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 9 of 41)
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stitute as occurs to me for the plan which has been
forbidden by the Court.

G9. The great advantages of a college are, that it
aff'ords the best opportunities of instruction both from
European professors and native munsliis, that it sup-
plies books, that it affords some superintendence over
the conduct of the young men, so that in the event of
idleness or dissipation it can be checked before it has
had time to reach any very injurious pitch. The exam-


inations, rewards, and degrees of honour complete the
advantages of the college system.

70. Its disadvantages are that it brings young men
too much together, that it detains them at the Presi-
dency, and, above all, that by regulating and watching
over a young man's studies it takes from him the
stimulus which he would derive from the consciousness
that his good or ill success was in his own hands.

71. These advantages are so great that they in some
measure reconcile me to the loss of the proposed
college, as far, at least, as the young civil servants are

72. We must now endeavour, as well as our means
permit, to unite the benefits and avoid the disadvant-
ages of both plans of instruction.

73. With the aid of European professors it is neces-
sary we should dispense, but something might be done
to increase the number of native munshies, provided
it could be effected without so great an addition as
would render their business insufficient to support pro-
perly qualified men. If they could not be found here,
men with every requisite qualification might easily be
procured. from Calcutta. On this subject we could not
perhaps do better than consult the gentlemen who have
hitherto had the goodness to examine the students.
The same gentlemen might be requested to state what
they conceived to be the best books for young students,
and means might be taken to procure sufficient numbers
from Calcutta, or to print them here. Superintendence
will not be required if we can succeed in preserving the
impression that young men themselves at present enter-
tain of the importance of their acquiring a sufficient
knowledge to enable them to pass the examination. If
a young man knows that such a trial must be submitted
to before he can enter on the advantages of his pro-



fession, and that he has nothmg to trust to for carrying
him through it but his own industry and attention, it is
not too much to expect that those qualities will be

74. The examinations, I understand, are at present
much easier than those in Calcutta. Something might
be added to the difficulty, but it ought not to be so
great as either to discourage the student or to detain
him too long among the temptations of a Presidency,
and at a distance from the active employments of the

75. The grammatical part of the languages should be
particularly attended to. If that be once completely
mastered, the rest must follow from practice.

76. The accompanying note by Captain Ruddell,
one of the Examiners to the College of Fort William,
will show the plan pursued there.

77. The whole of this plan depending on the exam-
ination, it becomes necessary to take care that it shall
be effectual. We* have hitherto been able to accom-
plish the object by the voluntary assistance of such
gentlemen as have happened to possess the requisite
qualifications at the Presidency ; but such a casual aid
can scarcely be relied on in a matter of so much import-
ance, especially after the regulation Committee shall
have been dissolved.

78. The best plan will jn-obably bo to appoint a
junior member to be also secretary, with such a salary
as may secure the occasional services of an eminent
linguist. This gentleman, with the Persian secretary,
will always make us sure of two efficient members, and
we may trust to accident for a third.

79. The Examining Committee may continue to
meet as at present, once in three months, and every
student should bo required, at tlic first meeting after


liis arrival, to declare whether it is his intention to
stand the examination at the next meeting. If sucli
should not be his intention, he should immediately l)e
appointed to a station up the country, as has been
ordered by the Court of Directors. I think this better
than sending every young man up the country at once,
according to the letter of the Court's order, because
much time is lost and expense incurred in the journey ;
and if a young man has a disposition to study, it is
better that he should at once have done with the
Presidency, and enter on the duties of his profession.

80. It has occurred to me to make it obligatory on
every student to pass an examination in Marathi, or in
Gujarathi, as well as in Hindustani ; and experience
has shown that, without such a rule, those languages
will not be studied. My unwillingness to keep young
men at the Presidency, however, induces me to abandon
that proposal, and to recommend in its stead the publi-
cation of a rule that no young man shall henceforward
be promoted to the second step in his line (whether
from Assistant-Registrar to Registrar, or from third
Assistant-Collector to second) until he has been examined
in the language of the district where he has been
stationed. This second examination, however, might
be conducted by a committee on the spot.

