Vincent Arthur Smith.

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the effective combination did not take place, and each of the
hostile powers was overcome in due course.



The Pindaris. Still more urgent than the danger from all
those territorial powers was the peril caused by the Pindari
hordes of marauders, who, starting from a central position in
Malwa and the Narbada valley, where they were loosely
attached to the armies of Sindia and Holkar, ravaged India
with fiendish cruelty from Gujarat to Ganjam. The Pindaris,
first heard of during the struggles between Sivaji and Aurang-
zeb, had grown enormously in numbers and strength during
the century of anarchy which followed the death of the Great
Mogul. 1 They were bands of lawless men, drawn from all
castes and classes, who took advantage of the absence -of a
strong government to make their living by organized plunder.
Mounted on hardy ponies, a body of two or three thousand
men could cover fifty miles in a day, harry a district, and be
far away with their booty long before any regular troops could
appear. They worked in conjunction with the Marathas, one
division being specially connected with Holkar and another
with Sindia. Towards the end of 1815 the Pindaris laid waste
the Nizam's dominions as far south as the Kistna (Krishna)
river, and early in the next year ravaged the Northern Circars,
which had enjoyed security for half a century. The Governor-
General reported the case of a village in which the inhabitants
had been driven to the

' desperate resolution of burning themselves with their wives
and children. . . . Hundreds of women belonging to other
villages have drowned themselves in the wells, not being able
to survive the pollution they had suffered. All the young
girls are carried off by the Pindaris, tied three or four, like
calves, on a horse, to be sold. . . . They carried off booty to the
value of more than a million sterling '.

Nevertheless, the authorities in England, fearing a war with
Sindia, hesitated to permit the punishment of the villains, and
their timidity was shared by Lord Hastings 's Councillors at
Calcutta. But at last, early in 1817, the Council could no
longer shirk the decision that ' vigorous measures for the

1 The origin of the word Pindari is uncertain.

FROM 1761 TO 1858 299

suppression of the Pindaris had become an indispensable ob j ect of
public duty ' . Lord Hastings then took the-necessary measures
to organize his forces and to smooth their path by diplomacy.

Plan of campaign. The plan devised provided for the
surrounding of the Pindari lair in Malwa, by a converging
force of about 120,000 men, divided into eight sections or
divisions, comprised in two armies, the southern under the
command of Sir Thomas Hislop, and the northern led by
the Governor-General in person. The force, the largest ever
collected up to that time under the British flag in India, was
provided with 300 guns, and comprised .about 13,000 Euro-
peans. A skilful movement subjected Sindia to such pressure
that he reluctantly signed a treaty binding him to assist the
English, and the circle was closed round the Pindaris. But
the operations of the Governor-General were much hindered by
the sudden outbreak of an epidemic of cholera, and some of the
ruffians broke through the line. 1

Third Maratha war. Operations were prolonged by a general
rising of the Maratha powers, excepting Sindia and the
Gaikwar, and the hunt of the Pindaris became merged in the
third Maratha war. During November and December, 1817,
the Peshwa, the Bhonsla, and Holkar successively took up
arms. Baji Rao, the Peshwa, having been decisively beaten
by a small British force at Kirki near Poona (November 13,
1817), was driven as a fugitive from his capital. The Bhonsla
was defeated on the 26th of the same month at Sitabaldi, near
Nagpur, in one of the most brilliant actions ever fought : and
Holkar was routed at Mahidpur on the Sipra river, to the north
of Ujjain (December 21, 1817). Amir Khan, the leader of
the Pathan host of rovers, was induced to settle down as Nawab
of Tonk in Rajputana, where his successors still nourish.
Karim Khan, one of the Pindari leaders, was given an estate
in Gorakhpur, still enjoyed by his descendants ; 2 another

