Read CHAPTER X of The Life of Yakoob Beg Athalik Ghazi‚ and Badaulet Ameer of Kashgar, free online book, by Demetrius Boulger, on ReadCentral.com.

YAKOOB BEG’S POLICY TOWARDS RUSSIA.

Yakoob Beg had in the earlier days of his career come into contact with the Russians, and although, in the long interval between the fall of Ak Musjid and his departure from Khokand, the Russians, chiefly owing to the prostration resulting from the Crimean War, did not press on with the energy that their first advance on the Syr Darya seemed to promise, there is no doubt that the possibility of its occurrence was the foremost thought in the minds of Yakoob Beg and his contemporaries. In 1865, when the Russians threatened and eventually occupied Tashkent, and brought their frontier halfway on its journey to the Oxus, Yakoob Beg was far too much occupied with his own affairs in Kashgar to attempt any interference in Khokand. With, however, the dismemberment of Khokand and the rout of the Bokhariot army in the spring of 1866, his attention was forcibly claimed by a fact that seemed in the future to involve him as the next victim of Russian aggrandizement. In that year, too, he had not only overcome all resistance in the more important districts of Kashgaria, but he had to a greater extent than before, become responsible for the political actions of the people of this state through the deposition of Buzurg Khan. As early as 1866, it may be assumed that the new ruler of Kashgar had his attention directed to the movements of his old antagonist, by their successes against the Khokandians and Bokhariots; but it is clear that the Russians were not equally interested in his doings at this period. With the occupation of the northern portion of Khokand, the rule of Russia was brought into nearer proximity with that of the new power of Kashgar, and it became only a question of time whether the two governments were to attain a harmonious agreement, or whether a series of petty disputes was to result in a further extension of the Russian Empire, towards both India and China. The independent portion of the Khanate of Khokand still intervened, and the difficult country of the Kizil Yart mountains served the useful purpose of giving the Athalik Ghazi breathing time, ere he should arrive at a decision about his future relations with Russia. Indeed, up to this point the interest of Russia in the affairs of Kashgar had been very slight, for it does not appear that much, if any, intercourse had been carried on between the two territories in the past. Far otherwise was it in Ili, where the Russians had for many years been located as merchants or as consuls. Their station at Almatie or Vernoe, an important town and fort situated about 50 miles north of Issik Kul and 250 west of Ili itself, had in a few years become a large and flourishing city, instead of preserving its original character of a small mountain fort. Russian merchants carried on a very extensive trade by this road with Ili, Urumtsi, Hamil, and Pekin, and their relations with the Chinese merchants had attained a very satisfactory basis. It was, therefore, with no friendly feeling, that the Tungan rising in Ili was regarded by a very large section of the Russians in the neighbourhood. The disturbances that thereupon broke out, effectually put a stop to all trade in this quarter for some time, and the old traffic, or such of it as continued, with China had to be conducted along the less direct route through Siberia. For six years, the Russians tolerated the uncertain state of affairs in Ili, where the Tungani and the Tarantchis disputed between themselves as to which should be the ruling party; but their dissatisfaction was scarcely concealed at the substitution of a native government for that of China. When, therefore, Yakoob Beg, having conquered the country south of the Tian Shan, seemed to threaten the provinces north of that barrier, it is not surprising that the Russians availed themselves of excuses for forestalling him, and for placing their commercial relations on an equally good footing as they had been in the past with the inhabitants of Ili, by a forced occupation of that territory. But the Russians were resolved to give as little umbrage as possible to the Chinese. Ili was formally acknowledged to be Chinese territory, and the Czar voluntarily promised, through his representative at Pekin, to restore it as soon as the Emperor of China was able to despatch a sufficient force to preserve order therein. This tact secured the permanent goodwill of the Chinese, and Russia obtained, in several important trade concessions, a very gratifying reward for her skilful diplomacy. Her friendly action to the Celestials was also heightened in its effect by a piece of unfortunate policy on our part. The Panthays had erected in Yunnan a Mahomedan power, which seemed to have broken off completely from Pekin, and report brought such tales to our frontier of the power and goodwill of the Sultan of the Panthays ruling in Ta-li-foo, that in an ill-advised moment we entered into negotiations with this potentate. The Chinese authorities very naturally took umbrage at this tacit support of a rebellious vassal, and all our subsequent efforts have been unable to remove the suspicions produced by our vacillating attitude on that occasion. The Russians still further preserved the appearance of friendship for China by their refusal, maintained during several years, to acknowledge the government set up in Kashgar by Buzurg Khan and Yakoob Beg. This action was however the less worthy of approval, because at that period the Russians had no immediate concern in Kashgaria. Their sole interest lay in the course of events in Jungaria, with which they were intimately connected by trade and political associations, stretching back for almost a century. Undoubtedly Jungaria was much affected by commotions in Kashgaria, and we accordingly see, when the march of events in the latter province assumed an aspect menacing to the future independence of Jungaria, the Russians taking prompt measures to secure the possession of that province for themselves. When Ili passed into the hands of Russia, the old trade revived along this route to a certain degree, and some intercourse ensued with the Tungani of Urumtsi, Manas and Hamil. Measures seem to have been taken to impress on the rulers of those cities the prudence of not interfering with merchants or travellers, and matters became to a certain degree satisfactory for Russian tranquillity. The city of Ili never, however, recovered its former prosperity, for Vernoe still remains the most important town in this region. Originally a fort constructed in 1854, as a small mountain post, to defend the road from the marauding Kirghiz, it has increased from its insignificant origin into a large settlement of Cossacks and Calmucks, and is now a very thriving community. It was, therefore, it must be remembered, primarily with Jungaria that Russia was interested. So far as the internal affairs of Kashgar were concerned, she could have disregarded the dispute between the rivals, Yakoob Beg and the Chinese; it was only when a powerful Mahomedan state was erected in Eastern Turkestan, and threatened both the independence of Ili, and also to raise up disunion in Khokand, that Russia was compelled to consider what policy it would be wise to adopt towards the recently proclaimed Athalik Ghazi. Whether it was absolutely necessary or even prudent to annex Ili, may be doubted with some reason, but it is impossible to find fault with the Russians for that step. Probably it was the most excusable of all their conquests, none the less may the decision have been founded on a misapprehension of circumstances, or it may have been premature to shut Yakoob Beg out from advancing into a region where he would have been at the complete mercy of the Russians. Nor is it clear even that Yakoob Beg had the intention, so generously attributed to him, of committing what would certainly have resulted in political extinction, viz., an advance to the northern side of the Tian Shan. The reader will, we hope, perceive that as little interest was felt by the Russians in the events transpiring in Kashgar as there was in India, and this indifference continued down at all events to the end of 1866. At that date Yakoob Beg’s enterprise had been crowned with complete success and the Russian Government, far more promptly and accurately apprised of the course of events than our Government in India, was obliged to devote some attention to this new power, whose appearance was already beginning to raise a ferment in the Mahomedan states lying to the west of Kashgar.

