John Clark Marshman.

The history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) online

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1826 Siege and capture of Bhurtpore 407

Disgraceful plunder of the raja .... .... .... .... .... 409

Effect of this capture in India .... .... .... .... .... 410

Honours conferred on Lord Amherst .... .... .... .... 410

J828 Financial results of his administration 411

His liberality to the press 411

1827 Death and character of Sir Thomas Munro 412

The galaxy of talent in India in the first quarter of the

century .. ... 413

1828 Lord Amherst returns to England .'. 413

Mr. Bayley Governor-General ad interim 413



WAR 1786 1793.

sir John HASTINGS left the government in the hands of Mr.,
afterwards Sir John, Macpherson, who presided
over it f or twenty months. He came out to
Madras at the age of twenty-two, as purser in one of the
Company's ships, but soon after his arrival quitted the sea
for more lucrative employment at the court of the Nabob of
the Carnatic, where he obtained great consideration. Under
his influence the Nabob was induced to make a direct appeal
to the Minister in England, as the most effectual means of
regaining his political independence, and throwing off the
restraints of the Madras government. Mr. Macpherson
was charged with this mission, and accredited by a letter
to the Duke of Graf ton, which gained little for his patron,
but a Madras writership for his young agent. Soon after his
arrival at the Presidency he obtained one of the most
lucrative appointments in the service, that of military pay-
master, but was expelled ffom it by Lord Pigot, in 1776, on
the ground that he was still a partisan of the Nabob. With
his usual sagacity, he persuaded the Nabob to make his will,
and appoint the king of England his executor and the


guardian of his children an office which was most in-
judiciously accepted. Mr. Macpherson, who returned to
England as the representative of the Nabob, with a full
purse, was not long in obtaining a seat in Parliament, and
made himself so useful to the Minister by his eloquent pen
and his servile vote, as to obtain the appointment of second
member of Council at Calcutta. The war with the Mahrattas
and Hyder had produced the same effect on the finances of
India as the war which England had been waging with the
North American colonies produced on her finances. Troops
to the number of 70,000 had been maintained for several
years in provinces the most remote from each other, and a
debt had been accumulated to the extent of six crores of
rupees. The army and civil establishments were fifty lacs of
rupees in arrears, and the whole machinery of government
was in a state of disorder. Mr. Macpherson applied himself
with great energy to financial reform, and effected reductions
exceeding a crore of rupees. He received thanks from the
Court of Directors, and a baronetcy from the Crown ; but it
is not to be concealed that his two successors, Lord Cornwallis
and Sir John Shore, considered his pretensions to economy,
except with regard to the reduction of salaries, a mere
delusion, and his whole administration a failure.
"wars between The treat J of Mangalore left Tippoo with

o, the unimpaired resources, and augmented his ar-

Mahrattas, and m , . , i j i i

the Nizam, rogance. The ink was scarcely dry, when he
1786. wrote to his French allies at Pondicherry that

he was only waiting for an opportunity of crushing the
Nizam and the Mahrattas, and exterminating the English.
His first act after the pacification was to seize 30,000 native
Christians on the Malabar coast, and cause them to be circum-
cised. The Hindoos south of the Kistna were treated with
the same violence, and 2,000 brahmins destroyed themselves
to avoid the indignity. Of the population of Coorg, 70,000
of all ages and both sexes were ruthlessly driven off to
Seringapatam. Tippoo then proceeded to demand the cession


of Beejapore from the Nizam, on some frivolous pretext, and
attacked the Mahratta garrison of Nurgoond, of which he
obtained possession by an act of perfidy. Nana Furnuvese,
finding Tippoo a more dangerous neighbour than his father
had been, proceeded to form an alliance with the Nizam early
in 1786, for the conquest and partition of his whole territory.
The allied army opened the campaign on the 1st of May, by
the siege of Badamee, which surrendered before the end of
the month. After various assaults and repulses, which
generally terminated to the advantage of Tippoo, he brought
this campaign of nine months to an unexpected termination
by a voluntary offer of peace. A treaty was accordingly con-
cluded between the belligerents in April, 1787, by which
Tippoo engaged to pay forty -five lacs of rupees of tribute,
and to surrender many of the places he had captured. This
sudden change of policy was subsequently explained by the
great efficiency given to the military establishments of the
Company by the new Governor- General, Lord Cornwallie, and
which led Tippoo to suppose that the English were about to
take part in the war against him.

