Mountstuart Elphinstone.

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

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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 12 of 41)
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positive account of it ; but asked what he could do ?
He did not know where Trimbakji was, and he could
not obtain intelligence about his followers ; and that
however anxious he was to show his sincere friendship
for the British Government, it was totally out of his
power to do anything which might convince it of his
cordiality. I replied on the 4th, that his Highness
might give them over as hostages to the British Govern-
ment ; that he might also give such orders to his troops
and officers as w^ould soon change the face of affairs.
Signs of his cordiality would then appear of themselves,
intelligence would pour in, both on him and us ; he
would offer his troops to act with our officers, and those
who acted by themselves would attack and disperse the
rebels wherever they were assembled. On the other
hand, if appearances continued as formerly, I begged
his Highness to consider the suspicions they would lead
to. His Highness continuing his present professions,
offering more troops, and ordering out Major Ford's
brigade, but without taking anj'- of the steps that were


in liis power, or even ceasing to deny the existence of
an insurrection, I addressed, on the 7th, a long and
serious message to him, pointing out the impossihihty
of his continuing his present course without heing in-
volved with the British Government ; the impossibility,
in that event, of his ever being trusted more, and the
fatal character which the dispute would therefore assume.
I endeavoured to show the uselessness of assisting
Trimbakji, who surely was not expected to conquer us,
and with whom he could never make terms; the im-
possibility of any arrangements that should even secure
the life of that fugitive, until he was lodged in a British
prison ; the difficulty his Highness would have in
satisfying your Lordship of his good intentions, even if
this insurrection were to die away, and the wisdom of
adopting such a course as should show that his High-
ness w^as sincere in his professions, the result of which
I said could not fail to be the speedy capture of Trim-
bakji. To this his Highness sent the usual answer,
that his troops were at my disposal, that they should
move wherever I should point out the rebels, and that
he would seize any person whom I should declare to be
adherents of Trimbakji. I replied, on the 9th, that my
object was less to crush the insurgents, which could not
be done by a very small body of British troops, than to
obtain proofs of his Highness's good disposition which
might be counted on in future times and in all circum-
stances ; that if his Highness were disposed he would
find no difficulty in discovering the rebels, and in ascer-
taining who were Trimbakji's adherents. If, then, he
were cordial and sincere, he would act on my former
suggestions ; if not, he would come back and desire me
to point out individuals. His Highness now promised
to seize Trimbakji's adherents, requesting me to point
out any that he might omit. He also ordered Major


Ford to march against the rebels, and promised him a
part of the best horse in his service ; but this movement
of troops I decHned as quite unnecessary, the insurrec-
tion being formidable from the appearance of secret
encouragement alone, and not from its own strength. I
had also received intelligence which I thouu'ht miijfht
be relied on, that the troops at Mahadeo and the
neighbourhood had broken up and dispersed ; I have
not yet heard what has been done about Trimbakji's

'19. The above communications were mostly made
through Major Ford and Moro Dixit ; I sent similar
messages by Prabhakar Pandit, but in general still
received more unsatisfactory answers. Yesterday, how-
ever, Prabhakar Pandit brought me a long message from
his Highness, the purport of which was to vindicate
himself from the accusations I had brought against him,
to persuade me that he was not so mad as to meditate w^ar
against the British, or to prefer Trimbakji's friendship
to ours ; but a considerable part of the message was
taken up by very sharp remonstrances against the tone
of the messages which I had sent to his Highness by
Major Ford, and which his Highness declared were full
of unbecoming imputations against him, and expressed
with unwarrantable freedom of language. His Highness
showed particular resentment at one passage, which he
was convinced meant to threaten him with the fate of
Tippu Sultan; but as there was not the most distant allu-
sions of the kind in any of my messages, this was easily
explained away. His Highness assigned as a reason
for not agreeing to some applications that I had made
for a personal interview, that in the present state of
things such a meeting would be liable to lead to alter-
cation, and to expressions which his Highness might
afterwards wish to recall. His Highness also gave