In 1866, however, some indefinite agreement was arrived at by the commanders of forces along the Naryn borders, to abstain from interfering with each other’s actions. The Russian forces were permitted to follow refugees from Khokand and predatory Kirghiz within the nominal frontier of Kashgar, and when occasion arose a similar right was accorded to the Kashgarian officials. By some good fortune, perhaps caused by a feeling of mutual respect, no collisions of any consequence occurred between the representatives of the two powers during these early and vague negotiations. Although the Russian governors of Siberia and Turkestan refused to acknowledge either Buzurg Khan or Yakoob Beg, they seem to have done their best to make use of these conciliatory measures along the northern frontier as a lever for inducing Yakoob Beg to make overtures to them for their support. If such was their intention the firmness of Yakoob Beg thwarted all their designs, as will be seen in the sequel. To obtain, however, some advantage out of the apparent apprehension of the Kashgarian ruler for Russian power was absolutely necessary, if only to demonstrate the perfection to which Muscovite diplomacy had attained. So, while refusing to acknowledge the new state in Eastern Turkestan and deeply deploring the departure of the Chinese, orders were given to the frontier officers to obtain the sanction of the Kashgarian officials in the neighbourhood to the construction of a bridge across the Naryn and of a military road over the Tian Shan into Kashgar. This was in 1867, and it is not to be wondered at that the Kashgarian authorities replied with a categorical refusal. To have acquiesced in this demand would have been to have placed the city of Kashgar at the complete mercy of the Russians. The position of that city is most disadvantageous in a military point of view, and the only obstacle an army advancing from Issik Kul has to encounter is the difficulty of the road from the Naryn torrent, and the general impracticability of the passes through this portion of the Tian Shan range. The Russian government was much disappointed at this rebuff experienced at the hands of a native ruler, and accordingly in great haste it was resolved that a fort should be constructed on the Naryn just within their frontier. In 1868 this fort was completed, but by that time a fresh change had taken place in the state of affairs, and hopes were entertained that an agreement might yet be arranged by peaceful means with Kashgar. During these two years there had been continual disturbances and fighting in Western Turkestan. Bokhara, instigated, according to Russian assertions, by Yakoob Beg, had joined with Khokand and Khiva in a combined uprising against Russia; but in so far as that uprising was combined it never occurred, for both Bokhara and Khokand fell an easy prey in detail to the armies of the Czar. The punishment of Khiva was reserved for a future occasion, and indeed of all the confederates Khiva was the only one which obtained any successes in the field. The most palpable result of that campaign was the acquisition of Samarcand by Russia, and for a time all opposition seemed to be stamped out. No sooner, however, had the main Russian army returned to Tashkent than a large force invested the small garrison left in Samarcand, and the whole country rose in arms again. The Russian garrison held tightly on to its post, and, although in comparison to its strength its loss was most severe, the town was preserved until the arrival of General Kaufmann with reinforcements. Bokhara then sued for peace, which, after some delay, was concluded with the unfortunate Ameer Mozaffur Eddin. By that treaty the Russians obtained the right to place military cantonments at Kermina, Charjui, and Karshi. Kermina is situated about fifty miles east of the town of Bokhara, on the road from Katti Kurgan and Samarcand; Karshi about sixty miles south of Katti Kurgan, and half way to the Oxus; while Charjui is on the Oxus and some eighty miles west of Bokhara. Of all these the last is the most important, for thence a direct caravan route leads to Merv and Meshed. Once more, in 1870-71, Bokhara entered the field, but the enterprise collapsed through the unconcerted measures of the allies and the weakness of Khokand. During these five eventful years of rebellion amongst the races of Western Turkestan, Yakoob Beg preserved his neutrality. If the assertion is correct that he had played an underhand part in the formation of the league against Russia, assuredly he endeavoured to make his actions contradict his diplomacy. Not a Kashgarian soldier participated in the efforts made so repeatedly by Bokhara and Khokand to shake off the bonds of Russian vassalage. Like Shere Ali of Cabul, he devoted his attention exclusively to the affairs of his immediate province, and wars in the extreme east of his dominions against co-religionists were a preferable alternative to the risks attending a jehad against the most formidable enemy of Islam! Russia had indeed little to complain of in Yakoob Beg’s interference in their possessions. His instigation of premature rebellions, or, if he did not instigate them, the approval extended to them by some of his chief ministers, was the very kindest act he could have conferred on the ruling power of Turkestan, for Russia never has had anything to fear from any isolated risings among the people of this part of Central Asia. Nothing less than an unanimous and concerted rising in Western Turkestan, aided with a nucleus of regular troops and officers, such as, to go no farther, either Afghanistan can supply, or Kashgar could at one time have supplied nothing less than this will ever produce a complete catastrophe to the Russian arms, and in a short campaign of a few months send the Russian legions back to their old quarters of thirteen years ago. Whether Yakoob Beg ever was strong enough to risk the independence of his state on so important an enterprise may fairly be doubted, and he showed a commendable prudence in abstaining from hostilities when he had sufficient matters to occupy all his attention, and to task all his resources within his own borders; but assuming such to have been the case, his indifference to the suffering thereby inflicted on the Khokandians must remain a blot on his fair fame. If the part he played in these earlier plots was scarcely honourable, how much less so was his action in the last rebellion of 1875. But it may be as well to postpone considering that event until later on in this chapter. Yakoob Beg most probably took a very selfish view of the state of affairs. His own extremely uncertain tenure of power made him anxious lest any storm from beyond his frontier should wreck the frail bark in which he had asserted his claim to independence, and the whole object of his policy was simply to divert attention from himself to other quarters. The Russians above all must have their work cut out for them in repression of continual sedition in their possessions; while each day of respite witnessed Yakoob Beg in a better position for making a strenuous resistance when the time should come, according to Russian ideas, for an attempt to be made to crush his power. Viewed from this standpoint, the conduct of Yakoob Beg towards his fellow-countrymen appears in a slightly more favourable aspect, although his policy of expediency has little in it to command admiration. Yet the result answered his expectations. In 1868 the construction of Fort Naryn was the avowed preliminary measure to an occupation of Kashgar; from that danger this policy of compromise saved him. Again, in 1870, was he pronounced an incorrigible enemy of the Czar, and an expedition was prepared which was to bring him to his senses; once more a revolt in Khokand intervened to distract Russian attention and Russian arms from the Naryn to Ferghana. The expedition against Khiva in 1873 also served the purpose of diverting to another quarter the blow which should, according to many, have descended on the offending head of the Athalik Ghazi; and lastly, in 1875 the insurrection in Khokand, the most serious and the most nearly successful of all the native wars against Russia, saved him from an invasion for which every preparation had been made.

To return to the year 1868, when the Russian government had constructed the fort on the Naryn, and had openly proclaimed its intention of punishing the slight put upon it by Yakoob Beg’s refusal to permit the construction of a road over the mountains to Artosh. Up to that year the intercourse had been of a semiofficial character between the officers on either side of the frontier. We have now come to a phase of the question of a slightly different import. The Russian officials endeavoured to obtain from Yakoob Beg concessions that would be advantageous to their country, at the same time that they categorically declined to recognize his official status as an independent prince. Their antagonist was far too astute to permit himself to be out-manoeuvred by so simple a device, and his officials were quite unauthorized to enter into any arrangement without its being brought before their master in the manner consistent with his dignity. We have seen that the Russians, failing in their diplomatic chicane, had recourse to threats, although the irony of fate prevented those threats ever being put into execution. But concurrently with these efforts on the part of the Russian government, others of a different kind were being made by individuals. The Russian merchants of Kuldja contained in their ranks several men whose enterprise and courage had been remarkable in the manipulation of trade with the Chinese and the Tungani. They were not easily deterred from any undertaking which promised them brilliant remuneration, even though the risk and uncertainty might be great. The pioneers of commerce were free from the fetters that hampered official movements. It was of little moment to them who ruled in Kashgaria so long as he extended his protection to their goods and their persons whilst they were within his territory. The Russian government viewed with favour the efforts that were made to cross the Tian Shan, for on the individual fell the greatest portion of the risk, while the government profited much by the fruits of his experience. The Russian merchants were, therefore, not discouraged by their authorities when they laid their proposals before General Kolpakovsky, as English merchants would have been under similar circumstances by the authorities at Calcutta nay, it is tolerably certain that they received many inducements to persist in their intention; both their patriotism and desire for advancing their own worldly concerns were appealed to, to urge them to attempt to obtain admission into Kashgar. When, therefore, it became evident in 1868 that nothing was to be obtained from Yakoob Beg by indirect means, and when it was also decided that a military remedy would not be convenient, the field was fairly cleared for another kind of performers to begin operations.

