Mountstuart Elphinstone.

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

. (page 13 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 13 of 41)
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have now great pain in relating his present proceedings.
The only way to remove all troubles, jealousies, and
heart-burnings is to make over Trimbakji.


9^/4 March.

I hear that his Highness still denies there is an in-
surrection, and calls on me to point it out.

I. reply that if his Highness were sincerely anxious
to put it down, he would soon discover it — that it
would be of no use my pointing it out. If the only
object was to put down the rebellion, I could do it with-
out troubling his Highness ; but the object is to get
him to show that he is a faithful ally, and that we can
depend on his not exciting troubles hereafter. As to
the putting down of the insurrection, I would strongly
advise his Highness against such a measure ; it would
be better for him to let it break out, as its stopping in
consequence of my remonstrance to his Highness would
show that his Highness had it in his hands. His only
true way of proceeding, therefore, is to act cordially and
sincerely against the rebels ; when he does that, it will
be no longer necessary for him to ask all these questions.
I do not name Trimbakji's adherents, nor point out
where the rebels are, because I am making one more
appeal to his Highness's candour ; but I. call on him to
act sincerely on the suggestions I have already offered.
If he does not, I cannot misunderstand him.

ExTKACT Secret Letter to Bengal, dated
5th January, 1818.

' 2. B}^ your political despatch of the 12th December,
1816, we were informed of the escape of Trimbakji
Dengle from the fortress in which he had

^ n -I -I f I^ t • i • ni Secret Letter

been conlined, and 01 the ambitious conduct toBem^ai,

^ n -n 1 1 T 1 • Stli J;i"-. ISIS-

01 the reshwa, who appeared at least to retain

a strong attachment to his late Minister, if indeed his

Highness were not secret^ concerned in his escape.

' 3. The reports, however, from Mr. Elphiiistone to
the Governor-General (copies of which were from time


to time transmitted to us by the Government of
Bombay), and particularly that which described the
Peshwa's manner of receiving the communications of
your Lordship's intentions concerning the Pindarics,
gave us reason to hope that notwithstanding the sus-
picious earnestness manifested by the Peshwa in solicit-
ing the pardon of Trimbakji, and the intrigues in
which his Highness appeared to have been engaged at
the other Mahratta Courts, for purposes inconsistent
with his alliance with the British Government, his
Highness was duly sensible of the advantages which he
derived from that connection, and consequently desirous
to preserve it. The language held by Mr. Elphinstone,
in obedience to the Governor-General's instructions of
the 17th January, 1817, was judiciously calculated to
assure the Peshwa of your Lordship's disposition to act
cordially with his Highness, notwithstanding the just
grounds of complaint which had been furnished by his
recent conduct.

* 4. But your secret letter of the 12tli April last,
reporting the flagrant acts of insurrection committed by
Trimbakji within the territories of the Puna State,
and the repeated refusal of the Peshwa to interfere
effectually for the suppression of them, satisfied us that
to ensure the adherence of the Court of Puna to the
principles of the alliance, and to dispel the dangers
incident to the increasing strength and boldness of the
insurgents, it might be necessary to evince to the
Peshwa a decided resolution to resort even to the
extremity of war, if other measures should be found in-
sufficient for the maintenance of that security which
under his evasive promises, and in effect hostile con-
duct, was daily menaced and endangered.

' 5. We have learnt, tln-ough the Government of
Bombay, the series of discussions at Puna which led to


the treaty concluded with the Peshwa on the IBtli June,
1817 ; and we have recently received, through the same
channel, a copy of the treaty.*

* 6. It would have been most satisfactory to us if the
Peshwa had, by a frank and friendly conduct before
any demonstration of force was employed towards him,
rendered it possible to bury all that had passed in
oblivion, and to leave things on the footing on which
they had stood previously to those discussions.

