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AFGHAN POLITICS - THE AMBELA CAM
PAIGN THE AFGHAN WAR.
O my mother, the rose-hued,
agent in Cabul during the last war, who You kept me so tenderly,
knows the Afghans well, was not mistaken I shed for you tears of blood.
when he ascribed the rising of the Afghans For a husband :
in 1839 to the preaching of the mollas and
the songs of the poets. What the molla You were the lord of
my Then to me a king was a beggar:
preaches the poet sings; and when the molla has preached and the poet sung,
the This was the time when I was a queen.
turn of speech goes oon to the gun. For a daughter :
I could unfortunately procure no songs O my daughter! so much caressed,
of the first war; I must pass at once to Whom I had kept so tenderly,
the most popular cycle of historical balNow you have deserted me,
lads now in existence - the cycle of the This world is the place of sorrow.
Ambela campaign. That campaign, not
even the last war, though more than twenAbout the romantic and religious lit- ty-five years have elapsed since then. erature of the Afghans there is too little In 1824, as the Sikh infidels were hold. or too much to say. I come at once to a ing the Punjab, a Seid from Barelli, Seid subject of more particular interest: What Ahmed, preached a return to the primitive is the echo of political events in the popu- purity of Islam; he established himself lar literature ?
amongst the tribes of Yaghistan with a The history of Afghanistan could be small band of devoted men from Hindustraced in songs from our days back to tan, and on the 20th of December, 1826, the days of Ahmed Shah, the founder of preached the sacred war, and the conthe Durani empire; even further, to the quest of the infidels from the Sikhs to the time of Akbar. Not all those songs are Chinese. After wonderful successes, he contemporary with the events, but they perished in an encounter with the Sikhs. embody at least an old tradition, and But the colony of “Hindustani fanatics," sometimes, through the happy, habit of as they are called, which he had brought plagiarism, are authentic relics of the past. with him, remained there, receiving reThe wars with the Sikhs, the quarrels of cruits, arms, and money from their broththe Barukzai Sardars, the crusade, mira- ers in Bengal, ever ready to fight the cles and death of Seid Ahmed, have a good battle. In 1849 the British took the lest poetical records, still preserved in the place of the Sikhs in the batred of the memory of the older poets of the day and Hindustanis as well as in the empire of soon to be buried with them. I leave Punjab. From 1850 to 1857 they had to these older songs of mere antiquarian in- send sixteen expeditions against the rebel terest and come to the question of actual camp at Sitana, whence plundering raids interest: What have the poets of the more were continually directed across the borrecent period to tell the people in the der. In 1863, after new outrages, it was British districts, Afghanistan and Yaghis- decided that an expedition should be sent tan? or better, What do these people ex- to expel them from their den, and on the pect their poets to tell them about their 19th of October a well-equipped force of masters, allies, and foes, the Engriz? seven thousand men entered the then un.
It is characteristic of the one-sidedness known Ambela Pass, under the orders of of the English, that neither Kaye, the General Chamberlain. author of that otherwise beautiful and The Ambela Pass turns round the inexthorough history of the first Afghan war, pugnable Massif of Sitana, but it belongs nor Mr. Hensman, of the Pioneer, the re- to neutral tribes. Chamberlain thought porter of the last Afghan war, seems to it inopportune to inform them of his plans, have had the slightest suspicion of the lest the Hindustanis should have time to all-powerful influence of popular poetry in prepare for resistance; he hoped he could either case. Imagine a German writing a reach Sitana in a day or two, burn it down, history of the French Revolution without and then retire at once into British terrimentioning the “Marseillaise.".. Songs, tory. The Afghans did not view things moreover, with singing, non-writing peo- in that light; when they saw seven thou. ple, are the only reliable documents which sand men, with four thousand mules of remain to prove their true feeling. Mo- baggage, draw near the pass they took bammed Hayat, the assistant political fear; they believed their own indepen
dence was in danger, and blocked the thy native place, the sacred land of Buner road. Chamberlain was obliged to stop ; and Svat!" four days later, the twelve thousand fight
The General cried out: “ I have no breath ing men of Buner took the gun; and left in my body. O disaster! My army is the sahib of Svat, the highest religious Where is the use ? In vain have I tried to
cut to pieces. I shall not endeavor again. authority of Indian Islam, though a bitter
reduce Svat.' foe to Seid Ahmed's doctrine and party,
O Lord I make there a carion * out of that which to him smacked of Wahabism, pro- recreant from Lahore: he will be thrown back claimed the sacred war. For two months and broken. Some Aed away on all-fours : all Yaghistan came pouring upon the pass; the Ghazis butcher the others, they will not and in spite of repeated reinforcements, reach Chimla. Chamberlain remained for weeks at the They plunge into the thickets, but they will entrance of the pass without advancing a not be saved for all that, the ruffians, the step; the English historians speak of a snakes. They do not dare to face the Ghazis point that was taken, lost, and retaken in the fight; the Ghazis have made them flee three days together; it is known still along the valley. Islam has made a great amongst the Afghans by the name of
feast upon them.
