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and his son conducted nominally the government of Herat. It was believed by some that they were both prepared to withdraw into Persia on the first application of any real pressure from Cabul; by others it was expected that Shir Ali would still regain his position at the capital. But although the occupancy of the throne of Cabul has thus been changed we have adhered as rigidly as ever to our policy of non-intervention, and are still content simply to watch the progress of events. A state, indeed, of vigilant though inactive observation has been Sir John Lawrence's avowed and well-considered policy throughout the Afghan troubles, and certainly up to the present time there has been no reason to question its wisdom. The Russian press at the same time has not given us much credit for our forbearance. On the contrary, it has not hesitated to ascribe this recent Afghan revolution to British encouragement and design. As Abdur-Rahman Khan had been for some time a refugee at Bokhara, where he had married the daughter of the Amir, and as it was with the aid of a considerable Uzbeg contingent that in the course of last winter, he succeeded-in concert with his uncle Azim Khan-in driving Shir Ali from Cabul, and transferring power to his father, Afzul Khan, who as the senior surviving member of Dost Mahomed's family is now the acknowledged ruler of the country, it seemed only natural to the political quidnuncs of St. Petersburg to recognise in this dénouement the result of an elaborate scheme concerted by England for the purpose of uniting Cabul and Bokhara in a strong and confederate opposition to Russia. That a certain identity of interest has been established between the Afghans and Uzbegs through the family alliance contracted by Abdur-Rahman, and in consequence of the accession of that chief and his father, Afzal Khan, to the supreme power at Cabul, is not to be denied; and that the attitude of sustained hostility and intimidation which Russia preserves against Bokhara will have the natural effect of drawing closer those bonds of amity and leading the Afghans and Uzbegs to rely on each other for support, is also highly probable; but we are quite certain that any such result will be entirely independent of the counsel or instigation—or we might almost say of the approval of the British Indian Government. Afzal Khan and Abdur-Rahman are understood, indeed, to have manifested unfriendly feelings to the English throughout the recent troubles at Cabul, owing to our previous cordial relations with their rival Shir Ali, and the Bokhara tragedy of 1841 is still too strong in the recollection of Englishmen to admit of a finger being raised by us in favour of the present Amir, who is the son
of our old enemy, Nasr-Ollah Khan, even though our political interests were seriously imperilled by the overthrow of Uzbeg independence.
It remains that we should glance at the course of recent events in the north-western section of Central Asia, the country which contains the three Uzbeg Principalities and their dependencies ; and for this purpose we have only to condense the information given in the Russian Official Reports. It appears, then, that a contingent of Bokhara troops had already joined the garrison of Tashkend, when the Russians assaulted the place on June 25, 1865, and that the Amir's flag taken on the occasion was suspended among the other Uzbeg trophies in the Cathedral of Orenburg. War may be therefore considered to have broken out between Russia and Bokhara from the above date, though for some time later no further overt acts of hostility were had recourse to. The Amir, who had obtained possession of the person of the boy-chief Mir-Said, and had thus transferred to himself all supposed rights of sovereignty over the province, occupied Khojend and Kokand in the course of the summer, and summoned the Russians even to evacuate Tashkend, but did not venture on any advance into the country beyond the Jaxartes.
An angry correspondence ensued, at the conclusion of which General Tchernaieff took the strange resolve to send a party of four Russian officers to the city of Bokhara, for the purpose, it is said, of coming to an amicable arrangement with the Amir, and with a view of counteracting the intrigues of certain European emissaries who had visited Bokhara to submit proposals to the Amir most prejudicial to the interests of Russia.'* These officers were, of course, "more Usbeco,' placed in confinement soon after their arrival. Thereupon Tchernaieff protested, and ultimately on the 30th of January of the present year crossed the Jaxartes from Tashkend with fourteen companies of infantry, six squadrons of Cossacks, and sixteen pieces of artillery, with the avowed purpose of marching on Bokhara and compelling the Amir to release his officers. Such a force, however, was manifestly inadequate to any serious attack on the power of the Amir, and the march therefore must be supposed to have been merely intended as a demonstration, though the Russian press certainly
For this serious charge, which is copied textually from the official Report in the • Invalide Russe,' of June 27, 1866, and which can of course only be understood as applying to England, we believe there is not the slightest foundation. No communication, either by agent or by letter, has passed as yet between the Governor-General of India and the Amir of Bokhara; and we are at a loss to understand whether General Tchernaieff was deceived in the matter, or whether the charge was put forward as an excuse for the mission of Colonel Struve and his colleagues, in case inquiries should be made as to its aim and object.
endeavoured at this period to prepare the public for the possible news of the capture of Bokhara, and the Russian Government, whilst disclaiming any views of permanent conquest, did not disavow the advance. Be this as it may the expedition turned out a complete failure. Tchernaieff, after crossing the desert to Jezak within twenty-five miles of Samarcand, found himself unable to proceed further. Whilst on this expedition he also heard of the arrival at Tashkend of General Romanovsky, who had been sent from St. Petersburg to supersede him, and he accordingly beat a retreat to the river, which he reached without incurring any serious loss. The effect of this abortive demonstration was naturally to embolden the Bokharians to assume the offensive, and we find, accordingly, that from this time collisions were frequent on the right bank of the river between the Russian and Uzbeg outposts. A considerable skirmish occurred at Mirza Robat, near Chinaz, on the Syr-Daria, upon April 5, and a more serious affair took place a month later in the immediate vicinity of Tashkend, which is dignified by the title of the Battle of Irjar. As the Amir commanded in person upon this occasion, and his force is stated at 21. pieces of artillery, 5000 regular infantry, and 35,000 auxiliary Kirghiz, against 14 companies of infantry, 5 squadrons of Cossacks, and 20 guns on the side of the Russians, there would really seem to have been the elements of a serious engagement; but that the actual fighting must have been of the most meagre description is proved by the Russian return of twelve wounded as their total loss. If these figures are to be relied on, and if the estimate be also true of 1000 dead left by the Uzbegs on the field of battle, it must have been a'massacre rather than a fight. Indeed, there would seem to have been a panic flight in consequence of the destructiveness of the Russian artillery fire; the whole of the camp equipage and baggage of the Uzbegs was left on the ground, and the Amir carried back with him to Samarcand but 2000 horsemen and two guns.
