Copyright
Vincent Arthur Smith.

The Oxford student's history of India online

. (page 18 of 27)
Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 18 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Shah, who must not be confounded with his Durrani namesake
and contemporary.

Annexation of the Panjab by the Durrani. During the reign
of Ahmad Shah, Ghazi-ud-din and other nobles were engaged
in constant fighting with one another, and Ahmad Shah
Durrani annexed the Panjab. In 1754 Ghazi-ud-dm blinded
his nominal sovereign, and selected as his successor a son of
Jahandar Shah.

Sack of Delhi by Ahmad Shah Durrani. This prince was
enthroned under the title of Alamgir II, but had nothing
beyond the title in common with Aurangzeb. In 1756 Ahmad
Shah Durrani sacked Delhi and repeated the horrors of Nadir
Shah's massacres seventeen years before. He also disgraced
himself by a cruel slaughter of unarmed Hindus at Mathura.
Next year the heat caused sickness among his troops and
obliged him to retire to his own country.

Maratha conquest of the Panjab. The son of Ghazi-ud-dm,
who bore the same name as his father, called in the Marathas
to help him against his rivals, and the imperial city and the
Panjab were occupied by a Maratha chief named Raghuba
(1758), the younger son of Baji Rao I.

Maratha empire at its greatest extent, 1760. This bold
advance of the upstart Hindu power alarmed the Muham-



THE MUGHAL EMPIRE FROM 1526 TO 1761 233

madan princes, and induced them to combine for the expul-
sion of the intruders, by whom almost the whole of India,
from the Himalaya and the Indus to Tanjore, was dominated
for thei moment. The Maratha army now included a large
park of artillery and 10,000 disciplined infantry, modelled on
European principles, as well as Jat and Rajput contingents.

The Bhao at Delhi. Sadasheo Rao Bhao, commonly called
' the Bhao ', nephew of the Peshwa Baji Rao, took Delhi, and
completed the ruin of the palace and city, stripping the silver
plating from the ceiling of the hall of audience (diwan khass),
which produced seventeen lakhs of rupees.

Third battle of Panlpat, Jan. 1761. Ultimately, on Jan. 13,
1761, the Maratha host, with little or no support from the
Jats and Rajputs, confronted the army of Ahmad Shah
Durrani, who was supported by the troops of Oudh and other
Muhammadan principalities, on the plain of Panlpat, where
the fate of India has been so often decided. Delay in bringing
on a battle reduced the Maratha army to a state of famine,
and at last the Bhao was compelled either to fight or to starve.
He was utterly routed with enormous slaughter, in which
most of the Maratha chiefs fell. The Peshwa soon after died.
The third battle of Panlpat was the death-blow to the power
of the Peshwa, as the sovereign of the Marathas, the tem-
porary revival of Maratha influence a few years later being
chiefly the work of Sindia, Holkar, and other independent
princes. 1

Withdrawal of the Durrani. Ahmad Shah Durrani made
no use of his victory, and was content to go home with his
plunder. In April, 1767, after inflicting several defeats on the
Sikhs, he reappeared once more for a moment near Panlpat
with 50,000 Afghan cavalry, and then retired, troubling him-
self no more with the affairs of Hindustan.

1 The three battles of Panlpat :

(1) Defeat of Ibrahim Lodi by Babur, 1526 ;

(2) Defeat of Hemu by Bairam Khan and Akbar, 1556 ;

(3) Defeat of Marathas by Ahmad Shah Durrani, 1761.

H3



234 THE MUGHAL EMPIRE FROM 1526 TO 1761

Causes of decline of Mughal empire. Akbar, Jahangir,
ShahjahSh, and Aurangzeb were all strong, hardy men of
dauntless personal courage, able and willing to meet man or
beast in deadly combat, as many anecdotes prove. But the
sons of Aurangzeb seemed to be of a different breed. All the
spirit was crushed out of them by their father. Their sons
and grandsons grew up as nerveless weaklings in the society
of women, eunuchs, and the riff-raff of the palace. The nobles
became as debased as the members of the royal family, and
were better fitted to buy over a commandant than to storm
his fort. They went to war riding in palankins, attended by
a swarm of worthless followers of both sexes, and were served
in camp with all the pomp and luxury of the Delhi court.
Such people could not be successful. The rule of a despotic
monarch cannot be maintained except by a man who knows
how to rule. The successors of Aurangzeb had not such
knowledge. It is not surprising that in the course of a cen-
tury and a half the Mughal dynasty should have lost its
vigour ; the wonder rather is that the Padshahs for four suc-
cessive generations possessed character and ability sufficient
to hold together a vast empire and to govern it in such a
fashion that it made at least a show of strength. The Deccan
wars exposed the internal rottenness of the imperial organiza-
tion. In the whole of India there was not a man capable
of effecting the necessary reforms. The weakness of the
empire was plainly seen by European observers. Manucci,
the Italian physician, writes, late in Aurangzeb's reign :

