Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII. - The History of British India, vol. 3
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CHAP. VIII. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 3 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 3.
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Subahdar of Deccan dethroned by his brother—The English take possession of the Northern Circars—Make a Treaty with the Subahdar of Deccan—Which embroils them with Hyder Ali—History of Hyder Ali—Hyder’s first war with the English—New Treaty with the Subahdar—Peace with Hyder.
Carnatic remained but a short time free frombook iv.Chap. 8. 1765. the pressure of the neighbouring powers. In the superior government of Deccan, Nizam Ali, who had resumed, upon the departure of Bussy, the commanding station which he formerly occupied, made no delay in employing all his advantages to effect the dethronement of his feeble-minded brother. On the 18th of July, 1761, he committed the Subahdar to a prison; and invested himself with the full powers and insignia of the government.
The treaty, by the provisions of which the pretensions of England and France were at this time adjusted, affords a singular illustration of the obvious and neglected truth, that the knowledge requisite for good government in India cannot be possessed by rulers sitting and deliberating in Europe. By the treaty of Paris, concluded on the 10th of February, 1763, Salabut Jung was acknowledged as lawful Subahdar of Deccan, after he had been nearly two years dethroned, and another reigning in his stead. This instrument indeed, which recognised Salabut book iv.Chap. 8. 1765. Jung as a great sovereign, was the immediate cause of his death; for Nizam Ali, who had been withheld by dread of the restoration of the French power in India, no sooner received intelligence of the treaty of Paris, by which the French resigned Carnatic, and appeared to abandon the contest, than he felt himself delivered from all restraint, and ordered his brother to be murdered in September, 1763.
With little concern about Bassalut Jung, who nevertheless was elder brother of Nizam Ali, that usurper, at once a regicide and fratricide, now grasped, without a rival, the power of Subahdar of Deccan. The personal title or name of himself and his father have by the English been converted into the appellative of his sovereignty; and it is under the title of the Nizam, that the Subahdar of Deccan is commonly known.
In the beginning of the year 1765, the English and Mahomed Ali their Nabob were summoned to action, by the irruption of Nizam Ali into Carnatic. With a great army, which seemed to have no object in view but plunder and destruction, he laid waste the open country with a ferocity, even greater than the usual barbarity of Indian warfare. The troops of the English and Nabob were put in motion from Arcot, under the command of Colonel Campbell, and came in sight of the enemy at the Pagoda of Tripetti. The Nizam felt no desire to fight: His army was reduced to great distress for provisions and water: He decamped accordingly on a sudden, and marching forty miles in one day evacuated Carnatic by way of Colastria and Nelore.
It was at this time that Lord Clive, on his passage from Europe to Bengal, arrived at Madras. The ascendancy of the English over the Mogul, the unfortunate and nominal Emperor Shah Aulum, rendered it extremely easy to procure from him those imperialbook iv.Chap. 8. 1765. grants which, however little respected by the sword, still gave the appearance of legal right to territorial possession within the ancient limits of the Mogul empire. A phirmaun was solicited and obtained for the maritime districts, known by the title of the Northern Circars. Like the rest of India this tract was held by renters, responsible for a certain portion of revenue. Of these some were of recent appointment; others were the ancient Rajahs and Polygars of the country; a set of men who were often found to be the most convenient renters, and who, on the regular payment of the expected revenue, were seldom displaced. The country fell within the government of the Subahdar of Deccan, and was managed by a deputy or commissioner of his appointment. After the English, however, had expelled from it the French, the authority of the Subahdar had been rather nominal than real. The English held possession of their factories and forts; the Rajahs and Polygars assumed a species of independence; Salabut Jung had offered it to Mahomed Ali at the time of his quarrel with Bussy at Hyderabad; and Nizam Ali himself had proposed to surrender it to the English, on the condition of military assistance against Hyder Ali and the Mahrattas. The advantage of possessing the whole line of coast which joined the English territories in Carnatic to those in Bengal, suggested to Clive the importance of obtaining it on permanent terms. A phirmaun was accordingly received from the Emperor, by which, as far as the formality of his sanction could extend, the Northern Circars were freed from their dependance upon the Subahdar of Deccan, and bestowed upon the English. Nor was this the only diminution which the nominal empire of the Nizam sustained; for another phirmaun was book iv.Chap. 8. 1766. procured from the Emperor, by which Carnatic itself was rendered independent of his authority; and bestowed, holding immediately of the Emperor, upon the Nabob Mahomed Ali, together with the new titles of Wallau Jau, Ummir ul Hind, which he ever afterwards used.1
To take possession of the Circars, on its new and independent footing, General Calliaud marched with the troops of Carnatic, and on the part of the Rajahs and Polygars found little opposition to subdue. The Nizam, or Subahdar, was at that time engaged in the country of Barad, making head against the Mahrattas. But he no sooner heard of the operations of the English, than he proceeded with great expedition to Hyderabad; and to avenge himself for the usurpation, as it appeared to him, of an important part of his dominions, made preparations for the invasion of Carnatic. The Presidency, whom their pecuniary weakness rendered timid, were alarmed at the prospect of a war with the Subahdar; and sent orders to Calliaud to hasten to Hyderabad with full powers tobook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. negotiate a peace. A treaty was concluded on the 12th of November, 1766, by which the Company agreed to pay to the Nizam an annual tribute of five lacks of rupees for the three circars of Rajahmundry, Ellore, and Mustephanagur; and for those of Siccacole (Chicacolé) and Murtezanagur, two lacks each, as soon as they were definitively placed in their hands. Murtezanagur, commonly called Guntoor, had been assigned as a jaghire to Bassalut Jung; and the Company were pleased to suspend their occupation of it, so long as Bassalut Jung should live, or so long as he should remain a faithful subject to Nizam Ali. They further engaged to hold a body of troops in readiness, “to settle in every thing right and proper, the affairs of his Highness’s government.” And they gave him a present of five lacks of rupees, which the Nabob was ordered to find money to pay.1
