Copyright
N Kasturi.

History of the British occupation of India online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryN KasturiHistory of the British occupation of India → online text (page 1 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


OF M



Pf}4ll^MiM*»*^^






jtt^



HISTORY

OE

THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA



By
E. KASTURI, B.A.



BU'



. >l RELATIONS






Rise of the Christian Power in India
By

Major B. D. BASU, I. M. S. (Retired)

Vols. I to V



R. CHATTEEJBE

Calcutta



Printed by

A. C. Sarkar

at the Prabasi Press,

91, Upper Circular Road, Calcutta



Published by

R. Chatterjee

91, Upper Circular Road, Calcutta








CONTENTS


Page


1.


Introduction


1


2


Struggles of different Christian






nations for Supremacy


4


3.


The English in Bengal : Early






History


11


4.


Meer Jaffer and his Rule


22


5.


The Second Revolution in Bengal


27


6.


Meer Cassim and his Rule


31


7.


Restoration of Meer Jaffer


40


w 8.


Events in Bengal after Meer




^B


Jaffer's Death


44


■ . 9.


The Administration of Warren Hastings 49


H ^^-


The Rise of the Marathas and the




^B


First Maratha War


52


■ 11.


Hyder Ali


62


■1 12.


The Rise of the Nizam's Dynasty


67


B 13.


The Rise of the Oude Principality


70


■ 14.


Sir John Macpherson


72


Wk 15.


Lord Cornwallis


73


■ 16.


Sir John Shore


78


■ 17.


Thf^ Marquess of Wellesley


83


■ 18.


Wellesley and the Nizam


85


■ 19.


The War with Tipu


88


■ 20.


Wellesley and Oude


92


■ - 21.


Wellesley and the Camatic


96


H 22


Affairs in Surat


101


B 23.


Wellesley and the Peshvra


103


■ 24.


The Treaty of Bassein


108


■ 25.


The Campaign of Intrigues


113


^^ft 26.


The War against Sindhia and Bhonsle


116


^^B


The War with the Holkar


125



11







Page


28.


The Last Days of Wellesley in India


139


29.


Lord Coruwallis's Second Adminis-






tration


141


30.


Sir George Barlow


144


31.


Lord Minto


148


32.


The Marquess of Hastings


153


33.


The Pindari War and the Last of






the Peshwas


157


34.


The "War with the Bhonsle


165


35.


The "War with the Holkar


170


36.


Other Measures of Hastings


172


37.


Lord Amherst


174


38.


Lord William Bentinok


180


39.


The Eenewal of the Charter, 1833


187


40.


Lord Auckland


191


41.


Lord Ellenborough


195


42.


Lord Harding e


207


43.


Lord Dalhonsie


212


44.


Acquisitions by Fraud


223


45.


The Indian Mutiny of 1857


232


46.


Transfer of the Government of
India from the Company to the






Crown


23V


47.


Keferences





INTRODUCTION

India, unfortunately, does not possess a complete
reliable history of her past or even of modern
times. During the British period of her history,
India has not produced anyone who would
take the trouble of writing a true complete
history of her past and present. To expect
this from the English historians of India
is undoubtedly an impossibility, for they are
apt "to make expediency the test of truth/^ jT
English authors have "generally "spread ' erro-
neous views and pretty half-truths, and so,
Indians have to sift the truth from a mass of
prejudiced descriptions. Again, the Indian question j
has *'never pa ssed out of^ aolitics '^ as Lord Eose-
bery said oT the Irish question. The Spanish i
Catholics, probably in a confessing mood, have
left a more *or less true account of their conquest ^
of America, but the English Protestants have left
no record of their misdeeds. Such'~oflBcers of the
Company as dared to speak out, like Captain j I ^
Cunningham and Major Evans Bell, were disgraced | t /3
and dismissed. Christian missionaries had the
mission of proving their co-religionists to be

