Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 1, 1873
Mr. Schuyler to Mr. Fish.
St. Petersburg, February 17, 1873. (Received March 12.)
Sir: The London Times of the 13th, which arrived this morning, has the full text of the recent correspondence between the Russian and English governments on the subject of Central Asian affairs. This correspondence, which I inclose, (marked A to G,) fully bears out what I have before written to you about the negotiations.
It is evident that Count Schouvaloff, on his visit to London, must have made known to Earl Granville that Russia was ready to come to an agreement with England if only the way were smoothed for her, which will account for the conciliatory and, in some respects, weak tone of Earl Granville’s dispatch of January 24, (F,) as compared with the firm dispatch of October 17, (A.) It would, perhaps, have been better for English interests if Lord Granville had been content to rest the matter with his first dispatch and consider it as settled without asking for any consent on the part of Russia. But as the interests of civilization demand order in the countries of Central Asia, if panics can be allayed in England by an agreement which implicitly allows Russia to do as she chooses north of the Oxus, it is well that such an agreement has been arrived at.
You will notice that Prince Gortchacow, in his last dispatch, (G,) lays much stress on the engagement of the English government to keep Afghanistan quiet. This engagement may yet bring England into great difficulties.
The passage in Lord Granville’s dispatch of January 8, (E,) in which he expresses a wish to avoid discussion in Parliament on the proposed agreement, occasions much surprise.
Count Schouvaloff appears to have given assurances that it was the Emperor’s wish not to occupy Khiva permanently, but his language is ambiguous, and he does not specify whether it is the territory or the town of Khiva which will not be occupied. It will be easy for the Russian government to find reasons of necessity for occupying Kungrad or the mouth of the Oxus.
I have, &c.,
Earl Granville to Lord A. Loftus.
correspondence on central asia.
My Lord: Her Majesty’s government have not yet received from the cabinet of St. Petersburg communication of the report which General Kaufmann was long since instructed to draw up on the countries south of the Oxus, which are claimed by the ruler of Afghanistan as his hereditary possessions.
Her Majesty’s government have awaited this communication in full confidence that impartial inquiries, instituted by that distinguished officer, would confirm the views they themselves take of this matter, and so enable the two governments to come to a prompt and definite decision on the question that has been so long in discussion beween them.[Page 773]
But as the expected communication had not reached them, and as they consider it of importance, both for the maintenance of peace and tranquillity in Central Asia and for removing all causes of misunderstanding between the imperial government and themselves, I will no longer delay making known, through your excellency, to the imperial government the conclusions at which Her Majesty’s government have arrived, after carefully weighing all the evidence before them.
In the opinion, then, of Her Majesty’s government, the right of the Ameer of Cabul (Shere Ali) to the possession of the territories up to the Oxus, as far down as Khodja Saleh, is fully established, and they believe, and have so stated to him through the Indian government, that he would have a right to defend these territories if invaded. On the other hand, Her Majesty’s authorities in India have declared their determination to remonstrate strongly with the Ameer should he evince any disposition to overstep these limits of his kingdom.
Hitherto the Ameer has proved most amenable to the advice offered to him by the Indian government, and has cordially accepted the peaceful policy which they recommended him to adopt, because the Indian government have been able to accompany their advice with an assurance that the territorial integrity of Afghanistan would, in like manner, be respected by those powers beyond his frontiers which are amenable to the influence of Russia. The policy thus happily inaugurated has produced the most beneficial results in the estabhshment of peace in the countries where it has long been unknown.
Her Majesty’s government believe that it is now in the power of the Russian government, by an explicit recognition of the rights of the Ameer of Cabul to these territories he now claims, which Bokhara herself admits to be his, and which all evidence yet produced shows to be in his actual and effectual possession, to assist the British government in perpetuating, as far as it is in human power to do so, the peace and prosperity of those regions, and in removing forever, by such means, all cause of uneasiness and jealousy between England and Russia in regard to their respective policies in Asia.
For your excellency’s more complete information, I state the territories and boundaries which her Majesty’s government consider as fully belonging to the Ameer of Cabul, viz:
- Badakshan with its dependent districts; Wakhan, from the Sarikal (Woods Lake) on the east to the junction of the Kouktcha River with the Oxus, (or Penjah,) forming the northern boundary of this Afghan province throughout its entire extent.