1 The common belief that cholera first appeared in India in 1817 is mis-

2 Now in the Basti District, separated from Gorakhpur in 1865.


leader, weary of being hunted, ended his life by poison, and
Chitu, the most famous of all the bandit captains, was driven
into a jungle, where he was killed by a tiger. On January 1,
1818, the Peshwa suffered another defeat at Koregaon near
Poona, and, a few days later, yet another at Ashti, where his
gallant general, Gokula, met a soldier's death. The Peshwa,
who was no hero, surrendered to Sir John Malcolm, whom he
persuaded into promising him the extravagant pension of eight
lakhs a year. With this allowance he was sent into retire-
ment at Bithur, near Cawnpore. Nana Sahib, notorious for his
cruelty in the Mutiny, was the adopted son of Baji Rao, the
last Peshwa. Lord Hastings, following the Mysore precedent,
sought out a descendant of Sivaji, and presented him with a
portion of the Maratha dominion under the title of Raja of
Satara. The rest of the country was annexed to the British
dominions, and the Presidency of Bombay thus was extended
to nearly its present dimensions in India Proper. The
Bhonsla's territory also was annexed in part, and in part
made a protected state. It now forms the Central Provinces.
Holkar, treated with less severity, was allowed to retain the
districts which constitute the state of Indore. The final
operation in the war was the capture in 1819 of Asirgarh, the
famous stronghold in Khandesh, but the contest had been
decided early in 1818.

Achievement of Lord Hastings. In the long roll of brilliant
Governors-General the name of the Marquess of Hastings
deserves a place of the highest honour in virtue of personal
achievement. In October 1817 he was confronted by forces
of more than 10,000 men Pindaris, Marathas, and Pathans
with 500 guns. Four months later the power of Sindia
was paralysed ; that of Holkar broken ; the Pathan armies of
Amir Khan and Ghafur Khan had ceased to exist ; the Raja
of Nagpur was a captive ; the Peshwa was a fugitive, and the
Pindaris had disappeared. The campaign finally extinguished
the Maratha empire, at which Lord Wellesley had struck the
first blow. This great and necessary work, by which countless

FROM 1761 TO 1858 301

millions were delivered from cruel tyranny, was done by Lord
Hastings alone, in the teeth of opposition from colleagues and

Fall of the Maratha empire. The Maratha empire thus
ended in 1818 its brief career, perishing deservedly, because it
had never deserved to exist. The government of the Maratha
confederacy, whether before or after the Treaty of Bassein, was
organized solely for the purposes of plunder and blackmail.
It fulfilled none of the proper functions of a government, and
in its latter days had not even the merit of being national.
The armies defeated by Lord Lake, Sir Arthur Wellesley, and
the Marquess of Hastings had little distinct Maratha character,
being filled up with Musalmans, vagabond Europeans, and
rascals of all sorts. Those armies were closely associated with
the purely criminal gangs of Pindari marauders, ' the refuse of
the Mahratta armies ', as Grant Duff calls them. The con-
nexion was so close that the operations of the Marquess of
Hastings, directed primarily against the Pindari hordes, passed
almost insensibly into war with the Maratha governments,
which willingly shared in all the Pindari atrocities. The
Maratha chiefs never did any good for India, and left behind
them nothing but ruin and devastation.

The student should realize that the year 1818 marks an
epoch in the history of India.

Internal administration. The internal administration of
the marquess achieved notable progress. Laying down the
maxim that ' it would be treason against British sentiment
to imagine that it ever could be the principle of this Govern-
ment to perpetuate ignorance in order to secure paltry and dis-
honest advantages over the blindness of the multitude ', he
established and encouraged schools and colleges, and permitted
the issue of the first vernacular newspaper. The ' ryotwari '
settlement of the Madras territories was carried out by Sir
Thomas Munro, and the imperial finances were administered
with success and enhanced credit. Much was done to improve
Calcutta ; the ancient Jumna canal near Delhi (ante, p. 125) was


reopened, and many other works of public utility were

Lord Amherst ; Barrackpore mutiny ; Bhurtpore. The
government was carried on for seven months after Lord
Hastings 's departure (January 1 to August 1, 1823) by
Mr. Adam, the senior member of Council. He was relieved
by Lord Amherst, who, like most of the Governors-General,
sought peace and found war. Before narrating the story of
the Burmese war, the principal event of his term of office, we
must notice the two other most memorable incidents the
mutiny at Barrackpore and the capture of Bhurtpore (Bharath-
pur). The mutiny of the 47th Native Infantry at Barrackpore,
under the windows of the Governor-General's country house,
caused by the unwillingness of the sepoys to proceed to Burma,
was promptly suppressed (October, 1824). The operations
against Bhurtpore arose out of a disputed succession to the
principality, which rendered necessary the intervention of the
Government of India. It is to be noted that on this occasion
the Governor-General in Council stood forth avowedly as ' the
paramount power and conservators of the general peace '.
After a short siege the fortress, before which Lord Lake had
failed in 1805 (ante, p. 289), was stormed by Lord Comber-
mere, and the general belief that it could never be taken
was destroyed (January, 1826).