This treaty has been severely condemned. But the Presidency were not mistaken in regard to their own pecuniary difficulties, though they probably overestimated the power of the Nizam, whose unpaid and mutinous troops the money which he received by the treaty scarcely enabled him for a short time to appease. The most imprudent article of the agreement was that which stipulated for the Nizam the assistance of English troops; because this had an evident tendency to embroil, and in the event did actually embroil them, with other powers. The exploit in which they were first to be employed, the reduction of the fort of Bangalore, was not, it is probable, disliked by the Presidency; because they were already upon hostile terms with Hyder Ali, to whom book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. it belonged. The Nizam, however, after availing himself of the assistance of the British troops in collecting the tribute from the Polygars, on his march, listened to the overtures of Hyder, who was too eminent a master in the arts of intrigue to let slip an opportunity of dividing his enemies. The Nizam concluded with him a treaty of alliance, in consequence of which they united their forces at Bangalore: And, in August 1767, they began to make incursions into Carnatic.
Hyder Ali, who began to occupy the attention of the English, and who proved the most formidable enemy whom they had ever encountered in India, had now rendered himself entiré master of the kingdom of Mysore. The principality of Mysore, a region of considerable magnitude, had formed one of the dependencies of the great Hindu Government of Bijanuggur, which was broken up by the formation of the Mahomedan kingdoms in Deccan. When the declining power of the sovereigns of Bijanuggur enabled Mysore to throw off its dependence upon that ancient monarchy, its distance and other local circumstances saved it from subjection to any of the Mahomedan powers. It continued, therefore, till the period of Hyder’s usurpation, under a pure Hindu government, and afforded a satisfactory specimen of the political institutions of the native Hindus. The arts of government were less understood in that, than in the Mahomedan districts of India. Hardly ever have mankind been united in considerable societies under a form of polity more rude, than that which has every where been found in those parts of India which remained purely Hindu.1 At a period considerably prior to the rise of Hyder, the governmentbook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. of Mysore had assumed that state, which, if we may judge by its own example, and that of the Mahrattas, Hindu governments had a general tendency to assume. The Rajah, or Monarch, was stripped of all power, while a minister kept him a prisoner, and governed absolutely in his name. At the time when the wars of the English in Carnatic commenced, the powers of the Rajah of Mysore were usurped by two brothers, named Deoraj, and Nunjeraj. It was this same Nunjeraj, whom the French were enabled to bring to their assistance at Trichinopoly; and who there exhibited so many specimens of the rudeness of his people, and of his own ignorance and incapacity. And it was in the station of a subordinate officer in the service of this commander, that Hyder Ali began his career.
Mahomed Beloli, the great grandfather of Hyder, was a native of Punjab, who came into Deccan in the character of a fakir, and, settling in the district of Calburga, about 110 miles in a north-west direction from Hyderabad, acquired considerable property by the exercise of his religious talents. Mahomed Beloli had two sons, Mahomed Ali, and Mahomed Wéllee. They left their father’s house, and travelling southward became, at Sera, revenue peons, or armed men, employed, according to Indian practice, in the forced collection of the taxes. Mahomed Ali died at Colar, and Mahomed Wéllee, for the sake of his property, expelled his widow and son, and drove them from his doors. The name of the son was Futtee Mahomed, the father of Hyder. He obtained, along with his mother, protection from a petty officer, called a naik of peons, by whom he was brought up, and employed as a peon, or common foot soldier, in the party under his command. Futtee book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. Mahomed found means to distinguish himself, and, in the service of the Nabob of Sera, became, first a naik of peons, and afterwards the fojedar, or military superintendant of a district. But misfortune overtook his master. The Nabob was dethroned, his family plundered; and Futtee Mahomed lost his life in their defence. He left two sons, the elder Shabas, the youngest Hyder, and a widow, who had a brother, the naik of a few peons, in the service of a Killedar of Bangalore. With this man, the mother of Hyder sought, and, together with her sons, obtained protection. When Shabas, the elder of the brothers, grew towards manhood, he was recommended by his uncle to an officer in the service of the Rajah of Mysore. The youth quickly rose to distinction; and obtained the command of 200 horse and 1,000 peons. Hyder, till the age of twenty-seven, could be confined to no serious pursuit, but spent his life between the labours of the chase, and the pleasures of voluptuous indolence and riot. He joined, however, the troops of Mysore, as a volunteer at the siege of Deonhully, the castle of a Polygar, about twenty-four miles north-east from Bangalore, which, in 1749, Nunjeraj undertook to reduce. On this occasion the ardour, the courage, and the mental resources of Hyder, drew upon him the attention of the General; and, at the termination of the siege, he was not only raised to the command of fifty horse, and 200 peons, or foot, but was entrusted with the charge of one of the gates of the fortress.