- Afghan Turkestan, comprising the districts of Kundus, Khulm, and Balkh, the northern boundary of which would be the line of the Oxus, from the junction of the Kouktcha River to the post of the Khodja Saleh, inclusive, on the high road from Bokhara to Balkh. Nothing to be claimed by the Afghan Ameer on the left bank of the Oxus below Khodja Saleh.
- The internal districts of Aktchi, Leripool, Mehnané, Chibbirgan, and Andkhoi, the latter of which would be the extreme Afghan frontier possession to the northwest, the desert beyond belonging to the independent tribes of Turcomans.
- The western Afghan frontier, between the dependencies of Herat and those of the Persian province of Khorassan, is well known and need not here be defined.
Your excellency will give a copy of this dispatch to the Russian minister for foreign affairs.
I am, &c.,
Prince Gortchacow to Count Brunnow.
[Communicated to Earl Granville by Count Brunnow, December 29.]
M. le Comte: Your excellency has already received a copy of Lord Granville’s dispatch of the 17th of October, which was communicated to us by Lord A. Loftus, by order of his government.
It refers to the affairs of Central Asia. Before answering it, it becomes necessary for me to recapitulate the different phases of the negotiation between us and the English cabinet upon this question.
The two governments were equally desirous to forestall any cause of disagreement between them in that part of Asia. Both wish to establish such a state of things as would secure peace in those countries and consolidate the relations of friendship and good understanding between the two governments.
They had, consequently, come to an agreement that it was expedient to have a certain [Page 774] “intermediary” zone, for the purpose of preserving their respective possessions from immediate contact.
Afghanistan seemed well fitted to supply what was needed, and it was consequently agreed that the two governments should use all their influence with their neighboring states toward preventing any collision or encroachment one side or the other of this “intermediary” zone. All that remained, in order to make the agreement between the two cabinets as complete in fact as it already was in principle, Was to trace the exact limits of the zone.
It was here that a doubtful point arose. The founder of the Afghan state, Dost Mahammed Khan, had left behind him a state of confusion which did not allow of the territorial extension which Afghanistan had acquired at certain moments of his reign being accepted as a basis.
It was consequently agreed that no territories should be taken into account but such as, having formerly recognized the authority of Dost Mahammed, were still in the actual possession of Shere Ali Khan.
It thus became necessary to ascertain, with all possible accuracy, what were the territories in his actual possession.
For this purpose it was requisite to have positive local data, which neither government possessed, with reference to these distant and imperfectly known countries.
It was agreed that the governor-general of Turkestan should be instructed to take advantage of his residence in the proximity of and his relations with the neighboring Khanates to collect all the information necessary to throw light upon the question, and to enable the two governments to come to a practical decision with the facts before them.
Such was the point, M. le Comte, as your excellency will recollect, at which our negotiations with the English cabinet had arrived.
In conformity with this decision M. l’Aide-de-Camp Général de Kaufmann had taken every possible measure toward carrying out this preliminary investigation. Owing, moreover, to difficulties arising out of the distances involved, the excessively complicated nature of the points to be elucidated, the absence of genuine sources of information, and the impossibility of a direct inquiry, he was unable to accomplish his task as speedily as we, no less than the government of Her Britannic Majesty, would have desired. Hence the delay pointed out in Lord Granville’s dispatch.
We have, however, already drawn attention to the fact that the cause of the delay is to be found in the serious attention which the imperial cabinet devoted to this affair. It would have been easy to rest content with hastily collected notions which, later, would have given rise to misunderstandings. We preferred to study the question conscientiously, since it was one of giving a solid and durable basis to the political organization of Central Asia, and to the good and friendly relations, present as well as future, which the two governments aimed at establishing between them on that basis.
At the beginning of last October the imperial ministry was able to announce to Lord A. Loftus and to your excellency that the councillor of state, Struve, to whom these inquiries had been intrusted, had at last just arrived at St. Petersburg, and that as soon as the materials he had collected had been put into shape the result would be communicated to the cabinet in London. It was while this work was going on that Lord Granville’s dispatch was communicated to us, informing us of the opinion which Her Britannic Majesty’s government had thought fit to form upon the point in discussion. The imperial cabinet, having in view the spirit of the agreement, arrived at in principle between the two governments, none the less thinks it its duty to transmit to the government of Her Britannic Majesty the particulars collected on the spot by order of the governor-general of Turkestan, and to lay before them most frankly the conclusions which, in its opinion, are their natural consequences.
