Jealous Superiors 10

Alexander Burnes is going to dominate my thoughts and my time for a few months. I am going to continue to post my transcripts as I make them so they are more readily available to other researchers.

There is a syndrome at play in this letter that I very much recognise from my own days as an up and coming diplomat. Burnes gets carpeted for suggesting Karachi should become the major regional trading centre by an old hand who knew better from his thirty years experience in the field! Burnes was of course proved right about Karachi, but did not live to see it.
NLS MS 5899 f 151 Inv

From Colonel Pottinger Bhooj Residency
Apr 15 1837

To the Honourable Sir Charles Metcalfe

My Dear Sir Charles,

I have been so very busy of late that I have not had time before to thank you for your letter of 21 February last with the two accompanying Indus reports which has been at last got up in a very complete and businesslike form – I was glad to find from Corless when he was here with me last month, that his examination and survey of this year go decidedly to support the opinion that I have entertained from the first, that the Indus affords the greatest facilities for navigation.

The last time I was at Hyderabad, the native agent who came from Calcutta was was with me and he had travelled a great deal on the Bengal rivers – his opinion was strongly in favour of the Indus, but if people expect that they are to ascend a superb river like it against the current without difficulty (I mean of course when they have not steam or a fair wind) they will be disappointed. I went up at the worst period of the year (in December) without any particular exertion at the rate of 14 miles a day with a fleet of seven boats abd when the southerly wind blows fresh a boat will often clear 50 miles between sunrise and sunset.

I have nothing to do with Capt. Burnes’ reports except to pass them on to the supreme government, but I have seen enough of them to satisfy me that his information is incorrect. He asserts in one of them that Karachee has been – I think his expression is – “for ages” the sea port of Scinde and dwells on the “beaten path” thence to Tattoh as the desirable one for a passage – so far from this being the case, Karachee was only taken from the Khan of Khelat (Beloochistan) by the present family of the Emirs in 1795 and previous to that the whole trade of Scinde went into and came out of the Indus and goods that are now landed at Karachee are chiefly conveyed thence over the range of mountains into the small district of [Lus?] of which [Sommeam?] is the seaport and out of it by the “Kohunwat” or “mountain road” by which Captain Christie and myself travelled to Kelat in 1810.

The boats of Cutch ply to and from the Indus from the 15th September to the 15th April and I see no good reason why our merchant’s boats should not do the same. The agreement however which I have made with the Ameers for warehousing goods will overcome every difficulty in the way of trade, so far as Scinde is concerned. It is quite clear at the same time, that we cannot hope for any great extension of it until the countries to the northward are tranquillized.

Believe me etc.,

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10 thoughts on “Jealous Superiors

  • mark_golding

    Government or ‘superior’ intervention is clearly apparent in ‘electric telegraph’ communications to and from the East India Company c1860’s; a time when my great-grand-father Benjamin Waterman was reporting in London having served as a telegraphist. Some archived communication is available at the British Library, Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections.

  • Ed Davies

    “…by which Captain Christie and myself travelled to Kelat in 1810.”

    I wonder if that non-reflexive use of “myself” was considered as illiterate then as it is now or if the language has changed. Somehow I can’t imagine “…by which myself travelled to Kelat” ever being considered right and would have thought that the class of person likely to become a Colonel would have been better, or at least more strictly, educated than to write that.

  • MerkinOnParis

    I think using ‘myself’ shows the he regards himself as being of a lower rank than the Captain – at that point.
    Often, you must look at the difference in meaning if a different form has been used.

    • craig Post author

      There were a good few of the family in India. I think this one is indeed Henry Pottinger, though I am slightly surprised that in 1837 such a distinguished Lt Col was still being employed by Malcolm in Indus exploratory duties of the kind usually given to lieutenants. I have seen but not yet transcribed more evidence of Pottinger’s hearty dislike of Burnes. His nephew Eldred Pottinger and Burnes got on well.

  • mark_golding

    Sorry off topic – forgive me – Mohammad Abdul-Hussain Farhan aged 6yrs, lost his life today after exposure to ‘gas’ as a result of the police raid on Sitra, Bahrain. Bless him.

    Meanwhile this from the antagonist Anwar Abdulrahman:

    Caroline Hawley, shamefully violated so many journalistic codes that this country could rightfully sue her in an international court. At the very least Britain’s official Press watchdog should launch a thorough investigation into the lies and deceits filed by her at such a sensitive time. Quoting Shakespeare Abdulrahman said of the BBC “The nature of false news infects the teller”.

    Caroline was the exquisite, affectional, heart rendering reporter in Iraq during the 2003 genocide and mass killing of infants, juniors and teens.

  • dreoilin

    NATO has just killed Gaddafi’s youngest son and three grandchildren by bombing a house in a residential area. The bastards. Under Res 1973 to “protect civilians” I assume. I am so very angry.
    Regime change. Saddam Hussein all over again …

  • mary

    I am also very angry Dreoilin especially hearing the awful news repeated incessantly on comBBC through the night.There will be absolutely no remorse for the deaths of the children. In all probability Tomahawk missiles were used as the reports say that there were three ‘massive’ explosions and that the targets were ‘high precision’.

    From ‘On 19 March 2011, 124 Tomahawk missiles[8] were fired by U.S. and British forces (122 US, 2 British)[9] against at least 20 Libyan targets around Tripoli and Misrata.[10] As of 22 March 2011, 159 UGM-109 were fired by US and UK ships against Libyan targets.’

    It puts the love-in last Friday into perspective doesn’t it? The bride’s bouquet is lying on a while silken cushion on the tomb of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey ‘following tradition’. The cushion should be red and soaked in blood.

  • mary

    Still off topic I am afraid. NATO’s motto is obviously NOT ‘No child shall be harmed’.

    Slimy Alastair Burt has just been on Sky and was questioned strongly by Dermot Murnaghan but he refused to reveal ‘operational details’ or to say which force killed the grandchildren. He would not confirm the deaths and said that anyway the targets were in accordance with Res 1973!!!!

  • dreoilin

    “It puts the love-in last Friday into perspective doesn’t it?”
    Yes, Mary, I was too tired and too angry to think of that last night, but you’re right. One spectacle of pomp and glory and ‘tradition’, the other (in my head) of mangled dead grandchildren. As if NATO hasn’t killed and maimed enough in Afghanistan and Pakistan … One man in Texas presumed to tell me (online) that Gaddafi had put the children there on purpose (‘to gain sympathy’) since they were only ‘cannon fodder’ to him. I didn’t sleep last night. I’m aware of Gaddafi’s background/reputation, but nobody has the right to say he loved neither his son nor his grandchildren. Sheer racism.

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