Early in the year 1868 a Russian merchant, named Kludof, collected at Vernoe a small caravan. His chief commodities consisted of those gewgaws, which, prepared in Moscow, have been found, according to Russian experience, the most marketable articles in Western Turkestan; but, in addition to these trumpery packages, more useful necessaries, such as cotton goods and cutlery, were taken as specimens of some of the real advantages that would come in the wake of Russian trade. Kludof set out with the intention of crossing the Tian Shan by the Naryn, and making for the border town of Ush Turfan, whence Kashgar is easily reached by the high road. But he had not proceeded far beyond Fort Naryn, then in course of construction, when he was attacked by a band of marauders. With the loss of all his possessions he must still be considered fortunate in having escaped without any serious personal injury. Perhaps the robbers were inspired with some respect for the person of a Russian subject, or, as the indictment against Yakoob Beg affirms, by the express orders of that ruler, who wished to deter, without causing any serious complication with the government, Russian subjects of any kind whatever from entering his kingdom. As it happened, however, Kludof was a very determined fellow, one not easily balked when he had set his mind on accomplishing anything. The government viewed his case with commiseration, and he was assisted in collecting together another caravan of larger proportions than its predecessor. But before setting out on the same road he determined to make an effort to reach the ear of Yakoob Beg himself, and by a singular piece of good fortune he was able to do so through a Kashgarian subject residing in Kuldja. The presents, judiciously selected, with which he accompanied his letter complaining of the injury he had received at the hands of Kirghiz subjects of the ruler of Kashgar, yet only demanding as a reparation permission to come into that state as a peaceful subject of the Czar, fully propitiated Yakoob Beg, who sent a safe conduct to Vernoe for Kludof and his caravan. This merchant made a most favourable impression on the ruler of Kashgar, and it seemed at one moment as if he would achieve what all the diplomacy of the two previous years had failed in accomplishing. Even Yakoob Beg was induced to take a slight step towards a better agreement with his neighbour, for in the summer of 1868, he sent Shadi Mirza, one of his nephews, to Vernoe, requesting that he might be permitted to go on to Tashkent, to place before the governor of Turkestan certain proposals from his master for a complete understanding with Russia. Simultaneously with the despatch of Shadi Mirza by Yakoob Beg, a Russian officer, Captain Reinthal, was commissioned by General Kolpakovsky, the governor of Kuldja, to proceed to Kashgar and demand the surrender of some Kirghiz robbers, who, from within Yakoob Beg’s dominion, had sallied forth to pillage Russian merchants. They had also seized several inhabitants of Khokand and the Naryn district; and the Russian government demanded the unconditional surrender of these individuals as her subjects. Captain Reinthal was instructed to make these two demands in a peremptory way, and to convince the new government that Russia would not permit any infraction of the spirit of the treaties concluded with the old government under the Chinese. Captain Reinthal was received in a sufficiently hospitable manner, but his movements were scrupulously restricted to the city. He did not, on this occasion, learn much of importance about the country, but he was impressed favourably by the appearance of such of the army as he saw. The Kirghiz robbers were captured by the order of Yakoob Beg, but he stoutly refused to surrender them. The Russian prisoners were also kept in honourable confinement as a guarantee for the safe return of Shadi Mirza. They were, however, permitted to return to Russian territory when it became known that Shadi Mirza was progressing favourably with his mission to Tashkent. Captain Reinthal accomplished little or nothing on this embassade, and had to report, on his return to his superior, the strange tidings that the new power was resolved to play an independent part in Asia, and to answer defiance with defiance, and threat with threat. This report must have seemed scarcely credible, but there is no doubt that Captain Reinthal advised, as the result of his experience, the adoption of a lenient and friendly policy towards the new-comer. This concession to a Central Asian despot was not agreeable at head-quarters, and the question was shelved for the time. Shadi Mirza, who had been detained at Vernoe, was at last permitted to continue his journey to Tashkent, where he found General Kaufmann absent in Europe. Instructions were then issued to send him on to St. Petersburg, where he arrived in the last days of 1868. He had several informal interviews with the governor of Turkestan, but he was not received by the Czar or any of the higher officials. In fact, he was only treated as an ordinary traveller, and not as the representative of a neighbouring state. Nothing up to this had been done by the Russian government, showing that they recognized Yakoob Beg as ruler of Kashgaria. The Chinese were still, in their eyes, the de jure owners of that province, whoever might be the temporary owners de facto. On the return of Shadi Mirza to Kashgar, in January, 1869, the relations between Russia and Yakoob Beg may be said to have returned to the exact status quo ante. All the Russian demands for trade had been unsuccessful, and, except the brilliant journey of Mr. Kludof, no one had broken through the mystic charm that shut out the Garden of Asia from all foreign spectators. Their envoy, Captain Reinthal, had been treated in a precisely similar manner to that in which Shadi Mirza had been received at Vernoe and St. Petersburg; and a firm and dignified attitude had effectually checked the Russian officer when he attempted to express those threats which formed the principal part of his instructions. There was something imposing in the quiet way in which Yakoob Beg asserted his equality in rank with the Czar of All the Russias. His invariable reply, when the great power of Russia was made use of as an argument to overcome his refusal to accede to the trade concessions demanded, was, “My brother, the White Czar, is a most powerful monarch, and rules over the greater portion of the earth, and I am only an insignificant prince in comparison to him. But none the less can I encounter the danger like a true man, and esteem it a happiness to die in defence of my country and my faith.” To so courageous and so honourable a reply what rejoinder could be made by the abashed officers? It is impossible to refuse Yakoob Beg the highest admiration for his stanchness in his opposition to Russia. If for his own narrow interests it may have been imprudent to throw down the gage of battle so freely, all the more does that attitude claim respect when we see him trampling on purely selfish motives, and asserting his claim to leadership in that wider question of Asiatic against Muscovite, of Mahomedan against Greek. Had he only been consistent throughout his career, had he only been as firm in his convictions and as prompt in carrying them into practice as he generally was, when the occasion came for a great effort against Russia, how different might have been his own fate and the present aspect of affairs in Central Asia!