These particulars and conclusions are contained in the letter, copy of which is inclosed, which M. 1’Aide-de-Camp Général de Kaufmann has just addressed to me, and in the memorandum which forms its inclosure.
I will sum them up.
The question to be settled had two sides:
- To ascertain the real state of possession at this moment, so far as it is possible to prove it in those countries.
- Starting from this status quo as a basis, to seek for a line of demarkation to be traced which will best answer the object of the present negotiations; that is, to remove as far as possible all cause of conflict or mutual encroachment between the neighboring khanates, and consequently assure, as far as can be done, the state of peace which henceforward the two governments should respectively use all their influence to cause to be respected.
Looking at the question from these two points of view, its study led to the following conclusions:
1. That to the north the Anion Daria forms, in fact, the proper frontier of Afghanistan from its confluence with the Kouktcha as far as the point of Khodja Saleh.[Page 775]
So far our data confirm the opinion of the government of Her Britannic Majesty, and the frontier in question seems the more reasonable that it can give rise to no disputes on the part of the inhabitants of the banks of the Amou Daria.
2. To the northeast the data we have collected give the confluence of that river with the Kouktcha as the limit of the districts over which Shere Ali Khan exercises actual, undisputed sovereignty.
Beyond that limit, and especially with regard to Badakshan and Wakhan, it has been impossible to find any traces of such a sovereignty; on the contrary, all our information upon the subject goes to prove that these districts should be regarded as independent.
In the communication from Her Britannic Majesty’s government, which was made to us in November last, it is seen that according to the testimony of Major Montgomery the Ameer of Cabul has “considerable authority” in Badakshan, and that the Afghans have “assisted Mahmood Shah to upset the emir or chief of this country, Jehendar Shah.” But these facts themselves seem to point rather to the real independence of Badakshan than to its absolute subjection to the Ameer of Cabul. The information collected by M. Struye, and contained in his memorandum, supports this conclusion. Mention is made, it is true, of interference by the Afghan ameer in the internal disputes of Badakshan, and of attempts on his part to get his assistance paid for by a kind of tribute, but nowhere are the signs to be found which in Asia accompany the exercise of the rights of sovereignty; for instance, the presence in the country of Afghan officers and of officials to collect taxes.
The chiefs of Badakshan looked upon themselves, and were looked upon by their neighbors, as independent chiefs.
It follows that, from these facts, at the most, it may be granted that the Ameer of Cabul has on various occasions attempted to bring Badakshan under his dominion; that he has several times profited by internal discord to exercise over the country considerable control, based on his position as a neighbor and the superiority of his forces, but that it is impossible to deduce from them the existence of a real and uncontested sovereign power.
As to Wakhan, that country seems to have remained up to the present moment even more outside the circle of the direct action of the chiefs of Afghanistan.
3. We have next to inquire whether or not in this state of things, and in view of our common object, that is, the establishment in those regions of a permanent peace guaranteed by both governments it is well to recognize the rights claimed by the Ameer of Cabul over Badakshan and Wakhan, and to comprise these two countries within the territorial limits of Afghanistan. Such is not the opinion of M. l’Aide-de-Camp Général Kaufmann, and the imperial cabinet arrives at the same conclusions.
In the present state of things there is no dispute between Badakshan and her neighbors. Bokhara puts forward no claim to that country. The two states are, besides, too weak, too absorbed in their own affiairs, to wish to quarrel. England and Russia would consequently have nothing to do but to maintain this state of peace, as well between these khanates as between Afghanistan and Badakshan; and this task would not seem beyond their power. Far otherwise would it be the day that the Ameer of Cabul should extend his authority over Badakshan and Wakhan. He would find himself immediately in contact with Kashgar, Khokahd, and Bokhara, from which he is now separated by those two countries. From that moment it would be far more difficult to avoid contests due either to his ambition and consciousness of power, or to the jealousy of his neighbors. This would give a most precarious basis to the peace it is sought to establish in those countries, and compromise the two governments who would be called upon to guarantee it. This arrangement would consequently seem to us to go directly counter to the object which they have in common. It would appear to us much more in keeping with the object to allow the present state of things to continue. Badakshan and Wakhan would thus form a barrier interposed between the northern and southern states of Central Asia, and this barrier, strengthened by the combined action which England and Russia are able to bring to bear upon such of those states as are accessible to their influence, would effectually prevent any dangerous contact, and would, in our opinion, secure, as far as anything could do so, the peace of those countries.
