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estimate, to fomenting rebellion in her own empire; but it was not only on the territorial question that Russia adopted a tone which to us appears extravagant. She also seemed to consider that her geographical position gave her a claim to the monopoly of the trade of Central Asia, and we accordingly find her officers on all occasions resenting the proposed participation of England in that trade as an invasion of Russian rights which was to be opposed at all hazards. The successive travels of Moorcroft and Trebeck, of Arthur Conolly, of Bailie Fraser, of Alexander Burnes, and even of the Missionary Wolff, seem to have excited the gravest suspicions. “The English,' it was said in reference to the state of the East in 1835, "have great facilities for strengthening their influence in Central Asia, the principal market for the manufactured goods of Russia, and for doing her serious damage by establishing regular commercial relations with that country. It is only necessary indeed to allow the possibility of the English supplying the Khivans and the Turcomans, the nearest and most hostile neighbours of Russia, as well as the Kirghiz, with arms and ammunition, in order to be convinced of the necessity of counteracting the schemes of England, whose agents do not even try to conceal their hopes, in their published accounts, of becoming masters not only of the trade between the Indus and the Hindú-Kúsh, but likewise of the market of Bokhara, the most important of Central Asia.
Now it is certain that England has always considered, and does still consider, that she is entitled to exercise a fair amount of influence in Central Asia, and to enjoy a fair access to the markets of Bokhara, and the other markets of that region, equally with Russia; but it is also certain that she has never taken any active measures to assert or realise her right, and that the apprehensions of Russia, therefore, on this score, which urged her on to an armed intervention, were altogether unfounded. What England really dreaded 30 years ago, and what she had a perfect right to impede by all the means in her power, was that Russia would gradually absorb,-or would, at any rate, extend her influence, either by treaties or by political pressure, overthe independent countries intermediate between the Caspian and India, and would thus complicate our position in the latter country. We may have been deceived as to the extent, as well as the imminence of the danger, and we undoubtedly adopted very unwise measures for meeting it; but there is no reason to question the correctness of our view in principle, nor is any excuse required for our having inaugurated a policy of resistance which was strictly defensive. If it be borne in mind that the mainsprings of action in the English and Russian movements in
Central Asia from this time forward, were a feeling of political jealousy on the one side, and a spirit of commercial rivalry on the other, a light will be thrown on much that would be otherwise unintelligible. When Lord Auckland, for instance, persisted in marching an army across the Indus in 1838, notwithstanding that the object for which the expedition was originally organised, the relief of Herat, had been already accomplished by the retirement of the Shah's forces, under the pressure of our demonstration in the Persian Gulf, it was avowedly to prevent the spread of Russian influence towards India.
The Proclamation, indeed, of November 8, 1838, stated that the main object of Lord Keane's expedition was 'the establishment of a permanent barrier against schemes of aggression upon our north-west frontier,' and Lord Auckland had really at the time very plausible grounds for his alarm; for clouds appeared to be gathering on all sides. Persia had been entirely alienated by our interference to save Herat. The Sirdars of Candahar had offered to coalesce with the Shah, if the Russian ambassador at Teheran would guarantee the arrangement. Dost Mahomed, exasperated at his treatment by us, had expelled Burnes from Cabul, and was ready, under the inspiration of Vitkevitch, to welcome the agents, or even the arms, of the Emperor. Russia was further known to have been most successful in coercing the recalcitrant Kirghiz. She had fairly broken ground against Khiva by arresting all the Uzbeg merchants resident at Orenburg and Astracan, and her intercourse with Bokhara, ever since the mission of Mons. Demaison, in 1834, and the unaccredited visit of Vitkevitch in 1835,* was understood to be of the most friendly
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* There seems to have been a strange fatality attending the movements of this unfortunate officer. It can hardly be doubled that he visited Bokhara in 1835, under instructions from the Governor-General of Orenburg, yet his official character was never recognised. In Mr. Michell's published work on the *Russians in Central Asia,' p. 436, he is spoken of as the Russian traveller Vitkevitch, who visited Bokhara in 1835 ;' and in the other work on Khiva, which is not yet printed, it is stated that • Vitkevitch, when sent in search and for the release of two Russian prisoners reported to be amongst the Kirghiz, wandering on the rivers Irghiz and Turgai, was driven by a snow-storm to Bokhara, from whence, however, he returned in safety. It certainly must have been a prodigious storm to have driven before it this hardy young Polish officer across the Kara-kum sands; across the Jaxartes; across the still more difficult Kizil-kum desert, a distance of at least 700 or 800 miles from the Irghiz and Turgäi rivers to Bokhara.
