Vincent Arthur Smith.

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ferocious tyranny.

' By his power ', writes a contemporary historian, c mankind
were held in fear and trembling ; and from his severity God's
creatures, day and night, were thrown into apprehension and
terror. . . . No person of respectability ever left his house with
the expectation of returning safe to it.'

The English officers and soldiers who had the misfortune to

1 Haidar Ali was born in 1722, not 1702, and when he died, was not ' an
old man of eighty ', as alleged in several books.

FROM 1761 TO 1858 271

be taken prisoners suffered agonies from his unfeeling cruelty.
He had no religion, no morals, no compassion.

The subsequent history of Mysore will be dealt with in con-
nexion with the administrations of Lord Cornwallis and Lord

Failure of promised French help. Haidar Ali had always
relied much on hopes of effective French support, and had
always been disappointed. The arrival on the coast in 1782
of a French fleet under Admiral de Suffren revived his hopes,
but the actions fought by that officer with Admiral Hughes
proved indecisive, and the Mysore government did not benefit.
Still, the British affairs seemed to be in a very gloomy
position in 1782, a year of great events. 1 Good fortune, or an
overruling Providence, dispelled the clouds. A victory gained
by Rodney in Europe restored the British command of the sea,
which had been endangered and for a short time lost. In 1783
the Treaty of Versailles ended the war. France never again
attempted to attack the Indian coast.

Treaty of Mangalore. Tippoo, who was not a party to the
Treaty of Versailles, continued the war in the south and cap-
tured Mangalore, where Colonel Fullarton had made a gallant
defence no less notable than the more famous defence of
Arcot b} 7 Clive. The war with Tippoo was ended in 1784 by
the Treaty of Mangalore, arranged by the Government of
Madras, whose officers were subjected to the most galling
insults. The basis was the mutual restitution of conquests
and the exchange of prisoners. The prisoners in Mysore had
been treated with the utmost brutality. The contemporary
accounts of their sufferings are painful reading. Hastings
loathed the treaty and the conduct of the Madras Government,
but at the time was restrained from interference by orders
from England and a certain amount of opposition in his own

1 Other events in that year were the resignation of Lord North, who had
been Prime Minister of England from 1770 ; the repulse of the main attack
by the French and Spaniards on Gibraltar; and the establishment of
' Grattan's Parliament ' in Ireland.


Council. The peace concluded at Mangalore lasted for six

Two disputable incidents. From 1778 to 1782 the burden
cast upon Hastings was almost more than a man could bear.
It is not surprising, therefore, that some of his actions in that
critical time, when submitted to close scrutiny, should be open
to hostile criticism. The critics forget that his conduct should
be judged as that of a sovereign beset by unscrupulous enemies,
and not as that of a private person or subordinate official. In
those days the Governor-General was obliged to bear his own
burdens and to act on his own responsibility. Modern
financial facilities were not available, and when war was on,
a supply of ready cash was indispensable. That urgent need
of cash for public purposes, not for private gain, gave rise to
the two incidents the affair of Raja Chait Singh and the
transactions with the Begams of Oudh which furnished
much material to the accusers of Hastings, and cannot be
commended without reserve.

The affair of Raja Chait Singh. In 1775 the fief of Raja
Chait Singh of Benares, illegitimate son of an upstart chief,
had been transferred by his suzerain, the Nawab-Vazir of
Oudh, to the Company and the Raja thus became bound to
render customary service to his new lords When called upon
in 1778 to pay a contribution of five lakhs for military purposes
he complied grudgingly. The similar demands made in the
next two years were partially evaded, and in 1781 Hastings,
being pressed for money, determined to make an example of
the Raja, who had given him offence in other ways. A fine
of forty or fifty lakhs, about half a million sterling, was decided
on, and Hastings went to Benares, intending to impose and
levy it. Although escorted by an inadequate force, he rashly
and without sufficient reason arrested Chait Singh, whose
people rose, slew the Governor-General's sepoys, and forced
Hastings to flee for his life to Chunar. The Raja raised an
army of 40,000 men, but Hastings never lost his head, and
quickly made arrangements which resulted in the total defeat

FROM 1761 TO 1858 273

of the enemy. The main purpose of the dangerous adventure,
however, failed, because the victorious army appropriated as
prize-money the forty lakhs of rupees taken in the Raja's
stronghold. The Company gained no direct advantage except
a nearly doubled assessment on the estates of Chait Singh,
which were made over to his nephew and are still held by
a descendant, H.H. the Maharaja of Benares, a much respected
and loyal prince. It is impossible either to deny a certain
amount of harshness in the proceedings of Hastings against
Chait Singh, or to acquit him of rashness in the execution of
his plans.