' Having set forth all the grandeur and power of the Moguls,
I will, with the reader's permission, assert from what I have
seen and tested, that to sweep it entirely away and occup} 7 "
the whole empire, nothing is required beyond a corps of thirty
thousand trusty European soldiers, led by competent com-
manders, who would thereby easily acquire the glory of great
conquerors.'

That opinion probably was quite sound. It was held a little
later by Clive, although he did not care to act upon it.



THE MUGHAL EMPIRE FROM 1526 TO 1761 235

Condition of India under Aurangzeb's successors. The con-
dition of India during the half -century following the death
of Aurangzeb may be summed up in one word misery.
Even before his death, the French physician Bernier, not an
unfriendly critic, declared that 'no adequate idea can be
conveyed of the sufferings of the people '. He writes of

' a tyranny so excessive as to deprive the peasant and artisan
of the necessaries of life, and leave them to die of misery and
exhaustion a tyranny, owing to which these wretched people
either have no children at all, or have them only to endure the
agonies of starvation, and die at a tender age a tyranny, in
fine, that drives the cultivator from his wretched home. . . .
As the ground is seldom tilled otherwise than by compulsion,
and no person is found willing and able to repair the ditches
and canals for the conveyance of water, it happens that the
whole country is badly cultivated and a great part rendered
unproductive from the want of irrigation. The houses, too,
are left in a dilapidated condition.'

After the old emperor had passed away, hell was let loose,
and the people were ground to the dust by selfish nobles,
greedy officials, and plundering armies. Hardly any one
appears on the stage of history who is worthy of remembrance
for his own sake, and there is little to be said about literature
or art. 1 In most parts of the country the ' great anarchy'
continued for another half -century, until the advance of the
English power, in the early years of the nineteenth century,
brought some measure of relief to a suffering land.

From out the sunset poured an alien race,
Who fitted stone to stone again, and Truth,
Peace, Love, and Justice came and dwelt therein.

TENNYSON.

1 Certain Muhammadan historical compilations and tolerable paintings
in Indo-Persian style were produced.



BOOK V

THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD; RULE
OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY FROM 1761 TO

1858

SOURCES OF ANGLO-INDIAN HISTORY

Immense mass of authorities. The mass of original authorities for the
British period of Indian history is so great as to be practically infinite.
No man could explore more than a minute fraction even of the /official
documents stored in the record-rooms of the Indian Governments in England
and India, not to speak of the piles of manuscripts in the British Museum
and other collections. In addition to the official documents, many other
sources of information exist, including newspapers, memoirs, letters, and
the writings of travellers. Some small portion of the official records has
been either printed at length or summarily catalogued in print. The
Government of India has had prepared many printed hand-lists of manu-
scripts which are little known and rarely consulted. Considerable blocks
of documents have been published more or less fully in Selections from tJie
Records issued by various governments. The work of that kind done by
Sir George Forrest, C.I.E., is extensive and valuable.

East India Company. Three series of volumes dealing with the early
history of the East India Company, eighteen in all, up to date, published
at the Clarendon Press, deserve special mention. The titles are : (I) Letters
to the East India Company from its Servants in the East, 1602-17 (6 volumes) ;
(II) The English Factories in India, 1618-50 (8 volumes) ; and (III) The Court
Minutes of the East India Company, 1635-54 (4 volumes).

At present, no readable compendious history of the famous Company
exists. The volumes mentioned are a quarry of splendid material ready
for the hand of a competent historian.

Travellers. The works of travellers during the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries throw much light both on the relations between the European
settlers and the native powers, and on the inner life of the settlements.
Oaten gives a list to the end of the seventeenth century (European Travellers
in India, Kegan Paul & Co., 1909). 1 The writings of the eighteenth-century

1 But Oaten's account of Mandelslo (pp. 177-83) is misleading. Man-
delslo wrote little of value; The bulk of the book passing under his name
is padding from other authors inserted by Olearius and the French trans-
lator, de Wicquofort.



