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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Sir John Shore was strongly advised by the minister and
the nobles to anticipate the designs of Vizier Ah', and seize


him in the city, but he felt that the firing- of a single shot
might lead to the massacre of thousands. In the midst
of these dangers, his escape from which was pronounced
by his successor in the government to be miraculous, he
maintained the utmost calmness and composure, and his con-
duct throughout this transaction exhibited a pattern of courage
and resolution.

SadutAUin- Sadut Ali at length reached Cawnpore, and
stalled, 1798. was escorted from thence to Lucknow, a distance
of 50 miles, by a large British force, and all the embarrass-
ments of Sir John Shore at once terminated. Vizier Ali was
deserted by his servants and followers as Sadut Ali ap-
proached the city, in which he was proclaimed Nabob Vizier
on the 21st of January, 1798. Vizier Ali was removed to
Benares, where he resided some time on his pension of a lac
and a half of rupees a year, cherishing the most inveterate
feelings towards the English Government. The revolution
was hailed by Europeans and natives as an act of justice, and
the general feeling in Oude was that " the right had come to
the rightful." The Court of Directors recorded that "in
circumstances of great delicacy and embarrassment, Sir John
Shore had conducted himself with great temper, ability, and
firmness." Dr. Lawrence, a friend of Mr. Burke's and one of
the managers of the impeachment of Hastings, threatened
Sir John with an indictment for his proceedings in Oude, but
it was never carried into execution; and the impartial voice of
posterity has paid homage to the honesty, the wisdom, and the
vigour manifested by him on this occasion. Immediately
after Saadut Ali had been placed on the throne, Sir John
Shore, who had been created Lord Teignmouth, returned to
Calcutta, and embarked for England on the 25th of March,



MYSORE WAR, 1798, 1799.

Lord weUesiey, g 1R JOHN SHORE was succeeded in the govern-
Generai, 1798, ment of India by Lord Mornington, subsequently
created Marquess of Wellesley, then in his thirty-
eighth year. He was born in Ireland in 1760, and placed at an
early age at Eton, where he became one of its most distin-
guished scholars. On coming of age he took his seat in the Irish
House of Peers, and engaged in the most important debates
of the time. Soon after, he was elected a member of the British
House of Commons, and was brought into communion with the
great men of genius who then adorned the senate, and who
have shed an imperishable lustre on that period of English
history. At the age of twenty-six he was nominated one of
the Lords of the Treasury. In January, 1794, he delivered a
brilliant speech against French jacobinism, which stamped him
as one of the rising men of the day, and was supposed to have
mainly conduced to his Indian appointment. He had likewise
enjoyed the advantage of a seat at the Board of Control for
four years, which gave him a comprehensive knowledge of the
politics of India. He was, moreover, the intimate friend of
Mr. Pitt, the prime minister, and possessed the confidence of
Mr. Dundas, the President of the Board of Control, an asso-
ciation of inestimable value to a Governor-General. He em-
barked for India in November, 1797, and landed at the Cape
in February, 1798, where he found Lord Macartney, who had
been Governor of Madras during the second Mysore War, as
well as Lord Hobart, who had recently been recalled from that
post, and was thus put in possession of their views regarding
British interests in the Deccan. At the Cape he also met with
Major Kirkpatrick, formerly minister at Sindia's court, and
latterly the Resident at Hyderabad, and obtained from him the



most important information respecting the strength of the
various native powers, and the objects of their policy. While
Lord Wellesley we anticipate his superior title was de-
tained at the Cape, a vessel from Calcutta touched there, with
the despatches of the Government to the Court of Directors,
which he did not hesitate to open, that he might obtain the
latest intelligence of the actual position of affairs in the em-
pire he was going out to govern. With the information derived
from these various sources, he composed his first despatch
to Mr. Dundas, embodying his own views of the course of
policy which it was advisable to pursue. This letter afforded
the clearest evidence of his extraordinary genius for govern-

