The Afghan Question from 1841 to 1878


The Afghan Question from 1841 to 1878 consists of five chapters extracted and reprinted from a larger work, The Eastern Question, also published in 1879. The author, George Douglas Campbell, eighth duke of Argyll (1823–1900), was secretary of state for India in the first government of Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone (1868–74). Argyll believed that the security of India did not require territorial expansion into Persia or the northwest, and he was critical of British politicians and officials who in his view worried excessively about Russian advances in Central Asia. He became a fierce critic of British policy toward India and Afghanistan under the Conservative government of Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, and of British policies leading up to and in the conduct of the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878–80). In the preface to the book Argyll writes: “We have yet to see the final results of the Afghan war. We have indeed hunted our victim, Shere Ali, to the death. We have overrun, with the most perfect ease, a great portion of his country. But our ‘scientific frontier’ is not yet defined. The wild tribes of Afghanistan have not yet been reconciled to our dominion. The cost and waste of our operations are enormous.” Argyll was one of the two largest landowners in Scotland, possessing estates comprising more than 175,000 acres (70,000 hectares), and the head of clan Campbell. His interests included politics, science (especially ornithology and geology), and the improvement of education and agriculture in Scotland.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Strahan & Company, London


Title in Original Language

The Afghan question from 1841 to 1878

Type of Item

Physical Description

288 pages ; 21 centimeters


  1. H.C.G. Matthew, “Campbell, George Douglas, eighth duke of Argyll in the peerage of Scotland, and first duke of Argyll in the peerage of the United Kingdom (1823–1900),” in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: July 27, 2016