John Clark Marshman.

The history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 1) online

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to the Deccan. The emperor loaded him with honours on his
departure, but at the same time instigated the local governor
of Hyderabad, Mobariz Khan, to resist his authority, and held
out the reversion of the viceroyalty as a bait. The Nizam
defeated Mobariz, and sent his head to Delhi, congratulating
the Court on the extinction of the revolt. He then fixed on
Hyderabad, the ancient capital of the Kootub-Shahee dynasty,
Founds as ^ e seat f his government, and from this period

Hyderabad, 1724. may be dated the rise of the Nizam's dominion.


Balaiee Vishwunath, as already stated, had
Death of Balajee J . . ' *

accompanied Hussein All with a Mahratta con-

im tingent to Delhi, and, on the accession of Maho-

med Shah, obtained the imperial confirmation of the grants
of the " fourth " and the " tenth," and returned in triumph
with the invaluable charters, fourteen in number, to Satara,
where he soon after died. Before his death he completed the
arrangements for the collection of the assignments he had
acquired, and established a system of the most intricate sub-
division of interests, by which ample provision was made for
a whole army of Mahratta officials. A preponderating power
was thus given to the cabinet of brahmins at Satara, which
eventually resulted in the transfer of all the authority of the
state to their chief, the Peshwa. He was succeeded in his
Bajee Eao, office by h* 8 son Bajee Kao, who exhibited in the
Peshwa, 1721 highest degree the enterprise of the Mahratta
character, and in talent and vigour proved to be second only
to Sevajee. The interest of the succeeding twenty years of
the history of India centres in the alliances, and disputes, and
strategy* of the young Mahratta statesman of Satara, and the
subtle old Turk at Hyderabad, who made peace and war with-
out any reference to the emperor at Delhi.

The impetuosity of Baiee Kao's character led

Bajee Bao's ad- J J

vice to sahoo, him to propose the boldest schemes of ambition
to his master Sahoo. He felt that unless em-
ployment could be found abroad for the large body of predatory
horse which formed the smews of the Mahratta power they
would be engaged in mischief at home. Fully aware of the
decay of the Mogul power, he urged the king " to strike the
trunk of the withering tree, the branches must fall of them-
selves. Now is our time to drive strangers from the land of
the Hindoos, and to acquire immortal renown. By directing
our efforts to Hindostan the Mahratta flag in your reign
shall fly from the Kistna to the Attok." " You shall plant it
on the Himalayu," replied Sahoo. But he had been bred in
the luxury of a Mahomedan seraglio, and had lost the boldness


and energy of the Mahratta character. Bajee Rao found
that his own ardour was ill seconded by his sovereign, and was
constrained to act under his own discretion; and thus the
house of Sevajee waxed weaker, and the house of the Peshwa
waxed stronger.

Affairs of The Nizam had appointed his uncle, Humeed

Guzemt. Khan, his representative in Guzerat, in opposition
to the court at Delhi. The court appointed Sir-boolund Khan
governor of the province, with directions to extinguish this
revolt. With the aid of two Mahratta commanders, Kantajee
and Peelajee, Humeed Khan was enabled to defeat the Mogul
armies, and rewarded them with a grant of the " fourth " and
the " tenth " of the revenues of Guzerat. Bajee Rao took
advantage of this discord, and renewed his excursions into
Malwa, granting Sindia, Holkar, and Powar of Dhar, commis-
sions to levy chout in that province, while he himself proceeded
to the south, and exacted contributions from the ruler at Se-
ringapatam. Alarmed by the increasing audacity of the
Peshwa's depredations, the Nizam endeavoured to revive the
dissensions of the rival houses of Kolapore and Satara. Sam-
bajee claimed his share of the assignments which had been
granted to the Peshwa, Balajee Vishwunath, on the six
soubahs of the Deccan, and the Nizam, as the official represen-
tative of the emperor, called on both parties to produce their
titles and substantiate their claims before him. Sahoo and his
cabinet were filled with indignation by what they deemed an
insolent attempt to interfere in their domestic quarrels. Bajee
Rao instantly assembled a large army, and marched against
the Nizarn, who was likewise supported by a large body of
Mahrattas, but he was driven into a position where the want
of provisions constrained him to enter into negotiations, which
terminated more favourably than could have been expected.
. ... The singular moderation of the Peshwa on this

