페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

wards of three centuries past, by Uzbek tribes. The face of the country, it is obvious, is extremely broken, and divided by lofty hills; and even the plains are diversified by great varieties of soil, some extensive districts along the Kohik river, nearly the whole of Ferghana, the greater part of Khwarizm along the branches of the Amu, with large portions of Balkh, Badakhshan, Kesh, and Hissar, being of uncommon fertility; while the greater part of the rest is a barren waste, and in some places a sandy desert. Indeed, the whole country north of the Amu, has a decided tendency to degenerate into desert; and many of its most fruitful districts are nearly surrounded by barren sands; so that the population of all these districts still, as in the time of Baber, consists of the fixed inhabitants of the cities and fertile lands, and of the unsettled and roving wanderers of the desert, the lls and the Uluses of Baber, who dwell in tents of felt, and live on the produce of their flocks. The cultivated spots are rich in wheat, barley, millet, and cotton; and the fruits, particularly the peaches, apricots, plums, grapes, apples, quinces, pomegranates, figs, melons, cucumbers, &c. are among the finest in the world. The mulberry abounds, and a considerable quantity of silk is manufactured. The cultivation is managed, as far as is practicable, by means of irrigation. The breed of horses is excellent. The less fertile parts of the country are pastured: by large flocks of sheep. They have also bullocks, asses, and mules, in sufficient numbers, and some camels. The climate, though in the low lands extremely cold in winter,* and hot in summer, brings to perfection most of the fruits and grains of temperate climates; and perhaps there are few countries in the world to which Nature has been more bountiful.

This felicity of climate and fruitfulness of soil have, in most ages of the world, rendered the country along the Kohik the seat of very considerable kingdoms. The earliest inhabitants, at least, of the desert tracts, were probably the Scythians, who, in this quarter, appear to have been of the Turki race. When Alexander advanced to the Sirr, he marched by Marakanda, a name, the termination of which, as has already been remarked, seems to speak a Turki origin. The Turanian monarchs, so long the rivals and terror of those of Iran, seem also to have been Turks, f After the Arab conquest, in the first century of the Hejira, many Persians were probably induced, by the security of the government, and fertility of the soil, to settle to the north of the Amu; though it is likely, that long before, when Balkh was the chief seat of the Persian government, the rich lands of Maweralnaher were cultivated, and the larger towns inhabited chiefly by men of Persian extraction, and speaking the Persian tongue. Down to the age of Chengiz Khan, when the grand desolation of the country began, the Persian was the common language all over the towns and cultivated lands from the Amu to the Sirr, as well as in the great and flourishing cities that then existed along the northern banks of that river, such as Tashkend, Fenaket, J iind, and Yengikent; the Turki being, however, understood and familiarly used in the ba

* Snow lies on the ground for several days at a time everywhere to the north of the Kesh hills. The Sirr, or Jaxartes, is frozen over every winter, and passed in that state by the Russian caravans. The Amu is also frozen for a considerable extent above Khwarizm.

t Ferdausi, passim.

zars and markets of all these northern districts. The Persian language also crossed the Ala-tagh hills, and was the language of the towns of Eastern Turkistan, such as Kashgar and Yarkend, as it continues to be at this day as far east as Terfan. A proof of the remote period from which the language of Persia was spoken in Maweralnaher, is to be found in the present state of the hill country of Karatigin. The language of that mountainous and sequestered tract is Persian; and as it has not been exposed to any conquest of Persians for many hundred years, it would seem that the Persian has been the language in familiar use ever since the age of the Khwarizmian kings, if not from a much more remote era. It is probable, therefore, that, in the days of Baber, the Persian was the general language of the cultivated country of the districts of Balkh, Badakhshan, the greater part of Khutlan, Karatigin, Hissar, Kesh, Bokhara, Uratippa, Ferghana, and Tashkend, while the surrounding deserts were the haunts of various roving tribes of Turin race, as in all ages, from the earliest dawn of history, they appear to have been.

