Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. I. - The History of British India, vol. 3
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CHAP. I. - 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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Administration of Hastings till the Time when the Parliamentary Members of the Council arrived and the Operations of the New Constitution commenced, including—arrangements for collecting the Revenue and administering Justice ostensibly as Duan—treatment of Mahomed Reza Khan and the Rajah Shitabroy—elevation of Munny Begum—destruction of the Rohillas—sale of Corah and Allahabad to the Vizir—payment refused of the Emperor’s Revenue—Financial results.
By the new parliamentary authority, Mr. Hastingsbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. was appointed Governor General, and General Clavering, Colonel Monson, Mr. Barwel, and Mr. Francis, the members of Council; not removable, except by the King, upon representation made by the Court of Directors, during the period assigned in the act. Mr. Hastings had ascended with reputation through the several stages of the Company’s service; possessed the rank of a member of council at the time of Mr. Vansittart’s administration, and generally concurred book v.Chap. 1. 1772. in the measures which the party opposed to that Governor so vehemently condemned. After a visit to his native country, to which he proceeded at the same time with Vansittart, he returned to India, in 1769, to fill the station of second in council at Madras; and in the beginning of 1772 was raised to the highest situation in the service of the Company, being appointed to succeed Mr. Cartier in the government of Bengal.
The sense which the Directors entertained of the vices which up to this time had stained their administration in India, is recorded thus: “We wish (the words of their letter to the President and Council at Fort William, dated the 7th of April, 1773,) “we could refute the observation, that almost every attempt made by us and our administrations at your Presidency, for the reforming of abuses, has rather increased them—and added to the miseries of the country we are anxious to protect and cherish. The truth of this observation appears fully in the late appointment of supervisors and chiefs—instituted, as they were, to give relief to the industrious tenants, to improve and enlarge our investments, to destroy monopolies, and retrench expenses, the end has, by no means, been answerable to the institution. Are not the tenants, more than ever, oppressed and wretched? Are our investments improved? Has not the raw silk and cocoons been raised upon us fifty per cent. in price? We can hardly say what has not been made a monopoly. And as to the expenses of your Presidency, they are at length settled to a degree we are no longer able to support. These facts (for such they are) should have been stated to us as capital reasons, why neither our orders of 1771, nor indeed any regulations whatever, could be carried into execution. But, perhaps, as this would have proved too much, it was not suggested to us;book v.Chap. 1. 1772. for nothing could more plainly indicate a state of anarchy, and that there was no government existing, in our servants in Bengal….When oppression pervades the whole country; when youths have been suffered with impunity to exercise sovereign jurisdiction over the natives; and to acquire rapid fortunes by monopolizing of commerce, it cannot be a wonder to us, or yourselves, that native merchants do not come forward to contract with the Company; that the manufactures find their way through foreign channels; or that our investments are at once enormously dear, and of a debased quality.—It is evident then, that the evils which have been so destructive to us, lie too deep for any partial plans to reach or correct. It is, therefore, our resolution to aim at the root of those evils.” Their expectation of assistance from Mr. Hastings in these reforms, was expressed in the following terms: “Our President, Mr. Hastings, we trust, will set the example of temperance, economy, and application; and upon this we are sensible, much will depend. And here we take occasion to indulge the pleasure we have in acknowledging Mr. Hastings’s services upon the coast of Coromandel, in constructing with equal labour and ability, the plan which has so much improved our investments there; and as we are persuaded he will persevere, in the same laudable pursuit, through every branch of our affairs in Bengal, he, in return, may depend on the steady support and favour of his employers.”1
The double, or ambiguous administration; in name, and in ostent by the Nabob, in reality by the Company; which had been recommended as ingenious policy by Clive, and admired as such by his employers book v.Chap. 1. 1772. and successors; had contributed greatly to enhance the difficulties in which, by the assumption of the government, the English were involved. All the vices of the ancient polity were saved from reform: and all the evils of a divided authority were superinduced. The revenues were under a complicated, wasteful, and oppressive economy; the lands being partly managed by the native agents of the collectors, partly farmed from year to year, partly held by Zemindars, and Talookdars, responsible for a certain revenue. The administration of justice, of which, under the military and fiscal Governors of the Mogul provinces, the criminal part belonged to the Nazim, or military Governor, the civil to the Duan, or fiscal Governor, was, as a heavy and unproductive burthen, left in the hands of the Nabob; who, being totally without power, was totally unable to maintain the authority of his tribunals against the masters of the country; and the people were given up to oppression.1
The Company and their servants were little satisfied, from the beginning, with the produce of the duannee; and soon began to be little satisfied with the expedients adopted by Clive for ensuring a faithful collection. In the month of August, 1769, before the close of Mr. Verelst’s administration, a supplementary security was devised: It was held expedient, that servants of the Company should be stationed in appropriate districts, throughout the whole country, for the purpose of superintending the native officers; both in the collection of the revenue, and, what was very much blended with it, the administration of justice. These functionaries received the title of Supervisors: And, in the next year, was added abook v.Chap. 1. 1772. second supplementary security; two councils, with authority over the supervisors, one at Moorshedabad, and another at Patna.
Among the duties recommended to the supervisors, one was to collect a body of information, with respect to the amount of the revenues; with respect to the state, produce, and capabilities of the great source of the revenue, the lands; with respect to the cesses or arbitrary taxes; the whole catalogue of imposts laid upon the cultivator; the manner of collecting them, and the origin and progress of all the modern exactions; with respect to the regulations of commerce; and the administration of justice. The reports of the supervisors, intended to convey the information which they collected under those heads, represent the government as having attained the last stage of oppressiveness and barbarism. “The Nazims exacted what they could from the Zemindars, and great farmers of the revenue; whom they left at liberty to plunder all below; reserving to themselves the prerogative of plundering them in their turn, when they were supposed to have enriched themselves with the spoils of the country.” The Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1810, quoting this passage, remark, “The whole system thus resolved itself, on the part of the public officers, into habitual extortion and injustice; which produced, on that of the cultivator the natural consequences—concealment and evasion, by which government was defrauded of a considerable part of its just demands.” With respect to the administration of justice, the supervisors reported, “That the regular course was every where suspended: But every man exercised it, who had the power of compelling others to submit to his decisions.” The Committee of the House of Commons, book v.Chap. 1. 1772. whose remark on the state of the fiscal collections has just been adduced, subjoin to this quotation that which fills up the picture; “Seven years had elapsed, from the acquisition of the duannee, without the government deeming itself competent to remedy these defects.”1
Grievously disappointed in their expectations of treasure, the Directors resolved to break through the scheme of ambiguity; so far at least as to take into their own hands the collection as well as the disbursement of the revenues. In their letter to the President and Council of Fort William, dated the 28th of August, 1771, they declared their resolution, “To stand forth as Duan” (so they were pleased to express it), “and by the agency of the Company’s servants to take upon themselves the entire care and management of the revenues.” The change was enormous, which it was the nature of this decree to produce. It was a revolution, much greater, probably, than any previous conjuncture, than even the change from Hindu to Mahomedan masters, had been able to create. The transition from Hindu to Mahomedan masters had only changed the hands by which the sword was wielded, and favours were dispensed; the machine of government, still more the texture of society, underwent feeble alterations; and the civil part of the administration was, from conveniency, left almost wholly in the hands of Hindus. A total change in the management of the revenues more deeply affected the condition, individually and collectively, of the people of India, than it is easy for the European reader to conceive: It was an innovation by which the whole property of the country, and along with it the administration of justice, were placed upon a new foundation.