4. As for the boundaries to be recognized as those of Afghanistan on the northwest, starting from Khodja Saleh, the information we have received equally throws doubts upon the de facto possession by the Ameer of Cabul of the towns of Aktchi, Leripool, Meimané, Chibirgan, and Andkhoi, which it is a question of comprising within the acknowledged boundaries of Afghanistan.
These districts, however, being divided from Bokhara by deserts, would not, if annexed to the Afghan territory, offer the same dangers of contact that we have pointed out on the northeast, and their annexation would not consequently be open to the same objections. If the government of Her Britannic Majesty adheres to its opinion of the expediency of comprising these places within the limit of the Afghan territory, we will not insist upon the principle from which we first started, namely, that no district [Page 776] should he acknowledged as part of Afghanistan hut such as had been under the rule of Dost Mahammed Khan, and were at this moment in actual subjection to Shere Ali Khan. In deference to the wish of the government of Her Britannic Majesty, the imperial cabinet would be disposed, as far as this portion of the boundary is concerned, to accept the line laid down in Lord Granville’s dispatch. Such, M. le Comte, are briefly the conclusions which we think the materials in our hands justify us in forming.
Be so good as to lay them before the chief secretary of state of Her Britannic Majesty. Our intention in communicating them to his excellency is not only to fulfill our promise. We believe that, in attempting the rational solution of a question which interests the two governments equally, we are best carrying out the purposes which have animated both ever since their first friendly interchange of ideas.
General Kaufmann to Prince Gortchacow.
I have the honor to submit to your highness herewith a memorandum on the question of the northern frontier of Afghanistan. This memorandum has been compiled on the basis of such data and materials as I have succeeded in collecting in the course of the last two years on the subject of the state of affairs on the frontier of Afghanistan and Bokhara and the independent states on the upper course of the Amou Daria.
I confess that these data are far from being complete.
Personal investigation and observation, exercised on the very spot, are, in Central Asia, the only means of obtaining enlightenment on any question whatever, political or geographical. I have not, as yet, had recourse to these means. To have sent a Russian official into these countries, even on the pretext of a scientific mission, might have created a panic in Afghanistan, and would have awakened suspicions and apprehensions on the part of the government of India. It was my duty to avoid anything that might in any way have disturbed the satisfactory state of our relations as established by the friendly and sincere exchange of ideas which has taken place between the imperial government and that of Her Britannic Majesty.
I have already had the honor of communicating to your highness my opinion as to one of the causes of the excited state of public feeling existing in the khanates of Central Asia bordering on Russia. That is, that all our neighbors, and particularly the Afghans, are filled with the conviction that there exists between Russia and England an enmity which, sooner or later, will lead us into a conflict with the English in Asia.
In conformity with the intentions and views of the minister for foreign affairs, I have applied myself to dispel this bugbear of an impending conflict between the two great powers. In my relations with Khokand or Bokhara, an 1, above all, in my letters to Shere Ali Khan, I have always spoken of the similarity of views and of the friendship existing between ourselves and England; and I have applied myself to the task of demonstrating that these two powers, Russia as well as England, are equally solicitous for the tranquillity of the countries and peoples Which lie within the radius of their influence and protection.
It is this reason which, up to the present time, has determined me not to send officers into those parts with the object of obtaining information respecting the question put to me by the imperial government.
This state of things is quite as advantageous for us as for England; But it is liable to change should once the possessions of Shere Ali Khan be guaranteed to him within the boundaries proposed at the present moment by Lord Granville in his dispatch to Lord A. Loftus of the 17th of October last. Such a guarantee would give him a considerable prestige, and he would immediately attempt to seize, de facto, the territories conceded to him. First of all he would turn his attention toward Badakshan and Wakhan as the easiest and most attainable booty. By the acquisition of these two territories he would prolong his line of contact with Bokhara, and would find himself side by side with Karatequina, whence Khokand is within easy reach. Finally, his northwestern boundary would touch the possessions of Yakoub Bek. Here is a road which would lead him straight into collision with Russia.
If the English government is really animated by the same wish as ourselves to maintain internal peace and tranquillity in the khanates which separate us from the British possessions in India; if England will give credit to our sincere protestations that [Page 777] we are not dreaming of any hostile enterprise whatever against her Indian possessions common sense ought to suggest to her the necessity of recognizing the independence of Badakshan and Wakhan equally in the interests of the Ameer of Cabul and of Bokhara.