First Burmese war. At about the same time as the English
conquered Bengal, an adventurer named Alaungpra (Alompra)
founded an aggressive dynasty in Burma (1752-60). He and
his successors extended their conquests into Assam, Cachar,
and Manipur, and threatened the British frontier Districts of
Sylhet and Chittagong. The Burmese had an unbounded
conceit of themselves, and went so far as to require the Mar-
quess of Hastings to surrender Eastern Bengal, including
Dacca and Murshidabad. In 1824 their defiant seizure of a
British outpost compelled Lord Amherst to declare war, which
the Burmese awaited with eager confidence. The Governor-
General, who did not possess his predecessor's military genius,

FROM 1761 TO 1858 303

was advised that the occupation of the port of Rangoon by
a naval expedition would quickly prove decisive. The occu-
pation was easily effected by a force sent from Madras, but
sickness and the want of supplies crippled the troops. Assam
was occupied early in 1825 by General Richards, but attempts
to enter Burma overland failed, and a detachment was cut up
at Ramu on the Chittagong frontier. The campaign, as a
whole, was badly planned, and much prevent] ble loss was
incurred ; ultimately, however, when Prome was occupied, and
the Burmese capital threatened, the king was forced to sue for
peace. In February 1826 the Treaty of Yandabo was signed,
which ceded to Great Britain the provinces of Assam, Arakan,
and Tenasserim. The king further agreed to abstain from all
interference in Cachar, Jaintia, and Manipur, and to pay an
indemnity. 1 Thus, in spite of many errors in planning and
execution, the war ended in a triumphant success for British
arms, and the acquisition of extensive provinces then little
esteemed, but now recognized as possessing high value. The
annexation closed up the north-eastern frontier of the empire
and protected it against foreign aggression.

The Maratha Wars

First, 1775-82 : Warren Hastings Governor-General ; Convention of
Wargaon, 1778 ; capture of Gwalior, 1780 ; ended by Treaty
of Salbai, 1782. (Some writers treat this war as two wars,
namely, the first, up to the Treaty of Surat, and the second,
from 1778 to 1782.)

Second, 1803 : Lord Wellesley Governor-General ; battles of Assaye,
Argaon, and Laswari ; occupation of Delhi ; ended by Treaties
of Surji Arjangaon and Deogaon.

Third, 1817-19 : Lord Hastings Governor-General ; battles of Kirkl,
Sitabaldi, Mahidpur, Ashti, and Koregaon ; ended by capture
of Aslrgarh, and general pacification by nineteen treaties.

Sindia was subsequently defeated in 1843. His descendant
is now a loyal supporter of the King-Emperor.

1 Assam and Arakan were attached to Bengal. Tenasserim was placed
under a Commissioner responsible directly to the Government of India


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FROM 1761 TO 1858 305


Lord William Cavendish-Bentinck, commonly called Lord William Ben-
tinck : reforms ; charter of 1833 ; Sir Charles Metcalfe and the press.

Lord William Bentinck. After the departure of Lord
Amherst, Mr. Butterworth Bayley acted as Governor-General
until the arrival, in July, 1828, of Lord William Bentinck,
who had been recalled from Madras twenty-one years earlier,
and had since held various appointments. The India of 1828
was very different from the India of 1807, and Lord William,
during his long term of office, nearly seven years, was able to
devote himself almost exclusively to the business of internal
administration and reform. When he became Governor-
General the only independent powers left in India were the
Sikhs of the Panjab and the Amirs of Sind, whose subjugation
was reserved for his successors. The friendship between the
Government of India and Ranjit Singh was solemnly affirmed
in 1831, when Lord William Bentinck met the Sikh potentate
at Rupar on the Sutlaj with splendid ceremony.