For six months † the Firangis have fought Katalgarh, the Castle of Slaughter. The on the banks of Surkavi; they have perished Afghans charged the gunners with sticks, wholesale. From the top of a high rock the and stopped with their mantles the mouths Master has pronounced the tekbir, for he is of the guns. British pluck and diplomacy the butcher that slaughters them. at last exhausted the constancy of the allies; jealousy crept in; the coalition
To realize all the frantic eloquence of melted like snow; “ double rupees” bas- the last line, one must remember that tened the decomposition; and at last the every head of cattle that is slaughtered is Jirga of the Bunervals volunteered to guide supposed to be a sacrifice to Allah, and is the British army to the Hindustani camp; Allah rkbar ("God is great");
made sacred to him with the tekbirChamberlain, with his new, unexpected allies, went to Sitana, burnt the
The old fakir, the sahib of Svat, was and
camp, came back through the fatal pass without the ideal centre of the struggle. It was firing a gun. But he had left at the en- said that he had come riding on a horse trance one-tenth of his army.
at the head of forty thousand horsemen. That campaign ended officially in
As he most prudently kept at safe dissuccess - not a very decisive one, since tance from gunshot, they said that he had the Hindustanis are still at the door, wait- the gift of making himself unseen: ing for the time; but to the Afghans it was The shadow of the hero's gown overshad. a victory of the Afghans and Islam, and ows the Ghazis. they sang triumphant songs, of wild and
Flee away, O Firangis ! if you want to save epic eloquence, which after twenty-five your life. The Sahib comes riding and the years still fill the echoes of the mountain : Akuzais follow. In the Ambela ravines lie
the White with their red girdles and their On the top ot Katalgarh the Firangis came dishevelled hair. to long grief: there were cries of terror.
The mercy of the Lord was on the Babaji, 1 Night came upon them: when they saw the for he threw back the Firangis as far as Cal. Ghazis, despair fell upon them.
cutta! On the top of Katalgarh the Firangis had collected their troops; from afar the Buner- Unfortunately traitors
crept vals pounced upon them like falcons; I was amongst the Ghazis : astounded with their rush. The youths wore red girdles and two-col
Through the intercession of the Prophet ored buckles; cries' rose from every side ; lame in both feet whoever makes war upon
and Master, accept this prayer of mine : make rifle bullets rained like rain.
Rifle bullets rained as fine rain. The Dep- me, throw illness on his family, call calamity uty said to the Commissioner: “They have upon him. with them a powerful Fakir, * against whom
Let Zaid Ullah Khan, ş of Dagar, tremble there is no fighting.” The regiments of the before Dagar, O Lord. "It is well known in White † cried aloud, on account of the Pir: * Dagar that Zaid Ullah's name is Nihang. || " When shall we be delivered? They storm
As the Ghazis had met, he went in the dead our ramparts; we cannot stop the Ghazis;
of night and made it known to the Firangis. the sword leaves no trace upon them.” O Master! I say unto thee: “Blessed be ful one dies a shahid, a martyr.
• A mur dar. The infidel dies a carion; the faith
† In fact, for two months. • The sahib of Srát.
I The father, the sahib. † The Gaurá, or British troops; the native contin- Ś One of the first who deserted. gent are called Káld, the black,
U A crocodile; a hypocrite.
