James Talboys Wheeler.

Early records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio online

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Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 14 of 33)
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tongue. He was praised by WilKam Pitt, the great
war minister of England. Pitt declared that Clive
was a "heaven-born general."

The defence of Arcot changed the fortunes of English Nawab
the war. The Erench were still all-powerfid in the h xi'mb^au '"" "'
Hekhan. Their Nizam, Salabat Jung, was still



reigning at Hyderabad. But their cause was lost in
the Peninsula. They were compelled to raise the
siege of Trichinopoly. Their Nawah surrendered to
a Hindu E-aja and was put to death. The English
Nawab, Muhammad Ali, was placed on the throne
of Arcot. In the end Dupleix was ruined. Chunda
Sahib perished. In 1754 peace was made between
the English and Erench in India ; it was agreed that
the existina: status should be maintained — a Erench
Nizam at Hyderabad, and an English Nawab at
Arcot. Meanwhile Dupleix returned to Erance a
bi'oken-hearted man.



16iO— 1750.

THE Eni^lisli found it far more difficult to settle Moghui obstvuc-
'~^ ^ tiveness.

in Bengal than in Madras. At Madras they

purchased a site for a settlement from a Hindu
E,aja ; they had built a factory and a strong fort
fifty years before the Moghuls invaded Peninsular
India. In Bengal the English found the Moghuls
already in possession ; consequently they had great
difficulty in establishing a trade ; at last they were
allowed to establish factories, but were strictly pro-
hibited from building fortifications of any kind.

The Moghuls were always jealous of Europeans, oid hatred of the

Portuguese .

Shah Jehan, the father of Aurungzeb, became
Emperor in 1628. He had special reasons for hating
the Portuguese. They had established a settlement
at Huglili, on the river of the same name, about a
hundred and twenty nules from the Bay of Bengal.
They had refused to help him when he rebelled
against his father, and he never forgot the affront.

Muhammadans had other complaints agamst the Mussulman


Portuguese. They are thus set forth by Khafi ^^'^JJ^g^.
Khan in a fan* and impartial spuit: —

" The officers of the King- of Portugal occuj)ieJ several
portS; and liad built forts in strong- positions. They founded


villages and acted very kindly towards the people, and did
not vex them with oppressive taxes. They allotted a separate
quarter for the Mussulmans who dwelt with them, and ap-
pointed a Kazi over them to settle all matters of taxes and
marriage. But the Muhammadan call to prayer and public
devotion were not permitted in their settlements : If a poor
Mussulman traveller had to pass through their possessions,,
he would meet with no other trouble ; but he would not
be able to say his prayers at his ease. On the sea the Portu-
guese are not like the English ; they do not attack other
ships, provided the ships can show a pass from some Portu-
guese commandant. If no such pass can be produced they
will attack the ship. They will also attack the ships of
Arabia and Muskat, with which two countries they have
a long-standing enmity. If a ship from a distant port
is wrecked and falls into their hands, they look upon it as
their prize. But their greatest act of tyranny is this. If a
subject of these misbelievers dies leaving young children
and no grown-up son, the children are considered wards of
the State. They take them to their places of worship, their
churches, which they have built in many places ; and the
Padres, that is to say the priests, instruct the children in the
Christian religion, and bring them up in their own faith,
whether the child be a Mussulman or a Hindu. They will
also make them serve as slaves.^' ^

Revenge of Shah 'W'heii Shall Jeliaii became Padisliah he received

Jenan on

iiughh, 1632. i^-^^gj, complaints against the Portuguese from the
Nawab of Bengal. They had fortified Hughli ;
planted great guns on their walls and bastions ;
carried on a traffic in slaves ; and set the Nawab
and his officers at defiance. Shah Jehan was ex-
ceedingly angry ; he remembered his old wrongs,
and exacted a terrible revenge. Hughli was sur-
rounded by a Moghul army ; a bastion was blown