I have, &c.,
Memorandum of Mr. Struve for Genial Kaufmann
In the strict sense of the word, the possessions of the Ameer Shere Ali Khan only extend eastward as far as the meridian of the point of junction of the river Kouktcha with the Amou-Daria.
This line separates Badakshan and Wakhan from the province of Kunduz, which incontestably forms part of the dominion of Shere Ali Khan. It was annexed to Afghanistan about twenty years ago, by Mahammed Afzul Khan, son of Dost Mahammed, who was at that time governor of Balkh. Afzul Khan, as we learn from an English communication, made a fruitless attempt to seize Badakshan, the consequence of which, however, was that the Meer of Badakshan, hi order to secure the safety of his dominions, engaged to pay to Dost Mahammed Khan an annual tribute of two rupees for every house, and to deliver up to him the mines of rubies and lapis-lazuli situated in his territory.
This engagement, however, was not fulfilled. The death of Dost Mahammed Khan suggested to the chiefs of Badakshan, who little wished to become subservient to Cabul, the idea of seeking the protection of Bokhara; but the Ameer Seid Mouzaffer totally declined to interfere in the affairs of Badakshan, not because he looked upon this country as a dependency of Afghanistan, but because at that time he was anxiously watching the progress of our arms in Central Asia, and was preparing to march against Kokand.
Djandar Shah, who was then ruler of Badakshan, was an entirely independent sovereign, and recognized as such by all his neighbors. He had entered into friendly relations with Mahommed Afzul Khan and his son, Abdourrahman Khan, to whom he paid no tribute. When Shere Ali Khan, having defeated Abdourrahman, had occupied Cabul and Balkh, and made himself master of all Afghanistan, he sent an embassy to Djandar Shah, calling upon him to fulfill the engagements which he had formerly contracted. Djandar Shah answered by a refusal. Thereupon Mahammed Shah, his nephew, supported by the Afghan troops, overthrew his uncle, and made himself master of Faizabad, the capital of Badakshan, while his younger brother, Mizrab Shah, seized Tchaïab, the chief town of the province of Roustakh. The two brothers now pay to Shere Ali Khan, in recognition of the co-operation which he granted them, an annual tribute of 15,000 rupees, (9,000 roubles.) With the exception, however, of a very small number of Afghan adventurers, one meets in Badakshan with neither officials nor troops of the Ameer of Cabul, and his people themselves detest the Afghans.
This intelligence, rurnished by Abdourrahman Khan, and gathered partly from the lips of envoys of the Serdar of Balkh who came to Tashkend, is confirmed by the statement of Alif Bek, ex-governor of Sarikoul, (a province of Kashgar bordering on Wakhan,) who presented himself at Tashkend in the month of August of the present year. He added that Djandar Shah, the legitimate ruler of Badakshan, who, first of all, fled to Bokhara, had afterward returned by Samarkand and Kokand to Chongnan.
Such a state of things existing in Badakshan clearly shows that Shere Ali Khan could have no pretension to the possession of Badakshan as an inheritance bequeathed to him by Dost Mahammed Khan, and that his authority is not yet established in Badakshan. Mahammed Shah and Mizrab Shah, the actual rulers of Badakshan, do not consider themselves as beks of the Ameer of Cabul, and if they pay him tributes, it is only in the interests of their own security, and in order to shelter themselves from the sudden attacks of the brigands of Kunduz. Moreover, they have still to fear their uncle, Djandar Shah. There is nothing to favor the belief that the state of affairs in Badakshan is likely to change soon in favor of Shere Ali Khan, and it is certain that the present state of things in that country is in accordance, or nearly so, with the objects we have in view in Central Asia in common, and after a previous and voluntary understanding with England. Nor floes anything point to the possibility of a collision between Afghanistan and Bokhara on the side of Badakshan; the Ameer Seid Mouzaffa has put forward no pretension to the possession of that country. In the same way, Shere Ali Khan, who with difficulty keeps up a show of authority at Badakshan, is [Page 778] not in a position at this moment to exercise any-influence over Kouliab and Hissar, the towns of Bokhara which lie nearest to Badakshan. The official recognition of Russia and England of the rights of Shere Ali Khan over this country would at once lead that sovereign to make every effort to establish himself at Taizabad and in the district of Roustakh, and should he once succeed, a collision between Bokhara and Afghanistan would become inevitable. In support of this view, it will suffice to state that the former bek of Hissar, who in 1870 took refuge in Afghanistan, after his revolt against the Ameer Seid Mouzaffar in 1869, has already made attempts to recover his province, with the assistance of the Afghans, to whom he promised the entire subjection to the Ameer of Cabul of the whole of the province of Hissar and Kouliab. That this plan has not been carried out, must be attributed to the fact that the authority of Shere Ali Khan in Badakshan was null, and that the Ameer had no means of aggression at his disposal in that state.