The affair of the Begams of Oudh, 1782. The second
incident arose out of the failure to secure Chait Singh's cash.
At that time the Nawab-Vazir of Oudh, Asaf-ud-daula, was
deeply in debt to the British Government for the pay of the
auxiliary troops supplied to him, and was unable to raise the
money required, unless he could lay hands on the treasures
held adversely to him by his mother and grandmother, known
as the Begams of Oudh. Those treasures undoubtedly should
have been treated as State property, but Hastings's hostile
Councillors had guaranteed them to the Begams as personal
belongings, and had rejected the just claims of the Nawab-
Vazir. The Begams having actively supported the cause of
Chait Singh, Hastings felt justified in revoking the guarantee
given by the Council improperly and against his opinion.
Troops were sent to Fyzabad, where the ladies resided, the
palace eunuchs were thrown into chains and half-starved,
and seventy -five lakhs of rupees were extracted. At the
trial of Hastings in England these censurable facts were
enormously exaggerated by the rhetoric of his accusers, made
familiar to all readers in Macaulay's brilliant but untrustworthy
essay. The seventy-five lakhs did not nearly exhaust the
accumulations of the Begams, the younger of whom was ' alive
and hearty and very rich ' twenty-one years later, when one
of the roughly treated eunuchs also was still living, * well, fat,
and enormously rich.' Sir Alfred Lyall's judgement may be


accepted, that 'the employment of personal severities, under the
superintendence of British officers, in order to extract money
from women and eunuchs, is an ignoble kind of undertaking' ;
but his award of ' serious blame ' to Hastings is partly met by
the answer that Hastings did not actually order the severities.

Close of the career of Hastings. The conclusion of the
treaties of Versailles and Mangalore left Hastings free to
return to England, after thirteen years of rule, as Governor of
Bengal for two years and a half, and as Governor-General for
the rest of the time. His activity was so incessant and his
services to the country so many that it is impossible to present
a really fair picture of his work in small compass. But what
has been said may suffice to satisfy the junior student that
Warren Hastings was one of the greatest of men and a true
friend of India, notwithstanding his rare errors.

Impeachment and death of Hastings. His proceedings, some
of which undoubtedly were open to adverse criticism, had
raised up many enemies. The opposition to his policy, stimu-
lated by motives of English party politics, resulted in the
impeachment of the ex-Governor-General by the House of
Commons at the bar of the House of Lords. 1 The court sitting
only for a few days in each year, the trial dragged on for seven
years. At last, in April 1795, Hastings was acquitted on all
the charges which had been pressed. The Directors having
made the necessary provision for his expenses and support, he
lived at Daylesford as a benevolent country gentleman until
1818, when he died in his eighty-sixth year.

Character of Warren Hastings. The character of Warren
Hastings has given rise to so much bitter controversy that even
now it is difficult to pass a judgement likely to command
universal assent. Perhaps a general agreement may be assumed
that his acquittal was right, and that his errors were not of the
kind deserving of judicial penalties. Undoubtedly he was

1 In an impeachment the House of Commons orders and directs the
prosecution, while the House of Lords sits as a court and judges the case.
The process is now obsolete. The last case was that of Lord Melville in 1805.

FROM 1761 TO 1858 275

a great Englishman, devoted to the service of his country, and
not unmindful of his duty to the land in which he did so much
to make his nation supreme. In labour he was unwearied, in
resolve inflexible, in adversity patient, in danger imperturbable,
and in policy far-seeing. If he displayed at times somewhat
of arrogance, or intolerance of opposition, his consciousness of
superior knowledge and capacity must be his excuse. In a
greedy age and surrounded by men whose god was money, he
was distinguished by clean hands which scorned to grasp
polluted riches. In private life he was a well-bred gentleman,
of amiable manners, refined taste, and generous bej-ond the
bounds of prudence.

