Henry Montgomery Lawrence.

Essays, military and political, written in India online

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now employed in the final conquest of Grolcondah and
Beejapoor. When the absorption of those two king-
doms had been effected, he pushed the Mahrattas more
closely, and, after some desultory operations, at length
by a bold stroke, such as Sivajee had so often struck
against the Moguls themselves, seized Sambajee, while
in a state of intoxication, at an outpost slenderly
guarded. Aurungzebe offered his captive life on con-
dition of his becoming a Mahommedan. '' Not if you
give me your daughter," was the bold answer of Samba-
jee. Stung by the insult, the Emperor caused him to
be cruelly mutilated, and then beheaded.

Sambajee's life might have injured the cause of his
people : his cruel death, in the words of Grant Duff,
" aroused their vengeance without alarming their fears."
Baja Eam, the surviving son of Sivajee, was now de-
declared regent, during the minority of his brother
Sambajee's son. The boy was, however, soon after taken
prisoner by the Moguls, and was kindly treated by the
daughter of Aurungzebe, who familiarly called him
Sahoo, or Shao,* his name being Sivajee. Tor a time

* Among the elegant English the year 1764, Guthrie, the Malte

misnomers of Indian words was that Brun of his day, thus described the

of Shao Kaja, whom the Bombay Mahrattas and their country, " Mah-

factors of his day designated " the rattas are a kind of mercenaries in-

Sow Eoger." The ignorance as to all habiting the mountains between India

that concerns India to this day in and Persia." Malte Brun, following

England is great, but some light has Tone, is generally correct. — H. M. L.
broken on our countrymen since, in


tlie tide continued against the Mahrattas, but, far from
being disheartened, their energies were rather thus
drawn out. Eaja Earn, after making arrangements for
Maharashtra, and for the re-assemblage of his friends
around the " Bhugwa Jenda," or national flag, when
fortune should be more propitious, took refuge in the
Carnatic. On the plea of his nephew's captivity, he
assumed the government in his own name, was en-
throned, distributed the usual presents, and made
extensive grants of lands, including much that was
not in the actual possession of the Moguls, but more
that had never belonged to his predecessors.

After a brief but eventful career, Eaja Eam died of
fatigue, caused by long exposure when escaping from
Zoolfikar Khan, the ablest, though one of the most
venal, of the Mogul ofiicers employed in the Deccan.
He had besieged Eaja Eam for seven years in the fort
of Ginjee, and when obliged to take the place, gave the
Eaja due notice to escape. On other occasions Zool-
fikar acted with sufficient energy : within one period of
six months he is said to have marched, in pursuit of the
Mahrattas, 5000 miles, and, in this space of time, to
have engaged them nineteen times. In the year 1700,
one month after Eaja Eam's death, Satara was captured
by Aurungzebe. Eaja Eam left two sons, Sivajee and
Sambajee, the former being the elder was, though an
an imbecile, placed on the gitddee. He was only ten
years old; but his mother, Tara Bye, was a woman of
energy and the virtual ruler. She moved from fort to
fort, encouraging her son's adherents, while, in five dif-
ferent directions, his troops kept the field under able

Aurungzebe was now at ^^ head of his own army ;
and successively captured the principal strongholds of
the Mahrattas. Torna was carried by escalade, sword


in hand, during the night : all the others were won by
gold. Several were retaken within the year, and the
Emperor's hold on any of them lasted only while a
strong force remained in the neighbourhood. The
climate, the difficulty of bringing up convoys, the feel- ^
ing of the people, all were against the Moguls. But
while the Mahratta fortresses were thus temporarily
yielding, and their country falling a prey to the Mogul,
their own predatory bands were daily extending the
influence of the Mahratta name. Tor a third time they
levied contributions on the city of Surat, and plundered
Burhanpoor, while their squadrons simultaneously ra-
vaged Malwa, Candeish, Berar, and Guzerat.

