Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXVIII. February, 1843. Vol. LIII.

Part 4 out of 6

themselves to the high duties of their station, regardless of its
pleasures, than in any other: men who recognize practically the
responsibility of their rank, and do not shirk from them; men who think
they have something to do, and something to repay, for the accidents of
birth and fortune--who, in the senate, in the field, or in the less
prominent, but not less noble, career of private life, act, as they
feel, with the poet:

"At heros, et decus, et quae non fecimus ipsi,
Vix ea nostra voco."

It has been admirably remarked, by some one whose name we forget, that
the grand advantage of high birth is, placing a man as far forward at
twenty-five as another man is at fifty. We might, as a corollary to this
undeniable proposition, add, that birth not only places, but keeps a man
in that advance of his fellows, which in the sum of life makes such vast
ultimate difference in the prominence of their position.

This advantage enjoyed by the aristocracy of birth, of early enrolling
themselves among the aristocracy of power, has, like every thing in the
natural and moral world, its compensating disadvantage: they lose in one
way what they gain in another; and although many of them become eminent
in public life, few, very few, comparatively with the numbers who enter
the arena, become great. They are respected, heard, and admired, by
virtue of a class-prepossession in their favour; yet, after all, they
must select from the ranks of the aristocracy of talent their firmest
and best supporters, to whom they may delegate the heavy
responsibilities of business, and lift from their own shoulders the
burden of responsible power.

One striking example of the force of birth, station, and association in
public life, never fails to occur to us, as an extraordinary example of
the magnifying power of these extrinsic qualities, in giving to the
aristocracy of birth a consideration, which, though often well bestowed,
is yet oftener bestowed without any desert whatever; and that title to
admiration and respect, which has died with ancestry, patriotism, and
suffering in the cause of freedom, is transferred from the illustrious
dead to the undistinguished living.

Without giving a catalogue _raisonne_ of the slow fellows, (we use the
term not disrespectfully, but only in contradistinction to the others,)
we may observe that, besides the public service in which the great names
are sufficiently known, you have poets, essayists, dramatists,
astronomers, geologists, travellers, novelists, and, what is better than
all, philanthropists. In compliment to human nature, we take the liberty
merely to mention the names of Lord Dudley Stuart and Lord Ashley. The
works of the slow fellows, especially their poetry, indicate in a
greater or less degree the social position of the authors; seldom or
never deficient in good taste, and not without feeling, they lack power
and daring. The smooth style has their preference, and their verses
smack of the school of Lord Fanny; indeed, we know not that, in poetry
or prose, we can point out one of our slow fellows of the present day
rising above judicious mediocrity. It is a curious fact, that the most
daring and original of our noble authors have, in their day, been fast
fellows; it is only necessary to name Rochester, Buckingham, and Byron.

Among the slow fellows, are multitudes of pretenders to intellect in a
small way. These patronize a drawing-master, not to learn to draw, but
to learn to talk of drawing; they also study the _Penny Magazine_ and
other profound works, to the same purpose; they patronize the London
University, and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, as
far as lending their names; for, being mostly of the class of
fashionable _screws_, they take care never to subscribe to any thing.
They have a refined taste in shawls, and are consequently in the
confidence of dressy old women, who hold them up as examples of every
thing that is good. They take chocolate of a morning, and tea in the
evening; drink sherry with a biscuit, and wonder how people _can_ eat
those hot lunches. They take constitutional walks and Cockle's pills;
and, by virtue of meeting them at the Royal Society, are always
consulting medical men, but take care never to offer them a guinea. They
talk of music, of which they know something--of books, of which they
know little--and of pictures, of which they know less; they have always
read "the last novel," which is as much as they can well carry; they
know literary, professional, and scientific men at Somerset House, but,
if they meet them in Park Lane, look as if they never saw them before;
they are very peevish, have something to say against every man, and
always say the worst first; they are very quiet in their manner, almost
sly, and never use any of the colloquialisms of the fast fellows; they
treat their inferiors with great consideration, addressing them, "honest
friend," "my good man," and so on, but have very little heart, and less

They equally abhor the fast fellows and the pretenders to fashion. They
are afraid of the former, who are always ridiculing them and their
pursuits, by jokes theoretical and practical. If the fast fellows
ascertain that a slow fellow affects sketching, they club together to
annoy him, talking of the "autumnal tints," and "the gilding of the
western hemisphere;" if a botanist, they send him a cow-cabbage, or a
root of mangel-wurzel, with a serious note, stating, that they hear it
is a great curiosity in _his line_; if an entomologist, they are sure to
send him away "with a flea in his ear." If he affects poetry, the fast
fellows make one of their servants transcribe, from _Bell's Life_,
Scroggins's poetical version of the fight between Bendigo and Bungaree,
or some such stuff; and, having got the slow fellow in a corner, insist
upon having his opinion, and drive him nearly mad. All these, and a
thousand other pranks, the fast fellows play upon their slow brethren,
not in the hackneyed fashion which low people call "_gagging_," and
genteel people "_quizzing_," but with a seriousness and gravity that
heightens all the joke, and makes the slow fellow inexpressibly

It is astonishing, considering the opportunities of the slow fellows,
that they do not make a better figure; it seems wonderful, that they who
glide swiftly down the current of fortune with wind and tide, should be
distanced by those who, close-hauled upon a wind, are beating up against
it all their lives; but so it is;--the compensating power that rules
material nature, governs the operations of the mind. To whom much is
given of opportunity, little is bestowed of the exertion to improve it.
Those who rely more or less on claims extrinsic, are sure to be
surpassed by those whose power is from within. After all, the great
names of our nation (with here and there an exception to prove the rule)
are plebeian.


In their political capacity, people of fashion, among whom, for the
present purpose, we include the whole of the aristocracy, are the common
butt of envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.

They are accused of standing between the mass of the people and their
inalienable rights; of opposing, with obstinate resistance, the progress
of rational liberty, and of----but, in short, you have only to glance
over the pages of any democratic newspaper, to be made aware of the
horrible political iniquity of the aristocracy of England.

The aristocracy in England, considered politically, is a subject too
broad, too wide, and too deep for us, we most readily confess; nor is it
exactly proper for a work of a sketchy nature, in which we only skim
lightly along the surface of society, picking up any little curiosity
as we go along, but without dipping deep into motives or habits of
thought or action, especially in state affairs.

Since our late lamented friends, the Whigs, have gone to enjoy a
virtuous retirement and dignified ease, we have taken no delight in
politics. There is no fun going on now-a-days--no quackery, no
mountebankery, no asses, colonial or otherwise. The dull jog-trot
fellows who have got into Downing Street have made politics no joke; and
now that silence, as of the tomb, reigns amongst _quondam_ leaders of
the Treasury Benech--now that the camp-followers have followed the
leader, and the auxiliaries are dispersed, we really have nobody to
laugh at; and, like our departed friends, have too little of the
statesman to be serious about serious matters.

With regard to the aristocracy in their public capacity, this is the way
we always look at them.

In the first place, they govern us through the tolerance of public
opinion, as men having station, power, property, much to lose, and
little comparatively to gain--men who have put in bail to a large amount
for their good behaviour: and, in the second place, they govern us,
because really and truly there are so many outrageously discordant
political quacks, desirous of taking our case in hand, that we find it
our interest to entrust our public health to an accomplished physician,
even although he charges a guinea a visit, and refuses to insure a
perfect cure with a box of pills costing thirteenpence-halfpenny. There
can be no doubt whatever, that the most careful men are the men who have
most to care for: he that has a great deal to lose, will think twice,
where he that has nothing to lose, will not think at all: and the
government of this vast and powerful empire, we imagine, with great
deference, must require a good deal of thinking. In a free press, we
have a never-dying exponent of public opinion, a perpetual advocate of
rational liberty, and a powerful engine for the exposure, which is
ultimately the redress, of wrong: and although this influential member
of our government receives no public money, nor is called right
honourable, nor speaks in the House, yet in fact and in truth it has a
seat in the Cabinet, and, upon momentous occasions, a voice of thunder.

That the aristocracy of power should be in advance of public opinion, is
not in the nature of things, and should no more be imputed as a crime to
them, than to us not to run when we are not in a hurry: they cannot, as
a body, move upwards, because they stand so near the top, that dangerous
ambition is extinguished; and it is hardly to be expected that, as a
body, they should move downwards, unless they find themselves supported
in their position upon the right of others, in which case we have always
seen that, although they descend gradually, they descend at last.

This immobility of our aristocracy is the origin of the fixity of our
political institutions, which has been, is, and will continue to be, the
great element of our pre-eminence as a nation: it possesses a force
corrective and directive, and at once restrains the excess, while it
affords a point of resistance, to the current of the popular will. And
this immobility, it should never be forgotten, is owing to that very
elevation so hated and so envied: wanting which the aristocracy would be
subject to the vulgar ambitions, vulgar passions, and sordid desires of
meaner aspirants after personal advantage and distinction. It is a
providential blessing, we firmly believe, to a great nation to possess a
class, by fortune and station, placed above the unseemly contentions of
adventurers in public life: looked up to as men responsible without hire
for the public weal, and, without sordid ambitions of their own,
solicitous to preserve it: looked up to, moreover, as examples of that
refinement of feeling, jealous sense of honour, and manly independence,
serving as detersives of the grosser humours of commercial life, and
which, filtering through the successive _strata_ of society, clarify and
purify in their course, leaving the very dregs the cleaner for their

A body thus by habit and constitution opposed to innovation, and
determined against the recklessness of inconsiderate reforms, has
furnished a stock argument to those who delight in "going a-head" faster
than their feet, which are the grounds of their arguments, can carry
them. We hear the aristocracy called stumbling-blocks in the way of
legislative improvements, and, with greater propriety of metaphor,
likened to drags upon the wheel of progressive reform; and so on,
through all the regions of illustration, until we are in at the death of
the metaphor. How happens to be overlooked the advantage of this
anti-progressive barrier, to the concentration and deepening of the
flood of opinion on any given subject? how is it that men are apt
altogether to forget that this very barrier it is which prevents the too
eager crowd from trampling one another to death in their haste? which
gives time for the ebullitions of unreasoning zeal, and reckless
enthusiasm, and the dregs of agitation, quietly to subside; and, for all
that, bears the impress of reason and sound sense to circulate with
accumulated pressure through the public mind? Were it not for the
barrier which the aristocracy of power thus interposes for a time, only
to withdraw when the time for interposition is past, we should live in a
vortex of revolution and counter-revolution. Our whole time, and our
undivided energies, would be employed in acting hastily, and repenting
at leisure; in repining either because our biennial revolutions went too
far, or did not go far enough; in expending our national strength in the
unprofitable struggles of faction with faction, adventurer with
adventurer: with every change we should become more changeful, and with
every settlement more unsettled: one by one our distant colonies would
follow the bright example of our people at home, and our commerce and
trade would fall with our colonial empire. In fine, we should become in
the eyes of the world what France now is--a people ready to sacrifice
every solid advantage, every gradual, and therefore permanent,
improvement, every ripening fruit that time and care, and the sunshine
of peace only can mature, to a genius for revolution.

This turbulent torrent of headlong reform, to-day flooding its banks,
to-morrow dribbling in a half-dry channel, the aristocracy of power
collects, concentrates, and converts into a power, even while it
circumscribes it, and represses. So have we seen a mountain stream
useless in summer, dangerous in winter, now a torrent now a puddle,
wasting its unprofitable waters in needless brawling; let a barrier be
opposed to its downward course, let it be dammed up, let a point of
resistance be afforded where its waters may be gathered together, and
regulated, you find it turned to valuable account, acting with men's
hands, becoming a productive labourer, and contributing its time and its
industry to advance the general sum of rational improvement.

From the material to the moral world you may always reason by analogy.
If you study the theory of revolutions, you will not fail to observe
that, wherever, in constructing your barrier, you employ ignorant
engineers, who have not duly calculated the depth and velocity of the
current; whenever you raise your dam to such a height that no flood will
carry away the waste waters; whenever you talk of finality to the
torrent, saying, thus long shalt thou flow, and no longer; whenever you
put upon your power a larger wheel than it can turn--you are slowly but
surely preparing for that flood which will overwhelm your work, destroy
your mills, your dams, and your engines; in a word, you are the remote
cause of a revolution.