British India in 1785. Annexation was not in favour with
Hastings, whose acquisitions were limited to the Ghazlpur and
Benares districts on the Ganges, and the small islands of
Salsette and Elephanta, close to Bombay. When he went home,
British India comprised Bengal, Bihar, a small area of Orissa.
Ghazlpur, Benares, the ' Northern Circars ' (except Guntur), 1
Madras, and a limited area adjoining, with Fort St. David and
some other little settlements on the east, besides Bombay,
Surat, and a few other places on the west coast. Orissa
(excluding Midnapur and part of Hugll) although included in
the imperial grant of the Dlwani, was held by the Marathas of
Nagpur, and did not come into the Company's effective posses-
sion until 1803.


Mr. Macpherson ; Lord Cornwallis ; Pitt's India Act ; Permanent Settle-
ment and reforms ; the third Mysore war ; Sir John Shore.

Mr, Macpherson ; Lord Cornwallis. Pending the arrival of
a permanent successor, Warren Hastings made over charge
to Mr. Macpherson (afterwards Sir John), the senior member of
Council, as acting Governor General. The Home Government
deeming it necessary to appoint a statesman of reputation,
unconnected with the East India Company, to take charge of
1 Ceded by the Nizam to Lord Cornwallis.


the now extensive British dominions in India, selected Earl
Cornwallis. A special Act was passed in 1786 conferring upon
the Governor-General that power of overruling his Council
which Hastings had so much missed .

Pitt's India Act, 1784. The system of the Home Govern-
ment was changed by Mr. Pitt's India Act of 1784, which
placed Indian affairs in the hands of a secret committee con-
sisting of the chairman, vice-chairman, and senior member of
the Court of Directors, acting under the supervision of a board
of six commissioners, commonly called the Board of Control,
appointed by the Crown. The Directors were allowed to
retain the patronage, but the real power now passed to the
King's ministers, of whom the President of the Board was one.
Mr. Dundas was appointed first President, and practically
became the Minister for Indian Affairs. After a short time
the Board never met, the President taking action in its name.
That system lasted without substantial change until 1858,
when the Crown assumed the direct administration, and a
Secretary of State for India was substituted for the President
of the Board of Control.

Administrative reforms of Lord Cornwallis. Lord Cornwallis,
when he assumed charge at Calcutta in September, 1786, was
vested with full authority as both Governor-General and
Commander-in-Chief to control all civil and military affairs of
the British settlements in India, and, if necessary, to overrule
opposition by his colleagues. He also enjoyed the confidence
of the Ministry at home, and thus started his work with ad-
vantages never possessed by Hastings. The first three years
of his administration were devoted to internal reforms, and
especially tothe organization of a regular Civil Service properly
paid by fixed salaries, and not by fluctuating commissions or
irregular trading profits. The beginnings of this necessary re-
form were the work of Clive and Hastings, but neither was able
to complete the change, which was effected by Lord Cornwallis
with comparative ease, owing to his more favourable position.

The Permanent Settlement. The most famous measure of



Lord Cornwallis is the Permanent Settlement of Bengal, Bihar,
and Orissa, concluded in 1793, when the then existing assess-
ment of land revenue, which had been made for ten years, was
declared to be perpetual. Two years later the same supposed
boon was conferred upon the province of Benares. 1 The policy
of the Permanent Settlement, carried out by Lord Cornwallis
against the advice, but with the help, of his most esteemed
councillor, Sir John Shore (Lord Teignmouth), and with the
full approval of Mr. Pitt and the Board of Control, is un-
doubtedly open to the criticism that it was adopted with undue
haste, and that it has imposed an unequal burden on the less
favoured parts of the empire. No attempt was made to follow
the example of Todar Mall by surveying the lands or calculating
their value. The assessment was made roughly on the basis
of accounts of previous collections, and was necessarily done in
a haphazard fashion. Probably most competent judges, not
being personally interested, are of opinion both that the
measure was a mistake and that now it is too late to rectify
the error. The author of the Permanent Settlement fancied
that he would create a race of ideal landlords, eager to improve
their estates, and was not sufficiently acquainted with the facts
of Indian life to know the baselessness of such a fancy. He
also designed to protect the subordinate tenure -holders and
cultivating tenants against the oppression of their lords, and,
so far as words went, the regulations gave such protection.
But, in practice, tenants with grievances had little chance of
redress until long afterwards, when Act x of 1859 was passed,
and provided more or less effective remedies. The difficulty of
reconciling the conflicting interests of landlords and tenants in
Bengal and elsewhere still continues acute in spite of much
modern legislation. Of course, the provinces permanently
settled have received many obvious advantages from the hasty
benevolence of Lord Cornwallis, but those benefits have been
gained at the expense of other provinces not less meritorious.

