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Vanity Fair

William Thackery

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Cabool: a personal narrative of a journey to and residence in that city

by Alexander Burnes (sir.)


Objects of the Mission—Departure from Bombay—Arrival in Sinde—Instructions—Embedded ship—Changes in the Indus— Reminiscences—Tame otter—Vikkur—Pelican — Fish—The Boolun, or porpoise—Singular ceremony—Peer Putta—Tattd— Chief of the Jokeeas—Superstition—Ramazan—Condition of the Hindoos—Kulan Cote—Ruins — Sumovee Nuggur—Kinjore —Presentation to the Ameers of Sinde—Conference—Hyd rabid—Old acquaintances.

In the latter end of November, 1836, I was directed by the Governor-General of India, the Earl of Auckland, to undertake a mission to Cabool. Lieutenant (now Major) Robert Leech of the Bombay Engineers, Lieutenant John Wood of the Indian Navy, and Percival B. Lord, Esq., M. B., were associated with me in the undertaking. The objects of Government were to work out its policy of opening the river Indus to commerce, and establishing on its banks, and in the countries beyond it, such relations as should contribute to the desired end. On the 26th of November we sailed from Bombay, and sighting the fine palace at Mandivee on the 6th of December, we finally landed in Sinde on the 13th of the month. Dr. Lord did not join our party till March.

On entering the river Indus I drew up such instructions as seemed necessary to guide Lieutenants Leech and Wood. To the former I pointed out the advisability of noting all the military features of the country, and recording all the information which he could collect; to the latter I intrusted entirely the survey of the river, and to both I gave instructions to combine the advancement of general knowledge with in correct discharge of the specific duties on which they were employed. To Dr. Lord the branches of natural history and geology were subsequently assigned; but, as the published reports of the mission serve to show, the abilities of this muchlamented public servant were likewise enlisted on subjects, certainly not more important, but of more immediate and pressing interest, I must refer to the printed papers before Parliament, and those reports to which I have already alluded, for the nature of the duties which devolved upon myself. With the dry diplomatic details which they contain I have no intention of fatiguing the reader. It is sufficient for me to have the satisfaction of believing that I kept open, for a time, the door of inquiry through which others entered. The object of the present volume is to give the personal and miscellaneous details of our journey.

Shortly after disembarking on the coast of Sinde

an opportunity was presented us of examining a square-rigged vessel, which had been embedded in the Delta of the Indus, and left, by the caprice of the river, on dry land, about twenty miles from the sea, near the fort of Vikkur, where it has lain since the time of the calories, the dynasty preceding that which now reigns in Sinde. This vessel, called "Armat" by the Sindians, is about 70 feet long and 28 in breadth : she seems to have been a brig of war, pierced for 14 guns, and capable of carrying not more than 200 tons English ; her greatest draft of water, marked on the stern-post, being only 9 feet, which is less than is drawn by some of the present country boats of 40 tons (160 candies). It is, however, obvious that the Indus was at one time entered by vessels of a different description from those now in use, as this half-fossilized ship, if I can re call her, amply proves. The word "Armat" suggests the idea that the vessel was Portuguese, and that it is a corruption of Armada. There was also a Roman Catholic cross on the figure-head, and we know that the Portuguese burned Tatta in 1555, though this vessel, I imagine, belongs to a much later period of the history of that nation. We dug up from her hold six small brass guns, about twenty gun-barrels, and four hundred balls and shells, the latter filled with powder. These implements of war were found near the stern in the armoury, so that it is probable the vessel foundered: her position is now erect; and a large tamarisk tree grows out of her deck. The sailors call her " Nou Khureed," or the new purchase, and state her to have been left last century in her present site, where she remains a singular object.

Since my former visit to Sinde much of the jealousy of its Government had disappeared, though enough still existed to render some degree of caution necessary. We however conversed freely with the people at the sea-ports, and some of them were old enough to remember the names of the English which they had heard from their fathers. They mentioned those of Calender, Baker, Erskine, and Smith, as near as I can approximate Sindian pronunciation to English; and they told us that there were still the remains of an Englishman's tomb at Dehra. The records of Government state that Mr. Calender was the gentleman who withdrew the factory from Sinde in 1775, "as we had before experienced some instances of the arbitrary disposition of the prince "—so that the present generation had not mistaken the traditions handed down to them. They seemed willing and ready again to weicome us as rulers; nor has the gratification of their wishes been long delayed, Sinde being no longer connected with Britain by a commercial factory only, but having become one of the tributary states of our mighty Indian empire.

The Indus had undergone various alterations since I saw it in 1831: but, from all that I can gather, I have doubts whether any of the vast changes surmised by Captain Macmurdo have taken place in this river. That the water has shifted from one mouth to another is certain: but the number of its mouths must long have been much the same as at present, since in a chart published by Captain Dalrymple in 1783,I can distinguish eleven or twelve of the embouchures by the names they yet bear. It is also very questionable if the Indus were ever entered by such ships as navigate the Hoogly branch of the Ganges. Still there is ample depth in its estuaries to give encouragement to the merchant to seek, by this line, with properly constructed vessels, a new channel for the exports of our country.

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