Lord Macarteny Lord Macartney, who had taken Calcutta on
offered the h} s way to England, was detained there by severe

Governor- .

Generalship, illness, and was agreeably surprised on his re-
covery to receive the unsolicited offer of the
Governor-Generalship, as a token of the estimation in which
his services were held by Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas. Instead,
however, of accepting the appointment, and taking the oaths
and his seat in Council, he postponed the acceptance of it
till he had an opportunity of conferring with the Ministry on
the additional powers which he deemed necessary to impart
dignity and efficiency to the office. He embarked therefore
for England, and on his arrival submitted his views, which
were in every respect judicious, to the Court of Directors
and to the Prime Minister, by whom they were entertained
with great complacency. But all his prospects were at once
blighted when he proceeded farther to solicit such token of


the royal favour as should demonstrate that he entered upon
this responsible office with the entire confidence of the
Ministers of the Crown, as well as of the Court of Directors.
The request was not only in itself reasonable, but essential
to the efficiency and vigour of the government. It was the ab-
sence of this support which had subjected the administration
of Hastings to the greatest embarrassment. But Mr. Dundas,
who had sustained the nomination of Lord Macarteny against
a violent opposition in the Cabinet, took umbrage that " he
did not rather repose his future fortunes in our hands than
make it the subject of a sine qua non preliminary." Within
three days of the receipt of this request, Lord Cornwallis
was gazetted Governor-General of India.

The government of the Company's affairs in

Change in the J

system of India had hitherto been entrusted to one of their

government. ,-, -, ,-, , -, ,

own servants, on the ground that local experience
was the most important qualification for the office. But this
principle of selection, though well suited to the requirements
of a factory, was ill adapted to the government of an empire.
The advantage arising from this knowledge of the country
and the people, however great, was found to be over-balanced
by the trammels of local associations, and the difficulty of
exercising due control over those who had previously been
in the position of equals. The transcendant ability of
Hastings himself had been too often neutralized by these
connections, and he had been obliged to meet the cabals and
intrigues which beset him in the Council chamber by com-
promises, which weakened the authority of government, and
strengthened abuses. These considerations induced the
Ministry to place the government in the hands of a noble-
man of elevated rank and high character, and unfettered by
any local ties. The choice fell on Lord Cornwallis, who had
filled several posts of importance, both military and diplomatic,
and who stood so high in the estimation of the country that
even the surrender of a British army to Washington at York-
town, which decided the question of American independence,


had not shaken his credit. It was within eight months of
that disaster, that his name was mentioned by Mr. Dundas,
in reference to the future government of India, and was
received with great satisfaction by both parties in the House
of Commons, who united in paying homage to his talents.
He was appointed Governor-General in February, 1786, and
reached Calcutta in the month of September. Thus, by the
singular caprice of circumstances, the man who had lost
America was sent out to govern India, and the man who had
saved India was subjected to a prosecution for high crimes
and misdemeanours. Lord Cornwallis's government com-
menced under the happiest auspices. He enjoyed the entire
confidence of Mr. Pitt, and, more especially, of Mr. Dundas,
the Indian Minister, who remarked in one of his letters, that
they " never before had a government in India and in
England acting in perfect harmony, on principles of perfect
purity and independence." The spirit of insubordination and
faction which had deranged Hastings's administration was
at once subdued by the dignity and firmness of Lord Corn-
wallis's character, and the current of public business began
to run smoothly, as soon as he assumed the charge of it.
_ . . The first three years of his administration were

Correction of *

abuses, devoted to the correction of abuses, to which it is

necessary to advert more particularly, to indicate
the progress of integrity in the public service. The Court of
of Directors still continued to act on the old and vicious prin-
ciple of " small salaries and large perquisites." The salaries
came from their own treasury, which they guarded with the
parsimony of a miser, the perquisites came from the people,
and excited little observation, though they served to vitiate
the whole system of government. Every man who returned
to England rich was considered a rogue, and every man who
came home poor was set down as a fool. Hastings made
some effort to correct these abuses, but he had not sufficient
official strength to stem the tide, and he was often obliged to
allay opposition by the bribe of places and emoluments. The