This is the danger into which aristocracies of power are prone to fall:
the error of democracies is, to delight in the absolutism of liberty;
but thus it is with liberty itself, that true dignity of man, that
parent of all blessings: absolute and uncontrolled, a tyranny beyond the
power to endure itself, the worst of bad masters, a fool who is his own
client; restrained and tempered, it becomes a wholesome discipline, a
property with its rights and its duties, a sober responsibility,
bringing with it, like all other responsibilities, its pleasures and its
cares; not a toy to be played with, nor even a jewel to be worn in the
bonnet, but a talent to be put out to interest, and enjoyed in the
unbroken tranquillity of national thankfulness and peace.

Another defect in the aristocracy of power is, the narrow sphere of
their sympathies, extending only to those they know, and are familiar
with; that is to say, only as far as the circumference of their own
limited circle. This it is that renders them keenly apprehensive of
danger close at hand, but comparatively indifferent to that which
menaces them from a distance. Placed upon a lofty eminence, they are
comparatively indifferent while clouds obscure, and thunder rattles
along the vale; their resistance is of a passive kind, directed not to
the depression of those beneath them, nor to overcome pressure from
above, but to preserve themselves in the enviable eminence of their
position, and there to establish themselves in permanent security.

As a remedy for this short-sightedness, the result of their isolated
position, the aristocracy of power is always prompt to borrow from the
aristocracy of talent that assistance in the practical working of its
government which it requires; they are glad to find safe men among the
people to whom they can delegate the cares of office, the annoyances of
patronage, and the odium of power; and, the better to secure these men,
they are always ready to lift them among themselves, to identify them
with their exclusive interests, and to give them a permanent
establishment among the nobles of the land.

* * * * *


Perhaps we may be expected to say something of the dress of men of
fashion, as it is peculiar, and not less characteristic than their
manner. Their clothes, like their lives, are usually of a neutral tint;
staring colours they studiously eschew, and are never seen with
elaborate gradations of under waistcoats. They would as soon appear out
of doors _in cuerpo_, as in blue coats with gilt buttons, or braided
military frocks, or any dress smacking of the professional. When they
indulge in fancy colours and patterns, you will not fail to remark that
these are not worn, although imitated by others. The moment a dressy man
of fashion finds that any thing he has patronized gets abroad, he drops
the neckcloth or vest, or whatever it may be, and condemns the tailor as
an "unsafe" fellow. But it is not often that even the most dressy of our
men of fashion originate any thing _outre_, or likely to attract
attention; of late years their style has been plain, almost to

Notwithstanding that the man of fashion is plainly dressed, no more than
ordinary penetration is required to see that he is excellently well
dressed. His coat is plain, to be sure, much plainer than the coat of a
Jew-clothesman, having neither silk linings, nor embroidered
pocket-holes, nor cut velvet buttons, nor fur collar; but see how it
fits him--not like cast iron, nor like a wet sack, but as if he had been
born in it.

There is a harmony, a propriety in the coat of a man of fashion, an
unstudied ease, a graceful symmetry, a delicacy of expression, that has
always filled us with the profoundest admiration of the genius of the
artist; indeed, no ready money could purchase coats that we have
seen--coats that a real love of the subject, and working upon long
credit, for a high connexion, could alone have given to the
world--coats, not the dull conceptions of a geometric cutter,
spiritlessly outlined upon the shop-board by the crayon of a mercenary
foreman, but the fortunate creation of superior intelligence, boldly
executed in the happy moments of a generous enthusiasm!

Vain, very vain is it for the pretender to fashion to go swelling into
the _atelier_ of a first-rate coat architect, with his ready money in
his hand, to order such a coat! _Order_ such a coat, forsooth! order a
Raphael, a Michael Angelo, an epic poem. Such a coat--we say it with the
generous indignation of a free Briton--is one of the exclusive
privileges reserved, by unjust laws, to a selfish aristocracy!

The aristocratic trouser-cutter, too, deserves our unlimited
approbation. Nothing more distinguishes the nineteenth century, in which
those who can manage it have the happiness to live, than the precision
we have attained in trouser-cutting. While yet the barbarism of the age,
or poverty of customers, _vested_ the office of trouser-cutter and coat
architect in the same functionary, coats were without _soul_, and
"inexpressibles" inexpressibly bad, or, as Coleridge would have said,
"ridiculous exceedingly." In our day, on the contrary, we have attained
to such a pitch of excellence, that the trouser-cutter who fails to give
expression to his works, is hunted into the provinces, and condemned for
life to manufacture nether garments for clergymen and country gentlemen.

The results of the minute division of labour, to which so much of the
excellence of all that is excellent in London is mainly owing, is in
nothing more apparent than in that department of the fine arts which
people devoid of taste call fashionable tailoring. We have at the West
End fashionable _artistes_ in riding coats, in dress coats, in
cut-aways; one is superlative in a Taglioni, another devotes the powers
of his mind exclusively to the construction of a Chesterfield, a third
gives the best years of his life to the symmetrical beauty of a
barrel-trouser; from the united exertions of these, and a thousand other
men of taste and genius, is your indisputably-dressed man of fashion
turned out upon the town. Then there are constructors of Horse Guards'
and of Foot Guards' jacket, full and undress; the man who contrives
these would expire if desired to turn his attention to the coat of a
marching regiment; a hussar-pelisse-maker despises the hard, heavy style
of the cutters for the Royal Artillery, and so on. Volumes would not
shut if we were to fill them with the infinite variety of these
disguisers of that nakedness which formerly was our shame, but which
latterly, it would seem, has become our pride. With the exception of one
gentleman citywards, who has achieved an immortality in the article of
box-coats, every contriver of men of fashion, we mean in the tailoring,
which is the principal department, reside in the parish of St James's,
within easy reach of their distinguished patrons. These gentlemen have a
high and self-respecting idea of the nobleness and utility of their
vocation. A friend of ours, of whom we know no harm save that he pays
his tailors' bills, being one day afflicted with this unusual form of
insanity, desired the artist to deduct some odd shillings from his bill;
in a word, to make it pounds--"Excuse me, sir," said Snip, "but pray,
let _us_ not talk of pounds--pounds for tradesmen, if you please; but
artists, sir, _artists_ are always remunerated with guineas!"

To return to the outward and visible man of fashion, from whose
peculiarities our dissertation upon the sublime and beautiful in
tailoring has too long detained us. The same subdued expression of
elegance and ease that pervades the leading articles of his attire,
extends, without exception, to all the accessories; or if he is
deficient in aught, the accessorial _toggery_, such as hats, boots,
_choker_, gloves, are always carefully attended to; for it is in this
department that so distinguished a member of the detective police as
ourselves is always enabled to arrest disguised snobbery. You will never
see a man of fashion affect a Paget hat, for example, or a D'Orsayan
beaver: the former has a ridiculous exuberance of crown, the latter a by
no means allowable latitude of brim--besides, borrowing the fashion of a
hat, is with him what plagiarizing the interior furniture of the head is
with others. He considers stealing the idea of a hat low and vulgar, and
leaves the unworthy theft to be perpetrated by pretenders to fashion:
content with a hat that becomes him, he is careful never to be before or
behind the prevailing hat-intelligence of the time. Three hats your man
of fashion sedulously escheweth--a new hat, a shocking bad hat, and a
gossamer. As the song says, "when into a shop he goes" he never "buys a
four-and-nine," neither buyeth he a Paris hat, a ventilator, or any of
the hats indebted for their glossy texture to the entrails of the silk
worm; he sporteth nothing below a two-and-thirty shilling beaver, and
putteth it not on his head until his valet, exposing it to a shower of
rain, has "taken the shine out of it."

In boots he is even more scrupulously attentive to what Philosopher
Square so appropriately called the fitness of things: his boots are
never square-toed, or round-toed, like the boots of people who think
their toes are in fashion. You see that they fit him, that they are of
the best material and make, and suitable to the season: you never see
him sport the Sunday patent-leathers of the "snob," who on week-a-days
proceeds on eight-and-sixpenny high-lows: you never see him shambling
along in boots a world too wide, nor hobbling about a crippled victim to
the malevolence of Crispin. The idiosyncrasy of his foot has always been
attended to; he has worn well-fitting boots every day of his life, and
he walks as if he knew not whether he had boots on or not. As for
stocks, saving that he be a military man, he wears them not; they want
that easy negligence, attainable only by the graceful folds of a well
tied _choker_. You never see a man of fashion with his neck in the
pillory, and you hardly ever encounter a Cockney whose cervical
investment does not convey at once the idea of that obsolete punishment.
A gentleman never considers that his neck was given him to show off a
cataract of black satin upon, or as a post whereon to display
gold-threaded fabrics, of all the colours of the rainbow: sooner than
wear such things, he would willingly resign his neck to the embraces of
a halter. His study is to select a modest, unassuming _choker, fine_ if
you please, but without pretension as to pattern, and in colour
harmonizing with his residual _toggery_: this he ties with an easy,
unembarrassed air, so that he can conveniently look about him. Oxford
men, we have observed, tie chokers better than any others; but we do not
know whether there are exhibitions or scholarships for the encouragement
of this laudable faculty. At Cambridge (except Trinity) there is a
laxity in chokers, for which it is difficult to account, except upon the
principle that men there attend too closely to the mathematics; these,
as every body knows, are in their essence inimical to the higher
departments of the fine arts. There is no reason, however, why in this
important branch of learning, which, as we may say, comes home to the
bosom of every man, one Alma Mater should surpass another; since at both
the intellects of men are almost exclusively occupied for years in tying
their abominable white chokers, so as to look as like tavern waiters as

Another thing: if a gentleman sticks a pin in his choker, you may be
sure it has not a head as big as a potatoe, and is not a sort of Siamese
Twin pin, connected by a bit of chain, or an imitation precious stone,
or Mosaic gold concern. If he wears studs, they are plain, and have cost
not less at the least than five guineas the set. Neither does he ever
make a High Sheriff of himself, with chains dangling over the front of
his waistcoat, or little pistols, seals, or trinketry appearing below
his waistband, as much as to say, "_if you only knew what a watch I have
inside_!" Nor does he sport trumpery rings upon raw-boned fingers; if he
wears rings, you may depend upon it that they are of value, that they
are sparingly distributed, and that his hand is not a paw.

A man of fashion never wears Woodstock gloves, or gloves with double
stitches, or eighteen-penny imitation French kids: his gloves, like
himself and every thing about him, are the real thing. Dressy young men
of fashion sport primrose kids in the forenoon; and, although they take
care to avoid the appearance of snobbery by never wearing the same pair
a second day, yet, after all, primrose kids in the forenoon are not the
thing, not in keeping, not quiet enough: we therefore denounce primrose
kids, and desire to see no more of them.

If you are unfortunate enough to be acquainted with a snob, you need not
put yourself to the unnecessary expense of purchasing an almanac for the
ensuing year: your friend the snob will answer that useful purpose
completely to your satisfaction. For example, on Thursdays and Sundays
he shaves and puts on a clean shirt, which he exhibits as freely as
possible in honour of the event: Mondays and Fridays you will know by
the vegetating bristles of his chin, and the disappearance of the shirt
cuffs and collar. These are replaced on Tuesdays and Saturdays by
supplementary collar and cuffs, which, being white and starched, form a
pleasing contrast with that portion of the original _chemise_, vainly
attempted to be concealed behind the folds of a three-and-six-penny
stock. Wednesdays and Fridays you cannot mistake; your friend is then at
the dirtiest, and his beard at the longest, anticipating the half-weekly
wash and shave: on quarter-day, when he gets his salary, he goes to a
sixpenny barber and has his hair cut.

A gentleman, on the contrary, in addition to his other noble
inutilities, is useless as an almanac. He is never half shaven nor half
shorn: you never can tell when he has had his hair cut, nor has he his
clean-shirt days, and his days of foul linen. He is not merely outwardly
_propre_, but asperges his cuticle daily with "oriental scrupulosity:"
he is always and ever, in person, manner, dress, and deportment, the
same, and has never been other than he now appears.

