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making; while Lieutenant Yate amid the barren hills and unfruitful plains; but even of these meadows the agricultural value. does not appear to be great, for we read that the grass that grows on one of them, Singbur-Chaman, is of such a tough spiny character that "a dog runs over it like a bear on hot irons." Yet horses eat it readily. Another march within the same section, from SingburChaman to Khaisar, is "over hill and dale and stone-strewn torrent beds, shut in by bleak hills dotted here and there with a stunted tree that tends only to bring out the general barrenness in stronger relief."

and his brother "specials" were sedulously interviewing all the chiefs and men of intelligence upon whom they could lay hands. Thus one great result of the Boundary Commission-in fact, we believe, the greatest practical result that it has achieved-has been, that we have now obtained a thorough knowledge of the country between the Helmund and Herat; that we have acquainted ourselves with its roads, its passes, its tactical advantages and disadvantages for defence against an invading force; that we have corrected our previous maps to a degree which must approximate more or less to strict accuracy; and that our Intelligence Department in India is now on equal footing with the Russians, who have so long made a close study of the topography of these regions.

We do not propose to follow the Commission step by step in the march so fully detailed in Lieutenant Yate's interesting narrative. We must content ourselves

Nor from Nushki to the Helmund was the route rendered more inviting than the natural features of the country. The southern bank of the Helmund is skirted by a belt of desert some fifty miles in breadth, with but few villages, and fewer wells.

with noting some of the points of immediate or future interest which his volume presents. The first section of the journey from Quetta to the Helmund extended over a country with which most of our readers, it may be presumed, have been made more or less familiar by recent events. As Mr Yate observes, "every one knows South Afghanistan and its valleys, mountains, torrent-beds, and flies." From Quetta the route ran west by south, changing when Nushki was reached to a generally western course as far as the Helmund. The surrounding country is bare, wormwood scrub affording almost the only fuel. Round the villages, willows, apricots, and mulberries are grown. Meadows, like little oases, are met with

"To the right and left," says Lieutenant Yate, "the road is bounded by the Registan-i. e., sandy desertdirection the Registan stretches away more especially to the right, in which to Shorawak, Kandahar, and Girishk. Year by year this vast mass of loose sand is moved steadily, presumably by the action of wind alone, to the north-east; and some persons of a far as to gauge the rate of annual scientific bent have even gone so thousands of years the now smiling progress, and calculate how many valley of the Arghandab will be a howling wilderness -a 'burnt-out hell,' as it has been graphically termed. Ordinary mortals, however, I have noticed, do not evince any the future; let us, then, leave the strong interest in the eocene period of future of the earth's crust to itself, and to those who make it their special study. The last 50 or 60 miles of the desert to the Helmund is in local parlance known as the 'Lut,' and consists in the main of black gravel, whence no drop of water is known to issue."

But sterile as this part of the country is, there is nothing monotonous in Lieutenant Yate's account of the march of the Commission, which abounds in incident, and affords us an interesting picture of the Beluch clans and their villages. Azad Khan of Kharan is the most powerful chief in the region a venerable Sirdar, close upon a hundred years of age, who in his day according to the boast of his people, could bend and unbend with his hands "four horse-shoes clamped the one above the other, with the ease with which most men could bend a pliant cane”—a feat surpassing even the wonderful stories which have been related of the manual strength of Count Orloff. Living between the Ameer and the Khan of Khelat, Azad Khan is practically an independent chief, though at one time a pensioner of Cabul. At present he is at feud with the Khan of Khelat, and denies all jurisdiction to the Ameer south of the Helmund. He now professes an allegiance to the Indian Government, which, however, from his situation and circumstances, is of little political value. Indeed it is not until the Helmund has been crossed that Lieutenant Yate's narrative begins to be pregnant with political interest.

The Helmund was reached at Khwaja Ali, and from that point the record of the Commission acquires fresh novelty and importance. Lieutenant Yate states that no European except Khanikoff had ever before set foot on the route which now lay before the Commission, and that the rapid movements of the Russian had precluded accurate observation. Ferrier, however, had explored the regions through which the expedition had to pass; and though the two routes sometimes

intersect, yet Lieutenant Yate's narrative has in its fulness of detail and its wide range of facts completely superseded the information of the elder traveller.


