Flashman Papers - Flashman Part 34

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12. Cotton was the ringleader of the great Rugby School mutiny of 1797, in which the door of the headmaster, Dr Ingles, was blown in with gunpowder.

13. Poor army swords. The sabres issued to British cavalry at this time were notorious for their greasy bra.s.s hilts, which turned in the hand.

14. Flashman's account of Burnes's murder clears up a point which has troubled historians. Previous versions suggest that the Burnes brothers left the Residency in disguise, accompanied by a mysterious third party who has been described as a Kashmiri Musselman. It has been alleged that this third man actually denounced them to the Ghazis. But Flashman could hardly have betrayed them without considerable risk to himself, so his account is probably the true one.

15. The actual names of these two Afghans remain a mystery. Other accounts call them Muhammed Sadeq and Surwar Khan, but Lady Sale seems to suggest that one of them was Sultan Jan.

16. Lieutenant-General Colin Mackenzie has left one of the most vivid accounts of the First Afghan War in Storms and Suns.h.i.+ne of a Soldier's Life (1884).

17. Flashman, like many other European writers, uses the word "Ghazi" as though it referred to a tribe, although he certainly knew better. In Arabic "ghazi" is literally a conqueror, but may be accurately translated as hero or champion. Europeans usually render it as "fanatic", in which connection it is interesting to note the parallel between the Moslem Ghazis and the Christian medieval ideal of knighthood. The Ghazi sect were dedicated to the militant expansion of Islam.

18. Flashman's account of the retreat tallies substantially with those of such contemporaries as Mackenzie, Lady Sale, and Lieutenant Eyre. This is also true of his version of affairs in Afghanistan generally. His description of McNaghten's murder, for example, is the fullest and most personal to survive. There are omissions and discrepancies here and there - he does not mention "Gentleman Jim" Skinner's part in the liaison work with Akbar Khan, for instance - but on the whole he can be regarded as highly reliable within his self-centred limits. Readers seeking wider and more authoritative accounts are recommended to the standard works, which include Kaye's History of the War in Afghanistan, vol. ii, Fortuscue's History of the British Army, vol, xii, and Patrick Macrory's admirably clear account, Signal Catastrophe.

19. The "united front" of officers took place at Jugdulluk on January 11, 1842.

20. In fact some prisoners were taken by the Afghans at Gandamack, including Captain Souter of the 44th Regiment, one of two men who wrapped the battalion colours round their bodies (the other man was killed). The picture to which Flashman refers is by W. B. Wollen, R.A., hung at the Royal Academy in 1898.

21. Flashman may be excused an overstatement here. Possibly Sergeant Hudson was a fine swordsman, but this was not usual in the British cavalry; Fortescue in his pa.s.sage on the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava refers to the troopers' habit of using their sabres as bludgeons. It was not uncommon for a man to use his sabre-hilt as a knuckle-duster instead of cutting or thrusting.

22. Major Henry Havelock. Later famous as the hero of Lucknow, the "stern Cromwellian soldier" became one of the great figures of the Indian Empire.

23. Sale was indeed hailed as a celebrity, but returned to India and was killed at Mudki in 1845, fighting the Sikhs. Shelton's adventurous career ended when he fell from his horse on parade at Dublin and was killed. Lawrence and Mackenzie both achieved general rank.

24. Flashman saw Ellenborough at his worst. Arrogant, theatrical, and given to flights of rhetoric, the Governor-General went to extravagant lengths to honour the "heroes of Afghanistan", and was widely ridiculed. But in the main he was an able and energetic administrator.

25. Punch began publication in 1841; the "Pencillings" were its first full-page cartoons.

26. The "Opium War" in China had ended with a treaty whereby Hong Kong was ceded to Britain.

27. The Duke's reference to the Queen's impending visit to Walmer Castle fixes the date of Flashman's appearance at Buckingham Palace very closely. Wellington wrote to Sir Robert Peel on October 26, 1842, a.s.suring him that Walmer was at the Queen's disposal, and she visited it in the following month.

28. Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome was first published on October 28, 1842.

29. The Queen's Medal. That Her Majesty was piqued at Lord Ellenborough's decision to issue medals is evident from her letter to Peel on November 29, 1842.

30. Dr Thomas Arnold, father of Matthew Arnold and headmaster of Rugby School, had died on June 12, 1842, aged 47.

_ Glossary

Badmash: a scoundrel.

Feringhee: European, possibly a corruption of "Frankish" or "English".

Ghazi: a fanatic havildar sergeant.

hubs.h.i.+: negro (literally "woolly-head").

Huzoor: lord, master, in the sense of "sir" (Pushtu equivalent of "sahib").

Idderao: come here (imp.).

Jao: go, get away (imp.).

Jawan: soldier jezzail long rifle of the Afghans.

Juldi: quickly, hurry up.

Khabadar: be careful (imp.).

Maidan: plain, exercise ground.

Muns.h.i.+: teacher, usually of language.

Puggaree: turban cloth.

Rissaldar: native officer commanding cavalry troop.

Sangar: small stone breastwork like grouse b.u.t.t.

Shabash: bravo.

Sowar: trooper.

Flashman Papers - Flashman Part 34

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Flashman Papers - Flashman Part 34 summary

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