Mountstuart Elphinstone.

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

. (page 16 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 16 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

which tilings had arrived, supposing the Peshwa had
determined not to apprehend Trimbakji ; and on the
5th I sent a message to the Bhau, to say that I had a
proposal of the utmost importance to make to him, that
I should give it to him in writing at daybreak on the 6th,
and that if he chose to send a person in his confidence,
I would accompany it Avith full verbal explanations. My
proposal, I said, was of such a nature as must determine
the question of peace or war in one day. In the
evening Piaglio Pant returned with a request from the
Peshwa that I would attend him next evening; I
agreed to this request, and afterwards determined to
delay the delivery of my proposals, and to ascertain
the Peshwa's sentiments on the simple question of
surrendering Trimbakji, by discussing it accompanied
with the limitation as to time, with the demand for
securities, and the prospect for further demands. I
enclose the original notes of my conversation with the
Peshwa, the result of which was that his Highness,
even when warned that his refusal ^vould lead to open
war in one day, refused to enter into any engagement
to deliver up Trimbakji.

' 8. The whole of the Peshwa's behaviour at this
meeting displayed a degree of firmness very unusual to
him ; and his language, at the same time that it was
perfectly conciliatory, evinced considerable ability and
perfect self-possession. His Highness's coolness during
the whole of the present discussions has formed a con-
trast to his consternation during those after the death
of the Shastri ; at that time he shut himself up from
the sight of everyone ; his measures were irresolute


aud bewildered, and his appearance betrayed the height
of confusion and terror ; but of late he has held regular
Darbars, has entered into partaking of entertainments at
the houses of his chiefs, and discussing his preparations
along with them, and conciliating them by compli-
ments and professions of his reliance on their courage
and fidelity. He showed a temporary alarm for a day
or two, after the measures taken to increase the
efficiency of the Puna Brigade ; and likewise a few
days ago, when he sent for Mr. JefFerj^s, the surgeon of
the Residency, on pretence of consulting him about his
arm, he showed evident signs of alarm, and told Mr.
Jefi'erj's that he saw the dangers of his situation, and
was willing to purchase a renewal of our friendship by
any sacrifice except that of Trimbakji. His Higli-
ness's confidence appears to have been partly founded
on the prospect held out to him of success in the old
Mahratta warfare of hostilities and flying armies of
plundering horse, and partly on a rooted conviction
that we would not proceed to extremities. These hopes
will perhaps account for his conduct, especially when
combined with the favourite Mahratta maxim of holding-
out in every negotiation till the very last moment, with-
out caring for the disgrace of ultimate submission.

' 9. Earl}' in the morning of the 7tli I sent in the
enclosed paper to the Minister, demanding that the
Peshwa should engage, before the expiration of twenty-
four hours, to surrender Trimbakji within a month
from that day ; and should give up the forts of Singhur,
Purandhar, and Piayagar, as pledges for fulfilling his
engagement. It was necessary, for the reasons already
stated, to give a short period for consideration, and a
long one could not be required at the end of a discussion
of three months' duration. I thought it advisable to
allow a liberal time for the apprehension of Trimbakji,


unci it was absolutely necessary to take some security
to prevent a repetition of the same illusory proceedings
which I had already so often experienced. I accom-
panied the first memorandum with a note to the Bhau,
in which I adverted to the nature of your Lordship's
probable demands, but assured him that if the Pesliwa
acceded to the preliminaries now proposed, those de-
mands should not go to deprive him of his musnud.

'10. The Minister received this paper with so mucli
diffidence, and put off delivering it to the Peshwa until
after dinner for reasons so very frivolous, that his
message would have appeared contemptuous but for the
Mahratta practice above alluded to, of putting on a
bold face to the last. The whole day passed without a
message from the Peshwa, and with an appearance of
security which seemed to be intended to conceal a
design of his Higlmess's leaving the city during the
night. This suspicion was confirmed by the prepara-
tions which were made immediatelj^ after sunset. All
the horse in the city got under arms, and repaired to
the neighbourhood of the Peshwa's palace ; powder and
ball were delivered out to them, and they were desired
to be prepared to move at a moment's warning. One
party of 1,000 horse belonging to Gokhle was led out by
the chief in person to a place on the southern side of
the city, where it remained during the night. The
general impression in the city was that the Peshwa in-
tended to retreat ; and so strong was my conviction of
this intention, that I was on the point of ^\Titing to
Colonel Smith, to beg that he would put the cavalry in
motion for the purpose of frustrating it. I, however,
thought it best to run the risk of his Highness effecting
his escape, rather than that of driving him to extremities
while professing to off'er him terms.