Starting from Khwaja Ali, the Commission followed the course of the Helmuud, which is shut in by sandy banks and fringed by jungle of tamarisk, interspersed with poplar and willow clumps. There were no signs of cultivation and no villages, the nearest hamlet to Khwaja Ali being eight miles off; and an occasional ruined fort was the only break in the monotony of the waste track. At Kalah-i-fath the archæologists of the Commission would have found congenial work had they only had more time to prosecute their researches. country round this townlet is a very labyrinth of ruins of various stages of antiquity. No reliable date can be fixed for the building or the decay of the ruined forts, towns, and mosques which are met with in this locality in marvellous profusion, and which point to a past prosperity surely again realisable under a civilised and stable Government. That Western Afghanistan was much more prosperous and populated than it has been within the era of our own acquaintance with the country, is as unquestionable as that its present desolation was brought about by the invading hordes which, one after another, swept across country on their way to Hindustan; but the sources of that prosperity have baffled historical research. The land, Lieutenant Yate tells us, could not have supported a population large enough to leave such traces behind it; and their food must to a great extent have been imported.


Besides the resources of the Helmund valley from Girishk to the Seistan Hamun, the food-supplies of

the valleys of the Arghandab, Tarnak, and Arghasan, and of the whole of Seistan, would be available, irrespective of more distant sources of supply; factures which must have given employ to the non-agricultural portion of this vast population, the manufacturing towns of Yezd, Kirman, and Birjand, not to mention Ispahan and Shiraz, were easily accessible. Did the people of former times utilise

and in addition to the local manu

the Helmund as a trade-route?"

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There is, however, no navigation on the Helmund, though there is apparently sufficient depth of water for boats of a limited draught which might be towed against stream. On the first impulse one is tempted to exclaim against the short sightedness of the Cabul Government, for not making an effort to restore this tract to something approaching to its ancient well-being. But reflection suggests the doubt whether it would be to our own interest that a probable line of invasion should be furnished with those supplies and means of assistance which had probably aided Tamerlane in his march through the same country, and which he probably repaid by leaving behind him the desert which now presents itself to the eye of the traveller. Not that the banks of the Helmund are a desert in the strict sense of the term. Wheat, barley, pulses, and cotton are produced; but there are extensive areas bearing nothing but tamarisk and camel-thorn, which only require cultivation to be made arable. It may be noted that as the Helmund is descended the fruit-trees grow fewer in number, thus showing that other food is not so scarce as in the desert villages on its upper waters.

North of Kalah-i-fath, and as far as Deh-i-Kamran, some distance north of the Seistan Bund, the route presented nothing remark

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able to the observers of the Commission. Near Deh-i-Kamran is Kalah-i-kang, a circular fort of some local importance, which was being strengthened, and is garrisoned by a considerable force of Afghans. Chakansur, eight miles to the north, is the military headquarters of the district; and Burj-i-asp, where the road from Nasirabad in Persian territory crosses the Helmund, is also held by an Afghan detachment. "This route,' says Mr Yate, is one of strategical importance, as from Chakansur it continues via Khash to Girishk." Should water, as appears possible, be found on this road, its security would certainly be a matter of the first importance both to the Ameer and to the Government of India, as it offers a more direct route from Herat to Kandahar than by the Helmund valley, of which the water supply is its principal recommendation.

From Kalah-i-kahg the march was over a plateau of gravel and sandstone until the basin of the Farah Rud was reached, where the twin forts of Lash Juwain occupy positions of much military import ance. Juwain is a rectangle, each wall being from 300 to 400 yards long, with bastions at each angle, and at intervals of about 100 yards on each face. It is built on a slight natural eminence, and its walls are of unusual height and solidity. It has never been captured, although the garrison which held it for Ayub Khan surrendered to the present Ameer to avoid starvation. Lash, two or three miles from Juwain, stands on a high bluff overhanging the right bank of the Farah Rud. The importance of the position may be inferred from the fact that five highroads-two from the Afghan and three from the Persian sidepass by Lash Juwain. As a defence.

against an inroad from Persia, Lash Juwain ought to be maintained in a high state of defence; but Lieutenant Yate describes the forts as in an indifferent state of repair, and as useless against artillery. If fortified to the extent which their natural advantages would seem to deserve, and garrisoned by a strong force, no enemy would be able to march along the Farah-Giriskh route without either reducing or masking Lash Juwain. Lash, when Ferrier visited it, was surrounded by three lines of defence, connected by towers and protected by ditches, and he considers that it would with difficulty be reduced even by a European siege-train. But with the diminution of danger from Persia, the fortifications have naturally been allowed to fall into disrepair. A position, however, of such primary importance deserves to be made the most of, and the Government of India ought to bring influence to bear upon the Ameer to have Lash Juwain put into a thoroughly defensible condition.