He continued to recommend himself with so much success to Nunjeraj, that, when the efforts of the English to establish their authority in Madura and Trinivelly, in 1755, rendered precarious the possession of the fort of Dindigul, Hyder was chosen as the man on whom its defence could, with greatest security, repose. It was situated on a high rock in thebook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. middle of a plain, at nearly an equal distance, of about fifty miles, from Madura and Trichinopoly; and amid the confusions of Carnatic had fallen into the hands of the Mysoreans about ten years before. This elevation added fuel to the ambition of Hyder; and from this period his exertions in its gratification became conspicuous and incessant.
The depredations upon which all Indian, and other barbarous warriors, are so much accustomed to subsist, he reduced to a system. There are in India, and in particular in that part of it to which he belonged, a species of troops, or of men bearing the title of soldiers, who are particularly skilled in all the arts of plunder and of theft; who receive, indeed, no pay in the armies of most of the Indian states, but are understood to provide for themselves by the devastations which they commit. A body of these men Hyder engaged in his service; and employed in the business of depredation. Hyder had never learned either to write or to read; but he valued himself upon the faculty of performing exactly by memory arithmetical calculations, with greater velocity than the most expert accountants. He agreed with his depredators to receive from them one half of the spoil; and so skilfully, we are told, were his checks contrived, that it was nearly impossible for any part of it to be concealed. It was of little importance to Hyder, or to his gang, when the convenience and safety were equal, whether the property which they acquired was taken from friends or from foes. Valuables of every description were their prey; “from convoys of grain,” says Mr. Wilks, “cattle and sheep, which were among the most profitable heads of plunder, down to the clothes, turbans, and earrings of travellers and villagers, men, book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. women, and children.” Thus it was, that Hyder acquired the sinews of war; and before he left Trichinopoly, to which he had repaired in the army of Nunjeraj, he was a commander of 1,500 horse, 3,000 regular infantry, 2,000 peons, and four guns. Having enlisted the most select of the men discharged by Nunjeraj, he departed for Dindegul at the head of 2,500 horse, 5,000 regular infantry, and 2,000 peons, with six guns. He employed against the polygars of his district and its neighbourhood the arts of fraud and of force, with equal success. His vigilant eye discovered, and his activity drained, every source of revenue. He excelled in deceiving the government with false musters and accounts; and the treasures of Hyder were daily augmented. The distracted state of Madura, in 1757, encouraged him to make an effort to gain possession of that country; but Mahomed Issoof marched against him at the head of the English Sepoys, and gave him a severe defeat at the mouth of the narrow pass of Natam.
The weak and distracted state of the government of Mysore afforded opportunity to Hyder of ascending gradually to higher and higher situations and power. The Rajah, who was uneasy at the state of insignificance in which he was held, harassed the ministers with perpetual intrigues; and the brothers themselves were so little united, that Deoraj, who had most of years and of prudence, retired from the scene in disgust, and left Nunjeraj alone to sustain the weight of affairs. The treasury had been exhausted by repeated exactions of the Mahrattas; and in 1758 the troops of Nunjeraj mutinied for payment of arrears.
This was an occasion on which Hyder conceived that he might interpose his authority with advantage. He marched from Dindegul with thebook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. whole of his disposable troops; exerted himself with success in effecting a reconciliation between the brothers, and between the brothers and the Rajah; with his strict and experienced eye he examined and reduced the false accounts of the army; and, by effecting a partial payment of arrears, restored the troops to obedience. In this transaction he had sustained the character of a friend to all; and took care to be rewarded in proportion. An assignment was made to him of the revenues of a track of country for sums due by the government; and the fort and district of Bangalore were bestowed upon him in personal jaghire. The moment looked favourable for securing what he probably deemed a greater advantage. Herri Sing was one of the most powerful chiefs in the service of Mysore, and the declared enemy of Hyder. Under pretence of forwarding part of his troops to Dindegul, Hyder sent a large detachment to attack the camp of Herri Sing, who, reposing in careless security, was surprised, with a large portion of his troops, and massacred in the middle of the night.
An invasion of the Mahrattas, which immediately followed, in the beginning of 1759, contributed more remarkably to the elevation of Hyder. Though several of the principal commanders disdained to serve under a man whom they had so lately seen in a very subordinate station, he was appointed to the chief command against this formidable enemy; and acquitted himself with so much vigour and success, that before the end of the campaign he reduced them to an inclination for peace; and concluded a treaty on what were deemed favourable terms.
