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Later than him considerably, an amiable and accomplished Italian visited Bagdad, Pietro della Valle; and his letters are still charming. He also married, but at legitimate intervals, two ladies of the country,and left descendants at Rome. Before the close of the century, it was a feat to visit Mesopotamia, of which travellers spoke boastingly afterwards, but though the danger of coming to an untimely end is as great as ever, all credit for the risk is gone : the country is thoroughly well known, and Colonel Chesney will be entitled to the title of the most pains-taking, as well as the last of real travellers, for his book has left us very little more to require,
We have already noticed the labours of Layard and Rawlinson; but so notorious are they, that they scarcely need it. Another servant of the East India Company has lately explored a virgin field in the neighbourhood of Mesopotamia, and brought clearly to light the remnant of the old Chaldean Church, who, nestled in the mountainous defiles of the Tyaree, are miscalled Nestorians. The Rev. M. Badgeer twice visited these people, and his two volumes show how earnest he was on the subject : they are not the only representatives of Christendom, for the remnants of the Syrian Church, known as the Jacobites, are scattered in the tracts between the Euphrates and Tigris. Both are sadly depressed and degraded, and the first sight of their rites and their practices is startling. European Christians are accustomed to see their faith under very favourable externals, surrounded by all that art, wealth and learning can give. The well beneficed Minister wonders how people could possibly have burnt incense in censers to creeping things and abominable beasts, how they could have wept for Thammuz, or worshipped the sun with their faces turned to the East. The Baptist in his snug conventicle, when ready to step down swathed with flannel into the tank of warm water, shudders at the idea of his forefathers having burnt sacrifices under every green tree. Now all these things depend upon the degradation of the worshipper, and his means of knowing better: those only who have conversed with the Ministers of the degraded Churches, and taken the measure of their intellectual capacity, can form an idea of the position of the flock,who through that most imperfect channel can derive their only supply of religious truth. Christianity in Syria and Mesopotamia is little better than idolatry: the idols worshipped are as shapeless and hideous—the prayers, and prostrations as soulless—and who shall say, whether the benefit is not as fruitless.
Major James Abbott, in Huzara.
It is contrary to all rules of Reviews to admit replies to Articles, but as we have departed from the standing practice, by publishing Sir Henry Lawrence's Paper on Sir Charles Napier's Posthumous Volume, and as Major Abbott considers that he and Sir Charles have not had fair play in our pages, and as any contribution to the history of an eventful period, by so eloquent a writer as Major Abbott, must prove interesting; we once more break cur rule, by publishing a letter from him, graphically depicting his own position in Huzara, during the Punjab insurrection.
To the Editor of the Calcutta Review.
In the Review of Sir Charles Napier's Posthumous Works, which forms part of your volume for March last, the Reviewer, writing in his own name, has these words :—
"Sir Charles Napier has recorded that Major Abbott held Huza'ra in perfect subjection during the war, and without any troops. 'This is, like most of Sir Charles' assertions, wholly incorrect; the 'fact being, that nearly the whole of Huzara was in the enemy's • hands."
After this passage, follows praise from lips which I honor. But praise that must be received with caution, as the partial tribute of friendship.
It is because the words above quoted are unjust to Sir Charles Napier, and because they give an altogether erroneous impression of my position in Huzara, that I trouble you with these observations. The voice of the Reviewer in question will be a potent authority in the after histories of this period; and any error in his statement he will thank me for setting right.
When Moolraj accomplished the murder of our Officers at Multan, I was the British Superintendent, Sirdar Chuttur Singh was the Sikh Governor of Huzara.
When, by the murder of Col. Canava, Chuttur Singh had left no doubt of his purpose of rebellion, he had at his command six regiments of regular infantry, twelve guns, seventy zumbooras, and about five hundred horse, with thirty forts and castles, each garrisoned, provisioned and furnished for a siege of six months.
I had 200 armed peasants, twenty-four sappers, and about 15,000 Rupees in treasure. No guns, no zumbooras, no cavalry, no bayonets, to support me in my approaching contest.
But the hearts of the people were with me. I ordered them to rise; and, in about a fortnight, of all Huzara, so lately subject to Chuttur Singh, comprising an area, including irregularities of surface of about 4,948 square miles, and commanded by his thirty forts and castles, there remained to him only five forts and two isolated circles of level plain ; one in Pukli, one at Hurkishengurh, extending just so far as the fire of his guns could reach.
Of the two forces occupying these circumscribed areas, that in Pukli was held in a state of close siege for six weeks, by my Assistant, Lieut. Daniel Robinson, of Engineers; and would have been destroyed, had it attempted to quit the strong position it had taken up. It was in the greatest extremity, when Chuttur Singh brought his whole force to its relief, and the treachery of some of my apparent partisans, and the cowardice of others, opened the path before him.
Of the five forts left to Chuttur Singh, Mansera and Nowa Shihr were evacuated as his force retreated from Huzara, six weeks after the commencement of his rebellion. Simulkund was closely blockaded by me for two months, when the garrison evacuated it, covered by Chuttur Singh's whole force, who, however, were not suffered to effect this purpose without considerable loss, in a skirmish lasting the whole day.
At the end of two months, the Sikh authority in Huzara was confined to the defences of Fort Hurkishengurh, and to the glacis around it.
Such continued the state of things for several months, and until a few daysprevious to the battle of Goojrat; when the more powerful chieftains of Lower Huzara losing heart, deserted to Dost Mahommed Khan, (whose army, 12,000 strong, were camped in sight) and invited his son with two regiments of infantry, four guns, and about 3,500 horse into Huzara.