While the Turks and Persians, the pastoral and agricultural races, thus from the earliest times divided the country north of the Amu, and considerable tracts to the south, the hills of Belut-tagh, towards the source of that river, extending for a considerable extent to the north and north-west, as well as those of Hindukush, which stretch along its southern course, were occupied by men of a different language and extraction. The progress of the Arabian conquest through the mountains was extremely slow. Though all the low countries were in the possession of the Arabian Khalifs in the first century of the Hejira, yet in the fourth or fifth, when their power was beginning to wane, the Kafirs, or Infidels, still held the mountains of Ghour, and the lofty range of Hindukush. Down to the time of Marco Polo, in the thirteenth century, the language of Badakhshan was different* from that of the lower country, though we cannot ascertain whether it was the same as that of the Kaffers or Siahposhes, whose country he calls Bascia, f or that of Wakhan, which he denominates Vochau4 It is not improbable that one radical tongue may have extended along the Hindukush and Belut-tagh mountains, though the continuity of territory was afterwards broken off by the interposition of the province of Badakhshan, which, being rich and fertile, was overrun earlier than the others. Indeed, Kafferistan, or the country of the Siahposhes, is still a country untouched, except during one expedition of Taimur Beg, who crossed the snowy tracts of their mountains with incredible labour, but was unable § to reduce them under subjection to his yoke. Some correct specimens of the language of the Dards near Kashmir, of Kafferistan, of Wakhan, of Wakhika, of the Pashai, or any other of the barbarous dialects of these hills, would be of singular curiosity, and of very great value in the history of the originization of nations. The present Afghan language, if I may judge of it from the specimen which I have seen, is certainly in a great degree composed of Hindui and Persian, with the usual sprinkling of Arabic terms. It would be desirable to ascertain what proportion of the un

* Viaggi di M. Marco Polo, lib. i. cap. 25, in Ramusio's Collection, vol. II.

1 Cap. 26. t Cap. 28. § See Hist, de Timur Bee, vol. III. p. 13.

known terms can be referred to any of the languages still spoken by the inhabitants of the hills to the north. The settlement of the Afghan tribes in the districts to the north of the road from Kabul to Peshawer, is not of very ancient date. Their peculiar country has always been to the south of that line.

Besides the Turki tribes that have been mentioned, a body of Moghuls had taken up their residence for some years in the country of Hissar; and the whole of Tashkend, with the desert tract around the Ala-tagh mountains as far as Kashgar, though chiefly inhabited by Turks, was subject to the principal tribes of the Western Moghuls, who were then ruled by two uncles of Baber, the brothers of his mother, the elder of whom had fixed the seat of his government at Tashkend. Where the Moghulistan, so often mentioned by Baber, may have lain, is not quite clear, though it probably extended round the site of Bishbaligh, the place chosen by Jaghatai Khan for the seat of his empire, on the banks of the Illi river, before it falls into the Balkash, or Palkati Nor. The eastern division of the tribe, which had remained in its deserts, was governed by the younger brother. They were probably the same race of Moghuls who are mentioned by Taimur, in his Institutes, as inhabiting Jettah.

The Kaizaks, frequently mentioned by Baber, are the Kirghis, who to this day call themselves Sara-Kaizdk, or robbers of the desert, a name which its etymology proves to be of later origin than the Arabian settlement on the Sirr.* It is not clear what country they traversed with their flocks in his age, but they probably occupied their present range, and were dependent on the Moghuls.

The Uzbeks lived far to the north in the desert, along the Jaik river, and on as far as Siberia, as will afterwards be mentioned; but they had more recently occupied the country called Turkistan, which lies below Seiram, and stretches north from the Sirr or Jaxartes, along the Taras, and the other small rivers that flow into the Sirr, between Tashkend and the Aral.

The general state of society which prevailed in the age of Baber, within the countries that have been described, will be much better understood from a perusal of the following Memoirs, than from any prefatory observations that could be offered. It is evident, that, in consequence of the protection which had been afforded to the people of Maweralnaher by their regular governments, a considerable degree of comfort, and perhaps still more of elegance and civility, prevailed in the towns. The whole age of Baber, however, was one of great confusion. Nothing contributed so much to produce the constant wars, and eventual devastation of the country, which the Memoirs exhibit, as the want of some fixed rule of succession to the throne. The ideas of regal descent, according to primogeniture, were very indistinct, as is the case in all oriental, and, in general, in all purely despotic kingdoms. When the succession to the crown, like everything else, is subject to the will of the prince, on his death it necessarily becomes the subject of contention; since the will of a dead king is of much less consequence than the intrigues of an able minister, or the sword of a successful com

* It is formed of two Arabic words. The Russian travellers call them Tartar words, as they do many Arabic and Persian terms which have been introduced into the Tartar or Turki language.

