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Justice, and the people have faith in them. If this faith, more potent than an army, while costing the Treasury not a cowrie, be weakened, while discontent is aroused, the counsels which have brought these results will assuredly prove impolitic. The popular feeling which has been evoked on the present occasion shows that the people of Bengal have learned to regard trial by jury as a privilege. If their rulers yield a sympathetic response to this feeling by restoring the privilege, the incident may be productive of good by creating a popular opinion, to which every future juror in Bengal must be amenable in the discharge of a solemn public duty.
THE AMIR ABDURRAHMAN AND THE
BY AN EX-PANJAB OFFICIAL.
In the last number of the “ Asiatic Quarterly Review” it was suggested in an article “on recent events in Chilás and Chitral” that it was physically impossible in point of distance and date for the Amir Abdurrahman to have connived at the usurpation of Sher Afzul on Chitral, as was alleged in the newspapers.* It is very much to be regretted that, owing to the remoteness and obscurity of the question, anonymous writers should have it in their power to embroil this country in War with Afghanistan. With some honourable exceptions both in England and India, the Press, which hopes to obtain news, has written under the inspiration of those who hope to obtain official honours or promotion by fishing in waters that they have troubled. Insinuations, misrepresentations, and, in one instance, a direct provocation in a Newspaper, to which the Amir has condescended to reply indirectly in an official pamphlet, have achieved results in perturbing the public mind that could not have been surpassed by the so-called “reptile" prints of other countries. It is, therefore, with regret that one finds in such company the names of leading papers that
* The Amir's interest in Chitrál is platonic, for that country runs alongside of the mountains of Kafiristan that separate it from Afghanistan proper. At the same time, an independent Chitrál is required in the interests alike of British India and of Afghanistan. Besides, Chitrál was never really subject to Kabul, and its ruler, the late Amán-ul-Mulk, was far more afraid of Kashmir, than of Afghan, encroachments.
† One of the meddlers lately sent the Amir an English Map of Afghanistan, in two colours, one showing the English, and the other, the Russian portions of his country! In spite of the great cleverness of the Amir, he, like the Shah of Persia, cannot always "realize" that the views of our Press may be entirely independent of, or even opposed to, those of the British Official Government, although in his “Refutation" of an Indian newspaper (see further on) he sarcastically suggests that our Government should reward the newspapers that calumniate it. For his own part, he would prefer sending lying correspondents who endanger peace out of the world altogether.
have been misled by a false patriotism, which is not always the last refuge of the honest, to write in haste so that the country may repent at leisure.
Abdurrahman has always been a listener to newspapers, which he regularly had read out to him even during his exile in Russian territory. I am not aware that he knows Russian, but he certainly used to have Russian, among other papers, translated to him. At the Rawalpindi Assemblage, where I had several lengthy conversations with him on non-political matters in his favourite Turki language, he took an interest in all that was going on. Even Lord Dufferin felt sympathy for a man, who forgave us Panjdeh, and whose manly tender at the Rawalpindi Durbar of his sword, whenever required by us, convinced every hearer of the genuineness of his friendship. *
He has, however, never concealed from us, even before he took the throne, that he means to rule Afghanistan as a country given to him by God, and not by us, and to rule the same as a pious Muhammadan autocrat. He accepts our subsidy, because we wish him to defend his northern frontier against Russia, not because he hates Russia or cares much for Badakhshan or at all for outlying districts like Raushan, Shignán, and the still more distant Wakhan and the Pamirs. He, however, most honestly believed, and was not undeceived by us, that he had to watch those frontiers against Russian encroachments, whilst his local representatives imagine that they have to do so against all comers. This is why the Afghans would not allow Col. Lockhart to proceed beyond the Panja Fort, in Wakhan, where he was kept a prisoner pending reference to Kabul, and this is why, in all truth and honour, the Afghan outposts allowed themselves to be shot down at Somatash by
* A recent proof of this was afforded by his contemplated visit to England, which was not encouraged by our officials, so that this country does not know him, except through their reports. He has also just sent Mr. Pyne, the English master of his workshops, with letters to the Indian Viceroy, which will, no doubt, explain much that has been misrepresented.
