« PreviousContinue »
REVIEW OF EASTERN NEWS.
No. XLI. Toe May mail, which has reached London in the short space of 35 days, brings papers to the following dates :-Calcutta, March 22nd ; Madras, March 23rd ; Bombay, April 1st, and China, February 12th.*
The advices from China represent affairs as nearly in the same state in which they were the preceding month. No sensible progress seems to have been made in the negociations, and although Captain Elliot, on the 30th January, announced officially that the negociations were proceeding satisfactorily, one of the most important conditions of the preliminary arrangements, namely, the opening of the trade on the 2nd February (ten days after the commencement of the Chinese new year), had been violated. It is some consolation to find that the home government has tardily been awakened to the necessity of sending a more efficient person
to manage our affairs in China, and that Capt. Elliot is to be superseded by Colonel Sir Henry Pottinger, Bart., of the Bombay army, who proceeds from England by the next mail packet.
The obscurity, which overhangs the existing state of our relations with China, is somewhat cleared up by the conversation which took place in the House of Commons on the 6th May, in which Lord John Russell stated that the accounts, which had been received by government, were to the effect that the preliminary arrangement made between Captain Elliot and the Imperial Commissioner had not been ratified by the Emperor, “ and, indeed, had not been finally concluded between Captain Elliot and the Plenipotentiary of the Chinese government.” But this preliminary arrangement, bis Lordship added, had been generally disapproved of by Her Majesty's government, and conclusive orders had been sent out with respect to ulterior proceedings; further, that Capt. Elliot had been recalled, and Sir Henry Pottinger appointed Plenipotentiary.
Turning from this portion of the present month's Eastern intelligence, which is not calculated to inspire feelings of exultation, we derive but little consolation from the position of affairs on the Western frontier of our
* By a mistake of the printer, in our last Review, the dates were confused, Calcutta news bearing the date of January instead of February, and China, February instead of January. Asiat.Journ.N.S.VOL.35.No.137.
Indian empire, which seems to leave the Indian Government the embarrassing alternative of preparing for a perpetual succession of outbreaks within a vast circle, the periphery of which touches the Sutlej, Herat, the Gulf of Persia, and almost the Caspian Sea; or to pursue a system of conquest and appropriation of territory, the very idea of which would have terrified the critics of Lord Wellesley's administration. The present period must be regarded as the crisis of the future fate of our Indian possessions ; upon the policy now pursued may depend, though perhaps insensibly, or united by unseen links, the series of events that will terminate in the loss of those possessions, or in their establishment upon a firm and imperturbable basis.
The sum of the intelligence to which we allude is, that the Punjab is in such a state of disorder and internal disorganization as to render the interference of a British army,ếan interference which, according to some accounts, has been desired by the nominal ruler, indispensable; that Shah Kamran, the sovereign of Herat, or rather his vizier Yar Mahomed Khan, has completely thrown off the mask, and adopted measures so decidedly hostile to his English allies, as to compel the sudden retreat of Major Todd, who, with the whole of the British mission, had actually arrived at the fort of Gherisk, on his way to Candahar; that the Persians are about to march again upon Herat; that the Ghilzies were still in a state of rebellion against Shah Shooja, and that the British arms have suffered a reverse in Scinde and Beloochistan.
There is a great want of precision even in the latest accounts of these occurrences. No reasonable doubt, however, can be entertained, that the British mission has left Herat under circumstances which will render hostilities necessary or expedient; but the advance of the Persians upon that fortress can only be explained, under these circumstances, upon the hypothesis that they are allies, not enemies, of Shah Kamran. Persia itself, however, is full of disorder, and it is improbable that Mahomed Shah would engage in an expedition either against or jointly with the Herat sovereign. It cannot be doubted that the turbulent subjects of Shah Shooja, and particularly the Ghilzies, will be slow to submit to his authority; and it is too true that, in endeavouring to enforce that authority, the British troops have sustained repulse and loss. It appears that, on the 20th February, a detachment of Native Insantry and Cavalry, under Lieut. Col. Wilson, marched to the attack of the Kujjuk fort of Seebee, in order to compel the payment of tribute by the Kujjuks to Shah Shooja. In reconnoitring the fort, Col. Wilson received a wound, which disabled him, and of which he subsequently died. The command then devolved upon Captain Rollinys, who ordered an assault. The storming party consisted of two companies of sepoys (no European troops were with the detachment), who met with the most determined resistance. The fort had three gates, one of which only was assaulted, which enabled the enemy to bring all their strength to bear on that single point. The sepoys were driven back with great loss; Lieut. Falconer, who commanded them, was killed, and Lieut. Shaw badly wounded; the enemy also suffered
severely, four of their chiefs having fallen. A party of artillerymen effected a lodgment under the gateway, but their commanding officer, Lieut. Creed, was also slain, and as night approached, the troops were recalled to camp. In the morning, the fort was found to be evacuated, and has since been destroyed. This untoward event has led to preparations on an extensive scale to quell effectually the rebellious spirit of the Beloochees. The state of the weather, and the inundated condition of the country, would probably postpone their punishment for a time.