Court of Directors nominated their friends and relatives to
the most lucrative appointments in India, and the connection
thus established between the patrons in Leadenhall-street,
and the nominees in India, was too often fatal to the
authority of the Governor-General. Lord Cornwallis was
determined to put an end to this practice, but his .efforts were
not successful until he threatened, if it was persisted in, to
resign the government, "that he might preserve his own
character, and avoid witnessing the ruin of the national

instances of Lord Cornwallis found the system of official
abuse, 1786. depredation in full bloom. The sub-treasurer was,
as he remarked, playing with the deposits ; that is, lending
out lacs upon lacs of the public money, at twelve per cent,
interest. The Commander-in-Chief had given two of his
favourites the profitable privilege of raising two regiments,
which Lord Cornwallis ordered to be disbanded soon after his
arrival. The two commandants immediately demanded com-
pensation, but after the most diligent inquiry, it could not
be discovered that either of the regiments had ever existed,
except on the paymaster's books. The collectors of the
revenue were still engaged in trade, in the name of some
friend or relative, and as they were also judges and magis-
trates, and possessed of irresistible influence in their districts,
they were enabled to amass enormous fortunes ; and one of
them did not hesitate to admit, that his emoluments exceeded
his salary more than twenty fold. The raja of Benares is
described by Lord Cornwallis as a fool, and his servants as
knaves, and the Resident, supreme in power, monopolized the
commerce of the province, and realized four lacs a year,
though his regular allowance did not exceed 1,000 rupees
a month. It was the old process, so well understood in the
east, of turning power into money, which now gave fortunes
to a new race of conquerors, as it had enriched the Afghan,
the Tartar, the Mogul, and the Abysinian conquerors, who
preceded them. There was, however, this material difference


in the two cases ; the Asiatic invader settled in the country,
and his acquisitions were expended in it, while the European
transported his gains to his own country, and was seen no
more. The fortunes thus imported into England will not, it
is true, bear any comparison with those which have been
subsequently realized in manufactures and railroads. With
one exception, there were not a dozen of the Company's ser-
vants, from first to last, who took home so large a sum as
forty lacs of rupees, but, for the time, their wealth was con-
sidered prodigious; and serious apprehensions were entertained
by many in England, that eastern gold would undermine its
constitution. But it is the peculiar merit of the British ad-
ministration in India, that it has succeeded in surmounting
these abuses, under which previous dynasties had perished,
and that, instead of becoming more corrupt with the progress
of time, it has worked itself pure, and now presents a model
of official integrity, which has, perhaps, no parallel in the
The salaries of To ^ e * as ^ ^ re ^ orm Lord Cornwallis applied

the public himself with the greatest assiduity. He hunted
augmented, out frauds in every department, and abolished
jobbing agencies, and contracts and sinecures.
His greatest difficulty arose from the importunity of men of
power and influence in England who had been in the habit of
quartering their friends and kindred, and even their victims
at the gambling-table, on the revenues of India. But the
Governor-General was inexorable, and he had the courage
to decline the recommendations of the Prince of Wales him-
self, afterwards George the Fourth, who, as he remarked,
" was always pressing some infamous and unjustifiable job
on him." These reforms, however, were not consummated
till he had convinced the Court of Directors of the truth,
which Clive and Hastings had in vain pressed on them, that
" it was not good economy to put men into places of the
greatest confidence, where they have it in their power to
make their fortunes in a few months, without giving them



adequate salaries." The Court parted with the traditionary
policy of two centuries with great reluctance ; but Lord Corn-
wallis at length succeeded in " annexing liberal salaries to
these offices, and in giving gentlemen a prospect of acquiring,
by economy, a moderate fortune from the savings of their