' 7. We feel all the objections which lie against
measures tending to reduce or humiliate those Native
States, which from the extent of their dominions and
from their military habits were formerly ranked as sub-
stantive and protecting powers. It is not now necessary
to review the circumstances under which the Puna State
was first brought down from this character. We sincerely
and anxiously wish that the Peshwa had not furnished
occasion for a further change in his political situation.

' 8. But after all that has passed on former occasions,
when our interference has been solicited by the Peshwa
himself for the purpose of recalling his own feudatories
to their allegiance, and after his passiveness on the
occasion of the recent insurrection, whether proceeding
from inability or from tinwdllingness to act effectual^
against it, we cannot but acknowledge, however re-
luctantly, the existence of a necessity for giving new
efficiency and solidity to our connection with the Puna
State, by assuming a more direct control both over the
Peshwa's military force and over his political conduct.

'14. The course of these transactions sufficiently
proves the almost irrepressible tendency of our Indian
power to enlarge its bounds and to augment its pre-
ponderance, in spite of the most peremptory injunctions
of forbearance from home, and of the most scrupulous

* See the Collection of Treaties.


obedience to them in the Government abroad. But
although it may not be in our power permanently to
assure the peace of India by any moderation of our own,
so long as, w^hether from motives of natural feeling or
from habits of restless and perfidious policy, the States
of India are continually finding or seeking opportunities
of intriguing or combining against us, the difficulty of
maintaining a system of peace and moderation does not
absolve us from the obligation of pursuing it with the
most sincerity and perseverance. A pacific and un-
ambitious policy is that which the interests of the
Company, as well as its duty, and the general sentiments
of the nation as well as the positive enactments of
Parliament, prescribe to the Government of India.

'15. While we are expressing our approbation, there-
fore, of those measures, political and military, to which
you have been compelled to have recourse by the cir-
cumstances of the case referred to in this despatch, we
think it particularly important to declare that we con-
sider any such case as forming an unwelcome though
justifiable exception of the general rule of our policy.
The occurrence of such exceptions has been unfor-
tunately much too frequent ; but however numerous the
instances in which we may be driven from an adherence
to our rule, nothing in our opinion could warrant a
systematic departure from it.'

Secret Letter from Bengal, dated 9th June, 1817.

' The despatch of the ship Boijiw affords a favourable
opportunity, of which we are desirous of availing our-
selves, for submitting to your Honourable
secrot'irtter, Committec a continuation of the summary of

iitli Juno, 1817. , . T . . r. -r» i • i

prococdnigs and transactions ol runa, winch
was conniiunicatcd to you in our address of the 12th
April, forwarded by his Majesty's ship Lyra.


' That lulclress was accompanied by copies of our in-
structions to the Kesident, under date the 7th April.
Previously to his receipt of those instructions, however,
the perseverance of the Peshwa in the infatuated course
of proceedings he had adopted has led to a situation of
affairs which compelled the Resident to act on a private
communication, conveying to him, in general terms, the
outlines of the resolutions we had adopted and trans-
mitted in that form, with a view to save the time
necessarily occupied in the preparation of detailed in-
structions, involving so many points for deliberation
and reflection.

' It was fortunate that this precaution was adopted,
since, in consequence of the disturbances in Cuttack,
which will form the subject of a future communication,
the posts by the ordinary route were interrupted for
several days, occasioning a further delay in the receipt
by the Piesident of his official instructions, which did
not reach him till the 10th May ; although every en-
deavour was made to secure his early receipt of them
as soon as the interruption of the post was known, by
despatching copies by various routes, and by establishing
a communication by sea with the coast of the Northern

'The receipt of a general intimation of our views, and
the judgment and resolution of Mr. Elphinstone, have
prevented the public interests from sustaining any
injurj^ in consequence of the untoward circumstances
just mentioned ; his proceedings having, both in the
outline and the detail, been in entire conformity with
the spirit of our instructions.

