Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

· From Casmir, the traveller accompanied a caravan through several independent principalities, extending from that country to the Indus, which he crossed twenty miles above Attoc, where it is about a mile in breadth. “Peshawur is a large, populous, and opulent city, governed, with the de: pendent districts, by, an Afgan officer, who remits to the capital (Cabul) a revenue of seven lacs of rupees. The road from the Indus to Peshawur has nearly a west and by sputh direction, and the country to Akora is sandy and interspersed with stones; thence to Peshawur, are seen many tracts of culo tivation. This city is a considerable mart, but the heat is intense ; and notwithstanding the great resort of merchants, it has no Caravansera. From Peshawur to Cabul, the road runs parallel with the river, and is bordered by high mountains in, habited by the rude Afgans; who infest it by their predatory incursions, and, despising the pacific disposition of Timur Shah, insulted his authority even under the gates of his capital.

• Cabul is a walled city, about a mile and half in circumference, and situated on the eastern side of a range of two united hills, describing generally the figure of a semicircle. The fortification, which is of a simple construction, with scarcely a ditch, and the houses built of rough stones, clay, and unburned bricks, exhibit a mean appearance, and are ill-suited to the grandeur which I expected to see in the capital of a great empire. But the Afgans are a rude unlettered people, and their chiefs have little propensity to the refinements of life, which indeed their country is ill qualified to gratify. From the Indus to the western limit of this extensive territory, (the Sultan's dominions include the greater part of Khorasan,) there is an invariable deficiency of wood; insomuch that the lower class of people in the northern quarter suffer as much, perhaps, from a want of fuel in the winter season, as those of other countries would do from a scarcity of provisions.'. . This quarter of Afganistan, possessing but few Indian produce tions, receives sugars and cotton cloths, chiefly from Peshawur, whither it sends iron, leather, and tobacco. · To Candahar it exports iron, leather, and lamp oil, whence the returns are made in sundry manufactures of Persia and Europe, with a large supply of melons of an excellent sort. The Tartars of Bokhara bring to Cabul the horses of Turkistan, fură, and hides ; the latter resembling those in Europe called Bulgar ; the amount of which is applied to the purchase of indigo, and other commodities of India. The adjacent parts of Usbec Tartary, of which Balkh is the capital, hold a species of dependency on Timur Shah.'--..

• The Afgans are the indigenous possessors of a tract of country, which stretches from the inountains of Tartary to certain parts of the gulf of Cambay and Persia ; and from the Indus to the confines of Persia. The inhabitants of this wide domain have no written character, and speak a language peculiar to themselves. They are a robust, hardy race of men, and being generally addicted to a state

of of predatory warfare, their manners largely partake of a barbarous insolence, and they avow a fixed contempt for the occupations of civil life. Though in some of our histories of Asia, the natives of Afganistan are denominated Tartars, I am prompted to say, that they bear no resemblance to those people, either in their persons, manners, or language.'

Ahmed Khan commanded a body of Afgans in the service of Nadir Shah. After the assassination of that barbarous con. queror, Ahmed, though attacked by the insurgents, effected a retreat to Cabul, with his followers; where an immense trea. sure fell into his hands. With these resources, he laid the foundation of an independent government, including Af ganistan, Gour, Multan, Sind, and Casmir, in which he was succeeded in 1773 by his son Timur Shah. This prince, destitute of the military genius of his father, saw the more distant districts of his southern dominions throw off his authority. His successor, Zuman Shah, who now fills the throne, is reported (in 1796) to have carried his arms as far as Lāhor, when he was recalled by intestine commotions. Mr. Forster was told, when at Cabul, that the whole force of Timur Shah did not exceed thirty thousand men, nor his revenue amount to more than a million of our money. " Exclusive of his Af. gan and Indian dominions, Timur Shah is possessed of a large division of Khorasan; which, taking in the city of Herat, extends on the north to the vicinity of Nishabor and Turshish, and on the south to the lesser Irac.'

Letter 14. London. Unfortunately for Mr. Forster, à Georgian at Cabul discovered that he was a Christian, and persuaded him to resume his journey in that character; an error which, more than once, nearly procured for him the sufferings--if not the honors-of martyrdom.' In prosecuting the route from the Indies to the shore of the Caspian, we have an account of the most considerable places lying in the tract, and of a country wearing generally the appearance of sterility and depopulation.

Gázna, formerly the capital of an extensive and powerful empire, in which a Mahmud reigned, and a Ferdousi sang, is now levelled with the dust! The town stands on a hill of moderate height, at the foot of which runs a small river, whose borders are decorated by some fruit gardens. Its slender existence is now maintained by certain Hindu families, who support a small trafhc, and supply the wants of a few Mohammedan residents. From Gazna to Killat, the country has the general aspect of a desert; and, except some small portions of arable land contiguous to the places of habitation, no other culture is to be seen. At Poti, it becomes populous and fertile,

and

and improves as we approach Candahar. This city, comprised within an ordinary fortification of about three miles in circumference, and of a square form, is populous and flourishing : and lying in the great road which connects India with Persia and Tartary, it has been long a distinguished mart. The city is abundantly supplied with provisions ; the fruits are of an excellent quality; and the extensive range of shops occupied by Hindu traders attests the liberty and protection which they enjoy at Candahar. A son of Timur Shah governs the city with a tract of dependent territory, which produces, it is said, a revenue of eighteen lacs of rupees; and it may justly be concluded, from the appearance of all classes of people, that this collection is made without any extraordinary rigor. The environs of Candahar occupy an extensive plain, covered with fruit gardens and cultivation, and intersected with numerous streams, of so excellent a quality as to become proverbial ; and the climate is happily tempeted between the heat of India and the cold of Gazna.

