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troops from beyond the Affghan passes, the affairs of Sindh and the whole Indus frontier appear to have attracted the particular attention of government; for certain conditions were soon after proposed to the Amirs, which were unexpected, and to which they could not readily acquiesce. The new treaty thus presented to the Talpur chiefs, generally including both the Khyrpur and Hyderabad families, was considered to have for its leading features as an ultimatum, and in supercession of all former arrangements, though why does not yet appear, the cession in perpetuity of the towns of Karrachi, Tattah, Lukkur, Bukkur, and Bori, with a strip of land on each bank of the river ;-the abolition of all tolls and transit duties of any kind throughout the Sindhian territories, and the giving over to the neighbouring chief of Bhawalpur the whole of the Khyrpur territory eastward of the river, from Bori to Lubzurkot, including those places, on condition of his also annulling all imposts on trade by the river through his territories. It will be seen that these measures were not calculated to be palatable to the Sindhian chiefs ; for independent of the loss of revenue which the cession of such important territories as these must have occasioned, a portion being made over to a foreign and inferior power, the dignity of the whole Bilúch faction was most vitally assailed ; whilst a most important point to the Amirs was at length decided against them in the infringement of their game preserves, an immediate result of our taking territory on both sides of the river. The abolition of the transit duties was an inferior question, and would have come in probably with others, which it is supposed were to be mooted, for the still further advancement of trade, and other alterations, which were required to improve our relations with Sindh generally.
Now, this is the statement of a gentleman that is particularly well informed on the subject, and who is also friendly to the British policy generally, as it has been exercised towards Sindh. He clearly describes the territorial demands that were made, in violation, as far as we yet can learn, of all our professions, promises, and negotiations previously; these being expressly and repeatedly confined to relations that were simply and exclusively commercial. And yet at the moment when the new and sudden demands are made, including territorial cessions, &c., “Sir Charles Napier," it is added in the paragraph immediately succeeding that which we have copied, " was in the field, and a march on the capital was intimated, in case of any delay or excuses in signing the treaties previously transmitted to the chiefs for that purpose."
Surely these strong-handed and abrupt proposals, together with the awful fulfilments which instantly took place, are matters for searching inquiry. But not to dwell on the question of justice and right, let us attend for a moment to the expediency and the wisdom of the inasterful measures adopted towards the Sindhians, and the questions as to value and permanence of the conquest of their territory. The paragraphs which we now copy out do not afford a very tempting prospect :
The Bilúchis are a fierce, warlike people, strongly attached to all the feelings of clanship, and connected by religion, intermarriage, and other sources of general union. Having been the means of urging the Amirs of Sindh to resist our views, will they not feel bound to support the cause of their fallen head ? and it must be remembered, that although the chiefs themselves are prisoners in the hands of the British government, their ar merous sons, brothers, and immediate followers, are yet in a position of freedom, excited by the most violent passions, and ready for every species of revenge. Among the Bilúchis, it must also be remembered, that there are no elements similar to those which in India have removed so many difficul. ties to our peaceful occupation of the country. With the Bilúchi tribes there is no hope of dismemberment of object taking place, arising from a difference of religion, questions of caste, and a mixed population of Hindus, Moslems, and native Christians. The Bilúchi chiefs, warriors, and retainers, individuals and tribes, those of the mountains and those of the plains, are unanimous. Fanaticism fans the flame, and every Moslem, urged by his own feelings of clanship, and natural fierceness of disposition, to deeds of blood, believes that he acts in coformance to the dictates of the Koran when he sepports the government of true believers, and draws his sword against the strange infidels, who are enemies to the faith of Islam. The descendants and followers of the Amirs of Sindh, who, after the battle of Minai fled to the hills, the Bilúchi chiefs who constrained them to take arms against the British-the princes who mourn their fathers' loss--all these will bind themselves to revenge upon their conquerors : and, as long as one of them remains to wield a sword, will he not do so for his chiefs and for his prophet ?
The country of Sindh is at every point open to incursions from the mountains, or the deserts: the shores of the Indus, its sand-banks and its forests, will cover bands of those warriors whenever they may meditate attack; and with the long grass and tamarisk the Sindhians now use to thatch their huts, breast-works may be thrown up as secure and murderous in their shelter as were the stockades of the Burmese. If, then, the object is to throw
open the commerce of the river Indus to all nations, it is difficult to see how this can ever be available, unless security can also be given to the persons and properties of the merchant; or in such a stream as the Indus, where the native boatmen dare not navigate after sunset, and where the craft is secured close to shore during the night, any safety can be felt, when every forest may be infested with Bilúchi warriors, vowed to carry on a harassing guerilla warfare.