You will say, perhaps, this is all very fine; but give me the money the
man of fashion has got, and I will be as much a man of fashion as he: I
will wear my clothes with the same ease, and be as free, unembarrassed,
_degage_, as the veriest Bond Street lounger of them all. Friend, thou
mayest say so, or even think so, but I defy thee: snobbery, like murder,
will out; and, if you do not happen to be a gentleman born, we tell you
plainly you will never, by dint of expense in dress, succeed in "topping
the part."

We have been for many years deeply engaged in a philosophical enquiry
into the origin of the peculiar attributes characteristic of the man of
fashion. A work of such importance, however, we cannot think of giving
to the world, except in the appropriate envelope of a ponderous quarto:
just now, by way of whetting the appetite of expectation, we shall
merely observe, that, after much pondering, we have at last discovered
the secret of his wearing his garments "with a difference," or, more
properly, with an indifference, unattainable by others of the human
species. You will conjecture, haply, that it is because he and his
father before him have been from childhood accustomed to pay attention
to dress, and that habit has given them that air which the occasional
dresser can never hope to attain: or that, having the best _artistes_,
seconded by that beautiful division of labour of which we have spoken
heretofore, he can attain an evenness of costume, an undeviating
propriety of toggery--not at all: the whole secret consists in _never
paying, nor intending to pay, his tailor_!

Poor devils, who, under the Mosaic dispensation, contract for three
suits a-year, the old ones to be returned, and again made new; or those
who, struck with more than money madness, go to a tailor, cash in hand,
for the purpose of making an investment, are always accustomed to
consider a coat as a representative of so much money, transferred only
from the pocket to the back. Accordingly, they are continually labouring
under the depression of spirits arising from a sense of the possible
depreciation of such a valuable property. Visions of showers of rain,
and March dust, perpetually haunt their morbid imaginations. Greasy
collars, chalky seams, threadbare cuffs, (three warnings that the time
must come when that tunic, for which five pounds ten have been lost to
them and their heirs for ever, will be worth no more than a couple of
shillings to an old-clothesman in Holywell Street,) fill them, as they
walk along the Strand, with apprehensions of anticipated expenditure.
They walk circumspectly, lest a baker, sweep, or hodman, stumbling
against the coat, may deprive its wearer of what to him represents so
much ready money. These real and imaginary evils altogether prohibit the
proprietor of a paid-up coat wearing it with any degree of graceful

But when a family of fashion, for generations, have not only never
thought of paying a tailor, but have considered taking up bills, which
the too confiding snip has discounted for them, as decidedly smacking of
the punctilious vulgarity of the tradesman; thus drawing down upon
themselves the vengeance of that most intolerant sect of Protestants,
the Notaries Public; when a young man of fashion, taught from earliest
infancy to regard tailors as a Chancellor of the Exchequer regards the
people at large, that is to say, as a class of animals created to be
victimized in every possible way, it is astonishing what a subtle grace
and indescribable expression are conveyed to coats which are sent home
to you for nothing, or, what amounts to exactly the same thing, which
you have not the most remote idea of paying for, _in secula seculorum_.
So far from caring whether it rains or snows, or whether the dust flies,
when you have got on one of these eleemosynary coats, you are rather
pleased than otherwise. There is a luxury in the idea that on the morrow
you will start fresh game, and victimize your tailor for another. The
innate cruelty of the human animal is gratified, and the idea of a
tailor's suffering is never conceived by a customer without involuntary
cachinnation. Not only is he denied the attribute of integral
manhood--which even a man-milliner by courtesy enjoys--but that
principle which induces a few men of enthusiastic temperament to pay
debts, is always held a fault when applied to the bills of tailors. And,
what is a curious and instructive fact in the natural history of London
fashionable tailors, and altogether unnoticed by the Rev. Leonard
Jenyns, in his _Manual of British Vertebrate Animals_, if you go to one
of these gentlemen, requesting him to "execute," and professing your
readiness to pay his bill on demand or delivery, he will be sure to give
your order to the most scurvy botch in his establishment, put in the
worst materials, and treat you altogether as a person utterly
unacquainted with the usages of polite society. But if, on the contrary,
you are recommended to him by Lord Fly-by-night, of Denman Priory--if
you give a thundering order, and, instead of offering to pay for it,
pull out a parcel of bill-stamps, and _promise_ fifty per cent for a few
hundreds down, you will be surprised to observe what delight will
express itself in the radiant countenance of your victim: visions of
cent per cent, ghosts of post-obits, dreams of bonds with penalties, and
all those various shapes in which security delights to involve the
extravagant, rise flatteringly before the inward eye of the man of
shreds and patches. By these transactions with the great, he becomes
more and more a man, less and less a tailor; instead of cutting patterns
and taking measures, he flings the tailoring to his foreman, becoming
first Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer to peers of
the realm.

With a few more of the less important distinctive peculiarities of the
gentleman of fashion, we may dismiss this portion of our subject. A
gentleman never affects military air or costume if he is not a military
man, and even then avoids professional rigidity and swagger as much as
possible; he never sports spurs or a riding-whip, except when he is upon
horseback, contrary to the rule observed by his antagonist the snob, who
always sports spurs and riding-whip, but who never mounts higher than a
threepenny stride on a Hampstead donkey. Nor does a gentleman ever wear
a _moustache_, unless he belongs to one of the regiments of hussars, or
the household cavalry, who alone are ordered to display that ornamental
exuberance. Foreigners, military or non-military, are recognized as
wearing hair on the upper lip with propriety, as is the custom of their
country. But no gentleman here thinks of such a thing, any more than he
would think of sporting the uniform of the Tenth Hussars.

There is an affectation among the vulgar clever, of wearing the
_moustache_, which they clip and cut _a la Vandyk_: this is useful, as
affording a ready means of distinguishing between a man of talent and an
ass--the former, trusting to his head, goes clean shaved, and looks like
an Englishman: the latter, whose strength lies altogether in his hair,
exhausts the power of Macassar in endeavouring to make himself as like
an ourang-outang as possible.

Another thing must be observed by all who would successfully ape the
gentleman: never to smoke cigars in the street in mid-day. No better
sign can you have than this of a fellow reckless of decency and
behaviour: a gentleman smokes, if he smokes at all, where he offends not
the olfactories of the passers-by. Nothing, he is aware, approaches more
nearly the most offensive personal insult, than to compel ladies and
gentlemen to inhale, after you, the ejected fragrance of your penny Cuba
or your three-halfpenny mild Havannah.

In the cities of Germany, where the population almost to a man inhale
the fumes of tobacco, street smoking is very properly prohibited; for
however agreeable may be the sedative influence of the Virginian weed
when inspired from your own manufactory, nothing assuredly is more
disgusting than inhalation of tobacco smoke at second-hand.

Your undoubted man of fashion, like other animals, has his peculiar
_habitat_: you never see him promenading in Regent Street between the
hours of three and five in the afternoon, nor by any chance does he
venture into the Quadrant: east of Temple Bar he is never seen except on
business, and then, never on foot: if he lounges any where, it is in
Bond Street, or about the clubs of St James's.


"Their conversation was altogether made up of Shakspeare,
taste, high life and the musical glasses."--_Vicar of

We will venture to assert, that in the course of these essays on the
aristocracies of London life, we have never attempted to induce any of
our readers to believe that there was any cause for him to regret,
whatever condition of life it had pleased Providence to place him in, or
to suppose, for one moment, that reputable men, though in widely
different circumstances, are not equally reputable. We have studiously
avoided portraying fashionable life according to the vulgar notions,
whether depreciatory or panegyrical. We have shown that that class is
not to be taken and treated of as an integral quantity, but to be
analyzed as a component body, wherein is much sterling ore and no little
dross. We have shown by sufficient examples, that whatever in our eyes
makes the world of fashion really respectable, is solely owing to the
real worth of its respectable members; and on the contrary, whatever
contempt we fling upon the fashionable world, is the result of the
misconduct of individuals of that order, prominently contemptible.

Of the former, the example is of infinite value to society, in refining
its tone, and giving to social life an unembarrassed ease, which, if not
true politeness, is its true substitute; and, of the latter, the
mischief done to society is enhanced by the multitude of low people
ready to imitate their vices, inanities, and follies.

Pretenders to fashion, who hang upon the outskirts of fashionable
society, and whose lives are a perpetual but unavailing struggle to jump
above their proper position, are horrid nuisances; and they abound,
unfortunately, in London.

In a republic, where practical equality is understood and acted upon,
this pretension would be intolerable; in an aristocratic state of
society, with social gradations pointedly defined and universally
recognized, it is merely ridiculous to the lookers-on; to the
pretenders, it is a source of much and deserved misery and isolation.

There are ten thousand varying shades and degrees of this pretension,
from the truly fashionable people who hanker after the _exclusives_, or
seventh heaven of high life, down to the courier out of place, who, in a
pot-house, retails Debrett by heart, and talks of lords, and dukes, and
earls, as of his particular acquaintance, and how and where he met them
when on his travels.

The _exclusives_ are a queer set, some of them not by any means people
of the best pretensions to lead the _ton_. Lady L---- and Lady B---- may
be very well as patronesses of Almack's; but what do you say to Lady
J----, a plebeian, and a licensed dealer in money, keeping her shop by
deputy in a lane somewhere behind Cornhill? Almack's, as every body
knows who has been there, or who has talked with any observing _habitue_
of the place, contains a great many queer, spurious people, smuggled in
somehow by indirect influence, when royal command is not the least
effectual: a surprizing number of seedy, poverty-stricken young men,
and, in an inverse ratio, women who have any thing more than the clothes
they wear: yet, by mere dint of difficulty, by the simple circumstance
of making admission to this assembly a matter of closeting, canvassing,
balloting, black-balling, and so forth, people of much better fashion
than many of the exclusives make it a matter of life and death to have
their admission secured. Admission to Almack's is to a young _debutante_
of fashion as great an object as a seat at the Privy Council Board to a
flourishing politician: your _ton_ is stamped by it, you are of the
exclusive _set_, and, by virtue of belonging to that set, every other is
open to you as a matter of course, when you choose to condescend to
visit it. The room in which Almack's balls are held we need not
describe, because it has been often described before, and because the
doorkeeper, any day you choose to go to Duke Street, St James's, will be
too happy to show it you for sixpence; but we will give you in his own
words, all the information we could contrive to get from a man of the
highest fashion, who is a subscriber.

"Why, I really don't know," said he, "that I have any thing to tell you
about Almack's, except that all that the novel-writers say about it is
ridiculous nonsense: the lights are good, the refreshments not so good,
the music excellent; the women dress well, dance a good deal, and talk
but little. There is a good deal of envy, jealousy, and criticism of
faces, figures, fortunes, and pretensions: one, or at most two, of the
balls in a season are pleasant; the others _slow_ and very dull. The
point of the thing seems to be, that people of rank choose to like it
because it stamps a set, and low people talk about it because they
cannot by any possibility know any thing about it."

Such is Almack's, of which volumes have been spun, of most effete and
lamentable trash, to gratify the morbid appetites of the pretenders to

We must not omit to inform our rural readers, that no conventional rank
gives any one in London a patent of privilege in truly fashionable
society. An old baronet shall be exclusive, when a young peer shall have
no fashionable society at all: a lord is by no means necessarily a man
in what the fashionable sets call good society: we have many lords who
are not men of fashion, and many men of fashion who are not lords.

Professional peers, whether legal, naval, or military, bishops, judges,
and all that class of men who attain by talents, interest, and good
fortune, or all, or any of these, a lofty social position, have no more
to do with the exclusive or merely fashionable sets than you or I. A man
may be a barrister in full practice to-day, an attorney-general
to-morrow, a chief-justice the day after with a peerage: yet his wife
and daughter visit the same people, and are visited by the same people,
that associated with them before. If men of fashion know them, it is
because they have business to transact or favours to seek for, or
because it is part of their system to keep up a qualified intimacy with
all whom they think proper to lift to their own level: but this intimacy
is only extended by the man of birth to the man of talent. His family do
not become people of fashion until the third or fourth generation: he
remains the man of business, the useful, working, practical,
brains-carrying man that he was; and his family, if they are wise, seek
not to become the familiars of the old aristocracy, and if they are
foolish, become the most unfortunate pretenders to fashion. They are too
near to be pleasant; and the gulf which people of hereditary fashion
place between is impassable, even though they flounder up to their necks
in servile mud.