"paragons ^ of virtue'' in contrast with the black

heathens of the land. Non-oflJcial Englishmen had,
as a class, no sympathy for Indians. 8ir
George Trevelyan wrote in 1864, "However kind
he might be to his native servants, however just
to his native tenants, there is not a single non- .
official in India who would not consider the senti- |
ment that we hold India for the benefit of the !
inhabitants a loathsome un -English piece of cant' '.^ •
India was, to them, a landlo oe fleeced ""an3 ex-



H| India

wL



Z HISTORY OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA

ploited. Any attempt on the part of educated
Indians to unravel the tangled web of Indian

J history during British supremacy is construed
as creating disaffection to the British Government
We have also to expose many falsehoods that
have been wilfully spread as truth by English
writers. Foremost among these is the one which
I represents that India was given over to anarchy
J until the British assumed its government. "India
would never have existed but for England — If
left to herself, India would degenerate into a bear-
A \ is garden"2 and so on and so forth. Another is that
^ India has been conquered by the sword. These
falsehoods have to be thoroughly exposed by a
consideration of the means employed and the
policy pursued by the British.

The historian, like the scientist, has not only to
classify but to generalise and explain by means
of theories and hypotheses. This requires what
. ^ Tyndall styles ^'sc ientific imagJMtJQ^'' to discover
me missing links." Of course, history should be
based on the solid rock of or iginal re'search ^mong.
. cont emporary records ; but for this purpose, Indians
j cannot get access to many unpubU£h_ed_public-
y I documents, whilst the published ones are noTflways
' trustworthy. Mr. James Mill writes of "the skill ol
^ |th§_Court of Directors in suppTessing~sucH"inform-
^ "Ttion as they wished not to appear", while Mr.
^ I Cunningham mentions "alterations in State Papers to
j suit the temporary views of political warfare" and
\ "counterfeit documents which the ministerial stamp
\ forces into currency".^ We have to be cautious
of these "chains of dangerous lies." Some import-
ance has also to be attached to traditions, anec-
dotes and legends, though their handling requires
great moderation. The treaties, apart from their
equivocal language, are also of high importance.
Contemporary records, written by Indians and



INTEODUCTION



uninfluenced by foreigners, deserve more attention
and credit than they have hitherto attracted.

Under these circumstances, a true history of
British India is st ill a desidera tum ; but it will be
sheer cowardice not to attempt writing it because
the diflBculties are great. The work may be in-
complete or imperfect ; but, just as "it is better to
have loved and lost than never to have loved at
all", so it is better to have attempted and failed in
the task than never to have made the attempt at all.



/V



HISTORY OF THE

BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA

Struggles of Different European Nations for
Supremacy in India

India has, from time immemorial, played a
prominent part in the civilization of the nations
of the earth. Their commercial instinct led the
navigators of European nations to~^iscover the sea-
route to India. Golden India — the theme of poets,
the wonderland of travellers, haunted them in their
dreams and hence they set sail, unlike the
Crusaders, to amass earthly riches. They preferred
the sea-route, because it was less risky in those
days of bloody wars upon the land and less
expensive since no toll need be paid on the high-
ways of the sea.

The sea-route to India was discovered when
Yasco da Gama with a handful of daring followers
braved the stormy passage round the Cape of Good
^ Hope and landed at Calicut on the 22nd May,
\ii^ ,1498. The Za morin^^ C alicut extended to them
the traditional Indian hospitality, not knowing that
his guests would, in twelve years more, plunder

/ his city and burn his palace! By the superior
strength of their fire arms, the Portuguese won
easy victories over the Indians, and within less

,j than a century, their flag waved triumphantly
/j over Mangalore, Cochin, Ceylon, Ormuz, Diu, Goa

/ and Negapatam. Mo nopo lising the profitable trafiic
of the Indian seas, they amassed colossal fortunes.