On the arrival of Lord Cornwallis, the Vizier


with oude. hastened to send his minister to Calcutta, to
renew the request to be relieved from the expense
of the British troops stationed in his dominions. But the
rapid encroachments of Sindia in Hindostan, and the growing
power of the Sikhs, convinced the Governor-General that the
brigade could not be withdrawn from Futtygur without great
risk. He consented, however, to reduce the demand on the
treasury of Lucknow for their support, from seventy-four
to fifty lacs of rupees a year, provided it was paid with punc-
tuality. The higher sum had never been realised, and the
Company lost nothing by the arrangement, while the defence
of Oude from foreign invasion, was provided for at a charge
of less than a fourth of its entire revenue. The Vizier was,
at the same time, relieved from the pressure of the European
harpies who had long been preying on him, and of the mono-
polies they had inflicted on his country, under the influence
of British supremacy. He was likewise exonerated from the
payment of ten lacs of rupees a year, which had been allotted
by Hastings for the office of the private agent of the Gover-
nor-General at the durbar, Major Palmer, of which his own
share amounted to two lacs. Lord Cornwallis also conferred
an inestimable boon on Oude by peremptorily refusing to
recognize the claims of any of the private creditors of the
Vizier, and thus rescued that kingdom from the fate of the
Carnatic. But he could not fail to perceive the glaring abuses
of the government, in which the Vizier took no further
interest than to give the sanction of his authority to the
acts of his servants, when they could prevail on him which
was rarely the case to look into the affairs of the kingdom.


The Vizier'sonly care was to obtain money for boundless dissi-
pation ; and so the zemindars were allowed to squeeze the
ryots, the ministers squeezed the zemindars, and the Vizier
extorted every rupee he could obtain from his ministers, and
squandered it in cock-fighting and debaucheries, in maintain-
ing a thousand horses in his private stables, which he never
used, and a whole brigade of elephants.
Demand of the Lord Cornwallis, on leaving England, was espe-
Guntoor sirkar, cially enjoined to amalgamate the King's and the
Company's troops, and to secure the possession of
the Guntoor Sirkar. The project of amalgamation was warmly
espoused by the king and supported by his Ministers ; no
efforts, however, were made during the administration of Lord
Cornwallis to carry it into effect, but on his return to England,
after seven years of experience, he earnestly recommended
the adoption of it to Mr. Dundas and the Court of Directors.
The reversion of the Guntoor Sirkar, it will be remembered,
was assigned by the Nizam to the Company by the treaty of
1768, after the death of his brother, Basalut Jung. He died
in 1782, but the Nizam constantly evaded the surrender.
Lord Cornwallis found him in 1786 involved in a war with
Tippoo, and considered it inopportune to press the cession at
the time. But in 1788, the prospect of continued peace with
France, which removed all fear of European interference, and
the aspect of politics in the Deccan, seemed to present a
suitable occasion for making the demand. To obviate every
difficulty, troops were drawn to the frontier, and Captain
Kennaway, the Governor-General's aide-de-camp, was des-
patched to Hyderabad, " to demand the full execution of the
treaty of 1768," with the intimation, that a British force was
prepared to enter Guntoor in a fortnight. To the surprise of
Lord Cornwallis, the Nizam ordered the immediate surrender
of the district without any hesitation, as well as the adjust-
ment of all accounts ; but at the same time he expressed his
confidence that the Company's government would be prepared,
with equal aiacrity, to fulfil the obligations to which they

c 2


were bound by it ; namely, to send two battalions of sepoys
and six pieces of artillery, manned by Europeans, whenever
the Nizam should require them, and to reduce and transfer to
him the province of the Carnatic Balaghaut, " then usurped
by Ilyder Naik." With his usual duplicity, the Nizam sent
an envoy at the same time to Tippoo, to propose an alliance
for the extirpation of the English. Tippoo readily assented
to the proposal, on condition of receiving a daughter of
the Nizam in marriage ; but the Tartar blood of the son of
Chin Kilich Khan boiled at the idea of a matrimonial alliance
with the son of a naik, or head constable, and the negotiation
fell to the ground.

