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than to gratify the demand of the last section; and it is on his lethour, and the most noteworthy of ters sent to the · Pioneer,' a leadthese have not been made available ing Anglo-Indian journal, and to for English readers. Grodekoff's the Daily Telegraph,' that the account of General Stolietoff's im- book now before us has been based. prudent mission to Ameer Shere Mr Yate's first duty was accordAli is a reliable and intelligent ingly to make use of his eyes—alsurvey of the routes followed by though we not unfrequently find the Russian envoy and his officers, him pressed into the service when though his views of the feelings of there was work to be done and too the Afghan and Turkoman clans few officers to accomplish it; and towards Cabul rule and the Brit- his narrative of the travels of the ish alliance must be taken with all Commission bears excellent testidue reservations. Even the best mony to his competence as an obreview of the late wars that we server as well as to his indefatihave met with comes from a foreign gability as an investigator. He critic, M. G. le Marchand, whose has given us minute as well as • Campagne' and · Deuxième Cam- full descriptions of the country pagne des Anglais dans l’Afghan- through which the Commission istan' do not seem to have at- passed; he has made us acquainted tracted sufficient attention among with the character and habits of military circles in this country to tribes, regarding whom we preinvite a translator.
viously knew little more than the The last contribution to our name; and he has discussed the acquaintance with Afghanistan military and political contingenand the Afghans is in every re- cies connected with the future spect the most important that has of Afghanistanso frankly that appeared since the works of Vigne there can no longer be any excuse and Ferrier, and opens up to the for the bewilderment and uncerlight of western day some of the tainty with which we have hitherhitherto most obscure corners of to been wont to regard the prothe Ameer's territory. Important gress of events on the Ameer's as was the immediate object of north-western frontier. the Afghan Frontier Commission- The Commission had indeed the most important step that has facilities for acquiring information yet been taken in the Central which no individual or body of Asian question—the indirect re- Europeans ever previously enjoyed. sults of its march through the They carried with them the goodheart of Afghanistan were not less will of the Ameer; they received serviceable. In addition to the assistance from his representatives officers who were charged with -not always, however, to the exmilitary and political functions, it tent they had a right to expect ; was accompanied by others who and as they were paying their way were specially detailed for the in the princely fashion which is work of exploration and survey, characteristic of the “Sirkar Anand for archælogical and scien- grezi” when dealing with all extific examination, and by a few cept its own officials, they were “specials” whose task was to see welcomed by all classes of the everything that could be seen, and Afghans with whom they came in to note every
fact that might contact. Along the line of march be of present or future interest. officers were constantly scouting Lieutenant Yate belonged to this out, exploring, surveying, map
making; while Lieutenant Yate amid the barren hills and unfruitand his brother "specials” were ful plains; but even of these sedulously interviewing all the meadows the agricultural value chiefs and men of intelligence upon does not appear to be great, for whom they could lay hands. Thus we read that the grass that grows one great result of the Boundary on one of them, Singbur-Chaman, Commission—in fact, we believe, is of such a tough spiny character the greatest practical result that that “a dog runs over it like a bear it has achieved_has been, that we on hot irons." Yet horses eat it have now obtained a thorough readily. Another march within knowledge of the country between the same section, from Singburthe Helmund and Herat; that we Chaman to Khaisar, is “over hill have acquainted ourselves with its and dale and stone-strewn torrent roads, its passes, its tactical ad- beds, shut in by bleak hills dotted vantages and disadvantages for here and there with a stunted defence against an invading force; tree that tends only to bring out that we have corrected our previ- the general barrenness in stronger ous maps to a degree which must relief." approximate more or less to strict Nor from Nushki to the Helaccuracy; and that our Intelli- mund the route rendered gence Department in India is now more inviting than the natural feaon equal footing with the Russians, tures of the country. The southern who have so long made a close bank of the Helmund is skirted study of the topography of these by a belt of desert some fifty miles regions.
in breadth, with but few villages, We do not propose to follow the and fewer wells. Commission step by step in the march so fully detailed in Lieu- “To the right and left," says Lieutenant Yate's interesting narra
tenant Yate, “the road is bounded tive. We must content ourselves by the Registan—i. e., sandy desertwith noting some of the points direction the Registan stretches away
more especially to the right, in which of immediate or future interest to Shorawak, Kandahar, and Girishk. which his volume presents. The Year by year this vast mass of loose first section of the journey from sand is moved steadily, presumably Quetta to the Helmúnd extended by the action of wind alone, to the over a country with which most north-east; and some persons of a of our readers, it may be pre- far as to gauge the rate of annual
scientific bent have even gone so sumed, have been made
and calculate how many or less familiar by recent events.