mauder. It is the privilege of liberty and of law alone to bestow equal security on the rights of the monarch and of the people. The death of the ablest sovereign was only the signal for a general war. The different parties at court, or in the haram of the prince, espoused the cause of different competitors, and every neighbouring potentate believed himself to be perfectly justified in marching to seize his portion of the spoil. In the course of the Memoirs, we shall find that the grandees of the court, while they take their place by the side of the candidate of their choice, do not appear to believe that fidelity to him is any very necessary virtue. They abandon, with little concern, the prince under whose banner they had ranged themselves, and are received and trusted by the prince to whom they revolt, as if the crime of what we should call treason was not regarded, either by the prince or the nobility, as one of a deep dye. While a government remains in the unsettled state in which it is so often found in Asiatic countries, where the allegiance of a nobleman or a city, in the course of a few years, is transferred several times from one sovereign to another, the civil and political advantages of fidelity are not very obvious; and it is not easy for any high principles of honour or duty to be generated. A man, in his choice of a party, having no law to follow, no duty to perform, is decided entirely by those ideas of temporary and personal convenience which he may happen to have adopted. There is no loyal or patriotic sentiment, no love of country condensed into the feeling of hereditary attachment to a particular line of princes, which in happier lands, even under misfortune and persecution, in danger and in death, supports and rewards the sufferer with the proud or tranquil consciousness of a duty well performed. The nobility, unable to predict the events of one twelvemonth, degenerate into a set of selfish, calculating, though perhaps brave partizans. Hank, and wealth, and present enjoyment, become their idols. The prince feels the influence of the general want of stability, and is himself educated in the loose principles of an adventurer. In all about him he sees merely the instruments of his power. Tho subject, seeing the prince consult only his pleasure, learns on his part to consult only his private convenience. In such societies, the steadiness of principle that flows from the love of right and of our country can have no place. It may be questioned whether the prevalence of the Mahommedan religion, by swallowing up civil in religious distinctions, has not a tendency to increase this indifference to country, wherever it is established. A Musulman considers himself as in a certain degree at home, wherever the inhabitants are Musulmans. The ease with which one even of the highest rank abandons his native land, and wanders as a fugitive and almost a bpggar in foreign parts, is only exceeded by the facility with which he takes root and educates a family wherever he can procure a subsistence, though in a land of strangers, provided he be among those of the true faith. Unity of religion is the single bond which reconciles him to the neighbours among whom he may be, and religion fills up so much of the mind, and intermingles itself so much with the ordinary tenor of the habitual and almost mechanical conduct of persons of every rank, that of itself it serves to introduce the appearance of considerable uniformity of manners and of feeling in most Asiatic countries.

In Baber's age, the power of the prince was restrained in a considerable degree in the countries which have been described, by that of his nobles, each of whom had attached to him a numerous train of followers, while some of them were the heads of ancient and nearly independent tribes, warmly devoted to the interest of their chiefs. It was checked also by the influence of the priesthood, but especially of some eminent Khwajehs or religious guides, who to the character of sanctity often joined the possession of ample domains, and had large bands of disciples and followers ready blindly to fulfil their wishes. Each prince had some religious guide of this description. Baber mentions more than one, for whom he professes unbounded admiration. The inhabitants were in general devoted to some of these religious teachers, whose dictates they received with submissive reverence. Many of them pretended to supernatural communications, and the words that fell from them were treasured up as omens to regulate future conduct. Many instances occur in the history both of India and Maweralnaher, in which, by the force of their religious character, these saints were of much political consequence, and many cities were lost and won by their influence with the inhabitants.

The religion of the country was mingled with numerous superstitions. One of these, which is wholly of a Tartar origin, is often alluded to by Baber. It is that of the Yedeh-stone. The history of this celebrated superstition, as given by D'Herbelot,* is, that Japhet, on leaving his father Noah, to go to inhabit his portion of the world, received his father's blessing, and, at the same time, a stone, on which was engraved the mighty name of God. This stone, called by the Arabs Hajar-al-matter, the rain-stone, the Turks call Yedeh-tash, and the Persians Sangideh. It had the virtue of causing the rain to fall or to cease: but, in the course of time, this original stone was worn away or lost. It is pretended, however, that others, with a similar virtue, and bearing the same name, are still found among the Turks; and the more superstitious affirm, that they were originally produced and multiplied by some mysterious sort of generation, from the original stone given by Noah to his son.

Izzet-Ulla, the intelligent traveller to whom I have already alluded, in giving a description of Yarkend, f mentions the Yedeh-stone as one of the wonders of the land. He says, that it is taken from the head of a horse or cow; and that, if certain ceremonies be previously used, it inevitably produces rain or snow. He who performs the ceremonies is called Yedehehi. Izzet-Ulla, though, like Baber, he professes his belief in the virtues of the stone, yet acknowledges that he was never an eye-witness of its effects; he says, however, that he has so often heard the facts concerning its virtues stated over and over again, by men of unimpeachable credit, that he cannot help acquiescing in their evidence. When about to operate, the Yedehehi, of whom there are many at this day in Yarkend, steeps the stone in the blood of some animal, and then throws it into water, at the same time repeating certain mysterious words. First of all, a wind is felt blowing, and this is soon succeeded by a fall of snow and rain. The author, aware of the incredulity of his readers, attempts to show that, though these effects certainly follow in the cold country of Yarkend, we are not to look for them in

* Biblioth. Orient. Art. Turk. See also the Supplement de Visdelou et Galand, p. 140, folio edition. t MS. Persian Journal communicated by Mr Moorcroft.

« 이전계속 »