Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

. (page 1 of 41)
Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 1 of 41)
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SELECTIONS FROM THE MINUTES AND
OTHER OFFICIAL WRITINGS



OF



THE HONOURABLE

MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE



GOVERNOR OF ROM DAY.



SELECTIONS FROM THE MINUTES AND
OTHER OFFICIAL WRTTTNCS

OF

THE HONOURABLE

MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE

GOVERNOR OF BOMBAY.
WITH AN INTRODUCTORY MEMOIR.

EDITED BY

GEORGE W. FORREST, B.A.,

DECC'AN COLLEGE,
KELLOW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF BOMBAY.




LONDON :

RICHARD BENT LEY AND SON,

^ublishwrs in ©rbinarg to |ijer ^ajtstij the (Qut tn.

1884.

{All Bights Beserved.'\



3)5



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TO

Tif^- MEMBERS

DF THAT SERVICE WHO HAVE FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY,

WITH FIRMNESS AND EQUITY, .UJMINISTERED OUR

BRITISH INDIAN EMPIRE,

i ^ciicate the (Dfftrial Mriting^

OF ONE OF THE ABLEST OF THE MANY ABLE MEN WHO
HAVE BELONGED TO

THE INDIAN CIVIL SERVICE.



357129



PEEFACE.



Some years ago, when I was employed in looking over
the valuable records in the Bombay Secretariat, the idea
struck me that a compilation of the official writings of
Mountstuart Elphinstone would prove of use, not only
to those actively engaged in the administration of
India, but also to the daily widening circle of men who
take an interest in Indian questions. There is hardly
an important problem connected with the government
of India which has not been discussed by Mountstuart
Elphinstone ; and to the discussion of Indian problems
he brought vast experience and a liberal and highly-
cultivated mind.

In order to make the Minutes more intelligible to the
reader, I have thought it ad\dsable to prefix to them a
short narrative of Mr. Elphinstone's life, and of the
principal historical events connected with his career.
In this memoir I have drawn largely upon the
admirable memoir written by Sir Edward Colebroke
many years ago, and published in the Royal Asiatic
Journal.

My best thanks are due to Lord Elphinstone for the
trouble he has taken in sending me a cop}- of the letters



viii PREFACE.

of Mountstuart Elphinstone describing the battles of
Assaye and Kirkee, which are now j^ublished for the
first time. My acknowledgments are also due to Sir
Richard Temple for supplying me with the Minute on
Education, and also to Mr. Monteath, C.S., for his kind
assistance in procuring me records from the Bombay
Secretariat.

G. AV. FOEREST.

Deccan College, Puna.

Odoler 18, 1883.



CO:ST TENTS.



/A



Life of the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone

CHAPTEK

I. EARLY LIFE— INDIA — ASSAYE— ARGAUM — NAGPUR
II. EMBASSY TO CABUL - - -

IIL PUNA - - - -

IV. COMMISSIONER OF THE DECCAN
\'. BOMBAY— RETURN TO ENGLAND — DEATH

]MlNUTE BY THE HON. MOUNTSTUART ElPHINSTONE, DaTED

March, 1824, on Education . . - -

Narrative of Proceedings relating to the Murder of
Gangadhar Shastri, the Gaikwar's Minister deputed
to Puna - - - -

Report from Lieutenant-Colonel Burr, of the Bombay
Establishment, and Despatches from the Honourable
Mountstuart Elphinstone to the Governor-General

Keport on the Territories Conquered from the Peshwa,
submitted to the Supreme Government of British
India - - - -

^Iinute by the President, Extracted from 'East India
Papers,' Vol. III. pp. 697—701 - - - .

Minute by the Governor, Extracted from 'East India
Papers,' Vol. HI. pp. 661— 66-1 - - - -



1

22
39
56
65



ir



179



251



445



457



X CONTENTS.

PAGE

Minute by the President, Extracted from ' East India

Papers/ Vol. III. pp. 677—697 - - . - 467

Further Minute by the President, Extracted from

'East India Papers,' Vol. III. pp. 706—709 - - 521

Minute by the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, Dated

February 21, 1821 - - - - - 531

Minute by the Hon. Mountstuart Elphinstone, Dated

Chobari, Cutch, January 26, 1821 - - - 559



IFE OF THE HOK MOUOTSTUART
ELPHB^STO^^E.

CHAPTEE I.

EARLY LIFE INDIA ASSAYE ARGAUM NAGPUR.