thousands of years the now smiling As Mr Yate observes, “every one valley of the Arghandab will be a knows South Afghanistan and its howling wilderness - a burnt-out valleys, mountains, torrent-beds, hell,' as it has been graphically and flies." From Quetta the route termed. Ordinary mortals, however, ran west by south, changing when I have noticed, do not evince any Nushki was reached to a generally the future ; let us, the
strong interest in the eocene period of
leave the western course as far as the Hel- future of the earth's crust to itself, mund. The surrounding country and to those who make it their special is bare, wormwood scrub afford- study. The last 50 or 60 miles of the ing almost the only fuel. Round desert to the Helmund is in local parthe villages, willows, apricots, and lance known as the 'Lut,' and conmulberries are grown.' Meadows, sists in the main of black gravel, like little oases,
whence no drop of water is known to issue."
But sterile as this part of the intersect, yet Lieutenant Yate's country is, there is nothing mono- narrative has in its fulness of tonous in Lieutenant Yate's account detail and its wide range of facts of the march of the Commission, completely superseded the inforwhich abounds in incident, and mation of the elder traveller. affords us an interesting picture Starting from Khwaja Ali, the of the Beluch clans and their Commission followed the course of villages. Azad Khan of Kharan the Helmuud, which is shut in by is the most powerful chief in the sandy banks and fringed by junregion: a venerable Sirdar, close gle of tamarisk, interspersed with upon a hundred years of age, who poplar and willow clumps. There in his day according to the boast were no signs of cultivation and of his people, could bend and no villages, the nearest hamlet to unbend with his hands “four Khwaja Ali being eight miles off ; horse-shoes clamped the one above and an occasional ruined fort was the other, with the ease with which the only break in the monotony of most men could bend a pliant the waste track. At Kalah-i-fath cane"-a feat surpassing even the the archæologists of the Commiswonderful stories which have been sion would have found congenial related of the manual strength of work had they only had more time Count Orloff. Living between to prosecute their researches. The the Ameer and the Khan of Khe- country round this townlet is a lat, Azad Khan is practically an very labyrinth of ruins of various independent chief, though at one stages of antiquity. No reliable time a pensioner of Cabul. At date can be fixed for the building present he is at feud with the or the decay of the ruined forts, Khan of Khelat, and denies all towns, and mosques which are met jurisdiction to the Ameer south with in this locality in marvellous of the Helmund. He now pro- profusion, and which point to a fesses an allegiance to the Indian past prosperity surely again realGovernment, which, however, from isable under a civilised and stable his situation and circumstances, is Government. That Western Afof little political value. Indeed it ghanistan was much more prosperis not until the Helmund has been ous and populated than it has crossed that Lieutenant Yate's been within the era of our own narrative begins to be pregnant acquaintance with the country, is with political interest.
as unquestionable as that its presThe Helmund was reached at ent desolation was brought about Khwaja Ali, and from that point by the invading hordes which, one the record of the Commission after another, swept across
the acquires fresh novelty and im- country on their way to Hinduportance. Lieutenant Yate states stan ; but the sources of that prosthat no European except Khani- perity have baffled historical rekoff had ever before set foot on search. The land, Lieutenant Yate the route which now lay before tells us, could not have supported the Commission, and that the a population large enough to leave rapid movements of the Russian such traces behind it; and their had precluded accurate observa- food must to a great extent have tion. Ferrier, however, had ex- been imported. plored the regions through which
“ Besides the resources of the Helthe expedition had to pass; and mund valley from Girishk to the though the two routes sometimes Seistan Hamun, the food-supplies of the valleys of the Arghandab, Tarnak, able to the observers of the Comand Arghasan, and of the whole of mission. Near Deh-i-Kamran is Seistan, would be available, irrespec- Kalah-i-kang, a circular fort of tive of more distant sources of supply ; and in addition to the local manu
some local importance, which was factures which must have given em
being strengthened, and is garriploy to the non-agricultural portion soned by a considerable force of of this vast population, the manu- Afghans. Chakansur, eight miles facturing towns of Yezd, Kirman, to the north, is the military headand Birjand, not to mention Ispahan quarters of the district; and Burj. and Shiraz, were easily accessible. -i-asp, where the road from NasirDid the people of former times utilise abad in Persian territory crosses the Helmund as a trade-route ?"