81. All these expedients are designed to secure a
bare sufficiency of knowledge to provide for the dis-
charge of ordinary duties. To obtain higher proficiency,
other measures must be devised ; and, for that purpose,
I know no means more likely to be effectual than the
system of prizes already in use in Calcutta. I subjoin
a copy of the statute on that subject, and I would have
it understood that a separate prize will be given for
each language ; so that if any one obtains the required



proficiency in tln*ee languages, he will receive 2,400
rupees instead of 800.

82. It is my anxious wish that the higher degrees of
those prizes should be thrown open to military men.
It is the encouragement of Oriental learning rather
than the transaction of business that they are designed
to promote, and it cannot be the object of Government
to exclude any labourers from a field the extent of
which is so much beyond our power of cultiva-

83. The orders of the Court of Directors to the
Supreme Government are, however, so positive against
the admission of military men, that I can only propose
the address of an earnest representation to the
Honourable Court to induce them to permit its









Trimbakji Dengle, in whose conduct the late dis-
cussions with the Court of Puna have originated, was
first appointed to carry on the communica- Narrative
tions between the Peshwa and the Resident, mmder "f the
after the notification of the recall of Gan- Minister.
gadliar Shastri to Baroda, and the suspen- Hostilities with

, ,1 -r-% • • T /-i p •! tiie Teshwa.

sion by the iiritisli Government oi its
arbitration of the disputes between the Peshwa and the
Gaikwar. Trimbakji, who had been a menial servant
of the Peshwa, and had found some opportunities of
rendering his Highness essential service, had always
enjoyed a large portion of his master's confidence, and
became by this appointment the real and efficient
Minister of the State of Puna, although Sadashiv
Maenkshwar still retained the rank and designation of
First Minister. The effects of the elevation of his
Higlmess's favourite to a situation of such power and
importance were soon discovered in an entire change
of the internal policy of the Court of Puna, and in


repeated infractions of the Treaty of Bassein ; all of
which were, from time to time, reported to the
Governor-General, and on one occasion brought to the
notice of the Peshwa's Government in a detailed and
forcible remonstrance, addressed by Mr. Elphinstone to
his Higlmess's Ministers. The Resident had, from the
unfavom-able opinion which he entertained of Trim-
bakji's character, and the knowledge which he pos-
sessed of the motives which led to his appointment to
be Minister (as fully explained in the Resident's letter,
dated the 27tli May, 1815), anticipated the probability
of the British Government being soon involved in dis-
cussions with the State of Puna. These changes in the
internal policy of that Court, together with the appre-
hensions which Mr. Elphinstone had of the consequences
to which they might lead, were submitted to the notice
of the Governor-General soon after the nomination of
Trimbakji to conduct the communications between the
Peshwa's Government and the Residency.* These
expectations were soon realized, although in consequence
of events entirely unexpected.

It is known that mutual claims have long depended
between the Government of the Peshwa and that of the
Gaikwar, arising out of the former connection between
those States. By the provisions of the treaties con-
cluded between the British Government and the Peshwa
and Gaikwar respectively, the British Government is
bound to arbitrate these claims. A further subject of
discussion arose respecting the farm of Ahmedabad,
comprehending the principal portion of the Peshwa's
lands in Gujarat, which had been granted to the Gaik-
war on a lease of ten years ; the term of the lease being
nearly expired, and the renewal of it being an object of
considerable importance both to the British and the

* 'imx March, 1815.


Gaikwar's interests in Gujarat, a negotiation was
opened for the purpose of endeavouring to obtain it.
With this question were connected others referring to
the Peshwa's interest in Katiawar, the whole forming
a subject of considerable delicacy and moment, in
which the honour and interests of the British Govern-
ment were directly concerned.