' It is not necessary on the present occasion to submit
to your Honourable Committee a detailed review of the
proceedings of the Peshwa, and of the incessant en-
deavours of Mr, Elphinstone to recall him to a just


sense of his duty and interests. The Pesh^Ya continued
to deny the existence of the insurrection, and to call on
Mr. Elphinstone, if he believed it did exist, to take his
own measures for putting it down, while he proceeded
with the greatest vigour to raise troops, and to place
his forts in a state of preparation. At last he went so
far as to send his treasure, and even his wardrobe, to
different places of security — in a word, to manifest a
determination of resisting the earnestly repeated advice
and remonstrances of the Eesident, so as to rest the
decision of the question on the issue of the w^ord. It
was Mr. Elphinstone's object, until he should receive
our instructions, to keep the question open for any
decision we might make, omitting, in the meanwhile,
no efifort to induce the Peslnva to adopt a better course
of proceeding, and to await the result of Mr. Elphin-
stone's communications to the Governor-General in
Council. Your honourable Committee will accordingly
find that all his communications to the Darbar, written
or verbal, tended to this purpose, and that he met the
evasions, equivocations, and delusive promises of the
Peshwa by a steady and unalterable adherence to the
principle of action. As the preparations of the Peshwa
and of the avowed partizans of Trimbakji advanced,
Mr. Elphinstone continued to urge on the Peshwa 's
attention the danger of his measures, and the certainty
that a perseverance in them must involve them in ruin.
He now thought it expedient to autliorize Colonel
Smith to adopt active measures against the insurgents,
with a view to break their strength and disperse them
before they should have time to make head and become
formidal)]c, in the event of a rupture with the Govern-
ment itself; the public professions of the Peshwa still
affording the colour that our troops were employed to
suppress risings against liis Highness's authority.


Among the Pesliwa's proposals, that of seuding troops
to co-operate with onr detachments was constantly
brought forward, hut declined by Mr. Elphinstone,
on the ground that their services in that manner would
not merely be useless, but would embarrass the opera-
tions of our troops ; and he invariably declared that it
was not the aid of his Highness's troops, but a distinct
expression of his sentiments against the proceedings of
Trimbakji that was required of his Highness. We
shall advert generally to the operations of the troops in
the sequel of this despatch. We now beg to draw the
attention of your honourable Committee to the demands
which Mr. Elphinstone deemed indispensable to be
made on the Peshwa, and the measures he judged it
necessary to adopt in consequence of his Highness's con-
tinued evasions of his promises. Finding that every assur-
ance given by his Highness was either secretly evaded or
openly violated, and that the Peshwa evidently either
hoped Mr. Elphinstone would recede in his demands,
or that his Highness actually entertained the design of
proceeding to a rupture, Mr. Elphinstone determined
to bring the matter to an issue ; he therefore, on the
1st of April, sent a written message to his Highness, in
which, after recapitulating what iiad passed, and notic-
ing the breach of his Highness's promises to discontinue
his preparations, disband his new levies, and replace
his forts in the situation in which they were before the
late measures were taken regarding them, ^Mr. Elphin-
stone signified his intention of placing the British troops
at Puna in a state of preparation. He further com-
municated the obligation under which he should hold
himself, of taking still more active measures if his
Highness continued his array; adding, that if his High-
ness suspended his preparations, Mr. Elphinstone would
forbear from any ulterior steps until he received the



orders of his own Government ; declariug-, at the same
time, that he should consider his Highness's quitting
Puna to be a clear indication of a design to go to war.
Mr. Elphinstone, after transmitting this message, gave
the necessary instructions to the officer commanding the
troops of Puna, according to the intimation conveyed to
his Highness. This procedure seemed at first to have
made a suitable impression on the Peshwa, who de-
liberated with his Ministers, and communicated through
them with Mr. Elphinstone on the mode of complying







1-2— 2






' To the Deputy Acljutant-geueral of the Fourth Division
of the Army of the Deccan.


' My letter of yesterday's date will have informed
you of my having removed the whole of the stores,
treasure, and provisions from our late canton- , . ^ ,., ,

' ■•■ Lieut.-Col.

ments to the village of Kirkee, and of their ^""'" ^

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 13 of 41)