FROM 1761 TO 1858 237

travellers, Ives and the rest, although less important, are of considerable
value. ' When the Macaulay of British India history arises, he will enliven
the earlier part of his narrative with references to these many travellers'
tales.'

No good history of British India. That remark leads me to observe that
a well-written, interesting history of British India, on a scale of moderate
dimensions, does not exist, and is badly wanted. Mill's great work, even
with Wilson's continuation, only comes down to 1835, and has well-known
defects, while all the other books Hunter's, Thornton's, Marshman's, &c.
are either fragmentary or wanting in some important respect. Marshman's
work is, perhaps, the most serviceable. Among the small histories I recom-
mend A. D. Innes, A Short History of the British in India (Methuen, 1902).

Biographies. Biographies form an important source of Anglo-Indian
history, and enshrine or entomb many documents. All the existing Lives
of Clive are unsatisfactory, and the same may be said of those of Warren
Hastings. Sir George Forrest, who promises a Life of Clive, which should
supersede its predecessors, has provided much material for the biography of
Hastings in various publications, especially his Selections from the State
Papers of the Governors-General of India : Warren Hastings (2 vols., 8vo,
Oxford, Blackwell, 1910).

Letters. Numerous immense collections of letters and dispatches have
been published. The most generally useful books of the kind are Mr. Sidney
Owen's volumes entitled A Selection from Wettesley's Despatches (Clarendon
Press, 1877), and A Selection from the Wellington Despatches (1880), which
are well edited.

Lord Minto I. The interesting and little-known story of Lord Minto I
may be read at first hand in the two volumes of his Life and Letters (1874,
1880). Unfortunately, Lord Minto was not given a place in the Rulers of
India series, although much more worthy of it than several persons who
were included in that most serviceable collection of short biographies.

Marquess of Hastings : Marathas. Several contemporary books, notably
H. T. Prinsep's History of the Political and Military Transactions in India
during the Administration of the Marquess of Hastings, 1813-23 (published
in 1825), tell the events of the government of that eminent Governor-General.

Grant Duff's History of the Mahrattas (1826 and reprint) ranks as an
original authority, because it is founded on personal knowledge and docu-
ments now lost.

Lord William Bentinck, &c. The only biography of Lord William
Cavendish-Bentinck is Mr. Demetrius Boulger's excellent little volume
(1897) in the Rulers of India series.

The Sikh wars form the subject of a considerable literature. Cunning-
ham's History of the Sikhs (1st edition, 1849) may be specified.

For Lord Dalhousie's administration, the Life by Sir W. Lee-Warner and
other works may be consulted.

The Mutiny. The books about the Mutiny would fill a large library.



238 THE BRITISH OR ANGLO INDIAN PERIOD

The work by Holmes, which has reached several editions, is the best short
history. The latest, and presumably the most accurate, of the large histories
is that by Sir George Forrest. Good biographies of the Lawrences and
other heroes of the period exist.

Afghan wars. Among the numerous books treating of the Afghan wars
the work of Lady Betty Balfour, entitled The Indian Administration of Lord
Lytton (1899), may be named, because it includes many original documents.

The later Viceroys. Sir William Hunter treated Lord Mayo satisfactorily.
Mr. Lovat Fraser's work, India under Curzon and After (1912), is useful.

Lord Minto II and Lord Hardinge II await their biographers.

The foregoing notes, which might be extended indefinitely, will, it is hoped,
be of some use to teachers. A fuller list of books will be found in Appendix II
of the Short History by Mr. Innes, cited above.



CHAPTER XXII

Transitional period : conflict of French and English in Southern India ;
Dupleix, &c. : Haidar All and Mysore.

The epoch of 1761. The selection by historians of the year
1761 as marking the dividing line between the Mughal and
British periods does not rest solely upon the occurrence of the
battle of Pampat in that year. Four years earlier, in 1757,
Olive's victory at Plassey had laid Bengal and its dependencies
at the feet of the East India Company, the military position
of which was secured in 1764 by the battle of Buxar, and
legalized in 1765 by the grant under imperial seal to the
Company of the Diwam, or revenue jurisdiction over the pro-
vince. In the year of Pampat, the fall of Pondicherry, the
capital of the French possessions, completed the ruin of the
French, who had been routed at Wandiwash in the preceding
year In June, 1761, Haidar AH made himself master of
Mysore, and so founded a power which lasted until the close
of the eighteenth century, while in 1764 the Sikhs occupied
Lahore, and became independent. Thus, from every point of
view, we may take 1761, or, more precisely, the years 1760-5,
as the end of the old and the beginning of the new era.