some reason for not sending any man of rank and con-
sequence to discuss the subjects now in hand on his
Highness's part ; I understood him to mean Grokhle,
who perhaps has impressed his Highness with high
notions of the manner in which he would support his
Highness's dignity if he were to conduct a conference
on his part. My answer to his Highness's professions
was in the same spirit as those which I sent through
Major Ford, that his Highness's denial of the insurrec-
tion obliged me to give way to very unfavourable sur-
mises ; that his Highness's conduct on this occasion, at
the time when your Excellency was impressed with a
particular conviction of his Highness's friendship and
good intentions, was calculated to shake your confidence
in him for ever ; that it could not be expected that
aggressions could be passed over as if they did not
exist merely because they were not avowed ; that his
Highness was therefore in a situation of danger, and
that the only wise course for him to pursue was to
deliver up Trimbakji, which I said would be the best
course even for Trimbakji himself. I took pains to
efface the bad impression made hj my messages, ob-
serving that it is my duty to be explicit with his
Highness, and that even if I were his own minister I
should still think I served him better by laying open the
true state of his affairs to him, however it might offend
him, than bj^ encouraging him in pernicious courses by
dissembling or assentation ; that with respect to the
terms in which my sentiments were conveyed, his High-
ness would recollect that neither I nor Major Ford
could be expected to avoid improprieties in an Indian
language ; but that he might be assured I had every
wish to render my communications as acceptable as was
consistent with the i)ri]K'iplo I had just avowed. I then
begged Prabhakar Pandit to remind his Highness of


the timely caution I had given him on Trimbakji's
escape, of the pains I took to warn him in November
last of the dangers of harbouring Trimbakji, and of
the very cordial and friendly terms in which I at first
addressed him on this very occasion, until his Highness
by shutting his eyes to the proceedings of the insur-
gents, compelled me to call his attention by louder
complaints. I said that I had now so many interviews
with his Highness that he was unable to judge whether
anything I should offer, if he admitted me to an audience,
were likely to give him offence ; and that with respect to
sending Gokhle, his Highness would act entirely accord-
ing to his own pleasure.

' 20. During the above discussions I received two
different messages from Gokhle, couched in his usual
strain of respect and attachment for the British Govern-
ment, but complaining of my having applied for the
recall of his troops, reminding me of his former services,
protesting that there was no insurrection, and assuring
me that if the insurgents could only be found out, I
should soon have cause to applaud his exertions. I
replied that I had imputed no blame to Gokhle, who no
doubt acted up to the orders he had received ; that it
was my knowledge of his vigour on former occasions
that led me to inquire into the causes of his present in-
action ; that with respect to the existence of the insur-
rection, it was with the Government I had to deal, and
that unless Gokhle insisted on coming forward for him-
self, I had no dispute with him on that head. As far
as I can learn, Gokhle has been his Highness's great
adviser through the whole of the present business,
assisted perhaps by Waman Raw Apte, and some
others of his Highness's dependents. The plan I con-
ceive to originate with his Highness and Trimbakji.
It suits Gokhle 's views to fall into any opinions that his



Highness maj^ entertain ; and as there is no way to win
his Highness's favour like standing between him and
danger, I should not be surprised if Gokhle should not
have talked of his own military powers, and offered to
take all consequences on himself. Considering the craft
and treachery of his confederate, it is not unlikely that
this may cost Gokhle dearer than he intends ; but I can-
not suppose that he had any deliberate intention of
incurring the resentment of the British Government, or
of embarking in a cause the success of which depends
on the constancy of his Highness the Peshwa.

'21. Moro Dixit and his party appear really to
be, as they profess, mere instruments of the Peshwa's,
without any great share in his confidence, or any in-
fluence over his conduct. It is even impossible that
they may not be admitted into the secret of his High-
ness's interior policy ; all his intelligence and some of
his Vakils of foreign courts are under the manasjement
of Waman Eilw Apte ; Moro Dixit has no share what-
ever in those departments. A Karkun of Gokhle's,
named Govind Keshav Joshi, is stated from several
quarters to have been lately despatched to Scindia's
camp ; I shall apprize Captain Close of his mission to
enable him to find out the object of it.