STRUGGLES OF DIFFERENT EUROPEAN NATIONS



brx^f^-



^



jjd



though the inhabitants of the Portuguese dominions
groaned under their heavy yoke. In the words .

of Alfonzo de Souza (1545), "The Portuguese | *^ ^ ^
entered India with the sword in one hand and the
crucifix in the other; finding much gold, they
laid aside the crucifix to fill their pockets, and
not being able to hold them up with one hand —
they were grown so heavy, — they dropped the
sword too ; being found in this posture by those
who came after, they were easily overcome." ^

The D utch s upplanted the Portuguese in the
Eastern seas. X Dutchman who had escaped from a
Portuguese prison was the first to electrify ._jU3eir
phlegmatic temperament and direct their energies
towards the wealth of the East. Eight vessels
were soon equipped and despatched, four by the
Cape route and four by the North-East passage. ^
The former reached Java about J^8. The Dutch
had established, by 1663, factories at Pulicat,^
Sadras, Igra, Patn a,, Su rat and Ah medab ad. In
_1675, they constructed a factory at" Chinsurah.
They prospered as long as they confinecT their
energies to a steady prosecution of commerce;
but, Meer Jaffai\ the Britis h^nuppet, resented the
extent or their despotism and secretly encour-
aged the Dutch to import troops from Batavia. A
fleet of seven ships with 1100 men arrived in .
due course, but Clive saw through the Dutch plans /
and destroyed their army before it reached Chin-
surah. The Dutch power henceforward rapidly
declined,- and in 1805^ they exchanged Chinsurah,
Maladlfc|nd other possessions in India fQr_Sumiaz-^
we have no relic in India of their im-
/aspirations.

pirates and adventurers of Bristol had £^
3n jealous of the commercial importance ^
JIfon and, as early as 1527, Robert Thorne
sed Henry VIII to open a route to India



/^



rr




b HISTORY OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDU

_by the North- V est, but all attempts in that direc-

/^"^ i tion failed. In 1578, Sir Francis_Dxake captured a

Portuguese vessel hailing from the East and came

^yj/ upon very valuable cljjazfediscl osing th e desir ed rou te.

In 1594, Lancaster rea3ii3~l3SiaTiy the Cape

route and in 1600, the East India Company-
received its charter from the British Queen.

"The Societyi-of A dj^nturers'' constituted into the
East India Company resolved on consultation "not
r?) Jo-SgLPJoy ^^y gentle man in any place of c jiarge''^
^^ lest a grearminib^ri5T adventurers might withdraw
their contributions. It is necessary to note that
^adventurers', as a rule, do not observe any code
of morality or show traits of good breeding.
- f The first Englishman to set foot on Indian soil
"^k^ was Captain Hawkins^ who landed a,t3llia.t i^
Iko ^ 11608 with a letter from James I to the G-reat
I Mbghul. The rivalry of Portuguese Jesuits com-
pelled him to return to Surat. In 1612, Captain
i^''*'- ^st defeated the Portuguese squadron off Surat,
•i-^^' where the English founded a factory. English
^'ju/t.A/ factories soon began to multiply in various
\y Pl^^^^s^ such as IJiighli, where they secured a footing
/^"^yV' ^^ nieans of an English doctor's success in curing
^ t ^ the illnesses of Jehangir^s_d.a.aghtpr rti^ ^^i^ of
.Shah Shj ij^/s,, wives.

As a trading corporation, the Company met

with great success. Immense fortunes were made

by every one connected with the Company in any

capacity. They had as yet no ambition to rule

India. Sir Thomas Eoe, the English ambassador

/J / I ^^ *^^ Moghul Court, advised them, "If you will

/j|\..A-^ J profit, seek it at sea and in quiet trade." But, on

* the third day of April, 1661, the Company ^^ was

\[;y \ I authorised to make peace and war with "non-

^ ' ' \ Christian" people and was thus invested with

I political powers.

The idea of acquiring supreme power in India




STRUGGLES OF DIFFERENT EUROPEAN NATIONS 7

did not originate with the English. The French
"first broke the spell which held the Eur o^eanS-^^ \
in subjection to th e natiy epowers^'. The two im- " \^
portant discoveries for conquering India, ( 1 ) the
weakness of the native armies against European
discipline and (2) the facility of imparting disclip-
line to natives in the European Service, were made
by the French/'^ Th ough Dupl eix^ gnffered at the
hands of his own countrymen for tTylng^ to carry"
out this scheme, the East India Company adopted
it with zeal and vigour.