He told James : *“ To-day thy life is in great | Mohammed Yaqub Khan was the son of danger.'
the Emir; he was not a child — he was great, James answered : “ Zaid Ullah, I will heap clever, and learned. thee with favors. Thou shalt have from me He called for Kamnari; he gave him Bala in perpetuity fivepence a day."
Hissar; * Kamnari stayed there for a few
days. The last Afghan war produced also a A band of ardel † came to the castle to preplentiful crop of songs, though I do not sent a petition to Yaqub: “Our pay has been find any
my collection that can compete left near your father, I we are in urgent need with the savage eloquence of the Ambela of it.” Yaqub cursed them with anger. They songs. They breathe hate and scorn went to Kamnari, the Infidel. The.true Ghazi, enough, but hardly anything better. Here it is with the sword he fills his hunger. are fragments that may give an idea of
There was a tumult; the Firangis were the general tone:
slaughtered in Cabul; the Emir did not know
of it. The Firangi set out in a rage; he wants to
The Emir was angry; he called for the solwage battle; he has collected an army. But
diers; the soldiers said: “The massacre was Havâs † has received their money, and he done by Mohammed Jan Khan.” serves loyally the Engriz.
Mohammed Jan Khan said: “I confess it; Havâs' let himself be bought; he is not I have killed that madman with my own hand. ashamed of his bad renown. . Before the Lord I cut his throat; my knife grew blunt. his forehead is black. He told Kamnari: “I
The news came to Company. S He few shall serve thee loyally.”
into a passion, and said: “Lat Rapat, ll go at Havâs is a traitor; he nourishes treason's once. self in his veins. Great is the glory of the
Rapat went through the Kurum valley Ghazis. Glory to the Ghazis ! who have sol- towards Cabul. May God save us from that idly seized the sword.
reptile ! The Lat I has spread rupees with full
Rapat, like a reptile, entered the heart of hands; the Ghazis cried with shame. He has Yaqub Khan; Yaqub left Cabul. filled with them the Afridis, who feed on the
Mohammed Yaqub, to save his life, went to flesh of the dead.
Rapat, turning his back to Islam. The Mohmands are numerous, like dust;
He made Yaqub a prisoner, he sent him the Ghazis have hurried forward with forced down to the plain. Hindustan became his marches and I have sung.
country, and he forgot his native place. Was But there were no chiefs, no munitions. he drunk with wine or drunk with blang? I Had they been all of one accord, had they all no one knowve. met on one point, had they camped at Bash
But the Ghazi Mohammed Jan Khan col. Balag, the Firangis would not have taken Lal- field and pursued Rapat. Rapat was lost and
lected the Ghazis. He went into the open pura.
But some went over to the worship of the all amazed, and he said to Mohammed Jan : recreant; they received money from him, they
“You are my lord, I am your slave.” became the foes of the Prophet.
This Mohammed Jan, whom the poet For five farthings they denied Islam; their most gratuitously, I am glad to say, credo forehead is already black for the day of doom. its with the murder of Cavagnari, was a
Whoever is a Mussulman, whoever is of home-born servant of Yaqub Khan, ** and good faith in Islam, goes to the sacred war, he was with the emir's brother, Ayub, the gives up life and goods for the law of the Holy Prophet, and is not afraid of the impious.
sword of the nation, as the old molla of
Ghazni, Mushki Alam, was its voice and The murder of Cavagnari - or, as they soul. pronounce it, Kamnari is often alluded
Mohammed Jan was the leader, and so was to, generally as a fine feat of Islam. The the Sahibzadá Mushki Alam. Company had current native report is, that an Afghan to mourn on that account. regiment came to ask their arrears of pay
Whoever has courage to fight face to face, from the new emir, Yaqub Khan, who let him slaughter that ruffian.it directed them to Cavagnari, as being the
Mohammed Jan Khan stretched out the real master in Cabul. They were sent hand against Rapat; he uncovered the locks back by Cavagnari to the emir, and again of his head. ft May God give him victory! by the emir to Cavagnari, who ordered his # The fortress in Cabul. men to fire at them, though they were
† Ardel, a corruption of the English orderly.
| Shir Ali, the former emir, overthrown by the Endisarmed; then all the city rose, and the glish. massacre followed.
§ John Company has survived himself in Afghanis.