After the humiliation of Tippoo, in 1792, the

Extinction of . . ,

the balance of Indian authorities in London had been encouraged
power, 1798. by Lord c omw allis to believe that the security of
the Company's interests depended on that balance of power
which he had established among the princes of the Deccan,
and which he considered both stable and permanent. But the
first survey which Lord Wellesley was enabled to take of the
country powers convinced him that a greater fallacy had never
been harboured in Leadenhall-street. There never had, in fact,
been, and, considering the policy of the native courts, there
never could be, anything like a real balance of power in India.
With the princes of India, rapine and conquest had been from
time immemorial the only avowed principle ol action. War
was considered the chief source of glory ; it was sanctioned
by the ordinances of religion, both Hindoo and Mahomedan ;
it was prosecuted without any pretext or semblance of justice,
and restrained only by the power of resistance. The Court of
Directors, trusting to this imaginary safeguard, had prohibited
all alliances with the native princes, and all interference in
their affairs. Sir John Shore was determined to carry out
their system with conscientious fidelity ; but, before he had
been eighteen months in office, he saw the whole fabric of the
balance of power crumble to pieces before his eyes. At the


battle of Kurdla, the Peshwa and the other Mahratta princes
completely demolished the power of the Nizam, while Sir John
Shore looked on, and refused him the aid even of the British
battalion which was in his pay. Soon after, the Peshwa was,
in his turn, reduced to extremity by the encroachments of
Sindia, and implored the protection of the Governor-General.
It was refused from a servile deference to the orders of the
Court of Directors, and the power of the Peshwa was reduced
to the same state of prostration as that of the Nizam. The
balance of power in the Deccan was thus irretrievably des-
stroyed. The British Government became the object of de-
rision to the princes of India, who were fain to conclude that
it contained the same elements of decay as all Asiatic so-
vereignties, and that the energy which had raised it to the
summit of power was now exhausted. " Its moon," they said,
"was already in the wane ;" and a brief prolongation of Sir
John Shore's feeble administration would have brought the
British empire in India to the brink of destruction.
state of India, To estimate the ; difficulties of Lord Wellesley's
position on assuming the government, it is only
necessary to glance at the state of the chief native powers.
In the south, Tippoo was brooding over his misfortunes and
thirsting for an opportunity of gratifying his hostility to the
English, the ruling passion of his life. The five years of peace
he had enjoyed were assiduously devoted to the improvement
of his resources. Though deprived by Lord Cornwallis of
half his dominions, he was still able to maintain a formidable
army in a state of the highest efficiency. He had entertained
a body of French officers, and, as the anxiety of Francs to re-
gain her former power in India had revived with the ambition
of the Revolution, he expected material assistance from a
French alliance. The Nizam, finding the assistance of the
British regiment he subsidised denied him by Sir John Shore
in the hour of his utmost need, had increased the strength of
his French battalions, under Raymond, to 14,OuO men and 36
field pieces, and assigned districts yielding eighteen lacs of

G 2


rupees for their support. They constituted the only military
force of any importance in his dominions, and were gradually
assuming 1 the authority and tone natural to such a position.
They carried the colours of the French republic, then at war
with England, and wore the cap of liberty on their buttons.
Sindia, who was supreme at Poona, had likewise obtained pos-
session of the person of the emperor at Delhi, and was
strengthened by all the influence still connected with the
Mogul throne. His territory in the Deccan extended to the
banks of the Toombudra, and skirted the frontiers of the
Nizam and the Peshwa, while in the north his possessions
abutted on those of the Company and the Nabob of Oude.
The French battalions raised by De Boigne, he had augmented
to 40,000 men, with 464 guns, and assigned an entire province
for their maintenance. The organization of this force included
all the requirements of war, fortresses, arsenals, founderies,
and depots, and it was in no respects inferior to the British
army in Hindostan. To add to Lord Wellesley's embarrass-
ments, the European officers of the Company were in a state
of complete insubordination, the spirit of the community was
depressed by the visible weakness of the Government, and
public credit was at so low an ebb that it was not possible to
obtain money under twelve per cent. Lord Cornwallis had
bequeathed a surplus revenue of a hundred and eighty-five
lacs of rupees a-year to his successor, but under Sir John
Shore's administration it had dwindled down, year after year,
without any war expenditure, and for the first time in the
history of British India peace had created a deficit.
_ .. ... Lord Wellesley landed in Calcutta on the 17th