After this signal success General Romanovsky seems to have hesitated whether he would at once follow up the flying Uzbegs, and profiting by the panic, occupy the great capitals of Samarcand and Bokhara, thus committing the Russian Government, perhaps prematurely to the conquest and permanent annexation of the whole Khanat of Bokhara ; or whether in accordance with the more cautious plan of operations, which had regulated all the previous Russian proceedings in Turkestan, he would be content to secure that single step in advance which was the natural and legitimate fruit of the recent victory. He preferred the latter course, and proceeded accordingly with due deliberation
to take possession of the strong fortress of Náú at the extreme angle of the river where it bends from a westernly to a northernly course, and where the road also from Kokand and Khojend strikes off to Bokhara. This fortress, considered of great strategic importance, was surrendered without striking a blow, and the Russians then pursued their march upon Khojend, which they reached on the 17th of May. Khojend, after Kokand and Tashkend, is the most considerable place in Turkestan. It was found to be surrounded by a double line of very high and thick walls, of which the circuit was about seven miles; but the garrison and artillery defences were not in any proportion to this extent; there were indeed but thirteen guns of small calibre mounted on the walls, and as the Bokharian garrison had been withdrawn after the Amir's defeat and had not yet been replaced by troops from Kokand, the townspeople prepared to man the defences as they best might. A week was consumed in reconnaissance and skirmishing, and in discussing proposals of capitulation, which however fell through, and at the expiration of that time, on May 21st, the Russians took the place by escalade. The resistance seems to have been considerable, for 2500 dead bodies are said to have been counted about the point where the assault took place, and the Russians confess on their own side to a loss of 133 in killed and wounded. What may be the effect of this very brilliant success in Central Asia generally we are not prepared to say, but it is rumoured that the Amir is now really humbled, and will be glad to submit to any conditions that may be imposed on him, as the price of preserving his independence.* There is no doubt much truth in the following remark, which we extract from the official report in the "Invalide Russe :'-'Quant à la conquête de la Boukharie, separée de nos possessions par la steppe, dépourvue d'eau de Kizil-kum, quelque facile qu'elle put être dans l'état actuel des affaires dans l'Asie Centrale, non seulement elle ne saurait être le but de nos opérations mais encore elle serait positivement inutile;' but the situation will be essentially altered, as far as communications are concerned, when Khiva has been already annexed, and when Russian
* The last intelligence received from the seat of war reports that the Russian officers had been released from confinement immediately after the capture of Khojend, and had returned to head-quarters unscathed. Peace is also said to have been concluded between Russia and Bokhara ; the most important concession which has been wrung from the Uzbegs being a free right of navigating the Oxus, and of establishing posts upon the banks of the river. The reported occupation of Samarcand and evacuation of Tashkend are so entirely at variance with each other that they are probably both untrue. Russian garrisons will, we are satisfied, continue to be maintained both at Tashkend and at Khojend; but any further active measures are alone to be looked for at present upon the Oxus.
colonies and garrisons are scattered along the entire line of the Jaxartes. Then and not till then do we expect a serious attack upon Bokhara. In the mean time the capital city of Kokand will assuredly soon follow the fate of Khojend, being either peaceably surrendered by Bokhara as the price of her own immunity from attack, or being captured by another brilliant passage of arms, in retaliation for alleged encroachments on the recently acquired Russian territory of Khojend.*
Our view of the Russo-Indian question, as presented to the public in the 'Quarterly Review' for October, 1865, is in no way altered by the occurrences of the last year. Although a war with Bokhara has occurred sooner than we expected, its consequences have not been of any great political moment. Many a long year must yet elapse before the Russian Empire by a gradual accretion of territory can become conterminous with British India; and in the mean time it should be our earnest endeavour so to set our house in order as to meet the crisis when it does come, without flinching or misgiving. We must expect before long to see a Russian embassy permanently established in Bokhara. We must expect to hear of Russian agents at Cabul, at Candahar, and at Herat. We must expect to find amongst our northern feudatories an augmented restlessness and impatience of control, the natural effect of the intrusion of a rival European power into the circle of our Indian relations. We must expect to find our commerce with Central Asia impeded by the restrictions and protective duties of our Russian competitors; but we certainly need not apprehend any actual, or immediate danger, from the military or political pressure of our rival. If we could, indeed, make the people of India feel that their interests were identical with our own, and that an invader from the north would be a scourge rather than a deliverance to the country, then we might safely hold out the hand to Russia and welcome her to the Indus; but under present circumstances, and pending the establishment of such a state of mutual confidence between the Government of India and its subjects, let us not sacrifice substantial interests to a mere sentimental feeling of philanthropy. Let Russia pursue her policy of aggrandisement-or, as her admirers term it, of civilization and commercial activity-in Central Asia. She will meet with
When the Amir of Bokhara occupied Kokand in the autumn of last year, he restored his father-in-law, Khodayar Khan, the champion of the Kirghiz faction, as opposed to the Kipchaks, to power ; and it is understood to be a part of the recent arrangement between the Amir and the Russian Government, that this chief, who belongs to the royal family, and has on previous occasions occupied the .musnud,' should continue to administer the capital and its adjoining territory, “pending good behaviour,' and almost as a Russian feudatory.