It is the same with baronets, M.P.'s, and all that sort of people. These
handles to men's names go down very well in the country, where it is
imagined that a baronet or an M.P. is, _ex officio_, a man of
consequence, and that, rank being equal, consequence is also equal. In
London, on the contrary, people laugh at the idea of a man pluming
himself upon such distinctions without a difference: in town we have
baronets of all sorts--the "Heathcotes, and such large-acred men," Sir
Watkyn, and the territorial baronetage: then we have the Hanmers, and
others of undoubted fashion, to which their patent is the weakest of
their claims: then we have the military, naval, and medical baronet:
descending, through infinite gradations, we come down to the
tallow-chandling, the gin-spinning, the banking, the pastry-cooking

What is there, what can there be, in common with these widely severed
classes, save that they equally enjoy _Sir_ at the head and _Bart_. at
the tail of their sponsorial and patronymic appellations? Do you think
the landed Bart. knows any more of the medical Bart. than that, when he
sends for the other to attend his wife, he calls him generally "doctor,"
and seldom Sir James: or that the military Bart. does not much like the
naval Bart.? and do not all these incongruous Barts. shudder at the bare
idea of been seen on the same side of the street with a gin-spinning,
Patent-British-Genuine-Foreign-Cognac Brandy-making Bart.? and do not
each and every one of these Barts. from head to tail, even including the
last-mentioned, look down with immeasurable disdain upon the poor Nova
Scotia baronets, who move heaven and earth to get permission to wear a
string round their necks, and a badge like the learned fraternity of

Then as to the magic capitals M.P., which provincial people look upon as
embodying in the wearer the concentrated essence of wisdom, eloquence,
personal distinction, and social eminence. Who, in a country town, on a
market day, has not seen tradesmen cocking their eye, apprentices
glowering through the shop front, and ladies subdolously peeping behind
the window-shutter to catch a glimpse of the "member for our town," and,
having seen him, think they are rather happier then they were before?
The greatest fun in the world is to go to a _cul-de-sac_ off a dirty
lane near Palace Yard, called Manchester Buildings, a sort of senatorial
pigeon-house, where the meaner fry of houseless M.P.'s live, each in his
one pair, two pair, three pair, as the case may be, and give a postman's
knock at every door in rapid succession. In a twinkling, the "collective
wisdom" of Manchester Buildings and the Midland Counties poke out their
heads. Cobden appears on the balcony; Muntz glares out of a second
floor, like a live bear in a barber's window; Wallace of Greenock comes
to the door in a red nightcap; and a long "tail" of the other immortals
of a session. You may enjoy the scene as much as you please; but when
you hear one or two of the young Irish patriotic "mimbers" floundering
from the attics, the wisest course you can take will be incontinently to
"mizzle." These men, however, have one redeeming quality--that they
live in Manchester Buildings, and don't care who knows it; they are out
of fashion, and don't care who are in; they are minding their business,
and not hanging at the skirts of people ever ready and willing to kick
them off.

Then there are the "dandy" M.P.'s, who ride hack-horses, associate with
fashionable actresses, and hang about the clubs. Then there is the
chance or accidental M.P., who has been elected he hardly knows how or
when, and wonders to find himself in Parliament. Then there is the
desperate, adventuring, ear-wigging M.P., whose hope of political
existence, and whose very livelihood, depend upon getting or continuing
in place. Then there is the legal M.P., with one eye fixed on the
Queen's, the other squinting at the Treasury Bench. Then there is the
lounging M.P., who is usually the scion of a noble family, and who comes
now and then into the House, to stare vacantly about, and go out again.
Then there is the military M.P., who finds the House an agreeable
lounge, and does not care to join his regiment on foreign service. Then
there is the bustling M.P. of business, the M.P. of business without
bustle, and the independent country gentleman M.P., who wants nothing
for himself or any body else, and who does not care a turnip-top for the
whole lot of them.

The aggregate distinction, as a member of Parliament, is totally sunk in
London. It is the man, and not the two letters after his name, that any
body whose regard is worth the having in the least regard. There are
M.P.s never seen beyond the exclusive set, except on a committee of the
House, and then they know and speak to nobody save one of themselves.
There are other M.P.s that you will find in no society except Tom
Spring's or Owen Swift's, at the Horse-shoe in Litchborne Street.

These observations upon baronets and M.P.s may be extended upwards to
the peerage, and downwards to the professional, commercial, and all
other the better classes. Every man hangs, like a herring, by his own
tail; and every class would be distinct and separate, but that the
pretenders to fashion, like some equivocal animals in the chain of
animated nature, connect these different classes by copying
pertinaciously the manners, and studying to adopt the tastes and habits
of the class immediately above them.

Of pretenders to fashion, perhaps the most successful in their imitative
art are the

SHEENIES.--By this term, as used by men of undoubted _ton_ with
reference to the class we are about to consider, you are to understand
runagate Jews rolling in riches, who profess to love roast pork above
all things, who always eat their turkey with sausages, and who have
_cut_ their religion for the sake of dangling at the heels of
fashionable Christians. These people are "swelling" upon the profits of
the last generation in St Mary Axe or Petticoat Lane. The founders of
their families have been loan-manufacturers, crimps, receivers of stolen
goods, wholesale nigger-dealers, clippers and sweaters, rag-merchants,
and the like, and conscientious Israelites; but their children, not
having fortitude to abide by their condition, nor right principle to
adhere to their sect, come to the west end of the town, and, by right of
their money, make unremitting assaults upon the loose fish of
fashionable society, who laugh at, and heartily despise them, while they
are as ashes in the mouths of the respectable members of the persuasion
to which they originally belonged.

HEAVY SWELLS are another very important class of pretenders to fashion,
and are divided into civil and military. Professional men, we say it to
their honour, seldom affect the heavy swell, because the feeblest
glimmerings of that rationality of thinking which results from among the
lowest education, preserves them from the folly of the attempt, and, in
preserving from folly, saves them from the self-reproaching misery that
attends it. Men of education or of common sense, look upon pretension to
birth, rank, or any thing else to which they have no legitimate claim,
as little more than moral forgery; it is with them an uttering base
coin upon false pretences. It is generally the wives and families of
professional men who are afflicted with pretension to fashion, of which
we shall give abundant examples when we come to treat of
gentility-mongers. But the heavy swell, who is of all classes, from the
son and heir of an opulent blacking-maker down to the lieutenant of a
marching regiment on half-pay, is utterly destitute of brains,
deplorably illiterate, and therefore incapable, by nature and
bringing-up, of respecting himself by a modest contented demeanour. He
is never so unhappy as when he appears the thing he is--never so
completely in his element as when acting the thing he is not, nor can
ever be. He spends his life in jumping, like a cat, at shadows on the
wall. He has day and night dreams of people, who have not the least idea
that such a man is in existence, and he comes in time, by mere dint of
thinking of nobody else, to think that he is one of them. He acquaints
himself with the titles of lords, as other men do those of books, and
then boasts largely of the extent of his acquaintance.

Let us suppose that he is an officer of a hard-fighting,
foreign-service, neglected infantry regiment. This, which to a soldier
would be an honest pride, is the shame of the Heavy Military Swell. His
chief business in life, next to knowing the names and faces of lords, is
concealing from you the corps to which he has the dishonour, he thinks,
to belong. He talks mightily of the service, of hussars and light
dragoons; but when he knows that you know better, when you poke him hard
about the young or old buffs, or the dirty half-hundred, he whispers in
your ear that "my fellows," as he calls them, are very "fast," and that
they are "all known in town, very well known indeed"--a piece of
information you will construe in the case of the heavy swell to mean,
better known than trusted.

When he is on full pay, the heavy swell is known to the three old women
and five desperate daughters who compose good society in country
quarters. He affects a patronizing air at small tea-parties, and is
wonderfully run after by wretched un-idea'd girls, that is, by ten girls
in twelve; he is eternally striving to get upon the "staff," or anyhow
to shirk his regimental duty; he is a whelp towards the men under his
command, and has a grand idea of spurs, steel scabbards, and flogging;
to his superiors he is a spaniel, to his brother officers an intolerable
ass; he makes the mess-room a perfect hell with his vanity, puppyism,
and senseless bibble-babble.

On leave, or half-pay, he "mounts mustaches," to help the hussar and
light-dragoon idea, or to delude the ignorant into a belief that he may
possibly belong to the household cavalry. He hangs about doors of
military clubs, with a whip in his hand; talks very loud at the "Tiger"
or the "Rag and famish," and never has done shouting to the waiter to
bring him a "Peerage;" carries the "Red Book" and "Book of Heraldry" in
his pocket; sees whence people come, and where they go, and makes them
out somehow; in short, he is regarded with a thrill of horror by people
of fashion, fast or slow, civil or military.

The Civil Heavy Swell affects fashionable curricles, and enjoys all the
consideration a pair of good horses can give. He rides a blood bay in
Rotten Row, but rides badly, and is detected by galloping, or some other
solecism; his dress and liveries are always overdone, the money shows on
every thing about him. He has familiar abbreviations for the names of
all the fast men about town; calls this Lord "Jimmy," 'tother Chess, a
third Dolly, and thinks he knows them; keeps an expensive mistress,
because "Jimmy" and Chess are supposed to do the same, and when he is
out of the way, his mistress has some of the fast fellows to supper, at
the heavy swell's expense. He settles the point whether claret is to be
drank from a jug or black bottle, and retails the merits of a _plateau_
or _epergne_ he saw, when last he dined with a "fellow" in Belgrave

The _Foreigneering_ Heavy Swell has much more spirit, talent, and
manner, than the home-grown article; but he is poor in a like ratio, and
is therefore obliged to feather his nest by denuding the pigeon tribe of
their metallic plumage. He is familiarly known to all the fast fellows,
who _cut_ him, however, as soon as they marry, but is not accounted good
_ton_ by heads of families. He is liked at the Hells and Clubs, where he
has a knack of distinguishing himself without presumption or
affectation. He is a dresser by right divine, and dresses ridiculously.
The fashionable fellows affect loudly to applaud his taste, and laugh to
see the vulgar imitate the foreigneering swell. He is the idol of
equivocal women, and condescends to patronize unpresentable
gentility-mongers. He is not unhappy at heart, like the indigenous heavy
swell, but enjoys his intimacy with the fast fellows, and uses it.

There is an infallible test we should advise you to apply, whenever you
are bored to desperation by any of these heavy swells. When he talks of
"my friend, the Duke of Bayswater," ask him, in a quiet tone, where he
last met the _Duchess_. If he says Hyde-Park (meaning the Earl of) is
an honest good fellow, enquire whether he prefers Lady Mary or Lady
Seraphina Serpentine. This drops him like a shot--he can't get over it.

It is a rule in good society that you know the set only when you know
the women of that set; however you may work your way among the men,
whatever you may do at the Hells and Clubs, goes for nothing--the
_women_ stamp you counterfeit or current, and--

"Not to know _them_, argues yourself unknown."

* * * * *


The Military Operations at Cabul, which ended in the Retreat
and Destruction of the British Army, January 1842; with a
Journal of Imprisonment in Affghanistan. By Lieutenant Vincent
Eyre, Bengal Artillery, late Deputy-Commissary of Ordnance at
Cabul. London: John Murray.

This is the first connected account that has appeared of the military
disasters that befell the British army at Cabul--by far the most signal
reverse our arms have ever sustained in Asia. The narrative is full of a
deep and painful interest, which becomes more and more intense as we
approach the closing catastrophe. The simple detail of the daily
occurrences stirs up our strongest feelings of indignation, pity; scorn,
admiration, horror, and grief. The tale is told without art, or any
attempt at artificial ornament, and in a spirit of manly and
gentlemanlike forbearance from angry comment or invective, that is
highly creditable to the author, and gives us a very favourable opinion
both of his head and of his heart.