Hyder was now advanced to the rank and power of commander-in-chief, and had only his friend book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. and patron Nunjeraj, for Deoraj was dead, between him and the entire control of the resources of the state. Hyder’s impatience admitted little delay. To secure the countenance of the Rajah against a man who was at once his robber and his gaoler, was an easy intrigue; and the troops, whose arrears had not been fully paid, and had again increased, were artfully incited to mutiny against Nunjeraj, and to place Hyder, by compulsion, at their head. The Rajah now interposed, and offered to procure pay for the troops, as soon as Hyder should take an oath to be obedient, and to renounce his connexion with the usurping minister. Hyder failed not to exhibit reluctance; but at last allowed himself to be constrained; and Nunjeraj, who could not any longer misunderstand the game, and whose courage was not remarkable, consented to retire, upon the condition of receiving an honourable provision. The Rajah was complimented with the show of greater liberty; but Hyder, to be enabled to provide for the arrears, and the regular pay of the troops, took care to procure the assignment of the revenues of so many districts, that what was now in his direct possession exceeded half the territory of the state.
In March, 1759, Hyder received overtures from Lally, inviting him to his assistance against the English; and, amid the contentions of the rival strangers, looked forward to acquisitions in Carnatic. To pave the way for the share which he proposed to take in determining the fate of that important region, he resolved to obtain possession of the territory which separated Mysore from the confines of Carnatic, and which consisted first of the territory of Anicul, situated on the eastern verge of the tract of woody hills, between Savendy Droog and the Cavery, and next of the Baramahal, a province situated on the intermediate level between the first and secondbook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. ranges of hills. Immediately after the termination of the stratagem against Nunjeraj, a part of the troops, with a confidential general, were detached to occupy this intermediate territory, which opened a safe communication into the very centre of the province of Arcot. Anicul and Baramahal were secured; and the General proceeded to Pondicherry, under orders from Hyder, to settle the terms of co-operation with the French. These were speedily adjusted; and, on the 4th of June, 1760, a detachment of the Mysorean army arrived at Thiagar, which was surrendered to them by the treaty. The defeat which was sustained by a detachment of the English army, sent to intercept the Mysoreans on their march to Pondicherry, greatly elevated the spirits of Hyder; and inspired him with a resolution to exert his strength in the war of Carnatic. Several divisions of his troops were ordered to assemble in Baramahal, and the affairs of Carnatic might have undergone a revolution, had not a storm arisen in another quarter which it required all the address and power of Hyder to elude.
The distant employment of the troops of Hyder, and his own position, with a small detachment, under command of the guns of the palace, and surrounded by the river, which, being now full, it was impossible to pass, suggested to the queen-mother the possibility of cutting him off, and delivering her son from the thraldom in which it was the evident intention of Hyder to retain him. The assistance was secured of a Mahratta chief, who was at the head of an army in a neighbouring territory; and a cannonade began. Hyder soon discovered that his situation was desperate: but the main attack being deferred till the arrival of the Mahrattas, night came on, when book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. Hyder, with the assistance of a few boats, crossed the river unperceived, with a small body of horse, leaving his family behind him; and having travelled ninety-eight miles in twenty hours, the first seventy-five on the same horse, he arrived at Bangalore. He was just in time to precede the orders of the Rajah, by which the gates of the fort would have been shut against him; and he now hastened to collect his forces, of which those serving with Lally constituted a principal part.
The fortunes of Hyder tottered on the verge of a precipice. The troops, which were hastening towards him from Carnatic and Baramahal, were intercepted by the Mahrattas, who had joined the Rajah; and besieged in their camp. The utmost efforts of Hyder were ineffectual to relieve them; and his power was ready to drop from his hands; when the Mahrattas agreed to march off, upon receiving the cession of Baramahal, and the payment of three lacks of rupees. They had engaged their services to Lally, now besieged in Pondicherry; but had afterwards accepted the promise of a large sum from the English Nabob, on condition of returning immediately to Poonah. It was in consequence of this stipulation, so fortunate for Hyder, that they accepted his additional bribe; and the man, who was destined to bring the English interests to the brink of ruin, was saved by a stroke of English politics.
Hyder took the field against the forces of the Rajah, but still perceiving himself to be inferior to his enemies, he took a resolution, which it required Oriental hypocrisy and impudence to form, and of which nothing less than Oriental credulity could have been the dupe. Unexpected, unarmed, and alone, he presented himself as a suppliant at the door of Nunjeraj, and, being admitted, prostrated himself at his feet. He acknowledged, in terms of bitter anguish,book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. the wrongs of which he was guilty toward the first and greatest of his friends; vowed to devote his future life to their reparation; and entreated a firm and sincere union, that he might establish Nunjeraj in the station of honour and power in which he had formerly beheld him. It requires a high degree of improbability to prevent the greater part of mankind from believing what they vehemently wish. Nunjeraj was gained; and lent his troops, his exertions, his name, and his influence, to give ascendancy to the cause of Hyder. Fraud was an operative instrument in the hands of this aspiring general. Finding himself intercepted with the small detachment which had accompanied him on his sudden journey to the retreat of Nunjeraj, and his junction with the main body of his army which he had left to hang during his absence upon the rear of the enemy, rendered difficult, and his situation dangerous, he forged letters, in the name of Nunjeraj, to the principal commanders in the hostile army, letters purporting to be the result of a conspiracy into which these commanders had already entered to betray their General to Nunjeraj. The bearer was seized of course; and the letters delivered into the hands of the General, who fulfilled the fondest wishes of Hyder, by taking the panic, and running away from the army. During its confusion it was assailed by the main body of Hyder’s forces in the rear, by the detachment with himself in front; and yielded an easy and decisive victory. The triumph of Hyder was now secured. He delayed, only till he augmented his army, and took possession of the lower country; when he ascended the Ghauts, and early in the month of May, 1761, arrived at the capital. He sent to the Rajah a message; “That large sums were due to Hyder by the State, and book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. ought to be liquidated: After the payment of these arrears, if the Rajah should be pleased to continue him in his service, it was well; if not, Hyder would depart, and seek his fortune elsewhere.” The meaning of this humble communication no one misunderstood. It was arranged, that districts should be reserved to the amount of three lacks of rupees for the personal expenses of the Rajah, and one lack for those of Nunjeraj; and that of the remainder of the whole country the management should be taken by Hyder, with the charge of providing for the expenses, civil and military, of the government. From this period Hyder was undisputed master of the kingdom of Mysore.
