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Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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Tipu, seized the opportunity to gain their liberty. It so happened
that a large treasure was in camp that night for the purpose of paying
the troops next day. But it was all safely conveyed into the fort by
the skill and ability of Purnaiya, although he was severely wounded.

The whole of the next day the most vigorous attempts were made to
dislodge the English from the island. The Sultan's passionate appeal
"Havel no faithful servants to retrieve my honour?" was gallantly
responded to by a body of 2,000 cavalry ; but being foiled at every
point, all the redoubts north of the river were evacuated the same
night, and promptly occupied by the English.

Various efforts at negotiation had been made by Tipu since Lord
Cornwallis took command of the army, but they were not calculated to
succeed. He now resumed the matter, but was informed that the release
of the prisoners taken at Coimbatore in violation of promises was
indispensable as a preliminary. He therefore set free the officers, and
sent letters containing offers of peace by them. But— at the same time
he secretly despatched a body of horsemen in disguise to penetrate to
the English camp and assassinate the Governor-General. The plot was
discovered and frustrated.

General Abercromby crossed the river at \'cdatore and joimd the
main army on the i6th, and the dispositions for the siege were rapidly


inishcd on. Negotiations at the same time continued, and on the 22nd
the envoys of Tipu brouglit him tlie ultimatum of the confederates,
requiring the cession to the alhes, from the countries adjacent to theirs,
of one-half of the dominions which he possessed before the war ; the
payment of three crores and thirty lakhs of rupees, one-half immediately,
the remainder in three instalments of four months each ; the release of
all prisoners from the time of Haidar Ali ; and the delivery of two of
his sons as hostages. On the 23rd Tipu assembled all the principal
officers in the mosque and sought their advice. They unanimously
offered to lay down their lives in defence of the capital, but hinted with
various shades of expression that the army was disheartened and
unreliable. After a great mental struggle, the preliminary articles, duly
signed and sealed, were returned to Lord Cornwall is the same day. The
two young princes surrendered as hostages, one aged ten and the other
eight, were received in the English camp with every consideration due to
their rank, and by Lord Cornwallis with all the tenderness of a father.

The territories to be ceded formed a lengthened subject of discussion,
and the claim of the English to Coorg so exasperated Tipu' that the
peace was on the point of being broken, when he yielded. The English
obtained Malabar and Coorg, Dindigal and Baramahal : the Mahratta
boundary was extended to the Tungabhadra ; Nizam Ali recovered his
possessions to the north of that river and Kadapa to the south. Thus
ended the third Mysore war.

After the departure of the confederates, the Sultan, brooding over the
heavy losses he had sustained and the deep wounds that had been
inflicted on his pride, shut himself up for several days in an agony of
despair. His first public act was to make arrangements regarding the
money due under the treaty. It was resolved that one crore and ten
lakhs of the total amount should be paid from the treasury, that sixty
lakhs should be contributed by the army, and one crore and sixty lakhs
by the civil officers and inhabitants at large under the head of nazarana.
The oppression of the population in levying the last drove great numbers
to seek an asylum in Baramahal and other neighbouring districts,
though there was a large balance standing in the accounts for several
years afterwards.

The Sultan's caprice, fanaticism and spirit of innovation increased
with his misfortunes, and were carried to the verge of insanity. " The
professed and formal regulations for the conduct of affairs had
commenced before his departure from Mangalore, with the aid of his
great innovator Zain-ul-Abidin ; and embraced, either directly or

' " To which of the English possessions," he said, " is Coorg adjacent ? ^^'hy do
tliey not ask for the key of SeringaiDatam ? "'


incidentally, every department in the science of government. Regula-
tions military, naval, commercial and fiscal ; police, judicature, and
ethics ; were embraced by the code of this modern Minos : and his
reformation of the calendar and of the system of weights and measures,
was to class him with those philosophical statesmen and sovereigns of
whose useful labours the secretary had obtained some obscure intelli-
gence. It may be briefly stated regarding the whole, that the name
of every object was changed : of cycles, years, and months ; weights,
measures, coins ; forts, towns ; offices, military and civil, the official
designations of all persons and things without one exception " — ■ a
singular parody of what was transpiring in France. The administration
itself was named the Sarkdr K/ioddddd, or God-given Covernment.
Persian was introduced for all words of command in the military
regulations, and the same language used for the revenue accounts in
preference to that of the country. The construction of a navy to vie
with that of England was proposed. .Vn improvement of the fortifica-
tions of Seringapatam was also commenced, and labourers impressed
from all parts of the country for the work.