That a British army of nearly six thousand fighting men--occupying a
position chosen and fortified by our own officers, and having
possession, within two miles of this fortified cantonment, of a strong
citadel commanding the greater part of the town of Cabul, a small
portion only of whose population rose against us at the commencement of
the revolt--should not only have made no vigorous effort to crush the
insurrection; but that it should ultimately have been driven by an
undisciplined Asiatic mob, destitute of artillery, and which never
appears to have collected in one place above 10,000 men, to seek safety
in a humiliating capitulation, by which it surrendered the greater part
of its artillery, military stores, and treasure, and undertook to
evacuate the whole country on condition of receiving a safe conduct from
the rebel chiefs, on whose faith they placed, and could place, no
reliance; and finally, that, of about 4500 armed soldiers and twelve
thousand camp-followers, many of whom were also armed, who set out from
Cabul, only one man, and he wounded, should have arrived at Jellalabad;
is an amount of misfortune so far exceeding every rational anticipation
of evil, that we should have been entitled to assume that these
unparalleled military disasters arose from a series of unparalleled
errors, even if we had not had, as we now have, the authority of Lord
Ellenborough for asserting the fact.

But every nation, and more particularly the British nation, is little
inclined to pardon the men under whose command any portion of its army
or of its navy may have been beaten. Great Britain, reposing entire
confidence in the courage of her men, and little accustomed to see them
overthrown, is keenly jealous of the reputation of her forces; and, as
she is ever prompt to reward military excellence and success, she heaps
unmeasured obloquy on those who may have subjected her to the
degradation of defeat. When our forces have encountered a reverse, or
even when the success has not been commensurate with the hopes that had
been indulged; the public mind has ever been prone to condemn the
commanders; and wherever there has been reason to believe that errors
have been committed which have led to disaster, there has been little
disposition to make any allowances for the circumstances of the case, or
for the fallibility of man; but, on the contrary, the nation has too
often evinced a fierce desire to punish the leaders for the
mortification the country has been made to endure.

This feeling may tend to elevate the standard of military character, but
it must at the same time preclude the probability of calm or impartial
examination, so far as the great body of the nation is concerned; and it
is therefore the more obviously incumbent on those who, from a more
intimate knowledge of the facts, or from habits of more deliberate
investigation, are not carried away by the tide of popular indignation
and invective, to weigh the circumstances with conscientious caution,
and to await the result of judicial enquiry before they venture to
apportion the blame or even to estimate its amount.

"The following notes," says Lieutenant Eyre in his preface,
"were penned to relieve the monotony of an Affghan prison,
while yet the events which they record continued fresh in my
memory. I now give them publicity, in the belief that the
information which they contain on the dreadful scenes lately
enacted in Affghanistan, though clothed in a homely garb, will
scarcely fail to be acceptable to many of my countrymen, both
in India and England, who may be ignorant of the chief
particulars. The time, from the 2d November 1841, on which day
the sudden popular outbreak at Cabul took place, to the 13th
January 1842, which witnessed the annihilation of the last
small remnant of our unhappy force at Gundamuk, was one
continued tragedy. The massacre of Sir Alexander Burnes and his
associates,--the loss of our commissariat fort--the defeat of
our troops under Brigadier Shelton at Beymaroo--the treacherous
assassination of Sir William Macnaghten, our envoy and
minister--and lastly, the disastrous retreat and utter
destruction of a force consisting of 5000 fighting men and
upwards of 12,000 camp-followers,--are events which will
assuredly rouse the British Lion from his repose, and excite an
indignant spirit of enquiry in every breast. Men will not be
satisfied, in this case, with a bare statement of the facts,
but they will doubtless require to be made acquainted with the
causes which brought about such awful effects. We have lost six
entire regiments of infantry, three companies of sappers, a
troop of European horse-artillery, half the mountain-train
battery, nearly a whole regiment of regular cavalry, and four
squadrons of irregular horse, besides a well-stocked magazine,
which _alone_, taking into consideration the cost of transport
up to Cabul, may be estimated at nearly a million sterling.
From first to last, not less than 104 British officers have
fallen: their names will be found in the Appendix. I glance but
slightly at the _political_ events of this period, not having
been one of the initiated; and I do not pretend to enter into
_minute_ particulars with regard to even our _military_
transactions, more especially those not immediately connected
with the sad catastrophe which it has been my ill fortune to
witness, and whereof I now endeavour to portray the leading
features. In these notes I have been careful to state only what
I know to be undeniable facts. I have set down nothing on mere
hearsay evidence, nor any thing which cannot be attested by
living witnesses or by existing documentary evidence. In
treating of matters which occurred under my personal
observation, it has been difficult to avoid _altogether_ the
occasional expression of my own individual opinion: but I hope
it will be found that I have made no observations bearing hard
on men or measures, that are either uncalled for, or will not
stand the test of future investigation."

After the surrender of Dost Mahomed Khan, there remained in Affghanistan
no chief who possessed a dominant power or influence that made him
formidable to the government of Shah Shoojah, or to his English allies;
and the kingdom of Cabul seemed to be gradually, though slowly,
subsiding into comparative tranquillity. In the summer of the year 1841,
the authority of the sovereign appears to have been acknowledged in
almost every part of his dominions. A partial revolt of the Giljyes was
speedily suppressed by our troops. The Kohistan, or more correctly,
Koohdaman of Cabul, a mountainous tract, inhabited by a warlike people,
over whom the authority of the governments of the country had long been
imperfect and precarious, had submitted, or had ceased to resist. A
detachment from the British force at Kandahar, after defeating Akter
Khan, who had been instigated by the Vezeer of Herat to rebel, swept the
country of Zemindawer, drove Akter Khan a fugitive to Herat, received
the submission of all the chiefs in that part of the kingdom, and
secured the persons of such as it was not thought prudent to leave at
large in those districts.

The Shah's authority was not believed to be so firmly established, that
both Sir William Macnaghten, the British envoy at Cabul, who had
recently been appointed governor of Bombay, and Sir Alexander Burnes, on
whom the duties of the envoy would have devolved on Sir W. Macnaghten's
departure, thought that the time had arrived when the amount of the
British force in Affghanistan, which was so heavy a charge upon the
revenues of India, might with safety be reduced, and General Sale's
brigade was ordered to hold itself in readiness to march to Jellalabad,
on its route to India.

Even at this time, however, Major Pottinger, the political agent in
Kohistan, including, we presume, the Koohdaman, thought the force at his
disposal too small to maintain the tranquillity of the district; and the
chiefs of the valley of Nijrow, or Nijrab, a valley of Kohistan Proper,
had not only refused to submit, but had harboured the restless and
disaffected who had made themselves obnoxious to the Shah's government.
But although Major Pottinger had no confidence in the good feelings of
the people of his own district to the government, and even seems to have
anticipated insurrection, no movement of that description had yet taken

Early in September, however, Captain Hay, who was with a small force in
the Zoormut valley, situated nearly west from Ghuznee and south from
Cabul, having been induced by the representations of Moollah Momin--the
collector of the revenues, who was a Barikzye, and a near relation of
one of the leaders of the insurrection, in which he afterwards himself
took an active part--to move against a fort in which the murderers of
Colonel Herring were said to have taken shelter, the inhabitants
resisted his demands, and fired upon the troops. His force was found
insufficient to reduce it, and he was obliged to retire; a stronger
force was therefore sent, on the approach of which the people fled to
the hills, and the forts they had evacuated were blown up. This
occurrence was not calculated seriously to disturb the confident hopes
that were entertained of the permanent tranquillity of the country; but
before the force employed upon that expedition had returned to Cabul, a
formidable insurrection had broken out in another quarter.

"Early in October," says Lieutenant Eyre, "three Giljye chiefs
of note suddenly quitted Cabul, after plundering a rich cafila
at Tezeen, and took up a strong position in the difficult
defile of Khoord-Cabul, about ten miles from the capital, thus
blocking up the pass, and cutting off our communication with
Hindostan. Intelligence had not very long previously been
received that Mahomed Akber Khan, second son of the ex-ruler
Dost Mahomed Khan, had arrived at Bameean from Khooloom, for
the supposed purpose of carrying on intrigues against the
Government. It is remarkable that he is nearly connected by
marriage with Mahomed Shah Khan and Dost Mahomed Khan, also
Giljyes, who almost immediately joined the above-mentioned
chiefs. Mahomed Akber had, since the deposition of his father,
never ceased to foster feelings of intense hatred towards the
English nation; and, though often urged by the fallen ruler to
deliver himself up, had resolutely preferred the life of a
houseless exile to one of mean dependence on the bounty of his
enemies. It seems, therefore, in the highest degree probable
that this hostile movement on the part of the Eastern Giljyes
was the result of his influence over them, combined with other
causes which will be hereafter mentioned."

The other causes here alluded to, appear to be "the deep offence given
to the Giljyes by the ill-advised reduction of their annual stipends, a
measure which had been forced upon Sir William Macnaghten by Lord
Auckland. This they considered, and with some show of justice, as a
breach of faith on the part of our Government."

We presume that it is not Mr Eyre's intention to assert that this
particular measure was ordered by Lord Auckland, but merely that the
rigid economy enforced by his lordship, led the Envoy to have recourse
to this measure as one of the means by which the general expenditure
might be diminished.

Formidable as this revolt of the Giljyes was found to be, we are led to
suspect that both Sir W. Macnaghten and Sir A. Burnes were misled,
probably by the Shah's government, very greatly to underrate its
importance and its danger. The force under Colonel Monteath,[16] which
in the first instance was sent to suppress it, was so small that it was
not only unable to penetrate into the country it was intended to
overawe or to subdue, but it was immediately attacked in its camp,
within ten miles of Cabul, and lost thirty-five sepoys killed and

[16] 35th Reg. N.I.; 100 sappers; 1 squadron 5th Cav.; 2 guns.

Two days afterwards, the 11th October, General Sale marched from Cabul
with H.M.'s 13th light infantry, to join Colonel Monteath's camp at
Bootkhak; and the following morning the whole proceeded to force the
pass of Khoord-Cabul, which was effected with some loss. The 13th
returned through the pass to Bootkhak, suffering from the fire of
parties which still lurked among the rocks. The remainder of the brigade
encamped at Khoord-Cabul, at the further extremity of the defile. In
this divided position the brigade remained for some days, and both camps
had to sustain night attacks from the Affghans--"that on the 35th native
infantry being peculiarly disastrous, from the treachery of the Affghan
horse, who admitted the enemy within their lines, by which our troops
were exposed to a fire from the least suspected quarter. Many of our
gallant sepoys, and Lieutenant Jenkins, thus met their death."

On the 20th October, General Sale, having been reinforced, marched to
Khoord-Cabul; "and about the 22d, the whole force there assembled, with
Captain Macgregor, political agent, marched to Tezeen, encountering much
determined opposition on the road."

"By this time it was too evident that the whole of the Eastern Giljyes
had risen in one common league against us." The treacherous proceedings
of their chief or viceroy, Humza Khan, which had for some time been
suspected, were now discovered, and he was arrested by order of Shah

"It must be remarked," says Lieutenant Eyre, "that for some
time previous to these overt acts of rebellion, the always
strong and ill-repressed personal dislike of the Affghans
towards Europeans, had been manifested in a more than usually
open manner in and about Cabul. Officers had been insulted and
attempts made to assassinate them. Two Europeans had been
murdered, as also several camp-followers; but these and other
signs of the approaching storm had unfortunately been passed
over as mere ebullitions of private angry feeling. This
incredulity and apathy is the more to be lamented, as it was
pretty well known that on the occasion of the _shub-khoon_, or
first night attack on the 35th native infantry at Bootkhak, a
large portion of our assailants consisted of the armed
retainers of the different men of consequence in Cabul itself,
large parties of whom had been seen proceeding from the city to
the scene of action on the evening of the attack, and
afterwards returning. Although these men had to pass either
through the heart or round the skirts of our camp at Seeah
Sung, it was not deemed expedient even to question them, far
less to detain them.

"On the 26th October, General Sale started in the direction of
Gundamuk, Captain Macgregor having half-frightened,
half-cajoled the refractory Giljye chiefs into what proved to
have been a most hollow truce."