' Sec Professor Dowson's translation of Kh.ifi Khun in Elliot's History of
Indiii, volume vii.


up by a mine ; the shipping was set on fire and
a large number of prisoners was sent to Agra.
Sons and daughters of the Portuguese were placed
in the imperial harem, or distributed amongst the
grandees. Many jiarents were forced by threats of
a cruel death to abandon Christianity and accept
the Koran. ^

These horrors took place in 1632; one year English at pipiy,
afterwards the English obtained permission to tmde
in Bengal. The destruction of Huglili had not
frightened them ; on the contrary, they hoped to
get the Portuguese trade into their own hands.
But the Moghuls were resolved that no Europeans
whatever should defy them for the future. No
English ships were allowed to enter the Huglili river;
none were allowed to go beyond the port of Piply.

In 1640 the Eno'lish obtained further privilei^jes En-iisi. imde

^ X O j^j^, j^^_^^ jyj^_

from the Moghul. One of the daughters of Shah
Jehan had been severely burned by her clothes catch-
ing fire. The factors at Surat were requested to
send a surgeon to Court. A certain Dr. Gabriel
Boughton attended on the princess, and effected a
perfect cure. Shah Jehan was overjoyed, and told
Dr. Boughton to name his own reward. The patriotic
surgeon requested that the EngKsli Company might
be allowed to trade in Bengal without payment of
any duty.

1 According to Moghul story, Shah Jehan was worked upon by a favourite
wife, who was a zealous or fanatical votary of Islam. Shah Jehan was himself
as lax and indifferent on religious matters as any of his predecessors. The
facts slated in the te.\t are taken from Stewart's History of Bengal ; occa-
soiually other authorities are quoted.


Enfriish factory TliG booii was ff milted ; Boucrliton obtained the

at lluglili, '-' ' a

firman, and proceeded overland to Bengal. He
reached Piply, and saved an English ship from the
payment of dntics. At that time Shah Shuja, the
second son of Shah Jehan, was Viceroy of Bengal.
Dr. Bonghton paid his respects to the Viceroy.
He cured one of the ladies of the prince of some
sickness. The English were then permitted to build
a factory at Hughli, but without fortifications.
Henceforth Dr. Boughton was the hero of the Com-
pany's service, and obtained a lasting name in the
early annals of British India.

atPato'Z^**'*"'^ The English made large profits by their trade in
Bengal. They built factories in other places be-
sides Hughli, and sent home cargoes of silks,
cottons, and other commodities. Especially they
built a factory amongst the saltpetre grounds near
Patna. Saltpetre was in great demand in those
days, for civil w^ar was beginning between Charles
the Eirst and his Parliament, and saltpetre was
required for the manufacture of gunpowder.

Absence of Nouc of tlic carly records have been preserved

at Calcutta. They were all destroyed in 1756,
when Calcutta was captured by the ruling Nawab.
Duplicates have doubtless been preserved in the
India Office, but have never been rendered available.
It is, however, possible to glean a few facts from
the histories of Stewart, Holwell, and others.

^v?'"J'^^„'''/",.-.. In 1656 there w^as a fratricidal war between the
four sons of Shah Jehan for the possession of the
imperial throne. Shah Sluija, Viceroy of Bengal,

records at

the sons of Shah
Jehan, 1056,


took a part in the war, but was utterly defeated.
The fate of this prince throws some light upon the
existing state of affairs. lie bribed some Portuguese
pirates to carry him with all his family and treasures
from Dacca to Arakan. The King of Arakan was
a half- barbarous pagan. At first he treated the
imjoerial prince with hospitality and respect. After
a while he began to hanker after the prince's jewels.
Then he wanted to take one of Shah Slmja's
daughters as a wife. The blood of the Moghul fired
up at tliis insulting demand. It is needless to dwell
on a sad story. The prince was despoiled of aU his
treasures, and he and aU his household were brutally

These wars for the succession broke out at the Mo-hai wars for

the succession,

death of every Moghul sovereign, and often whilst
the sovereign was still alive. They were always
attended with bloodshed, and productive of much
misery. The country was laid waste and plundered.
The people were at the mercy of every band of
horsemen, whether marching to victory or flying
for their lives. Hajas withheld their tribute;
Zemindars kept back the rents. There was no one
to keep the peace or protect the inhabitants. Law-
lessness and rapine reigned supreme.