'22. I have omitted to mention in a former part of
this letter that the Peshwa has occasional private meet-
ings with the Vakils of Appa Desai, which gives
some colour to the alleged connection between that
chief and Trimbakji. His late severity to Appa
Desai is no argument against the fact, for it is quite
in the spirit of his Highness's policy to turn against us
the enmity which has been provoked by our exertions
in support of his own authority.

'23. I shall now wait a few days to see what course
the Peshwa determines on, and if he does not take


effectual measures against the iusur^-ents, I shall imme-
diately act against them with a British detachment.
For this purpose I have requested Colonel Smith to
order the 4th and 8th Kegiments of light cavaliy to
move into the neighhourhood of Parenda, and the light
battalion into that of Ahmednagar ; I have also sug-
gested to the Resident at Hyderabad to direct Major
McDowall to move his detachment to the neighbour-
hood of Tuljapur ; thus I shall be able to assemble a
considerable light force in the neighbourhood of the in-
surgents within three or four days, and at the same
time I hope the scattered positions and apparently un-
connected movements of the detachments will prevent
the insurgents from quitting the part of the country
throughout which they are now quartered.
' I have, etc.,
' (Signed) M. Elphinstone,

' Eesident at Puna.'

Notes of Mr. Ephinstone's Messages to the

Febniavij 12tJi.

His Highness must long have been aware of the assem-
blage of Ramoshis near the Mahadeo Pagoda. Hostilities.
I have heard of it for a long time, and I ^j^. ^^^^^^^^
have also heard reports that Trimbakji is at sto"e's xoto«.
the head of the band. This agrees well wdth what I
have long heard, of Trimbakji' s being at Phultan, or
in that neighbourhood ; but I conclude that if he were
there, it would be known to his Highness, without
whose knowledge it would be impossible for him to
assemble Ramoshis. Trimbakji's family and all his
adherents are also in his Highness's hands, which is a
security that he cannot have entered on so desperate a



course. I therefore conclude they are common in-
surgents, and recommend to his Highness to disperse
them immediately. The report that they are headed
by Trimbakji will render great promptitude requisite ;
and I therefore hope his Highness will show as much
as in the affair of the last insurgents to the southward.
If Trimbakji is really among these rebels, it is evident
that, notwithstanding all his Highness's exertions in
his favour, he is determined to disturb his countr}^,
and, as far as depends on him, to embroil him with us.
The only natural conduct for his Highness, in such
circumstances, and what everyone will expect of him,
will be to act vigorously against him, to seize his
family and adherents, and to set a price on his head.
This is what will be expected of his Highness.

Fehruary lAtli.

Inquire the news of the insurgents near Mahadeo.
Repeat the inquiry regarding the Killedar and My-
manghar. Inquire what the Ministers have heard of
the affair within the last two months, especially the
last fortnight, since it has become the talk of the
bazar, and since bodies of horse have been openly
flocking to join the insurgents. Inquire who is the
Mamlatdar of Natepota, and what he and the Killedar
of Mymanghar have said to such an assemblage of
troops within their districts. Say that I have heard
strong and repeated accounts of Trimbakji 's being at
the head of the rebels. I am unwilling to believe it,
because it cannot be without his Highness's know-
ledge ; and I cannot believe his Highness is coun-
tenancing anj'one in taking up arms against his allies.
I must, however, in candour mention the bad appear-
ance of the thing, that his Highness may take measures
to counteract it. It is but friendly to tell him before-


liaud, that if Trimbakji excites a rebellion, his Highness
must be held responsible for it ; that he had the means
of preventing it, and ought to have exerted them ; and
that it is, therefore, of the last importance to his own
prosperity to quash the rebellion even now, if Trim-
bakji really is there. From the friendly terms we are
now on, his Highness wall believe that this is meant as
real friendly advice ; it would be far from friendship to
conceal such important truths.

Fehruarij 25th.

I am very sorry to learn that the Peshwa's Ministers
have not heard of an insurrection that everyone else
has heard of. The circumstances cannot but give rise
to disagreeable impressions in my mind. Having ap-
prised them of the existence and character of the insur-
rection, I have done my part ; they must now be
answerable for the rest. If hereafter there is an
insurrection, wiiat am I to think of their present denial
of the fact ? Gokhle's paper goes for nothing; I never
said there w^ere insurgents at Phultan. The Nate-
pota man is of no weight ; had he been free of the
insurgents, he w^ould have reported their proceedings
long ago.