The fiscal and revenue arrangements consisted principally in the
prohibition of all exports and imports, for the protection of domestic
trade ; and the interdiction of the growth of poppy-seeds, with the
abolition of liquor-shops to check intoxication. A board of trade was
also organized, with a new code for its guidance; and it was in
contemplation to have established something like a bank, while the
State itself monopolized the profits of money-changers. Lands and
money allowances granted to Hindu pagodas, as well as the service
inams of patels, were confiscated; and an income was raised by
dividing the houses in the fort of Seringapatam into separate wards for
different classes, and putting prices upon them. The revenue
regulations of Chikka Deva Raja, however, remained unaltered ; but
they were republished as the ordinances of the Sultan himself. Me
strove, in short, to obliterate every trace of the previous rulers. For
this purpose even the fine irrigation works, centuries old, of the
Hindu Rajas were to be destroyed and reconstructed in his own name.

As regards selections for offices, the Sultan fancied that he could
discover by mere look the capacity of a person, which naturally resulted
in the most absurd blunders.' The manner in which complaints were

• All candidalcs for every department were ordered to he admitted and drawn up
in line before him, when, looking steadfastly at them, he would as if .actuated by
insjiiralion call out in a solemn voice — " Let the third from the left be .^sttph of such
a district; he with the yellow drawers understands n.aval afl'airs, let him be Mir c
^■em, Lord of the .\dmiralty ; he with the long beard and he with the red turban are
but Amils, let them i)e promoted" ; &c., &c. — Wilks, II, 2S9.

4IO iriSl'ORV

hoard and disposed of may be illustrated by a single example. A
number of ryots appeared on a certain occasion before their sovereign
to complain of exaction. Mir Sadak, the divan, admitted the fact and
said it was made on account of fiazardna, which silenced the Sultan at
once. The divan, however, holding out to the ryots a hope of future
immunity, succeeded in inducing them to agree to pay thirty-seven and
a half per cent, additional, and this circumstance being brought to the
notice of Tipu as demonstrating the falsehood of their former complaint,
the patel or head man was hung on the spot, and the increase extended
to the whole of the Mysore dominions.

By 1794 the money due under the treaty was paid, and the hostages
were returned to the Sultan at Devanhalli, now called Yusufabad. In
1796 Chama Raja Wodeyar, the pageant Raja, died of smallpox. The
practice of annually exhibiting him on the throne at the Dasara had
been kept up, but now Tipu considered the appointment of a successor
unnecessary, removed the family to a mean dwelling and plundered the
palace of everything.

Tipu next strained every nerve to form a coalition for the expulsion
of the English from India. Embassies were despatched at various
times to the Ottoman Porte and to the court of Kabul : letters were
exchanged with Arabia, Persia, and Muscat ; and agents employed at
Delhi, Oude, Haidarabad and Poona, the object sought in the two last-
named courts being twofold, namely, an alliance with the sovereigns
themselves, and the seduction of their officers from them. Even the
princes of Jodhpur, Jeypur and Kashmir did not escape an invitation
to join this mighty coalition. The French in particular were repeatedly
applied to.

At last, in the early part of 1797, stress of weather drove a French
privateer to the coast of Mangalore, having on board an obscure
individual by name Ripaud. This person represented himself to be the
second in command at the Isle of France, and being sent to Seringa-
patam by (jhulam Ali, the former envoy to the court of France, was
honoured with several interviews with the Sultan. In the course of
these he took occasion to extol the power and magnify the resources of
his countrymen, and added that a considerable force was assembled at
the Isle of France waiting for the Sultan's summons. Tipu took the
hint, commissioned Ripaud to proceed to the Mauritius, conveying
with him two servants as ambassadors to the Government of that island,
with letters. The embassy left Seringapatam in the month of April
1797, but did not embark till October.

