Mountstuart Elphinstone.

Selections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir online

. (page 11 of 41)
Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 11 of 41)
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^^^^" Gokhles had been sent against them by the
Peshwa, and that I expected soon to hear of their dis-
persion. His Higlmess's detachment, however, instead
of dispersing the rebels has quietly sat down in the
midst of the tract throughout which they are dispersed,
and the commander has reported that there are no
rebels in that part of the country. This language is
re-echoed by the Peshwa, who says that he can obtain
no intelligence of any assemblage of troops within his
territories ; and that, anxious as he is to act against
them, he must depend on me for finding them out.

' 2. The insurrection thereof has now changed its
character, and appears as an attempt of Trimbakji's
to recover his power, by carrying on war against the
British Government under the protection of his High-
ness the Peshwa. As these facts can scarcely fail to
lead to important consequences, it becomes necessary
to show the grounds from which I derive my conviction
of them.

'3. It is proper, in the first place, to show my reasons
for ascertaining tliat there are assemblages of troops in
the neighbourhood of Mahadeo, which is denied by his
Highness. I shall at the same time show that they
are headed by Trimbakji. The simple fact of such
assemblages, in a veiy frequented part of the Peshwa's
countiy, and within fifty miles of his own residence,
will of itself establish that his Highness is acquainted
with the proceeding, and his long connivance and sub-


sequent denial of the existence of it, together with his
refusal to act against the troops assembled, will pro-
bably be thought a sufficient proof that the design for
which they have collected is approved by his Highness.
' 4. Early in last January I received intelligence that
Trimbakji was at Phultan, in which neighbourhood he
appeared to have already passed some time during the
months of January and February. I heard from numerous
sources that he was in that part of the country, con-
stantly changing his residence between Phultan on the
west and Pandharpur on the east, extending his range
as far as the forts of Saltore and Mymungar on the
south. On the 15th January, the news-writer at
Narsingpur announces a rumour that some insurgents
are collecting; he confirms this report on the 18th,
and specifies that 25 horsemen and 100 foot had as-
sembled between Sirsatwarre and Mahadeo, under a
Maratta Sardar, and that another body w^as at Puran-
dhar, about twenty miles to the east of the last village.
On the 20tli tlie same writer mentions another party
at Mymungar, and adds a rumour that all are to unite
under Trimbakji Dengle. On the 24th he writes
that the party at Sirsatwarre has moved to Natepota
and Burrud, north of Mahadeo, and that those at
Purandhar have encamped between Mahadeo and
Mymungar. On the 2Gth he announces that more
troops are collecting, and on the 29tli he gives the
following account of the disposition of the whole :

' Near Nate Potta and Burnul - - - 500

Near Mahadeo - - - - - 300

Near Mymungar - - - - 600

Near Phultan - - - - - 400

Total, 1,800

Almost the whole of these were foot, and the bulk cf
them Miinug and Piamoshis (low and lawless castes like



Bhils). x\t this time I doubted whether the troops
assembled were under Trimbakji ; or, if they were, for
Avhat purpose such a gang coukl be designed.

' 5. From this time till the 18th February, the
news-writer continues to report the accession of fresh
bodies of infantry to the insurgents, and likewise the
commencement of measures for collecting cavalry. He
also represents that one of his Harkaras, who was sent
for intelligence, had been cut off by the insurgents, and
that he himself was in such danger that he had been
obliged to take refuge in a fortified house belonging to
Sadashiv Mankeshvar. On the 18th February he writes,
that bodies of horse, in parties of from ten to twenty,
are moving from all points to join the insurgents at
Mahadeo ; that the whole country is full of Trimbakji's
spies, and that dreadful examples are made of all persons
who talk of the preparations of the insurgents. On the
19th he reports the same intelligence, and gives a
copy of a paper inviting the services of a particular
chief and his troops, and promising a specific rate of
pay. Similar papers, he says, are circulated in great
numbers. On the 22nd he says, nobody now hesitates
to speak of the insurrection, or to say that Trimbakji
is at the head of it. He also mentions that the 18th
of March is the day fixed for the breaking out of the

' G. Early in February the news-writers and intelli-
gencers at Puna began to communicate intelligence
similar to that received from Narsingpur, and by the
middle of the month a full confirmation of it was
received from two Brahmins, who were sent separately
to Mahadeo to collect information. The post-office
writer at Jewoor (forty miles from Mahadeo, and about
the same distance from Narsingpur) also wrote about
the 17th that Trimbakji was at Burrud assembling


horse, aud that he had got 1,500 into the neighbour-
liood of Maliadeo. All accounts concurred m repre-
senting Trimbakji's vigilance to be very great, and
the difficulty of passing through his haunts aud those
of his adherents to be extreme.

