Page images

sense of the importance of preserving the independence of the Uzbeg principalities, in order to prevent the contact of Russian and English power, that every effort was made to remove those grievances which had drawn the Russian hostility upon Khiva, and which might at any moment involve Bokhara, and even Kokand, in a similar danger. Stoddart had been originally sent to Bokhara by McNeill on the retirement of the Persian army from Herat in the summer of 1838, upon an errand of this nature. He was to endeavour to persuade the Amír to liberate the Russian prisoners still held in captivity by his subjects, and to abstain from any other provocation, either through unjust exactions upon trade, or through the encouragement heretofore held out to the Turcomans to pursue their kidnapping practices upon the Caspian and along the Orenburg line, by permitting the purchase of Russian slaves in the Bokhara Market. Conolly, who followed in 1840, had general instructions of the same nature in regard to the Khanats of Khiva and Kokand, to which, however, he superadded a certain philanthropic policy of his own; for being naturally of an enthusiastic nature, and having a confidence in the force of a just cause, which the Uzbeg character hardly justified, he seriously proposed to bind the respective Governments of Khiva, Kokand, and Bokhara, by a tripartite obligation to each other, to abandon the slave-trade altogether, and to cultivate friendly relations both with the Russian and the Persian Governments. It was in Khiva, however, that the danger of a renewed Russian intervention appeared especially imminent, since the grievances which had led to the late attack remained unredressed; and thither accordingly were successively despatched by Major Todd, Envoy at Herat, the British officer nearest to the scene of action, his two assistants, James Abbott and Richmond Shakespeare. James Abbott appears to have exceeded his instructions, which only referred to the liberation of the Russian slaves, and to have given just cause of umbrage to a friendly Power, by proposing, after the fashion of the days of Malcolm and Elphinstone, that Russians should be permanently excluded from the province, an offensive and defensive alliance with England being suggested as a reward for thus breaking with the common enemy. Of course any such extreme measures were repudiated as soon as reported to head-quarters, and the Mission of Richmond Shakespeare was undertaken mainly to repair Abbott's mistake. Shakespeare, however, arriving at Khiva at a very favourable moment, when the Khan had, for the first time, begun to realise the extent of the danger he incurred in continuing to brave the power of Russia, succeeded in bringing about the long-pending restoration of the slaves, and


himself escorted the liberated band, numbering four hundred men, from Khiva to Orenburg. Now it would be difficult to find anything in these proceedings injurious, or even derogatory, to Russia. With the exception, indeed, of Abbott's unauthorised overtures, there was nothing that a friendly Power might not with perfect propriety have undertaken in relation to its Ally; yet Russia took grievous offence at the whole train of negotiation, She seemed to consider that the interposition of England in her behalf was almost an insult; that she was humiliated by accepting of any favour at our hands; and she thus refuses to the present day to admit that she was indebted to Shakespeare's intercession for the recovery of her kidnapped subjects.* Thes extreme sensitiveness, indeed, which she has betrayed upon this , subject can only be explained by her pretension to exclusive relations with the Uzbeg principalities, both commercial and political ; a pretension which of course has never been recognised. 1 by England, and which it may yet be of national importance to us distinctly to disavow.

Among the many curious revelations in Mr. Michell's volume on Khiva, there is one of unusual interest at the present time from its bearing on passing events. It is stated to have been determined by the Emperor, in the event of Perofski's complete success, not to bring the country under the direct jurisdiction of Russia, but merely to rule vicariously through a Kirghiz nominee.† There are, it appears, several families among the


* Mr. Kühlewein, who was Secretary to General Ignatief's Mission to Khiva in 1858, thus refers to Perofski's Expedition. The expedition which numbered 5000 men, had the effect of bringing the Khan to his senses, though temporarily. In the summer of 1840 he released all the Russian prisoners. Shakespeare, an English officer, who had arrived at Khiva from Cabul in 1839, undertook to conduct the prisoners to Russia ;' ('Russians in Central Asia,' p. 549); and in a still more disparaging spirit, Mr. Michell's second volume says, · Both these agents (Abbot and Shakespeare) strove to take an active part in the Russian affairs with Khiva; especially Shakespeare, who wished to take credit for the release of the Russian prisoners. These, however, prior to his arrival at Khiva, had been collected and registered by the Russian Cornet Aïtof.' Now Shakespeare was doubtless favoured by circumstances, but still it was mainly owing to his individual energy, tempered by discretion, that the Russian prisoners were allowed to leave Khiva ; and he is fully entitled therefore to the credit of having effected their liberation.