The embassy reached the Isle of France in January 179S, and, in
spite of the obvious necessity for secrecy, was openly received by


Malartic, the French Governor, with distinguished marks of respect.
The kurreetahs were read with all solemnity in a council, and were
found to contain a proposal for a coalition to expel the English. To
the great disappointment of the ambassadors, there was not a single
soldier available ; but to make amends, the Governor sent the Directory
at home a duplicate of the Sultan's kurreetah, and deputed two officers,
by name Chapuis and Dubuc, to reside at the court of Seringapatam.
At the same time he issued a public proclamation, dated the 30th
January, 1798, inviting the people of the island to join the Sultan's
standard. The result of these measures was that the embassy, which
was intended to have conveyed an armament sufficient to have swept
the English off the face of India, returned with ninety-four men, the
refuse of the Isle of France, burning with a zeal for " liberty and equality."

A Jacobin club was formed in Seringapatam, a tree of liberty set up
crowned with the cap of liberty, and the Sultan, who looked upon the
general denunciation of kings and rulers as directed against the English
alone, enrolled as Ciiizeft Tipu Sultan. At the same time M. Dubuc
himself was sent in July 1798 with two Muhammadan envoys to the
French Directory. Buonaparte's sudden invasion of Egypt now took
place, encouraging the hope of immediate French intervention ; and
Dubuc, who did not actually sail till the 7th of February, assured
Tipu that they must have already embarked on the Red Sea for his

But Lord Mornington, then Governor-General, was fully aware of
these hostile preparations ; and when a copy of Malartic's proclamation
reached his hands, deemed it high time to put a check on the Sultan's
designs. The French force at Haidarabad was dismissed by a master-
stroke of policy, and the Nizam and Peshva united in stronger bonds of
alliance with the British. This being effected, the Governor-General
wrote to the Sultan on the 8th November, 1798, giving expression for
the first time to the feelings awakened by his late proceedings in gentle
and cautious language, informing him that certain precautions had been
adopted for self-defence, offering to depute Major 1 )oveton on the part
of the allies to explain the means by which a good understanding might
be finally established, and desiring Tipu to state when he intended to
receive him.

On the loth of December he wrote again, calling the Sultan's
attention to the above, and requesting to be favoured with a rejjly at
Madras, whither the Earl of Mornington was about to proceed as
being nearer the scene of action. On reaching Madras on the last day
of the month, the Governor-General found a reply waiting for him,
dated the 25th. This letter opened with the intimation of Tipu's joy


at the brilliant naval victory of the Nile over the French, of which he
had been advised by the Governor-General, and a wish for greater
success. He explained away the embassy to the Isle of France as
being simply the trip of a merchantman that conveyed rice and
brought back some forty artificers, an incident which, it was alleged,
had been distorted by the French, The Sultan added also that he
had never swerved from the path of friendship, and could not see
more effectual measures for establishing it than those that already

The Governor-General replied on the 9th of January, 1799, exposing
the whole affair of the mission to the Isle of France, which had
rendered the demand of further security necessary ; expressing a wish
still to listen to negotiations, and allowing one day's time for a reply,
with a significant warning that " dangerous consequences result from
the delay of arduous affairs." This letter was accompanied by a copy
of the manifesto issued by the Ottoman Porte, declaring war against
the French. After a lapse of more than a month, or on the 13th of
February, 1799, the Sultan replied, with utter disregard, that he was
proceeding on a hunting excursion, and desired that Major Doveton
might be sent "slightly attended." The Governor-General, interpreting
this as contempt and as an effort to gain time, ordered at once the
march of the troops, informing the Sultan of the same.

Tipu first went to Maddur to oppose the Carnatic army, but
subsequently changing his mind, left a detachment at that place under
Purnaiya and Sayyid Sahib, and hastened in three days to Periyapatna
to meet the Bombay force under General Stuart, who had already
ascended into Coorg. The romantic Raja of Coorg discerned on the
morning of the 5th March, from the summit of the Siddesvara hill,
the plain near Periyapatna dotted with tents, including a green one,
and flew to the English with the news. But the dawn following
Tipu's force was in motion. A fog and the dense jungle screened its
approach till the advanced British line was attacked both in front and
rear. The small band sustained the conflict for several hours, till
General Stuart coming up, the Mysoreans were entirely routed.