Hyder was fortunately cast at one of those recurring periods in the history of Oriental nations; when, the springs of the ancient governments being worn out, and political dissolution impending, a proper union of audacity and intrigue has usually elevated some adventurer to the throne. The degraded situation of the Rajah, and the feeble and unskilful administration of the two brothers, opened an avenue to power, of which Hyder was well qualified to avail himself: The debilitated and distracted government of the Subahdar of Deccan; the dreadful blow which the Mahrattas had just received at the battle of Paniput; and the fierce and exhaustive contentions which the rival strangers in Carnatic were waging against one another, left all around a wide expanse, in which, without much resistance, he might expect to reap an opulent harvest: And had it not happened, by a singular train of circumstances, that he was opposed by the arms of a people, whose progress in knowledge and in the arts was far superior to his own, he, and his son, would probably have extended their sway over the greater part of India.
In prosecution of the design which Bassalut Jungbook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. had formed to render himself independent of Nizam Ali, he proceeded, about the month of June in 1761, to the reduction of Sera. This was a province, formerly governed by a Nabob, or deputy, of the Subahdar of Deccan. It was now possessed by the Mahrattas. But the shock which the Mahratta power had sustained by the disaster of Paniput, inspired Bassalut Jung with the hope of making a conquest of Sera. By his approach to the territories of Hyder, that vigilant chief was quickly brought near to watch his operations. Bassalut Jung was, by a short experience, convinced that his resources were unequal to his enterprise; and as his elder brother was imprisoned by Nizam Ali, on the 18th of July, his presence at the seat of his own government was urgently required. That the expedition might not appear to have been undertaken in vain, he made an offer to Hyder of the Nabobship of Sera, though yet unconquered, for three lacks of rupees; and formally invested him with the office and title, under the name of Hyder Ali Khan Behauder, which he afterwards bore. The allied chiefs united their armies, and, having speedily reduced the country to the obedience of Hyder, took leave of each other about the beginning of the year 1762.
Hyder continued to extend his conquests over the two Balipoors; over Gooti, the territory of the Mahratta chieftain Morari Row; received the submission of the Polygars of Raidroog, Harponelly, and Chittledroog; and early in 1763 he marched under the invitation of an impostor, who pretended to be the young Rajah of Bednore, to the conquest of that kingdom. The territory of Bednore includes the summit of that part of the range of western hills, which, at a height of from four to five thousand feet book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. above the level of the sea, and for nine months of the year involved in rain and moisture, which clothe them with the most enormous trees, and the most profuse vegetation, overlook the provinces of Canara and Malabar. The capital and fort of Bednore situated in a basin surrounded by hills, extended its sway over the maritime region of Canara, and on the eastern side of the mountains, as far as Santa Bednore and Hoolalkera, within twenty miles of Chittledroog. This country had suffered little from the calamities of recent war, and the riches of the capital, which was eight miles in circumference, are represented as having been immense. Hyder made the conquest with great ease, and confessed that the treasure which he acquired in Bednore was the grand instrument of his future greatness.1
Hyder devoted his mind with great intensity to the establishment of a vigorous and efficient administration in this country; which opened to him a new scene of conquest. He took possession of Soonda, a district on the northern frontier of Bednore: He reduced to submission and dependance the Nabob of Savanoor, a territory which formed a deep indentation between his recent acquisitions of Sera and Soonda: And he rapidly extended his northern frontier across the rivers Werda, Malpurba, and Gutpurba, almost to the banks of the Kistna.
This daring progress, however, again brought thebook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. Mahrattas upon his hands. Since the battle of Paniput, they had, in this quarter of India, been pushed with some vigour by Nizam Ali, the new Subahdar, who, at the commencement of his reign, gave some signs of military ardour and talent. He had constrained them to restore the celebrated fortress of Dowlatabad, in 1762; and, in 1763, carried his arms to Poona, the capital; which he reduced to ashes. The accommodation which succeeded this event, and the occupation which the Nizam was now receiving by the war for the reduction of his brother Bassalut Jung, seemed to present an opportunity to the Mahrattas of chastising the encroachments of a neighbour, whom as yet they despised. Madoo Row, who, third in order of time, had, under the title of Peshwa, or Prime Minister, succeeded to the supreme authority among the Mahratta states, crossed the Kistna in May, 1764, with an army which greatly outnumbered that which Hyder was able to bring into the field.1 He sustained a tedious, unequal conflict, which greatly reduced and disheartened his army, till 1765; when the Mahrattas agreed to retire, upon condition that he should restore the districts wrested from Morari Row, relinquish all claims book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. upon the territory of Savanoor, and pay thirty-two lacks of rupees.