* 7. On the 24th a person of some consequence, long
connected with the British Government, brought to me
a Mahratta chief of a village who had actually enlisted
in Trimbakji's service with twenty horse. He said
that Trimbakji lived in the jungle apart from his
horse, and that he had about 500 Ramoshis at some
distance round his person; that he had got from '2,000
to 3,000 horse in different villages near his retreat,
under the command of his father-in-law, Rewie Raw
Sindia ; that he had many others engaged in his
service who were still at their villages, and he parti-
cularly mentioned different chiefs of horse in his own
neighbourhood, which is on the Nizam's border beyond
the River Bhima. He said Trimbakji had given him
a small advance of pay, and desired him to remain
quiet until after the Holi * (the last day of which was
the 7th instant), after which he promised him two
months' pay at 40 or 50 rupees a month, according to
the goodness of the horse.

' 8. On the 25th a private horseman was introduced
to me through another channel, who, though in the
Peshwa's service, was engaged with Trimbakji. His
account agreed in most particulars w^itli that last
noticed ; but he was a particularly intelligent man, and
gave good accounts of the present state and future plans
of Trimbakji, which derived credit from his knowledge
of Trimbakji's past proceedings. The only part of
his information that is at present applicable was that
Trimbakji had been near two months in the ueigh-
* A Hindu festival,



bourliood of Pliultan and Maliadeo ; that he had 3,000
horse and 300 foot about him ; that he had constant
communication with Puna and excellent intelligence ;
that he had a Vakil from the Pindaris with him, and
was in close connection with the Peshwa, who had very
extensive intrigues on foot against us in different parts
of India ; and that Trimbakji wixs to set up his
standard about the 18th March.

'9. On the 1st March, the Narsingpur writer sends
accounts of more horse-enlisting for Trimbakji. He
specifies as usual the villages where they are quartered,
and in many cases the names of the commanders. On
the 2nd, he writes that 213,000 rupees have been sent
from Pandharpur in the night to Trimbakji. He
mentions the names of the persons concerned in send-
ing it, and the spot where a j^arty of horse is stationed
for the purpose of furnishing an escort. On the 3rd,
one of the Brahmins sent to Mahadeo confirms the
accounts of Trimbakji's collecting troops, and adds
that a confidential agent of Appa Desai's had had an
interview with him ; he likewise states that the detach-
ment sent by the Peshwa against the rebels had settled
quietly at Natepota, and appeared to be on a friendlj"
footing with the insurgents ; the people of the country
believed they were sent out at Trimbakji's request.
On the same day the post-office writer at Jewoor men-
tions different places where troops of Trimbakji are
posted, and states that much activity prevails in recruit-
ing for him, even about Jewoor ; and that considerable
quantities of treasure have been sent to him from

'10. On the 5th I received an overture from a
person formerly of some consequence, but whose Jahagir
has been sequestrated of late, to say that he had been
invited by Trimbakji to raise a large body of horse for


him, and offering to give me intelligence, and even to
concur in apprehending Trimbakji.

'11. About the beginning of this month a villager
came to Colonel Leighton and acquainted him that a
body of troops was quartered in his village, on the
Nira, and that Trimbakji had many parties in the
villages around. I sent out Harkaras with this man,
whom he carried in the night to this village, and
showed them the horse. He also showed them a
smaller party picketed in the wood at some distance
from the village ; while they were looking out for these
a party of horse passed them, travelling with secrecy
and by night. They heard everywhere of the intended
insurrection, and of parties going by night to join it,
and understood everywhere that it was to break out on
the 18th March.