The road from Candahar to Gimmuch leads to the west, or west by north; thence to Herat, Mr. Forster apprehends, it has nearly a northern course. The country is generally open, and interspersed with barren rocky hills, of a moderate height. The soil is light and sandy.

• Herat (the capital of Khorasan) is a smaller city than Candahar, but maintains a respectable trade ; and the market place occupying å long street, covered with an arched roof, is filled with shops of various wares. Bread, rice, and flesh meats, with numerous fruits and vegetables, are cheap and abundant. Coarse woollens of a strong texture are manufactured in the adjacent districts; a great part of which, made into garments, are exported into various parts of northern Persia. Surtouts of sheep skins, with the wool in the inside, are seen hanging at almost every shop, and are used by all classes of people in the winter season. A small quantity of European commo dities is brought to this city from the gulf of Persia, consisting of French broad cloths, cutlery, small looking-glasses, and prints ; but their low prices shew that the demand is very limited. The police of Herat is judiciously régulated, and the administration of justice vi: gorous.'

On joining his new associates of the Caravan from Herat, our traveller found it expedient to resume the Mohammedan character. The district of Dochabad forms the western bouna dary of Timur Shah. Thence to Turshish, extends a barren waste on which is neither an inhabitant nor the least token of vegetation. This space is held by Abdulla, 'an independent Persiàn chief. Adjoining to old Turshish, which is of small compass, and surrounded by a wall, Abdulla has built a new

town,

town, in an angle of which stands the Caravanserai. This city supports a considerable commerce.

Shahrût, with its independent districts, including Nasirabad, per. tains properly, I believe, to the Khorasan division, though it now holds of Asterabad, which with Mazanderan and Hazar-tirib is go. verned by Aga Mohammed Khan, one of the most important chiefs now remaining in Persia. The town of Shahrût is small, and surrounded in some parts with a slight earthen wall. The houses from á want of wood are built of unburnt bricks, and covered with a flat arch of the same materials. Many people are seen in this vicinity, whose noses, fingers, and toes, have been destroyed by the frost, which is said to be severer at Shahrût, than any part of Persia.'

A very extensive forest separates Mazanderan from Astera. " bad: but the country opens in the vicinity of Sari, the capital of Aga Mohammed ; where verdant hills and dales, encircled by streams of delicious water, and purified by gentle gales, present a scene that communicates ineffable delight.

• Sari is rather a small town, but crowded with inhabitants, many of whom are merchants of credit, who resort thither for the purpose of supplying the chief and his officers with articles of foreign produce. The walls of the town are kept in good condition, and the ditch though narrow is deep, and sufficiently tenable against any force now existing in this country.'

From Sari, Mr. Forster proceeded to Musgidsir, a small town on the Caspian, where he embarked in a Russian vessel for Bacu. From Bacu he proceeded by a tedious and perilous navigation to Astracan, and thence by land to Petersburgh, taking Moscow in his route.

Such are the outlines of a narrative from which we have derived much amusement, and some information. The pecu. liarities of national character and eastern manners are amply detailed ; and the obstacles which, at every step, impeded the progress of our traveller, evince the misery which the turbuleat and rapacious despots of Asia entail on the victims of their ambition. It afforded some relief to turn our attention to the estimable qualities which frequently discovered themselves in very obscure stations; and it is impossible to remark without complacency the conciliating pliability, and the good-humour, with which our author conformed himself to the customs and prejudices of his various associates.

The assistance which geography has derived from Mr. For. ster's journey has been very important; history owes him less; and we are frequently surprised at the inaccuracies which he commits in his account of past transactions. In addition to those which we have already pointed out, we will only state the following example : Persia, says Mr. Forster, remained subject to the Khalifat, until conquered by Togrul Beg :-but

at

at that period Persia had long been dismembered from the empire of the Khalifs, and Togrul found the western portion possessed by Malic al Rehim, a Sultan of the race of Buia,' while the Sultans of Gazna occupied the east. The term Saracen, he imagines, is derived from Sehara ; which, in Arabic, signifies a desert : but we think that it is manifestly derived from Sherkin, which signifies eastern.

These volumes are extremely defective in having neither Index nor Table of Contents. Such omissions deserve serious reprobation.

Art. II. Mr. Collins's Account of the English Colony in New South

Wales. [Article concluded; see Rev. for November. ] HAVING noticed that part of Mr. Collins's work which related,

in the form of journal, the various transactions which had occurred in the New South Wales colony from its commencement to September 1796, we have now to observe that to this division of the volume Mr. Collins has subjoined an account of the connected colony at Norfolk Island ; and an Appendix, in which he treats exclusively of the Religion, Habitations, Customs, and Manners of the Natives of New South Wales.

Many particulars of the state of Norfolk Island had been given in the Journal, by which it appeared that its affairs were generally in a much more prosperous state than those of the parent settlements of South Wales; and the account here given, which is extracted from the papers of Mr. King, the Lieut. Governor of the island, is calculated to make a still more favourable impression of the state and advantages of that insular branch of the colony. There were on the island 240 settlers, exclusively of officers. Of those who, though not settlers, lived independently by their own labour, the number was 130; and of convicts whose term of transportation was not yet ex .. pired, there were 136.

The island contains 11,000 acres; the soil varying be. tween a rich brown mould and a light red earth. From the · sides of the steep hills, the rain in the winter months washes down the mould, and leaves only a grey marly substance which is incapable, in that state, of cultivation : but these hills, which are of easy ascent, preserve their depth of soil, and in many instances have borne six successive crops of wheat.- Of the 11,000 acres, there are not 200 which might not be cultivated to the greatest advantage ; and, in fact, the full half of the island is already cleared of timber for the public use, or marked out in lots for settlers.

The

« AnteriorContinuar »