The French "Corapagnie des Indes" was started -n^^
by Colbert in 1664 under very favourable auspices ^f>(^J^
and within four years they secured a factory at ^"" - ^
Surat and founde d Pondicherrv in 167,4 by the k^^^'^-^^
conciliatory policy of Francois Martin. Dr. Lenoir ^iP'^-^^^t^
and M. Dumas, who succeeded him, took a world ^4>y^

of pains to make Pondicherry agreeable to the
Indian rulers like Dost Ali Khan , the TvTawab of
-iJlfi__CarQatic, who visited it. M. Dumas went to
the lenglF of supporting Dost Ali Khan and his C^-tse^t^

son-in-law Chanda Saheb against the Marathas and, "■ —

for this purpose, strengthened the fortifications of
Pondicherry and formed the first Sepoy corps
known. Dumas became so famous for ousting the
Marathas that the effeminate representative of the
house of Timur conferred on him the title of . ^
Nawab and the command of 2000 horse. *^H<m^i^

He was succeeded in 1741 by' Dupleix — a ^7^^
remarkable leader of men like Napoleon and, as
ambitious. But for want _ of support from homt^ . a|
his dream of establishing a European empire in
India would have succeeded. Taking advantage of
the Enropean situation, he despatched La Bourdon-
nais to Madras, the principal seat of English
commerce, on the plea that he wanted to restore
it to the Nawab of the Carnatic. La Bourdonnais *
was bribed into ransoming the fort to the English '



O HISTORY OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA

and so, the Nawab himself attacked Madras.

Dupleix went to the length of dispersing his ally's

soldiers by his own guns and drove him infco the

arms of the English, who attacked Pondicherry

by sea. The attempt of the English failed and

J,, Dupleix sent messengers carrying the happy

M' ^^-' tidings to Arcot, Haiderabad and Delhi. While in

"^^ this self-congratulatory mood, news of the Peace of

Aachen arrived and Dupleix was obliged to

surrender Madras.

^ ' The armies of the two Companies were not long

idle. Chanda Sahib expelled Sahojee from the

) kingdom of Tanjore. The Marathas imprisoned the

^ / insolent Muslim and nominated Pertap Singh, a

C^^i " very popular ruler, for Tanjore. The English began

^ to fulfil their agreement with Sahojee by capturing

Devicottah and then entering into an alliance

with Pertap Singh. It is only fair to add that

they^ granted Sahojee a pension!

Not to be beaten in this game, Dupleix ran-
^ somed Chanda Sahib and helped him to defeat and
^ kill Anwaruddin, the ally of the English and
Chanda Sahib's rival to the Nawabship of Arcot,^
; -J k < in the battle of Amboor in 1749. All the discon-
tented princes of the Deccan now flocked to the
^ ' French camp. On the strength of French alliance,
Muzaffar Jung proclaimed himself Subedar of the
D'eccan, and Nazir Jung, Ids uncle, who came down
to the south on a campaign of revenge, was
assassinated. Mahomed Ali, son of Anwaruddin,
was holding out in Trichinopoly assisted by Law-
rence of the English Company. Trichinopoly was
truly the rock upon which the ambition of Dupleix
was wrecked. His attempt to capture it failed;
^y ♦ a reinforcement of 700 men was drowned in the
'llfir sea. The French Government considered his plans
^ ijvv villainous and he was recalled in 1754. He was
^ disgraced and died in poverty. His successor M.