For some time after these abortive proceedings the Russians abstained from any direct interference in Kashgar, but the conferring of the title of Athalik Ghazi, or Commander of the Faithful, on Yakoob Beg by the Ameer of Bokhara had roused the susceptibilities of Russia too much to be allayed. It seemed, indeed, as if this acknowledgment of the orthodoxy of Yakoob Beg by the Head of Islam in Central Asia heralded forth some understanding between the two states, and that a menace was directed against the Russian government. Whether there was any agreement between Mozaffur Eddin and Yakoob Beg it is not possible at present to say, but that such should have been brought about by their mutual antipathy to Russia would not have been very wonderful. However, in the disturbances of 1870 Yakoob Beg took no active part. While the Russian arms were triumphing over every opponent in their newly acquired province of Ferghana and its vicinity, Yakoob Beg was busily engaged with the Tungani, who at that time were causing trouble to him along his far eastern frontier. The revolt collapsed in Khokand, and Yakoob Beg, apparently unconcerned with the events transpiring in the West, was carrying his victorious arms to new conquests in the East. During the year 1870, when murmurs of the approaching storm were becoming audible, the Russian government endeavoured to obtain the alliance of Khudayar Khan, of Khokand, for the purpose of bringing Yakoob Beg within their influence. This Khan had, as has been already mentioned, been betrayed by Yakoob Beg, who had followed the example of the ambitious Vizier Alim Kuli, and was now mainly dependent on the Russians for support against his rebellious subjects. He could not be considered in any way, therefore, as likely to be favourably disposed towards his neighbour of Kashgar, or as lukewarm in the cause of his protectors and benefactors. The Russians felt assured of his hearty support in advocating their plan, which was as follows. From time immemorial, as has been seen in the sketch of the history of Kashgar, there have been two rival elements in Kashgaria the Chinese and the Khokandian. The Chinese was triumphant in modern times for a little more than a century, while the Khokandian has, more or less, at all other times been paramount. But whenever a native dynasty had attained a certain degree of security therein, it was always threatened by the ambitious designs of the Khan of Khokand, who had generally contributed most towards its successful establishment. The Russian government resolved to avail themselves of this historical fact to pour into the ear of Khudayar Khan insidious counsels as to his claims as feudal lord over Eastern Turkestan. There once more, so they argued, had a Khokandian subject formed an independent and rival administration, and all his victories had been won by Khokandian sympathies, and by the good right arms of Khokandian subjects. And how had this soldier of fortune acted towards his own country when he had received everything from her that he needed? By offering an asylum to all those who had participated in the plots against Khudayar Khan himself, by encouraging sedition in the state itself against the Russians and their nominee, Khudayar, the legal ruler of the state. As if these crimes were not sufficiently serious, he had added thereto the insult of having refused to recognize in Khudayar his liege lord; and Khudayar’s own personal fears were worked upon to yield that acquiescence to the Russian proposal that was necessary to secure its success. It was pointed out to him that a strong military power in Kashgar might give an impetus to the plots then fermenting in the active brain of Aftobatcha, the ambitious son of Mussulman Kuli, the prime minister and vizier of thirty years ago. The arguments were specious, and it cannot be doubted that they made some impression on Khudayar Khan. This much-to-be-pitied ruler, forced by the necessities of his position to humour his Russian advisers, still had the courage to refuse to assert his claims as lord over Kashgar. With a gentle irony he pointed to the map, and showed how Khokand’s frontier should extend farther to the west than it did, and that a conquest over the barren regions of the Kizil Yart would be but a sorry equivalent for the loss of Tashkent and Hodjent. He, however, promised to make use of his best means for inducing Yakoob Beg to make overtures to the Russian government for the ratification of a treaty of commerce. So Khudayar Khan indited a letter to Yakoob Beg, at the dictation of his Russian friends, to this effect; but he silvered the pill by a private message giving information of the Russian intentions in the future. The tenor of that communication was that the Russians were less eager than might have been supposed to bring matters to a final crisis with Yakoob Beg, and that they were most desirous of settling the question without any flagrant loss of dignity by being the first to recommence negotiations. Both publicly and privately Khudayar Khan advised that the Athalik Ghazi should make some concessions in form to the Russian government. The Russians themselves, having failed to induce Khudayar Khan to put pressure on Yakoob Beg, appear to have arrived at the same conclusion as that set out in the letters of Khudayar. Yakoob Beg must make the sign, and they would meet him half way in his desire to share in the great benefits accruing from a Muscovite alliance. The authorities at Tashkent went so far as to flatter themselves that they had attained a solution of one of their chief annoyances. They had, by making use of the mediation of Khudayar, gone so far as to open the door for Yakoob Beg to abase himself. Such condescension was unheard of, and no doubt was entertained but that this proud Mahomedan ruler would gladly hasten to avail himself of the last chance accorded him by the clemency of the Czar.

But they were reckoning without their host. Yakoob Beg quickly perceived that the bold exterior of the Russian demands concealed a vacillating purpose, and that a power which would go out of its way so far to bring about an arrangement, would yield much more when the discussion became directly carried on. He had evidently impressed the few Russians who had visited him with a belief in his strength, and rumour had magnified his resources, and converted his small and heterogeneous following into a regular and trained army. He was not the man to destroy, when the game was almost in his hands too, all the favourable impressions, that stood him in such good stead during his career, which his policy for four years had succeeded in creating about his personality. After a suitable delay his formal reply to the official letter of Khudayar arrived, and its contents must have been eminently displeasing to the Russians. In general terms he refused to enter into negotiations with the Russians, because they had refused to acknowledge his own government, and had ever supported the cause of his enemies the Chinese. But, not content with this blunt refusal to the offer made from Tashkent, he went on to minor matters and dealt with the question of Russian policy in specific language. The common enemy of him and all his co-religionists was not worthy of any consideration from him or his allies, the rulers of Khokand and Bokhara. “The Russians that have come here, into my state of Kashgar, look at these localities and become acquainted with the state of the country, and therefore it is better to forbid their coming, for they are a treacherous and crooked-minded people.” In such plain terms did Yakoob Beg speak of a power which could without any serious risk have crushed him at any moment. Yet in one sense his boldness was the height of prudence, and succeeded when perhaps a less decided attitude would have completely failed. The Russians were fairly deluded in their estimate of their new antagonist, and all means having been exhausted for inducing Yakoob Beg to abandon his indifferent attitude towards themselves, it began to be seriously discussed at Tashkent whether, if simply for the purpose of obtaining accurate information of his country, it would not be prudent to acknowledge the existence of a ruler who had for nearly six years been established as responsible sovereign of a very large portion of Asia. The path was smoothed, too, for the Russian diplomatists by Yakoob Beg sending a letter to the governor of Turkestan, stating that it was useless for the Czar to attempt the establishment of diplomatic relations through the good offices of Khudayar Khan; but that if the Russians really desired to enter into alliance with him they could send an embassy to him, when formal steps could be commenced for securing the trade and other agreements that were desirable. The letter was a very dignified piece of writing, such as one European sovereign would have sent to another in the Middle Ages. “He did not deny,” he said, “either the power or the resources of Russia, but as a brave man he placed his trust in God, and he would never shirk the contest, because all he aspired to was to die for his faith.” This letter produced a great impression at Tashkent, and it was resolved to send an ambassador to Kashgar.

Before pursuing the narrative, it may be as well to sum up what had passed between Russia and Kashgar up to this period, for henceforth these two states were to stand in a completely different relationship towards each other. The Russians strove to induce Yakoob Beg to make the most favourable commercial and political concessions to them, while they refused to grant him any equivalent, except the dubious one, “advantage from the produce of Russian manufactures.” They even added insult to injury by openly proclaiming that they only recognized the Chinese as the rulers of Kashgar, and refused to discuss the arguments advanced by Shadi Mirza in favour of his uncle’s claim to be considered de facto sovereign. They adopted an attitude of bullying towards this Asiatic prince, and loudly proclaimed in their practice the truth of the aphorism, that might is right. They backed up their verbal threats on several occasions by a show of military preparations, but not once did they put those threats into execution. On the other hand, Yakoob Beg’s policy was consistent throughout and dignified. While studiously avoiding any aggressive measures, even under the excuse of defensive precautions, he was always firm in his refusal to recognize any of the semi-official overtures that were repeatedly made to induce him to show his hand. Instead of appearing in the light of a suppliant, as according to all precedent he should, he assumed the position of a dictator. “Acknowledge me as legally constituted ruler of Kashgaria, or else there is an end to all negotiation. Send a properly accredited ambassador to me, and he shall be honourably received. A representative of recognized rank shall then convey my token of friendship to your master. Refuse to grant me these just considerations, and my kingdom is closed to your merchants and officials without exception. Admission shall only be obtained over my own body and that of my devoted army.” For the first time in the annals of Russian history an Asiatic ruler had tired out the finessing and intrigue that had become customary with that empire as the means for infinite conquest. Yakoob Beg was the only sovereign who refused to be subservient to the Czar, and eventually achieved a diplomatic triumph over his representatives. In the spring of 1872, Yakoob Beg was at the very acme of his prosperity. Not yet had he commenced those later campaigns against the Tungani, which more than anything else tended to weaken his power and to raise discontent against his administration; and, fresh from his diplomatic success over the Russians, he appeared in the eyes of many Asiatics as a fit champion to redeem their fortunes in a conflict with Russia. Excusable as their enthusiasm undoubtedly was, it is tolerably certain that the power of Yakoob Beg was exaggerated both by the adulation of his friends and by the nervous susceptibilities of the Russians. It is noteworthy that Russia proved herself on one occasion to be quite as liable to this latter disease as England is assumed to be.