Of the nature of this change, the Directors appearbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. to have had no adequate conception. As if the measure which they proposed had been without consequences, they satisfied themselves with enjoining its execution; and consigned to their servants the task (of which, however, they did not much complain) of carrying into effect a change of government so momentous without one word of instruction.1 Those servants, though more acquainted with the practical difficulties which would be met in establishing the new system of finance, appear to have thought as little nearly as their honourable masters, of the great changes, with regard to the people, which it was calculated to produce. With great alacrity, they betook themselves to the undertaking. Mr. Hastings succeeded to the chair on the 13th of April 1772; and on the 16th the Council deemed themselves ripe for the following important resolution: That they would let the lands in farm, and for long leases; because it is the most simple mode, and best adapted to a government like that of the Company, which cannot enter into the minute details of the collections; because every mode of agency by which the rents could be received would be attended with perplexed and intricate accounts, with embezzlement of the revenue, and oppression of the people; and because any book v.Chap. 1. 1772. mode of collecting the revenues which would trench upon the time of the Governor and Council, would deprive them of a portion of what was already too little for the laborious duties which they had to perform.1
On the 14th of May the operations were planned. It was decreed, That the lands should be let for a period of five years: That a Committee of the Board, consisting of the President and four members, should perform the local operations, by circuit through the country: that the servants of the Company who superintended the business of collection in the several districts, and who had hitherto been distinguished by the title of supervisors, should henceforth be denominated collectors:2 That a native, under the title of duan, should in each district be joined with the collector, both to inform and to check: That no banyan, or servant of a collector, should be permitted to farm any portion of the revenue; because with the servant of a collector no man would dare to become a competitor: And, as presents to the collectors from the Zemindars and other middlemen had been abolished, so all acceptance of presents, by such middlemen, from the ryots, and all other modes of extortion, should be carefully prevented. Some precautions were taken against the accumulation of debt, which swelled at exorbitant interest, rarely less than three, often as much as fifteen per cent. per month, uponbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. the ryots, as well as the different orders of middlemen. The collectors were forbidden to lend, or to permit their banyans or servants to lend, to the middlemen; and the middlemen or agents to lend to the ryots: But the Governor and Council express their regret, that loans and exorbitant interest were an evil which it was not in their power wholly to repress.1
The objects which in these regulations the servants of the Company professed to have in view, were; to simplify accounts; to render uniform the mode of exaction; and to establish fixed and accurate rules. The Committee of Circuit, with whom, though a Member, Mr. Hastings did not proceed, first began to receive proposals at Kishenagur: But the terms whïch were offered were in general so unsatisfactory both in form and amount, that the Committee deemed them inadmissible; and came speedily to the resolution of putting up the lands to public auction. It was necessary to ascertain with as much exactness as possible the nature and amount of the different taxes which were to be offered to sale. For this purpose a new hustabood, or schedule of the taxes, was formed. The exactions consisted of two great parts; of which the first and principal was called assall, or the ground rents; the second aboabs, which consisted of a variety of additional, often arbitrary, and uncertain imposts, established at different times, by the government, the Zemindars, the farmers, and even the inferior collectors. Some of the most oppressive of these were abolished, and excluded from the present schedule. And new leases or titles were granted to the ryots: which enumerated all the claims to which they were to be subject; book v.Chap. 1. 1772. and forbid, under penalties, every additional exaction. When the Zemindars, and other middlemen of ancient standing, offered for the lands which they had been accustomed to govern, terms which were deemed reasonable, they were preferred; when their offers were considered as inadequate, they were allowed a pension for their subsistence, and the lands were put up to sale.
While the settlement, in other words the taxation of the country, was carrying into execution upon this plan, the principal office of revenue, or Khalsa, underwent a total revolution. So long as the veil of the native government had been held up, this office had been stationed at Moorshedabad, and was ostensibly under the direction of the sort of minister of revenue, whom with the title of Naib Duan, the President and Council had set up. It was now resolved to transfer this great office from Moorshedabad to Calcutta; and to place it under the immediate superintendance of the government. The whole Council were constituted a Board of Revenue, to sit two days in the week, or if necessary, more. The Members of the Council were appointed to act as auditors of accounts, each for a week in rotation. The office of Naib Duan, which had been held by Mahomed Reza Khan at Moorshedabad, and by Shitabroy at Patna, was abolished; but a native functionary, or assistant duan, under the title of roy royan, was appointed to act in the Khalsa, as superintendant of the district duans, to receive the accounts in the Bengal language, to answer interrogatories, and to make reports.1
The fundamental change in that great andbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. leading branch of Indian administration which concerned the revenue, rendered indispensable a new provision for the administration of justice. The Zemindar, who was formerly the great fiscal officer of a district, commonly exercised both civil and criminal jurisdiction within the territory over which he was appointed to preside. In his Phousdary, or criminal court, he inflicted all sorts of penalties; chiefly fines for his own benefit; even capital punishments, under no further restraint, than that of reporting the case at Moorshedabad before execution. In his Adaulut, or civil court, he decided all questions relating to property; being entitled to a chout, or twenty-five per cent., upon the subject of litigation. His discretion was guided or restrained by no law, except the Koran, its commentaries, and the customs of the country, all in the highest degree loose and indeterminate. Though there was no formal and regular course of appeal from the Zemindary decisions, the government interfered in an arbitrary manner, as often as complaints were preferred, to which, from their own importance, or from the importance of those who advanced them, it conceived it proper to attend. To the mass of the people these courts afforded but little protection: The expense created by distance, excluded the greater number from so much as applying for justice; and every powerful oppressor treated a feeble tribunal with contempt. The judges were finally swayed by their hopes and their fears; by the inclinations of the men who could hurt or reward them. Their proceedings were not controuled by any written memorial or record. In cases relating to religion, the Cauzee and Brahmen were called to expound, the one the Moslem, the other the Brah-menical law; and their opinion was the standard of book v.Chap. 1. 1772. decision. Originally, questions of revenue as well as others belonged to the courts of the Zemindars; but a few years previous to the transfer of the revenues to the English, the decision of fiscal questions had been taken from the Zemindar, and given to an officer styled the Naib Duan, or fiscal Deputy, in each province.
Beside the tribunals of the districts; the capital was provided with two criminal courts; in one of which, called roy adaulut, the Nazim, as supreme magistrate, tried capital offences; in another, a magistrate called the Phousdar tried offences of a less penal description, and reported his proceedings to the Nazim. At the capital was also found the principal duanee or fiscal court; in which the Duan tried causes relating to the revenue, including all questions of title to land. All other civil causes were tried at the capital in the court of the Darogo adaulut al alea; except those of inheritance and succession, which were decided by the Cauzee and Muftee. An officer, with the title of Mohtesib, superintended the weights and measures, and other matters of police.
Generally speaking, the courts of justice in India were instruments by which the powerful performed oppression, at their pleasure, on the weak.
Under the ancient government, the English, as well as other European settlers, instead of demanding payment from a reluctant debtor through the courts of law, seized his person and confined it, till satisfaction was obtained. Nor was this so inconsistent with the spirit of the government, as often to excite its displeasure. It was indeed a remedy to which they were not often obliged to recur; because the profit of dealing with them generally constituted a sufficient motive to punctuality. After the power of the English became predominant, the native courts ceased to exert any authority over Englishmen andbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. their agents.1
The first attempt, which had been made by the English to remedy, in their new dominions, any of the defects in the administration of justice, was the appointment in 1769 of superintending commissioners to the several districts, with directions to inquire into the proceedings of the courts of justice, to restrain iniquitous proceedings, to abolish the chout, and, where a total change should appear desirable, to apply to government for the requisite powers. In 1770, the Naib Duan, and such of the servants of the Company as had their station of service at Moorshedabad, were formed into a Council of Control over the administration of justice. Its administration was still to conform to the ancient and established plan; but the Council of Control should interpose as they perceived occasion; every judicial proceeding which concerned the government should come under their review; the trials should be transmitted to them in all criminal cases, and execution suspended, till their opinion was known; all causes relative to the revenue and to property in land should in the first instance be tried in the native courts, but the Council should revise the proceedings of these courts, and have the power of final determination.