1 Now included in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. 'Oris: a' meant
Midnapur and part of Hugll.

FROM 1761 TO 1858 279

The Cornwallis Code. Lord Cornwallis also carried out
judicial reforms, supplementing the work begun by Hastings.
The new courts were provided with a bulky code, prepared by
Mr. George Barlow, which is a monument of good intentions.
But it was far too elaborate, being loaded with formalities and
technical rules ill suited to a people only just delivered from
the rude simplicity of Mughal jurisprudence and procedure.
The courts of appeal established by Lord Cornwallis were
abolished long ago, and all his detailed judicial arrangements
have been modified by later legislation, but the existing system
is built on his foundations. The criminal courts under his regu-
lations were governed by the Muhammadan law, shorn of some
of its more barbarous peculiarities ; mutilation, for instance,
being forbidden. The English civil courts were assisted by
a Hindu pundit as adviser on Hindu, and a Musalman Kazi or
Maulavi as adviser on Muhammadan law. The administrative
arrangements of Lord Cornwallis were marred by his excessive
distrust of Indian agency. The natives of the country were ex-
cluded from office except of the most petty kind, and a burden
greater than it could bear was thrown on the covenanted Civil
Service, which at that time comprised only about three hundred
members and had to supply all the executive and judicial
appointments of any importance.

The third Mysore war. At the time of passing the India
Act Parliament had declared that ' to pursue schemes of con-
quest and acquisition of territory was contrary to the wish,
the honour, and the policy of the British nation '. The
Governor-General was also forbidden, in the absence of express
sanction from home, to enter upon or make any treaty with
any of the Indian princes, except in defence of the British
dominions or the territory of an ally. Such a strict rule,
considering the length of the voyage between England and
India in those days, was absurd and could not possibly be
obeyed. Absolute necessity compelled every Governor-
General to either evade or violate it. Instructions given by
the Directors in accordance with the Act of Parliament were


honestly accepted at first by Lord Cornwallis, but long before
his rule ended he had to bow to necessity and lead in person a
victorious army to extensive conquests. In 1790, only thirty-
three years after the battle of Plassey, an attack by Tippoo, the
ruler of Mysore, on distant Travancore, an ally of the British
Government, compelled the Governor-General to declare war.
An alliance with the Nizam and thePeshwa was arranged on the
condition that all conquests should be divided equally among
the three allied powers. The earlier operations of the war were
unsatisfactory owing to the failure of the Madras authorities
to provide supplies, and Lord Cornwallis found himself con-
strained to use his special powers and take command himself.
In the third season's operations the British force, assisted by
a contingent from Bombay, captured the outworks of Seringa -
patam, Tippoo's capital (1792). The sultan was forced to
accept the hard terms dictated by the victor, which exacted
the cession of half his dominions, the payment of three hundred
lakhs (thirty millions) of rupees, and the delivery of two of his
sons as hostages. The districts thus acquired by the Company,
namely, Malabar, Coorg, and part of Salem, forming the nucleus
of the existing Presidency of Madras, yielded a revenue of forty
lakhs of rupees, about four millions sterling. The Home Gov-
ernment confirmed the proceedings of the Governor-General,
and the King raised Lord Cornwallis to the rank of marquess.
Various events ; death of Mahadaji Sindia. In 1793 the
long war between France and England, caused by the French
Revolution, began. In India the immediate result was the
capture without difficulty of Pondicherry and the other French
settlements. In the same year the charter of the East India
Company was renewed for a period of twenty years, the Com-
pany's monopoly of trade being confirmed, with a small excep-
tion. While Lord Cornwallis, with the nominal help of the
Peshwa, was crushing Tippoo, the Maratha chiefs in Northern
India were fighting among themselves. Mahadaji Sindia in
those days was the most powerful prince in the country (ante,
p. 268), having made himself irresistible by means of an army

FROM 1761 TO 1858 281

organized by the Savoyard de Boigne, and other foreign
officers. He inflicted a signal defeat on his rival Holkar, who
also had utilized the services of European adventurers. In
February, 1794, Mahadaji Sindia died suddenly, bequeathing to
his grand-nephew Daulat Rao, the dominant position in a large
part of Malwa and the Deccan, as well as in Hindustan, from
the Sutlaj to Allahabad. In October, 1793, Lord Cbrnwallis
quitted India, making over charge to his trusted colleague
Sir John Shore, and leaving behind him a high reputation
for industry, dignity, honour, and integrity.