To Baron Kaulbars, the explorer of the sources of the Syr Darya, was entrusted the delicate mission of representing the Russian government for the first time at the court of the Athalik Ghazi, and to no better diplomatist could it have been consigned. He set out from Kuldja early in May, 1872, carrying with him a large collection of presents for the ruler and his chief advisers, and arrived in Kashgar without any mishap in June of the same year. Here he was received in the most cordial manner, and the consideration and hospitality exhibited towards him by the ruler were beyond all expectation. In the picturesque phraseology of the East, the Athalik Ghazi, at his first audience with Baron Kaulbars, said, “Sit upon my knees, on my bosom, or where ye like; for ye are guests sent me from heaven.” The most complete freedom of action was accorded, for the first time, to all the members of the embassy, and two merchants who had accompanied it for the purpose of exploring the country received a safe-conduct to go on to Yarkand and Khoten. Yakoob Beg scarcely attempted to conceal his gratification at the presence of the Russians; possibly his pleasure chiefly arose from such an unmistakable admission of his skill as a diplomatist. But in every way facilities were afforded his visitors for seeing all objects of interest round Kashgar. Reviews were held in honour of the occasion, and as there happened to be a considerable number of troops in the vicinity, passing through to operate against the Tungani beyond Kucha, the show was imposing enough. The Russians were favourably impressed by what they saw, and Baron Kaulbars expressed himself surprised at the military exactitude with which the manoeuvres were carried out. Yakoob Beg, always open to flattery, exclaimed in an enthusiastic moment, “I look upon the Russians as my dearest friends; if I had not, should I have shown you my military power? Assuredly it is not usual even with you to make known one’s actual condition to an enemy.” Matters were now in a fair way to a pleasant solution. Baron Kaulbars and Yakoob Beg were mutually delighted; but, after the time for pleasant talk had expired, it was necessary that some definite arrangements should be drawn up for the political and commercial relations of the two countries in the future.

The chief objects the Russians had in view when they sent Baron Kaulbars to Kashgar were three. In the first place they wanted to acquire general information about that state, and to discover whether Yakoob Beg was as powerful as report had asserted. In the second, they wished to put their relations on such a recognized basis with him that they might know what policy he was disposed to adopt in Turkestan and Kuldja; and in the third they desired to secure the monopoly of the trade of his state, so that they might forestall British enterprise, already beginning to direct its attention to this quarter, since the journeys of Messrs. Shaw and Forsyth. The last of these was the easiest to obtain, and the Athalik Ghazi considered all the Russian proposals with regard to trade in a very amicable spirit; but with regard to the second desideratum nothing but the vaguest generalities could all the tact and ingenuity of Kaulbars succeed in obtaining from his host. The first object was amply secured, in so far as geographical and scientific information was concerned; but the precautions taken by the Athalik Ghazi to deceive the Russians as to his power and hold on the country appear to have been successful. Baron Kaulbars certainly confirmed much that had previously rested on mere hearsay; the question is rather, did he not vouch for more than his experience justified him in doing? The result of his mission was, that the Athalik Ghazi was elevated to a position on a level with the Ameer of Cabul, and there is no doubt whatever that such a comparison was not warranted by the facts. A treaty was signed by the Athalik Ghazi and Baron Kaulbars, on the 2nd of June, 1872, but according to the Old Style, still adopted by the Russians, this was the 21st of May, St. Constantine’s day. There are two stories with respect to this coincidence, and there is as much evidence for one version as there is for the other.

It was said at the time that Yakoob Beg was so desirous of showing his goodwill to the Russians that he had insisted on signing it on that day in honour of the Grand Duke Constantine. Now there were two or three improbabilities in this statement that struck several observers. In the first place it was extremely improbable that Yakoob Beg knew it was St. Constantine’s day at all; and again, in the second place he was quite as probably ignorant of the existence of a Grand Duke Constantine. At all events, there was no valid reason why a Central Asian ruler should conceive that his politeness to that Grand Duke in particular would demonstrate his desire to be on good terms with Russians in general. The other version, which, like many other circumstances, has only leaked out in the pages of Mr. Schuyler, is altogether more probable, and is not open to the same objections. According to this, it was Baron Kaulbars, who of course was aware of the saint’s day, who demanded that the treaty should bear that date, and who, as soon as it was signed, sent off a message to General Kaufmann saying that the Athalik Ghazi, out of friendship to that general, had specially requested that the treaty should be signed on that day in honour of General Kaufmann’s patron saint. However flattered that distinguished general and governor may have felt at the delicate attention of his ambassador, he had to decline the proposed honour; and in the despatch that was sent to St. Petersburg, describing the event, the name of the Grand Duke Constantine was substituted for his own. There is little doubt that this is the correct statement, and it certainly suggests quite a revelation as to the system in Russian Asia of making things pleasant and agreeable to one another, always, however, assuming that there be an exceptional degree of power and pomp reserved for his Excellency General Kaufmann.

Soon after the signature of this treaty, which bears the name of its framer, Baron Kaulbars took his departure, with many expressions of friendship and goodwill from the Athalik Ghazi. Arrangements were, however, made, before he left, for an envoy to visit Tashkent from Yakoob Beg. This ambassador took with him the signed stipulations to be ratified, and was received at Tashkent with every demonstration of amity and respect. So certain did the Russian government appear that their relations with Kashgar would, if only for a short period, be satisfactory, that special care was taken to make a favourable impression on the Kashgarian envoy, and after a short residence in the capital of Turkestan, the nephew of Yakoob Beg, Hadji Torah, who had followed the train of the treaty on a special mission, went on to St. Petersburg, where he was entertained by the Czar, taken to the reviews, and treated in a most hospitable and princely fashion. The contrast between the reception accorded to him in 1873 and that to Shadi Mirza in 1869 clearly marks the difference that was considered in well-informed official circles to have taken place in their relations with Kashgar.