!! Lat Rapat, Lord Robert (Sir Frederick Roberts). * The deputy commissioner.
| Khanaz:ida ghuláin. + The malik of the Afridis, who opened the Khaiber ** When he put himself in the hands of Lat Rapat. Pass for the English.
It “That ruffian” is Company. i Lat, Lord; the commander-in-chief.
11 A great insult to a Hindu.
They had many battles in Cabul -- battles | Abdul Rahman is the child of the Russians,* to the death — with gun and sword.
Come, boy When he had driven them from Cabul, he Cabul has become Hindustan, † Come, boy... marched on Ghazni; he fought a great battle. Shame will be the lot of our wives, I Come, There were white men, there were black men, boy but he made them all blood-red.
But there is still one great battle to be fought, Ayub Khan and Mohammed Khan en- Come, boy camped both of them in the field; they kissed The signal will come from Iran, Come, boy ... one another in the battle.
The plain is all red with flowers, 8 Come,
boy · Mohammed Jan fought to the last. The red roses are the blood of martyrs, However, when all was over and Abdul- Come, boy rahman was on the throne, he announced Double rupees fly about on every side, Come, his readiness to submit and recognize
boy the new emir. But Abdulrahman trusts
Herat belongs to Teheran, Come, boy ...|| more to the dead than to the living. Mo- Is Herat again the proposed price of hammed, enticed by the unworthy son of Persian assistance? Will the next Afthe sahib of Svat, Miyan Gul Kalan, pre- ghan frontier commission have to draw sented himself to the emir, who had him the Perso-Afghar. liné east of Herat? put to death. But one day, as the emir I must say here that not all the political was riding through the bazar of Jelalabad, songs of the Afghans evince such feelings he heard these lines:
of desperate aversion. Though in the
songs from Afghanistan and Yaghistan The Ghazi Mohammed Jan Khan, martyr, there is no love lost on the British, the has passed from this world. . The Emir had him put to death. He was taken by treason.
songs from the British districts are often Since Emir Abdulrahman sits on the throne in a rather different spirit. Mahmud, the at Cabul, man has lost his faith in man.
author of the scathing satire on Afzul
Khan, quoted above, is a staunch supThe emir, stung to the quick, alighted porter of the British raj, and has written from his elephant and did not disdain to a ballad on the justice of the English :go to the poet and apologize before him. The Sáhibs have the same law both for the
wonder what sort of songs are ringing weak and for the strong. They practise to now in the bazars of Ghazni and Candahar. perfection justice and equity, and make no I shall conclude with a Persian song difference in a lawsuit between the strong
and that was sung at Cabul in the time when the weak. General Roberts was besieged in his camp
The man of honor they treat with honor at Shirkhan; many of its lines have again and they shield not the thief, the scamp, the
becomes an interest of actuality.
gamester. They wield royalty as
To understand them one must remember that Ayub Khan, babs.
kings, and take tribute from Rajahs and Nawho is now again
to the front, and has just left his prison at Teheran to try his chance,
It must be confessed that the loyal pois the brother of the late emir Yaqub, etry of the Afghans has not the same go now a prisoner in India at Dehra Dun; and swing as that which is not loyal. They that little Musa Khan is the son of Yaqub, are at their best in satire, which, however, and was proclaimed emir in his place by can be loyal too. What indictinent of the Ayub and Mohammed Jan. If Abdulrah-dilapidations in the commissariat could man falls, Musa will reign under the be shorter and sharper than these lines, regency of Ayub. He has been for years written after the last Afghan war? – the hope of the Ghazis, and popular le
He is no longer so. gend is already busy about him. People
† A British province. from the exile court at Teheran, who come $ English morality is supposed to be in Afghanistan to Peshawer, tell in the bazar that he is what French morality is supposed to be in England.
The rising of 1839 is ascribed by native tradition to an always repeating to his uncle : “Uncle, let - English lord” having debauched the wife of one of us declare war on the English; either the first Afghan chiefs, Abdullah Achakzai. Abdullah they will kill me or I will deliver my revenge.
killed them with his own hand, and calied his people to
An ordre du jour de moralité by General father.”
Roberts recommends the soldiers to avoid the indiscre
tions committed during the first occupation of Cabul, in Yaqub Khan is the man of Right, Come, boy, order to remove the prejudice of past years, and “cause and get the grapes ! *
the British name to be as highly respected in Afghan
istan as it is throughout the civilized world” (H. HensMusa Khan is the Emir of the Afghans, Come, man, The Afghan War of 1879-80, p. 68). boy.