perplexity of Lord Cornwallis was not a little perplexed by
Lord Cornwall!*, this manoeuvre on the part of the Nizam. Since


the treaty of 1768, the British Government had
in two successive treaties acknowledged Hyder and Tippoo
as the lawful sovereigns of the Carnatic Balaghaut. The
Act of 1784 had, moreover, strictly prohibited the formation
of alliances with native princes without sanction from home.
But Lord Cornwallis deemed it important to British interests
to secure the co-operation both of the Nizam and the Peshwa
against the hostile designs of Tippoo, which were daily becom-
ing more palpable. To meet the difficulties of the case, he
addressed a letter to the Nizam, which was avowed to have
the full force of a treaty, though it professed to be simply a
clearer definition of the old compact. In this letter he stated
that if the province in question should at any time come into
the possession of the Company, with the assistance of his
Highness, the stipulation of the treaty would be faithfully
observed. The brigade of British troops, he said, should be
furnished whenever the Nizam applied for its services, but
with the understanding that it was not to be employed
against any power in alliance with the English. A list of
these powers was added to the document, but the name of
Tippoo was omitted. This memorable letter, dated the 7th
of July, 1789, has been considered by some writers of con-


Biderable note, as the cause of the war which broke out with
Tippoo six months after. That an engagement which con-
templated the partition of his dominions, and placed an
English force at the disposal of the Nizam, with liberty to
employ it against him, while he himself was excluded from
the register of British allies, must have given him great
annoyance, will not be denied. But, before the treaty of
Mangalore was a day old, he had assured the French
governor of Pondicherry that he would renew the war with
the English on the first occasion. He had fitted out an
expedition to attack the king of Travancore, an ally of the
English, long before he heard of the letter. It was certain
that whenever he was ready for the struggle, he would neither
want a pretext, nor wait for one. As to the Act of Parliament
intended to isolate us from all the other powers of India,
even the author of it, Mr. Dundas, had begun to consider it
a mistake, and had recently written to Lord Cornwallis that
"an alliance with the Mahrattas of the closest kind was
all that was requisite to keep the whole world in awe
respecting India."

Proceedings of ^he little principality of Travancore, at the
the Madras go- southern extremity of the Malabar coast, had

vernment, 1789. ,

been placed under British protection by the treaty
of Mangalore. Tippoo, who had long coveted the possession
of it, had been for some time assembling a large force in the
vicinity, and the raja, anxious to strengthen the defences of
his kingdom, had recently purchased the towns of Cranganore
and Ayacottah of the Dutch. Tippoo immediately demanded
the surrender of them on the plea that that they belonged to
his vassal, the chief of Cochin. The raja refused to resign
them, and applied to the British authorities for support.
Lord Cornwallis directed the President at Madras to inform
both Tippoo and the raja that if the Dutch had held in-
dependent and unreserved possession of them, he was in-
structed to assist the raja in maintaining and defending them.
Unfortunate as Madras had been in its Presidents for a long


series of years, Mr. Holland, who now occupied the chair, ap-
pears to have been the very worst of the lot. He not only with-
held this communication from Tippoo, but sent a disheartening
letter to the raja, and, at the same time, demanded a lac of
pagodas for himself, as the condition of aiding him with a
British detachment. To promote this profligate negotiation,
he kept the army in such a state of inefficiency as to encourage
Tippoo's aggression. Holland was deeply implicated in all
the criminality of the Nabob's loans, and, although he had
been ordered to suspend all payments to the creditors as
soon as there was any probability of a war with Tippoo, he
chose to continue these disbursements, allowed the pay of the
troops to fall into arrears, and neglected to make any
preparation for the impending war.

Tippoo attacks Emboldened by this negligence, Tippoo suddenly
28tli December Stacked the " lines of Travancore," consisting of
1789. the defensive wall which the raja had erected ;

but after a severe action was repulsed with disgrace, and
with the loss of 2,000 men. He immediately ordered down
a battering train from Seringapatam, and reinforcements
from every quarter. Even the detachments employed in
dragooning " the infidels of Malabar," who refused circum-

Online LibraryJohn Clark MarshmanThe history of India, from the earliest period to the close of Lord Dalhousie's administration / by John Clark Marshman (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 38)