The biography of Vitkevitch, given in the note from which this passage is extracted, is full of interest, but we doubt its entire authenticity, particularly in regard to the closing scene of his career. The Russian account says that, • on the return of Vitkevitch to Petersburg, at the end of April, 1839, he was very well received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, by whom he was immediately recommended for promotion in the Guards, and he was rewarded by an order of Vol. 118.–No. 236.
character. What Lord Auckland probably contemplated as the result of this menacing combination, was the immediate establishment of a Russian mission at Cabul, and the opening of friendly relations between the Emperor and Runjeet Singh, and who shall say that the Governor-General was in error in judging that such a demonstration, backed by the whole weight of Mahommedan Persia, required to be arrested by energetic measures of selfdefence? That the measures which he did adopt were unsuited to the occasion, and failed as much from their impracticable character as from lamentable faults of execution, is a matter upon which history has already pronounced its verdict, and of which, therefore, it is useless here to re-open the discussion.
Closely following on our own occupation of Afghanistan, occurred the famous expedition of Perofski against Khiva. This expedition had been long contemplated. As a measure of mere frontier police, and irrespective of all considerations of external policy, it was urgently needed. With the exception, indeed, of the claim of prescriptive “suzerainté' over Khiva, dating from the proffered allegiance of the old Kirghiz rulers, there was not a single weak point in the Russian bill of indictment. The Uzbegs of Khiva, either directly or through the
Turcomans and Kirghiz who obeyed them, had for years committed every conceivable atrocity against the Russian government. To man-stealing and raids upon the friendly Kirghiz were added the constantly recurring plunder of caravans; attacks upon the Russian outposts; burdens upon trade, which weighed it to the ground; outrages upon Russian subjects who ventured into the country; indignities to the government; and finally a systematic course of agitation in the Steppe, undertaken with a view of inciting the Kirghiz to rebellion. The provocation, indeed, offered by Khiva was not less complete as a "casus belli' than the invasion of India by the Sikhs, which led to the battles of Firoz-shahr and Sobraon, and terminated in our own annexation of the Punjab; but curiously enough, blending with these legitimate grounds for hostility, and not improbably of superior weight in determining the precise time of attack, there was the old feeling of commercial rivalry with England. Perofski, it is
Knighthood and a sum in money. About eight days after his arrival at Petersburg, Vitkevitch shot himself, leaving behind him a short note, in which he said he had burnt all his papers before his death. The cause of this suicide remains hidden up to the present time.' ..... This may be compared with Kaye's account of the same transaction (* History of the Afghan War,' vol. i. p. 200, foot note), in which it is distinctly stated, and we believe, on the authority of Prince Saltykof, that Vitkevitch blew out his brains and destroyed his papers in consequence of the chilling reception he met with from Count Nesselrode, and the conviction he derived from it, that he was to be disavowed and sacrificed.