For supplying the place of the native courts, in a great measure superseded by the new system of revenue; and for providing a more perfect judicial establishment; the following scheme was invented and pursued. Two courts, a civil, and a penal, were appointed for each district. The criminal court, styled Phousdary Adaulut, consisted of the collector, as superintendant, with the cauzee and muftee of the book v.Chap. 1. 1772. district, and two Mohlavies, as interpreters of the law. The civil court, styled Mofussul Duanee Adaulut, consisted of the collector, as President, assisted by the provincial duan and the other officers of the native court. From the jurisdiction of this tribunal no cases were excepted, beside those of succession to Zemindaries and Talookdaries, reserved to the President and Council.
At the seat of government were also established two supreme courts of appeal. That to which the civil branch of this appellate jurisdiction was consigned received the name of Suddur Duanee Adaulut; and was composed of the President with two Members of the Council, attended by the duan of the Khalsa, and certain officers of the Cutchery, or native court of the city. That on which the penal branch was conferred, obtained the title of Nizamut Suddur Adaulut. It consisted of a chief judge, entitled Darogo Adaulut, assisted by the chief Cauzee, the chief Muftee, and three Mohlavies. This Judge was nominated by the President and Council, who in this case acted in the capacity of Nazim. All capital cases were reported to his tribunal; and, after review, were ultimately referred to the Governor General and Council. After a short experience, however, the superintendance of this court appeared to impose a labour, and to involve a responsibility, which the Governor and Council found it inconvenient to sustain; it was one of the first transactions therefore of the new government which succeeded in 1774 to restore this part of the nizamut to the nominal Nabob, and to carry back the tribunal to Moorshedabad.1
For the district of Calcutta, two courts were established,book v.Chap. 1. 1772. on the plan of the other district courts; in each of which a Member of Council presided in rotation. In all these courts, it was ordained that records of proceedings should be made and preserved. The chout, or exaction of a fourth part of all litigated property, for the benefit of the Judge, was abolished. A prohibition was issued against exorbitant fines. The discretionary power, exercised by a creditor over the person of his debtor, was no longer tolerated. And all disputes of property, not exceeding ten rupees, were referred to the head farmer of the pergunna or village precinct, to which the parties belonged.1
In the introduction of these measures, a specimen is exhibited of the regard which was paid to the feelings or honour of the natives, how great soever their rank or deservings. Under the anxious search of the Directors for the cause of their intense disappointment in the receipt of treasure from the revenues of Bengal, they, after venting the first portion of their chagrin upon their European, seem to have turned it, with still greater want of consideration, upon their native agents. In a letter from the Secret Committee to Mr. Hastings, their President, dated 28th of August, 1771, they say, “By our general address you will be informed of the reasons we have to be dissatisfied with the administration of MahometReza Cawn, book v.Chap. 1. 1772. and will perceive the expediency of our divesting him of the rank and influence he holds as Naib Duan of the kingdom of Bengal.” Mr. Hastings is then directed, “to issue his private orders for the securing the person of Mahomet Reza Cawn, together with his whole family, and his known partizans and adherents,” and for bringing them prisoners to Calcutta. For this secrecy, precipitation, and severity, (arrest and imprisonment to a man of that rank in India is one of the most cruel of all punishments) the reason assigned was, that otherwise he might “render all inquiry into his conduct ineffectual, and ill-consequences might result from his resentment and revenge.” In the endeavour to discover delinquency, they say, “Your own judgment will direct you to all such means of information as may be likely to bring to light the most secret of his transactions. We cannot, however, forbear recommending to you, to avail yourself of the intelligence which Nundcomar may be able to give respecting the Naib’s administration; and while the envy which Nundcomar is supposed to bear this minister may prompt him to a ready communication of all proceedings which have come to his knowledge, we are persuaded that no scrutable part of the Naih’s conduct can have escaped the watchful eye of his jealous and penetrating rival.”1
The opinion which the Directors entertained of the man of whom they desired to make such an instrument, had, on a former occasion, been thus expressed: “From the whole of your proceedings with respect to Nundcomar, there seems to be no doubt of his endeavouring by forgery and false accusations to ruin Ram Churn; that he has been guilty of carrying on correspondence with the country powers,book v.Chap. 1. 1772. hurtful to the Company’s interests; and instrumental in conveying letters between the Shazada and the French Governor General of Pondicherry. In short, it appears, he is of that wicked and turbulent disposition, that no harmony can subsist in society where he has the opportunity of interfering. We therefore most readily concur with you, that Nundcomar is a person improper to be trusted with his liberty in our settlements; and capable of doing mischief, if he is permitted to go out of the province, either to the northward, or to the Deccan. We shall therefore depend upon your keeping such a watch over all his actions, as may he means of preventing his disturbing the quiet of the public, or injuring individuals for the future.”1
In a letter, dated 1st September, 1772, Mr. Hastings gave the Directors a history of the operations already performed, and of the views from which they had sprung. “As your commands were peremptory, and addressed to myself alone, I carefully concealed them from every person, except Mr. Middleton, whose assistance was necessary for their execution, until I was informed by him that Mahmud Rizza Cawn was actually in arrest, and on his way to Calcutta.” Beside these alleged commands of the Directors, “I will confess,” he says, “that there were other cogent reasons for this reserve;” and giving these reasons, he describes the importance of the office which was filled by Mahomed Reza Khan, and the susceptibility of corruption which marked the situation of his fellow-servants in India. “I was yet but a stranger to the character and disposition of the Members of your administration. I knew that Mahmud Rizza Cawn had enjoyed the sovereignty of book v.Chap. 1. 1772. this province for seven years past, had possessed an annual stipend of nine lacs of rupees, the uncontrouled disposal of thirty-two lacs entrusted to him for the use of the Nabob, the absolute command of every branch of the Nizamut, and the chief authority in the Dewannee. To speak more plainly; he was, in every thing but the name, the Nazim of the province, and in real authority more than the Nazim.—I could not suppose him so inattentive to his own security; nor so ill-versed in the maxims of Eastern policy, as to have neglected the due means of establishing an interest with such of the Company’s agents as, by actual authority, or by representation to the Honourable Company, might be able to promote or obstruct his views.”1
The office of Mahomed Reza Khan consisted of two parts; the one was the office of Naib Duan, in which he represented the Company, as Duan or Master of the Revenues; the other was the office of Naib Subah, as it was called by the President and Council, more properly the Naib Nazim, in which he represented the Nabob in his office of Nazim, that department of the Subahdaree, the name and ministerial functions of which were still reserved to the native Prince. The functions of the Naib Duan were indeed supplied by the new scheme for levying the revenue. But for those of the Naib Subah, as they called him, no provision as yet was made. The duties and importance of that office, are thus described by Mr. Hastings and Committee; “The office of Naib Subah, according to its original constitution, comprehends the superintendance of the Nabob’s education, the management of his household, the regulation of his expenses, the representation of his person, the chief administration of justice; the issuing of all orders, and direction of all measures which respect thebook v.Chap. 1. 1772. government and police of the provinces; the conduct of all public negotiations, and execution of treaties; in a word, every branch of executive government.”1
Nothing can afford a more vivid conception of what I may perhaps be allowed to call the style of government which then existed in Bengal, the temper with which the difference between some performance and no performance of the duties of government was regarded, than this; that the officer on whom “every branch of the executive government“ depended, was arrested some days before the 28th of April; and that it was not till the 11th of July, that a proposition was brought forward to determine what should be done with the office he had filled.2 A letter signed by the Company’s principal servants at Moorshedabad, and received at Fort William on the 21st of May, declared; “We must also observe to you the necessity there is for speedily appointing a Naib to the Nizamut, as the business of that department, particularly the courts of justice, is suspended for want of a person properly authorized to confirm the decrees of the several courts of justice, and to pass sentence on criminals, besides various other matters of business, wherein the interposition of the Subah [Subahdar] is immediately necessary.”3 Why was not some arrangement taken; or rather, is it necessary to ask, why some arrangement was not taken, to prevent the suspension of the judicial and every branch of the executive government, before the officer was arrested on whom all these great operations depended!
book v.Chap. 1. 1772. The Rajah Shitabroy held the same office at Patna, for the province of Bahar, as was held by Mahomed Reza Khan at Moorshedabad, for that of Bengal. Because Mahomed Reza Khan was arrested, and sent to Calcutta for his trial, and because, as holding the same office, it seemed proper that they should both share the same fate, Shitabroy was in like fashion arrested, and sent to his trial.