He hastened to give order to his recent conquests in the east, which the late interruption of his prosperity had animated into rebellion. As his forts and garrisons had remained firm, these disturbances were speedily reduced, and he immediately turned his eye to new acquisitions. Having employed the greater part of the year 1765 in regulating the affairs of his government, and repairing his losses, he descended into Canara in the beginning of 1766, with the declared intention of making the conquest of Malabar. After an irregular war of some duration with the Nairs, the whole country submitted; and a few subsequent struggles only afforded an opportunity for cutting off the most refractory subjects, and establishing a more complete subjection. He had accomplished this important enterprise before the end of the year 1766, when he was recalled to Seringapatam, by intelligence of the utmost importance. Madoo Row had issued from Poona; Nizam Ali, with an English corps, was advancing from Hyderabad; the English had already sent to attack some of his districts which interfered with Carnatic; and all these powers were joined, according to report, in one grand confederacy for the conquest of Mysore. Nizam Ali, however, and the English, were the only enemies whom it was immediately necessary to oppose; and the Nizam, as we have already seen, he easily converted into an ally. In this state of his kingdom and fortunes, he began his first war with the English, in 1767.1
He was exasperated, not only by the readiness with which, in the late treaty with the Nizam, thebook iv.Chap. 8. 1767. English had agreed to join in hostilities against him, but by an actual invasion of his dominions. Under the pretence that it formerly belonged to Carnatic, but chiefly induced, we may suppose, by the consideration of the passage which it afforded an enemy into the heart of that country, the English had sent a Major, with some Europeans and two battalions of Sepoys, into Baramahl, who, unhappily, were just strong enough to overrun the open territory, and enrage its master; but were unable to make any impression upon the strong forts, much less to secure possession of the country.
It was by means of Maphuz Khan, the brother of the English Nabob, who had acted as an enemy of the English from the period of his recall as renter of Madura and Tinivelly, that Hyder effected his alliance with the Nizam. The English corps, under Colonel Smith, which had followed the Nizam into Hyder’s dominions, had separated from his army, upon intimation of the design which that faithless usurper was supposed to entertain. The Nabob Mahomed Ali, who had early intelligence of the views of the Nizam, urged the Presidency to attack his camp before the junction of the Mysorean. The advice, however, was neglected, and, in the month of September, Colonel Smith was attacked on his march, near Changamal, by the united forces of the new allies. He sustained the attack, which, for the space of an hour was vigorously maintained; and for that time repelled the enemy. He found himself, however, under the necessity of flight; and marching thirty-six hours, without refreshment, he arrived at Trinomalee. He here enclosed himself within the walls of the fort, from which he soon beheld the surrounding book iv.Chap. 8. 1767. country covered by the troops of the enemy, and desolated with fire and sword.
He remained not long an idle spectator, though his weakness compelled him to act with caution. He encamped for a few days under the walls of Trinomalee, and afterwards near a place called Calishy-Wâcum, about ten miles further to the north. While the army lay in this situation, Hyder planned an expedition, from which important consequences might have ensued. He detached into Carnatic 5000 horse, who marched without opposition to the very precincts of Madras. The place was completely taken by surprise. The President and Council were at their garden houses, without the town; and had not the Mysoreans been more eager to plunder, than to improve the advantages which their unexpected arrival had procured, the seizure of the English chiefs might have enabled them to dictate the terms of peace.
