Source: The Illustrated London News (9 October 1878): 329. Internet Archive web version of a copy in the Princeton University Library. Click on image to enlarge it.
Our Map exhibits the territories which intervene between the Russian possessions in Asia and British India. In its compilation the most recent explorations of Russian travellers and of British native agents have been consulted, and the headstreams of the Ainu Darya, or Oxus, have been laid down in accordance with the information collected by them. The distance which now separates the Russian and British possesions in Asia hardly exceeds 160 miles, at one point. A traveller desirous of following that line from north to south would start from Khokand. He would ﬁrst scale the mountain ranges south of that town into Alai, then ascend through the Kizil Yart, or some other pass, to that portion of the elevated steppe region of the Pamir, the centre of which is occupied by the great Kara-Kul lake, and thence wend his way southward through an equally inhospitable region, to Gilgit, Hardly any inhabitants would be found along this route, and although the country can be, and has been, crossed by small caravans during summer, no army could ever hope to pass through it. A very much easier route exists to the west, and one, too, with which the Russians are well acquainted, they having recently explored it. Taking Samarkand for their starting-point, an army, accompanied by guns and store-waggons, may even now march to Cabul without meeting with obstacles which may not easily be removed by the pioneers attached to every ﬁeld. force. The route runs through Shalir i Zebs, the famous Pass of the Iron Gate, Balkh and Bamian. The distance, as far as Cabul, without counting minor sinuosities, is not less than 500 miles. The route leads through Bokhara, nominally an independent State, though in reality very much at the mercy of Russia. There are routes to Afghanistan still further west, but a glance at our Map will show that none of these hold out any advantages to an enemy intent upon invading India from the north or west, unless, indeed, Persia were to be secured as an ally. The military operations of the Russians recently reported from Central Asia appear to point to two objects, the subjugation of the Turkomans and the conquest of Kashgar. The former have already given the Russians much trouble, and there can be no doubt that it is intended to occupy the Turkeman villages lying along the northern frontier of Persia, as far east as Merv. This is a town of some importance, and its possession would bring the Russians very close to Herat, the capital of North-Western Afghanistan. As for the Chinese, they have recently reoccupied Kashghar and the whole of Eastern Turkestan, close to the right-hand margin of our Map, and we hear that they now call upon the Russians to surrender the district of Kuldja, an important district to the north-east, which they occupied whilst the country was in a state of anarchy. The Russians naturally object to this restoration, while the Chinese, whom recent successes have rendered overbearing, may insist upon it. In that case, a war may be unavoidable; and, supposing the Russians to prove the stronger of the two, the British and Russian boundaries in Asia will come to be contiguous. With special reference to our map, we ought to mention that the districts of Darwaz, Roshan, and Shighnan, on the upper Oxus, are virtually inde- pendent, though they occasionally pay tribute either to Bokhara or to Afghanistan, or to both. Karetegin we have included in Bokhara, but that district, too, appears to be in reality on independent principality.
Last modified 22 May 2017