BLTC Press Titles

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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

An account of the kingdom of Caubul, and its dependencies in Persia, Tartary, and India

by Mountstuart Elphinstone





I Now proceed to a particular description of the tribes, among which so great a diversity will be observed, that it is necessary to remind the reader, that they are all of the same race, speak the same language, and form one nation.

All the preceding account applies to every tribe, unless where it has been limited at the time, or where it is contradicted in the following description.

I shall begin with an account of the Berdooraunees, and among them of the tribe of Eusofzye. Though the Eusofzyes afford an unfavourable specimen of the


character and manners of the Afghauns, yet they display many of the peculiarities of their nation in more perfection than any other tribe. When the whole of their institutions have been explained, those of the other Berdooraunees may be shown as modifications of the same system, and those of the southern and western tribes may be rendered intelligible, by comparing them with this standard.

The tribes which inhabit the north-eastern part of the Afghaun country, enclosed between the range of Hindoo Coosh, the Indus, the Salt Range, and the Range of Solimaun, are comprehended in the general name of Berdooraunees, first given to them by Ahmed Shauh. They consist of the Eusofzyes, Otmaun Khail, Turcolaunees, Khyberees, the tribes of the plain of Peshawer, and those of Bungush and Khuttuk.

Before I describe each of these tribes, I shall notice the principal points in which they differ from all the other Afghauns.

It has already been mentioned, that the eastern Afghauns appear to have received their civilization from India, and this observation applies particularly to the Berdooraunees. From the early period at which the Kings of Ghuznee and Caubul obtained possession of Hindostan, the north-eastern part of Afghaunistaun has been always the thoroughfare between those empires; and the inhabitants have imitated the manners of the country where the arts of life were probably most advanced, and which was, besides, in general, the residence of the sovereign and his court. These habits were probably earliest introduced into the cities, and the tribes upon the great roads, but they have proved most permanent in the more retired parts of the country; the others still continued to be most frequented, after the connection with India was destroyed, and the presence of the Dooraunee court and army has introduced a disposition to adopt the language and manners of Khorassaun. On the whole, however, the manners of India, mixed with those peculiar to the Afghauns, still prevail amongst all the Berdooraunees.

The Berdooraunees are divided into numerous little societies. As they are all agricultural, they are crowded into a less space than could be occupied by any of the tribes, which are in part or entirely pastoral; and as they continue to increase, each tribe finds itself more and more straitened every day; hence arise disputes and battles about land and water, and constant jealousy of neighbouring tribes. The effects of a crowded population are also observable in individuals. Every man is obliged to pay constant attention to the means necessary for his own subsistence, and has little regard to the convenience or the rights of his neighbours. In consequence, we find the Berdooraunees brave, but quarrelsome; active, industrious, and acute, but selfish, contentious, and dishonest. They are more bigoted and intolerant than the other Afghauns, and more under the influence of their Moollahs. They are also more vicious and debauched, and some among them are, in all respects, the worst of the Afghauns.

These characteristics are variously modified, according to the situations of the different tribes. They are less strongly marked among the scattered inhabitants of the mountains, than among those of the plains and valleys. The free tribes are most turbulent; those under a powerful chief most litigious. The general custom of the Afghauns also modifies the practice of the Berdooraunees. This custom, for example, makes them hospitable, though their own situation has made them selfish; but their hospitality by no means equals that of the western tribes.

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