'12. On the 6th the post-office writer at Meriteh
writes that troops are raising at different places in his
neighbourhood, which he specifies are for Trimbakji,
and that others are collecting for him to the south of
the Krishna. The post-office writers at Sangli on the
Krishna, and Puse Savali, near Satara, also reports the
assembly of troops under Dengle, in the hills of

'13. On the 7tli a person came to a broker employed
by me to collect intelligence, and wished him to ex-
change some gold money. By well-managed inquiries
the broker discovered that the gold had been issued by
Trimbakji to a Pathan chief who had enlisted with him,
and whose servant the person who offered the money
was. He gave much the same account of the state of
Trimbakji's preparations with those already noticed.
It is to be observed that numerous accounts represent
all Trimbakji's money to be in gold, and constant
efforts to be made in all the country from Phultan to


the Bliima, to procure silver in exchange for it. I have
out many accounts brought by Harkarris, all tending to
prove the existence of the preparations I have described,
and the notice they have attracted throughout the
country; I shall only add that for the last fortnight at
least Trimbakji's preparations for an insurrection have
been the common topic of conversation in Puna, and
that every Karkun (clerk) who comes to the Eesidency,
if spoken to on the subject, treats it as one of pubhc

'14. It is under these circumstances that his High-
ness the Peshwa asserts that his local officers have
allowed preparations, such as I have described, to go
on for two months without noticing them ; that his
ministers have shut their ears to the common talk of
the country and of the capital ; that even when his
Highness's attention was drawn to the subject, his
messengers could learn nothing of these notorious facts ;
and finally, that a detachment of his troops, under an
officer selected for the occasion, could sit down in the
centre of Trimbakji's army, and know nothing of its
existence. After all this, it is scarcely necessary to
bring any further proof of his Highness's knowledge of
the insurrection, the existence of which he so strongly
denies ; but his confidential adviser and intelligencer,
Pral)hakar Pandit, mentioned it to me long ago, and
could scarcely have concealed it from the Peshwa had
it really been unknown to his Highness till then ; and
his Minister, Sadashiva Milnkeshvar, who is not in the
secret of the Peshwa's intentions, casually mentioned
to Kirshan Pu'iw early in February that ho had heard the
insurgents in the Mahadeo Hills intended to attack his
fortified house at Temburni ; that he had therefore
increased the garrison, and had applied to his Highness
the Peshwa, avIio promised him assistance, and who


afterwards made a merit with him of sending out
Gokhale's detachment, as if it had been done in atten-
tion to his wishes.

* 15. From all these circumstances I think there
remains no doul)t that the Pesliwa is privy to Trim-
bakji's conspiracy, and has favoured the progress of
it ; I say nothing of the constant intelligence I have
received of his Highness having continual communica-
tion with Trimbakji, of his having sent him consider-
able sums of money in gold, and of his having had
more than one secret interview with Trimbakji him-
self. These statements, although strongly asserted by
many different persons, and though highly probable in
themselves, are not sufficiently well established to build
upon ; but it is certain that troops have been raised
for Trimbakji in Puna, that treasure has been sent to
him from this ; in one very recent instance, an
Arab Jamadar, who was reported to have joined the
rebels, returned to Puna and told a Mohammedan
friend that he had been employed to carry a casket of
jewels to Phultan to an adherent of Trimbakji's ; that
Trimbakji's family and dependents are still in his
Highness 's favour ; that most of them make excursions
into the country which, if made without design, are
unaccountably indiscreet, and which are constantly
reported to be for the purpose of consulting with Trim-
bakji ; that Bhasker Pant, one of Trimbakji's prin-
cipal officers, who commanded one of the divisions of
his force attached to Colonel Smith in 1815, has made
repeated journeys of this kind from his Highness's
Court at Phulsheher; that he finally left that place
shortly before his Highness's return to Puna, and is
stated on very good authority to be now with the
rebels : his Highness has been unable to answer my
repeated demands to be informed what has become of


him. His Highiiess's employment in maturing his
plan also accounts for several deviations from his fixed
habits, which before excited a good deal of surprise.
The first is his journey to Junar, when Trimbakji
was supposed to be in that part of the country, soon
after Colonel Kingscote's attempt to seize him at Nad-
gaum ; his excuse was, a vow of an annual pilgrimage
made when he was in prison, which he had forgotten
for the last twenty years to perform ; another is, his
long residence at Phulsheher, out of the way of observa-
tion, and the plans he took to explain his motives to
me, frequently complaining that he was detained against
his will by his arm, though the distance is only six-
teen miles, and his arm was but little bruised. The
last is his giving up his annual journeys to Goagur and
Kopargaum for the first time, I believe, ever since his
restoration, although the excuse of his arm has for some
time been removed.