Ahteram al Dowlah was a surviving brother of Jaffier Ali Khan the deceased Subahdar, the uncle of the young Nabob, the eldest existing male, and hence the natural guardian, of the family: On this ground he presented a petition to “the Gentlemen,” praying that he might be appointed to the vacant office of Neabut Nizamut; in other words be chosen Naib under the Nazim.
The Directors, though resolved not to be any longer Duan under a cloak; were yet eager to preserve the supposed benefit of clandestinity, in the other department of the Subahdaree, the Nizamut.1 The servants in India declared their full concurrence in the wisdom of that policy.2 But they conceived that for this purpose such an officer as the Naibbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. Subah (so they styled the Naib of the Nazim) was neither necessary nor desirable; first, on account of the expense, next the delegation of power, which could never be without a portion of danger. They resolved, therefore, that the office of Naib Subah should be abolished.1 That is to say, they resolved, that the main instrument of government; that on which the administration of justice, the whole business of police, and every branch of the executive government, depended; should be taken away: And what did they substitute, for answering the same ends? The Courts of Review established at Calcutta might be expected to supply the place of the Naib of the Nazim, in respect to the administration of justice: With respect to all the other branches of government, answerable for the happiness of between twenty and thirty millions of human beings, no substitution whatsoever was made: So profound, for I acquit them on the score of intention, was the ignorance which then distinguished the English rulers of India, of what they owed to the people, over whom they ruled, and the fruit of whose labour, under the pretence of rendering to them the services of government, they took from them, and disposed of as they pleased! No doubt the duties of government, thus left without an organ, were in part, and irregularly, when they pressed upon them, and could not be avoided, performed both by the President and Council, and by the servants distributed in the different parts of the country. But how imperfectly those book v.Chap. 1. 1772. services of government must have been rendered, for which no provision was made, and which, as often as they were rendered, were rendered as works of supererogation, by those who had other obligations to fulfil, it is unnecessary to observe.
Though so little was done for rendering to the people the services of government, there was another branch of the duties of the Naib Nizam, which met with a very different sort and style of attention. That was, in name, the superintendance of the education and household of the Nabob; in reality, the disbursement of the money, allotted for his state and support. This was a matter of prime importance; and was met with a proportional intensity of consideration and care. It would be unjust, however, to impute to the individuals the defect in point of virtue which this contrast seems to hold forth. The blame is due to their education, the sort of education which their country bestows. They had been taught to consider the disbursement of a very large sum of money, as a matter of prodigious importance; they had never been taught to consider the rendering of the services of government to the people, provided the people would be quiet, as a matter of any importance at all. They must, therefore, have been superior to ordinary men; they must have belonged to that small number who rise above the mental level which their country and its institutions are calculated to form, had they displayed a higher measure, than they did, of wisdom and virtue.
This high-prized department of the functions of the Naib Nazim was even divided into two portions; the latter subject to the control of the former. One portion was made to consist, in “the guardianship of the Nabob, and the care and rule of his family;” the other in “regulating and paying the salaries of the Nabob’s servants, and keeping the account of hisbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. expenses, to be monthly transmitted to the Board, according to the orders of the Honourable Court of Directors.”1
To execute the first of these portions (the pretensions of Ahteram ul Dowla, and if a woman was to be chosen, those of the mother of the Nabob, the wife of Meer Jaffier, being set aside) Munny Begum, a second wife, or rather concubine of Meer Jaffier, a person who had been originally a dancing girl, was preferred and appointed. The reasons are thus assigned by the majority of the council, in their minute of the 11th of July, 1772: “We know no person so fit for the trust of guardian to the Nabob, as the widow of the late Nabob Jaffier Ally Cawn, Minnee Begum; her rank may give her a claim to this pre-eminence, without hazard to our own policy; nor will it be found incompatible with the rules prescribed to her sex by the laws and manners of her country, as her authority will be confined to the walls of the Nabob’s palace, and the Dewan” (meaning the person who should hold the secondary office, the paymaster, and accountant) “will act of course in all cases in which she cannot personally appear. Great abilities are not to be expected in a Zennana, but in these she is very far from being deficient, nor is any extraordinary reach of understanding requisite for so limited an employ. She is said to have acquired a great ascendant over the spirit of the Nabob, being the only person of whom he stands in any kind of awe; a circumstance highly necessary for fulfilling the chief part of her duty, in directing his education and conduct, which appear to have been hitherto much neglected.”2
book v.Chap. 1. 1772. With regard to the second of the above-described portions, a minute, in the Consultation, 11th July, 1772, signed Warren Hastings, says, “The President proposes Rajah Goordass, the son of Maha Rajah Nundcomar, for the office of Dewan to the Nabob’s household. The inveterate and rooted enmity which has long subsisted between Mahomet Reza Cawn and Nundcomar, and the necessity of employing the vigilance and activity of so penetrating a rival to counteract the designs of Mahomet Reza Cawn, and to eradicate that influence which he still retains in the government of this province, and more especially inbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. the family of the Nabob, are the sole motives for this recommendation.”1
The revenue allowed to the use of the Nabob had hitherto been so great a sum as thirty-two lacs of rupees. Of this the Directors had already complained; and agreeably to their directions, in January, 1772, on the allegation of the non-age of the Nabob, it was reduced to one half.
Mahomed Reza Khan and Shitabroy were brought prisoners to Calcutta in the month of April. In his letter of the 1st of September, to the Court of Directors, Mr. Hastings says: “It may at first sight appear extraordinary, that Mahmud Rizza Cawn and Rajah Shitab Roy have been so long detained in confinement book v.Chap. 1. 1772. without any proofs having been obtained of their guilt, or measures taken to bring them to a trial.” Among the causes of this, he first specifies the great load of business with which the time of the counsel had been consumed. He then says, “Neither Mahmud Rizza Cawn nor Rajah Shitab Roy complain of the delay as a hardship. Perhaps all parties, as is usual in most cases of a public concern, had their secret views, which, on this occasion, though opposite in their direction, fortunately concurred in the same points. These had conceived hopes of a relaxation of the Company’s orders; Mahmud Rizza Cawn had even buoyed himself up with the hopes of a restoration to his former authority by the interests of his friends and a change in the Direction. I pretend not to enter into the views of others; my own were these: Mahmud Rizza Cawn’s influence still prevailed generally throughout the country; in the Nabob’s household, and at the capital, it was scarce affected by his present disgrace; his favour was still courted, and his anger dreaded: Who, under such discouragements, would give information or evidence against him? His agents and creatures filled every office of the Nizamut and Dewannee; how was the truth of his conduct to be investigated by these? It would be superfluous to add other arguments to show the necessity of pressing the inquiry by breaking his influence, removing his dependants, and putting the directions of all the affairs which had been committed to his care, into the hands of the most powerful or active of his enemies. With this view, too, the institution of the new Dewannee obviously coincided. These were my real motives for postponing the inquiry.”1
With respect to the further progress of that inquiry, for facilitating which such extraordinary proceedingsbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. had been described as necessary, proceedings sufficient to procure the destruction, when required, of the most innocent of men; it was nevertheless, after two years’ confinement, degradation, and anxiety, judicially declared, that in Mahomed Reza Khan, and Rajah Shitabroy, no guilt had been proved. There is no proof that their destruction was at any time an object with Mr. Hastings; and their acquittal proves that certainly it was not so to the end. Of Mahomed Reza Khan, as connected with subsequent facts of great importance, we shall afterwards have to speak. But the mind of Shitabroy, who was a man of a high spirit, was too deeply wounded for his health to escape; and he died of a broken heart, a short time after his return to Patna. As some compensation for the ill-usage of Shitabroy, Mr. Hastings, on his visit to Patna, when travelling to meet the Vizir at Benares, in 1773, appointed his son Roy-royan, or chief native agent of finance, in the province of Bahar; “from an entire conviction,” as he declared, “of the merits and faithful services, and in consideration of the late sufferings, of his deceased father.”1
During the time in which this great revolution was effecting in the government of Bengal, the situation of the neighbouring powers was preparing another field of action for the ambition and enterprise of the Company’s servants. The loss which the Mahrattas had sustained in their late contest with the Abdalees, and the dissensions which prevailed among their chiefs, had for several years preserved the northern provinces from their alarming incursions. Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla, in whom, as imperial deputy, the book v.Chap. 1. 1772. chief power, at Delhi, had been vested, upon the departure of the Abdalee Shah, had, by his wisdom and vigour, preserved order and tranquillity in that part of Hindustan. The Emperor, Shah Aulum, who resided at Allahabad, in the enjoyment of the districts of Allahabad and Corah, allotted as his dominion in the treaty lately concluded with him by the English and Vizir, where his state was in some measure supported by the payment or expectation of the share which was due to him, and which the English rulers had bound themselves to pay, of the revenues of Bengal; had manifested great impatience, even before the conclusion of Mr. Verelst’s government, to march to Delhi, and to mount the throne of his ancestors. Respect for the English, who laboured to repress this fond desire, and for the power of Nujeeb ad Dowla, who might not willingly retire from his command, delayed the execution of the Emperor’s designs. Nujeeb ad Dowla died in the year 1770, about the very time when the ambition of Shah Aulum had stimulated him to the hazardous project of courting the Mahrattas to assist him in returning to Delhi.