The Mauritius _ _ >

proclamation, May, and within three weeks was startled by the
appearance in one of the Calcutta journals of a
proclamation issued by General Malartic, the Governor of the
Mauritius. It stated that two envoys had arrived in the
island from Tippoo Sultan with despatches for the Government
in Paris, proposing an alliance offensive and defensive, and re-
questing a body of troops without delay to assist him in ex-


pelling the English from India, and it invited volunteers to
enrol themselves under the Sultan's colours. The document
was at first deemed spurious, as it was difficult to suppose
that Tippoo would thus publicly proclaim his hostile inten-
tions, and prepare the British Government to defeat them ;
but the receipt of a second copy of it from the Cape dispelled
every doubt. Soon after, it was announced that a French
frigate at the Mauritius had taken on board about a hundred
men, including civil and military officers, and landed them at
Mangalore, on the Malabar coast, after capturing two East-
Indiamen on the route. On reaching the capital, the French
officers organised a Jacobin club under the auspices of the
Sultan, whom they dignified with the title of Citizen Tippoo.
The tree of liberty was planted with due ceremonials, and
surmounted with the cap of equality ; the emblems of royalty
were burned, and the French republic, one and indivisible, was
consecrated on the public parade.

The Coast army Lord Wellesley determined to anticipate the
ordered to ^ designs of Tippoo, and directed General Hams,
' the officiating Governor of Madras, to assemble
the Coast army to march directly on Serin gapatam. At the
same time, he called on the Nizam and the Peshwa, the
signataries of the treaty of Seringapatam, to furnish their
quota of troops in accordance with the 12th article. The
Presidency of Madras was thunderstruck at this daring pro-
ject. General Harris trembled to commit the Government in
so hazardous a conflict, and cautioned the Governor-General
against the error of putting any trust in these dilatory and
timid native allies, the only advantage of enlisting whose
services was to prevent their being transferred to the enemy.
Even the governing spirit of Madras, Mr. Webbe, a young
civilian of thirty-one, of whom the Duke of Wellington, then
General Wellesley, affirmed that he was one of the ablest men
lie ever knew, and, withal, the most honest, was appalled at
such an enterprize. He had a lively dread of the Mysore
power, which had, within memory, annihilated JBaillie's detach-


ment, devastated the Carnatic, and burned the suburbs of
Madras. In a very elaborate state paper, he enumerated all
the dangers and disasters which had attended our former wars
with Hyder and Tippoo. In 1791, Lord Cornwallis, he said,
took the field with an army completely equipped, but had failed
to reach Seringapatam. At present, the entire disposable
force of the Presidency did not exceed 8,000 men, and they
were without draft cattle, supplies, or commissariat. Thi&
army, far from being in a condition to march upon the enemy's
capital, was unequal even to the defence of the Company's
territories, if Tippoo should think fit to invade them, which he
would not fail to do when he heard of our preparations. The
treasury, moreover, was bankrupt ; the public debt had in-
creased in eight years from seventeen to fifty lacs of pagodas,
and the twelve per cent, paper was at a discount of five per
cent. On the other hand, Tippoo numbered 60,000 troops, a
large portion of whom consisted of the celebrated Mysore
horse. His infantry was, in part, disciplined by French
officers. He possessed 144 field-pieces, a rocket brigade, a
long train of elephants, and a superb muster of carriage and
draft cattle. Any movement of troops which might give um-
brage to Tippoo could only end in fearful disasters, and in
the impeachment of Lord Wellesley. These representations,
however, instead of deterring him from his purpose, only
served to demonstrate more clearly the imperative necessity
of extricating the affairs of the Company from this perilous
position. If, he^argued, we were not strong enough to repel
the assaults of Tippoo, he was virtually master of the Deccan,
and there could be no real security as long as it depended
simply on the moderation of an inveterate foe. Though con-
strained, therefore, from the weakness of the Madras Presi-
dency, to fold up the idea of striking an immediate blow at
Tippoo's power, he issued peremptory orders for the equipment
of the army, and threatened with his severest displeasure, and
in his most imperious style, those who "presumed to thwart
him, and arrogated to themselves the power of governing the


empire committed to his charge." Meanwhile, he called on
Tippoo to disavow his embassy to the Mauritius.