March 2n(l.

I have no doubt remaining in my mind that Trim-
bakji Dengle is, or was lately, in the neighbourhood,
of Mahadeo, and that he is raising troops. This
indeed, is universally known in Puna and the country ;
yet his Highness the Peshwa denies the existence of
the fact. It is impossible to draw any conclusion from
this but such as is most favourable to his Highness ;
I am, therefore, bound to call on his Highness to
explain his conduct and intentions. Are the troops


assembling in the neighbourhood of Mahadeo raised by
his Highness's authority, or are they rebels ? If they
are rebels, why are they suffered to assemble un-
molested, and why are not their agents, who raise men
in all parts of the country, including Puna, apprehended ?
If they are not rebels, I hope his Highness will explain
his motives for authorizing or permitting this as-
semblage ? It would be an insult to his Highness's
understanding to suppose that he will endeavour to
evade an answer by denying a fact so universally
knowTi as the existence of an insurrection within
twenty-five kosses of his capital, unless he is deter-
mined to avoid all open and friendly discussion with
the British Government.

March Srd.

Request explicit answers to the important questions I
put 5'esterday.

What are his Highness's intentions ?

Are the troops in the neighbourhood of Mahadeo his
Highness's ? or rather, as he denies that there are any
troops there, has his Highness no troops in that neigh-
bourhood except the detachment of Gokhle's lately sent
out there ? If he says he has not, then whose are
those assembled ? If he admit there are rebels there,
why are thej^ not extirpated ?

His Highness has made himself answerable for the
conduct of Trimbakji's family and adherents ; what
means has he taken to prevent their assisting him in
insurrection ?

"Where is Bhaskar Pandit, who formerly commanded
the troops with Colonel Smith ?

I beg his Highness to recall the detachment of
Gokhle's that was lately sent out ; it is of no use, as it
does not act against the rebels. It rather does harm,


as it shows to the people of the country that the Peshwa's
troops do not act agaiDst the rebels, aud thus leads them
to infer a concert between those rebels and the Pesliwa.

March ith.

Where is Bhaskar Pandit, who formerly commanded
the body of Trimbakji's Horse with Colonel Smith, and
who left Phulsheher shortly before his Highness came
in ? He is in his Highness's service, and his motions
must be known to his Highness.

Has Gokhle's detachment been withdrawn ? Its
remaining there will only afford to Trimbakji the
appearance of concert with his Highness. If they offer
to send more troops, say, no troops sent in such a
spirit are of the least use. If the Ministers say at Puna
that there is no rebellion, the commandant of the
detachment will only repeat the assertion when sent
out to the spot. The same argument applies to send-
ing Major Ford's brigade. Unless the Peshwa is on
our side, Major Ford will never be able to find Trim-
bakji, who will move from Mahadeo when he moves
from Dapori. If his Highness wishes to show that
he is on our side, he ought to place guards over Trim-
bakji's adherents, and especially over his family. If
Trimbakji proceeds after that, let his Highness make
over those persons as hostages to the British Govern-
ment. Let him then proceed with cordiality and
vigour in the dispersion of Trimbakji's gang and in
tlie apprehension of his person. We shall believe that
his Highness is really averse to the rebellion.

If his Highness adopts the course I recommend, the
effects will soon be apparent. Instead of his Highness's
subjects flocking to Trimbakji, they will flock to tell
where he is concealed. Instead of his Highness den}'-
ing that there is an insurrection two months after it is


notorious, his Highness will send me the earliest intelli-
gence of the motions of the insurgents. Instead of his
Highness's troops halting in the neighbourhood of the
rebels, and declaring that they cannot find any rebels,
we shall hear of their dashing at the insurgents —
killing some, taking others, and dispersing the rest.

If his Highness's troops fail to do this, he will place
large bodies of them under British officers, and thus
command our confidence.