With or without the concert of the Emperor, three powerful chiefs, Tookagee, Sindia, and Besagee, had taken a position to the northward of the river Chumbul, and hovered over the adjoining provinces with 30,000 horse. The Emperor, in the beginning of the year 1771, had dispatched his minister to Calcutta to obtain, if not the assistance, at least the approbation of the English, to his projected expedition; and was not restrained by their dissuasions. By the exertion of the Mogul nobles, and the assistance of the Vizir, who is said to have acted with more than his usual liberality,1 he was enabled, in the month of May, 1771, to march from Allahabad at the head ofbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. an army of 16,000 men. At the town of Nabbee Gunge, about thirty miles beyond the city of Furuckabad, on the high road to Delhi, where he was constrained, by the commencement of the rains, to canton his army, a Mahratta vakeel, or ambassador, waited his arrival, and presented the demands of his masters. Whatever balance of chout was due from the time of Mahomed Shah, must be discharged: Whatever plunder should be taken, must be divided equally between the Mogul and Mahratta troops: The Mahratta leaders must be confirmed in their jaghires: And five lacs of rupees,1 toward the expense of the war, must be immediately advanced to the Mahrattas from the imperial treasury. With whatever indignation these imperious terms might be heard, no reluctance was to be shown. When the season for marching returned, the Mahratta chiefs and the nobles of Delhi joined the retinue of the Emperor; and on the 25th of December he made his entrance into the capital, with all the display which his circumstances placed within the compass of his power.
The Mahrattas afforded the Emperor but a few days to enjoy the dignity and pleasures of his capital; when they hurried him into the field. The country of the Rohillas was the object of cupidity to both; to the Emperor, as an increase of his limited territory; to the Mahrattas, as a field of plunder, if not a permanent possession. Seharunpore, the jaghire of the late minister Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla chief, who book v.Chap. 1. 1772. had served the royal family with so much fidelity and talent, and, in the absence of the Emperor, had governed the city and province of Delhi for a number of years, lay most accessible. It was not, as the other possessions of the Rohillas, on the further side of the Ganges, but commenced under the Sewalic hills, at a distance of seventy miles from Delhi, and was terminated by the strong fortress of Ghose Ghur on the north, and by Sakertal on the east. The resumption of the government of Delhi, which had been possessed by Nujeeb ad Dowla, and transmitted to his son Zabita Khan, and the idea of the resentment which that chief must have conceived upon this retrenchment of his power, rendered him an object of apprehension to the Emperor, and recommended to his approbation the project of commencing operations with the reduction of Seharunpore. The Mogul forces, which the Emperor accompanied in person, were commanded by Mirza Nujeef Khan, a native of Persia, who accompanied to Delhi Mirza Mhosan, the brother of Suffder Jung, the Nabob of Oude, when he returned from the embassy on which he had been sent to Nadir Shah, after his invasion of Hindustan. Mirza Nujeef was of a family said to be related to the Sophi sovereigns of Persia, and was held in confinement by the jealousy of Nadir. He and his sister were released at the intercession of the Hindustan ambassador; when the sister became the wife of her deliverer; and the brother accompanied them on their departure to Hindustan. After the death of his benefactor, Mirza Nujeef adhered to the fortunes of his son, Mahomed Coollee Khan, Governor of Allahabad; and when that unfortunate Prince was treacherously put to death by his cousin Sujah Dowla, the son and successor of Suffder Jung, Nujeef Khan retired with a few followers into Bengal, and offered his services to Meer Causim. When that Nabob fled for protectionbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. to the Nabob of Oude, whom Nujeef Khan, as the friend of Mahomed Coollee Khan, was afraid to trust, he departed into Bundelcund, and was received into employment by one of the chiefs of that country. Upon the flight of Sujah Dowla, after the battle of Buxar, Mirza Nujeef offered his services to the English; advanced claims to the government of Allahabad; was favourably received; and put in possession of a part of the country. But when the transfer of that district to the Emperor came to be regarded as a politic arrangement, the pretensions of Nujeef Khan were set aside; and, in the way of compensation, he was allowed a pension of two lacs of rupees from the English revenues, and recommended warmly to the Emperor. His talents and address raised him to a high station in the service of that enfeebled Sovereign, whom he accompanied, as commander of the forces, on his ill-fated expedition to Delhi.
The united power of the Emperor and Mahrattas, Zabita Khan, though he made a spirited defence, was unable to withstand. He was overcome in battle; and fled across the Ganges, in hopes to defend what territories he possessed on the opposite side. He stationed parties of troops at the different fords; but this weakened his main body; Nujeef Khan gallantly braved the stream; and was followed by the Mahrattas; when Zabita Khan, despairing of success, fled to Pattirgur, where he had deposited his women and treasures. The closeness with which he was pursued allowed not time sufficient to remove them, and they fell into the hands of the enemy; while Zabita Khan himself, with a few attendants, escaped to the camp of Sujah Dowla. His country, one of the most fertile districts in India, which had flourished under the vigorous and equitable administration of Nujeeb ad Dowla, book v.Chap. 1. 1772. afforded a rich booty; which the Mahrattas wholly seized, and set at nought the outcries of the Emperor.