The Mogul system, with all its pageantry, was rotten
at the core. The royal presence, or the occasional
effort of an able and honest officer, might gain a brief
success ; but what could one old man, bowed down
with the weight of ninety years, with centuries of care
and crime on his brow, perform ? One who, though he
had long exceeded the usual span of life, now felt he
was approaching the hour of his own long account.
Nor could the empire be upheld by chiefs and generals,
who had never been cordially trusted, and whose success
on behalf of their master would, in his eyes, be little
less than treason, entailing on the victors disgrace, if
not death. Most of them, therefore, were in the pay of
the Mahrattas. They allowed convoys to pass into the
fortresses they besieged, and occasionally even fed the
garrisons themselves. So far from protecting the royal
districts from plunder, the Mogul army connived at, if
they did not aid in, their devastation ; and the more-
far-seeing chiefs collected and husbanded their resources,
and quietly awaited the struggle they perceived must
follow the Emperor's death. Worn out with disease,
and vexed by the ill success of his measures, Aurung-


zebe now allowed himself to be almost persuaded by his
favourite son Kaum Buksh, to recognize Mahratta inde-
pendence and to pay the surdeshmukhee (ten per cent.)
on the revenues of the six Soobahs of the Deccan. Their
insolence and daily-increasing demands alone prevented
the fulfilment of the compact. Feeling his end ap-
proach, Aurungzebe moved on Ahmednuggur ; his army
was attacked and defeated on the way, and the aged and
dying Emperor narrowly escaped falling into the hands
of his enemies.

Auruns^zebe's last march was made. He died at
Ahmednuggur, on the 21st February, 1707, and left the
heritage of his manifold crimes to his three sons. To
the measure of their respective ability, they followed
his example. Two soon fell in civil conflict, and the
eldest. Sultan Mauzum, succeeded to the distracted and
already dismembered sovereignty, under the name of
Shah Alum.

The release of Shao, the son of Sambajee, had been
more than once proposed as a counterpoise to the party
of Eaja Eam's family; but although, as a preparatory
measure, Aurungzebe had caused the youth to be
united in marriage to two influential families, he had
always hesitated to carry out the scheme. On the
death of the Emperor, Shao fell into the hands of
Prince Azim Shah, who released him, when he was
immediately joined by many influential persons, and
early next year (1708) seized Satara. Daood Khan, the
Mogul deputy in the Deccan, also supported him. Thus
countenanced, Shao's cause was on the ascendant ; but
young Sivajee, or rather his mother, Tara Bye, had still
a strong party. During the monsoon of 1709, their
partizans cantoned at Kolapoor, and the next year
Sivajee determined to make that town and the neigh-
bouring fort of Panalla, the residence of his court. In


the year 1712, the young Prince died of small-pox,
when Eamchundur Punt, the ablest supporter of the
Kolapoor party, removed Tara Bye from the adminis-
tration, placed her and her son's widow in confinement,
and seated Sambajee, the son of Eajis Bye, the younger
widow of Paja Pam, on the guddee. Next year, Shirzee
Pao Ghatgay of Kagul, a name infamously notorious in
modern Mahratta history, joined the party of Sambajee,
and henceforward acted as a partizan of Kolapoor, or
under the banner of Cheyn Kulik Khan, better known
as the great Nizam-ul-Mulk, who was now Mogul
viceroy of the Deccan, and who, wishing to weaken the
Mahrattas by internal dissension, favoured the Kolapoor

In the year 1714, Balajee Wishwanath, the ancestor
of the rulers of Poona, was appointed Peishwa, and
received a grant of the pergunnah of Poona, and the
fort of Poorundhur. Eaja Shao was already a cypher,
and his minister the real ruler of the Mahrattas. The
latter now took the first step towards the dismember-
ment of the empire, by encouraging every chief at the
head of an army to administer the country he occupied
or commanded. The Peishwa thus gained temporary
partizans ; but the Satara Paja soon lost dependants.
Unlike his father and grandfather, Paja Shao acknow-
ledged himself a vassal of Delhi; and, while in the
actual receipt of tribute from the Mogul officers, he
affected, in his transactions with them, to consider him-
self merely as a head zemindar or deshmukh of the

During all this time, the distractions at Delhi were
clearing the way for Mahratta aggrandizement. Ten
thousand of them, under Ballajee, accompanied Syud
Hoossein Ally, the viceroy of the Deccan, to take part
in a struggle against the Emperor. Perokhsere lost


his life in tlie contest, and the Mahrattas remained at
Delhi till they had obtained from his successor, Ma-
hommed Shah, grants of* revenue and privilege, which
not only confirmed them in their own possessions, but
authorized their inquisitorial interference in every pro-
vince of the Deccan. The minute intermixture of ter-
ritory, and the coparcenery system that divided districts
and even villages between rival authorities, was a suffi-
cient curse to the people as well as loss to the Mogul ;
but this legalization of the Mahratta demands on the re-
served territory was a virtual cession of the whole. It
subjected the country to the double tyranny of two sets
of tax-gatherers — " that which the locust left, the can-
kerworm devoured."

