BURNES, Alexander (1805-1841). Interesting Early Autograph Letter Signed "Alexr. Burnes" addressed to Ensign Geo. L. Jacob and dated Poona 20th May 1822.
Poona, 20th May 1822. 4 pagespp. Letter ca. 25 x 20 cm (10 x 8 inches). The letter is in very good condition. This Long and Detailed letter by a Seventeen Year Old Burnes Gives Many Details of Army life and India. He also Describes his Study of Hindustani and Persian Which Would be the First Step in his Eventually Transformation to becoming "Bokhara Burnes." "While serving in India in the army of the East India Company which he had joined at the age of sixteen, Burnes learned Hindustani and Persian, and obtained an appointment as interpreter at Surat in 1822. Transferred to Kutch in 1826 as assistant to the political agent, he took an interest in the history and geography of north-western India and the adjacent countries, which had not yet been thoroughly explored by the British. His proposal in 1829 to undertake a journey of exploration through the valley of the Indus River was not carried out for political reasons; but in 1831 he was sent to Lahore with a present of horses from King William IV to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The British claimed that the horses would not survive the overland journey, so they were allowed to transport the horses up the Indus and used the opportunity to secretly survey the river. In the following years, in company with Mohan Lal, his travels continued through Afghanistan across the Hindu Kush to Bukhara and Persia. The narrative which he published on his visit to England in 1834 added immensely to contemporary knowledge of these countries, and was one of the most popular books of the time. The first edition earned the author 800 pounds, and his services were recognized not only by the Royal Geographical Society of London, but also by that of Paris. Soon after his return to India in 1835 he was appointed to the court of Sindh to secure a treaty for the navigation of the Indus and in 1836 he undertook a political mission to Dost Mahommed Khan at Kabul"(Wikipedia).