The Rohillas were now placed in the most alarming situation. We have already seen1 that among those soldiers of fortune from the hardy regions of the North, who constantly composed the principal part of the Mogul armies, and, according to their talents and influence, procured themselves lands and governments in India, the Afghauns had latterly occupied a conspicuous place; that a portion of this people, who took the name of Rohillas, had given several chiefs, with large bands of followers, to the imperial armies; that these chiefs had in some instances been rewarded with jaghires in that fertile district of country which lies principally between the Ganges and the mountains, on the western boundary of the Subah of Oude; that amid the disturbances which attended the dissolution of the Mogul government, those leaders had endeavoured to secure themselves in their possessions, which they had filled with great numbers of their countrymen. It is completely proved, that their territory was by far the best governed part of India; that the people were protected; that their industry was encouraged; and that the country flourished beyond all parallel. It was by these cares, and by cultivating diligently the arts of neutrality; that is, by pretending, according to the necessity of Indian customs, to favour all parties, not by conquering a larger territory from their neighbours, that the Rohilla chiefs had endeavoured to provide for their independance. After the death of Nujeeb ad Dowla, no one among them was remarkably distinguished for talents.2 Hafez Rhamet Khan, whose territories lay nearest to thosebook v.Chap. 1. 1772. of Sujah Dowla, was looked upon as the chief of the tribe; but his character had in it more of caution than of enterprise, and his prudence had stamped upon him the reputation of avarice. The united force of all these leaders was estimated at 80,000 horse and foot. But though a sense of common danger might with difficulty combine them in operations of defence, they were too independent, and their minds too little capable of a steady pursuit of their own interests, to offer, through an aggressive confederacy, any prospect of danger to the surrounding powers.1
book v.Chap. 1. 1772. The Rohillas, on their part, however, stood exposed to alarming designs, on almost every quarter. Their nearest, and for a long time their most dangerous enemy, was the Subahdar of Oude, to whom, from its first acquisition, their territory had been a constant object of envy and desire. A predecessor of Sujah Dowla, nearly thirty years before, had invited the Mahrattas to assist him in wresting it from their hands; and had given the first temptation to that dangerous people to claim a settlement in that part of Hindustan. From the character of the present Subahdar of Oude, the danger of the Rohillas on that side was increased rather than diminished; and at the same time the superior power of the Mahrattas pressed upon them with alarming violence from the south. With their own strength, they were a match for neither party; and clearly saw, that their safety could only be found in obtaining protection against both. They temporised; and endeavoured to evade the hostile designs of each, by shielding themselves with the terror which one set of their enemies kept alive in the breasts of the other.
The Rohillas were vehemently roused by intelligence of the attack upon Zabita Khan, which they regarded as the first step of a general plan of aggression. They proposed an union of counsels and of arms with the Subahdar of Oude, to whom the establishment of the Mahrattas upon his frontier was, they knew, an object equally of danger and alarm. He was thrown into great consternation and embarrassment. Early in January, 1772, he pressed for an interview with the English General, Sir Robertbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. Barker, who was then on his route to Allahabad, and met him on the 20th of the same month at Fyzabad. He remarked that “either, to prevent a total extirpation, the Rohillas would be necessitated to give up a part of their country, and to join their arms with the Mahrattas; when the whole confederacy would fall upon him; or that the Mahrattas, refusing all terms to the Rohillas, would establish themselves in the Rohilla country, and expose him to still greater danger.” To extricate himself from these difficulties, the following is the plan which he had devised. He would march with his army to his own Rohilla frontier: He would there, partly by the terror of his arms, partly by desire of his aid, obtain from the Rohillas, first, the cession of a portion of their territory for the Emperor’s support, leaving to them such a part as was best adapted to serve as a barrier to the province of Oude; and, secondly, a sum of money, with part of which he would purchase the departure of the Mahrattas, and part of which he would keep to his own use: He would thus effect an accommodation with both the Emperor and the Mahrattas, at the expense of the Rohillas; and put something in his own pocket besides. But for the accomplishment of these desirable ends, the presence of the English was absolutely necessary, without the guarantee of whom, he plainly declared that the Rohillas, who knew him, would yield him no trust. To the letter of the General, making known this proposal, the Presidency on the 3d of February wrote in reply, approving highly of the project of Sujah Dowla, and authorizing the General to lend the support which was desired.
The proposals of the Subahdar, in regard especially to the division of their territory, were odious to the Rohillas; and time was spent in negotiation, while book v.Chap. 1. 1772. 30,000 Mahrattas ravaged the country beyond the Ganges, and their main body subdued the territory of Zabita Khan. The English General, Sir Robert Barker, strongly urged upon Sujah Dowla, the necessity of protecting the Rohillas, the weakness of whom became the strength of the Mahrattas, and enabled them, if their departure were purchased, to return to the seizure of the country whenever they pleased. In the mean time the Subahdar was eager to conclude a treaty with the Mahrattas; the prospect of which alarmed the English General, and called forth his exertions to prevent so dangerous a confederacy. The Mahrattas, however, treated the overtures of the Subahdar with so little respect, that they varied their terms at every conference; and forced him at last to break off the negotiation. In their instructions to the General, on the 30th of April, the Select Committee declare: “We are confirmed in the opinion we have for some time past entertained, that the Mahrattas will not make any stay in the Rohilla country; but that they will be obliged to quit it even before the rains set in; and every day’s intelligence renders the probability of this event the more apparent.” Their opinion was grounded upon the knowledge which they possessed of the revolution which had taken place in the Mahratta government, and which could not, as they supposed, and as the event turned out, fail to recall their armies. The Committee add, “We therefore so far concur in opinion with you, that any concessions made to the Mahrattas to promote their departure would be superfluous and highly improper.”
The defeat of the negotiation with the Mahrattas, and the knowledge with which the Subahdar was already furnished of the events which summoned home the Mahrattas, brought about that alliance between him and the Rohillas, which Sir Robert hadbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. laboured so eagerly to effect. The Subahdar was very keen for an arrangement, from which he expected to derive money, now when he hoped by the voluntary departure of the Mahrattas to have nothing to do in return for it. The Rohillas, on the other hand, it is observable, entered into the engagement with the utmost reluctance: in compliance solely, as it would appear, with the importunities of the English. Sir Robert Barker had sent Captain Harper to the camp of the Rohillas to negotiate; and on the 25th of May, from the Nabob’s camp at Shawabad, he writes to the Presidency, in the following remarkable terms. “Gentlemen, on the 21st instant, Captain Harper, returned from the Rohilla Sirdars [commanders] having at length prevailed on Hafez Rhamet Khan to proceed with him to Shawabad the second day’s march. The jealousy of Hindustaners has been very particularly evinced in this visit; for notwithstanding Hafez Rhamet has been encamped within three coss since the 23d of the month, until this morning, he could not prevail on himself to perform the meeting.—I hope, in a few days, to have the satisfaction of communicating to you the final conclusion of this agreement with the Rohilla Sirdars.”
It was not, however, before the 17th day of the following month, that all difficulties were borne down, or removed, and a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, was signed by the respective parties. Of the articles, that which was attended with the most memorable consequences, that to which the Rohillas, it is probable, assented only from that rashness and negligence in forming pecuniary obligations which is universal in Indian governments and which their universal practice of fulfilling none which they can violate or evade unavoidably engenders, was the promise to book v.Chap. 1. 1772. pay to the Vizir forty lacs of rupees, on condition that he should expel the Mahrattas from the Rohilla territories; ten of these lacs to be furnished on the performance of the service, the rest in the space of three years.1
No effort whatsoever, in consequence of this agreement, was made by the Subahdar for the expulsion of the Mahrattas; in a little time he returned to his capital; and the Mahrattas, after ravaging the country, crossed the Ganges of their own accord, at the commencement of the rains. They encamped, however, between the Ganges and the Jumna, with too evident an intention of renewing their operations as soon as the favourable season should return. During the period of inaction, the Rohillas importuned the Vizir to make such arrangements with the Emperor and Mahrattas, as might prevent them from crossing the Ganges any more. But no such arrangements were attempted. As soon as the termination of the rains approached, the Mahrattas drew near to the river, and, again threatening the Rohillas, demanded a sum of money, of which, after temporising, a portion was, by Hafez Rhamet, most reluctantly paid.
Upon the accomplishment of the enterprise against Zabita Khan, the Emperor returned to Delhi, disgusted with his new allies, and eagerly desirous of an opportunity to dissolve the connexion. The Mahrattas on their part, who disdained the restraint of obligation, whenever it might be violated with profit, had entered into correspondence with Zabita Khan, and had engaged for a sum of money to compel the Emperor, not only to restore his territory, but to bestow upon him the office of Ameer al Omra, whichbook v.Chap. 1. 1772. his father had enjoyed. To these commands the Emperor could not prevail upon himself quietly to yield; and the Mahrattas thought proper to march towards Delhi, to enforce submission. The Emperor prepared himself for resistance; and, by the vigour and foresight of Nujeef Khan, was enabled to make a respectable defence. Incapable, however, of long supporting the weight of the Mahratta host, he opened the gates of Delhi, on the 22d of December, exactly one year, wanting three days, from the period of his inaugural entry. From this time, he was no better than an instrument in the hands of the Mahrattas. Of their power the first use was to extort from their prisoner a grant of the provinces of Corah and Allahabad, in which he had been established by the English. Having accomplished these events, they returned to the banks of the Ganges, which they made preparations to cross.