Bajee Eao succeeded his father Balajee Wishwanath
as Peishwa. As able an administrator as his father,
he was a better soldier. Against the opinion and
advice of more timid counsellors, he advocated the ex-
tension of Mahratta conquest into Hindoostan. Under
his banner, in Malwa, in the year 1724, we first hear of
Eanoojee Sindhia, Mulhar Eao Holkar, and Oodajee
Pow^ar : the two first, the founders of their families ;
and the last, the regenerator of his, and the founder of
the Dhar principality. Already did the ambitious
Peishwa look to a universal Mahratta empire. He
promised the Eaja that his flag should wave from the
Kistna to the Attock ; and alluding to the Moguls,
" Let us strike," said he, " at the trunk of the withering
tree ; the branches must fall of themselves." All the

* The year of Maliommed Shah's and Candeish ; second, to the siir-

accession, in 1720, forms an impor- desh-mukhee, or tenth in excess of

tant era in Mahratta history. The the chouth ; and thirdly, to the su-

imperial grants they then obtained raj, or sovereignty of the sixteen

acknowledged their claim, first to districts possessed by Sivajee at the

the chouth, or fourth of the revenue time of his death. Thus was the

of the six Soobahs — Aurungabad, Mahratta aim of years gratified. — '

Berar, Beder, Hyderabad, Beejapoor, H. M, L.


ability and experience, however, of old Nizam-ul-mnlk,
now again tlie Mogul viceroy in the south, were em-
ployed to baffle the Mahrattas and evade their claims.
This he perceived was to be best effected by fanning the
flame between the rival cousins of Kolapoor and Satara,
and throwing his weight into the scale of the weaker —
Sambajee. In the year 1727 he stopped all payments,
pending, as he said, a settlement of the Mahratta
sovereignty. The usually pacific Shao was roused to
action. The Nizam endeavoured to excuse himself by
declaring that he only meant to relieve the Raja of his
overbearing minister, the Peishwa. Shao would listen
to no terms ; hostilities ensued, and the Kolapoor troops
were subsidized by Mzam-ul-mulk. The Satara party,
whose cause was managed by the Peishwa, gained the
day, which will appear the less surprising when it is
known that Sambajee and his ministers each sought to
obtain the handling of the Nizam's subsidies, not to
enable them to meet the enemy, but to employ the cash
for their own private debaucheries.

Nizam-ul-mulk was not the person to continue a
losing game ; he, therefore, patched up an arrangement
and abandoned the cause of Kolapoor. Sambajee, left
to his own resources, was, in the year 1729, so utterly
defeated as to be obliged to yield his claim to the
Mahratta sovereignty to Shao, and to accept a princi-
pality, comprehending, with certain reservations, the
tract of country between the Wurna and Kistna rivers
on the north, and the Toongbuddra on the south. The
treaty now made was offensive and defensive, and provided
for the division between the parties of such conquests as
might conjointly be made to the south of the Toong-
buddra. But there never has since been any cordiality
between the Kolapoor and Satara chiefs, or rather
between the former and the usurpers of the authority


of the latter; for, within two years of the above-men-
tioned compact, the Peishwa Bajee Eao completely
defeated the Ghaekwar, and his other rivals, in a decisive
battle near Baroda, which left him the virtual head of
the Mahratta sovereignty.

From this year (1729) we date the separation of the
Kolapoor principality from that of the elder and Satara
branch. The lieutenants of the latter, or rather of the
Peishwa, proceeded in a bright but brief career, while
the Kolapoor chiefs, holding aloof from the upstart
servants of their family, proceeded in a course of
piracies and petty warfare with the Dessaees of Waree
and the jaghirdars around them. The last time the
armies of the Mahratta empire acted together was in
the year 1795, at Kurdla, where Nana Purnuvees, the
clever but timid minister of the Peishwa, induced Sind-
hia and Holkar, the Ghaekwar, the Nagpoor Eaja, and
almost all the jaghirdars to combine against the Nizam.
On this occasion the Mahrattas brought into the field
140,000 men, horse and foot.