As I had only 120 hor3e, no efficient guns, no drilled infantry, no bayonets, I could not meet this force in the open plain. As the chiefs of Lower Huzara were in the enemy's camp, and as the enemy, by sweeping around the advanced and isolated post I had hitherto occupied, threatened to cut off my communication with Cashmere, from whence my treasure was derived; I had no choice but to fall back upon the centre of my district. And thus the Duranis, for about eight days, were masters of the open plain about Hurkishengurh, an area of about ninety square miles; not, however, venturing beyond it. The news of the victory at Gujrat dispersed them in the most childish panic, and the fort Hurkishengurh surrendered to me.
This strong little fort, standing in the open plain, I could Dot at any time have invested, without devastating the plain around it, and thus bringing upon the people of Huzara certain misery, for the sake of a very uncertain result.
For the Durani army, strong in cavalry, could at any time sweep the plain around this fort, and I was so crippled in means, as seldom to have even gunpowder for more than two hours' action.
My armed peasants, however, collected revenue almost to the muzzles of the guns of this fort, and when the garrison, 1,000 strong, presumed to sally; my horse, headed by my gallant friend, Mir Zemaun Khan, fell upon them in beautiful style, and drove them pall mall back into the fort with great slaughter. So hot was the onset, that the fort itself might have been captured; but that the chief, in affectionate reverence for my commands, halted at the town, to prevent the plunder of the shop-keepers.
From this brief, but correct sketch, of actual circumstances, the reader will be able to judge whether Sir Charles Napier has greatly exaggerated in saying that I held Huzara in complete subjection throughout the war. If a garrison, prisoners to their own glacis, be an exception sufficient to nullify his general assertion: it surely does not justify his Reviewer in saying, that nearly the whole of Huzara was subject to the enemy. Had such been the case, the Sikhs had never met us on the nearly level plains of Chilianwala and Goojrat: but would have opposed us on the very strong ground of the Sind Sagur Doab; where, with such generalship as we could command, the result must have been very uncertain. But they dared not fight, with Huzara hostile to them in their rear: for in case of defeat, that fierce people would have exterminated the relics of their army.
Some true and many false views have been given to the world, relative to those eight troublous months. A powerful party is concerned in taking a particular view of the origin and nature of that struggle, and at the head of this party is a high functionary of the state, who lately held vice-regal authority in India. Reverence for him might have kept me silent, had he not condescended to challenge me in the senate of my country. The honor of breaking a lance with so noble an opponent, is irresistible.
If I have been so long silent, it has not been for want of matter; nor, as I trust, of argument, to bear along with me the judgment of my countrymen. In the confidence of the people I ruled, I had means of intelligence seldom, if ever before possessed by any European in India ; but I have in fact been overwhelmed with the duties, civil, military, and political, of a large border district.
If it be reserved for my pen to remove the invidious cloak of silence which has fallen upon his actions, who, next to Edwardes, was undoubtedly the hero of that campaign ; I mean, of course, Major John Nicholson; I shall have rendered history and my country acceptable service ; I shall have set before the rising generation an example of devotion, promptitude and daring, which will incite them to great deeds when opportunity occurs j and shall have enriched the roll of my country's worthies, with one more noble name.
I am, Sir, Yours very faithfully,
Ishapoor, August 5, 1854.
All this may be very true, and we doubt not that what Major Abbott narrates, of Aw own personal knowledge, is strictly so, and yet the portion of Sir Henry Lawrence's statement that regards him and Sir Charles Napier, may be equally correct. We make thus .much reservation, for it is clear from the above letter, that " almost the whole of Huzara was not in the enemy's hands ;" as in the hurry of writing a paper he had no opportunity of revising, Sir Henry Lawrence asserted ; but it is equally certain, on Major Abbott's own shewing, that Huzara was not held by him " in perfect subjection during the war," which is the question at issue. Major Abbott's letter, therefore, leaves the question, as regards himself, much where he found it. He did his duty nobly, but he did not hold, and could not possibly have held, all Huzara during the insurrection.
Major Abbott promises to give to the world a full account of the transactions in which he bore so distinguished a part, and we, with many others, probably including Sir Henry Lawrence, will welcome a volume on Huzara, from Major Abbott's pen.
With the double purpose of showing what Sir Henry Lawrence did say, and what he omitted to say, we republish his remarks in full:—
"Sir Charles Napier has recorded that Major Abbott held Huzara 'in perfect subjection 'during the war, and without any troops.' 'This is, like most of Sir Charles' assertions, wholly incorrect ; the 'fact being, that almost the whole of Huzara was in the enemy's 'hands. Abbott is, however, a most gallant and scientific soldier. 'Had he not been a good man, and had he not won the affections of 'the people, he could not have stood his ground at all. His credit 'is not in having performed impossibilities, but, in having-, as an 'isolated European, without guns, powder or money, maintained his 'position throughout the war, in the midst of a race of fanatical 'Mahommedans, against Dost Mahommed, as well as the Sikhs."
Perhaps, had the above paragraph given, in full, all that Sir Charles Napier said, at page 414 of his book, of Major Abbott, the latter would have perceived, that Sir Henry Lawrence's intention was not to insinuate any short-comings on his part, but to offer another proof of the inaccuracy of the Commander-in-Chief, who, with full opportunities of hearing the truth, was publishing to the world that all politicals in the Punjab, except one, had failed to acquire the confidence of the people, and therefore required to be bolstered up by battalions.
In Ids text at page 414, Sir Charles Napier 3ays, "I have seen 'Major Abbott, who is in civil charge of the Huzara country, and he
• is decidedly against any additional troops, whether regular or ir
• regular, being sent into his district." And in a note adds, " Major 'Abbott held this whole district in perfect subjection during the war, 'and without any troops. He won the confidence of the people, and
• they stood by him I" ,
This last line, with its note of exclamation, Sir Henry Lawrence