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a comparison between the Amir and the Shah, very much to the disadvantage of the latter.
On the 12th of November 1840, Dost Mahommed, under a strong escort, commenced his progress towards the provinces of India. He appears to have recovered his spirits, during the journey and to have won golden opinions from all the officers who accompanied him.* The progress was a long and tedious
His final destination was uncertain ; but he was permitted, in the first instance, to proceed to Calcutta, where the Governor-General was then residing. A house was taken for him in the suburbs; and his annual pension fixed at two lakhs of rupees. At the Presidency he remained for some time. Lord Auckland treated him with marked kindness and attention; invited him to Government House ; escorted him to such of the public institutions as were calculated to interest the Amír; showed him all the “ lions" of Calcutta and the suburbs; and took him to his country house at Barrackpore.
The ex-chief seemed to have no desire to shun the public gaze. He was constantly to be met in an English barouche on the course, or public drive; and might sometimes, at sun set, be seen to descend from his carriage and perform, coram populo, his evening devotions. The climate of Calcutta did not suit his constitution. He resided amongst us, during the most unfavorable season of a not very favorable year; his health suffered, and for a while he was stretched on the bed of sickness—a trial which severely taxed his philosophy.
“ He condemned,” says one, who had several opportunities of conversing with him at this time,f “without measure the city of Palaces—but hardly knew how to say enough of the kind politeness and good will, which had been evinced towards him by the sahibs; not alone the sahibs, but their mehems- in all of whose manners and expressions, he observed kindness and friendship.”
In the autumn of 1841, Dost Mahommed, attended by Captain Nicolson, turned his back upon Calcutta. A residence had been provided for him at Lúdianah, where the exiled
* During the halt at Jellalabad, the Dost having expressed a wish to see the Foringhís in their social hours, was invited to the Mess of the European Regiment. After dinner, he was conducted by Capt. Nicolson into the Mess Room, all the officers rising as he entered. He appeared to enjoy the music of the band and the convivial songs, which enlivened the evening-smoked a cheroot and conversed freely with all who addressed him.
* Mr. Charles Grant, an intelligent young artist, of whose works we have already spoken in this journal. Mr. Grant has published, among other clever sketches of " Oriental Heads." a livraison containing portraits of the Ex-Amír, Harder Khan, Ukrun Khan, &c., accompanied by some interesting and amusing letter press. The portrait, in the Calcutta edition, is not, in respect of fidelity and spirit behind any of the numerous likenesses of the Amirs, which have appeared in the volumes of Vigne, Burnes, Mohan Lal, &c. &c.
Shah Sújah, pompous in his poverty, had dwelt before him. But, as he was proceeding towards the frontier, intelligence of the disastrous out-break at Kabul--to Dost Mahommed it must have seemed the day of retribution-reached the Upper Provinces of India, and soon made its way to the Presidency. These tidings suggested at once the propriety of a change of route; and Dost Mahommed was escorted to Missúrie. The surveillance exercised over him, now as a matter of precaution, became more strict-stricter than the real circumstances, though not, than the seeming exigencies, of the case demanded. We believe him to have been guiltless not only of all participation in, or connivance at, the great popular movement for the expulsion of the British from Affghanistan, but wholly ignorant of the storm that was rising. Still, it was necessary
hat, at such a time, the ex-chief should be closely watched. His escape would have so strengthened the cause of our enemies, that to us it would have been a great national disaster. Of the vigilance that was exercised there was little to complain. But the threats-if ever they were more than threats-to send Dost Mahommed and his family to England, as an act of imbecile retaliation, were cruel and unmanly.
