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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Left Jellalabad to support Nott's advance


Pollock wrote to Nott at Kandahar

not to move until further instructions, while he himself reported to headquarters that he could not retire to Jellalabad for want of transports. Eventually, Lord Ellenborough consented to modify his instructions. Without waiting for this, General Nott was already marching on Kabul. Pollock, accompanied by Sale, left Jellalabad to support Nott's advance. In the Tezeen Valley the British came upon the scene of one of the bloodiest massacres of the retreat from Kabul. The sight of the murdered bodies of their comrades exasperated the soldiers. The heights around were bristling with Akbar Khan's men. In the face of a murderous fire from their matchlocks, the British stormed the heights and gave no quarter. Akbar Khan fled into the northern hills. In September, Nott's column took Kabul and hoisted the British flag over the Bala Hassar. The English captives managed to bribe their keepers and to join the rescuing army, amid general rejoicings. The British conquest of Afghanistan was followed by barbarous deeds of vandalism. The great bazaar of Kabul, one of the handsomest stone structures of Central Asia, was blown up by gunpowder. The city itself was turned over to loot and massacre. The bloodcurdling atrocities of the white men on that occasion kept alive the fierce hatred of all things British in Afghanistan for years to come. By the express orders of Lord Ellenborough the sacred sandalwood gates of Somnath, which had adorned the tomb of Mahmud of Ghasni since the Eleventh Century,
were brought away as trophies of war.

[Sidenote: Boers driven from Natal]

[Sidenote: Foundation of Transvaal]

In South Africa, too, the seeds of enduring hatred were sown at this time. Scarcely had the new Boer community in Zululand become well settled when a proclamation was issued in Cape Town, declaring that Natal should become a British territory. Soldiers were despatched to Durban to support this claim. After some sharp fighting the Boers were driven out of the seaport. When the British Commissioner arrived at Pietermaritzburg, a stormy mass meeting was held. For two hours Erasmus Smith, the Boer predicant, argued in vain in behalf of his flock. In the end the Boer women passed a unanimous resolution that rather than submit to English rule they would emigrate once more. Pointing to the Drakensberg Mountains, the oldest of the women said: "We go across those mountains to freedom or to death." Over these mountains almost the whole population of Natal trekked their way into the uninhabited regions beyond. Only 300 families remained, the ancestors of some 10,000 Afrikanders of Natal in later days. On the other side of the Orange and Vaal Rivers the Boer emigrants founded once more their commonwealth, known later as the Transvaal, or South African Republic.

In Australia the first representative constitution was granted to the English colonists of New South Wales. Almost simultaneously with this began the agitation for separating Victoria from New South Wales.

[Sidenote: "The Sliding Scale"]

[Sidenote: British Income Tax]

In England, early in the Parliamentary session, Sir Robert Peel on behalf of the government moved his famous bill for a sliding scale of the duties on corn. In the debate that followed, the most notable speeches were made by Cobden and Macaulay, who advocated complete free trade. In spite of all opposition, the bill in an unamended form reached its third reading and was passed on the 5th of April. The most serious difficulty confronting the government was a financial deficit of L2,570,000, to which had to be added the heavy expenditures for the wars in India and China. To fill up this deficiency, Peel resorted to the levy of an income tax. To make this unpopular tax more acceptable a number of minor mischievous taxes were abolished. Thus rendered palatable, this bill, too, was carried through Parliament with tolerable speed, and was passed with handsome majorities by both Houses. It called for a tax of sevenpence on every pound of annual income above L150.


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