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true, in his proclamation of November 26, 1839, merely stated that one of his objects was to strengthen in that part of Asia the lawful influence to which Russia has a right, and which alone can ensure the maintenance of peace;' but in the Russian account of the expedition, translated by Mr. Michell, the sore point is laid bare, without any attempt at diplomatic glozing. The object is there stated to be to establish, not the dominion, but the strong influence of Russia in the neighbouring Khanats, for the reciprocal advantages of trade, and to prevent the influence of the East India Company, so dangerous to Russia, from taking root in Central Asia. In fact, Russia desired to redress the balance which had been so rudely shaken by our advance to Cabul; and what is still more remarkable, as an evidence of her morbid apprehension both of the designs and the power of England, she actually anticipated, by several months, the previously arranged date for the departure of the expedition, dreading lest in the interim English agents should penetrate to Khiva, and, like Eldred Pottinger at Herat, should incite the Uzbegs to a more determined resistance.*
We cannot here afford space to follow out the details of the expedition. The narrative translated by Mr. Michell, and compiled from official sources, is replete with interest, both in a military and political point of view. It is very instructive in the first place to find that a force of 5000 men (3000 infantry and 2000 cavalry), with 22 field guns, and 4 rocket-stands, was considered sufficient for the reduction of a country which is said to have a fixed population of about 500,000 souls, and to be supported by an equal number of tributary nomades. And it speaks well again for Russian providence and humanity that upwards of 10,000 camels should have been provided for the carriage of the camp equipage and the ordnance and commissariat stores of this little army, six months' rations for each man, besides a liberal allowance of warm clothing and comforts, being carried with the force; although the distance to be traversed was only 1000 milesabout the same distance as the interval between Karachi and Cabul-and the march was not calculated to require more than three months, at most, for its performance.
In real truth the expedition, considering the season selected
* The object is thus stated in the narrative of the expedition to Khiva. It was, therefore, of the greatest importance to hasten the expedition for the punishment of Khiva, so as to prevent the English from supporting the resistance of this Khanat against Russia, and to anticipate the possibility of any other Central Asiatic rulers being induced to join Khiva by means of threats or promises of reward that might be employed by the English agents.' The departure of the expedition was originally fixed for April, 1840, whereas it actually left Orenburg in November, 1839.
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for for its march, seems to have been too well appointed, and to have broken down in consequence. To have attempted, indeed, to carry with so small a force an unwieldy mass of ten thousand camels across the desolate tract of the Ust-Urt in mid-winter, when the ground was covered with snow, and there was no atom of herbage to be seen for many hundreds of miles, argues the most extraordinary confidence in the power of discipline to overcome difficulties, or the most culpable ignorance of the physical features of the country to be traversed. As is well known, Perofski's force, after advancing into the middle of the desert, became completely crippled, and was obliged to retrace its steps to Orenburg, with the loss of a very considerable portion of its
matériel’ and men. The exceptional severity of the season is usually alleged as the cause of this unexpected failure; but it may be doubted if, under the most favourable circumstances of weather and climate, a force composed as Perofski's was could have crossed the steppe from the Emba to the Khivan frontier. On the other hand, an Indian General, of the school of Sir Charles Napier or of Sir Hugh Rose, would probably have found little difficulty in pushing across the waste, with the assistance of the friendly Kirghiz, a succession of flying columns, equipped in the lightest manner consistent with safety, and capable of holding their ground after reaching the cultivated land until a sufficient force had been concentrated for an offensive movement in advance; so that we do not consider the problem of the Russian subjugation of Khiva by a direct movement either from Orenburg or Orsk to be at all solved by Perofski's failure.
There are officers still living who were on the point of starting for General Perofski's camp—where, however, they would hardly have been very welcome visitors—when the report of the Russian discomfiture first reached the English head-quarters at Cabul; and they well remember that the news was received, not with exultation, but certainly with a feeling of intense relief; for we were then preparing to occupy Syghan, on the northern slope of the Hindú Kúsh, and a further advance on Bokhara, for the purpose of dislodging Dost Mahomed and his son Acbar Khan, was being much canvassed; so that it really seemed, as Baron Brunnow is said to have remarked to the then President of the Board of Control, that the Sepoy and the Cossack were about to meet on the banks of the Oxus ;' and a collision of this nature, although not unpleasing to the army, was viewed by sober diplomatists almost with dismay; since, however it might have terminated, it could not fail to bring on an irretrievable complication of our relations with Central Asia. So impressed, indeed, were our authorities at this time with a