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Persia, had seized on Herat,* a large fortified city in Khorasan, and vyere preparing to reduce the province, when they were encountered by Nadir, who totally routed their army; fifteen thousand, it is said, being killed and wounded, and five thousand made prisoners. Having recovered the territories, which the Turks and Russians had dismembered from Persia during the weak reign of Husseyn, and expelled the Afghans, Nadir Shah deposed Thamas, and entering Afghanistan, in the year 1737, with a large army, laid siege to the strong fortress of Kandahar, which was at that time held by Husseyn Khan, an independent Afghan chief. The exertions of this officer, aided by the natural advantages of his situation, detained the Persian in the vicinity of Kandahar for the space of eighteen months. At the surrender of the fortress and other adjacent strong holds, Nadir made so temperate a use of his victory, that about four thousand Afghans, commanded by two of the officers of Husseyn, were induced to join his army; and it is mentioned that these troops, during the Indian expedition, rendered him essential service.
In the annals of that period, I have made diligent search for the name of Abdali Ahmed
* Supposed to be Aria of the ancients.
Khan, the founder of the modern empire of Afghanistan; but I have not been able to procure any accurate information of his origin or military progress, until he started forth with so brilliant a success at the death of Nadir Shah. That he was an Afghan there is no doubt, as the fact is fully proved in the person of his son Timur Shah; yet from Dowe's history, he has been brought into our notice by the name of the Persian Abdalli. By various records and oral traditions of the life of Nadir Shah, it is seen that he maintained a party of Afghans in his service, and having received, iri the latter period of his reign, a general testimony of the disaffection and meditated treachery of his Persian officers, he resolved to reduce them to obedience, or cut them off by the assistance of his foreign troops; among whom, the Afghans, then commanded by Ahmed Khan, were distinguished by pre-eminent marks of favour.
The assassination of Nadir was immediately followed by a furious attack on the Afghan troops, consisting of four or five thousand men; but their intrepid chief, though assailed by the whole Persian army, effected a safe retreat into his own country, where seizing on a large treasure which the governor of Kabul, not yet apprized of the fate of Nadir, had dispatched to the Persian camp, and raising a numerous force, be was acknowledged the sovereign of the Af
ghan territories, by the title of Ahmed Shah. After establishing his authority at home, he penetrated into the northern quarters of India, which felt the force of his arm, and long groaned under the Afghan desolation. AHMED SHAH having run through a long and arduous military career, and acquired even the character of a temperate and just prince, died in the year 1773, in the vicinity of the new city of Kanhadar,” which he had designed to be the capital of Afghanistan. This prince was succeeded by his son Timur, who keeps his court in the city of Kabul; to preserve the foreign possessions of his father, he made in the first part of his reign, some desultory expeditions into India; but on the issue of an unsuccessful campaign with the Sicques, he was compelled to relinquish the whole of the Punjab territory. At this day he retains, on the east side of the Indus, the principality of Kashmire, the district of Attock, with some scattered divisions of Moultan, including the city and the territory of Schind. yet Timur Shah derives but few real advantages from his Indian domain. Scind at the period
* Nadir Shah destoyed the old fortress of Kandahar, which stood on the top of a high rocky hill, and founded on a contiguous plain a city, entitled Nadirabad; it was completed by Ahmed Shah, and is now only known by the name of Kandahar. - s
of my journey, was, in a degree, dismembered from his empire; no revenue, had been remitted to Kabul for the space of two years, or any measure adopted to enforce obedience; and the governor of Moultan, confiding on his remote distance from the empire, and the inactive disposition of the prince, shews only that attention to the orders of government which is most accordant with his purposes. From this outline you will perceive, that the Afghan dominion in India does not stand on a flourishing ground; that, under the auspices of Timur, few marks of its extension are evinced ; or, that it imparts any leading influence in the affairs of Hindostan. RUMoU Rs, wafted from the court of Delhi, have occasionally agitated our quarter of India, and taught us to believe that Timur, with a mighty host, had crossed the Indus, and was making rapid marches to Delhi, to restore the lost authority of the Mogul empire. But this is an empty tale, framed to raise the spirits of a decaying, drooping court, or amuse the dreaming politicians of the day. It is, indeed, so opposite to the truth, that the Afghan prince, instead of urging a foreign enterprize, seems afraid to move from his capital.” At this time a common outcry
* Since that period, Timur Shah has appeared in the field, and proceeded to the province of Moultan; but his operations, futile and indecisive, have terminated, after much negociation of the soldiery prevails against the Shah, for a large failure of military payments; and it appears that, since the year 1780, when he visited Peshour, where he was treacherously attacked by a party of disaffected Afghans, he has shewn no desire of leaving Kabul.” Exclusive of his Afghan and Indian dominions, Timur Shah is possessed of a large division of Khorasan, which, taking in the city of Herat, extends on the north to the vicinity of Nishabor and Turshish, and, on the south, to the lesser Irak. This prince, whom I have seen, is about forty-six years of age; his person is above the middle size, and rather corpulent; and, for a native of Afghanistan, his complexion is dark. In token of imperial dignity, he wears, on days of
and threat, in a manifest incapacity to complete the reduction of a nominal tributary; and, having dissolved the charm that popular opinion had impressed on his name, he returned ingloriously into his own country.
Note by the Editors.
* Some recent advices from India mention, that, in the autumn of 1796, Zemaun Shah, the successor of Timur, had invaded the Punjab, and having completely routed the forces of the Sicques, had gained possession of Lahore; but was soon after recalled from thence to Kandahar, by a rebellion excited there, during his absence, by a discontented chief, Morad Khan. These accounts add, that he was supposed to have suppressed this insurrection, and to be preparing to re-enter India with a very considerable army. -