Peshwa obtains

the ciumt of occasion, when the Nizam was at his mercy, was
!rat> 1 2 ' not without a cause. He was at the time nego-
tiating with Sir-boolund Khan, the imperial governor of Guzerat,


who had succeeded in establishing- his authority, for the chout
and other assignments which had been granted to the two
Mahratta officers already mentioned, and, to expedite the bar-
gain, sent his brother to lay the country waste. Sir-boolund
at length found it expedient to purchase some measure of
peace by yielding to these demands The concession was,
however, more restricted than that . which had been granted
by Hussein Ali, and confirmed by Mahomed Shah. The
ohout was to be calculated on the actual amount of collections ;
only two or three officers were to be placed in each district to
collect the dues ; no other exactions were to be inflicted on the
ryots, and every assistance was to be given to the imperial
authority. From these limitations we are enabled to perceive
how greatly the Mahrattas had abused the power conferred on
them by the charters which they obtained eight years before.
Never was a more flagitious and intolerable system of extor-
tion invented by human ingenuity than that which the genius of
Sevajee had devised, and which the Mahrattas considered it
their mission to extend over the whole of India.

While Baiee Rao was employed in settling his

Kolapore and > *

Satora at peace, demands on Guzerat, Sambajee crossed the Wurna
' 30 * and plundered the territory of his rival, Sahoo

He was, however, subsequently defeated, and obliged to sign
an acknowledgment of his cousin's right to the entire Mah-
ratta territory, with the exception of a small tract around
Kolapore, to which his branch of the royal family was thence-
forward to be confined, and thus ended the dissensions of
twenty years. The Nizam, foiled in his attempt to weaken the
Mahrattas by internal discord, found a new instrument of
mischief in Dhabarry, the Mahratta commander-in-chief. He
had been intrusted with the Mahratta interests in Guzerat,
and was mortified to find that the chout and other dues in his
own province had been carried off by Bajee Rao. Under a
feeling of resentment and at the instigation of the Nizam, he
marched towards Satara with 35,000 men, with the avowed
object of releasing Sahoo from the tyranny of the Peohwa, but


he was defeated by an inferior force, and fell in battle. The
influence of his rival was increased in no small degree by this
attempt to destroy it. But the Peshwa acted with generosity,
and conferred the office which had been held by Dhabarry on
his son, an infant, and entrusted the management of affairs to
origin of the Peelajee Guickwar, whose immediate ancestor
Guickwar. was a co \v-herd, and whose descendants now
occupy the throne of Baroda.

origin of noikar To this period also belongs the rise of the fami-
and Sindia. jj^ of Holkar and Sindia, destined to take a
prominent share in the politics of India. Mulhar Rao Holkar
was ihe son of a herdsman, but, being a youth of adventurous
disposition, exchanged the crook for the sword, and by his
daring courage recommended himself to Bajee Rao, who en-
trusted him with the charge of levying contributions in eighty-
four districts or villages in Malwa. Ranojee Sindia, th(,agh
said to be allied to the noblest families in Rajpootana, was of
the caste of cultivators, and entered the service of Balajee
Vishwunath as a menial servant. It is related that on one
occasion his master, returning from an interview with the raja
Sahoo, found his attendant asleep on his back with the slippers
firmly grasped in his hand. Struck with his fidelity in so
humble an occupation, the Peshwa introduced him into his
body-guard. He soon became one of the foremost of the
Mahratta chieftains, and, like Holkar, received assignments
on the districts of Malwa, which formed the nucleus of the
family domain.

After the defeat of Dhabarry, the Peshwa

Convention be- j .1 XT- j j-

tween Kajce Rao ano - *O6 .Nizam came to a mutual understanding
ami the Nizam, f or ^he promotion of their respective interests,
and it was agreed that Bajee Rao should be at
liberty to plunder the Mogul territories in the north without
restraint, and that the Nizam's possessions in the south should
not be molested by the Mahrattas. In fact, the Nizam, the
representative of the emperor in the Deccan, purchased peace
by letting the Mahrattas loose on the dominions of his sove-