the Cossacks of Yanoff.* This is why our most loyal ally at once proclaimed throughout his country that he had called in the English to drive out the Russian infidels, and if our Indian Foreign Department had a little statesmanship as it has abundance of diplomacy, the opportunity would have been taken at once, in his and our interests, to lay the foundation of a belief in our loyalty among his suspicious subjects and the frontier tribes, by the expectation of a comradeship in arms between our respective peoples, whenever needed, and, in the meanwhile, to show to Europe and to the Muhammadan world the community of British and Afghan aims. As the first and smallest result of such loyal alliance, our Survey parties would, with the Amir's permission, have been able to perform a duty which they now discharge more or less stealthily, and to the alarmed suspicion of the Amir. Lord Lytton, who is very much underrated as a Viceroy, had a very vivid conception of the advantages of a British and Pan-Muhammadan fraternity based on a Turkish alliance. † Instead, however, of responding in a hearty way to the Amir's proclamation,
* Somatash is, no doubt, Chinese territory, but did we ever mention China to the Amir ? Why, we ourselves attacked and, practically, annexed Hunza, which owes some sort of allegiance to China, as I pointed out in 1866.
+ His recognition of Amir Abdurrahman was an act of statesmanship rather than of diplomacy, for Abdurrahman advanced from his exile in Russian Turkistan with the aid of a small Russian gift of arms and money, whilst we also asked him to come, and, finally, in the most open manner as regards Russia, we made him our nominee as he was already that of Russia. He, however, came as “called” by Islám and by the people to strike a blow for his inherited rights, and he accepted our moral and pecuniary support, in order to become more, not less, independent against alike British and Russian encroachments. As for the separation of Kandahar from Kabul, it had been proclaimed by us before Abdurrahman left his Russian exile, and this separation was, or rather would have been, extremely distasteful to him, but, fortunately for the Amir, Sirdar Sher Ali, who was to have been the hereditary ruler of Kandahar, collapsed after Ayub Khan defeated a British force at Maiwand, and as we certainly were not prepared to maintain the Sirdar by permanently occupying Kandahar, there was nothing to prevent its coming under Abdurrahman (see Sir Lepel Griffin's article in “The Fortnightly" of last January). This may also serve as a correction of a misapprehension in Mr. Dacosta's otherwise able and certainly well-meaning article.—ED.
we vacillated in harmony with political Aluctuations in England, and even pretended to a virtuous indignationstimulated by fear of Russia—because the Amir, in perfect good faith, had occupied parts of Shignán and Raushan. I will only allude to the unwise proposal of an interview at Jelalabad with a Commander-in-chief whom he would not care to meet, even if Lord Roberts did not mind meeting the Afghan Generalissimo, Ghulam Hyder Khan, who was one of the four that he had proscribed. The request was made at a time when the Amir was busy quelling a revolt, and so an excuse was forced on him by us to avoid an interview which he would not have sought anyhow.
For let it be told, that the Ainir has many, and wellfounded, grievances against us that are far more real and serious than the peccadilloes which I shall mention further on, and which are evidently invented in order to pick and to justify a most unrighteous and impolitic quarrel with him, to the interests of Russia and to the eventual loss of Northern India. He is to go to the wall for doing his duty by us, whilst the Press magnanimously suggests an understanding with Russia with or without him and certainly at his expense. Such a result, with its fatal consequences, will be rightly laid at the door of our perfidy, and Russia will gain not only territory, but also the respect and affection of the despoiled, as in the case of Khokand and Bokhara.
First, and foremost, at any rate for the purposes of this paper, among his grievances is the ever-restless system of espionage by news-writers, underlings, and even members of his family under which he suffers. That this is no calumny may be inferred from the following passage in Sir Lepel Griffin's most opportune article on him in the last Fortnightly Review:
“Many of the inflammatory letters of Abdur Rahman fell into our hands, for we had spies and paid agents all over the country attached to the household of many of the principal chiefs. Armed with these I was able to remonstrate with full effect, and confronting Abdur Rahman with his own