1779—1803.

buNTSTUART Elphinstone was born in the year 1779
-the sou of the eleventh Lord Elphinstone, and Anna,
LUghter of Lord Ruthven. His father was a general
ficer, and Governor of Edinl)urgh Castle ; and for
any years sat in the House of Lords as one of the
presentative peers of Scotland. As a boy, Mouut-
uart seems to have been first remarked chiefly for
gh spirits and love of singing revolutionary songs,
hich he learnt from the French prisoners confined in
e castle. At the age of fourteen he was sent to
hool at Kensington, where he remained for two years,
hese two years do not seem to have been devoted to
dustry and the beaten paths of school-life, but he
lowed a love of reading ; and in after years it was re-
arked that he was fond of quoting Shakespeare. At
ihool it was said he ' was clever enough for anything,
it an idle dog.' Mountstuart Elphinstone was but a
,d of sixteen years of age when he left school to pro-

1



2 LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

ceecl to India as a writer in the Civil Establishment of
Bengal. He embarked in July, 1795, and was ac-
companied by two young friends — John Adam, who
during a brief interregnum was Governor-General of
India, and Houston, who rose to be Sir E. Houston,
K.C.B. After a long voyage, the vessel reached India
in February of the following year ; and a short time
afterwards, Mr. Elphinstone was appointed assistant to
the magistrate at Benares — the Hindoo Rome of
India.

AYlien young Elphinstone landed, Sir John Shore
was Governor-General. It was the brilliant courage of
Clive which first gained for the English anj'' territorial
position in India : it was the daring genius of Hastings
which first conceived the policy of reducing Native
princes to the position of subordinates without inde-
pendent rights. He was the first to introduce, in his
dealings with Oude, the subsidiary system. When a
state consented by treaty to accede to this sj^stem, it
acknowledged the British Government as the paramount
power in India ; and, in return, it received the guarantee
of that Government for its safety and integrity. It
agreed not to make war or peace without the sanction
of the paramount power, and to maintain a contingent
of troops as a subsidiary force to aid the British
Government in time of need. But the policy which
commended itself to the capacious mind of Hastings,
was not regarded with favour by the Directors, who did
not care to strengthen the position of the Company as
an Asian power, but were only anxious as to the Com-
pany's commercial position and its trade. Lord Com-
wallis and Sir John Shore, according to the wishes of
tlieir masters, introduced a policy different to that of
Hastings. Their desire was to treat al] Native sovereigns
as equals, and to maintain a balance of power amongst



EARLY LIFE. 3

the Native States, so as to prevent any of them be-
coming too powerful. Sir John Shore, however, found
it impossible to carry out the principle of non-inter-
ference in the affairs of Native States in its integrity.
He was compelled to set aside the claims of Vazir
AH to the throne of Oude. In January, 1799, the
followers of the deposed Nawab, who was in sur-
veillance at Benares, attacked the British officers at
the Eesidency, and massacred them. Mr. Elpliinstone
was seated with his friend Houston when the news
reached them of the massacre ; and they had barely
time to mount their horses, when they w^re pursued
by some of the Nawab's horsemen. They sa.ved their
lives hy riding through a high sugar-cane plantation,
which concealed them from their pursuers.

Two years after this event, Mr. Elpliinstone was
transferred to the Political Department, or Diplomatic
Service. Lord Wellesley was now Governor-General.
He saw that the idea of his predecessors of a balance
of power was impracticable, and that the British
authority must be supreme throughout the country.
At the time when he assumed office, the vevy existence
of the British Empire in India was threatened with
grave danger. Tippu, the Nizam, and Scindia were
all under French influence, and had their armies chiefly
officered by Frenchmen. A Jacobin club had been
organized in Seringapatam. The men were required
to swear hatred to tyranny, love of liberty, and de-
struction to all kings and sovereigns, except the good
and faithful alty of the French Eepublic — Citizen
Stiltan Tippu, The first war, undertaken by Wellesley,
was forced on him by the hostile attitude of Tippu.
It began in 1779, and ended in the gallant capture of
Seringapatam. The fall of Seringapatam made the
English supreme in the Deccan. In a few months, the

1—2



4 LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

Madras Presidency grew from a few scattered districts
into the great country known hj that name, comprising
almost the whole of Southern India. The Governor-
General further extended the British dominion in India
by compelling the Nawab Vazir of Oude to cede the
greater part of his dominion. The districts thus
acquired compose a greater part of what is now called
the North-Western Provinces. That Lord Wellesley's
dealings with the Nawab were harsh and arbitrary, no
impartial man can deny ; but the increasing certainty of
a rupture with the Mahrattas compelled the Marquis to
resort to them.