'11. At this time I received a visit from Prabhakar


Ballal and Bapu Kourikar, who came applying for a
delay of four days, which I decidedly refused. I enclose
a detailed account of this conference, because an attempt
has been made to misrepresent it. About one a.m. on
the 6th, Krishna Eav came to request a delay of five
days, and to beg that I would give up my demand for
Eayagar, and be contented with Sinhagar and Purandhar.
This of course w^as refused, and Krishna Eav was desired
to acquaint the Bhau that though our other measures
should proceed, the city should not be attacked until
the unresisting inhabitants had been allowed time to
withdraw. About daybreak Prabhakar Pandit returned
with a similar request, to which I gave a similar answ^er.
Part of this short conversation was important in one
point of view, but need not be detailed in this place.
By this time the troops had passed the Eesidency, and I
was on the point of setting out to join them, when Jaya-
want Eav (the principal person under the Bhau) arrived
with Krishna Eav. The same attempts to obtain an
alteration in the terms, or delay in the execution, were
now made once more ; and on these failing, Jayawant Eav
consented to give up the forts ; after which a discussion
took place about the time at which they were to sur-
render, and the means of removing the property. The
time was at length made to depend on the arrival of our
detachments alone, and no property was to be removed
after possession was taken except the private property
of the garrisons. Jayawant Eav then requested that
the troops marching to the towns might be stopped,
or removed if they had arrived ; but this was declined
until the terms should have been carried into execution.
It was indeed impossible to have stopped them, for
although I lost no time after Jayawant Eav's departure,
I did not reach the head of the line until Colonel Smith's
operations were completed.


' 12. Colonel Smith had taken opportunities of making
himself fully acquainted with all the outlets of the city,
and had likewise been furnished with a very detailed
plan of the place, drawn up for the occasion by Mr.
Coats, vaccinating surgeon, as well as with an excellent
map of its environs. He had made his arrangements on
the preceding evening, and marched at daybreak from
his camp, four miles north of the city. The brigade
under Lieutenant-Colonel Leighton moved at the same
time, and the city, which is at least five miles in cir-
cumference, was completely surrounded within three
hours after daybreak. The troops were so disposed
that it was impossible for any person to quit the city
without a contest ; and the whole operation was con-
ducted by Colonel Smith with so much order, arrange-
ment, and temper, that there was not a shot fired,
notwithstanding several embarrassing and irritating

'13. About ten in the forenoon, the Karkuns who
were to deliver over Sinhagar and Purandhar made
their appearance, and soon after the detachments moved
off. I then voluntarily offered to withdraw the troops
posted round the city, which I had before said should
not be done till the places were given up ; this was
done within three hours after they took up their posi-
tions. The reserve, which had reached Wuroli, within
eighteen miles of Puna, and w^as advancing, was counter-
manded at the earnest request of the Peshwa's Ministers.
The fort Sinhagar w^as surrounded last night, and Pu-
randhar this morning ; no treasure was found in the
former, and I have received no details regarding the
latter ; more delay was made about Kay agar, the great
depository of the Peshwa's treasures. The Karkun
did not arrive till three in the afternoon. When he did
come he misled the detachment, and he was so mounted


as greatly to clelaj^ its progress. After furnishing him
with a palankin and guides of our own, the detachment
set off again, and ought to reach Eayagar by to-morrow
evening. About five in the afternoon Colonel Smith
moved off with the light division to a position about
four miles south of the city, where he still remains.