Some mortifying comments upon this affair are made in the newspapers; the detachment is said to have consisted of 1,200 men (with a force under Gen. Brookes within 50 miles), which was amply sufficient to take the place, and the failure is attributed to the want of European troops.
The other affair is improperly termed a reverse. An action, it appears, took place in the Khybur country between Col. Shelton's brigade, and a tribe of Khyburrees, in which the latter were defeated ; but two European officers were killed : Captain Douglas by a stray shot, and Lieut. Pigou by an accidental explosion of gunpowder. We have, however, no particulars of this affair. The negociations with the Murrees seem to be in a fair way
of favourable termination; and even the Brahooes appear to have had enough of war. Several of the Brahooe chiefs have made their peace with us, and Nosseer Khan was only waiting an assurance of personal safety to surrender.
Amongst the domestic incidents at Calcutta, we may notice the turn which the appearance of the Mauritius coolies has given to the question of their emigration, and to the application made to the Supreme Court for a writ of Habeas Corpus in the matter of Tuanku Mahomed Saad. If such writs are demandable, it would be dangerous to bring state prisoners within the verge of the Supreme Court: Dost Mahomed Khan, who, it appears, is about to visit Calcutta, may, by virtue of such a writ, be brought before the Court, and discharged.
Under the head of Bombay will be seen some further particulars connected with the manner in which the natives at that Presidency expressed their opinions towards Mr. Farish,-in which we have endeavoured to hold the scales equal. With the same motive, we take this occasion to say, we are assured that the statement made in some of the Bombay papers, and referred to in our last Review, that at the sale of that gentleman's furniture the natives abstained from bidding, and consequently the prices were reduced, is erroneous; that, on the contrary, the actual amount realized exceeded by more than one-fourth what the auctioneer had previously estimated as likely from the usual run of such sales ; that a great majority of the purchasers were Natives; and one of the principal articles, a close carriage, was purchased by one of the wealthiest and most influential of the Hindu community.
DIARY OF AN ASSISTANT SURGEON.
No. I. On the 2nd January, 182—, the good ship K-s sailed from the Downs on her first voyage to Madras. Let all who have regard for their temper, comfort, or time, above all things eschew a 350-ton vessel on her first voyage to India. Johnson's apophthegm, that life on board ship is imprisonment with the chance of being drowned, does not half express the horrors of such a situation. If the weather is hot, you are suffocated; if cold, you are starved; if wet, you are soaked ; if things go on smoothly, you are ennuyèd to death ; if roughly, you most probably go to the bottom, or have your brains (if you have any) knocked out by a mutinous crew.
The first week of the voyage was, to me, a period of insensibility to all earthly matters, save the concentrated miseries of sea-sickness: my whole powers of conception and perception being absorbed by that evil, with the addition of the odour of bilge-water, and rough black tea without milk. Poor R., whose hammock was hung alongside of mine, if he “gave not up his life,” at least earnestly entreated for death ; for every now and then, amidst the throes and agonies of a revolting stomach, I could hear him sigh heavily, and exclaim, “Oh! let me die in peace !”
The ninth day, however, saw us both right well and hearty upon deck. We were the only passengers, and especially bound together by more ties than that which Rochefoucault calls a “mutuality of misery;" inasmuch as, although we had never met or seen each other before, we came from the same county, were proceeding to the same presidency, and were mutually acquainted with many of the same people. But the ides of one misfortune were the calends of another; for, on the tenth day from Deal, we entered the Bay of Biscaya place connected always, even before personal acquaintance, in my train of ideas, with all that is terrific in weather, water, and wind, and of wbich I never heard any thing good, except Braham's song. I have hardly ever known an amateur voyager, who may have steamed or sailed from Southampton to Havre, or from Brighton to Dieppe, who has not happened to meet with “the most violent storm the captain ever was out in." Now, in order to avoid the same spirit of exaggeration, I shall only say that, if there have been many heavier gales in the Bay of Biscay than the one which we experienced, there have been many lighter; and let its results speak.
After quitting the Channel, and making some four hundred miles of westing across the base, or rather somewhat parallel with the base, of the Bay of Biscay, the wind, which had been gradually veering round, came on to blow from the west ; it grew to a stiff breeze, accompanied by misty rain; in a few hours it increased to a gale of wind ; the sea rapidly rose; the rain fell in torrents; by eight o'clock at night of the tenth day, we were hove-to, under bare poles, with only a trisail, set in a hurricane. There are hundreds who have been in a similar predicament, and know its miseries. The hissing, howling wind, raging and spitting fire amongst the shrouds and rigging, with a sound as of the fiery pinions of the wings of a demon flapping the Stygian lake; the sea lashed into a maniacal fury, its liquid mountains heaving, tossing, reiterating blow upon blow, like an hundred-armed Briareus; the vessel staggering, as if wild with terror; now aloft, riding upon the foaming crest of the wave, that shakes it as a thing despised ; now down in a trough of the sea, as if about to be engulphed. There is something grand in the outward circumstances of a storm; it is within, in the res angustæ domi, that the horrors of the gale are