STRUGGLES OF DIFFERENT EUROPEAN NATIONS 9

Godehu concluded peace, by which "the two ;
Companies agreed not to interfere in the differences \
that might arise among the princes of the »

country", an agreeme nt, honourably ^kept bx

the Fr ench ^o nlv. The French Company came to ^^^^
an end in 1769. Pondi cherry and ChandernagGre) f ,?u«-/
are their only important possessions in India to- ^- ^^^-^^
day. The French were not a great colonising
nation, probably because they were to o_ honest.
Bishop Heber has recorded the extreme popularity
of the French in India. They had "mo re coj igilia- ('
ting and popular manners". Many of them adopted '^
Indian dress and customs. They did not have ^-r^
"the foolish, surly, national pride" ^ of the English- (^^
man. ""^ ^

The establishment of the British power in India / ^
has to be explained on the principle of survival '
of the fittest. They possessed the scheming V
and designing nature to a great extent. Sir i
John Malcolm wrote : "Force and power could not |
have approached the shores of India without t
meeting with resistance ; but to the unpretending j
merchant every encouragement was offerediX The/
author of " Justice for India " writes that the',
Indian empire is a creature of might, not of
right". It is the object of this book to narrate t
the manner in which the British attained
political power — how they took advantage oft J^
the simplicity, credibility and faithfulness of ^
the Indian, "great qualities which formed |
alike the strength and weakness of those I
races, their strength after they had been conquer- I
ed, their weakness during the struggle'lL William
^Howitt writ es : "The system which, for more than
a century, was steadily at work to strip the
native princes of their dominions and, that too,
under the most sacred pleas of right and expedi-
ency, is a system of torture more exquisite than



\



®




10 HISTORY OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA

regal or spiritual tyranny ever before discovered;
such as the world has nothing similar to show."^
Again, a writer in the Calcutta Review considers
the comparison, made by the natives, of Englishmen
with white ants as very apt and says that "in our
early connection with India there was much, from
the contemplation of which the moralist will
shrink, and the Christian protest with abhorrence".^^
They broke treaties whenever convenient and
I acted on the principle "di ^de and conque r."
I According to Sir John Kaye;~^f the violation of
existing covenants ever involved ipso facto a loss

Iof territory, the British Government in the East
would not now possess a rood of land between
the Burhampooter and the Indus." The entertain-
ment of European officers by Indian princes was
, / / ^ ^^^^ mistake. The planting of British Residents
f^^A^ in their capitals was the cause of their ruin ; for
.^ one of the duties of these officers was to foment

,/// dissfijiaions.^i The system of subsidiary., alliance

. was designed to wipe out the independent

^in^^V existence of Indian States and, according to
W. Kussell, Resident at Hyderabad, it led
•.inevitably to the destruction of the State which
[embraced it. Sir Thomas Munro informed the
iMur-quess of Hastings that i^ destroyed every
igovernment which it undertook to protect.



I



The English in Bengal : Early History.



Dr. Wilson noted the fact that the British esta-
blished their dominion from Bengal and not from
Madras or Bombay a s an unsol jed riddle. This
was because Ben gal was mor^ fpr tijp_fl.nrl nnpi-i^fp^^^.
ted. There was also no navy in the East corres-
ponding to the Maratha navy on the West.
Their mask of sanctimoniousness and businesslike
habits pleased the natives and they earned in
Bengal a reputation better than that at Surat, where
they were regarded as "a set of vile brutes fiercer
than the mastiffs."i2

The Company's supremacy in Bengal and India
is inseparably connected with their tr gachery
towards Sirajuddaula. His maternal grandfather —
Ali Verdi Khan^ — knew the intriguing nature of
the British only too well, for they were allying
themselves with the disaSscted_/Geniufi - Eajas and
inhabit ants' lik e the Raja ^of ^"^uiFdwan, an d jOniY
Chand. ' His^informers and spies were also able
"To tell him much about the Company's designs on
his own satrapy. He was, therefore, cautious in
his dealings with them and his plan was "to
oblige all the Europeans indifferently to have no
forts." '"You are merchants', he often said to our
(French) and the English vakeels, 'what need have
you of a fortress? Being under my protection you
have no enemies to fear."'i3 The story goes that in
his dying speech to his successor Siraj, he said :
"Suffer them not, my son, to have fortifications or
soldiers : if you do, the country is not yours."^^