In 1801, Mr. Elphinstone was appointed to Puna,
as assistant to the British Piesident at the Court of the
Peshwa, the chief of the Mahratta Confederacy. But
few facts can be gleaned from the mass of legendary
accounts regarding Maharashtra and its many inde-
pendent states antecedent to the inroads of the Mussul-
mans, under Alla-ud-deen, in the year 1294. The
Deccan remained subject to the Emperor of Delhi till
1345, when the Mussulman nobles revolted, and
established the Bahamani dynasty, so-called from the
supposed Brahman descent of its founder. The capital
was first at Kalburgah, sixty miles from Sholapur, and
was afterwards removed to Bedar, both which places
still possess magnificent palaces and mosques in ruin.
Towards the close of the fourteenth century, the Baha-
mani Empire fell to pieces, and five independent king-
doms divided the Deccan amongst them. Only three
of these states — the Adhil-Shahi dynasty, with its
capital at Bijapur, the Kutub-Shahi dynasty at Gol-
couda, and the Nizam- Sliahi dynasty at Ahmednagar
— retained their independence until conquered by
Aurangzib. This was not accomplished without many
campaigns ; and the struggles of Golconda and Bijapur



EARLY LIFE. 5

with the great Mogul Emperor favoured the amhitious
schemes of Sivaji, who now became an important per-
sonage upon the scene. The founder of the Mahratta
Empire was born at a hill-fort near Puna in 1G27.
The family from which he sprang had for some genera-
tions been settled in the wild valleys of the Western
Ghats, and belonged to the ranks of the lesser Mahratta
chiefs. When Sivaji was but a lad, the warlike moun-
taineers of the neighbourmg glens began to have faith
in him ; and uniting himself to a small band, he,
through the native force of his character, made him-
self their leader. The band grew in numbers, and
Sivaji quickly welded a few mountain tribes into a
great nation, and from being the captain of a handful
of horsemen, he became the sovereign of a mighty
empire. In 1674, Sivaji caused himself to be en-
throned with great splendour, from which time the
Mahrattas rank as a Hindu nationality. Six years
afterwards his chequered career was terminated by
death. His son inherited his father's vast posses-
sions, but none of his father's greatness. Having
destroyed the great monarchies of Bijapur and Gol-
conda, Aurangzib determined to crush his old foes the
Mahrattas. The son of Sivaji fell a prisoner into his
hands, and was put to death with cruel torture. Satara
was captured ; nearly all the Mahrattas' strongholds
were seized ; but the Mahrattas were neither crushed
nor subdued. Beaten in a pitched battle, the daring-
Cossacks dispersed once, to collect again and renew their
guerilla warfare. The large but cumbersome army of
the Emperor, with its numerous guns, long train of
elephants, and elaborate camp equipage, was ill suited
for coping with irregular horsemen who slept with their
horses' bridles in their hands and swords by their sides,
and their trusty spears stuck in the ground near them,



6 LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

ready at a moment's notice to fall on an unwary enemy,
or beat a retreat into some wild mountain glen. India
had also proved to be the Capua of the Mogul nobles.
They had grown luxurious and effeminate, and utterly
unsuited for ' wild Mahratta battle.'

The Emperor was now stricken in years, and troubles
encircled him on all sides. His armies sustained a
signal defeat from the Mahrattas, and he himself
narrowly escaped from being taken a prisoner.
Aurangzib returned to Ahmednagar, baffled and beaten,
and, full of sorrows, descended into the tomb
(February 21st, 1707). On his death ShahuKajah, the
grandson of Sivaji, was released; but the young man
was not fit to wield a sceptre. He allowed his state
affiiirs to be managed by his chief minister, who from
the time of Sivaji was called the Pesliwa, or Prime
Minister. In 1714 Balaji Vishwanath, a Brahmin,
was appointed to that office. He, by his intrigues
and ability, contrived to concentrate all the real pow^r
in his own hands, leaving to the Eajali the title only of
sovereignty. He made Puna the seat of power, the
centre of all authority ; and from this time the Brahmin
Peshwas became the real heads of the Mahratta Con-
federacy, the Eajahs, the descendants of the great Sivaji,
being merely nominal rulers living in splendour as state
prisoners in Satara. Balaji caused the office to be
made hereditary in his family. He was succeeded by
Baji Pvao, his eldest son, an able man and thorough
soldier, who greatly extended the Mahratta power.
Baji Eao was succeeded by his son, Balaji Baji
Eao, commonly called the third Peshwa. During his
reign the Mahrattas suffered their most disastrous
defeat. In 1758 Eaghunath Eao, the brother of the
Peshwa, a brave, rash man, full of ambition, brought
the distant province of the Punjab under the Mahratta