The Subahdar was now thrown into a state of the most violent alarm; and wrote repeated letters to the Bengal government to send a military force to his protection. He had neglected, or had been unable, to take any measures for placing the country of the Rohillas in a state of security. That people were now laid at the mercy of the Mahrattas; and would, he foresaw, be compelled to join them, to avoid destruction. Zabita Khan had already thrown himself upon their mercy; and he violently feared that the other chiefs would speedily follow his example. The Mahrattas, indeed, made great offers to the Rohillas. They would remit the greater part of the sums of which they had extorted the promise. They engaged to pass through the country without committing any depredations or molesting the ryots, and to grant all sorts of advantages; provided the Rohillas would book v.Chap. 1. 1773. yield a free passage through their dominions into the territory of the Vizir.1 The Subahdar of Oude exerted himself to prevent that union of the Mahrattas and Rohillas; the effects of which he contemplated with so much alarm. He moved with his army into that part of his country which was nearest to that of the Rohillas; and held out to them whatever inducements he conceived most likely to confirm their opposition to the Mahrattas. He engaged to make effectual provision both for their present and future security; and to remit, as Hafez Rhamet affirms, the forty lacs of rupees. Difficult as was the choice, the Rohillas thought it still less dangerous to rely upon the faith of the Subahdar, than upon that of the Mahrattas; and gaining what they could, by temporizing with that formidable people, they, however, declined all engagements with them, and actually joined their troops to those of the English and Subahdar.2
On the 7th of January, 1773, the Secret Committee at Calcutta entered into consultation on intelligence of these events; and thus recorded their sentiments. “Notwithstanding the alarms of the Vizir, expressed in the foregoing letters, it does not clearly appear that the Mahrattas have acquired any accession of power, since, whatever advantage they derived from the sanction of the King’s name, when he was independent, must now be either lost, or very much diminished, by their late rupture with him, by their having violently possessed themselves of his person, and their usurpation of his dominions.” On the subject of the Rohillas, whom the Vizir, to increasebook v.Chap. 1. 1773. the ardour of the English to send an army to his support, represented as actually connected with the Mahrattas, though he only dreaded that event, they remark, that instead of joining with the Mahrattas in an invasion of the territories of the Vizir, “It is still more probable that the Rohilla chiefs, who have sought their present safety in a treacherous alliance, to which necessity compelled them, with the Mahrattas, will, from the same principle, abandon their cause, or employ the confidence reposed in them to re-establish their own independence, rather than contribute to the aggrandizement of a power, which in the end must overwhelm them.” With regard to the unhappy Shah Aulum, the humiliated Emperor of the Moguls, they remark; “It is possible he may solicit our aid; and, in point of right, we should certainly be justified in affording it him, since no act of his could be deemed valid in his present situation, and while he continues a mere passive instrument in the hands of the Mahrattas: But whether it would be political to interfere, or whether, at this time especially, it would be expedient, must continue a doubt with us.”1 It is remarkable, that with regard to the most important of his acts, the surrender of Corah and Allahabad, so little did any one regard it as binding, that his deputy, in these provinces, instead of delivering them up to the Mahrattas, applied to the English for leave to place them under their protection, “as the King, his master, whilst a prisoner in the hands of the Mahrattas, had been compelled to grant sunnuds in their favour.”2 The English, in consequence, threw a garrison into Allahabad, and sent a member of council to take charge of the revenues.3
book v.Chap. 1. 1773. The obligation under which the English were placed to aid the Vizir in the defence of his own territory, and their opinion of the advantage of supporting him against the Mahrattas, induced them to send Sir Robert Barker, with a part of the army. The importance of preventing the Mahrattas from establishing themselves on the northern side of the Ganges, and the facility which they would possess of invading Oude if masters of Rohilcund, disposed the English to include that district also within the line of their defensive operations. But, though the combined forces of the English and Vizir passed into the territories of the Rohillas, and encamped near the river, opposite to the main army of the Mahrattas, which threatened at once the territories of Oude and the province of Corah, a large body of Mahrattas, crossed the Ganges, over-ran a great part of Rohilcund, destroyed the cities of Moradabad and Sumbul, and continued to ravage the country till the end of March.
No operation of any importance ensued. The English General was restrained by peremptory orders from passing the river, to act on the offensive; the Mahrattas were afraid of crossing it in the face of so formidable an opponent. And in the month of May, the situation of their domestic affairs recalled that people wholly to their own country.
The departure of the Mahrattas opened a field to the ambition of the Subahdar, which he was eager to cultivate. A meeting was concerted between him and the Governor, which took place at Benares at the beginning of September. The terms are memorable in which the cause and object of this interview are mentioned by the English chief. In his Report to the Council at Calcutta, on the 4th of October, 1773, he says, “The Vizir was at first very desirous of the assistance of an English force to put him in possession of the Rohilla country, lying north of hisbook v.Chap. 1. 1773. dominions and east of the Ganges. This has long been a favourite object of his wishes; and you will recollect that the first occasion of my last visit was furnished by a proposal of this kind.”1 The Governor-General was so far from revolting at this proposition, or hesitating to close with it, that he stimulated the Vizir to its execution.2Money was the motive to this eager passion for the ruin of the Rohillas. “As this had long,” says the English ruler, “been a favourite object of the Vizir, the Board judged with me that it might afford a fair occasion to urge the improvement of our alliance, by obtaining his assent to a more equitable compensation for the expense attending the aid which he occasionally received from our forces.”3 The situation of the Company he says, urged it upon them, “as a measure necessary to its interest and safety. All our advices,” he continues, “both public and private, represented the distresses of the Company at home, as extreme. The letters from the Court of Directors called upon us most loudly for ample remittances, and a reduction of our military expenses. At the same time, such was the state of affairs in this government, that for many years past the income of the year was found inadequate to its expense; to defray which, a heavy bond debt, amounting at one time to 125 lacs of rupees, had accumulated.”4 It was accordingly stipulated that book v.Chap. 1. 1773. forty lacs of rupees, upon the accomplishment of the enterprise, should be advanced to the English by the Vizir, and a monthly allowance, equivalent to the computed expense, be provided for the troops engaged in that service. By this, says the Governor, “a saving of near one third of our military expenses would be effected during the period of such a service; the stipulation of forty lacs would afford an ample supply to our treasury: the Vizir would be freed from a troublesome neighbourhood, and his dominions be much more defensible.”