Ben"*al did not escape the general anarchy. The invasion of

^ . Bengal by the

King of Arakan, seeing that no attempt was made ^'"^ ^'^ ^'''''*"-
to avenge the murdered prince, invaded Bengal
with an army of Mughs. There were many Portu-
guese pirates in his service; they were the scum
of Goa and Malacca. In former times they had



RavaKes of the
K:ijas of Assam
and Cooch

Amir Jumla,
Viceroy- of
Bengal, 1658.

Shaista Khan,
Viceroy, 1661.

supplied the slave market at Huglili ; they still
carried on the work of kidnapping and plunder in
every creek and channel of the Sunderhunds. Some-
times their galleys penetrated to Dacca, and they
became the terror of Lower Bengal.

Other destroying agents were at work, which
can scarcely be realised in the present day. The
Raja of Assam was plundering Bengal to the north-
ward of Dacca. The Baja of Cooch Behar was
engaged in other du'ections. All the Moghul
soldiers of the province were far away to the west-
ward ; they were engaged in the terrible struggle
which was convulsing Hindustan.

In 1658 the fratricidal war was over. Auruno^zeb
ascended the throne of the Moghuls the same year
that saw the death of Oliver Cromwell. The cele-
brated Amir Jumla, the friend and adherent of
Aurungzeb, was appointed Viceroy of Bengal. He
laboured hard to restore order in Bengal. He in-
vaded Assam as far as the Cliinese frontier, but lost
the greater part of liis army. He perished of the
disease wliich attacked him during that ill-fated

Meanwhile, Aurungzeb was anxious about
Bengal. In time of peace the province yielded a
yearly revenue of half a million sterhng to the im-
perial treasury, after payment of all salaries and
expenses. In 1664 a kinsman of Aurungzeb, named

' The story of the Moghul invasion of Assam belongs to general history.
It will be told in Vol. IV, Part 2, of the author's History of India.


Shaista Khan, was appointed Viceroy of Bengal.'
This Muhammadan grandee has been praised to
the skies as a pattern of excellence by courtly scribes.
In reality he was an oppressor of the Moghul type,
crafty and unscrupulous to the last degree.

Shaista Khan punished the Kincj of Arakan, and Punishment ot

J- o ' the Kin;,' of

suppressed the Portuguese pirates, but he effected A'^^''^'"-
his purpose by clever perfidy rather than by force of snpproRsion of
arms. He tempted the pu'ates to join him with p'"'"^-
their galleys by the promise of double pay. He
employed them in destroying the fleet of Arakan.
Having thus got them in his toils, he dismissed them
from his service, and left them to starve and die.

The En2:lish at Hui^lili bitterly complained of compiiints of
the oppressions and exactions of Shaista Khan.
Indeed, during the reign of Aurungzeb, the Nawabs
of Bengal were very extortionate. That sovereign
kept a very sharp eye on the revenue. The Nawab
was not allowed to collect the revenue, and only drew
liis regular salary ; consequently he was greedy of
presents and bribes. The collection and disburse-
ment of the revenues w^as the duty of an officer
appointed direct by the Padishah and known as the
King's Dewan. Every Dewan knew that his place
and promotion depended on the amount of sm'plus
revenue wliich he yearly remitted to the imperial
treasury. Any collusion with the Nawab under
the searching eye of Am'ungzeb was liable to be
followed by ruin and confiscation.

1 Shaista Khau was uncle to Aurungzeb. He is the sume man that had
such a narrow escape from Sivaji, the Mahratta. See ante, page 15.