+ It seems that a special commission was appointed to consider and report on an Expedition to Khiva ; and that the Emperor on March 24, 1839, approved of the following measures which had been recommended by the Committee.

1. To commence at once the organisation of an expedition against Khiva, and to establish the necessary depôts and stations on the route without delay.

2. To conceal the real object of the expedition, which should be given out as a scientific expedition to the Aral Sea.

• 3. To postpone the departure of the expedition until after the settlement of English matters in Afghanistan, in order that the influence and impression of the


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Kirghiz-Kazzáks of the Little Horde dependent upon Russia which claim to be of the White bone,' as lineal descendants of Jenghiz Khan, and these families, which had supplied Governors to the Khivan territory in the last century, still retain a powerful hold on the respect and veneration of the Nomades. If one of these Sultans, then, combining the requirement of undoubted fidelity to the Emperor with an hereditary claim on the affections of the Khivans, had been raised to the White felt' (Vambéry's Travels,' p. 387), it would have been a wise, and probably a successful, solution of the difficulty; inasmuch as it would have secured to Russia the full advantage of political supremacy without the expense or the danger of a permanent military occupation. And arguing from the known to the unknown, it may thus fairly be inferred that, should the Russian arms in Central Asia attain that dominant position which is promised by their hitherto unchecked career, there is reserved for all the three Uzbeg States an intermediate stage of tributary dependence upon Russia under Kirghiz rulers, before their final incorporation in the empire.

There can be no doubt that these demonstrations and counter demonstrations of the great European Governments powerfully affected the Uzbegs. Bokhara had ever been less inimical to Russia than the sister States of Khiva and Kokand. While she continued, indeed, to overtax Russian trade, and even held Russian subjects in slavery, she still kept up an appearance of friendliness, and despatched frequent Envoys to St. Petersburg. It thus happened that, in compliance with an urgent appeal from the Ameer, who was seriously alarmed at the position of the English in Cabul, a singularly well-appointed Russian Mission found itself at Bokhara in 1842. The real object of this Mission—which was presided over by Colonel Butenef, and which numbered amongst its members Mons. Nic. de Khannikof, who was even then an accomplished Orientalist, together with Lehmann the naturalist, and special officers for the contemplated

- VR


- - - - - * * * *

Russian proceedings might have more weight in Central Asia ; and that England, in consequence of her own conquests, might no longer have any ground for calling on the Russian Government for explanations. On no account, however, to delay the expedition later than the spring of 1840.

* 4. In the event of the expedition terminating successfully, to replace the Khan of Khiva by a trustworthy Kazzák Sultan; to estabKsh order and security as far as possible; to release all the prisoners and to give full freedom to the Russian trade.

* 5. To assign 425,000 silver rubles and 12,000 gold ducats for the expences of the expedition.'

It is further curious to compare the estimated expences of the Russian expedition, which are here given at about 70,0001., with the actual expences of our own Afghan expedition, amounting from first to last to about 15,000,0001. sterling

mining and exploring operations,—was to repair the damage caused by Perofski's failure. Bokhara, in fact, was to be made, through political influence, to subserve—though, perhaps, in a minor degree—the same purpose in regard to Russia, as Afghanistan had been made to subserve in regard to British India, by military power; and it is not improbable, if all had gone on smoothly at Cabul, that Butenef might have succeeded in his object. But storms were now gathering around that city, and the effect at Bokhara was to involve English and Russians in a common disgrace. No sooner, indeed, was the news of the murder of Burnes and Macnaghten and the insurrection at Cabul known at Bokhara, than Stoddart, and Conolly, who had recently joined him, were consigned to a rigorous imprisonment, from which, after months of suffering, they were led forth to public execution; while, the necessity of Russian mediation or support having passed away with the danger of an English invasion, Butenef was in the mean time dismissed with studied disrespect, and the various proposed arrangements which were to strengthen Russian influence, and to develop Russian trade in this part of Asia,' were one and all scattered to the winds.