To the east of Badakshan, in the upper basin of the Amou-Daria, lies a country little known, named Wakhan. This country, sometimes called Dariapendz, (the Five Rivers,) on account of the five principal tributaries which give rise to the Amou-Daria, to the north borders on the Pamir Steppe, which separates it from Karategnine; to the east it marches with Sarikoul, which belongs to the states under Yakoub Bek; to the south it is separated from Tchitrar (a country completely independent of Cabul) by the mountains of Nouk San, the eastern prolongation of the Hindoo Koosh. Wakhan is administered by a chief of its own, but the poverty of its inhabitants and the barrenness of the soil of mountainous district have brought it into dependence upon Badakshan, the beks of which do not, however, meddle with its domestic affairs. Once a year the chief of Wakhan sends a certain sum of money to the beks of Badakshan, but there are no direct relations between this country and Afghanistan.
A road passes through Badakshan and Wakhan, connecting Kunduz with Sarikoul, Yarkend, and K ash gar. According to certain information in our possession, this road is longer than the direct road from Peshawur to Yarkend taken by Mr. Shaw.
As to the Amou-Daria, this river serves as a boundary line between Afghanistan and Bokhara for a distance of about three hundred versts, from the confluence of the Koutkcha on the east up to the point where both banks belong to Bokhara, and especially as far as the pass of Tehouekha-Gouzar, opposite the Bokharan village Khodja-Laleh, which is on the right bank of the river.
To sum up as far as regards the northwest boundary of Afghanistan, although there are doubts as to the actual possession by the Ameer of Cabul of the towns of Aktchou, Beripool, Mai mane, Chibirgan, and Andkhoi, lying to the west of Balkh, it may be taken into consideration that all this region is isolated from the states of Bokhara by an almost impassable desert, and, in part, even by the sands; and that, consequently, on that side there would be less fear of any immediate collision between Afghanistan and Bokhara.
Earl Granville to Lord A. Loftus.
My Lord: Having received information from your excellency and from Count Brunnow that Count Schouvaloff, a statesman enjoying the confidence of the Emperor of Russia, had left St. Petersburg for London at the desire of His Imperial Majesty, I had the pleasure of receiving his excellency on the 8th instant.
He confirmed the fact that it was by the Emperor’s desire that he had sought a personal interview with me. It had caused great surprise to His Imperial Majesty to learn from various sources that a certain amount of excitement and susceptibility had been caused in the public mind of this country on account of questions connected with Central Asia.
The Emperor knew of no questions in Central Asia which could affect the good understanding between the two countries. It was true, that no agreement has been come to as to some of the details of the arrangement concluded by Lord Clarendon and Prince Gortchacow, on the basis of Mr. Forsyth’s recommendations as to the boundaries of Afghanistan; but the question ought not to be a cause to ruffle the good relations between the two countries. His Imperial Majesty had agreed to almost everything that we had asked. There remained only the point regarding the provinces of Badakshan and Wakhan.
There might be arguments used respectively by the departments of each government; but the Emperor was of the opinion that such a question should not be a cause of difference between the countries, and His Imperial Majesty was determined that it should not be so. He was the more inclined to carry out this determination in consequence of His Majesty’s belief in the conciliatory policy of Her Majesty’s government.[Page 779]
Count Schouvaloff added, on. Ms own part, that he had every reason to believe, if it were desired by Her Majesty’s government, the agreement might be arrived at at a very early period.
With regard to the expedition to Khiva it was true that it was decided upon for next spring. To give an idea of its character it was sufficient to say that it would consist of four and a half battalions. Its object was to punish acts of brigandage, to recover fifty Russian prisoners, and to teach the Khan that such conduct on his part could not be continued with the impunity in which the moderation of Russia had led him to believe. Not only was it far from the intention of the Emperor to take possession of Khiva, but positive orders had been prepared to prevent it, and directions given that the conditions imposed should be such as could not, in any way, lead to a prolonged occupancy of Khiva.