Meantime, in the east. General Harris in command of the grand
army crossed the Mysore frontier by way of Rayakota unopposed, and
selecting the Kankanhalli road, arrived with his troops on the 27th
March, 1799, at Malvalli, within forty miles of Seringapatam. Here
the Mysorean army was drawn up on the heights two miles west of the
town, and threatened the advance. A general action ensued, from
which Tipu was forced to retreat with loss.

Anticipating that the British army would take the same route to the


capital which had been taken in 1792, Tipu had destroyed all the
forage in that direction, but Cieneral Harris defeated his project by
crossing the Kaveri at Sosile. When the intelligence of this skilful
movement reached the ears of the Sultan, he was deeply dejected.
Assembling a council of his principal officers at Bannur, "We
have," he observed with great emotion, "now arrived at our last
stage " — intimating that there was no hope. " What is your deter-
mination?" "To die with you,"' was the universal reply, and the
meeting broke up bathed in tears, as if convened for the last time.
In accordance with the deliberation of this assembly, the Sultan
hastened to the southern point of the island, and took up his position
at the village of Chandagal ; but General Harris again thwarted his
plans, and making a circuit to the left, safely reached the ground
towards the west, occupied by General Abercromby in 1792, and .sat
down before the capital on the 5th April, or exactly in the space of a
month from the date of his crossing the frontier.

Since the year 1792 a new line of intrenchments had been con-
structed on this side of the fort, from the Daulat Bagh to the
Periyapatam bridge, within six or seven hundred yards from the fort,
thus avoiding the fault of the redoubts in 1792, which were too
distant to be supported by the guns of the fort. The Sultan's infantry
was now encamped between these works and the river, and on the
same evening on which the British army took up its position a portion
was attacked by Colonel \Vellesley, the future hero of AN'aterloo.
Although this first attempt failed, success was achieved on the
following morning, and strong advanced posts were established within
1,800 yards of the fort, with their left on the river and their right at

General Stuart safely effected his junction with the main army on
tlie 14th, notwithstanding the active and well-conducted exertions of
the Mysore cavalry under Kammar-ud-Din Khan to check his progress.
He took up his position on the north side of the fort. The regular
siege may be said to date from the 17th, and it was decided ultimately
to storm at the western angle, across the river.

Tipu, in order to open communications, had written to General
Harris on the 9th, affecting ignorance of the cause of hostilities ; on
which he was referred to the Governor-General's letters. He now on
the 20th proposed a conference, and was furnished in reply with the
draft of a preliminary treaty, to be executed in twenty-four hours, the
principal conditions of which were — the cession of half of his
remaining territories, the payment of two crores of rupees in two
instalments, and the delivery of four of his sons and four of his


principal officers as hostages. 15ut the time passed without his
accepting it. A sortie on a large scale was repulsed by the besiegers,
who pushed on their operations with vigour, till on the 27th the
Mysoreans were driven from their last exterior line of defence.

The Sultan now again attempted negotiation, and was informed that
the terms previously offered would be held open until three o'clock
next day, but no longer. From this time despair seemed to brood
over him. Supernatural aid was sought both by the incantations of
Brahmans and the prayers of Muhammadan mullas, while the stars
were consulted and solemn ceremonies of divination performed with
the view of ascertaining what was decreed in the book of fate. But
his officers were more alive to their duty at such a crisis. Meanwhile
the approaches and breaching batteries of the besiegers were steadily
advancing, and, on the morning of the 2nd of May, began to form the
breach, which next day was reported practicable.

Before daybreak on the memorable 4th of May the assaulting party,
consisting of two thousand four hundred and ninety-four Europeans,
and one thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven natives, under the
command of General Baird, had taken their stand in the trenches,
with scaling-ladders and other implements ready. The Sultan had
persuaded himself the assault would never be made by daylight. One
o'clock, however, had been decided on as the hour.