Annexation of Cachar and Coorg ; Mysore. But even the
most peaceful of the rulers of India was unable to escape
the necessity for small annexations. The Raja of the princi-
pality of Cachar, to the east of Sylhet, given up by the
Burmese under the provisions of the Treaty of Yandabo,
having been murdered, leaving no heirs, the Governor-General
acceded to the prayers of the inhabitants and annexed the
country. It now forms a valuable District in the prosperous
province of Assam, and is largely occupied by European tea-
planters. The little province of Coorg, lying between Mysore
and the Malabar coast, had the misfortune to come under the
rule of a mad Raja, who treated his people with ferocious
cruelty and exterminated all his male relatives. Lord William
Bentinck was obliged to occupy the province, and, with the
full consent of the people, to depose the Raja, in May, 1834.
Coorg is now governed by a Commissioner, subordinate to the


Resident of Mysore as Chief Commissioner under the Govern-
ment of India.

The action of Lord William's Government in Mysore has
been noticed above (ante, p. 284).

Opinions on Lord William's policy. In dealing with the
protected states Lord William Bentinck showed hesitation
and was not always successful, but the significance of his term
of office lies in his internal administration, of which we must
now give a brief account. Like all reformers he excited bitter
hostility, which has found expression in Thornton's History,
but general opinion has settled down to a favourable verdict
on his policy, and on the whole endorses the eulogium recorded
in the inscription on his statue at Calcutta, composed by Lord
Macaulay, his friend and colleague, which extols him as the
man who ' ruled India with eminent prudence, integrity, and
benevolence ', and ' whose constant study it was to elevate
the intellectual and moral character of the nation committed
to his charge '.

Finance. The Burmese war having caused a deficit of
a million sterling, the Governor-General was constrained to
pay close attention to finance. Additions to revenue were
obtained by improved organization of the opium monopoly
and by the revision of land settlements in the Agra provinces
and in Madras. The precedent of the Permanent Settlement
of Bengal was not followed in either the north or the south.
The Madras assessments had been made under the able super-
vision of Sir Thomas Munro on the ' ryotwari ' system of
direct contracts between the Government and the cultivators
for a term of years. The assessments of the Agra or North-
Western Provinces were generally confirmed for thirty years,
and the contracts were made, not with large proprietors as in
Bengal, but with the village zemindars, or their representatives.

Army, &c. Extensive economies were effected in both
the civil and military services. The cessation of war gave
opportunities for profitable retrenchments, and in 1831 Lord
William Bentinck took a free hand by assuming the office of



Commander-in-Chief in addition to that of Governor-General.
His studies of military organization led him to form a poor
opinion of the Indian army, which he stigmatized in a con-
fidential minute as ' the least efficient and most expensive in
the world '. After the general settlement effected by the
Marquess of Hastings in 1818 the spirit of the sepoys had
rapidly declined, and the army was not nearly as good as it
had been in Lord Lake's time. The events of the Mutiny
in 1857 proved that Lord William understood the defects
of the Indian system much better than most people. He
appreciated the strategical advantages given by steam power
in navigation, at that time a novelty, and did much to develop
communication with Europe by the Rea Sea and Suez route.
He also formed a just estimate of the importance of Singapore
in Malacca, acquired finally by treaty with the Dutch in 1824,
and made it the capital of the Straits Settlements. Constant
tours enabled Lord William to exercise supervision over all
branches of the administration and to acquire personal
knowledge of local needs.

Prohibition of suttee. The most famous reform associated
with his name is the prohibition of suttee (sati), enacted in
1829. The Regulation declared ' the practice of suttee, or
burning or burying alive the widows of Hindus, illegal and
punishable by the Criminal Courts ', and rightly pronounced
it to be ' revolting to the feelings of human nature, and
nowhere enjoined by the religion of the people as an imperative
duty '. The practice had attained terrible prevalence in
Bengal, where in some years eight hundred or more women
had been sacrificed, and the only strenuous opposition to
Lord William's measure came from Bengal. A better feeling
on the subject exists now, and it is to be hoped that it is no
longer necessary to defend the prohibition, which was enacted
owing to the zeal and courage of the Governor-General.