' 14. The people of the city observed the first opera-
tions of the troops with the greatest appearance of
security ; but when they saw the preparations kept up
on both sides, they began to apprehend a contest in the
streets, and showed considerable agitation and alarm.
This ceased when the troops were removed, and, except
where their own safety was endangered, the whole of
the people appeared to view the contest with the most
perfect indiff'erence. Goldile and Chintaman Eav are
said to have been indignant at the Peshwa's submission,
and to have stayed away from his palace, though he
sent them messages of explanation and apology.
' I have, etc.,

' (Signed) M. Elphinstone,

' Eesident at Puna.
' Poona,

'9th May, 1817.'

Notes of a Conference with His Highness the
Peshwa, May Gth, 1817.

The Bhaii began a long speech on the advantages of
the alliance, the Peshwa's desire to preserve it, and the
Mr. Eiphin. pi'^'pHcty of rcmoviug any obstruction that
fcm^e wuh liad arisen in it.

The Peshwa then took up the discourse, and
enlarged on the dependence of his family for two gene-
rations on the English, the opposition he had met with
in all stages of his reign from all the members of the
Mahratta Empire, and the report he had received from


the British Government. He pointed out in great
detail that his ruin was certain if this support was
withdrawn, and protested his determination to adhere
to the aUiance as long as he lived ; he said he had
many enemies who might misrepresent his conduct, but
that these were the real sentiments of his heart. This
was replied to by Mr. Elphinstone's saying that his
Highness, it appeared, was anxious to maintain the
alliance; that the British Government was at last equally
so, but that differences had arisen which were now to
be removed ; that the British had never listened to his
enemies, but that he had given his ear to those who
were enemies both to the British Government and to
his Highness, and that this had brought things to the
present pass. The Peshwa protested that he had always
considered the enemies of the one state as the enemies
of the other. Mr. Elphinstone stated the conduct of
the British Government about Trimbakji, and the
warnings he had given his Highness till after the march
to Natepota, and that it was very gradually, and by
great neglect of Mr. Elphinstone's representations, that
things had been allowed to gain the length they had.
The Peshwa endeavoured to exculpate himself from a
connivance at the insurrection, and said that he had
sent out Gokhle's horse at a very early stage of it ; and
if they had failed to obtain information of it, it was not
his fault. Mr. Elphinstone enlarged on the notoriety
of the insurrection, and expressed surprise that the
Peshwa had never heard of it, when Mr. Elphinstone
under so many disadvantages had been able to apprize
his Highness of the various stages of its progress. Mr.
Elphinstone adverted to the general belief that the
Peshwa protected the insurgents, and the great advan-
tage the insurgents derived from that opinion. The
Peshwa expressed his wonder that people should enter-


taiu such an opinion, and said that his state was full of
his enemies. Mr. Elphinstone explained the reasons
why the people entertained that opinion — that his
Highness denied the existence of the insurrection when
everybody else knew of it ; that he always treated the
insurgents as the enemies of the English exclusively,
while his officers offered them no opposition ; and to
conclude, that he prepared his forts and armies as if
he was determined to support the insurgents, or to
resist any demand of the British Government to act
against them.

His Highness entered into the usual explanations of
his conduct in these respects, and added that he was
ready to punish any of the people who had known of
the insurrection, and who had not told him of it. Mr.
Elphinstone asked why none of them had been punished
hitherto, when his Highness was satisfied that there was
a rebellion which had not been reported to him. He
answered that Gokhle was powerful, but that now Mr.
Elphinstone and the Bliau should have an inquiry, and
that the delinquent should be punished. Mr. Elphin-
stone said that it was not Gokhle 's officer, but all the
officers in the country who ought to have reported ; and
their not having done so could only be attributed to a
secret influence in favour of the rebels. Mr. Elphin-
stone added that Trimbakji was still at large, and
still exciting an insurrection, and that nothing was
done against him. His Highness said that Trimbakji
had a number of friends and relations, and much
money ; but that if Mr. Elphinstone would show anj'-
body who had assisted him, ho should bo punished.
Mr. Elphinstone replied that it belonged to the Govern-
ment of tlio country to make those discoveries ; that
Trimbakji had left Tanna without any money, that
all his houses were in the Peshwa's country, and all


