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Root out from among ye, by teaching the mind,
By training the heart, this chief curse of mankind!
'Tis a duty ye owe to the forthcoming race
Confess it in time, and discharge it with grace!

            THE OVERLAND MAIL BAG.
                          ——

EVERY fortnight, or thereaboutsnot always
regularly, for there are winds and tides, and
other contingencies by land and water, that
obstruct the progress of keels and wheels
the newspapers present their readers with
two or three columns of closely-printed
intelligence just conveyed to them from China and
India by the Overland Mail. Of the millions
who constitute the population of these islands,
the numbers are comparatively small that
take a direct interest in the news which thus
comes journeying over mountains and seas
with the plague-spots and spices of the East
in its leaves; and of these the immediate
curiosity is satisfied, for the most part, with
an anxious glance at the deaths and
promotions, the marriages and sick-lists, the
arrivals and departures. A still smaller
number enter into the pith of the matter
recorded in these snatches of contemporary
history, or comprehend the magnitude of the
destinies that are sometimes shadowed out
in dim little paragraphs from nooks and
corners of the great frontier regions that
stretch their mis-shapen limbs beyond the
Indus. For the rest, the news from India,
except in its grand results, or when some
terrible war throws up to the surface its
exciting details, is little better than a
confused heap of unsettled orthographies and
unpronounceable names, mixed up with
bewildering policies and dynastic revolutions,
which are fearfully chaotic to the general
understanding, and which fall upon the
imagination of the multitude very much like the
traditions of an extinct world.

Yet there is no intelligence from our
possessions in any part of the globe so important
in its issues, so strange or startling in its
every-day facts, or so romantic and
picturesque in its antecedents and associations, as
the intelligence which is brought to us by the
Overland Mail. Let the reader spread out
before him a map of Indianot confining his
speculations to Hindostan, to the palatial
cities of the Presidencies, steeped in the
mysterious music of a climate abounding with
invisible life, or the cool ranges of the
Himalayas, or the remoter out-posts where we
have established the limits of our powerbut
looking onwards into kingdoms and empires
protected by our alliance, or preserved in their
equilibrium by the neighbourhood of our
authority, the Punjab and the Derejat,
Candahar and Cabul, running up to the sunny
lines of Persia, where a hundred races cluster
in their mountain fastnesses, or scatter their
camps over the plains and valleysand let
him endeavour to realise to himself the vital
energies that are wakened up into perpetual
conflict in those distant scenes, the collisions
of class and clan, the struggles for power, the
feuds and jealousies, and legacies of wrongs
and revenges, that rack the passions of these
wild communities, and he will begin to feel
a livelier human interest in the two or three
dense columns, at present very dry and
obscure to him, which are gleaned from the
despatches of the Overland Mail, and poured
out, not always, perhaps, with sufficient
clearness, into our daily papers. Collecting a little
preliminary information concerning the influences
and intrigues at work amongst Afghans,
and Sikhs, and Oosbegs, and other dusky
races in that quarter, and ascertaining how
intimately the security of our Oriental
empire is involved in our relations with them,
and how every stir amongst them affects the
sympathies and superstitions, the fears, hopes,
and hidden desires of the native population
within our own territories, he will no longer
regard with indifference the arrival of a
budget from the East. He will understand
the importance that is attached to the few
pregnant lines which announce the dates of
the last advices from Bengal and Agra,
Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay.

The last few Overland Mails have been
freighted with news of an ominous character;
for some months to come we may look for
intelligence still more alarming. We should
probably feel as little interest in the fact,
that the Shah of Persia had thrown a large
body of troops into the distant fortress of
Herat, which stands close to his own frontier,
and a long way from ours, as we should
feel in a scrap of flowery heroics out of the
"Pekin Gazette," were it not that the
presence of a Persian army at that particular
point (never menaced by the Shah-in-Shah
without sinister motives) is likely in its
remote results to affect very seriously, if not
actually to endanger, the safety of British
India.

The circumstances of the case are these:
On the 4th of last June, the ruler of
Herat, Yar Mahommed Khan, died, and
bequeathed the throne to his son, Syed Mahomed.
Now, this Yar Mahomed, a man hideous and
ill-conditioned in mind and body, was one of
those numerous usurpers, whose dashing
exploits furnish unlimited materials for the
dramatic genius of the amphitheatre; and
his death, therefore, was the immediate signal
for a simultaneous outbreak in several
quarters, each setting up its own claimant,
preliminary to an indefinite series of discursive
forays, pleasantly called in that country a war
of succession. Amongst the foremost claimants
are the chiefs of Candahar, who have
much the same sort of right to the throne as
the robbers of the Rhine had to the plunder
of the defenceless vessels that floated under
their "castled crags." But they thought they
had at least as good a right to the Heratee
kingdom as its late owner, and so they
descended upon the city with four thousand

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