The Peishwa had long been the mayors of the Satara
palace. They received their khillats (dresses) of in-
vestiture from the imprisoned descendants of Sivajee ;
but they were virtually monarchs of the Mahratta con-
federacy. The submission obtained from the founders
of the several rival principalities was certainly loose
enough from the beginning; but they did allow, in
theory, the same superiority to the Peishwa as he con-
ceded to his puppet of Satara. A double government,
an imperium in iviperio, has long been the fashion of
India ; prejudices and old associations are thus sought
to be soothed, and the fact is overlooked, or forgotten,
that a rallying point is thereby left to their enemies by
those in power. The good sense of more than one of
the Peishwas led them to think of ending the farce;


but a timid policy prevailed. The ruler of Poona
continued to call himself the servant of the Eaja of
Satara, whom he kept a prisoner; and the chiefs of
Gwalior and Indore, retaliating on the former, plun-
dered and insulted him at will, while styling themselves
his lieutenants. A decree could have been obtained
from the effete King of Delhi in favour either of Sind-
hia or the Peishwa, and would have carried as much,
weight in India as did Pope Zachary's in Christendom,
when the second Pepin obtained his sanction to place
Childeric in a monastery, and add the title of King to
his mayorial designation.

Henceforward we follow the fortunes of Kolapoor and
Sawunt-waree. In December, 1760, Sambajce, the last
lineal descendant of Sivajee, died without issue, when
his widow adopted a boy called Sivajee, and conducted
the government in his name. The Kolapoorians were,
at this time, not content with plundering and levying
chouth on shore, but they engaged in piratical expe-
ditions along the western coast. In the year 1765, the
British Government sent an expedition against them,
and reduced the ports of Malwan and Rairee — the
former place belonging to Kolapoor, the latter to Waree.
The connection of Kolapoor with the Nizam was gene-
rally maintained, and, in the time of the Peishwa
Mudhoo Eao BuUal, caused the loss of several districts,
which were, however, recovered by the Paja taking part
with Rugonath Eao during the period of his authority.

In the year 1766, Malwan and Eairee were restored,
on condition that the Kolapoor Eaja should indemnify
the British Government for all losses and expenses, and
that the Dessaee of Waree should enter into a new
treaty. The piracies of these petty States were then for
a few years suspended, only to break out more violently
than ever. In the year 1789, fresh operations were


contemplated against tliem, and only suspended ont of
consideration to the Court of Poona, whose dependant
the Eaja of Kolapoor was erroneously supposed to be.
The Mysore war then occupied all the attention of the
British, and the pirates worked their will until the
year 1792, when an armament was fitted out against
them. A humble apology was, however, accepted, and a
treaty concluded, by which permission was obtained for
the establishment of factories at Malwan and Kolapoor.
None of these measures, however, were of any avail to
check the system of piracy, which continued until the
year 1812.

The petty States at Kolapoor and Waree were at war,
during nearly twenty-three years, on a foolish quarrel
regarding some royal privileges obtained for her hus-
band, Kem Sawunt, by Luximee Bye, a niece of Mahda-
jee^Sindhia. Lord Minto, then Governor-Greneral, was
solicited to aid Kolapoor, but he declined interfering.
The Peishwa was less scrupulous, and sought to take
advantage of the contest to subjugate both States.
Acting under his orders, one of his officers, Appa
Dessaee, obtained possession of Chickooree and Menow-
lee, and endeavoured to establish his own authority
over Sawunt- waree. The infant Sawunt was strangled ;
but Phoond Sawunt, the next heir, taking advantage of
the temporary weakness of the Poona commander,
expelled him from the country, and seized the govern-

During the first Mahratta war with the English, the
Kolapoor troops were not found in the ranks of their
countrymen; but their system of piracy and petty
plunder continued. In the year 1812, therefore, when
the British Grovernment was settling the affairs of the
Mahratta country, it was determined at length to put
down the long-permitted piracies of Kolapoor and


Sawunt-waree. Stringent measures were adopted,
the Raja at once ^delded, consented to a new treaty,
and was, in return, guaranteed against the aggressions
of all foreign Powers. Plioond Sawunt was, at the same
time, obliged to cede Vingorla, and engaged to suppress
piracy, under the penalty of being also deprived of the
forts of Rairee and Newtee. Some mercantile engage-
ments were at the same time concluded.

Soon after the ratification of these arrangements,
Phoond Sawunt died, and Doorga Bye became regent.
Regardless of the British guarantee, she immediately
attacked Kolapoor, and seized the fort of Burratgurh,
which had formerly belonged to Waree. The old lady
would listen to no remonstrances, and withdrew only on
the advance of a detachment of the Madras army.
She still, however, continued refractory, and though no
retaliation was permitted on the part of the Kolapoor
troops, the British were at length obliged to enter the
Waree territory; and in the year 1819 completely
reduced it. Certain cessions were then exacted as se-
curity against future misconduct, when the British
troops were withdrawn, and Sawunt-waree, in its reduced
limits, left independent.