When the young Siraj ascended the throne,
he did not find Bengal a bed of roses. The Eng-
lish "never addressed themselves to him, and



^-^'C^



l^f







■^-^




12 HISTORY OF THE BRITISH OCCUPATION OF INDIA



^avoided all communications with him."^^ They
even refused him admission into their factories
and country houses. They insulted him by not
sending him the customary presents on his acces-
sion. The English had already begun intrigues
with Shaukat Jung, a relative of Ali Verdi Khan,
and to guarantee safety to all who sought their
protection agaiiist^jhej^wab. They issued dustucks
£^P /, or passes to a large number of natives in order to
'7' "^^.^ trade customs-free, to the great prejudice of the
Nawab's revenue. "Worse than all, they began to
levy duties on goods brought by the very govern-
ment which permitted them to trade free. These
measures, according to David Rannie, "caused
eternal clamour and complaints against us at
Court."^6 Setting at naught the Nawab's authority,
the English began strengthening the_ fortifications
at Calcutta on^Jh e_plea of an imminent ITench
. j^. war, though even iT the plea was true, they
\p^ should have obeyed the Court of Directors who
ordered them " to engage Jbhe NaboJ:i^__^gi.va_ you^ ,
t'A/^ hisjgrotection." The ErencB "at Chandernagofe
obeyeT^iraj but the English sent his messengers
back, and they seem to have sent an offensive

(reply that "the Ditch will be filled up with the
heads of Moors." At about the same time, a
. gentleman called EajaJBallabh who, while Dewan
^^^^ at Dacca, had proved "oFgreat help to the English,
" * " . fell into d isfavour at C ourt and so, to save his
^ ^flUj^/ property from confiscation, he sent his son Kissen
^y^ .^ JDas with all his moveable wealth to Fort William,
/v^'u/ The Nawab demanded his surrender but met with a
ly peremptory refusal. In an interview with Mr.
Wr;?^^t^ Watts at Cossimbazar, Siraj warned him of the
"^z ' dangerous consequences of the policy pursued by
his countrymen, but that officer never cared
to communicate the conversation to Calcutta.

Insulted and treated with contempt by the






u^



L



THE ENGLISH IN BENGAL! EARLY HISTORY 13

British traders at Calcutta, Sirajuddaula had now
no other resource except making an effort to
extirpate them from his dominions. So, he des-
patched troops against Cossimbazar, which was
surrendered without a siege. He spared the
English merchants there, in the true spirit of
a humane ruler. This unexpected success allowed
him to march to Calcutta before the rains and,
intrepid general as he was, he covered the dis-
tance of 160 miles in eleven days. On the way, he
reduced the fort of T^nnah_after a very gallant
fight against British cannonading from the
river. Though advancing triumphantly towards
Calcutta, Siraj was ready for a compromise on
payment of a fine, the amount of which hejeft to
the Company to propose. But the English were
confident of their success, especially because the / .
Portuguese__^unners^_ of the Nawab had been !
exhorted by pnestTy admonitions and curses to j '"^
desert their master. Ano ther _ mean dejgision of j^'X
the English was to leave the native part of the
city to its own resources, contenting themselves
with burning a number of houses there to make
a clear passage for opposing the attack.

The Nawab reached Calcutta on the 16th June, ^^ r^y^
JL756, but he reserved the last attack for the 19th / - '-
Eamjan, which fell on the 18th. Anticipating his
attack, the English issued the brutal order that no f

quarter was to be given. They also kept Omy i ^ ^^^%^
Chand and Eissen Das under confinement lest they I ^,
might betray their plans. In the struggle that?
accompanied that inhospitable attack, Omy Chand's
brother-in-law lost his arm and a faithful Jamadar
saved the honour of his master's women by kill-
ing thirteen of them with his own hand. In spite
of everything, the English were miserably beaten.
A 'cri minal eagerness'' was "manifested by some ^


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryN KasturiHistory of the British occupation of India → online text (page 1 of 18)