Thuggee. Another social reform was effected by the sup-
pression of thuggee (thagl), the practice of wholesale strangling
for the sake of plunder by strong armed gangs who infested

FROM 1761 TO 1858 309

the highways of every province in India except the Konkan,
and inveigled unwary travellers to their death. More than
three thousand of the Thugs were arrested, and an elaborate
system of detection and punishment was organized, under
the control of Major (Sir William) Sleeman, which extirpated
the system almost completely.

Employment of Indians and judicial reforms. Lord William
Bentinck's judicial reforms and arrangements for the employ-
ment of natives of the country in appointments hitherto
reserved for Europeans were intimately associated with his
financial economies. The practical exclusion of the native
races from all official employment except of the most humble
kind, which was the blot on the arrangements of Lord Corn-
wallis, had, in addition to its other demerits the objection
of expense. Lord William's measures threw open to Indian
candidates responsible employment in the judicial and
executive service, with the ultimate result that now Indian
judges have seats in all the High Courts as well as the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council, and the bulk of the judicial
business of the country is done by the natives of it. In 1910
Indians were appointed to the Executive Councils of the
Supreme and Provincial Governments. The dilatory Pro-
vincial Courts of Appeal and Circuit established by Lord
Cornwallis were abolished and replaced by a more workable
system, which need not be described in detail.

English education. Important as were the reforms indicated
in the preceding pages, some observers give an even higher
place to ' the momentous decision to make the English
language the official and literary language ' of the country,
and regard that decision as the event which makes the ad-
ministration of Lord William Bentinck a landmark in Indian
history. Previous Governors, Warren Hastings and the
Marquess of Hastings especially, had not been unmindful
of the claims of Oriental literature on the attention of the
rulers of India, but the idea of a general system of education
was first brought forward during the discussions concerning


the renewal of the Company's charter in 1833. Among other
things, the new charter provided for the appointment of
a Law Member to the Governor-General's Council. The first
holder of the office was Mr. Thomas (Lord) Macaulay, after-
wards famous as the historian of England. His influence
decided the Government, as against the advocates of purely
Oriental learning, to accept his view that ' it is possible to
make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars,
and that to this end our efforts ought to be directed '. The
possibility has been abundantly demonstrated, and the ex-
isting system of education in India is based on the lines
laid down by Macaulay. That system is open to much criti-
cism, but few of its critics will dispute the propriety of the
decision to make the English language the vehicle for higher

The charter of 1833. In 1813 the Indian trade had been
thrown open to all comers (ante, p. 295), and the Company had
been allowed to retain its monopoly only in the commerce
with China. As the time approached for another renewal of
the charter, reform of all kinds was in the air, the English
Reform Act having been passed in 1832, and it was clear that
the last vestige of monopoly must go. The main question at
issue was whether the Crown should take over the direct
administration of the Indian Empire, now an established fact,
or continue to exercise its powers through the medium of the
Company. The Ministry of the day not feeling ready to under-
take the direct government, Parliament preferred to continue
the use of the Company's machinery. But the Company
ceased to exist as a commercial body ; its assets were bought
at a valuation, and its organization became merely an extra
wheel in the mechanism of the Imperial Government. That
was the main effect of the legislation of 1833, although other
important changes were effected. The Government of India
was now formally empowered to pass laws, and its statutes
were given the title of Acts instead of Regulations. At the
same time Madras and Bombay were deprived of the legis-

FROM 1761 TO 1858 311

lative power, 1 and, as already mentioned, a Law Member was
added to the Governor-General's Council. A Commission
was appointed to devise a system of Anglo-Indian law, and
after many years its labours resulted in the existing Codes.
The North-Western Provinces (now the Agra Province) were
formed into a fourth Presidency, but soon afterwards they
were reduced to the standing of a lieutenant-governorship.
Europeans were permitted to hold lands, and a declaration

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Online LibraryVincent Arthur SmithThe Oxford student's history of India → online text (page 23 of 27)