Lumsden of the Guides:
A Sketch of the Life of Lieut.-Gen. Sir Harry Burnett ...
by Sir Peter Stark Lumsden, George Robert Elsmie. 1900
(compiled by Steve Tillotson, December 2015)
***As a breed researcher, I have a keen interest in Afghanistan, and the regions history and I believe pursuing such a knowledge provides an understanding of the environment where our pioneer breeder-importers and their hounds lived. Mary Amps has written about Lumsden Of The Guides and of his hunting with hounds (the implication in her writing was that these hounds were Afghan hounds. I dont know if that implication is correct, one of the reasons I am reading sections of the above book. I also have to locate and read the writings of General Younghusband, another military person with knowledge of hounds that Mary wrote about).
****It should be of no surprise that Afghanistan today is as scary and challenging as it was a century ago. The uncivilized Muhammadan world clashing with the supposed civilized western world, (as represented by the British and other European military and others such as adventurers, explorers, archaeologists etc). The pamphlet (1) below was printed in 1876, a mere 20-40 years before Major Graham Bell-Murray and Major and Mary Amps were resident in the region.
The Rev. T. P. Hughes, a member of the Afghan Mission at Peshawur, in a pamphlet printed in 1876, writes as follows :—
Dilawur (the brave) was a native of Jahangira, a village on the banks of the Cabul river. He belonged to the tribe of Khatak, could trace his descent from the great poet chief, Khushhal Khan. When a youth he was sent to the village mosque, and received instruction in the rudiments of Arabic and of Muhammadan theology. Being then of a studious turn of mind, he soon left his native place for a more advanced teacher, and for some time sat at the feet of a learned moulvie hi the village of Zeydah. But the sedentary life of a theological student was not suited to the physical energy of Dilawur Khan, and in due time he exchanged the life of the sanctuary for that of the highway, and commenced to earn his living by plunder and robbery. The Sikhs were then the unwelcome rulers of the district, and it was thought consistent with the principles of religion and piety to despoil and pillage the infidel conqueror. The occupation of a highway robber amongst the Afghans in those days was an honourable profession; and the danger and risk attending it were great attractions to Dilawur. Moreover, the modus operandi of Dilawur's maraudings was both curious and novel. There is nothing like it even in the histories of Turpin and Macheath. For example, hearing that a wealthy Hindu shopkeeper was about to be married, he would, in company with others of his tribe, lie in ambush on the east bank of the Indus and await the arrival of the expectant bridegroom. Armed to the teeth with pistols, sword, and dagger, the Afghan brigands, led by Dilawur Khan, would attack the bridal party and seize the rich shopkeeper, bedizened with wristlets and chains. The unfortunate man was dragged to the river bank and placed inside an inflated cowhide, upon which one of the party mounted himself and paddled it across the river. The shopkeeper was then carried to the Khatak hills, and a letter sent to his sorrowing friends, informing them that the ransom demanded for their relative was the moderate sum of two hundred rupees (£20). The Hindus, true to the instinct of their nature, would commence haggling as to the sum to be paid, when Dilawur Khan would cut short their negotiations by informing them that if the sum demanded was not sent within a week the head of their captive would be struck off and sent to them as an offering of peace (nazr), and that in consequence of the expense incurred in feeding their unwelcome guest, the ransom would be increased to three hundred. In all cases the demand was acceded to, and the frightened trader restored to his home.
Amongst his own people Dilawur Klian had found great inconsistency of conduct, especially among the Muhammadan priests, and he had not served in the Guides long before he learned that the English were actuated by principles of truth and justice. Already his heart was drawn towards the religion of the conqueror (end extract)
***The extract (2) below about dogs and hunting contains this chilling comment -
"the people of the country are so extremely bigoted and jealous of foreigners that a stranger in these countries runs a much greater chance of being stalked himself than of stalking anything worth the trouble of taking home."
***A counterpoint to the above statement is this, later in the book -
"Amongst his own people Dilawur Klian had found great inconsistency of conduct, especially among the Muhammadan priests, and he had not served in the Guides long before he learned that the English were actuated by principles of truth and justice. Already his heart was drawn towards the religion of the conqueror"
EXTRACT 2. Dogs, Hunting, Hawking
In conclusion I may remark that Afghanistan affords a splendid field to its native sportsmen, for on its mountains are to be found markhore, ibex, thar, wild sheep, and most of the deer common to the Himalaya ranges; while in the plains, ravine deer, "yews (a species of leopard), wild hog, and black lynx, together with ducks, woodcock, partridges, etc., etc., are most abundant; but the people of the country are so extremely bigoted and jealous of foreigners that a stranger in these countries runs a much greater chance of being stalked himself than of stalking anything worth the trouble of taking home.
(end of extract)
***In all my readings on Afghanistan, including Lumsden, I routinely read that Afghanis cared little about "pure" bred dogs - "Lumsden book states (extract 3 below) "Sirdars will never have a good breed of dogs, as they do not take the slightest trouble about them, but allow all to cross just as it may happen.
EXTRACT 3 Dogs/Breeding
Afghan Sirdars have of late taken a great fancy to English dogs of every description, and frequently amuse themselves baiting jackals, badgers, etc. with animals which they call "sag-i-tiger," but which are really nothing more or less than the various crosses of the bulldog which are always to be found about the barracks of any European regiment. These Sirdars, however, will never have a good breed of dogs, as they do not take the slightest trouble about them, but allow all to cross just as it may happen.
*** I know that not everybody is as interested in such writings, but I do think they convey the challenges faced by those pioneers who sought to locate, acquire and bring the Afghan hound to the western world.
*** BTW In addition to Mary Amps (Ghazni) mention of Lumsden, Clara Bowring (Larkbeare) was also connected to the Lumsden family. You can see a photo of Clara Bowring and Mrs Lumsden in this article - Clara Bowring - Larkbeare UK
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