The army of Retribution, under General Pollock, marched upon Kabul, broke up the forces of Akbar Khan, planted the British colors upon the Balla Hissar, and returned to the provinces of India. Then the Governor-General, Lord Ellenborough, issued that notable proclamation of the 1st of October in which he spoke of Dost Mahommed, as a chief - believed to be hostile ;” and soon afterwards published the following act of grace, restoring the exiled Amir to his country :
Secret Department, Simla, 25th October.-" The advance of the British armies to Ghuzni and Kabul, having led to the restoration to freedom of the British prisoners in the hands of the Affghans, Dost Mahommed Khan, his wives and family, and the wife and fainily of Mahommed Akbar Khan and many Affghan chiefs, remain in the absolute power of the British Government, without having any means of procuring their liberation.
To this condition of disgrace and danger has Mahommed Akbar Khan reduced his father, and his wife, and his family, and the chiefs, his countrymen, by making war upon women, and preferring the continuance of their captivity and suffering for objects connected only with his own safety, to the general exchange of prisoners, which was offered by the British Government, and the consequent restoration to liberty of those, whose honor and whose happiness should have been most dear to him.
But the British Government is desirous of terminating, at the earliest period, all the evils which have arisen out of the Affghan war: and the Governor General, enabled by the recovery of the British prisoners who were in the hands of the enemy, to follow the course most in accordance with clemency and humanity, declares that, when the British army, returning from Affghanistan, shall have passed the Indus, all the Affghans, now in the power of the British Government, shall be permitted to return to their country
The Affghan chiefs who are thus released, will before they pass the Sutlej, present themselves at the durbar* of the Governor General in his camp at Ferozepore.
The wives of Dost Mahommed Khan and Mahommed Akbar Khan, and all the ladies of the family and household shall be conducted with all respect to the frontiers of Affghanistan.”
Becoming as was this resolution of the British Government to liberate the Captive Amír, there was one passage in the above edict, which raised a cry of indignation throughout India, To have dragged Dost Mahommed and his sons to the foot-stool of the Governor-General—to have paraded them at Ferozpore to grace the triumph of the British over his own countrymen, would have been an unmanly and a cruel act-a crowning injury, which would have disgraced the British name and filled with hatred and contempt the breasts of the Affghan princes. It matters not what induced the Governor-General to abandon so unworthy a design. It was abandoned. Dost Mahommed was permitted to depart in peace.
An escort was allowed him ; he set forth and turned his back upon the British frontier. At the Court of Shere Singh, in his passage though the Punjab, he was received with kindness and respect. He entered his old dominions. The ravages of the destroying army, which had just quitted Affghanistan, were everywhere too visible as he advanced; but, melancholy as were the sights that greeted him, he at least breathed the air of freedom, and in this there was abundant solace. Of his reception we have no authentic accounts. It appears probable that at the period of his return, the minds of his countrymen were so engrossed with matters peculiarly affecting themselves, either as tribes or individuals—the natural consequences of the devastation, which had been committed, along the route of the avenging army,--that there was little room in their breasts for any feelings of nationality. He made his way quietly to Kabul, and, if in the midst of no great popular enthusiasm, certainly without any thing approaching opposition, took up his abode once more in the Balla Hissar, and received the homage of the people. Since that time, his mind has been occupied with the ceaseless intrigues inseparable from an Affghan court—intrigues, which it would be unprofitable to narrate in detail, even if anthentic materials could be collected. He appears to be weary of the bustle of war, and would, if his turbulent son Mahommed Akbar Khan could be induced to forego the wild delights of
* This was subsequently dispensed with.