Nominal survival of the Mughal empire. The Mughal empire
continued to exist as the shadow of a great name until 1858,



FROM 1761 TO 1858 239

when the last titular emperor was exiled as the penalty for
his share in the Mutiny. But all the princes who bore the
imperial titles during the century extending from 1759 to 1858
were equally insignificant, and the course of events was little
affected by the succession of one nonentity to another. 1 The
real power was in the hands of the Marathas, the British, the
Sikhs, and the Muhammadan states of Oudh, Bengal, and the
Deccan. India continued to be a mass of conflicting, unstable
states until 1818, when the settlement made by the Marquess
of Hastings definitely established the British government of
the East India Company as the supreme, controlling power.
But it is true to affirm that from 1761 the Company was the
most important and influential authority in India.

The transitional period. In the following pages we shall
trace in outline the process by which the dominion over India
passed from the hands of the Hindu and Muhammadan powers
to those of the East India Company, and thence to the Crown.
In order to make the subject intelligible we must depart from
strict chronological order and go back for some years, dealing
first with the south, where the growing strength of the Euro-
pean settlers first made itself distinctly felt. The history of
this period of transition cannot be presented in a single con-
tinuous narrative, because India in those days was merely
a geographical expression and had no unity withiri herself.

Conflict between French and English. The competition
between the French and English settlements on the Madras
coasts for the control of the sea-borne trade developed into

1 Their names are : Shah Alam II, Dec. 1759-Nov. 1806 ; Akbar II,
Nov. 1806-Oct. 1837 ; and Bahadur Shah II, Oct. 1837-March 1858. Other
pretenders were Shahjahan III, Dec. 1758-Oct. 1760 ; and Bidar Bakht,
Aug.-Oct. 1788. Shah Alam at the time of his predecessor's murder was
a fugitive, under the protection of the Nawab-Vazir of Oudh. He tried,
unsuccessfully, to establish himself in Bihar, and from 1765 to 1771 was the
dependant of the English at Allahabad. From 1771 to 1803 he was generally
under the control of Maratha chiefs. In 1788 he was cruelly blinded by an
Afghan ruffian named Ghulam Kadir. From the time of Lord Lake's entry
into Delhi in 1803 he became simply a pensioner of the British Government,
and his successors occupied the same position.



240 THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD

a struggle for political mastery, in which the native powers
allied with one side or the other played only a secondary part.
In that struggle the naval superiority of England was the
decisive factor. From Madras, where he had already done
much for his country, Robert Clive transferred the conflict to
Bengal, and there too was victorious by the aid of sea-power.
On the Bombay side the Marathas were too strong to allow the
European settlements much scope for expansion. The British
empire in India was founded in Madras and Bengal, the English
traders being first forced into political action by French rivalry
in the south.

Pondicherry ; Governors Dumas and Dupleix. The French
settlement of Pondicherry, about a hundred miles to the south
of Madras, founded in 1674, was greatly developed under the
government of M. Dumas (1735-41), who won a high reputa-
tion by his repulse of a large Maratha force. His successor,
M. Dupleix, who had already distinguished himself as head of
the Chandernagore settlement near Calcutta, found in the
south a larger field for the exercise of his abilities, and devised
an ambitious policy based on interference in the affairs of the
native states and aimed at the destruction of the English
settlements.

First Anglo-French war. In 1746, war between France and
England having been declared, on account of a dispute about
the succession to the throne of Austria, a fleet from the island
of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, then a French colony, cap-
tured Madras, which was held by France until 1749, when it
was restored to England under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
During the interval the English possessions in the south were
reduced to the one small fort of St. David, near Cuddalore.

Origin of the second Angle-French war. The second war
between the French and English settlers arose out of disputed
successions to the thrones of two Indian princes, the Subadar
or Nizam of the Deccan at Hyderabad, and his vassal, the
Nawab of the Carnatic, at Arcot.