Administration of Sir John Shore ; Sikhs and Afghans.
Sir John Shore, a man of peace, failed to support the Nizam, and
allowed that prince to be defeated decisively by the Marathas
under the direction of Nana Farnavls, an able minister, at the
battle known by the name of Kardla in 1795. x This weak
policy of non-intervention dangerously enhanced the Maratha
power, and, of course, ensured the hostility of the Nizam. It
also stimulated the ambition of Tippoo, who sent embassies to
the French, Afghans, and other powers, in the hope of forming
a combination strong enough to expel the English from India.
Shah Zaman, the ruler of Afghanistan, actually entered the
Panjab in 1797 and occupied Lahore, but luckily was com-
pelled to retire quickly on account of a Persian attack on his
western provinces. Ordinarily during this period the hostility
between the Sikhs and the Afghans protected India from
invasion through the north-western passes. Sir Alfred Lyall
has pointed out that ' the effect was to maintain among the
fighting powers in Northern India an equilibrium that was
of signal advantage to the English by preserving their north-
west frontier unmolested during the last quarter of the
eighteenth century, a critical period when they were fully
occupied by Mysore and the western Marathas '.

1 Farnavls is a corruption of the Persian fard-navts, and meant ' finance
minister ' in the Maratha system of government. All the histories give the
name of the battle-field as Kardla, but it is Kharda, now in the Ahmadnagar
District, Bombay.



Lord Wellesley ; fourth Mysore war ; second Maratha war ; subsidiary


Lord Wellesley assumes charge, 1798. In May, 1798, Sir
John Shore, who had been created an Irish peer as Lord Teign-
mouth, made way for a man of a different type, Richard, Earl
of Mornington in the peerage of Ireland, and Baron Wellesloy
in that of Great Britain, who had been for four years a member
of the Board of Control. Lord Wellesley, when he assumed
charge, was thirty-seven years of age, in the full vigour of his
powers, and thoroughly well informed on Indian affairs as seen
by the Home Government. His younger brother, Arthur,
afterwards the famous Duke of Wellington, already was serving
at Madras in the army. The rule of Lord Wellesley, which
lasted for a little more than seven years, until July, 1805, has
been pronounced to have been ' the most memorable in the
annals of the Company ', and good reasons may be alleged in
support of that opinion.

Preparations for war with Mysore. Immediately after his
arrival the news of Tippoo's intrigues with the revolutionary
government of France determined him to crush the power of
Mysore and to finish the work of Lord Cornwallis. The
Governor-General's plans from the first were definite, com-
prising a march on the capital of Mysore, the seizure of the
sultan's conquests in Malabar, the appointment of a British
Resident at his court, the expulsion of all Frenchmen from his
service, and the compulsion on him to defray the whole expense
of the war. As a preliminary the Nizam, then much weakened
by the Maratha victory at Kardla (properly Kharda),
was induced to accept a treaty which imposed on him the
support of a British sepoy force of six thousand men, and
required the dismissal of all the French officers in his employ.
The Nizam took some part in the campaign, and was hand-
somely rewarded.



Fourth and last Mysore war, 1799 ; restoration of Hindu
dynasty. The war when it came was short and sharp. General
Harris took command on February 3, 1799, and on the 5th of
the following month his troops entered Mysore. On the 4th of
April Tippoo lay dead inside the breach in the walls of Serin-
gapatam, which had been stormed by General Baird and his
men in seven minutes. Thus was fulfilled the saying that
Haidar Ali was born to win, and Tippoo to lose, a kingdom.
This one exploit practically ended the war, which had carried
the Governor-General farther than he had anticipated. He

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Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 21 of 27)