Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/237

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THE QUEEN PROCLAIMED EMPRESS, 1877. 233 India felt for the first time that they were incorporated into the Empire of an ancient and a splendid dynasty. Lord. Lytton, 1876-1880. — Lord Lytlon followed Lord Northbrook in 1876. On January 1, 1877, Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India at a darbdr of unparalleled magnificence, held on the historic ' ridge ' overlooking the ancient Mughal capital of Delhi. But while the princes and high officials of the country were flocking to this gorgeous scene, the shadow of famine was darkening over Southern India. The monsoons of 1876 had failed to bring their due supply of rain, and the season of 1877 was little better. This long- continued drought stretched from the Deccan to Cape Comorin, and subsequently invaded Northern India, causing a famine more widely spread than any similar calamity known in Indian history. Despite vast importations of grain by sea and rail, despite the most strenuous exertions of the Government, which incurred a total expenditure on this account of 11 millions sterling, the loss of life from actual starvation and its attendant train of diseases was lamentable. The deaths from want of food, and from the diseases incident to a famine-stricken popu- lation, were estimated at 5^ millions. Afghan Affairs, 1878-1880. — In the autumn of 1878, the affairs of Afghanistan again forced themselves into notice. Sher Alf, the Amfr, who had been hospitably entertained by Lord Mayo, was found to be favouring Russian intrigues. A British envoy was refused admittance to the country, while a Russian mission was received with honour. This led to a declaration of war. British armies advanced by three routes, — the Khaibar (Khyber), the Kuram, and the Bolan, — and with- out much opposition occupied the inner entrances of the passes (1878). Sher Alf fled to Afghan Turkislan, and there died. A treaty was entered into with his son, Yakub Khan, at Gandamak (May 1879), by which the British frontier was advanced to the crests or Afgh&n edge of the passes, and a British officer was admitted to reside at Kabul. Within a few months, the British Resident, Sir Louis Cavagnari, was treach- erously attacked and massacred, together with his escort (September 1879), and a second war became necessary.