At that precise moment General Baird, eager to avenge the hard-
ships he had suffered within the walls of Seringapatam and the secret
massacre of his countrymen, stepped forward from the trenches in full
view of both armies, and drawing his sword, called on the soldiers in a
tone which thrilled along the trenches to " follow him and prove
worthy of the British name." His men rushed at once into the bed of
the river. Though immediately assailed by musketry and rockets,
nothing could withstand their ardour, and in less than seven minutes
the forlorn hope reached the summit of the breach, and there hoisted
the British flag, which proclaimed to the world that the fate of Mysore
was decided.^

For fourteen days preceding, the Sultan, who could not be
convinced that the fall of his capital was so near at hand, had taken
up his quarters in the inner partition of the Kalale Diddi, a water gate
through the outer rampart on the north face of the fort. The general

* The capture of Seringapatam and glorious termination of the Mysore war were
celebrated with great rejoicings and a day of public thanksgiving throughout the
British possessions, and the anniversary of the event was specially observed for
many years after. As an indication of the progress made in communications since
that lime it may be noted that the news did not reach London till the 13th of


charge of the angle attacked had been committed to Sayyid Sahib, his
father-in-law, assisted by Sayyid Gaffur, formerly an ofificer in the
British service, who was taken prisoner with Colonel IJraithwaite and
was now serving 7'ipu. The eldest of the princes, with Purnaiya,
commanded a corps intended to disturb the northern attack, and the
second prince was in charge of the Mysore gate and the southern face
of the fort, while Kammar-ud-din was absent watching Colonel Floyd.
Sayyid Sahib had sent a message in the morning that the fatal hour of
storming was drawing nigh, but the Sultan replied that it would not be
by daylight. He had ordered his midday repast, but had scarcely
finished it when the report was made to him of the actual assault.
Hastily arming, he heard that Sayyid Ciaffur had been killed. " Sayyid
Gaffur was never afraid to die," he said, and ordered another officer to
take his place. He then mounted the northern rampart with a few
attendants and eunuchs, and when within two hundred yards of the
breach fired several times with his own hands at the assailants, under
cover of a traverse. But seeing that his men had either fled or lay
dead, and that the assailants were advancing in great numbers, he
retired along the rampart, slightly wounded, and meeting one of his
favourite horses, mounted him and proceeded eastward till he came to'
the gateway leading into the inner fort, which he entered with a crowd
of fugitives.

A deadly volley was poured into this crowded passage by a portion
of the storming party. Tipu received a second and third wound, and
his horse was struck, while the faithful Raja Khan, who still clung to
his master's side, was also hit. Raja Khan advised him to discover
himself " Are you mad ? Be silent," was the prompt reply. He
then made an effort to disengage his master from the saddle, but both
master and servant fell in the attempt on a heap of dead and dying.
Tipu's other attendants obtained a palankeen and placed him in it, but
he contrived to move out of it. While he lay with the lower part of
his tjody buried underneath the slain, the gold buckle of his belt
excited the cupidity of a soldier, who attempted to seize it. Tipu
snatching up a sword made a cut at him, but the grenadier shot him
through the temple, and thus terminated his earthly career. He was
then in his forty-seventh year and had reigned seventeen years.

So long as the Sultan was present, a portion of his troops on the
north side made efforts at resistance, and his French corps persevered
in it for some time longer, but they were soon (juelled. Immediately
after the assault. General Baird hastened to the palace in the hope of
finding the Sultan. The inmates, including two princes who were
themselves ignorant of his fate, solemnly denied his presence, but the


doubts of the ( Icncral were not satisfied. The princes were assured of
protection and removed under miHtary honours to the British camp,
and the palace was thoroughly searched with the exception of the
zenana, but all to no purpose. At last the General's threats extorted
from the unwilling killedar the disclosure of the secret that the Sultan
lay wounded in the gate ; and here, after a search in the promiscuous
and ghastly heap of slain, the body was discovered. It was removed to
the palace in a palankeen and next day consigned with all military
honours to its last resting-place, at the Lai Bagh by the side of Haidar
Ali. The solemn day closed with one of the most dreadful storms that

Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 49 of 98)