Disputed succession in the Deccan. As far back as 1724,



FROM 1761 TO 1858 241

Asaf Jah, Subadar of the Deccan, had ceased to pay allegiance
to the emperor at Delhi, and had become practically an inde-
pendent king. When he died at a great age in 1748 he left
six sons. The eldest, who was employed at Delhi as prime
minister, did not trouble about his father's dominions. Nasir
Jang, the second son, claimed the throne of the Deccan, and
was opposed by his nephew, Muzaffar Jang, son of a daughter
of old Asaf Jah. War ensued between the rival claimants, with
the result that within about three years (1751) both Nasir
Jang and Muzaffar Jang had been killed. Salabat Jang, third
son of Asaf Jah, then became Nizam and retained his position
for eleven years. He was deposed in 1762 by his next brother,
Asaf Jah's fourth son, Nizam All, the ancestor of the present
Nizam of Hyderabad.

So much account of the disputes concerning the throne of
the Deccan may suffice.

Disputed succession in the Carnatic. The business was
complicated by another quarrel concerning the succession to
Anwar-ud-din Khan, Nawab of the Carnatic, who had been
appointed by Asaf Jah in 1744 and had been killed in 1749.
The claimants to the succession were Muhammad All, son of
Anwar-ud-dm, and Chanda Sahib (Husain Dost Khan), son-
in-law of a former Nawab.

French and English take sides. The French, for reasons of
their own, backed Muzaffar Jang in his claim to be Nizam, and
Chanda Sahib in his claim to be Nawab, while the English
supported the respective rival claimants, Nasir Jang and
Muhammad All. The quarrels between these two sets of
claimants are not of the slightest interest or importance in
themselves. Their only right to remembrance is that they
served as the occasion for the French and English to fight out
their struggle for the empire of India. The French, as we
know, were beaten, and the English were victorious. In that
way the disputes between the claimants to the two South
Indian thrones may be said to have brought about the founda-
tion of the British empire in India.



242 THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD

Ambition of Dupleix. Dupleix, the able head of the French
settlement at Pondicherry, aimed definitely at the total expul-
sion of the English and the establishment of French rule.
His intrigues and alliances with native claimants or states were
all directed to those ends. The English naturally objected to
being driven out, and necessarily sided with the princes opposed
to the friends of Dupleix.

Unofficial war. The' treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748
having established formal peace between France and England,
and Madras having been restored accordingly to the English
in the following year, the officials of the French and English
rival Companies had no business to mix themselves up with the
quarrels of Indian princes and go to war with each other. But
they paid no heed to the treaty made in Europe, and were
guided solely by the needs of the local situation in India, which
seemed to require fighting.

Trichinopoly. The first conflict in the unofficial war occurred
in 1751 at Trichinopoly, where Muhammad All and his English
allies were besieged by Chanda Sahib and the French. At the
moment it seemed that the French would succeed in driving
out the English. Muzaffar Jang had become Nizam and had
appointed Dupleix to be governor of the peninsula from the
Krishna (Kistna) river to Cape Comorin. The resources of
Madras did not suffice to effect directly the relief of distant
Trichinopoly.

Capture and defence of Arcot. Robert Clive, a young
' writer ' in the Company's service, who had recently accepted
a commission as captain in the army, under his old friend
Major Stringer Lawrence, saw that the proper way to relieve
Trichinopoly was to attack Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic,
and so force Chanda Sahib to withdraw troops from the siege
of the southern town. 1 He persuaded his superiors to allow
him to make the attack with an absurdly small force, com-
prising only 200 British soldiers, 300 sepoys, and three small
field-pieces. Clive being, as Pitt called him, ' a heaven-born
1 Arcot is 65 miles WSW. from Madras.



FROM 1761 TO 1858 243

general ', succeeded not only in taking Arcot, but in holding
it for fifty -four days against 3,000 of Chanda Sahib's best
troops aided by 150 Frenchmen. Thus Trichinopoly was
relieved indirectly, and the fame of the British arms was spread
throughout India. The sepoys showed the utmost devotion to
Clive as their leader, and generously offered the scanty supply
of rice to their British comrades, saying that the water in
which it was boiled would suffice for themselves. The French
and their allies finally surrendered all claims to Trichinopoly
in 1752. Further victories at Kaveripak, to the east of Arcot,
and certain other places resulted in the driving out of Chanda
Sahib. Muhammad All became undisputed Nawab of the
Carnatic, and retained the rank to the end of his long and
worthless life in 1795. Clive was thus free to return to
England for rest in 1753.

Ruin of Dupleix. The career of Dupleix and all his schemes
of lofty ambition were ruined by the victories of Clive and
Stringer Lawrence in the unofficial war. The Governments of
England and France disapproved of their subjects fighting


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27

Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 18 of 27)