Diary of a March through Sinde and Affghanistan; Copyright © www.panhwar.com
CHAPTER I.SKETCH OF THE DOORAUNEE EMPIRE.
As Affghanistan, a few years since but little known or cared for by Englishmen,has now acquired an interest in their estimation which will not soon be lost, first,as the scene of military triumph, and then, fearful reverse! the grave of a largeBritish force; as the Dooraunee empire has been the daily theme of journals; andDooraunee orders have been profusely showered upon military men anddiplomatists, it may not be amiss, before entering on my narrative, to give aslight outline of the rise and history of the Dooraunee monarchy. Names of menand of places will read more pleasantly and intelligibly, when some previousinformation has been given as to who, and what, and where they are. It isobvious that a sketch of this kind can pretend to no originality. Any one who isdisposed may read in Mr. Elphinstone’s or Mr. Conolly’s work, (my own sourcesof information,) far more than I shall give him. I merely abridge their accountsfor the information of those who either have not their works at hand, or who donot care to know more upon the subject than will enable them clearly tounderstand what follows.It is not easy to state the limits of the Dooraunee monarchy, since several partshave been rent from it, and over others it possesses little more than a nominalsovereignty. It is, according to Elphinstone, “bounded on the east by Hindoostan,on the south it may be generally said to have the Persian Gulf, and on the west, adesert extends along the whole of the frontier. Its northern frontier is formed bythe mountains of the Eastern Caucasus, which are, however, included within thewestern part of the boundary, there formed by the Oxus.” Its populationprobably exceeds fourteen millions, and is thus divided: Afghans 4,300,000;Belooches 1,000,000; Tartars of all descriptions 1,200,000; Persians 1,500,000;Indians and miscellaneous tribes 6,000,000. The capital is Kabul. The features ofthe country are, for the most part, wild and barren. Sinde is flat and sandy;Affghanistan, on the contrary, abounds with snow-clad mountains, and difficultpasses; it experiences great extremes of heat and cold, and the changes are oftensudden. Its mountains and passes are, to the utmost degree, wild, rocky, barren,and desolate, but many of the plains are highly productive. It has most of theEuropean fruits, but timber trees are scarce in Sinde, and in Affghanistan almostunknown. The people are a fine race, tall, athletic, and handsome; inAffghanistan they are remarkably fair, many of them scarcely darker thanEuropeans; they are accustomed to war from their childhood, and the history oftheir country, so far as we know it, presents a continual struggle between rival