his friends and adherents at Puna, and that he could
not have collected his money from all parts of the
country, and have assembled troops, without the place
of his residence becoming known to the Government.
Mr. Elphinstone now came to the point of the demands
he had to make on the part of the Governor-General ;
he had explained that he had received a letter from
Calcutta ; that it merely contained part of the Governor-
General's instructions, which ho would communicate on
the following day in an official form ; that it was his
wish to have waited, so as to be enabled to communi-
cate the whole substance of his Excellency's demands
at once ; that he had now heard that an insurrection in
Cuttack had cut ofi' the communication by dawk, and
that he was therefore compelled to come forward with-
out an accurate knowledge of anj^ of his Excellency's
terms, except a preliminary demand for the uncon-
ditional surrender of Trimbakji ; that by the time
that was done, he would be able to state what further
demands would be made.

The Pesliwa replied to this by saying that he was
ready to meet the wishes of the Governor-General in
every particular ; that he would do all in his power to
seize Trimbakji ; but that if he failed, he hoped it
would not be concluded that he was insincere ; that he
would do all that human exertions could effect ; that he
would pledge himself in the most sacred manner, by
placing his hand on Mr. Elphinstone's to make those
exertions ; and that he would leave no means untried
to effect his purpose. Mr. Elphinstone said that he
was not disposed personally to doubt his Highness's
professions, but that among states some more solid
proof of sincerity was usual ; and he begged his High-
ness would consider of some pledge by which the
Governor-General might be led to expect more to be


done than had been effected during the hist eight months
by his Highness, in endeavouring to seize the person of

His Highness repHed that his exertions now should
be unremitting ; that he would issue orders, with his
own seal affixed to them, and deliver them to Mr.
Elphinstone, directing all his officers to aid in securing
Trimbakji's person ; that, for himself, he had never
seen Trimbakji from the moment he had left Puna to
go to Wassandar ; that to this fact he was ready to
swear by the water of the Ganges ; and that the
reason of his having made no effort to ascertain where
Trimbakji was hitherto, was the knowledge his High-
ness had of his numerous enemies, who, if he made
those exertions, and Trimbakji had escaped out of his
dominions, would have represented his flight as connived
at by his Highness. Mr. Elphinstone reminded his
Highness of his having made a similar declaration about
not searching for Trimbakji seven mouths ago, and of
his having afterwards promised, on Mr. Elphinstone's
remonstrating, to make the most diligent search for
that fugitive ; that it appeared his Highness had made
no such search ; that the same assurances which would
have been quite sufficient in the commencement of the
discussions were by no means so now ; and that his
Highness must promise to seize Trimbakji within a
certain time, and give some security for performance,
otherwise his Highness might put off a settlement for a
whole month, and then say that he had endeavoured to
find out Trimbakji, but had failed in obtaining the
object of his search.

The Pcshwa rejoined by saying that he was ready
to give; this promise under his own hand for the satis-
faction of the Governor-General.

Mr. Elphinstone then reminded the Peshwa of the


principles on which an adjustment was brought about
when Trimbakji was formcrl}^ demanded ; that things
had by no moans come to such a pitch as at present,
and yet amity had only been restored by his Highness
delivering up Trimbakji and agreeing to abide by any
further demands which the Governor-General might
dictate, provided they were not of such a nature as to
overturn the alliance ; that on the present occasion
matters had become far more serious, and that the two
States were now on the eve of a rupture ; that Mr.
Elphinstone could not answer for the present state of
things lasting an hour, or a day (certainly not two days) ;
and the Pesliwa could not expect that the only repar-
ation he was to make was to be a mere promise to exert
himself to discover and to seize Trimbakji.

The Pesliwa replied to this by mere professions of

Mr. Elphinstone observed that in a case like the
j)resent no proof of sincerity could be admitted except
performance ; that unless Trimbakji were seized and
given up there could be no security against future
disturbances of the same or a more dangerous nature,
tlie moment our army was employed at a distance.