ever-recurring excitements, fain repose quietly under the
It is said, that he is especially desirous to cement an alliance
We have now brought the history of Dost Mahommed's life down to the present time. It has been our object to confine ourselves as closely as possible to pure narrative-condensing within a narrow space the record of the many events of a most eventful career. It is scarcely necessary that we should conclude this notice with a written character of the Amír, as his conduct best reveals what he is. Indeed, it has been said of Dost Mahommed that he has no character at all; and, inasmuch as it is made up of inconsistencies, there is some truth in the assertion. The fact is that there is observable throughout his career traces of two separate characters—the natural character of the man, and the character shaped by circumstances. There is scarcely anything which may be said of Dost Mahommed, not to be substantiated by a reference to some incident in his career. He was just and unjust; merciful and cruel; cautious and rash; frank and treacherous. His virtues were his own. There was nothing in the accidents of his position to foster their growth; whilst every outward circumstance tended to favor the expansion of opposition qualities. He is to be pitied rather than condemned As a man, he could not have escaped the temptations which beset his path. Often compelled to sin in self-defence—often compelled to heap crime upon crime, or perish in his inactivity-his life was one of almost perpetual warfare—of constant excitation of the passions. It is just, that we should bring to the estimate of his character a clear perception of all these pernicious accidents of position, for he appears never to have sinned in wantoness, but to have loved evil less than good; and, judging by what he was when removed from the destructive influences of unholy strife, it is probable that under a serener sky, and on a less barren soil, his virtues might have elevated him to a high rank among rulers and among men. Compared with his cotemporaries, he towers above them all, in the former, if not in the latter capacity; no Affghan prince in the present century has shown himself so fit to govern. In many respects, his conduct, at the most favorable epoch of his career, was a model for rulers in all parts of the world; and at the most unfavorable epoch, when the clouds of adversity gathered most thickly over his head, his heroism was of so romantic a character, that history, in these
prosaic times, can scarcely supply a parallel to it. History, indeed, has never more closely simulated romance, than when recording the remarkable career of this remarkable man.
There is so much vraisemblance in the following passages from General Harlan's book, descriptive of the personal habits of Dost Mahommed, that we are induced to publish them in the form of an appendix to this article :
“ The Amír was not attended by a guard of regular troops, but his personal servants, many of whom were confidential household slaves, came armed into his presence. Every day, except Thursday morning, he sat in public, to transact business. Thursday morning was devoted to the bath until ten o'clock; after this hour those only visited him who were called. He usually employed the time before noon in auditing his domestic affairs in company with his Mirzas or writers.
Friday was appropriated to the promiscuous access of the populace. On this day, the gateway of his durbar was thrown wide open, and the doorkeepers withdrawn. Every one who had a cause to urge, or curiosity to gratify, might come into the presence without impediment. The Amír heard all complaints in person, attended by the Langi. Civil causes were referred to this functionary for judgınent, and the sentence was enforced by the Amír. Criminal causes which were not likely to yield a fine, were also referred to the Langí, to shift from his own shoulders the odium of an onerous act.
The remainder of the week was employed in the transaction of miscellaneous bus
The hours of business were confined to the forenoon. His highness, in common with all the Mahommedans, was an early riser, which custom is necessary to admit of the performance of the prescribed morning prayers. Of the five periods of prayer, cominanded by the traditionary law, the first must be finished before sun-rise, otherwise the act becoines * quzzah,” or “ lapsed ;” in this event the prayer is unacceptable to the deity, or of no avail; and the consequences attending neglect of religious duty should be deprecated by charitable donation, at least to the provision of a meal for the necessitous. Conscientious persons will perform this penitential hospitality, though the mass of the community are indifferent to the pious injunction. After the conclusion of this first religious duty, which commences the diurnal service and routine of life, he read a few pages in the Koran attended by his Iman. This functionary translated into Persian, or rather expounded in that colloquial dialect, the Arabic of the sacred volume, which the Mussalman holds to be the Word of God. In this employment he would be engaged an hour, more or less, as the task was longer or shorter. At the conclusion of this matin exercise, to which all the faithful, who have singular pretensions to piety, are addicted, the chiefs who composed the durbar made their entree promiscuously, and, with the simple ceremony of a bow, and the ordinary salutation "Usulam Allaikúm,” touching the forehead as they leaned forward with the inner surface of the four fingers of the right hand, took their seats on the right or left of his highness. They were seated generally according to the rank of each guest.
The salutation of erery one was returned by an audible response, it being amongst the religious injunctions of the faithful, to reply to proferred civility a reciprocal acknowledgment. They are probably just in the esti