The state of affairs at Hyderabad demanded the

Lord Wellesley's

vigorous policy, immediate attention of the Governor- General.
Raymond, who organized the French force of the
Nizam, had died in the spring of the year. His successor,
Piron, who was considered an abler soldier, was animated by
a stronger feeling of Jacobinical hatred to England. Lord
Wellesley felt that in the approaching conflict with Tippoo,
he could not take this body of troops into the field as a part
of the Nizam's contingent, without the hazard of their joining
the Sultan, with whose French officers they were in constant
communication. To leave them behind without a large force
to watch their movements, appeared equally dangerous. The
French force at Hyderabad was, moreover, the nucleus of the
power which France was endeavouring to establish in the
Deccan. The junction of this body with the French troops hi
Mysore, and those in the service of Sindia, might at any time
extinguish the power of the Nizam and the Peshwa, and
enable the French to bring the resources of the Deccan and
of Hindostan to bear on the dominions of the Company. The
extinction of the French army at Hyderabad was, therefore,
an object of the first importance. At this critical juncture,
Lord Wellesley received a letter from Zemaun Shah, announc-
ing his intention to cross the Indus and invade Hindostan,
and demanding the assistance of the English Government to
drive the Mahrattas back into the Deccan. Zemaun Shah
was the grandson of the renowned Ahmed Shah Abdalee,
whose victory at Paniput, forty years before, was still
remembered with a feeling of terror throughout India. The
intrinsic weakness of his power had not then been discovered,
and another Abdalee invasion could not be contemplated
without alarm. Lord Wellesley was thus menaced with
dangers in every direction, but he never feared the bugbear of
responsibility, and he determined to carry out the plans he
had formed for the protection of the empire, without waiting


for the sanction of the Court of Directors or the Board of
Control. He found that the Company had not augmented their
security, by curtailing- their influence, but had drifted into a
position where it was less perilous to advance than to stand
still or to recede. He resolved at once to terminate that policy
of isolation which had been erroneously considered the safe-
guard of British power, and to abandon the system of non-
interference which was held sacred in Leadenhall-street.
"Within three months after he had taken his seat at the
Council board, active negotiations were commenced through
the country ; every durbar from Cape Comorin to the banks
of the Jumna was electrified by the revival of that energy
which was supposed to be extinct, and the princes of India
soon felt that the spirit of Clive and of Hastings again
animated the Government of Calcutta.

Lord Wellesley's first negotiation was with the

Proposed alii- *

ance with the court of Hyderabad. The minister, Musheer-ool-
Nizam, i/98. jnyoii^ more commonly designated Meer Allum,
fell into the hands of the Mahrattas at the battle of Kurdla,
and was kept in confinement, in order to deprive his master of
the benefit of his great abilities. He had recently obtained his
liberty, and resumed the management of the Nizam's affairs.
Alarmed at the ascendency which the French officers had
acquired during his captivity, and disgusted at their arrogance,
he had resumed the lands allotted for their maintenance, and
had repeatedly proposed to the Company's Resident that an
English subsidiary force should be substituted for the French
battalions. The proposal was refused by Sir John Shore, but
Lord Wellesley now eagerly embraced it, and offered to
augment the corps of British troops in the Nizam's pay to
6,000, with a proper complement of artillery, on condition that
a provision of twenty-four lacs of rupees a-year should be
made for their support, and that the French force should be
promptly disbanded. He likewise offered his mediation on all
matters in dispute with the Peshwa, and engaged to protect
the state from his unjust claims. The Nizam, then in his