o 2


reign beyond the Nerbudda. Bajee Rao crossed that river in
1732, and laid waste the devoted province of Malwa. The
Mogul governor, Mahomed Bungush, was engaged at the
time in besieging a refractory chief in Bundlecund, who in-
voked the aid of Bajee Rao. Bungush was soon, in his turn,
besieged, and was rescued only by the prompt arrival of his
countrymen from Rohilcund. The Bundlecund raja evinced his
gratitude to the Peshwa by bequeathing him a third of his
territory of Jhansi; and thus was the Mahratta standard
Maiwa ceded to planted for the first time on the banks of the
Bajee Kao, me j umna> The government of Malwa was soon
after conferred by the emperor on the Rajpoot prince, Jey
Sing, whose reign was rendered illustrious by the encourage-
ment of science and the erection of the beautiful city of Jey-
pore, with its palaces, halls, and temples, and, above all, its
noble observatory. The profession of a common creed had
promoted a friendly intercourse between the Mahratta and
the Rajpoot chiefs, and Jey Sing, who was more of a scholar
than a statesman, made over the whole province of Malwa to
Bajee Rao, though not without the supposed concurrence of
the feeble court of Delhi.

Bajee Rao's de- These concessions only served to inflame the
mands, 1736. ambition of Bajee Rao, and the necessities of his
position constrained him to extend his aggressions. Great
as were the resources of the Mahratta state, the greater por-
tion of the revenue was absorbed by the chiefs who collected
it, and only a fraction reached the national treasury. The
magnitude of Bajee Rao's operations had involved him in debt ;
the bankers were slow to make further advances ; his troops
were clamorous for their pay, and discipline was weakened by
his inability to meet their claims. He therefore demanded
of the imperial court a confirmation of the assignments
on Guzerat which had been granted by Sir-boolund Khan,
and of the recent cession of the province of Malwa, as his
personal jaygeer. The emperor, or rather his minister,
Khan Dowran, offered him an assignment of thirteen lacs of


rupees on the districts south of the Chumbul, with permission
to levy tribute in Rajpootana, in the hope that this claim would
embroil him with the Rajpoot princes. But Bajee Rao,
having learnt from his agent at Delhi that all his demands
were likely to be conceded with a little more pressure, imme-
diately increased them, and did not scruple to claim the whole
territory south of the Chumbul, the surrender of the holy
cities of Benares, Gya, Muttra, and Allahabad, and the im-
mediate payment of fifty lacs of rupees. The court endea-
voured to appease him with smaller sacrifices, which he readily
accepted, but without abating the price of his forbearance, or
the progress of his army. Holkar crossed the Jumna, by his
orders, and plundered the Dooab, but was driven back by
Sadut Khan, the soobadar of Oude ; and this success was
magnified at Delhi into a grand victoiy, in which thousands of
infidels were said to have perished. It was even reported
that Bajee Rao had been obliged to retire. " I was compelled,"
he wrote, " to tell the emperor the truth, and to prove to him
that I was still in Hindoostan; to show him flames and Mah-
rattas at the gates of his capital." He advanced towards
Delhi by forced marches of forty miles a day. The conster-
nation in the imperial city may well be conceived ; but his
object was not to sack the capital, but to intimidate the court
into concessions, and circumstances rendered it advisable for
him to withdraw. His moderation encouraged a party of
eight thousand horse under some of the nobles to attack his
carnp, but they were easily repelled by Holkar. Bajee Rao
now retired from the north, recrossed the Nerbudda, and pro-
ceeded to Satara.

The Mahrattas appeared now to be paramount

The Nizam do- . T ,. ,

feated by Bajee in India, and the Nizam was considered by the
uao, 1737. emperor and his ministers, the only man who could
save the empire from extinction. He himself perceived, when
too late, the impolicy of his compact with Bajee Rao in 1732,
which had enabled the Mahrattas to plunder the northern
provinces without interruption, and augmented their power to


an extent which now threatened his own safety and that of
every other Mahomedan potentate in India. He listened to
the overtures of the court, and repaired to Delhi, where the
government of Malwa and of Guzerat was conferred on him,
and all the power and resources of the empire were placed at
his disposal. But these resources Were now reduced to so low
an ebb that he could assemble an army of only 34,000
men, with which he moved down to Malwa, while the Peshwa
advanced to oppose him with 80,000. Owing, perhaps, to
his great age he was now ninety-three perhaps to an
over-confidence in his artillery, which was esteemed the best
in India, he intrenched himself near Bhopal, instead of boldly
encountering the enemy in the field. Bajee Rao adopted the
usual Mahratta system of warfare laying waste the country
around, intercepting all supplies, and harassing his opponent
with incessant attacks. At length, on the twenty-fourth
day from the commencement of the siege, the Nizam, receiving
no reinforcements, while his enemy called up every Mahratta
chief in the Deccan to his aid, was constrained to sign a humilia-
tingtreaty, granting to the victorious Mahratta the sovereignty
of Malwa, and of all the territory up to the banks of the
Chumbul, and engaging to use all his influence to obtain the
grant of fifty lacs of rupees from the treasury at Delhi. But
that treasure was to find a different destination,
invasion of Nadir ^ was m the midst of these distractions, which
Shah, 1738. exhausted the strength of the empire, that Nadir
Shah made his appearance on the banks of the Indus, and
India was visited with another of those desolating irruptions
to which it had been repeatedly subject during seven hundred