It was very desirable that the Government of Puna
and Baroda should endeavour to come to an understand-
ing on all these points by direct negotiation ; and that
the arbitration of the British Government should not
be resorted to, except in the event of a failure of those
endeavours. This course was accordingly recom-
mended ; and after an effectual attempt to accomplish
a satisfactory arrangement through the agency of
the Gaikwar's Vakil at Puna, wdiose measures were
counteracted by every species of intrigue, both there
and at Baroda, instigated unquestionably by Trimbakji,
who had a personal interest in the resumption of the
Peshwa's direct authority in Gujarat, it was determined
that Gangadhar Shastri, the Gaikwar's principal
Minister, should be deputed to Puna to bring matters
to a close. He accordingly proceeded to Puna in the
character of a public Minister, and under the declared
protection and guarantee of the British Government,
the renewal of the lease of Ahmedabad was positively
rejected by the Peshwa, and the lands delivered over to
his Highness's officers. Every possible delay, pro-
crastination, and evasion were thrown in the way of
the negotiation of the other depending points ; at length,
with the concurrence of the Piesident, he determined to
retire from Puna, leaving the unadjusted questions to
be arbitrated by the British Government. A remarkable
change in the conduct of the Peshwa and his Minister
Trimbakji, and in their demeanour towards the


Shastri, induced him to sus^^end this intention. His
Highness and the Minister now began to show extra-
ordinary marks of favour and kindness to Gangadhar
Shastri, and to endeavour by every means in their
power to concihate his regard and confidence ; his
Highness even went so far as to propose that one of his
daughters should be married to the Shastri's son, and
the preparations for the marriage were in some pro-
gress. Hopes of an early adjustment of all the depend-
ing questions, on terms which the Shastri thought it
would be for his master's interest to accept, were also
held out ; deceived by these appearances, the Shastri,
with the consent of the Resident, deferred his departure
from the Peshwa's Darbar. He accompanied his
Highness and the Minister on a pilgrimage to Nasik,
whither the Resident accompanied the Court, and he
returned with the Pesliwa to Puna ; and thence pro-
ceeded on a visit of devotion to Pandharpur, at the
earnest entreaty of the Pesliwa and Trimbakji, leaving
most of his attendants at Puna, at their desire.

On the night of the 14th July, the Shastri received
a message from Trimbakji, entreating him to come to the
temple and perform his devotions. Being indisposed,
the Shastri declined the invitation, which was three
times renewed with increased earnestness. Yielding at
length to these entreaties, he repaired to the temple,
attended by only four or five persons altogether.
Having performed his devotions, and conversed for a
few minutes with Trimbakji, he left the temple to
return home ; and had only got a short distance from it,
when he was attacked and killed by five armed men
who came from the temple, and immediately ran away
towards tlie same p]ac(i after perpetrating the murder.
The particulars of this affair are detailed in a despatch
from the Resident at Puna, dated 5th September ; and


being supported by evidence, left no room to doubt that
Trimbakji was implicated in the guilt of the Shastri's
assassination. The anxiety shown by Trimbakji for
the Shastri's attendance in the temple on the night of
his assassination ; his desire that he should be accom-
panied but by few people ; the total absence of all in-
vestigation on the part of the Peshwa's Government,
after the murder had been perpetrated, notwithstanding
the atrocity with which it was marked ; and above all,
the fact of no measures having been taken for the arrest
of Bhagwant Raw and Bandoji, who were at Pandhar-
pur, and on whom suspicion immediately lighted as
being the known personal and political enemies of the
deceased — seemed, in the general opinion, to be cir-
cumstances which irresistibly fixed the guilt on Trim-
bakji. The Peshwa himself did not escape the im-
putation of having instigated or approved the murder.