the Helmund, is also held by an There is, however, no navigation Afghan detachment. “This route, on the Helmund, though there is says Mr Yate, is one of strategapparently sufficient depth of water ical importance, as from Chakanfor boats of a limited draught sur it continues viâ Khash to Girwhich might be towed against ishk." Should water, as appears stream. On the first impulse one possible, be found on this road, its is tempted to exclaim against the security would certainly be a matshort - sightedness of the Cabul ter of the first importance both to Government, for not making an the Ameer and to the Government effort to restore this tract to some- of India, as it offers a more direct thing approaching to its ancient route from Herat to Kandahar than well-being. But reflection suggests by the Helmund valley, of which the doubt whether it would be to the water supply is its principal our own interest that a probable recommendation. line of invasion should be furnished From Kalah-i-kahg the march with those supplies and means of was over a plateau of gravel and assistance which had probably sandstone until the basin of the aided Tamerlane in his march Farah Rud was reached, where the through the same country, and twin forts of Lash Juwain occupy which he probably repaid by leaving positions of much military import behind him the desert which now ance. Juwain is a rectangle, each presents itself to the eye of the wall being from 300 to 400 yards traveller. Not that the banks of long, with bastions at each angle, the Helmund are a desert in the and at intervals of about 100 yards strict sense of the term. Wheat, on each face. It is built on a barley, pulses, and cotton are pro- slight natural eminence, and its duced ; but there are extensive walls are of unusual height and areas bearing nothing but tamarisk solidity. It has never been capand camel-thorn, which only re- tured, although the garrison which quire cultivation to be made arable. held it for Ayub Khan surrendered It may be noted that as the Hel- to the present Ameer to avoid mund is descended the fruit-trees starvation. Lash, two
or three grow fewer in number, thus show- miles from Juwain, stands on ing that other food is not so scarce high bluff overhanging the right as in the desert villages on its bank of the Farah Rud. The im upper waters.
portance of the position may be North of Kalah-i-fath, and as inferred from the fact that five far as Deh-i-Kamran, some distance higliroads—two from the Afghan north of the Seistan Bund, the and three from the Persian sideroute presented nothing remark- pass by Lash Juwain. As a defence
against an inroad from Persia, miles distant from Herat, presents Lash Juwain ought to be main- a curious picture, although we betained in a high state of defence; lieve one not so uncommon to the but Lieutenant Yate describes the north of the Paropamisus. Lieuforts as in an indifferent state of tenant Yates describes it as repair, and as useless against ar- quadrangular nest of domes. Imtillery. If fortified to the extent agine,” he says, “several hundred which their natural advantages of small mud domes closely girt would seem to deserve, and garri- around by four solid walls of mud soned by a strong force, no enemy pr brick mud. .. The centre would be able to march along the quadrangular area of domes apFarah-Giriskh route without either peared to be composed of a number reducing or masking Lash Juwain. of smaller quadrangles of domes; Lash, when Ferrier visited it, was and it seems not unreasonable to surrounded by three lines of de- suppose that one or more of these fence, connected by towers and lesser quadrangles quarters protected by ditches, and he con- would be assigned to the several siders that it would with difficulty races and tribes of which the popube reduced even by a European lation is composed." The village siege-train. But with the diminu- lands lie round about the settletion of danger from Persia, the ment, covering an area of some five fortifications have naturally been or six square miles. allowed to fall into disrepair. A It would have been interesting to position, however, of such primary have learned the customs that regimportance deserves to be made ulate a village community, that is the most of, and the Government apparently composed of many difof India ought to bring influence ferent clans, but which may be into bear upon the Ameer to have ferred to be prosperous from the Lash Juwain put into a thoroughly extent of its tillage. From defensible condition.
Pisgah hill-top in the vicinity of Leaving the vicinity of Lash Pahra, Lieutenant Yate, with the Juwain and the valley of the Farah aid of powerful binoculars, obtained Rud, the Commission advanced a distant view of Herat, which the northward over a gravelly plain to Commission as a body were not, to the Kush Rud, the “dry river- their mortification, to visit. As bed,” and entered the Herat dis- not long ago we published a descriptrict a little to the north of Kaïn. tion of the city, by one of the forAt Zehkin, still further north, the tunate few who were permitted to black camel-hair tents of the Aimak set foot inside the walls, we need nomads were first visible. These not refer to the information regardAimaks must not be confounded ing Herat which Lieutenant Yate with the very numerous and power- has taken pains to amass. By ful group of clans in the vicinity Zindajan and Rauzanak, passing of Herat itself, who are known by on the left the ruined fortress of the name of the Chahar Aimaks. Ghorian, which Yar Mahomed deThe Aimaks south of the Du-shakh stroyed in 1843 to curry favour range are a nondescript mixture of with the Shah, or more probably Nurzais, Alizais, and Parsiwans, in return for a direct bribe, the husbandmen and shepherds for the route of the Commission led up to most part.
Kuhsan, the station where the prePahra, one of the villages where parations for its special work was the Commission halted, about 20 to commence. Lieutenant Yate