§ Grown out of the blood of martyrs.
Gazette of Lahore as an “Afghan Nursery Rhymes
(April 15, 1830).
Everybody has bought the tatoos * of the as a reassuring symptom of a negative Commissariat; for four annas † the camels kind, that the name of Russia is not yet of the Commissariat.
on the lips of the singing politicians of In fine dress, boots on their feet, a cane in Afghanistan, and that the “ Divine Fig. hand, strut about the munshis f of the Com
ure from the North” is not yet looming missariat.
Their fathers and grandfathers did not know on the horizon of their hopes. what an ass is, and here they are driving in
JAMES DARMESTETER. tam tam,§ the rich men of the Commissariat.
It is time to conclude. The reader may already have drawn his conclusion for himself. The songs, on the whole, confirm, by the Afghans' own confession, the
From The National Review. rather unfavorable estimate which has RICHARD JEFFERIES, AND THE OPEN been suggested by their history in the last fifty years. A strong race, nothing like It is a curious contradiction that while the mild Hindoo of a strong but mixed the public never appreciated the works of metal; a sense of honor that can do with Richard Jefferies when he lived, and we out truth; the half-conventional virtues of are confronted again by the melancholy the savage; real love ignored; the respect spectacle -a spectacle unfortunately faof the weak a weakness. A sense of miliar to the experience of literature and religion that teaches no charity, no self- art of a man of genius dying in poverty control, no self-improvement, and is best and distress, his death has awakened our gratified in the damnation of alien creeds. intellectual sense and gratitude for the As to the intellectual side, no high imagi- great part which Richard Jefferies has per. nation, a limited range of ideas, but at formed in expressing the many subtle and the same time one of the highest of all exquisite pleasures which, to the pure and gifts – one which effete Europe has lost simple-minded lovers of nature, are ever
- simplicity and directness of expres- around and among us. sion. Politically, none of the virtues that The poetry of country life and of the make a nation, the clan and the family simple and purer natures of the country divided against themselves, and the word poor has been expressed in painting by cousin || meaning “ deadly foe;" the for- the French artist Millet. With him, as eigner hardly worse hated than the coun- with Richard Jefferies, the genius of his tryman, and played off against him. The work was never fully appreciated during Englishman hated as an infidel, despised his life. He died, not in poverty, but ceras unreliable and immoral; | in the im- tainly a poor and neglected artist. It is pending struggle for the empire of Asia the sympathy of after years that has realno help to be hoped except for cash, no ized the genius of his work, and the almost promise to be trusted except on bill of sublime pathos which speaks to us in his exchange ; in fact, no permanent and sin- picture of the “ Angelus.". I do not know cere support to be expected, because the why work like that of Jefferies or of Milfields for loot lie across the Indus, not let, its counterpart in painting, should across the Oxus. It must be said, in fair- have excited so little enthusiasm during ness to the tribes, that sixty years ago the lifetime of its authors. Experience at Christians could travel safely though Af- least teaches us that, when first-rate work ghanistan, that the present desperate feel- of this kind has been done, posterity has ings were created in 1838 by the wanton accorded it almost a fancy value. Í venaggression of Lord Auckland, the Liberal, ture to express a hope that this may be and that, while they were slowly dying so in regard to Richard Jefferies. out,** they were revived ten years ago by
As I am writing there lies on my library Lord Lytton, the Conservative, too in- table Izaac Walton's own copy of the tensely, perhaps, for any hope to be left“ Reliquiæ Wottonianæ." of stemming again the current of hatred Blest silent groves, O may ye be and distrust. "It may be added however, Forever mirth’s best nursery. # Clerks.
May pure contents § A light open carriage.
Forever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these rocks, these mounThis, of course, applies chiefly to the Afghans of
tains, Afghanistau and Yaghistan. Those of the British dis- And peace still slumber by these purling • During the Mutiny the British Empire was saved
fountains by the neutrality of Afghanistan and the active support which we may every year of the Afghan districts.
Find when we come a-fishing here.
• Tatoo, a pony. + Five pence.
tricts know more of the British and know better.