Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Written in 1808 about the Afghans

Mountstuart Elphinstone

"The English traveller from India… would admire their (Afhgans') strong and active forms, their fair complexions and European features, their industry and enterprise, the hospitality, sobriety and contempt for pleasure which appear in all their habits; and, above all, the independence and energy of their character...On the whole, his impression of his new acquaintance would be favourable…he would reckon them virtuous, compared with the people to whom he had been accustomed…Their vices are revenge, envy, avarice, rapacity and obstinacy; on the other hand, they are fond of liberty, faithful to their friends, kind to their dependents, hospitable, brave, hardy, frugal, laborious and prudent, and ready to defend their rugged country against a tyrant. The societies into which the nation is divided possess within themselves a principle of repulsion and disunion too strong to be overcome… ‘We are content with discord, we are content with alarms, we are content with blood,’ the old man said. ‘But we will never be content with a master.’”

Mountstuart Elphinstone, Age 29, 1808

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