sixty-fifth year, more feeble in body and in mind than his
illustrious father at the age of a hundred, manifested consider-
able repugnance to so close an alliance with a power which,
since he ascended the throne, had risen to be the most formid-
able in India. The minister himself was not insensible of the
danger which might be incurred by this connection ; but he
argued that the Hyderabad state was utterly defenceless, and
that it was more advisable to be dependent on a power dis-
tinguished by good faith than to remain exposed to the
ambitious views of Tippoo on the one hand, and the insatiable
rapacity of the Mahrattas on the other. The influence of the
minister was paramount, and the reluctant consent of the
Nizam was at length obtained to the treaty.
Proposal to the The proposal of a similar alliance was likewise
Peshwa, 1798. ma( j e to the Peshwa, Bajee Rao. In the preced-
ing year, he had solicited the aid of a British force to protect
him from the designs of Sindia, who had fixed his head-
quarters near Poona, but Sir John Shore, in deference to the
policy then in the ascendant at the India House, had refused
to comply with his wishes, and the opportunity of establishing
an influence at the Mahratta court was lost. Bajee Eao
then entered into negotiations with the Nizam, and con-
cluded an alliance with him, ceding territory valued at
eight lacs of rupees a-year, as the price of his assistance
against Sindia. Sindia avenged himself by despatching
envoys to Tippoo, to invite him to attack the Nizam, and
by releasing the great minister, Nana Furnuvese, whom the
Peshwa feared as much as he detested. On the Nana's
arrival at Poona, a strong feeling of mistrust of the Peshwa
led him to decline all connection with public affairs. The
Peshwa, therefore, repaired to his residence ia the dead of
night, with only a single domestic, and employed all those
insinuating arts of which he was so perfect a master, laid his
head at the feet of the Nana, swore to consider him in future
as his father and his counsellor, and, in a flood of teara, con-
jured him not to abandon the brahmin sovereignty, but to


assume the office of minister. The appeal was successful;
but the Nana had no sooner entered on his duties, than the
Peshwa began to plot his destruction, and urged Sindia to
place him again in confinement. The minister discovered the
intrigue, and repairing to the palace, upbraided Bajee Rao
with his unparalleled treachery, and begged him to cease
plotting against the liberty and life of an old man, but to
allow him to retire into obscurity. The Peshwa protested his
innocence, threw the blame on his officers, and persuaded the
Nana to resume his post. It was at this period that the
Resident brought forward the proposition which he was
instructed by Lord Wellesley to make, of a subsidiary alliance
to liberate the Peshwa from the thraldom of Sindia. It pro-
vided that a large British force should be received into the
s'ervice of the Peshwa, and due arrangements made for their
support ; that the French should be for ever excluded from
his dominions ; and that all differences with the Nizam and
Sindia should be submitted to the arbitration of the British
Government. It has been supposed that the eagerness mani-
fested on this occasion by the Governor- General tended to
defeat his object. But Bajee Rao had no desire for the final
settlement of such claims, which had been the source of
Mahratta greatness, and which it was the national policy
never to close. The alliance proposed by Lord Wellesley was
designated by him >a restoration of the Peshwa to his due
authority and power, but he and the other princes to whom
the offer was made were too astute not to perceive that it
involved the complete extinction of their political independence
and of their military power. The Peshwa would, it is true, have
been relieved from the domination of Sindia, but it would only
have been a change of collars, the substitution of one which
he could never shake off, for another which, however galling,
might yet be temporary. It is not surprising that princes
with whom independence had a charm, the value of which was
often enhanced by its risks, should have been loth to part
with it. The Peshwa, therefore, acting upon the advice of


Nana Furnuvese, evaded the proposal of an alliance, but
assured the Eesident that he would faithfully observe the
engagements of the triple alliance. A large Mahratta force
was ostensibly ordered to assemble and join the expedition
which the Governor-General was fitting out against Tippoo,
but it was never intended to act, and the Mahrattas took no
part in the campaign.
- T .. .. While these negotiations were in progress at

Negotiations *

with smdia and Poona, Colonel Collins, the Resident at the court
of Sindia, was instructed to lay before him the
letter of Zemaun Shah, requesting the co-operation of the
British Government in driving the Mahrattas from Hindo-
stan, liberating the emperor from bondage, and restoring him
to the throne. The Resident was instructed to assure Sindia
that the Governor-General was determined to resist this
attempt to disturb the established states of India in their
actual possessions, and to invite him to unite in a defensive
league against the Abdalee. Sindia was also urged to quit

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 8 of 38)