'16, It remains to examine the extent and design of
the conspiracy. Long before Trimbakji's release, it
was the common opinion in the Mahratta country that
the Pesliwa would endeavour to revenge the disgrace
which he conceived himself to have suffered, by raising
up wars and insurrections against the British in which
he should not appear himself. It was stated on better
authority, and in a less vague form, that his Highness
would try all means for Trimbakji's release and
restoration ; that if he did not succeed by entreaties
and temptation, he would try intimidation ; and if that
failed he would secretly foment insurrections, in the
hope of wearying us into a comj)liance with his wishes.
All the plans presented, as precursors to the insurrec-
tions, have already been tried, and it is remarkable
that the language held Ijy his Highness's avowed agents
should closely resemble that made use of by Trim-


bakji's emissaries — the same entreaties and promises
at first, followed by the same absurd attempts at
intimidation, and the same anxiety to obtain a cate-
gorical answer immediatelj^ before the time when the
insurrection began to be talked of.

* 17. It will be in your Excellency's recollection that
on the 3rd of last November the Peshwa sent me a
secret message, saying that as he was going to quit
Puna for a time, he was desirous to leave his country
secure ; that Trimbakji would probably create dis-
turbances if not conciliated, and he therefore wished to
offer him terms on the part of the British Government,
and offered to answer for his faithful observance of
them. Considering this message as a threat, or at
least an attempt to discover the effect which would be
produced on the British Government hj Trimbakji 's
raising an insurrection, I returned such an answer,
and sent such messages, public and private, as I con-
ceived most likely to impress on his Highness the im-
possibility of any insurrection on Trimbakji's part for
which his Highness would not have to answer, and the
total ruin it would bring on his State if such a proof
were to appear of his hostility to the British Govern-
ment, and infidelity to the alliance. As his Highness
entered on the present conspirac}^ in the face of this
remonstrance, and it should seem immediately on re-
ceiving it, it must be inferred that he will not easily be
deterred from the prosecution of a plan so deliberately
formed. The same conclusion may be drawn from the
apparent extent of his intrigues. It appears from the
intelligence already noticed, that troops are assembling for
Trimbakji in the centre and southern parts of his High-
ness's dominions. Mr. Jenkins' information in November
and December last showed that similar levies were made
at that time in Berar, under the immediate direction of


his Highness's oj0&cers at Malghaut, and there are re-
ports strongly corroborated by circumstances that troops
are also rising in Khandesh. It is now manj^ months
since I heard that his Highness had made some com-
munications to Yashavant Raw Jivaji, who was once
a great freebooter in the Mahratta countrj^ I paid no
attention to the report at the time, believing that
Yashavant Raw had been long dead ; but not very long
after I was surprised to hear that Y^ashavant Raw was at
the head of a body of freebooters in Khandesh. Contrary
to the practice of such gangs, this body has remained
quiet ever since, and has not been heard of till this
time, but it is now reported in Puna that his Highness
has a body of men in Khandesh readj to join Trim-
bakji, and the last kliabar from Khandesh revives the
mention of Yashavant Raw Jivaji, and says he is get-
ting ready to move ; all which circumstances agree so
well as to make it very probable that the whole pro-
ceedings of Yashavant Raw Jivaji have been directed by
his Highness. His Highness's repair of his forts have
never entirely been discontinued, and they are now
carried on with unusual activity. His Highness's over-
tures to the Gaikwar, and his intrigues at the Courts
of Scindia and Holkar, have been often brought to j^our
Excellency's notice. The orders lately issued to the
Vakils afford no proof at all that these intrigues are
discontinued, but are quite as likely to have been agreed
to on purpose to blind the British Government at a
moment when his Highness was contemplating a secret
operation against it. It is to this motive I attribute
the usual profusion of attentions and compliances which
his Highness has displayed since the time when he
now appears to have entered vigorously into his plots
with Trimbakji ; his orders to the Yakils are easily
rendered negatory by his intrigues through unavowcd


channels. Of this character is BaLoji Knujar, whose

Online LibraryMountstuart ElphinstoneSelections from the minutes and other official writings of the Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, governor of Bombay. With an introductory memoir → online text (page 11 of 41)