Before the rains compelled the English army to retire into cantonments at Wandewash, Colonel Smith attacked the enemy, with some advantage, before Trinomalee. In the mean time Nizam Ali, whose resources could ill endure a protracted contest, or the disordered state of his government a tedious absence, grew heartily sick of the war; and during the period of inactivity signified to the English his desire of negotiation. As a security against deception Colonel Smith insisted that he should first separate his troops from those of Hyder. But in the mean time the period of operations returned; and the English commander, now respectably reinforced, marched towards the enemy, who in the month of December had taken the field on the further side of Velore. The two armies met, and came to action, between Amboor and Wanumbaddy, when Hyderbook iv.Chap. 8. 1768. and his ally were defeated, and fled to Caverypatnam. This disaster quickened the decision of the Nizam, who now lost not any time in separating his troops from the Mysoreans; and commencing his negotiation with the English. A treaty was concluded between the Subahdar, the Nabob, and the English, in February 1768; by which the titles of the Nabob, and the grants which he had received were confirmed; the former conditions respecting the Northern Circars were renewed; the duanee, or revenues, in other words the government of Carnatic Balagaut, a country possessed by Hyder, was in name consigned to the English, subject to a payment of seven lacs per annum to the Nizam, and the tribute or chout to the Mahrattas; the English agreed to assist the Nizam with two battalions of Sepoys, and six pieces of cannon, as often as required; and the tribute due to the Nizam for the Circars was reduced from nine lacs perpetual, to seven lacs per annum, for the space of six years.1
book iv.Chap. 8. 1768. The victory gained over the united forces of the allies, and their final separation by treaty, elevated the Madras government to a high tone of ambition. They resolved not only to carry their arms into Mysore, but to make the conquest and acquisition of the country. They pressed Mahomed Ali to join the army, that the war might as far as possible appear to be his. “They pompously” (as the Directors afterwards reproached them) “appointed him Phousdar of Mysore,” and afterwards accused him, for accepting that very title, “of an insatiable desire of extending his dominions.”1 To bring the conduct of the war still more under the control of the Presidency, they sent to the army two members of council, as field deputies, without whose concurrence no operations should be carried on. These members compelled the commander of the troops to renounce his own scheme of operations, that he might act offensively against Mysore. The English army, however, too feeble for the enterprise, acted without energy; and the summer of 1768 passed in unavailing movements and diminutive attempts. Hyder, the newness of whose government could not long dispense with his presence, was well inclined to postpone his struggle with the English, and made in September an overture towards peace. It was received, however, with greatbook iv.Chap. 8. 1769. haughtiness by the Presidency, whose persuasion of the weakness of their enemy, and hopes of a speedy conquest of his realm, it only tended to increase and inflame. In the mean time Hyder was by no means inattentive to the war. He took the considerable fort of Mulwaggle; and gained some advantages over Colonel Wood, who attempted in vain to recover the place. The Presidency, dissatisfied with the progress of the war, under Colonel Smith, who was highly exasperated by the control of the field deputies, recalled that respectable officer; and Mahomed Ali, whom they had in some measure forced to join the army, but who was now unwilling to leave it, they commanded, under pain of deprivation, to return. The army became weak and despondent, through sickness and desertion. Hyder displayed increasing vigour. He attacked Colonel Wood, who was unable to save his baggage. Before the end of the year he had recovered all the conquered districts; and in January, 1769, carried his usual ravages into Carnatic. He penetrated into the district of Trichinopoly; and detached one of his Generals into the provinces of Madura and Tinivelly, which he plundered and laid waste. The English army were unprovided with horse, and could neither overtake the march of Hyder, nor interrupt his devastations. No part of the southern division of Carnatic escaped his destructive ravages, except the dominions of the Rajah of Tanjore, who saved himself by a timely accommodation, and whose alliance Hyder was solicitous to gain. Colonel Smith was again placed at the head of the English forces, and by judicious movements straitened the operations of Hyder. He even interposed with dexterity a detachment between Hyder and his own country, which was of the less book iv.Chap. 8. 1769. importance, however, to that warrior, as he drew his resources from the country in which he fought.
Hyder now meditated a stroke, which he executed with great felicity and address. Sending all his heavy baggage and collected plunder home from Pondicherry, which during this incursion he had twice visited to confer with the French, he drew the English army, by a series of artful movements, to a considerable distance from Madras, when, putting himself at the head of 6000 cavalry, and performing a march of 120 miles in a space of three days, he appeared suddenly on the mount of San Thomé, in the immediate vicinity of the English capital. From this he dispatched a message to the Governor, requiring that a negotiation for peace should immediately be opened; and that in the mean time the approach of the army in the field should be forbidden. The Presidency were struck with consternation. The fort might undoubtedly have held out till the arrival of Smith; but the open town, with its riches, the adjacent country, and the garden houses of the President and Council, would have been ravaged and destroyed. The Presidency were now seriously inclined to peace; and notwithstanding the unfavourableness of their situation, they agreed to negotiate upon Hyder’s terms. A treaty was concluded on the 4th of April, 1769, consisting of two grand conditions; first, a mutual restitution of conquests, including the cession to Hyder of a small district, which had formerly been cut off from the Mysorean dominions; and secondly, mutual aid, and alliance in defensive wars.