On the same day, the 37th native infantry, three companies of the Shah's
sappers under Captain Walsh, and three guns of the mountain train under
Lieutenant Green, retraced their steps towards Cabul, where the sappers,
pushing on, arrived unopposed; but the rest of the detachment was
attacked on the 2d November--on the afternoon of which day, Major
Griffiths, who commanded it, received orders to force his way to Cabul,
where the insurrection had that morning broken out. His march through
the pass, and from Bootkhak to Cabul, was one continued conflict; but
the gallantry of his troops, and the excellence of his own dispositions,
enabled him to carry the whole of his wounded and baggage safe to the
cantonments at Cabul, where he arrived about three o'clock on the
morning of the 3d November, followed almost to the gates by about 3000

The causes of the insurrection in the capital are not yet fully
ascertained, or, if ascertained, they have not been made public.
Lieutenant Eyre does not attempt to account for it; but he gives us the
following memorandum of Sir W. Macnaghten's, found, we presume, amongst
his papers after his death:--

"The immediate cause of the outbreak in the capital was a
seditious letter addressed by Abdoollah Khan to several chiefs
of influence at Cabul, stating that it was the design of the
Envoy to seize and send them all to London! The principal
rebels met on the previous night, and, relying on the
inflammable feelings of the people of Cabul, they pretended
that the King had issued an order to put all infidels to death;
having previously forged an order from him for our destruction,
by the common process of washing out the contents of a genuine
paper, with the exception of the seal, and substituting their
own wicked inventions."

But this invention, though it was probably one of the means employed by
the conspirators to increase the number of their associates, can hardly
be admitted to account for the insurrection. The arrival of Akber Khan
at Bameean, the revolt of the Giljyes, the previous flight of their
chiefs from Cabul, and the almost simultaneous attack of our posts in
the Koohdaman, (called by Lieutenant Eyre, Kohistan,) on the 3d
November--the attack of a party conducting prisoners from Candahar to
Ghuznee--the immediate interruption of every line of communication with
Cabul--and the selection of the season of the year the most favourable
to the success of the insurrection, with many other less important
circumstances, combine to force upon us the opinion, that the intention
to attack the Cabul force, so soon as it should have become isolated by
the approach of winter, had been entertained, and the plan of operations
concerted, for some considerable time before the insurrection broke out.
That many who wished for its success may have been slow to commit
themselves, is to be presumed, and that vigorous measures might, if
resorted to on the first day, have suppressed the revolt, is probable;
but it can hardly be doubted that we must look far deeper, and further
back, for the causes which united the Affghan nation against us.

The will of their chiefs and spiritual leaders--fanatical zeal, and
hatred of the domination of a race whom they regarded as infidels--may
have been sufficient to incite the lower orders to any acts of violence,
or even to the persevering efforts they made to extirpate the English.
In their eyes the contest would assume the character of a religious
war--of a crusade; and every man who took up arms in that cause, would
go to battle with the conviction that, if he should be slain, his soul
would go at once to paradise, and that, if he slew an enemy of the
faith, he thereby also secured to himself eternal happiness. But the
chiefs are not so full of faith; and although we would not altogether
exclude religious antipathy as an incentive, we may safely assume that
something more immediately affecting their temporal and personal
concerns must with them, or at least with the large majority, have been
the true motives of the conspiracy--of their desire to expel the English
from their country. Nor is it difficult to conceive what some of these
motives may have been. The former sovereigns of Affghanistan, even the
most firmly-established and the most vigorous, had no other means of
enforcing their commands, than by employing the forces of one part of
the nation to make their authority respected in another; but men who
were jealous of their own independence as chiefs, were not likely to aid
the sovereign in any attempt to destroy the substantial power, the
importance, or the independence of their class; and although a
refractory chief might occasionally, by the aid of his feudal enemies,
be taken or destroyed, and his property plundered, his place was filled
by a relation, and the order remained unbroken. The Affghan chiefs had
thus enjoyed, under their native governments, an amount of independence
which was incompatible with the system we introduced--supported as that
system was by our military means. These men must have seen that their
own power and importance, and even their security against the caprices
of their sovereign, could not long be preserved--that they were about to
be subjected as well as governed--to be deprived of all power to resist
the oppressions of their own government, because its will was enforced
by an army which had no sympathy with the nation, and which was
therefore ready to use its formidable strength to compel unqualified
submission to the sovereign's commands.

The British army may not have been employed to enforce any unjust
command--its movements may have been less, far less, injurious to the
countries through which it passed than those of an Affghan army would
have been, and its power in the moment of success may have been far less
abused; but still it gave a strength to the arm of the sovereign, which
was incompatible with the maintenance of the pre-existing civil and
social institutions or condition of the country, and especially of the
relative positions of the sovereign and the noble. In the measures we
adopted to establish the authority of Shah Shoojah, we attempted to
carry out a system of government which could only have been made
successful by a total revolution in the social condition of the people,
and in the relative positions of classes; and as these revolutions are
not effected in a few years, the attempt failed.[17]

[17] The system, unpalatable as it was to the nation, might, no
doubt, have been carried through by an overwhelming military
force, if the country had been worth the cost; but if it was
not intended to retain permanent possession of Affghanistan, it
appears to us that the native government was far too much
interfered with--that the British envoy, the British officers
employed in the districts and provinces, and the British army,
stood too much between the Shah and his subjects--that we were
forming a government which it would be impossible to work in
our absence, and creating a state of things which, the longer
it might endure, would have made more remote the time at which
our interference could be dispensed with.

But if the predominance of our influence and of our military power, and
the effects of the system we introduced, tended to depress the chiefs,
it must have still more injuriously affected or threatened the power of
the priesthood.

This we believe to have been one of the primary and most essential
causes of the revolt--this it was that made the insurrection spread with
such rapidity, and that finally united the whole nation against us. With
the aristocracy and the hierarchy of the country, it must have been but
a question of courage and of means--a calculation of the probability of
success; and as that probability was greatly increased by the results of
the first movement at Cabul, and by the inertness of our army after the
first outbreak, all acquired courage enough to aid in doing what all had
previously desired to see done.

But if there be any justice in this view of the state of feeling in
Affghanistan, even in the moments of its greatest tranquillity, it is
difficult to account for the confidence with which the political
authorities charged with the management of our affairs in that country
looked to the future, and the indifference with which they appear to
have regarded what now must appear to every one else to have been very
significant, and even alarming, intimations of dissaffection in Cabul,
and hostility in the neighbouring districts.

But it is time we should return to Lieutenant Eyre, whose narrative of
facts is infinitely more attractive than any speculations we could

"At an early hour this morning, (2d November 1841,) the
startling intelligence was brought from the city, that a
popular outbreak had taken place; that the shops were all
closed; and that a general attack had been made on the houses
of all British officers residing in Cabul. About 8 A.M., a
hurried note was received by the Envoy in cantonments from Sir
Alexander Burnes, stating that the minds of the people had been
strongly excited by some mischievous reports, but expressing a
hope that he should succeed in quelling the commotion. About 9
A.M., however, a rumour was circulated, which afterwards proved
but too well founded, that Sir Alexander had been murdered, and
Captain Johnson's treasury plundered. Flames were now seen to
issue from that part of the city where they dwelt, and it was
too apparent that the endeavour to appease the people by quiet
means had failed, and that it would be necessary to have
recourse to stronger measures. The report of firearms was
incessant, and seemed to extend through the town from end to

"Sir William Macnaghten now called upon General Elphinstone to
act. An order was accordingly sent to Brigadier Shelton, then
encamped at Seeah Sung, about a mile and a half distant from
cantonments, to march forthwith to the _Bala Hissar_, or _royal
citadel_, where his Majesty Shah Shoojah resided, commanding a
large portion of the city, with the following troops:--viz. one
company of H.M. 44th foot; a wing of the 54th regiment native
infantry, under Major Ewart; the 6th regiment Shah's infantry,
under Captain Hopkins; and four horse-artillery guns, under
Captain Nicholl; and on arrival there, to act according to his
own judgment, after consulting with the King.

"The remainder of the troops encamped at Seeah Sung were at the
same time ordered into cantonments: viz. H.M. 44th foot, under
Lieutenant-Colonel Mackerell; two horse-artillery guns, under
Lieutenant Waller; and Anderson's irregular horse. A messenger
was likewise dispatched to recall the 37th native infantry from
Khoord-Cabul without delay. The troops at this time in
cantonments were as follows: viz. 5th regiment native infantry,
under Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver; a wing of 54th native
infantry; five six-pounder field guns, with a detachment of the
Shah's artillery, under Lieutenant Warburton; the Envoy's
body-guard; a troop of Skinner's horse, and another of local
horse, under Lieutenant Walker; three companies of the Shah's
sappers, under Captain Walsh; and about twenty men of the
Company's sappers, attached to Captain Paton,

"Widely spread and formidable as this insurrection proved to be
afterwards, it was at first a mere insignificant ebullition of
discontent on the part of a few desperate and restless men,
which military energy and promptitude ought to have crushed in
the bud. Its commencement was an attack by certainly not 300
men on the dwellings of Sir Alexander Burnes and Captain
Johnson, paymaster to the Shah's force; and so little did Sir
Alexander himself apprehend serious consequences, that he not
only refused, on its first breaking out, to comply with the
earnest entreaties of the wuzeer to accompany him to the Bala
Hissar, but actually forbade his guard to fire on the
assailants, attempting to check what he supposed to be a mere
riot, by haranguing the attacking party from the gallery of his
house. The result was fatal to himself; for in spite of the
devoted gallantry of the sepoys, who composed his guard, and
that of the paymaster's office and treasury on the opposite
side of the street, who yielded their trust only with their
latest breath, the latter were plundered, and his two
companions, Lieutenant William Broadfoot of the Bengal European
regiment, and his brother, Lieutenant Burnes of the Bombay
army, were massacred, in common with every man, woman, and
child found on the premises, by these bloodthirsty miscreants.
Lieutenant Broadfoot killed five or six men with his own hand,
before he was shot down.

"The King, who was in the Bala Hissar, being somewhat startled
by the increasing number of the rioters, although not at the
time aware, so far as we can judge, of the assassination of Sir
A. Burnes, dispatched one of his sons with a number of his
immediate Affghan retainers, and that corps of Hindoostanees
commonly called Campbell's regiment, with two guns, to restore
order: no support, however, was rendered to these by our
troops, whose leaders appeared so thunderstruck by the
intelligence of the outbreak, as to be incapable of adopting
more than the most puerile defensive measures. Even Sir William
Macnaghten seemed, from a note received at this time from him
by Captain Trevor, to apprehend little danger, as he therein
expressed his perfect confidence as to the speedy and complete
success of Campbell's Hindoostanees in putting an end to the
disturbance. Such, however, was not the case; for the enemy,
encouraged by our inaction, increased rapidly in spirit and
numbers, and drove back the King's guard with great slaughter,
the guns being with difficulty saved.

"It must be understood that Captain Trevor lived at this time
with his family in a strong _bourge_ or tower, situated by the
river side, near the Kuzzilbash quarter, which, on the west, is
wholly distinct from the remainder of the city. Within
musket-shot, on the opposite side of the river, in the
direction of the strong and populous village of Deh Affghan, is
a fort of some size, then used as a godown, or storehouse, by
the Shah's commissariat, part of it being occupied by Brigadier
Anquetil, commanding the Shah's force. Close to this fort,
divided by a narrow watercourse, was the house of Captain
Troup, brigade-major of the Shah's force, perfectly defensible
against musketry. Both Brigadier Anquetil and Captain Troup had
gone out on horseback early in the morning towards cantonments,
and were unable to return; but the above fort and house
contained the usual guard of sepoys; and in a garden close at
hand, called the _Yaboo-Khaneh_, or lines of the
baggage-cattle, was a small detachment of the Shah's sappers
and miners, and a party of Captain Ferris's juzailchees.
Captain Trevor's tower was capable of being made good against a
much stronger force than the rebels at this present time could
have collected, had it been properly garrisoned.