Nadir's ^ ne P ers i an dynasty of the Sofis, which had

antecedent lasted for two centuries, the usual term of Asiatic
monarchies, was subverted in 1722 by the Ghiljies,
the most powerful of the Afghan tribes. Shah Hussein,
the last of that royal line, was blockaded by them in his capi-
tal, Ispahan, which had then attained the summit of pros-


perity, and contained a population of 600,000. After the
besieged had endured the greatest extremities of misery and
want, the king with his court went out attired in deep mourn-
ing and gave himself up to Mahmood, the victorious chief, and
placed the diadem on his brows. Mahmood, after a reign of
two years, rendered execrable by his cruelties, left all his con-
quests to his son Asruf. Nadir Shah, the greatest warrior
Persia has produced since the days of Darius, was the son of
a shepherd of Khorasan. His enterprising spirit led him to
collect a band of freebooters ; their number increased with
their success, and he soon found himself at the head of a
formidable force, with which he freed Khorasan from the
Abdalee Afghans who had overrun it. The Ghiljie king of
Persia was the next to feel his power, and was obliged to re-
sign all his father's conquests in Persia. Nadir, after his first
success, raised Thamasp, the son of the dethroned Sofi monarch
to the throne ; but when he had expelled the Turks and the
Russians from the provinces they had occupied, and restored
independence and dignity to his native land, he ascended the
throne himself, on the assumed imporl unity of a hundred
thousand of his subjects, nobles, soldiers, and peasants, as-
sembled together on a vast plain to offer him the crown.

To find employment for his troops, and to

He invades Af-

ghanistan and gratify the resentment of his countrymen, he
India, 1737-38 carr i e( i his arms into the country of the Ghiljies,
by whom they had been oppressed ; but Candahar was be-
sieged for a twelvemonth before it surrendered. While en-
gaged in the siege, Nadir sent a messenger to Delhi to
demand the surrender of some of his fugitive subjects. The
court was at the time distracted by the claims of Bajee Rao,
and the demand was neglected. A second messenger was
assassinated at Jellalabad. The government of India had,
from time immemorial, been in the habit of paying an annual
subsidy to the highlanders who occupy the passes between
Cabul and Peshawur, and who were in a position to arrest the
progress of any invader. In the confusion of the times the


payment of this black mail had been discontinued, and the
Highlanders now opened the gates of India to Nadir Shah,
who crossed the Indus, on a bridge of boats, with 65,000
hardy veterans, and overran the Punjab before the court of
Delhi was aware of his approach.

Massacre of The emperor marched to Curnal to repel the in-

Deihi, 1739. vasion, biit experienced a fatal defeat, and, being
without the means of resistance, proceeded immediately to
the Persian camp, and threw himself on the mercy of the con-
queror. The object of Nadir was wealth, not conquest, and
it has been affirmed that he was prepared to retire on receiving
a contribution of two crores of rupees ; but Sadut Ali, the
soobadar of Oude, who had been refused some favour by the em-
peror, sought revenge by representing to Nadir that this was
a very inadequate ransom for an opulent empire, adding, that
he was able to furnish such a sum from his own province alone.
On this Nadir determined to levy the exactions under his own
eye. He entered Delhi in March, 1739, in company with the
ompernr, and took up his residence in the palace. On the
succeeding day a report of his death was spread abroad, and
the citizens rose on the Persians, of whom a thousand perished
in the tumult, which continued throughout the night. The
next morning Nadir mounted his horse and went forth to
restore order, but the first sight which met his eye was the
mangled corpses of his soldiers ; at the same time he himself
was assailed with missiles from the windows, and a favourite
officer was struck dead at his side. Unable any longer to
restrain his fury, he issued orders for a general massacre of the
inhabitants. For several hours the metropolis of India pre-
sented a scene of violence, lust, and bloodshed, and 8,000 are
said to have fallen under the swords of the infuriated soldiery ;
yet so complete was Nadir's discipline, that every sword was
sheathed the moment he issued the order.
Plunder of Nadir Shah now entered deliberately on the