Before our troops made their first campaign into Affghanistan, the merchants of Bokhara, Hirat, Caubul, and Candahar, brought down to Sindh by the pass of the Bolan and the plains of Cutch kafilas laden with rich goods of all denominations; and the safety of person and merchandise was secured by the payment of a species of black mail to the chiefs of the tribes who held these deserts and mountains in possession; a child might then lead the camels, and not a Bilúch would attempt to molest them; but after our entrance to the country these passes, filled with wild and desperate men, were no longer safe for the peaceful merchant; commerce was stopped, kafilas were robbed, and their owners murdered. The passes were thronged with warriors, and bloodshed and violence made the land a scene of unmixed
evil. As it was upon the plains and mountains, so may it now be on the river ; and the terrors of the merchant may do more to oppose the free commerce of the Indus than even the vexatious imposts of the Amirs ; while a similar evil may extend also to the agriculturists, who will fear the descent of the Bilúchi bands upon their fields, now that the exiled chiefs are thirsting for revenge on all who sought our protection, far more than they did the billeting of the Amir's followers when the crops were ripe for harvest.
According to the Captain's account, we shall now, having displaced the Sindhians, as governors, bring upon ourselves the necessity of a military occupation of the country for a period that cannot at present be defined, without improving its commerce or agriculture ; whereas, a contrary policy might have gradually accomplished the desired results, both in respect of our trade and the civilization of the people, without any lavish expenditure of men or money. We have just heard what are the threatened dangers of our position. The remedy must be looked for in the protection afforded by a large military force. This, however, will have its pecūliar evils and difficulties in Sindh, which are of diverse sorts. First, and relative to the physical :-"Excessive heat in the upper portions of the country; and in the lower, exhalations, causing malaria, as a productive source of fatal fever. For three months in the year communication between Sindh and Bombay is cut off, in consequence of the dangerous character of the surf and breakers along the coast during the south-west monsoon; therefore, the immediate change which is required to save life, when threatened by violent attacks of fever, not being procurable, the sacrifice of existence would be consequently fearful.” Again, “Unfortunately the points most likely to lie under the attacks of the Bilúchis, are those most liable to unwholesome influences.” But, secondly, “Supposing it necessary to keep in Sindh a large military force in constant equipment for service, the camp followers would, of course, be limited, and the sepoys could never be induced to serve cheerfully for any length of time in a country to which they were unable to bring their wives and families. The sufferings and hardships of various kinds that the troops would undergo, in a country held only by the sword, against the perpetual inroads and harassing attacks of Bilúchi soldiery, would dishearten them at length, and render the service unpopular; at the same time that the loss of life would draw heavily upon the service, and take from India more than could be afforded.”
There is not much of comfort and heartening in all this. Probably it might have been much better for us, as well as in respect of the future improvement of Sindh and its inhabitants, had we taken the hint given by the poor Amirs, when the rupture was threatened at the point of the sword, who said, “We do not want your connex
ion; we do not consider it an advantage; we look upon you as a pestilence in the land."
But we must leave the questions of policy in order to preserve space for some of the animated and graphic pictures which the Captain gives of the Sindhian population. His account, however, is not, taken generally, a prepossessing one. We do indeed discover in his pages pleasant glimpses of primitive manners, and various things that have the kind of attraction belonging to a government of military feudalism. The absorbing passion, too, of the Amirs for sport, "to the gratification of which they literally sacrificed a fine country, and to which every other consideration of any kind was completely subservient,” presented passages and points that were picturesque and romantic. “We value our Shikargahs,” said one chief, "as much as our wives and children." These chiefs, our author also admits, exhibited virtues of a domestic kind; were hospitable, courteous, and not generally given to cruelty. But, on the other hand, they were idle, selfish, avaricious, and utterly neglectful of the capabilities and interests of their country, to the ruin, spoliation, and degradation of the people; and the priesthood served to carry . the oppression and demoralization to the very lowest depths. Concerning this latter class of unworthies, we have the following notice :
Khorassan, Caubul, Pishin in Central Asia, Persia, and all parts of India contribute their quota of these blood-suckers [lazy priests), who are sure to be handsomely provided for in Sindh : many of them, indeed, have become exceedingly wealthy, and attained such influence, that they are said to have possessed the right of the entrée to the harem of the Amirs—a privilege which the chiefs themselves, if report speaks true, could not always demand. The country is at the same time literally pestered with travelling religious mendicants of all degrees, from the halt and blind to the sturdy and armed fakir : it is by no means unusual to be accosted by one of these latter, well mounted and fully equipped, who demands from the peasant a portion of his hard. earned meal with a tone and gesture plainly indicating that resistance would be in vain. The tombs of these canonised worthies are the only buildings of any note in the country: they are, unlike all others, erected of permanent materials, and form places of pilgrimage to all true believers.