"As it was, the Hazirbash,[18] or King's lifeguards, were,
under Captain Trevor, congregated round their leader, to
protect him and his family; which duty, it will be seen, they
well performed under very trying circumstances. For what took
place in this quarter I beg to refer to a communication made to
me at my request by Captain Colin Mackenzie,[19] assistant
political agent at Peshawur, who then occupied the godown
portion of the fort above mentioned, which will be found

"I have already stated that Brigadier Shelton was, early in the
day, directed to proceed with part of the Seeah Sung force to
occupy the Bala Hissar, and, if requisite, to lead his troops
against the insurgents. Captain Lawrence, military secretary to
the Envoy, was at the same time sent forward to prepare the
King for that officer's reception. Taking with him four
troopers of the body-guard, he was galloping along the main
road, when, shortly after crossing the river, he was suddenly
attacked by an Affghan, who, rushing from behind a wall, made a
desperate cut at him with a large two-handed knife. He
dexterously avoided the blow by spurring his horse on one side;
but, passing onwards, he was fired upon by about fifty men,
who, having seen his approach, ran out from the Lahore gate of
the city to intercept him. He reached the Bala Hissar safe,
where he found the King apparently in a state of great
agitation, he having witnessed the assault from the window of
his palace. His Majesty expressed an eager desire to conform to
the Envoy's wishes in all respects in this emergency.

"Captain Lawrence was still conferring with the King, when
Lieutenant Sturt, our executive engineer, rushed into the
palace, stabbed in three places about the face and neck. He had
been sent by Brigadier Shelton to make arrangements for the
accommodation of the troops, and had reached the gate of the
_Dewan Khaneh_, or hall of audience, when the attempt at his
life was made by some one who had concealed himself there for
that purpose, and who immediately effected his escape. The
wounds were fortunately not dangerous, and Lieutenant Sturt was
conveyed back to cantonments in the King's own palanquin, under
a strong escort. Soon after this Brigadier Shelton's force
arrived; but the day was suffered to pass without any thing
being done demonstrative of British energy and power. The
murder of our countrymen, and the spoliation of public and
private property, was perpetrated with impunity within a mile
of our cantonment, and under the very walls of the Bala Hissar.

"Such an exhibition on our part taught the enemy their
strength--confirmed against us those who, however disposed to
join in the rebellion, had hitherto kept aloof from prudential
motives, and ultimately encouraged the nation to unite as one
man for our destruction.

"It was, in fact, the crisis of all others calculated to test
the qualities of a military commander. Whilst, however, it is
impossible for an unprejudiced person to approve the military
dispositions of this eventful period, it is equally our duty to
discriminate. The most _responsible_ party is not always the
most culpable. It would be the height of injustice to a most
amiable and gallant officer not to notice the long course of
painful and wearing illness, which had materially affected the
nerves, and probably even the intellect, of General
Elphinstone; cruelly incapacitating him, so far as he was
personally concerned, from acting in this sudden emergency with
the promptitude and vigour necessary for our preservation.

"Unhappily, Sir William Macnaghten at first made light of the
insurrection, and, by his representations as to the general
feeling of the people towards us, not only deluded himself, but
misled the General in council. The unwelcome truth was soon
forced upon us, that in the whole Affghan nation we could not
reckon on a single friend.

"But though no active measures of aggression were taken, all
necessary preparations were made to secure the cantonment
against attack. It fell to my own lot to place every available
gun in position round the works. Besides the guns already
mentioned, we had in the magazine 6 nine-pounder iron guns, 3
twenty-four pounder howitzers, 1 twelve-pounder ditto, and 3
5-1/2-inch mortars; but the detail of artillerymen fell very
short of what was required to man all these efficiently,
consisting of only 80 Punjabees belonging to the Shah, under
Lieutenant Warburton, very insufficiently instructed, and of
doubtful fidelity."

[18] Affghan horse.

[19] The detachment under Captain Mackenzie consisted of about
seventy juzailchees or Affghan riflemen, and thirty sappers,
who had been left in the town in charge of the wives and
children of the corps, all of whom were brought safe into the
cantonments by that gallant party, who fought their way from
the heart of the town.

[20] "I am sorry to say that this document has not reached me
with the rest of the manuscript. I have not struck out the
reference, because there is hope that it still exists, and may
yet be appended to this narrative. The loss of any thing else
from Captain Mackenzie's pen will be regretted by all who read
his other communication, the account of the Envoy's

The fortified cantonment occupied by the British troops was a quadrangle
of 1000 yards long by 600 broad, with round flanking bastions at each
corner, every one of which was commanded by some fort or hill. To one
end of this work was attached the Mission compound and enclosure, about
half as large as the cantonment, surrounded by a simple wall. This space
required to be defended in time of war, and it rendered the whole of one
face of the cantonment nugatory for purposes of defence. The profile of
the works themselves was weak, being in fact an ordinary field-work. But
the most strange and unaccountable circumstance recorded by Lieutenant
Eyre respecting these military arrangements, is certainly the fact, that
the commissariat stores, containing whatever the army possessed of food
or clothing, was not within the circuit of these fortified cantonments,
but in a detached and weak fort, the gate of which was commanded by
another building at a short distance. Our author thus sums up his
observations on these cantonments:--

"In fact, we were so hemmed in on all sides, that, when the
rebellion became general, the troops could not move out a dozen
paces from either gate without being exposed to the fire of
some neighbouring hostile fort, garrisoned, too, by marksmen
who seldom missed their aim. The country around us was likewise
full of impediments to the movements of artillery and cavalry,
being in many places flooded, and every where closely
intersected by deep water-cuts.

"I cannot help adding, in conclusion, that almost all the
calamities that befell our ill-starred force may be traced more
or less to the defects of our position; and that our cantonment
at Cabul, whether we look to its situation or its construction,
must ever be spoken of as a disgrace to our military skill and

_Nov_. 3.--The 37th native infantry arrived in cantonments, as
previously stated.

"Early in the afternoon, a detachment under Major Swayne,
consisting of two companies 5th native infantry, one of H.M.
44th, and two H.A. guns under Lieutenant Waller, proceeded out
of the western gate towards the city, to effect, if possible, a
junction at the Lahore gate with a part of Brigadier Shelton's
force from the Bala Hissar. They drove back and defeated a
party of the enemy who occupied the road near the Shah Bagh,
but had to encounter a sharp fire from the Kohistan gate of the
city, and from the walls of various enclosures, behind which a
number of marksmen had concealed themselves, as also from the
fort of Mahmood Khan, commanding the road along which they had
to pass. Lieutenant Waller and several sepoys were wounded.
Major Swayne, observing the whole line of road towards the
Lahore gate strongly occupied by some Affghan horse and
juzailchees, and fearing that he would be unable to effect the
object in view with so small a force unsupported by cavalry,
retired into cantonments. Shortly after this, a large body of
the rebels having issued from the fort of Mahmood Khan, 900
yards southeast of cantonments, extended themselves in a line
along the bank of the river, displaying a flag; an iron
nine-pounder was brought to bear on them from our southeast
bastion, and a round or two of shrapnell caused them to seek
shelter behind some neighbouring banks, whence, after some
desultory firing on both sides, they retired.

"Whatever hopes may have been entertained, up to this period,
of a speedy termination to the insurrection, they began now to
wax fainter every hour, and an order was dispatched to the
officer commanding at Candahar to lose no time in sending to
our assistance the 16th and 43d regiments native infantry,
(which were under orders for India,) together with a troop of
horse-artillery and half a regiment of cavalry; an order was
likewise sent off to recall General Sale with his brigade from
Gundamuk. Captain John Conolly, political assistant to the
Envoy, went into the Bala Hissar early this morning, to remain
with the King, and to render every assistance in his power to
Brigadier Shelton."

On this day Lieutenants Maule and Wheeler were murdered at Kahdarrah in
Koohdaman; the Kohistan regiment of Affghans which they commanded,
offering no resistance to the rebels. The two officers defended
themselves resolutely for some time, but fell under the fire of the
enemy. Lieutenant Maule had been warned of his danger by a friendly
native, but refused to desert his post.

On this day also Lieutenant Rattray, Major Pottinger's assistant, was
treacherously murdered at Lughmanee, during a conference to which he had
been invited, and within sight of the small fort in which these two
gentlemen resided. This act was followed by a general insurrection in
Kohistan and Koohdaman, which terminated in the destruction of the
Goorkha regiment at Charikar, and the slaughter of all the Europeans in
that district except Major Pottinger and Lieutenant Haughton, both
severely wounded, who, with one sepoy and one or two followers,
succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Affghan parties, who were
patrolling the roads for the purpose of intercepting them, and at length
arrived in cantonments, having actually passed at night through the town
and bazars of Cabul. For the details of this interesting and afflicting
episode in Mr Eyre's narrative, we must refer our readers to the work
itself. Major Pottinger appears on this occasion to have exhibited the
same high courage and promptitude and vigour in action, and the same
resources in difficulty, that made him conspicuous at Herat, and
Lieutenant Haughton was no unworthy companion of such a man.

"_November_ 4.--The enemy having taken strong possession of the
_Shah Bagh_, or King's Garden, and thrown a garrison into the
fort of Mahomed Shereef, nearly opposite the bazar, effectually
prevented any communication between the cantonment and
commissariat fort, the gate of which latter was commanded by
the gate of the Shah Bagh on the other side of the road.

"Ensign Warren of the 5th native infantry at this time occupied
the commissariat fort with 100 men, and having reported that he
was very hard pressed by the enemy, and in danger of being
completely cut off, the General, either forgetful or unaware at
the moment of the important fact, that upon the possession of
this fort we were entirely dependent for provisions, and
anxious only to save the lives of men whom he believed to be in
imminent peril, hastily gave directions that a party under the
command of Captain Swayne, of H.M.'s 44th regiment, should
proceed immediately to bring off Ensign Warren and his garrison
to cantonments, abandoning the fort to the enemy. A few minutes
previously an attempt to relieve him had been made by Ensign
Gordon, with a company of the 37th native infantry and eleven
camels laden with ammunition; but the party were driven back,
and Ensign Gordon killed. Captain Swayne now accordingly
proceeded towards the spot with two companies of H.M.'s 44th;
scarcely had they issued from cantonments ere a sharp and
destructive fire was poured upon them from Mahomed Shereef's
fort which, as they proceeded, was taken up by the marksmen in
the Shah Bagh, under whose deadly aim both officers and men
suffered severely; Captains Swayne and Robinson of the 44th
being killed, and Lieutenants Hallahan, Evans, and Fortye
wounded in this disastrous business. It now seemed to the
officer, on whom the command had devolved, impracticable to
bring off Ensign Warren's party without risking the
annihilation of his own, which had already sustained so rapid
and severe a loss in officers; he therefore returned forthwith
to cantonments. In the course of the evening another attempt
was made by a party of the 5th light cavalry; but they
encountered so severe a fire from the neighbouring enclosures
as obliged them to return without effecting their desired
object, with the loss of eight troopers killed and fourteen
badly wounded. Captain Boyd, the assistant commissary-general,
having meanwhile been made acquainted with the General's
intention to give up the fort, hastened to lay before him the
disastrous consequences that would ensue from so doing. He
stated that the place contained, besides large supplies of
wheat and attah, all his stores of rum, medicine, clothing,
&c., the value of which might be estimated at four lacs of
rupees; that to abandon such valuable property would not only
expose the force to the immediate want of the necessaries of
life, but would infallibly inspire the enemy with tenfold
courage. He added that we had not above two days' supply of
provisions in cantonments, and that neither himself nor Captain
Johnson of the Shah's commissariat had any prospect of
procuring them elsewhere under existing circumstances. In
consequence of this strong representation on the part of
Captain Boyd, the General sent immediate orders to Ensign
Warren to hold out the fort to the last extremity. (Ensign
Warren, it must be remarked, denied having received this note.)
Early in the night a letter was received from him to the effect
that he believed the enemy were busily engaged in mining one of
the towers, and that such was the alarm among the sepoys that
several of them had actually made their escape over the wall to
cantonments; that the enemy were making preparations to burn
down the gate; and that, considering the temper of his men, he
did not expect to be able to hold out many hours longer, unless
reinforced without delay. In reply to this he was informed
that he would be reinforced by two A.M.