INDIA. 7

yoke. This raised the ire of the terrible Afghan
Abdah, and he again invaded India to take vengeance
on the Mahratta race. On the phxins of ranipat, where
Baber had won his empire, and where the fate of India
had frequently been decided, the Mahrattas, devout
believers in Vishnu, and the Afghans, followers of the
man of Mecca, met to settle once again the fate of
India. At early dawn the battle began. The Mahrattas
fought with desperate valour, but ere the sun had set
their vast splendid army had become a weltering mass
of confusion, a mere rabble rout. Thousands of the
vanquished fell on the field, and the great Mahratta
leaders were numbered among the dead. Into every
Mahratta cottage sorrow entered ; some mourned the
death of a loved one, all mourned the death of their
national greatness. Their hope of supremacy in India
had perished. The Mahratta chiefs never again united
heartily for a common purpose, though they continued
still to be the most formidable power in India. They
especially dominated over the British settlement of
Bombay. The Bombay Government was anxious to
establish its influence at the Court of Puna by making-
its own nominee Peshwa. The attempt took form,
in 1775, in the Treaty of Surat, by which Raghunath
agreed to cede Salsette and Bassein to the English, in
consideration of himself being restored to Puna. The
military operations that ensued were known as the first
Mahratta War. They were most eminently successful,
and the war ended in the Treaty of Salbai, by which
the conquests in Gujarat were given up, with the
exception of Salsette, and a provision made for
Eaghunath Piao.

The Mahratta powers were at this time five in
number. The recognised head of the Confederacy was
the Peshwa, who ruled the hill-country of the Western



8 LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

Gliats, the cradle of the Mahratta race. The fertile
province of Gujarat was governed by the Gaikwar of
Baroda. In Central India, two military leaders —
Scindia of Gwalior, and Holkar of Indore — alternately
held the pre-eminence. Towards the East the Bhonsla
Eajah of Nagpur, sprung from the same stock as Sivaji,
reigned from the Berar to the coast of Orissa. When
Mr. Elphinstone was appointed to Puna, Baji Eao II.,
the seventh Peshwa, was on the throne. He was a
treacherous, worthless creature, endowed with showj^
accomplishments and a good address. The death of
his powerful minister, Nana Farnavis, one of the ablest
administrators India has produced, sealed the ruin of
the Mahratta Confederacy. Civil war raged throughout
the country. Scindia and Holkar were engaged in
hostilities, and the Peshwa espoused the cause of the
former. Yittojee Holkar, brother of the Mahratta chief,
fell into his hands, and he caused him to be executed in
his presence by being dragged along the ground, tied to
the foot of an elephant. The cruel murder took place in
the spring of 1801, and in October of the following year,
Holkar defeated at Puna the armies of the Peshwa and
Scindia. Driven as a fugitive into British territory, the
necessities of the Peshwa induced him to sign the Treaty
of Bassein, by which he pledged himself to hold com-
munication with no other power, European or Native,
and ceded territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary
force. Mr. Elphinstone was residiug with the Besident
when the decisive en^^afifcment between the Peshwa and
Holkar was fought almost at the gate of the Besidency.
He accompanied his chief, Colonel Close, when the
treaty was negotiated at Bassein, and again returned to
Puna with Sir A. Wellesley when the Peshwa was
reinstated in power. The Treaty of Bassein led directly
to the second Mahratta "War, for neither Scindia nor



INDIA. 9

tlie Eajah of Nagpiir could tolerate the abandonment of
the Mahratta independence. The war was begun on
the 3rd x\ngust, 1803. The first blow was struck by
General Wellesley against Ahmednagar, which sur-
rendered on the 12th August; and it was in August
that Mr. Elphinstone joined the General as his secretary.
He accompanied him on the famous march to meet
Scindia, and the next five months were probably the
most stirring in Elphinstone's life.

Leaving a small garrison in the fort of Ahmednagar,
General Wellesley moved forward, and marching rapidly,
as was his wont, crossed the Godavari, and arrived at
Aurungabad on the 29th August. Here, he heard that
Scindia and the Eajah of Berar had entered the Nizam's
territory with an army of horse only, and had passed
Colonel Stevenson, who, with a force of 7,000 men,
was watching the Ajunta Pass. The next day, General
Wellesley marched southwards towards the Godavari,
having received intelligence that the enemy intended to
march in that direction, to cross the river and proceed
to Hj^derabad. But the enemy w'ere quite undecided
as to their plans of operation. On hearing of the
movement of the English force, they countermarched
in a northerly direction. They wished to cross the
river, and make a dash southward ; but it is certain
that they did not like General Wellesley's position
upon that river, and his readiness to cross with them.
They knew that the river, which was then fordable,
must rise again, and they did not dare to be cut oft"
from their own countries and all assistance. Colonel
Stevenson made several attempts to bring them in
action, but in vain. General Wellesley himself had to
remain stationary till the convoys of grain which he
expected reached him. On the 18th the last of them
arrived, and on the 25tli he was enabled to move



