Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/213

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LORD AUCKLAND, 1836-42. 209 Auckland, prompted by his evil genius, attempted to place Shah Shuja upon the throne of Kabul — an attempt conducted with gross mismanagement, and ending in the annihilation of the British garrison placed in that city. Afghanistan under the Duranis, 1747-1826. — Almost for the first time since the days of the Sultans of Ghaznf and Ghor, Afghanistan had obtained a national king, in 1747, in Ahmad Shah Duranf. This resolute soldier found his oppor- tunity in the confusion which followed the death of the Persian conqueror, Nadir Shah. Before his own decease in 1773, Ahmad Shah had conquered a wide empire, from Herat to Peshawar, and from Kashmir to Sind. His intervention on the field of P&nfpat (1761) turned back the tide of Maratha con- quest, and replaced a Muhammadan emperor on the throne of Delhi. But Ahmad Shah never cared to settle down in India, and kept state alternately at his two Afghan capitals of Kabul and Kandahar. The Duranf kings were prolific in children, who fought to the death with one another on each succession. At last, in 1826, Dost Muhammad, head of the powerful Barakzai family, succeeded in establishing himself as ruler of Kabul, with the title of Amfr, while two fugitive brothers of the Duranf line were living under British protection at Ludhiana, on the Punjab frontier. Our Early Dealings with Kabul. — The attention of the English Government had been directed to Afghan affairs ever since the time of Lord Wellesley, who feared that Zeman Shah, then holding his court at Lahore (1800), might follow in the path of Ahmad Shah, and overrun Hindustan. The growth of the powerful Sikh kingdom of Ranjft Singh, however, gradually- dispelled such alarms for the future. Subsequently, in 1809, while a French invasion of India was still a possibility to be guarded against, Mountstuart Elphinstone was sent by Lord Minto on a mission to Shah Shuja, brother of Zeman Shah, to form a defensive alliance. Before the year expired, Shah Shuja had been driven into exile, and a third brother, Mahmud Shah, was on the throne. Restoration of Shah Shuja by the British, 1839.— In 1837, when the curtain rises upon the drama of English inter-