Mr. Elphinstone, who was at Ellora when he learned
the murder of the Shastri, immediately addressed the
Peshwa,* acquainting him with his intention of return-
ing to Puna without delay, and calling on his Highness
to institute an early and serious investigation of the
case, with a view to discover and punish the assassins
of the Minister of an ally of the British Government,
who had come to his Highness's Court under the
express guarantee of the former. Mr. Elphinstone at
the same time directed Captain Pottinger, his assistant,
whom he had left in charge of the Residency at Puna,
to take immediate measures for the security of the
persons of the rest of the Baroda Mission ; and autho-
rized him, should such a step appear to be necessary
for their protection, to invite them to encamp in the
neighbourhood of the British Residency. Mr. Elphin-
stone 's representations were enforced in a letter addressed

* 25th July.


by the Governor-Greneral to the Peshwa,* soon after
his Lordship became acquainted with the tragical event
at Pandharpiir. Mr. Elphinstone also received his Lord-
ship's instructions in detail with respect to the course
which he was to pursue, in the event of his demand to
the Peshwa for the discovery and punishment of the
murderers being complied with, resisted, or evaded by
his Highness. The refusal or the evasion of our
demands would unquestionably place the Court of Puna
in a state of enmity with the British Government.
Under a supposition that either of these courses might
be pursued by the Peshwa, from a belief of Trimbakji
being the author of the guilt, Mr. Elphinstone, though
he was enjoined not to precipitate hostilities with his
Highness, was directed not to relax in the prosecution
of our demands, which could not be retracted with
dignitj^ or security. His attention was also particularly
drawn to the importance of preventing the escape of
Trimbakji from Puna, either with or without the
knowledge of the Peshwa ; and as it was possible that
his Highness himself might endeavour to withdraw from
his capital, it was also recommended that every opposition
should be made to this step should his Highness pur-
pose to adopt it. Li order to enable Mr. Elphinstone to
follow this line of conduct witli effect, he was authorized,
in addition to the control which he already possessed
over the Puna subsidiary force, to make requisition for
military aid to the Governments of Fort St. George and
Bombay, and to Colonel Doveton, should the progress
of events appear to him to require this procedure.

Notwithstanding the urgent demand made by Mr.
Elphinstone for an inquiry into the circumstances of
the murder, and tlie punishment of the criminals when
they sliould be discovered, no steps towards an in-

* 15th August.


vestigation were taken either by the Peshwa or his
Minister, during their continuance at Pandharpur. As
the general voice pointed at Trimbakji as being the
instigator of the crime, and from the tone of Mr. Elphin-
stone's remonstrance to the Peshwa, it was expected
that he would not long delay a declaration of the senti-
ments which he entertained on the subject, extra-
ordinary precautions were taken by his Highness and
Trimbakji for the security of their persons. Before
the death of the Shastri, the Peshwa had already
adopted strong measures for his own protection, which,
after the murder, were redoubled. Now troops were
entertained and assembled from a distance, on purpose
to guard his Highness ; and when he travelled, his
person was attended, contrary to his usual practice, by
a large bodj^ of armed men. The entry of the Peshwa
into his capital was marked by every symptom of dis-
trust and anxiety. He arrived in a close palankin
without giving notice of his approach, and without
being met by any of his chiefs. At night strong guards
were posted both at his palace and at the house of
Trimbakji. It happened also that his arrival at Puna
Avas on the da}^ of a great festival, on which thousands
of Brahmins were accustomed to attend in order to
receive charity from his Highness, who had hitherto
never failed to be present. On this occasion, however,
of its recurrence, he was not present. These extra-
ordinary precautious were adopted, as Mr. Elphinstone
subsequently learned, in consequence of the fear which the
Peshwa and Trimbakji entertained of being assassinated
by some of the soldiers of Gangadhar Shastri, who
had remained at Puna with Bapu Mairal. After his
Higlmess's arrival at the city, the levies of new troops,
and the assemblage of those alread}^ in his service, in
the vicinity of Puna, continued as before. These


measures, which had been before carried on with
secrecy, w^re more openly adopted after Mr. Elphin-
stone had pnbHcly demanded the sm'render of Trim-
bakji to the British Government.