lo LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

forwards towards the enemy, who had been joined by
large reinforcements. On the 21st, General Wellesley
and Colonel Stevenson had a conference, at which they
concerted a plan to attack the enemy on the morning of
the 24tli. It was deemed expedient to separate their
forces, in order to pass through defiles quickly and with
care. On the 23rd September, 1803, the British troops
advanced in two columns against the combined armies of
Scindia and Berar Rajah ; Colonel Stevenson's division
marching about eight miles on the left of Wetlington.
The Mahratta horsemen were so numerous that it was
difficult, if not impossible, to get exact information of the
position of the enemy, who was believed to be in front of
Colonel Stevenson, at Bokerdun, the point at which, it is
probable, Wellesley intended to join forces. On the
morning of the 23rd, however, Wellesley, arriving on
the bank of the Kaitna, found the enemy drawn up on
the southern opposite side of the river, holding the chief
passages, and evidently expecting to be attacked directly
in front. Wellesley determined to give battle without
w^aitiug for Colonel Stevenson. Mr. Elphinstone used
to relate how the General, after the engagement, vindi-
cated himself from the charge of rashness. ' Had I
not attacked them,' he said, ' I must have been sur-
rounded by the superior cavalry of the enemy, my
troops must have been starved, and I should have had
nothing left but to hang myself to these tent-poles.'
On the morning of the battle, Mr. Elphinstone tells us
in his letter that he ' got on horseback for the first time
for a month, owing to a liver complaint, and kept close
to the General the whole day.'

General Wellesley' s division consisted of five native
battalions, each 700 strong; of these one entire battalion,
together with 100 men from each of the other four
regiments, were left in rear with the baggage, while an



INDIA. II

additional force of 100 men from each of the same regi-
ments formed a rear guard. There were thus left in
front line four native battalions, each 500 strong ; the
78th Regiment, 600 ; 74th Eegiment, 570. Total,
3,170 infantry, with 150 artillery and 1,200 cavalry.
The enemy, at the lowest estimate, were 17,000
strong, besides thousands of horse, and a fine park of
artillery. Wellesley, having reconnoitred, noticed
two villages, Pimpalgaon and Warur, one on each
bank of the river and beyond the left flank of the
enemy, which appeared unguarded, and on the assump-
tion that where villages exist on opposite banks of
a river there is generally a passage between them, he
directed a flank march for the purpose of crossing there
and turning the enemy's left flank. The narrow delta
between the Kaitna and its northern affluent, the Juah,
gave sufficient space for Wellesley to employ his small
force (while the nullahs or river-beds on either side
secured his flanks), but the space was so confined as to
restrict the enemy from bringing his immense supe-
riority of numbers into action, and the decisive struggle
was therefore limited to almost equal numbers of the
two forces. At the battle of Cannae, Hannibal
crossed the river Aufidus to secure a similar tacti-
cal advantage. The attack on the left flank also
gave a great advantage ; inasmuch as the enemy's lines
of retreat lay to his left rear, he would have run much
risk of being cut away from it, and in that case might
be driven in the direction towards which Colonel
Stevenson's force was coming up ; or in case of a less
decisive success the enemy would at least be taken in
flank on his line of retreat, and as he would have to
cross the Juah river, an operation in which he might
find difficulty in carrying oft* his guns. The latter case
is what actually happened.



12 LIFE OF MOUNTSTUART ELPHINSTONE.

The flank moYement was carried out with a
mauoGiiYririg power worthy of a great and skilful
commander. Small pickets of infantry were thrown
out to hold the enemy, and give time for the
main body to form. The British cavalry in rear and
the Mahratta and Mysore cavalry supporting them
on the right flank, protected the force against
Scindia's cavalry, who had been all massed on the right
flank of his infantry. Part of the enemy's cavalry
crossed the river, but they were deterred from attacking
by the bold front of the British cavalry and their sup-
ports. Wellesley crossed the river, and as the heads
of his columns appeared on the northern bank, the
enemy commenced with all practicable speed to create
a change of front to their left in order to face their foe.
On the left of Scindia's line lay the village of Assayc
which he had surrounded with cannon. Just before
the British had got fully into position, the of&cer
commanding advanced troops on the right, contrary
to the orders of Welleslej', turned and attacked the
village of Assaye, and was followed by the 74tli Foot.
The attack was repulsed. The enemy's cavalry broke



Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 1 of 41)