When these sort of signs appear, we may conclude that
his Highness is disposed to put down the insurrection,
and to support his character as a good ally, and a prince
who regards his word. If the other course should con-
tinue, I need not say what we must infer.

7th March, 1817.

The notoriety of the insurrection is now a great deal
too well established to admit of the knowledge of it
being dissembled ; I can therefore only interpret his
Hisfhness's assertion, that he has not heard of it.
Having really a sincere desire that his Highness's
Government should prosper, I cannot but lament this
line of conduct. I do entreat his Highness to consider
where it will end. To screen Trimbakji and his gang,
is to attack us ; and can his Highness suppose that he
will pass over an attack without resenting it ? His
Highness must therefore either embark on the side of the
insurgents or on ours ; and independent of his friendship
and his good faith, his interest strongly recommends his
siding with the British Government. What is it to be
gained on the other side ? Is Trimbakji to conquer
the British — what Scindia, Holkar, Tippu, the French
and all the world united, could never do ? or are we
expected to 8ul)mit without being conquered, and to con-
sent to Trimbakji's restoration when he appears as an


enemy, after refusing it to him when a prisoner ? When
(lid the British Government ever make sueh a sub-
mission ? All wars might be avoided by giving up the
point in dispute, but we uniformly prefer a war to an
improper concession, and to this we owe our prosperity.
If Trimbakji does not conquer us, and we do not sub-
mit, what is to secure his Highness ? The con-
fidence between him and us was interrupted for some
time, and has at length been fully restored. Perhaps
at no time were the Governments more cordial than be-
fore the breaking out of this insurrection. If in such
circumstances his Highness connives at a blow aimed at
our welfare, how can we possibly trust him again ? This
dispute therefore, if it is again renewed, must be fatal
to the independence of one of the parties. Why then
provoke it ? I do assure his Highness that I do not,
after reviewing the whole politics of India, see the
smallest prospect of any injury to the British Govern-
ment ; yet I do most earnestly deprecate a disturbance,
the effects of which w^ould be so fatal. His Highness
may perhaps suppose that he will keep clear of the
affair by merely denying it, or by affecting to act against
the rebels without really doing so ; but it is easy for
any person to tell when another is in earnest, from his
actions, and it is to them that the British Government
will attend. His Highness may say that Trimbakji
is out of his control ; but if that were the case, we
should see his Highness acting vigorously against
everything that was within his reach. Trimbakji 's
adherents would immediately be sent to the Hill Forts ;
a guard would be placed over his family and those of
all who had joined him, such as Bhaskar Pant ; his
Highness's Mamlatdars would strip and dismount every
horseman who was going to join him; his Highness's
own troops would cut off' some of the rebels, and his


Highness, who possesses the whole intelHgence of the
country, would give information that would enable our
troo^DS to cut up others ; his Highness 's officers would
also concur in pursuing Trimbakji, who would soon be
taken prisoner if the Government of the country were
against him. How is the matter at present ? Trim-
bakji's adherents live at large at Puna, and every soldier
in the countr}^ in consequence, thinks he is pleasing
the Peshwa by going to join the rebels ; all intelligence
that reaches the Government is suppressed ; and his
Highness himself sa^^s he knows of no rebellion. The
result will be that Trimbakji will break out, and his
fate will be sealed. I have alwaj^s refused to listen to
any proposal about him that did not tend to replace him
in a British prison. My language may be rendered still
more discouraging by disturbances, but never can be
softened ; if, therefore, his Highness has any regard to
Trimbakji' s safety, he will manage to have him placed
once more in our hands, as the only hope he has. Do
not let his Highness suppose that I shall receive the
stopping of the rebellion at present as a proof of his
Highness's good intention ; if it be stopped without his
Highness's giving proofs of his determination to crush
it, the British Government must conceive that it is only
suspended till another opportunity^ and must act accord-
inglj^ There is therefore only one way for his High-
ness to get well out of the present affair, and that is by
acting sincerely against the rebels. If this be his High-
ness's wish, it will require no argument to convince me
of it ; I shall perceive at once the altered spirit of his
Government, and shall have the greatest pleasure in re-
porting it to your Excellency the Governor-General, as I

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 12 of 41)