One of the most remarkable portions of Mr. Michell's miscellaneous volume is the 11th chapter, containing M. Zalesoff's account of the diplomatic relations between Russia and Bokhara from 1836 to 1843. The narrative of Col. Butenef's mission, in 1841, is of especial interest, for it not only places us, as it were, behind the Russian scenes during the most eventful phases of our own Afghan occupation, but it also presents us with a report by an eye-witness of many details relating to the captivity of Stoddart—that most melancholy episode of a period fraught with error and misfortune—which were before but imperfectly known to any of us, and which are now for the first time rendered accessible to the ordinary English reader. That the Russian Government had throughout exerted itself to the utmost to obtain Stoddart's release has been frequently stated on the best authority, and that Col. Butenef would, on his arrival at Bokhara, carry out his renewed instructions on this head with loyalty and firmness, was no more, perhaps, than might be expected; but the terms in which the Russian envoy notified his success to his colleague at Khiva are entirely new to us, and deserve to be specially recorded, because they convey a spontaneous and most favourable tribute to the personal qualities of the British officer, a tribute indeed all the more striking, that the two agents, representing adverse system's of policy, must necessarily have regarded each other with feelings of official mistrust. •Lieut.Colonel Stoddart,' says the Russian envoy, in his Report to


Detay an exaggerat from the cours, had uredanricarde,

Nikiforof, at Khiva, 'a very clever, well-educated, and agreeable man, has, to my great pleasure, been removed this day to the house we occupy ;' and in this house, as the honoured guest of the Russian mission, did Colonel Stoddart dwell for a period of two months, during which time he was at any moment at liberty to have taken his departure to Orenburg.* Lord Clanricarde, indeed, our Ambassador at St. Petersburg, had urged him to adopt this mode of escape from the country; but a nice-most persons will say an exaggerated-feeling of honour forbad him to acquiesce. It was inconsistent, he thought, with the dignity of England, and consequently with his own duty as a British officer, that he should owe his liberation to the intercession of a foreign Government. He preferred to wait until the British Government could interfere directly in his behalf; but that opportunity never occurred. In the middle of November, as already stated, he was, on receipt of the Cabul news, a second time thrown into prison, and although the sojourn of the Russians at Bokhara was prolonged till the following April, they never again could obtain access to the English prisoners, nor exert any influence on their fate. During the latter part of their stay, indeed, they were even apprehensive of sharing Colonel Stoddart's captivity.

For several years subsequent to the Afghan war there was a lull in Central Asia. Nikiforof had visited Khiva at the same time that Butenef had been despatched to Bokhara, and they had both sought to place the Uzbeg States under treaty obligations to Russia ; but the moment was not propitious. A year later, that is in 1842,—while the avenging army' was doing its work at Cabul, Colonel Danilevski made another attempt; and on this occasion he succeeded in concluding, for the first time, a direct

* Mr. Kaye, whose chapter on the Bokhara tragedy is one of the most thrilling portions of his classic work on the Afghan war, was evidently not aware of this intimacy between the Russian and English envoys; the only evidence, indeed, which he could obtain on the subject was the statement of a servant that .There was an ambassador at this time from the Russian Government at Bokhara, who came twice to see the English gentlemen who also visited him.' (‘Afghan War,' vol. ii. p. 506). We may also notice a discrepancy between the dates given by the two authorities for the commencement of Stoddart and Conolly's captivity, which is, to say the least of it, embarrassing. Kaye, calculating from Conolly's letter of March il, 1842, which is stated to be the 83rd day of the captivity, shows that the two officers must have been thrown into prison about the i7th of December; whereas Butenef would antedate the event by at least a month; but in truth thé Russian dates are not only irreconcilable with the English dates, but with each other; for Butenef reports in one letter that ‘Conolly was arrested on his arrival at Bokhara in October,' whilst in other Reports he says that the Amír only returned from Kokand on November 7; and that he then promised the Russian envoy, before the arrest of the British officers, that they should accompany him back to Russia. These perhaps are small points, but they are important as tests of trustworthiness.


« EelmineJätka »