Leaving the vicinity of Lash Juwain and the valley of the Farah Rud, the Commission advanced northward over a gravelly plain to the Kush Rud, the "dry riverbed," and entered the Herat district a little to the north of Kaïn. At Zehkin, still further north, the black camel-hair tents of the Aimak nomads were first visible. These Aimaks must not be confounded with the very numerous and powerful group of clans in the vicinity of Herat itself, who are known by the name of the Chahar Aimaks. The Aimaks south of the Du-shakh range are a nondescript mixture of Nurzais, Alizais, and Parsiwans, husbandmen and shepherds for the most part.

Pahra, one of the villages where the Commission halted, about 20

miles distant from Herat, presents a curious picture, although we believe one not so uncommon to the north of the Paropamisus. Lieutenant Yates describes it as a quadrangular nest of domes. "Imagine," he says, "several hundred of small mud domes closely girt around by four solid walls of mud or brick mud. . . . The centre quadrangular area of domes appeared to be composed of a number of smaller quadrangles of domes; and it seems not unreasonable to suppose that one or more of these lesser quadrangles or quarters would be assigned to the several races and tribes of which the population is composed." The village lands lie round about the settlement, covering an area of some five or six square miles.

It would have been interesting to have learned the customs that regulate a village community, that is apparently composed of many different clans, but which may be inferred to be prosperous from the extent of its tillage. From a Pisgah hill top in the vicinity of Pahra, Lieutenant Yate, with the aid of powerful binoculars, obtained a distant view of Herat, which the Commission as a body were not, to their mortification, to visit. As not long ago we published a description of the city, by one of the fortunate few who were permitted to set foot inside the walls, we need not refer to the information regarding Herat which Lieutenant Yate has taken pains to amass. By Zindajan and Rauzanak, passing on the left the ruined fortress of Ghorian, which Yar Mahomed destroyed in 1843 to curry favour with the Shah, or more probably in return for a direct bribe, the route of the Commission led up to Kuhsan, the station where the preparations for its special work was to commence. Lieutenant Yate


found Kuhsan as Mr Ferrier had Our space does not permit us found it, "a mass of ruins, of tumble- to follow Mr Yate's account of down walls, the only conspicuous the doings of the Commission in thing about it being a strong fort its winter-quarters at Bala Murwith a high wall, and a deep broad ghab, or of the hardships which moat full of water." In the forty its members had to endure during years that have intervened between the rigorous winter of 1884-85the visits of the two travellers, hardships which appear to have Kuhsan has, however, been built been borne with laudable pluck and rebuilt, the last desolation from the English officer down to having been wrought not longer the native camp-follower. than two years ago by the Tur- sepoys entered with ardour into koman raiders. Even in Ferrier's the to them-novel experience of time the fortune of the town seems snow-balling; there was pheasant to have been restoration followed and duck-shooting; there was the by speedy destruction, in steady Christmas dinner, at which venisuccession. The name of Kuhsan son had to take the place of the recalls the memory of the almost regulation, while the plum-pudding total destruction of Ahmed Shah had come all the way from TeheSuddozye in 1752 at Kafir-Kalah ran; there were scratch-races and near by, and the recollection will native dances; but for all these probably have suggested to the the time hung heavily enough Commission an anticipation of the while waiting on the tardy climatic experiences on which they movements of the Russian Comwere now entering. missioners. Lieutenant Yate was, Sir Peter Lumsden joined the however, able to utilise the time camp at Kuhsan on 19th Septem- in collecting notes regarding the ber 1884, and its members were country and its inhabitants, of speedidly dispersed over Badkis, present interest and very probably where the tug-of-war for territory of still greater future importance. was expected with the Russian He has been able to throw much Commissioners. Sir Peter, with light upon the Chahar Aimaks, rethe headquarters of the force, garding whom we have hitherto directed his course to Panjdeh, known less than about almost any while Colonel Ridgeway, whose of the tribes within Afghan terrisection Mr Yate accompanied, tory. There are four divisions of struck off at Tutuchi and made for the Chahar Aimak tribes, the TaiBala Murghab, via Kushk and muris, Jamshidis, Firuzkuhis, and Au-shara. At Bala Murghab the Taimanis, and the part which these two parties united again, General clans may hereafter play in fronLumsden having made the round tier complications must be a matter by Pul-i-khishti and Maruchak, of anxiety to both the Ameer and while Major Holdich had surveyed ourselves. They are of a Persian the route. Lieutenant Yate's nar- stock in the main, speaking Perrative shows us how thoroughly the sian, but holding the Sunni perBadkis region was surveyed, and suasion in religion. They hate how fatal to the pretentions of the alike the Afghan and the TurkoRussian Commissioners was not man. In their mode of living merely the topographical and political evidence obtained, but the information elicited from the inhabitants of the country themselves.

and their habits they are almost identical with the Turkomans, although they cannot strictly be called nomads. The Firuzkuhis,

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