"At about nine o'clock P.M., there was an assembly of staff and
other officers at the General's house, when the Envoy came in
and expressed his serious conviction, that unless Mahomed
Shereef's fort were taken that very night, we should lose the
commissariat fort, or at all events be unable to bring out of
it provisions for the troops. The disaster of the morning
rendered the General extremely unwilling to expose his officers
and men to any similar peril; but, on the other hand, it was
urged that the darkness of the night would nullify the enemy's
fire, who would also most likely be taken unawares, as it was
not the custom of the Affghans to maintain a very strict watch
at night. A man in Captain Johnson's employ was accordingly
sent out to reconnoitre the place. He returned in a few minutes
with the intelligence that about twenty men were seated outside
the fort near the gate, smoking and talking; and, from what he
overheard of their conversation, he judged the garrison to be
very small, and unable to resist a sudden onset. The debate was
now resumed, but another hour passed and the General could not
make up his mind. A second spy was dispatched, whose report
tended to corroborate what the first had said. I was then sent
to Lieutenant Sturt, the engineer, who was nearly recovered
from his wounds, for his opinion. He at first expressed himself
in favour of an immediate attack, but, on hearing that some of
the enemy were on the watch at the gate, he judged it prudent
to defer the assault till an early hour in the morning: this
decided the General, though not before several hours had
slipped away in fruitless discussion.

"Orders were at last given for a detachment to be in readiness
at four A.M. at the Kohistan gate; and Captain Bellew,
deputy-assistant quartermaster-general, volunteered to blow
open the gate; another party of H.M.'s 44th were at the same
time to issue by a cut in the south face of the rampart, and
march simultaneously towards the commissariat fort, to
reinforce the garrison. Morning had, however, well dawned ere
the men could be got under arms; and they were on the point of
marching off, when it was reported that Ensign Warren had just
arrived in cantonments with his garrison, having evacuated the
fort. It seems that the enemy had actually set fire to the
gate; and Ensign Warren, seeing no prospect of a reinforcement,
and expecting the enemy every moment to rush in, led out his
men by a hole which he had prepared in the wall. Being called
upon in a public letter from the assistant adjutant-general to
state his reasons for abandoning his post, he replied that he
was ready to do so before a court of enquiry, which he
requested might be assembled to investigate his conduct; it was
not, however, deemed expedient to comply with his request.

"It is beyond a doubt that our feeble and ineffectual defence
of this fort, and the valuable booty it yielded, was the first
_fatal_ blow to our supremacy at Cabul, and at once determined
those chiefs--and more particularly the Kuzzilbashes--who had
hitherto remained neutral, to join in the general combination
to drive us from the country."

"_Nov_. 5.--It no sooner became generally known that the commissariat
fort, upon which we were dependent for supplies, had been abandoned,
than one universal feeling of indignation pervaded the garrison. Nor can
I describe," says Lieutenant Eyre, "the impatience of the troops, but
especially of the native portion, to be led out for its recapture--a
feeling that was by no means diminished by seeing the Affghans crossing
and re-crossing the road between the commissariat fort and the gate of
the _Shah Bagh_, laden with the provisions upon which had depended our
ability to make a protracted defence."

That the whole commissariat should have been deposited in a detached
fort is extraordinary and inexcusable, but that the garrison of that
fort should not have been reinforced, is even more unintelligible; and
that a sufficient force was not at once sent to succour and protect it
when attacked, is altogether unaccountable. General Elphinstone was
disabled by his infirmities from efficiently discharging the duties that
had devolved upon him, but he appears to have been ready to act upon the
suggestion of others. What then were his staff about?--some of them are
said to have had little difficulty or delicacy in urging their own views
upon their commander. Did they not suggest to him in time the
importance, the necessity, of saving the commissariat at all hazards?

At the suggestion of Lieutenant Eyre, it was determined to attempt the
capture of Mahomed Shereef's fort by blowing open the gate, Mr Eyre
volunteering to keep the road clear for the storming party with the
guns. "The General agreed; a storming party under Major Swayne, 6th
native infantry, was ordered; the powder bags were got ready, and at
noon we issued from the western gate." "For twenty minutes the guns were
worked under a very sharp fire from the fort;" but "Major Swayne,
instead of rushing forward with his men as had been agreed, had in the
mean time remained stationary, under cover of the wall by the
road-side." The General, seeing that the attempt had failed, recalled
the troops into cantonments.

"_Nov_. 6.--It was now determined to take the fort of Mahomed Shereef by
regular breach and assault." A practicable breach was effected, and a
storming party composed of one company H.M. 44th, under Ensign Raban,
one ditto 5th native infantry, under Lieutenant Deas, and one ditto 37th
native infantry, under Lieutenant Steer, the whole commanded by Major
Griffiths, speedily carried the place. "Poor Raban was shot through the
heart when conspicuously waving a flag on the summit of the breach."

As this fort adjoined the Shah Bagh, it was deemed advisable to dislodge
the enemy from the latter if possible. This was partially effected, and,
had advantage been taken of the opportunity to occupy the buildings of
the garden gateway, "immediate re-possession could have been taken of
the commissariat fort opposite, which had not yet been emptied of half
its contents."

In the mean time, our cavalry were engaged in an affair with the enemy's
horse, in which we appear to have had the advantage. "The officers
gallantly headed their men, and encountered about an equal number of the
enemy who advanced to meet them. A hand-to-hand encounter took place,
which ended in the Affghan horse retreating to the plain, leaving the
hill in our possession. In this affair, Captain Anderson personally
engaged and slew the brother in-law of Abdoolah Khan."

But the Affghans collected from various quarters; the juzailchees,[21]
under Captain Mackenzie, were driven with great loss from the Shah Bagh
which they had entered; and a gun which had been employed to clear that
enclosure was with difficulty saved. Our troops having been drawn up on
the plain, remained prepared to receive an attack from the enemy, who
gradually retired as the night closed in.

[21] Affghan riflemen.

_Nov_. 8.--An attempt was made by the enemy to mine a tower of the fort
that had been taken, which they could not have done had the gate of the
Shah Bagh been occupied. The chief cause of anxiety now was the empty
state of the granary. Even with high bribes and liberal payment, the
Envoy could not procure sufficient for daily consumption. The plan of
the enemy now was to starve us out, and the chiefs exerted all their
influence to prevent our being supplied.

_Nov_. 9.--The General's weak state of health rendered it necessary to
relieve him from the command of the garrison, and at the earnest request
of the Envoy, Brigadier Shelton was summoned from the Bala Hissar, "in
the hope that, by heartily co-operating with the Envoy and General, he
would strengthen their hands and rouse the sinking confidence of the
troops. He entered cantonments this morning, bringing with him one H.A.
gun, one mountain-train ditto, one company H.M.'s 44th, the Shah's 6th
infantry, and a small supply of attah (flour.)"

"_November_ 10.--Henceforward Brigadier Shelton bore a
conspicuous part in the drama, upon the issue of which so much
depended. He had, however, from the very first, seemed to
despair of the force being able to hold out the winter at
Cabul, and strenuously advocated an immediate retreat to

"This sort of despondency proved, unhappily, very infectious.
It soon spread its baneful influence among the officers, and
was by them communicated to the soldiery. The number of
_croakers_ in garrison became perfectly frightful, lugubrious
looks and dismal prophecies being encountered every where. The
severe losses sustained by H.M.'s 44th under Captain Swayne, on
the 4th instant, had very much discouraged the men of that
regiment; and it is a lamentable fact that some of those
European soldiers, who were naturally expected to exhibit to
their native brethren in arms an example of endurance and
fortitude, were among the first to loose confidence, and give
vent to feelings of discontent at the duties imposed on them.
The evil seed, once sprung up, became more and more difficult
to eradicate, showing daily more and more how completely
demoralizing to the British soldier is the very idea of a

"Sir William Macnaghten and his suite were altogether opposed
to Brigadier Shelton in this matter, it being in his (the
Envoy's) estimation a duty we owed the Government to retain our
post, at whatsoever risk. This difference of opinion, on a
question of such vital importance, was attended with unhappy
results, inasmuch as it deprived the General, in his hour of
need, of the strength which unanimity imparts, and produced an
uncommunicative and disheartening reserve in an emergency which
demanded the freest interchange of counsel and ideas."

On the morning of this day, large parties of the enemy's horse and foot
occupied the heights to the east and to the west of the cantonments,
which, it was supposed, they intended to assault. No attack was made;
but "on the eastern quarter, parties of the enemy, moving down into the
plain, occupied all the forts in that direction. ... At this time, not
above two days' provisions remained in garrison; and it was very clear,
that unless the enemy were quickly driven out from their new possession,
we should soon be completely hemmed in on all sides." At the Envoy's
urgent desire, he taking the entire responsibility on himself, the
General ordered a force, under Brigadier Shelton, to storm the
Rikabashee fort, which was within musket-shot of the cantonments, and
from which a galling fire had been poured into the Mission compound by
the Affghans. About noon, the troops assembled at the eastern gate; a
storming party of two companies from each regiment taking the lead,
preceded by Captain Bellew, who hurried forward to blow open the
gate--but missing the gate, he blew open a small wicket, through which
not more than two or three men could enter abreast, and these in a
stooping posture. A sharp fire was kept up from the walls, and many of
the bravest fell in attempting to force their entrance through the
wicket; but Colonel Mackerell of the 44th, and Lieutenant Bird of the
Shah's 6th infantry, with a handful of Europeans and a few sepoys,
forced their way in--the garrison fled through the gate which was at the
opposite side, and Colonel Mackerell and his little party closed it,
securing the chain with a bayonet; but, at this moment, some Affghan
horse charged round the corner--the cry of cavalry was raised--"the
Europeans gave way simultaneously with the sepoys--a bugler of the 6th
infantry, through mistake, sounded the retreat--and it became for a
time, a scene of _sauve qui peut_." In vain did the officers endeavour
to rally the men, and to lead them back to the rescue of their
commanding-officer and their comrades; only one man, private Stewart of
the 44th, listened to the appeal and returned.

"Let me here (says Lieutenant Eyre) do Brigadier Shelton justice: his
acknowledged courage redeemed the day." After great efforts, at last he
rallied them--again advancing to the attack, again they faltered. A
third time did the Brigadier bring on his men to the assault, which now
proved successful; but while this disgraceful scene was passing outside
the fort, the enemy had forced their way into it, and had cut to pieces
Colonel Mackerell and all his little party, except Lieutenant Bird, who,
with one sepoy, was found in a barricaded apartment, where these two
brave men had defended themselves till the return of the troops, killing
above thirty of the enemy by the fire of their two muskets.

Our loss on this occasion was not less than 200 killed and wounded; but
the results of this success, though dearly purchased, were important.
Four neighbouring forts were immediately evacuated by the enemy, and
occupied by our troops: they were found to contain 1400 maunds of grain,
of which about one-half was removed into cantonments immediately; but
Brigadier Shelton not having thought it prudent to place a guard for the
protection of the remainder, it was carried off during the night by the
Affghans. "Permanent possession was, however, taken of the Rikabashee
and Zoolfikar forts, and the towers of the remainder were blown up on
the following day."

It cannot fail to excite surprise, that these forts, which do not seem
to have been occupied by the enemy till the 10th, were not either
occupied or destroyed by the British troops before that day.

_Nov_. 13.--The enemy appeared in great force on the western heights,
where, having posted two guns, they fired into cantonments with
considerable precision. At the entreaty of the Envoy, it was determined
to attack them--a force, under Brigadier Shelton, moved out for that
purpose--the advance, under Major Thain, ascended the hill with great
gallantry; "but the enemy resolutely stood their ground at the summit of
the ridge, and unflinchingly received the discharge of our musketry,
which, strange to say, even at the short range of ten or twelve yards,
did little or no execution."

The fire of our guns, however, threw the Affghans into confusion. A
charge of cavalry drove them up the hill, and the infantry advancing,
carried the height, the enemy retreating along the ridge, closely
followed by our troops, and abandoning their guns to us; but, owing to
the misconduct of the troops, only one of them was carried away, the men
refusing to advance to drag off the other, which was therefore spiked by
Lieutenant Eyre, with the aid of one artilleryman.

"This was the last success our arms were destined to
experience. Henceforward it becomes my weary task to relate a
catalogue of errors, disasters, and difficulties, which,


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