The disasters of the war in Carnatic, with the disorders which pervaded the government of Bengal, excited the most violent apprehensions in the Company; and reduced sixty per cent. the price of East India Stock. The treaty with Hyder was the bedbook iv.Chap. 8. 1769. on which the resentments of the Directors sought to repose. It is very observable, however, that their letters on this subject abound much more with terms of vague and general reproach, than with any clear designation of mischief to which the conditions of the treaty were calculated to give birth. They accuse the Presidency of irresolution, and incapacity; and tell them that by the feebleness with which they had carried on the war, and the pusillanimity with which they had made peace at the dictation of an enemy, “they had laid a foundation for the natives of Hindustan to think they may insult the Company at pleasure with impunity.” Yet they pretended not, that a mutual renunciation of conquests was not better than a continuation of the war; or that the vain boast of driving Hyder’s light cavalry from the walls of Madras would not have been dearly purchased with the ravage of the city of Madras, and the surrounding country. The Presidency affirm that they “were compelled to make peace for want of money to wage war.”1 And the only imprudent article of the treaty, in which, however, there was nothing of humiliation or inconsistency with the train of the Company’s policy, was the reciprocation of military assistance; because of this the evident tendency (a circumstance however which seemed not ever to be greatly deprecated,) was, to embroil them with other powers.2
It is stated that Clive even entertained the project of obtaining for Mahomed Ali the phirmaun of Subahdar of Deccan; but that the Nabob, who it is true was worn out with the struggle which he had already sustained, who now panted for ease and enjoyment, and whose qualities Clive estimated at more than their actual value (in his correspondence with the Directors he represents his word as more trust-worthy than that of any Mahomedan whom he had ever known. Reports of Committee, 1772), shrunk from the prospect of the arduous enterprise, and declared that “the Deccan was too great for him to desire to have the charge of its government.” Letter from the Nabob to Clive in 1765, MS. quoted (p. 150) by the author of the History and Management of the East India Company.—It is also affirmed, perhaps on better grounds (Observations by the President and Council, on Sir John Lindsay’s Letter of the 22d of June, 1771; Papers in Rous’s Appendix, p. 371) that the Nabob used his endeavours to obtain the exertion of the English power to procure him this high elevation; but met not with a corresponding disposition in the servants of the Company. The point is not of sufficient importance to require that we should spend any time in endeavouring to ascertain whether the one allegation or the other is the truth.
Second Report of the Committee of Secrecy in 1781, p. 22; Hist. and Management, p. 151; Collection of Treaties, p. 364.
See the illustrations of the Mysore Government, in the instructive volume of Col. Wilks.
Colonel Wilks thinks be estimates the amount of it very low at 12,000,000l. sterling. More likely it was not a third of the sum. “The immense property,” he calls it, “of the most opulent commercial town of the East, and full of rich dwellings.” The sound judgment of Colonel Wilks generally preserves him, much better than Oriental gentlemen in general, from the strain of Eastern hyperbole. The richest commercial town of the East, neither a sea-port, nor on any great line of communication, in a situation almost inaccessible, on the top of unwholesome mountains! Besides, there is little opulence in any house in India, or in any shop. The chief article of splendour is jewels, which almost always are carried away, or hid, upon the appearance of danger.
Col. Wilks makes, on this occasion, a judicious remark, the spirit of which should have saved him from the pecuniary exaggerations mentioned above. “I have found it proper,” he says, “to distrust my manuscripts in statements of numbers more than in any other case. In no country, and in no circumstance, is it safe to trust to any statement of numbers that is not derived from actual returns. Even Sir Eyre Coote, whose keen and experienced eye might be considered a safe guide, and whose pure mind never harboured a thought of exaggeration, states the force of Hyder, in the battle of Porto Novo, 1st July, 1781, to have been from 140,000 to 150,000 horse and irregular infantry, besides twenty five battalions of regulars; when, it is certain that the whole did not exceed 80,000.” Hist. Sketches, p. 401.
For the Life of Hyder, the Researches of Col. Wilks, p. 240–478, are the best source of intelligence.
Collection of Treaties (printed 1812), p. 364, 372. The Presidency held up to the Directors the necessity of supporting the Nizam, as a barrier against the Mahrattas—a policy of which the Directors entirely disapproved. Bengal Letter, 16th March, 1768; Fifth Report, Secret. Committee, 1781, Appendix No. 6. See too a letter, 13th May, 1768, Rous’s Appendix, p. [Editor: Illegible Number]17, in which the connection with the Nizam is strongly reprobated. “It is not,” they say, “for the Company to take the part of umpires of Indostan. If it had not been for the imprudent measures you have taken, the country powers would have formed a balance of power among themselves. We wish to see the Indian Princes remain as a check upon one another, without our interfering.”—They declare expressly, “With respect to the Nizam and Hyder Ali, it is our interest that neither of them should be totally crushed.” To the same purpose, see Ib. p. 529. In another letter, dated 17th March, 1769, after telling the Madras Presidency, that they had paid no regard to the above injunctions, and to the whole tenor, which was to the same effect, of all the instructions of their employers, they say, “It is with the utmost anxiety and displeasure that we see the tenth article of the treaty with the Subah, by which he cedes to the Company the Duanny of the Carnatic Balaghaut; a measure so totally repugnant to our most positive and repeated orders, not to extend our possessions beyond the Carnatic. …Our displeasure hereat is aggravated, by the disengenuous manner in which these affairs are represented to us in your advices.” They express a strong opinion on the passion of their servants for interfering extensively with the native powers. “We cannot take a view of your conduct, from the commencement of your negotiation for the Circars, without the strongest disapprobation; and when we see the opulent fortunes, suddenly acquired by our servants, who are returned since that period, it gives but too much weight to the public opinion, that the rage for negotiations, treaties, and alliances, has private advantage for its object more than the public good.” Ibid. p. 520, 521.
Letter from the Directors to Governor and Council of Madras, 17th March, 1769.
Letter to the Court of Directors, 23d March, 1770; Rous’s App. p. 1415.
For these transactions, besides the printed official documents, the well-informed, but not impartial author, of the History and Management of the East India Company, has been, with caution, followed, together with Robson’s Life of Hyder Ali, corrected from authentic MSS. by Mr. Grant.