Count Schouvaloff repeated the surprise which the Emperor, entertaining such sentiments, felt at the uneasiness which it was said existed in England on the subject; and he gave me most decided assurance that I might give positive assurances to Parliament on this matter.
With regard to the uneasiness which might exist in England on the subject of Central Asia, I could not deny the fact to Count Schouvaloff; the people of this country were decidedly in favor of peace, but a great jealousy existed as to anything which really affected our honor and interest; that they were particularly alive to anything affecting India; that the progress of Russia in Asia had been considerable, and sometimes, as it would appear, like England in India, and France in Algeria, more so than was desired by the central governments; that the Clarendon and Gortchacow arrangement, apparently agreeable to both governments, had met with great delay as to its final settlement; that it was with the object of coming to a settlement, satisfactory to both countries, and in a friendly and conciliatory spirit, that I had addressed to your excellency the dispatch of the 17th of October.
The only point of difference which now remained, as Count Schouvaloff had pointed out, concerned Badakshan and Wakhan. In our opinion, historical facts proved that these countries were under the domination of the sovereign of Cabul, and we have acknowledged as much in public documents; that, with regard to the expedition to Khiva, Count Schouvaloff was aware that Lord Northbrook had given the strongest advice to the Khan to comply with the reasonable demands of the Emperor, and if the expedition were undertaken and were carried out with the object and within the limits described by Count Schouvaloff, it would meet with no remonstrance from Her Majesty’s government, but it would undoubtedly excite public attention, and make the settlement of the boundary of Afghanistan more important for the object which both governments had in view, viz, peace in Central Asia, and good relations between the two countries.
As to coming to a decision at an early date, it appeared to me desirable, Inasmuch as it would bear a different aspect if arrived at in the spirit with which both governments were actuated, and not complicated by possible discussions raised in the British Parliament.
I concluded by telling Count Schouvaloff that I knew the confidence which was placed in him by the Emperor, and that I felt sure that my colleagues would agree with me in appreciating his visit to England as a gratifying proof of the eminently conciliatory and friendly spirit with which the Emperor desired to settle without delay the question at issue.
I am, &c.,
Earl Granville to Lord A. Loftus.
My Lord: Her Majesty’s government have attentively considered the statements and arguments contained in Prince Gortchacow’s dispatch of the 7/19th December, and the papers that accompanied it, which were communicated to me by the Russian embassador on the 11/25th December, and to your excellency by Prince Gortchacow on the 29th of that month.
Her Majesty’s government gladly recognize in the frank and friendly terms of that dispatch the same spirit of friendliness as that in which, by my dispatch of the 17th of October, I desired to convey through your excellency to the Russian government the views of that of Her Majesty in regard of the line of boundary claimed by Shere Ali, the ruler of Cabul, for his possessions of Afghanistan.[Page 780]
Her Majesty’s government see with much satisfaction that, as regards the principal part of that line, the imperial government is willing to acquiesce in the claim of Shere Ali, and they rely on the friendly feelings of the Emperor when they lay before him, as I now instruct your excellency to do, a renewed statement of the grounds on which they consider that Shere Ali’s claim to the remainder of the line of boundary, referred to in my dispatch of the 17th of October, to be well founded.
The objections stated in Prince Gortchacow’s dispatch apply to that part of Shere Ali’s claims which would comprise the province of Badakshan, with its dependent district of Wakhan, within the Afghan state. The imperial government contend that the province of Badakshan, with its dependency, not having been formally incorporated into the territories of Shere Ali, is not legitimately any portion of the Afghan state.
To this Her Majesty’s government reply that the Ameer of Cabul, having attained by conquest the sovereignty over Badakshan, and having received in the most formal manner the submission of the chiefs and people of that province, had the right to impose upon it such a form of government as he might think best adapted to the position of affairs at that time. In the exercise of this right he appointed a local governor, and he consented, experimentally, to receive a fixed portion of the revenues of the country, instead of taking upon himself its general financial and other administration. But the Ameer expressly reserved to himself the right of reconsidering this arrangement, which was, in the first instance, made only for one year, of at at any time subjecting Badakshan to the direct government of Cabul, and of amalgamating the revenues thereof with the general revenue of the Afghan state. Her Majesty’s government cannot perceive anything in the circumstances calculated to weaken the claims of Shere Ali to the absolute sovereignty of Badakshan. The conquest and submission of the province was complete; and it cannot reasonably be urged that any experimental form of administration which the Ameer, with the acknowledged right of sovereignty, might think fit to impose on Badakshan, could possibly disconnect the province from the general territories south of the Oxus, the sovereignty of which the Russian government has, without hesitation, recognized to be vested in the Ameer of Cabul.
