation of the mouths of the Danube, (1829 ;) the acquisition from the Porte in 1829 and 1833 of the mountain districts of Akaltzik and Akalkalik, apparently unimportant, but containing the passes through which British goods reached Georgia and the Caucasus from Trebizond; the seizure of the Circassian harbours and coast; † all passed unnoticed by the ignorance or indifference of our statesmen, who thus, without remonstrance or protest, saw our commerce shut out from every port on the Asiatic shores of the Black Sea, with the single exception of Trebizond. A mortifying contrast to this supineness
* See Progress of Russia in the East, and the map in the second edition. "There is one important fact, which it strikes me I have omitted to mention, viz., the existence of a road, practicable the greater part of its length even for carts, between the Black Sea and the Caspian, commencing near the plain of Anapa. I travelled along it for about thirty miles, and an excellent road it was; and they (the Circassians) assured me it continued nearly as good the whole way to the Caspian. Its importance as a communication with the east shores of the Caspian, and with Khiva, for the importation of our cottons there, by a short cut through a friendly country, is evident,"-Note to the Report on Circassia, Portfolio, v. 511.