The condition of a Sindhian town must be illustrative of that of the inhabitants; and if so, filth and wretchedness must reign with almost unmitigated loathsomeness. Says the Captain
It is impossible to conceive anything so filthy as the interior of a Sindhian town: every inhabitant makes a common sewer of the front of his dwelling; the narrow passage, scarcely admitting a laden camel, is nearly blocked up with dung-heaps, in which recline in lazy ease packs of fat Pariah dogs, from whom the stranger, particularly a Christian (they are true Moslems these dogs), need expect little mercy. Flies are so plentiful, that the chil
dren's faces are nearly hidden by them, and it is utterly impracticable in a butcher's or grocer's shop, to discern a particle of what is exposed for sale. Add to these mere outlines, crowded streets of filthy people, an intolerable stench, and a sun which would roast an egg; some faint idea may be formed of a Sindhian town or city. The inhabitants generally sleep on the roofs of their houses for coolness.
On great occasions a more picturesque variety presents itself in the streets and the bazaars.
The haughty Moslem, mounted on his fine Khorassan steed, decorated with rich trappings, himself wearing the Sindhian cap of rich brocade, and a scarf of gold and silk, jostles through the crowd, between whom a way is opened by the Sindhian soldiers, who precede and follow him : then follows the Affghan, with a dark blue scarf cast over his breast, his long black hair falling in masses on his shoulders, his olive cheek tinted by the mountain breeze, and his eye full of fire and resolve. We have also the Seyud of Pishin in his goat's-hair cloak, the fair Herati, the merchant of Candahar, with flowing garments and many-coloured turban, the tall Patan with heavy sword, and mien calculated to court offence, while among the rest is the filthy Sindhian, and the small, miserable-looking Hindu, owning perhaps lacs in the neighbouring streets, but fearing the exactions of the Amirs. These present a fair sample of the groups who crowd the principal street of Shikarpur; but we miss the wild Bilúchi with his plaited hair and ponderous turban, his sword, matchlock, and high-bred mare; but the freebooter of the desert loves not cities, and is rarely seen in them.
Again, where every thing else was mean and penurious, in the Shikargahs, or hunting grounds, all was lavish ; indefinite expense was incurred in the maintenance of these preserves and of their keepers; and when a sporting expedition was on foot, the indolence and apathy of the chiefs were thrown off, and all became wild and imposing excitement. Respect of persons was lost in the tumult. “Ragged Bilúchi huntsmen and retainers jostled princes and prime ministers, each exciting the other, and clamorously vaunting his deeds, particularly if the more glorious game of a tiger had been numbered with the slain."
On the subject of costume we have these particulars :
The costume of the Sindhian Amirs differed only from that of the Bilúchis, and others of their subjects, in the costliness of its materials ; and on ordinary occasions it was as plain as that of their retainers : its description is well given by an old writer, “ a compound, like their characters, of foreign habits, jackets and caps, unseemly imitations of India and Persia, drawers shaped like those of the Turks, and of monstrous magnitude.” The whole value and most distinguishing features in a Sindhian chief's dress consists, first, in the richness of the Lúnghí, Cashmere shawl, or other stuff, bound round the waist; and, secondly, in the materials composing the cap, which, with the Amirs, was usually of Guzirat Kenkaub, deeply brocaded with gold or silver tissue; and thirdly, in the sword or sword-belt: these were invariably highly mounted in gold, and of immense value, the shields
VOL. II. (1843.) NO. IV.