We have now to consider whether the Russian Government was justified in assuming so confidently that it had secured the permanent friendship of the Mahomedan ruler of Eastern Turkestan. On concluding his visit at St. Petersburg, Hadji Torah turned south, and after stopping for a brief delay at Moscow and Odessa, he arrived in Constantinople, where he already had many friends and connections. Without inquiring too deeply into his actions at the Imperial City for of them the reader will be able to judge best by the sequel we will here simply observe, that having also concluded his residence on the Golden Horn, he took passage by the Suez Canal for India, and arrived there in time to join the mission of Sir Douglas Forsyth, then on its way to Kashgar. Hadji Torah therefore brought to his uncle a vast amount of information concerning the three Powers chiefly concerned in the fortunes of Kashgar Russia, Turkey, and England. But even before his return home, fresh disagreements had broken out between Russia and Yakoob Beg. The year 1872 had not closed, before the Athalik Ghazi concluded some secret negotiations that had been pending for some time with the Sultan, and this champion of Islam appeared in a new and holier light to Asiatics as Emir, or Ameer. He acknowledged the suzerainty of the Porte; and, not content with this formal declaration, gave an extra significance to the event by issuing a fresh coinage, bearing on one side the head of Abdul Aziz. The Russians were, it can well be imagined, displeased at this alliance between two Mahomedan states which might both be considered hostile to their interests, and a very large party in military circles clamoured for an expedition to be sent at once against the insolent Mussulman. At one moment it seemed as if this bellicose party was to gain the day, for the testimony of all the officers and merchants who had visited Kashgar showed that each day Yakoob Beg was becoming more formidable. Prompt measures were pressed on the government of Tashkent, and General Kaufmann seemed half disposed to acquiesce in the proposal to inflict summary chastisement on the Athalik Ghazi. Fortunately for Kashgar, the Khan of Khiva had been an older offender in the eyes of the Russians, and the Home Government peremptorily forbade any steps being taken in the regions bordering on the Chinese Empire. It is sufficiently clear that the moderation of the home authorities was a wiser policy than the impulsive demands of certain officers in Tashkent; but it is not so evident why Yakoob Beg abstained from appearing in the rôle of the liberator of Khokand, at so opportune a moment as that afforded by the great expedition against Khiva in 1873. The treaty of Baron Kaulbars had stipulated for the free admission of Russian merchants into the state on the payment of a 2-1/2 per cent. ad valorem duty. Not only was there to be no further exaction, but good treatment was guaranteed to such Russian subjects as desired to travel in Kashgar, and who came provided with a passport, and permission to travel, from a Russian governor. During Baron Kaulbars’ residence in the country, nothing could be more considerate than the treatment extended towards the members of his suite, and the merchants who went on to Yarkand were afforded facilities for disposing of the small stock of merchandise which they had brought with them on this journey. This friendly reception of such merchants as came to Kashgar was maintained during the period over which these negotiations extended down to the departure of Yakoob Beg’s own ambassador from Russian territory; but with the arrival of Hadji Torah at Constantinople, and the proclamation of the fact that Yakoob Beg had been elevated to the dignified position of Emir by the Sultan of Roum, a change came over the spirit of his policy towards Russia. Indeed, Yakoob Beg saw himself menaced by an unforeseen danger in this treaty of commerce. He had formerly been averse to the presence of Russian merchants in his state because he regarded them as spies; but now that the necessities of his position had to some extent compelled him to enter into a formal treaty with their government, he perceived that his little state literally ran the risk of being invaded by the Russian merchants and traders who flocked to Kuldja for the purpose of participating in the spoils to be obtained by trafficking with the inhabitants of Eastern Turkestan. He had always been averse to trade. He was a warrior, and inclined to feel and to express contempt at the juggling tricks of Muscovite or Khitay.

But as the former could provide him with better weapons for his army, and warmer clothes for his people, in addition to trinkets for his serai, their presence, if only they came in limited numbers, and at stated intervals, could be tolerated; but when he perceived they were about to descend on his state, like so many birds of prey on an abandoned carcase, and when he surmised that in all likelihood they would endeavour to mix themselves up in the political divisions of Kashgar as they had in Bokhara and Khokand, he determined to impose some other check on their visits besides that insignificant 2-1/2 per cent. on goods that returned a profit of cent. per cent. He had given his plighted word, however, that merchants should receive fair treatment, and how could he find a loophole to avoid fulfilling what he had promised, and yet at the same time escape bringing about an open rupture with the Russian Government. The matter required most delicate manipulation, but Yakoob Beg proved himself equal to the occasion. It was not to be expected, however, that Yakoob Beg could accomplish his task of discouraging Russian enterprise without giving some umbrage to the government.

Despite the friendly reception of Baron Kaulbars, there still remained some uncertainty in the minds of individuals, whether the Athalik Ghazi was as sincere in his protestations as he would have it believed. There was, consequently, some disinclination among the merchants of Kuldja to be the first to send a caravan to Kashgar. They were all willing enough to share the profits, but it was a risky experiment all the same; and each would prefer that his neighbour should inaugurate the enterprise. In commercial circles, there was much discussion on the new state, and the prospects of trade therewith, and there was much talk as to “who should bell the cat.” The hesitation, if indeed so natural a sentiment deserves to be specified here, soon passed off, and Mr. Pupyshef, a merchant, who had had very large business connections with most parts of Central Asia, resolved to send the first consignment of merchandise to Kashgar. Mr. Pupyshef was, however, unable to go in person, so his caravan set out under the charge of his clerk Somof. It arrived without “let or hindrance” in Kashgar, where Mr. Somof was provided with accommodation in the Caravanserai specially set apart for foreign merchants. But a change was at once perceptible in the sentiments of the ruler, as the personal freedom of the members of the expedition was curtailed, and all their movements were watched with the most exacting surveillance; and the residence of Mr. Somof was brief in the extreme, for the Athalik Ghazi himself bought up the whole of his stock of merchandise. Viewed as a commercial speculation, this result should have been eminently satisfactory; the Russian merchant had to experience no loss from delay in finding a purchaser for his articles. There was, however, another matter to be taken into consideration, and that was the mode of payment by the purchaser. Mr. Somof received so many Chinese coins at a value fixed by the Ameer himself, and Mr. Pupyshef, on the return of his representative, estimated the loss at 15,000 roubles. The Russian government took up the case of their subject, and presented a remonstrance at Kashgar, demanding the immediate restitution of the loss incurred by the Russian merchant. Yakoob Beg’s reply to this summary request was a model of courtesy and tact. He denied altogether that Mr. Somof had in any way been interfered with. That gentleman was always at perfect liberty to do what, and to go where, he pleased, and he was quite mistaken in supposing that he, the Ameer, had purchased his goods. The Badaulet had nothing whatever to do with trade, which he left entirely to his subjects. He was simply a warrior and a follower of the Prophet. He had nevertheless instituted inquiries into the matter, and he had discovered that some of his officers, who should be punished, had purchased the merchandise in his name, hoping thereby to obtain it at a cheaper rate. The Athalik Ghazi expressed his regret at the occurrence, and would be most happy to refund whatever sum the Russian government considered their subject had lost by the transaction. A commission was appointed at Tashkent, to inquire into all the circumstances of the case, and after some discussion the demand of Mr. Pupyshef was reduced from 15,000 to 12,000 roubles. The Ameer acquiesced in the decision, but many months elapsed before Mr. Pupyshef received his money, and then it was again in a depreciated Chinese coinage. We are justified in assuming that this was all planned, and that the obstacles thrown in the path of Mr. Pupyshef were part and parcel of a systematic attempt to disgust Russian merchants with Kashgar. The Russian government, too, was afforded no clear case for complaint, as Yakoob Beg expressed his regret without reserve for the occurrence, all the responsibility of which he shifted on to the shoulders of some of “his officials whom he had ordered to be punished.” He paid without a murmur the fair demands of Mr. Pupyshef, and if there was some delay in the refunding of the money, it must be attributed to the poverty of his exchequer, and not to any want of goodwill. The burden of his complaint was, “I am a poor prince; my country is impoverished by the wars that have occurred since the departure of the Chinese; and you will find little therein to repay you for your trouble and expense in entering it. Why therefore will you persist in coming to it? You can do neither yourselves nor my people any good by doing so, and you only cause me anxiety and trouble in preserving your countrymen from insult and injury, which you must admit I have ever done.” There was an under-current of truth in this statement of the case, although it was not credited in Kuldja, where everything that went amiss was set down to the hostility of the Ameer. Yakoob Beg had, however, succeeded in throwing cold water on the enthusiastic preparations that were being made for exploiting Eastern Turkestan, and his mode of doing so had been quite original and characteristic. Few rulers would have foreseen that the best way to get rid of a troublesome visitor was to purchase what he had brought to sell to the people; and that the simple remedy of paying in a questionable currency would suffice to deter hundreds from following the example of Mr. Somof. Yakoob Beg, however, was not satisfied with leaving well alone. Having paid the claim of Mr. Pupyshef, it might have been supposed that he would maintain a discreet silence on his intentions in the future with regard to Russian merchants. He might have let the question, indeed, find, as it would have found, its own solution; but, in a weak moment, to place his own bona fides beyond suspicion, he desired the Russian government to send another merchant to Kashgar, and then it could judge by his reception whether the Ameer was not amicably disposed towards his “close allies,” the Russians. The Russian authorities took him at his word, and after an interval of more than twelve months, during which Kashgar had been unvisited by a Russian merchant, another, a Mr. Morozof, came to put Yakoob Beg’s assertions to the test. True to his word, the reception of this gentleman was most cordial. Facilities were placed in his way for getting purchasers of his articles, and the Ameer bought for his arsenals such of them as seemed suitable. Mr. Morozof returned to Kuldja, narrating how cordially he had been welcomed by the ruler himself, and how the enterprise had commercially been a success. Others followed his example, and during the last two and a half years of his rule Russian merchandise, either through Russian or native agents, found its way in considerable quantities into Kashgar. But this trade was always liable to periods of depression through the clouds that frequently darkened the political horizon, and the Russians did not derive the advantages from trade with this state, that they had previously convinced themselves they were to do. Indeed, English manufactures, after the year 1873, entered into keen competition with theirs in the cities of Kashgar, and had driven their goods out of the market of Yarkand at all events before the close of the year 1876. But this fact only served to impress more forcibly on the Russians the necessity either for annexing Kashgaria or establishing on its throne some puppet, who would be content with the post of deputy of the Czar. Indeed, many suggested that the Chinese should be brought back; but then they were so far off, and apparently so weak. The party advocating the absorption of Kashgaria every day became stronger and more pronounced; and all observers agree that it was only a question of time when the imperial fiat should go forth for the extinction of the rule of Yakoob Beg. Colonel Reinthal was sent in 1874, to endeavour to place matters on a more hopeful footing, but with little success. In addition to the question of trade privileges, the Russians, in negotiating with native states, or securing treaties at the point of the sword, always demanded the right of having consular agents in the chief cities of the state. The ostensible duty of these official representatives was to look after the interests of their government, and to protect the lives and property of Russian subjects as best they might be able. So far as these very necessary functions were concerned, Russia had a perfect right in demanding these safeguards, when such were deemed to be required. But unfortunately for the reputation of that country, the experience of Asiatics had amply demonstrated that these declared duties were the least important part of their office.