Delhi, 1739. W0 rk of spoliation. He despoiled the emperor and
his nobles of all their treasures and jewels, caused every house


to be searched and sacked, and spared no cruelty to extort
confessions of wealth. Of the infamous Sadut Ah' he de-
manded the whole of the sum which he had said his soubah was
able to furnish, and the traitor terminated his existence by
swallowing poison. The governors of the other provinces
were likewise laid under heavy contributions. Having thus
subjected Delhi to fifty-eight days of ruthless pillage, and ex-
hausted, as he supposed, the wealth of the country, he pre-
pared to take his departure with plunder estimated at thirty-
two crores of rupees. Before his departure he reseated
Mahomed Shah on the throne, but annexed all the countries
west of the Indus to the crown of Persia. He likewise sent
a circular to all the princes of India to acquaint them that he
was moving to the conquest of other regions, and had replaced
his dear brother Mahomed Shah on the throne of his extensive
empire, and that if any report of their rebellion reached his
ears, he would return and blot their names out of the book of

The Mogul empire, which had been in a state of

State of India

after Nadir's rapid decay for more than thirty years, since the
irruption in 1739. death of Aurungzebe , received its death-blow

from the irruption of Nadir Shah and the sack of the capital.
Its prestige was irrecoverably lost, and the various provinces
ceased to yield any but a nominal obedience to the throne of
Delhi. All its possessions beyond the Indus were alienated
to the crown of Persia. In the extreme south the Mogul
authority was extinct in the principalities of Tanjore, Madura,
and Mysore. The nabob of the Carnatic recognised no
superior. The government of the Deccan was shared between
the Nizam and the Mahrattas, and the Mahrattas had recently
extended their ravages to the gates of Delhi. In the pro-
vinces of Guzerat and Malwa the authority of the emperor
was trembling in the balance. The rajas of Rajpootana had
ceased to be the vassals of the throne. The soobadars of
Oude and Bengal acknowleged the emperor as the source of
authority, but yielded him no obedience. Even in the imme-


diate vicinity of the metropolis new chiefs were, as the Maho-
medan historian remarks, " beating the drum of independence."
Towards the close of Aurungzebe's reign a tribe of sooders
called Jauts emigrated from the banks of the Indus to the
districts lying between Agra and Jeypore, and founded their
capital, Bhurtpore, out of the plunder of the emperor's camp
equipage ; and their leader, Chooramun, did not scruple to set
the imperial authority at defiance. To the north of Delhi, a
tribe of Rohilla Afghans, recently embodied under a circum-
cised Hindoo, were rapidly rising into importance. The house
of Baber had accomplished the cycle of its existence, and the
sceptre of India was about to pass into other hands. Having
thus reached the verge of a new era, we turn to the origin
and progress of the strangers to whose lot that sceptre was
to fall, though at this period they were engaged in the peace-
ful pursuits of commerce, and dreaming of nothing so little
as the establishment of an empire in India. The main stream
of this narrative will now follow the fortunes of the British
po\er, to which the history of the various kingdoms which
rose upon the decay of the Moguls will be subsidiary. But, it
may be useful to bear in mind, that, with the exception of the
liajpoot chiefs and the puppet emperor at Delhi, not one ol
the kingdoms which were subsequently absorbed in the British
empire had been in existence even a quarter of a century
when the English first took up arms in Hindostan.



THE rich trade which the Portuguese had esta-

The English in

India before Wished in the East during the sixteenth century
served to quicken the spirit of enterprise which
Queen Elizabeth laboured to foster in England, and her sub-
jects were impatient to share in its profits. The splendid and


successful voyages of Drake, Cavendish, and other English
navigators to the eastern hemisphere augment the
national ardour. In 1583, Fitch and three other adventurers
started on a commercial expedition to India, by way of Aleppo
and Bagdad. They carried letters of introduction from the
queen to the emperor Akbar, soliciting his kind offices to her
subjects who were proceeding from a far country to trade in
his dominions, and offering the same kindness in return to

Online LibraryJohn Clark MarshmanThe history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 41)