On learning that no attention had been paid to his
first remonstrance from Ellora, and having become
possessed of information which left in his mind no
doubt of Trimbakji's guilt. Mr. Elphinstone re-
solved not to delay publicly charging the Minister with
the crime of having instigated the murder of the
Shastri, and calling on the Peshwa for his immediate
imprisonment. Mr. Elphinstone judged that this
demand, the advance of which he regarded to be
sooner or later inevitable, could then be made with the
greatest effect, and the best prospect of success. The
mind of the public, as has been above observed, was
fully impressed with the conviction of the Minister's
guilt ; Trimbakji had not had time to work on the
feelings of the Peshwa to subdue the popular clamour
which was loud against him, and to silence or remove
the most formidable of his enemies ; and Mr. Elphin-
stone, foreseeing that the instructions of the Governor-
General, when they arrived, would be to call on the
Peshwa for justice, deemed that no period could be
more advantageous for making such a demand, as the
subsidiary force could at that moment be spared from
the frontier, and might return to its cantonments at
Sirur without creating suspicion.* The considera-
tions by which Mr. Elphinstone was guided in the line
of proceedings which he adopted were submitted in
detail to the Governor- General and received the most
unqualified approbation of his Lordship, whose views
on the whole subject he had correctly anticipated.!

* Mr. Elpliinstone's dcspatcli, dated 16th August,
t Mr. Adiiius's despatch, dated 10th September.


Mr. Elpliinstone at first detormiiiud to take no otlier
precaution against any attack which Triinbakji might
make when his case became desperate, than to place
the brigade at Puna and the troops at the Kcsidoncy
upon the alert, and to order one of the battalions at
Puna to be relieved, by which means he might com-
mand a reinforcement by the detention of the relieved
battalion; but after communication with Colonel Smith,
he resolved to recall the subsidiary force to Sirur, a
measure which, in his judgment, appeared to be indis-
pensably necessary, on account of the very small
number of troops then at Puna, and of that detachment
being wholly dependent on the city of Puna for its
necessary supplies of all descriptions. Mr. Elpliinstone
communicated the return of the subsidiary force to its
usual cantonments to the Peshwa, in the manner which
appeared to him to be the least calculated to excite
alarm or anxiety on the part of his Highness. Tn
order more securely to enable them to send off the
family of the late Shastri to Baroda, Bapu Mairal,
and the rest of the Mission, were invited to encamp in
the neighbourhood of the British Kesidency, which they
at length effected, though not altogether without diffi-
culty, in consequence of a mutiny, supposed to have
been excited by the intrigues of Trimbakji and Ban-
doji, having broken out among some of their troops,
who, making a want of pay the pretext for their dis-
affection, were readily joined by the other. Mr. Elpliin-
stone happily succeeded in suppressing this mutiny
without being compelled to resort to force for the
protection of the Baroda Mission, a measure which
might, in the state of irritation which then prevailed,
have led to immediate hostilities between the British
troops and those of the Peshwa.

Soon after the Peshwa's return to Puna, Mr. Elpliin-


no direct allusion was made to the possibility of his
Highness having imbibed such apprehensions. The
agent whom the Bliau wished to see being disqualified
by his age and infirmities from undertaking a negotia-
tion, Mr. Elphinstone sent another person, to whom
the Bhau delivered a long message on the part of the
Peshwa, professing his attachment to the British Govern-
ment, but denying the guilt of Trimbakji, offering,
however, at the same time, to arrest him immediately
if his guilt should be proved, and promising even to
punish him as convicted of the crime if Mr. Elphin-
stone could prove the fact of Trimbakji's three
invitations to the Shastri to come to the temple with
few attendants. Mr. Elphinstone replied to this
message only by repeating that he was prepared to
make good his charges, and had already furnished his
Highness with sufficient proofs. He therefore again
called on him to arrest Trimbakji, and warned him
against the danger which menaced the alliance from the
violence and intrigues of Trimbakji, as long as he
should continue in power.

Discussions of this nature continued for some days,
during which Mr. Elphinstone had occasion to address
his Highness on the subject of the assemblage of troops
at Puna ; but the Piesident's remonstrance produced no
other result than that of the rendezvous of the troops
being fixed at twenty or twenty-five miles from Puna
instead of the city, the recruiting still going on as before.

During the whole of these discussions, the Peshwa
chiefly based his resistance to the demands of the
British Government, on the ground of the injustice of
arresting a person before he was convicted of the crime

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 9 of 41)