Their secret instructions were to lose no opportunity of discovering the drift of public sentiment in the state where they were stationed; to learn all the ramifications of the dynastic intrigues that unfortunately form the chief incidents in the history of these states, and to promote, by every means at their disposal, the interests of the great empire into whose service they had been admitted. When such latitude was allowed in their instructions, and so many private and public inducements were offered to raise their zeal, it cannot be matter of surprise if we find the government informed promptly of the shiftings of public opinion in the independent and semi-independent Khanates of Central Asia. Yakoob Beg was keenly alive to the dangers that would arise to him personally from the introduction of such a system into Kashgar, where the discordant elements out of which he had welded a military organization were far from being completely healed. If the presence of a mirza in Khokand and Bokhara had entailed a decade of troubles and of gradual subjection, what was he to expect, a mere military adventurer and a foreigner in the land, from their presence in Eastern Turkestan? But Baron Kaulbars had demanded this concession, perhaps more than any other, and Yakoob Beg had to yield something in form, if he did not surrender much in substance, to the importunities of his visitor. As a great favour he consented to the appointment of caravanbashis, or superintendents of the personal comforts of the merchants when they should arrive; but a caravan-bashi was an uneducated, unimportant personage, from whom nothing need be feared. This did not at all please the Russian administrators, and all their subsequent efforts were mainly devoted to the attempt to obtain an alteration of this unimportant personage into the prying and inquisitive mirza. To defeat their design Yakoob Beg was no less firmly resolved, and the history of the embassies, from that of Baron Kaulbars to that of Captain Kuropatkine, was one long course of fruitless efforts to force the hand of the Athalik Ghazi on this point. Colonel Reinthal was sent in 1874, after the successful journey of Mr. Morozof, to see if any better arrangement could be attained, but, although the Ameer entertained him very hospitably, he fared no better than any of his predecessors. In that year, too, Yakoob Beg’s position had become firmer in his own state. The Tungani had been driven back north of the Tian Shan beyond Turfan, and into the regions east of Lake Lob; the disaffection, too, in the cities of Kucha and Korla was also, to all appearance, dying out; but, above all, the vast aegis of English protection had appeared to be thrown over the integrity of his state. However unjustified this supposition was by the treaty with Sir Douglas Forsyth, the Ameer made as much use as possible of his new-found ally; and the large section of Anglo-Indians, and authorities in this country on the affairs of Central Asia, who, either out of sympathy for the man, or from a belief in the identity of British interests with his cause, proclaimed the advisability of supporting him against Russian aggression, gave a colourable excuse to his declaration that England had extended for the first time in her Trans-Himalayan policy her protection to a native state lying north of her natural frontier. The Russian governments in Siberia and Turkestan, emphatically cautioned by their Foreign Office to give this country no cause for umbrage, were at first inclined to make that assertion an excuse for pushing their friendly relations with the Ameer; but their advances were not reciprocated, and as it became more clear that the importance of the Forsyth mission had been greatly exaggerated by the representations of the Ameer, the language of the Russian authorities became once more peremptory and menacing. In short, matters after more than two years’ discussion had retrogressed to the condition they were in before the Kaulbars treaty. The Russians had not obtained their chief desire, the establishment of consular agents in Kashgar, and Yakoob Beg, as in the past, boldly met threat with threat. Relying on his increased reputation as the most orthodox and the most puissant of Mahomedans in Central Asia, and confident that England would intervene between the Russians and the collapse of his state, he even went so far as to temper his defiant, and almost bellicose, attitude with such irony as the following incident is a characteristic specimen of. Early in the year 1874 the Duke of Edinburgh married Marie Alexandrovna, the only daughter of the Czar; and Yakoob Beg seized the occasion to send a message of congratulation to the Czar of All the Russias on the auspicious event saying, that he had heard that the son of his good ally, the Queen of England and of India, was about to wed the daughter of his friend the Czar, and that he hastened to send him his congratulations upon the event. To this effusive epistle no reply was deigned, and it is doubtful whether it ever got farther than Tashkent. There is no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that such exhibitions as this is an instance of detraction from the otherwise great and striking characteristics of the ruler of Kashgar. His opposition to Russia was most laudable; his maintenance of his privileges as an independent ruler was prudent and worthy of our respect; but his petty insults to Russia were neither wise nor dignified. He was clearly in the right in checking the aggressive instincts of Russia, clothed in the specious garb of commercial advantage; he commands not less our admiration for the energetic and persistent manner in which he thwarted every endeavour to introduce Russian espionage and intrigue into Kashgaria; but why should he have weakened the effect of these splendid achievements, why should he have risked all he had secured, by so senseless an insult as the message to the Czar that has been just referred to?