During the last Mahratta war, the Kolapoor Raja
heartily espoused the British cause, and was rewarded by
the restoration of the two districts of Chickooree and
Menowlee, already referred to, yielding an annual
revenue of three lakhs of rupees. In July, 1821, the
Raja was murdered in his palace by a chief, whose
jaghir he had resumed. During the disturbances at
Kittoor in 1824, the conduct of the Kolapoor autho-
rities was very suspicious, and in a matter of dispute
with Sawunt-waree, the young Raja infringed the treaty,
and refused to abide by British arbitration. In this
affair he was decidedly wrong, and he ought to have


been punished. In our dealings with native States, it
is as unfair to overlook palpable breaches of engage-
ment as it is cruel to stretch or twist dubious questions.
The homely adage *' get an inch and take an ell" no-
where better applies than among Indian rulers. The
first encroachment is the precedent for succeeding ones.
The smallest infraction of a treaty should be promptly
noticed ; timely reproof may stop a career of ruin. We
are quite aware that it is from no ungenerous motive
that such admonition is often withheld ; but we are not
the less satisfied that a little trouble at the outset,
where differences arise, might often avert broils, and
eventual absorption. Most native chiefs are mere
children in mind, and in the ways of the world ; and as
children they should be treated, with affectionate sym-
pathy, but with systematic firmness. Grrant them the
most liberal construction of their respective treaties ;
but whatever that construction be, explain it clearly,
and enforce it strictly. Slips should not pass unnoticed ;
but severity ought to be reserved for cases of obstinate
contumacy. Such policy would convince all concerned,
that their amendment and not their destruction, was
the desire of the lord paramount. After a certain
career of vice or contumacy, the offender should be set
aside, and replaced by the nearest of kin who gives
better promise. One man should not be permitted to
ruin a State ; nor in any case should the paramount
benefit by the error of the dependant. Were some such
principles as these steadily acted on, less would be heard
of the bankruptcies and distractions of tributary and
subject States.

In the year 1825, the Eaja was, more questionably,
interfered with, when desiring to resume Kaghal, the
jaghir of Hindoo Eao, the son of the notorious Shir zee
Eao Grhatgay. Both the father and son had long aban-


doned the Kolapoor service for that of Gwalior. Our
right of interference referred only to externals, and we
had no right to meddle, even by remonstrance, in do-
mestic matters. Such slippery handling of engage-
ments on our part, irritates native princes and affords
them pretext for bad faith. In December, 1825, the
Raja's misconduct obliged Government to march a
force into his country, when a new arrangement was
negotiated, stipulating for the reduction of the Kolapoor
army, attention to the advice of the British Government,
and the non -molestation of Hindoo Rao and certain
other jaghirdars. Such a treaty could hardly have
been expected to stand, nor did it. Princes do not
relish unsought advice, any more than any other indi-
viduals, especially if it be such as they are pledged to
take. It was, we believe. Colonel Sutherland who
rightly called the obligation to take counsel " a wither-
ing clause;" its very nature, indeed, is to provoke
irritation and opposition, and to entail eventual coercion.
At any rate, it is useless to provide that advice should
be taken, without specifically entering on the face of the
engagement the penalty for neglect. The matter then
becomes plain, and all parties can calculate their game.
The treaty under notice was scarcely signed before the
Raja broke through all its provisions. Instead of
reducing his troops, he increased them, and seized the
possessions of the guaranteed jaghirdars. Twice during
the year 1827, a British force was assembled for the
purpose of bringing the Raja ^ to reason. In the
month of October the troops moved on Kolapoor, when
that fortified town, though occupied by between 2000
and 3000 Arabs and Sindhians, immediately surren-
dered. New terms were then dictated, restricting the
Kolapoor army to 400 horse and 800 foot, exclusive of
garrisons. Chickooree and Menowlee were resumed, and


certain jaghirdars, whom the Eaja had molested, re-
ceived perpetual instead of life guarantees. The forts
of Kolapoor and Panalla were occupied hy British
garrisons at the Eaja's expense. He was also mulcted
1,47,948 rupees for damage done to his neighbours;
and territory yielding 50,000 rupees was retained until
the amount should be liquidated. A minister was also

Online LibraryHenry Montgomery LawrenceEssays, military and political, written in India → online text (page 15 of 39)