The Peshwa said that his army should, in a case
of that nature, be placed in the van to bear the brunt
of the battle ; that we should see how they exerted
themselves ; and that, if they were destroyed in the
attack, it would be then time for the English troops to
act, and not till then. Mr. Elphinstone said that what
was wanted was a proof that his Higlmess's own
designs were friendly, and that his declaring his inability
to act effectually against an enemy of the British
Government within his own territories gave ver}^ little
reason to rely on his goodwill. Mr. Elphinstone then
turned to the Bhau, and asked him if he had received



the message sent to him throiigii Krishna Eav regarding
a paper which it was his intention to send to his High-
ness ; to which the Bhaii assented. Mr. Elphinstone
then recapitulated the state to which things had been
brought, said that he begged his Highness to reflect
that the demand he now made for Trimbakji was not
on his own part, that he was announcing the resolutions
of the Governor-General, from which he could not
recede if he were inclined ; that he would send the
paper alluded to to-morrow morning, which specified
the security required from his Highness for the fulfil-
ment of this preliminaiy; and he entreated that his
Highness would seriously weigh the matter, for that he
had only a day for consideration ; and he trusted that he
would, \)y acceding to the proposal, preserve the alliance.
During the latter part of the conversation the
Peshwa constantly asked Mr. Elphinstone to point out
in what way he should act to seize Trimbakji. Mr.
Elphinstone said that it was impossible for him to point
out in detail the measures that were to be adopted by
his Highness's Government, but that if his Highness
would show a serious wish to apprehend Trimbakji,
Mr. Elphinstone would answer for his success ; that the
very question (so unusual with his Highness) how he
was to manage an interior affair of his own govern-
ment, evinced a disinclination to act cordially on the
part of his Highness ; that Mr. Elphinstone would,
however, mention a few of the steps which his High-
ness miglit take, though he would not say that there
might not be more and better ways that would occur to
a person familiar with the countr}^, and with the means
possessed l)y tlie Government ; his Highness might
seize all Trimljakji's adherents, some of whom were
in Puna, and many in the countries in wliich Trim-
l)akji had raised his men ; such as Mahad.'iji Pant, the


Mamhitdar * of Natepota, and Bapn Gaikwar, the
Patelf of Shetfal ; that Mr. Elphinstoiie could
mention a hundred others, and did not moan to sa}^ that
he required the seizure of those particular persons, nor
would he consider it the slightest satisfaction, but he
merely pointed out one among many modes of effecting
the object in view ; that he might also interrogate the
Mamlutdars of the countries in which Trimbakji was
known to have resided, and might thus trace him from
place to place until he was found ; that the people who
sent treasure to him and those who had returned from
his camp might be interrogated, and that many other
plans might be suggested, even if his Highness had no
information of his own. His Highness declared that
the persons in question should not only be seized,
but their lands and property confiscated ; he begged
that Mr. Elphinstone would allow one of his assistants
to concert measures with the Bliau for the operation of
his intention, and requested that that gentleman should
be allowed to act as an assessor to the Bhafi in his
inquiries, and to point out any method of investigation
conformable to the practice of Europe, and not that of
the Mahratta country. He denied, however, that it
could be proved that Trimbakji had ever been with
the insurgents, or in his Highness's country at all ; that
he might be alive or he might be dead, he might be
here or he might be in Mount Himalaya, but nobody
had either seen him or could say that he had any share
in raising this insurrection, the existence of which, his
Highness said, could no longer be denied. Mr. Elphin-
stone said that many persons had seen Trimbakji, and
reminded his Highness that his two nephews, Godaji
Dengle and Mahipa EAv Dengle, were now at the
head of insurrections in Khandesh.

* Farmer of revenue. t Head-man of a village.



The Pesliwa replied by sajang that there were many
persons of the Dengle family. Mr. Elphinstone said
these were Trimbakji's near relations ; to this the
Peshwa replied by saying he had, of course, many
relations. His Highness then said that the supposed
Trimbakji might be an impostor assuming his name,
as had happened in the case of the famous Bhaii who
fell at Paniput. Mr, Elphinstone said there could be
no object in the insurgent's taking Trimbakji's name,
that he was a person of low origin, and that he only

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 16 of 41)