The authorities in Tashkent, perceiving that it was doubtful whether English public opinion was ripe yet for an active interference in Central Asia, reverted, despite all orders from the home authorities to the contrary, to their original intention of coercing the ruler of Kashgar. In 1874, therefore, all preparations for commencing the campaign in the approaching spring were made ready. Provisions and munitions of war were despatched to Naryn, and an auxiliary division was to make a flank movement by the Terek Pass on the west. It has been laid to the charge of the Russian generals in Asia, that expeditions are arranged for their mutual advantage, both in obtaining higher rank and orders. So seriously bitten had every officer since Perovsky become by the desire for promotion and distinction, that the disease became generally known as the St. George or the St. Ann Cross fever. Now during the seven years previous to the date at which we have arrived, if there had been a fair share of distinction and spoil for the soldiers and the lower ranks of the officers, some of those in higher posts considered that they were aggrieved by the monopoly of supreme credit obtained by General Kaufmann. This, indeed, had shown itself very clearly after the fall of Khiva, a success for which Kaufmann obtained all the credit, and yet towards which the division under his command contributed little or nothing. The etiquette, too, maintained in the little court at Tashkent, and the semi-regal state observed by the successful general, were irksome to officers more accustomed to the licence of a camp than to the punctilio of a palace. Nor were there wanting more sinister motives still among some of the chief general officers who filled the subordinate posts in the service of the Czar’s representative. Prominent among them was the youthful Scobelef, who, burning to distinguish himself, clamoured loudly for some expedition which, when accomplished successfully, would be recompensed with the Cross of St. George. Strong as General Kaufmann may really be in the good opinion of his superiors, he was unable to resist, if he were inclined, the demands pressed upon him by Scobelef and his father, and the more warlike portion of his forces. It is said, that in addition to these palpable reasons there were others touching the family rivalries of the Kaufmanns and Scobelefs, who appear to have been at feud with each other when younger men in the service of the palace, when Nicholas was Czar. To remove these differences, and to satisfy the demands of his other subordinates, General Kaufmann consented that an expedition should be arranged against Kashgar, and entrusted to the command of the younger Scobelef. Towards the end of 1874 the war-cloud was drawing ominously over the Athalik Ghazi, and to all observers it seemed as if it were about to break with destructive violence on his devoted head. Loudly was it asserted that nothing but British intervention would save him, and it was only too clear that England’s policy would be guided by events. The Viceroy had certainly not advised that an active participation should be undertaken in this question. The failure, too, of the Granville-Gortschakoff negotiations to define a neutral zone had convinced this country of the inutility of solving the question between the two countries by treaty. But it was not clear that, even if Kashgar were to fall into the power of Russia, our interests would suffer so much as to justify us in adopting an extreme remedy. The path being thus left clear for Russia to strike, every precaution was taken by Generals Kaufmann and Scobelef that the blow should be sharp and decisive. Not fewer than 20,000 Russian troops in all were to be directed against Yakoob Beg, who too late now attempted some concessions to his neighbours. Such troops as he could raise were massed in the neighbourhood of Kashgar, while another force under his son was stationed at Aksu. But of the result there could not be two opinions. Very few weeks’ respite remained to the intended victim, when an event occurred which changed the whole current of Russian thought into a different channel. Yakoob Beg was saved by the outbreak of disturbances in Khokand, and, although the Russians never acknowledged that they were so serious as to prevent them persisting in their Kashgarian enterprise, still gradually the troops who had been despatched to the frontier were recalled, and those who had been ordered to set out for Naryn were retained in Tashkent and Hodjent, the two towns chiefly threatened. Although this event is not part of Kashgarian history, yet it performed so useful a function to that state, which indeed it may be said to have saved, that some brief account of it here may not be unwelcome.

Khudayar Khan, after the death of Alim Kuli, his hostile minister, in 1865, had been reinstated in his possession of Khokand, partly by the efforts of his own faction, and partly by Russian assistance. From that year to the year 1875 he was de facto as he was de jure Khan of Khokand, and, although imbroiled on several occasions with Russia and with his own subjects in those ten years, he still maintained a nominal independence in the western half of Khokand, with his capital at the city of the same name. For some reason, however, this Khan never was popular. So far as we know concerning him, he does not appear to have been any way worse than his neighbours; but one party in the state accused him of being a tool of the Russians, while another, urged on by the agents employed by that government, declared that he was gradually drifting the country into a hopeless contest with that Power. Widespread throughout the state there was dissatisfaction at his rule, and the occasion afforded by a commotion among the Kirghiz was eagerly seized by his subjects to rise for the purpose of subverting his power. At first this movement seemed to possess no importance for the Russians, and was regarded as one of those dynastic squabbles that had become too ordinary an occurrence to occasion any surprise. The insurrectionary party, too, had put on the throne Nasruddin, the eldest son of the Khan, a youth who was supposed to be friendly to Russia, and who was not likely to prove in any way formidable, having become passionately addicted to vodka drinking. But behind this ostensible ruler there were others who aspired to greater eminence than the king-makers of a petty state like Khokand. Chief among these was Khudayar’s brother-in-law, Abderrahman Aftobatcha, who was entrusted with the chief control of the military arrangements. This chief was the son of Mussulman Kuli, the Kipchak minister of Khudayar’s earlier days. Either incredulous of the maintenance of a neutral attitude by Russia, or urged on by a patriotic impulse to free the enslaved portion of Khokand, these confederates issued a proclamation of war against General Kaufmann. The border districts rose in response to the proclamation, the communications between Tashkent and Hodjent were severed, and confusion for a time reigned supreme within the Russian possessions. The Khokandian forces hesitated to make any serious attack and wasted their time in useless depredations in the mountains. Had a prompt move been made on Tashkent, or even on Hodjent, the insurrection might have been successful. Bokhara might have struck in at the critical moment, and Yakoob Beg awoke from the lethargy into which his warlike spirit was sinking. Such was not to be, however; and gradually the Russian scare wore off. Colonel Scobelef scoured the country with his Cossacks; telegraphic communication was restored between Hodjent and Tashkent; and the country was rapidly cleared of the rebels. The fugitives who had accompanied Khudayar in his flight were sent to the rear, and reinforcements were hastily summoned to take part in the necessary offensive measures against Khokand. It will be sufficient here to say that, having been defeated in the fight at Makhram and several other small engagements, the party of Nasruddin and Aftobatcha sued for peace. This was granted, but Khokand became the Russian province of Ferghana, Colonel Scobelef was raised to a major-general, and obtained his Cross of St. George by the battle of Makhram. This event, generally known as the revolt of the Khokandians against Russia of 1875, marks an important era, for it convinced the Khokandians and other Asiatics that any attempt to obtain their liberty, short of a concerted and organized movement, would be fruitless. There has been no renewal of the attempt that then failed, but which ought to have achieved more success.

To the discord unhappily existent among its victims has Russia been chiefly indebted for the facility with which her Asiatic conquests have been acquired, and to the same ally it seems probable that she will be chiefly indebted for their preservation. There is no clearer evidence of this than the history of this last war with Khokand. But when we endeavour to divide the share of culpability for this dissension, we are on this occasion bound to admit that the chief blame attaches to Yakoob Beg. More than any other Asiatic ruler had he assumed to himself the title of general protector of his religion and his order, against the conquering strides of Russia; more than any other had he fostered, by his bold and defiant attitude towards that state, the belief that there still remained some hope of coping with the danger by a united league of Central Asian states; more than any other had he seemed to justify this aspiration; and more than any other must he be held culpable when he permitted the moment that seemed most auspicious to slip by unutilized. Moreover, when this insurrection broke out in Khokand, he had made every preparation to defend himself against a Russian invasion. He saw the Russians compelled, by the very necessities of their position, to call off their forces to other quarters, and yet he abstained from striking a blow in defence of those interests which he had ever declared were most sacred to him. It is impossible to explain such apathy on so important an occasion as this was; and his refusal to strike in on the side of Aftobatcha must remain the greatest blot on an otherwise brilliant reputation. With the collapse of that effort, and the subsequent occupation of Ferghana, Russian attention seemed to become more occupied with the state of affairs on the Oxus and in Cabul, than with the fortunes or misfortunes of Kashgar. During the few months that intervened between the annexation of Khokand and the appearance of the Chinese north of the Tian Shan, Yakoob Beg adopted a more conciliatory policy towards Russia, and might in a short time have sunk into the position of a somewhat more important Khudayar or Mozaffur Eddin. Other events intervened, however, and gave a complete change to the question, as will be considered in a later chapter. We take our leave of this narrative of his dealings with Russia with an admiration that would be perfect but for the weakness he exhibited in 1875. Even that vacillation will scarcely destroy all the claim that his bold defiance and consistent opposition to all Russian pretensions to supremacy over Eastern Turkestan gives him to our respectful and admiring consideration.