Her Majesty’s government have not failed to notice in portions of the statements of the Russian government, to which I am now replying, that its objection to admitting Badakshan and Wakhan to be under the sovereignty of Shere Ali, is rested in part on an expressed apprehension lest their incorporation with the remainder of Afghanistan should tend to disturb the peace of Central Asia, and specifically should operate as an encouragement to the Ameer to extend his possessions at the expense of the neighboring countries. I alluded, in my dispatch of the 17th of October, to the success which had attended the recommendations made to the Ameer by the Indian government, to adopt the policy which had produced the most beneficial results, in the establishment of peace in countries where it had long been unknown; and Her Majesty’s government see no reason to suppose that similar results would not follow on the like recommendations. Her Majesty’s government will not fail to impress upon the Ameer, in the strongest terms, the advantages which are given to him in the recognition by Great Britain and Russia of the boundaries which he claims, and of the consequent obligation on him to abstain from any aggression on his part, and Her Majesty’s government will continue to exercise their influence in the same direction. Her Majesty’s government cannot, however, but feel that if Badakshan and Wakhan, which they consider the Ameer justly to deem to be part of his territories, be assumed by Russia or England, or by one or either of them, to be wholly independent of his authority, the Ameer might be tempted to assert his claims by arms; that perhaps in that case Bokhara might seek an opportunity of acquiring districts too weak of themselves to resist the Afghan state; and that thus the peace of Central Asia would be disturbed, and occasion given for questions between Great Britian and Russia which it is on every account so desirable to avoid, and which Her Majesty’s government feel sure would be as distasteful to the imperial government as to themselves. Her Majesty’s government therefore hope that the imperial government, weighing these considerations dispassionately, will concur in the recognition which they have made of Shere Ali’s rights, as stated in my dispatch of October, and by so doing put an end to the wild speculations so calculated to distract the minds of Asiatic races, that there is some marked disagreement between England and Russia, on Which they may build hopes of carrying out their border feuds, for purposes of self aggrandizement.
Her Majesty’s government congratulate themselves on the prospect of a definite settlement, as between the two governments, of the question of the boundaries of Afghanistan, the details of which have been so long in discussion.
Your excellency will read and give a copy of this dispatch to Prince Gortchacow.
I am, &c.,
Prince Gortchacow to Count Brunnow.
[Communicated to Earl Granville by Count Brunnow February 5.]
M. le Comte: Lord Augustus Loftus has communicated to me the reply of Her Britannic Majesty’s principal secretary of state to our dispatch on Central Asia of the 19th of December. I inclose a copy of this document. We see with satisfaction that the English cabinet continues to pursue in those parts the same object as ourselves—that of insuring to them peace and, as far as possible, tranquillity.
The divergence which existed in our views was with regard to the frontiers assigned to the dominions of the Shere Ali. The English cabinet includes within them Badakshan and Wakhan, which, according to our views, enjoyed a certain independence. Considering the difficulty experienced in establishing the facts in all their details in those distant parts; considering the greater facilities which the British government possesses for collecting precise data; and, above all, considering our wish not to give to this question of detail greater importance than is due to it, we do not refuse to accept the line of boundary laid down by England.
We are the more inclined to this act of courtesy as the English government engages to use all its influence with Shere Ali in order to induce him to maintain a peaceful attitude, as well as to insist on his giving up all measures of aggression or further conquest. This influence is indisputable. It is based not only on the material and moral ascendency of England, but also on the subsidies for which Shere Ali is indebted to her. Such being the case, we see in this assurance a real guaranty for the maintenance of peace.
Your excellency will have the goodness to make this declaration to Her Britannic Majesty’s principal secretary of state, and to give him a copy of this dispatch.
We are convinced that Lord Granville will perceive in it a fresh proof of the value which our august master attaches to the maintenance and consolidation of the most friendly relations with the government of Her Majesty Queen Victoria.