Commutation of Slmista Kliaii ignored the grant of freedom from


duty which the English obtained from Shah Jehan.
This was according to Moghul custom ; no sovereign
or governor was liable for the engagements of
his predecessor. Shaista Khan insisted on the
payment of the duties. The English at Hughli
found it expedient to commute the payment by a
yearly present of three thousand rupees to the
Taveinicr's Somc Idca of tlic contcmporary state of Hindustan

journey from ■'■

anTHu-hii?'' ^''^^ Bcugal may be gathered from Tavernier's Travels.

i66o-ob. Tavernier was a Erench jeweller; he went from

Agra to Dacca in 1665-66, and there had an adven-
ture with the Nawab Shaista Khan. Erom Dacca
he went to Hughli, w^here he made acquaintance
with the English and Dutch factories. The follow-
ing extracts from the itinerary of the jom-ney wdll
speak for themselves^ : —

Agra. Soi/i Aoven/der 1665. — " I departed from Agra towards


Bengal itovcnuc. Ist December, — " I met a lumdrcd and ten wag-gons, every
wagg-ou drawn by six oxen, and in every waggon fifty thousand
rnpees. This is the revenue of the province of Bengal, with all
charges defrayed, and the Governor's purse well filled, comes
to fifty-five lakhs of rupees."

Rhiuoccros. 2n(l December. — " Crossing a field of millet, I saw a

rhinoceros feeding upon millet canes, which a little boy of
nine or ten years old gave him to eat. "When I came near
the boy, he gave me some millet to give the rhinoceros ;
who immediately came to me, opening his chops three or
four times; I put the millet into his mouth, and when he
had swallowed it, he still opened his mouth for more.

* Tuveruiei's Travels in Iiulia, Book I, Clu'.p. S.


oili Beccmler. — " I arrived at Aurung^abad.' Formerly this AuruM-aiiaii.
village had another name ; but being- the place where Anrung-
zeb gave Jjattle to his brother Sultan Shuja^ who was
Governor of all the 'province of Bengal, Aurungzeb^ in
memor}^ of the\'ictory he hadVwon, gave it his own name,
aud_built there a vcry_fi\ir house, with a garden, and a little

(jth December. — " I saw the river Gauges. Monsieur Ber- Rmr Ganges.
nier, the King's physician, and another person whose name
was Bachepot, withj^whom I travelled, were amazed to see
that a river that had made such a noise in the world was
no broader than the river Seine before the Louvre, believing
before^that it had been as wide as the Danube above Belgrade.
There is also so little water in it from March to June or July,
when the rains fall, that it will not bear a small boat. When
we came to Ganges,' we drank every one of us a glass of
wine, mixing some of the river water with it, which caused
a griping. But our servants that drank it alone were worse
tormented than we. The Hollanders, who have a house
upon the bank of the Ganges, never drink the water of this
river until they have boiled it. But for the natural in-
habitants of the country, they are so accustomed to it from
their youth that the King and the Court drink no other.
You shall see a vast number of camels every day whose busi-
ness only it is to fetch water from the Ganges.''

7th December. — '' I arrived at Allahabad. It is a great Aiiaimbad.
city, built'upon a point of land where the Ganges and Jumna
meet. There is a fair castle of hewn stone, with a double
moat, where'the Governor resides. He is one of the greatest
lords in India; and being very sickly, he has always about
him ten Persian physicians. He had also in his service
Claudius^Malle of Bourges, who''practises surgery and physic
both together. This was he that advised us not to drink
of Ganges water,';but rather to drink well water. The chief
of these Persian physicians, whom this Governor hires with

* This village must^not be confouuded with the city of Aurungabad iu the
Dekhau, the head-quarters of the Viceroy of the Moghul Dekhau.


his money, one day threw his wife from the top of a battle-
ment to the ground, prompted to that act of cruelty by some
jealousies he had entertained. He thou

Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 14 of 33)