In all this, we may allow, there was enough for convenience and profit, both to the President and the Vizir. But to bring ruin upon a large body of our fellow-creatures for our own convenience and profit, unless where the most cogent reasons of justice and necessity impel, is to perform the part of the most atrocious oppressors. In this case, the pleas of justice and necessity are, to an extraordinary degree, defective and weak. The unhappy Rohillas, it seems, procrastinated, and evaded, with respect to the demand which was now violently made upon them for payment of the formerly stipulated price of defence; a payment which had not been earned, since they had never been defended; which they were not able to pay, since their country had been repeatedly ravaged and stript; of which the exaction was in reality a fraud, since the return for it was never intended to be made; which it was no wonder they were reluctant to pay, to the man who was impatient to assail them, and whom the use of their money would only strengthen for their destruction. At the worst a failure in a pecuniary obligation can never justify a war of extermination; it even authorized hostilities, as the Directors, when they condemned this employment of their forces, remarked, so far only, as might be necessary to compel the fulfilment of the contract.book v.Chap. 1. 1773. It was also alleged, that the Rohillas assisted the Mahrattas. But this is by no means true. They temporized with the Mahrattas, as it was highly natural they should do; but the whole power of the nation was exerted to keep and to drive the Mahrattas from their own side of the Ganges.1 With regard to necessity for the extirpation of the Rohillas, there was not so much as prudence to justify the deed; Hastings himself confessing, “that the dependance of the Vizir upon the Company (in other words his weakness) would, by that extension of his possessions, be increased, as he himself was incapable of defending even his ancient possessions without the English support.”2
Another object of great importance was to be settled between the Governor and Vizir. The provinces of Corah and Allahabad, of which a forced surrender had been obtained by the Mahrattas, but which the deputy of the Emperor, declaring the act involuntary, had, to save them for his master, placed under the protection of the English, were to be disposed book v.Chap. 1. 1773. of. At first, if no resolution was taken to restore them to the Emperor, it appears, at least, that none was adopted to take them from him. As soon as the idea was begotten of making money out of the present situation of affairs, the provinces of Corah and Allahabad naturally fell into the crucible. It had long been a decided principle in the Company’s policy, not to retain those provinces under their own administration; because the expense of governing them, at so great a distance, would exceed the utmost revenue they could yield. The choice lay between preserving them for the Emperor and making them over to the Vizir. Generosity, had it any place in such arrangements, pleaded with almost unexampled strength in behalf of the forlorn Emperor, the nominal sovereign of so vast an empire, the representative of so illustrious a race, who now possessed hardly a roof to cover him. Justice, too, or something not easily distinguished from justice, spoke on the same side: considering that, in the first place, the Emperor had a right to the provinces, both by his quality of sovereign of India, and also by the peculiar concession and grant of the English Company, if not in express terms for, most certainly in consideration of, his not absolutely necessary but highly useful grant of the duanee of the three great and opulent provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa; And that, in the second place, he could not, by any fair construction, be deemed to have forfeited any right by the surrender of the provinces, an act which was in the highest degree involuntary, and therefore not his own. But these considerations were a feeble balance against the calls of want, and the heavy attractions of gold. To secure Allahabad and Corah against the possession of so dangerous a power as the Mahrattas was the acknowledged policy of the British government; and it was alleged, that the Emperorbook v.Chap. 1. 1773. was unable to protect them. But it is certainly true, that the Emperor was not less able at that time than he was at the time when they were first bestowed upon him; or than he was at any point of the time during which they had been left in his hands. It is equally true, that the inability of the Vizir to secure them was just as certain as that of the Emperor; since there is the confession of the Governor, that he was unable to protect even his own dominions, without the assistance of the English; and that every extension of his frontier rendered him more vulnerable and weak. There was, however, one difference; the Vizir could give money for them, the Emperor could not; and in this, it is probable, the whole advantage will be found to consist. That the English strengthened their barrier by giving to a crude native government a vast frontier to defend, instead of combining against the Mahrattas the forces of the Rohillas, the Emperor, and the Vizir, will hardly be affirmed by those who reflect how easily the balance among those powers might have been trimmed, or who know the consequences of the arrangement that was formed. For a sum of money, Corah and Allahabad were tendered to the Vizir. That he was delighted with the prospect of regaining a territory, for which, a few years before, we have seen him incurring the infamy and guilt of perfidy and murder, perpetrated against a near kinsman, we need not doubt. About terms there appears to have been no dispute. For the sum of fifty lacs of rupees, of which twenty lacs were to be paid in ready money, and the remainder in two years by payments of fifteen lacs at a time, the provinces in question were added to his dominions.
The acquisition of those provinces made an apparent book v.Chap. 1. 1773. change with regard to the Rohillas in the views of the Vizir. If we may believe the representation of the President; whose representations, however, upon this subject, are so full of management, and ambiguity, that they are all to be received with caution; the Nabob represented himself unable to meet the pecuniary obligations under which the acquisition of both territories would lay him to the English Company; and desired for that reason to suspend his attack upon the Rohillas. It was agreed, however, between him and the President, that whenever the time convenient for the extirpation of that people should arrive, the assistance of the English should not be wanting. The difficulty of fulfilling his pecuniary engagements with the Company, if they were ever alleged, did not detain him long.
From the meeting at Benares, the Vizir and President parted different ways; the former to the Dooab, and Delhi, to reduce, during the absence of the Mahrattas, some forts and districts which were still held for that people; the latter to lay before his colleagues, and to transmit to his employers, such an account of the transactions at this interview, as was most likely to answer his ends.
In his report to the Council at Fort William, the President confined himself to the agreement respecting Corah and Allahabad, and the allowance for such troops as might hereafter be employed in the service of the Vizir. The agreement respecting the Rohillas, which it had been settled between the President and Vizir might be conveniently kept out of the ostensible treaty, was wholly suppressed. With a view to the future, it was politic however to explain, that the Vizir showed at first a desire to obtain English assistance for the seizure of the Rohilla country; it was politic also to state the pretexts by which the expediency of that assistance might best appear to bebook v.Chap. 1. 1773. established. Adding, that for the present, however, the Vizir had laid aside this design, the President subjoined the following declaration: “I was pleased that he urged the scheme of this expedition no further, as it would have led our troops to a distance.”1 Yet we have it from his pen, that he “encouraged” the Vizir to the enterprise, as what promised to be of the greatest advantage to the Company.
In the letter of the President dispatched from Benares to the Directors, announcing the result of his arrangements with the Vizir, all intelligence of the project for exterminating the Rohillas is surpressed.
Upon the return of Mr. Hastings to Calcutta, he effected an object, of which, from the important consequences with which it was attended, it is necessary to give some account. The correspondence with the country powers had frequently been carried on through the military officers upon the spot. The power thus conveyed to the military, Mr. Hastings had represented as inconvenient, if not dangerous; and one object of his policy had been to render the head of the civil government the exclusive organ of communication with foreign powers. He now stated to the Council the concurrence in opinion of the Vizir and himself, that an agent, permanently residing with the Vizir for the communication and adjustment of many affairs to which the intercourse of letters could not conveniently apply, would be attended with important advantages: And he urged the propriety of granting to himself the sole nomination of such an agent, the sole power of removing him, and the power of receiving and answering his letters, without communication either to the Committee book v.Chap. 1. 1773. or Council. To all these conditions the Council gave their assent; and Mr. Nathaniel Middleton, with an extra salary, was sent as private agent to attend the residence of the Vizir, and to communicate secretly with Mr. Hastings.1
The Vizir in the mean time had made himself master of several places in the Dooab. He advanced towards Delhi with a show of great friendship to the Emperor; assisted him with money; sent a force to assist his army in wresting Agra from the Jaats; and having thus laid a foundation for confidence, began to intrigue for his sanction to the intended attack upon Rohilcund. A treaty was negociated, and at last solemnly concluded and signed, by which it was agreed that the Emperor should assist with his forces in the reduction of the Rohillas, and in return should receive a share of the plunder, and one half of the conquered country.2
On the 18th of November, about two months after their interview, the Vizir wrote to the President, demanding the promised assistance of the English for the destruction of the Rohillas. Mr. Hastings appears to have been thrown into some embarrassment. The suddenness and confidence of the call corresponded but indifferently with the terms on which he had given his colleagues to understand that the communication on this subject rested between him and the Vizir. His abilities in making out a case, though singularly great, were unable to produce unanimity; and it was not till after a long debate, that a decision in favour of the expedition was obtained. The assistance was promised, on the very terms concertedbook v.Chap. 1. 1774. and settled between him and the Vizir; and yet this President had the art to persuade his colleagues, and joined with them in a declaration to their common masters, that these terms were so favourable to the English, and so burdensome to the Vizir, as to render his acceptance of them improbable, and therefore to leave but little chance of their involving the English government in a measure which the principal conductors of that government were desirous to avoid.1
In the month of January, 1774, the second of the three brigades into which the Company’s army in Bengal was divided, received orders to join the Vizir; and Colonel Champion, now Commander-in-Chief, proceeded about the middle of February to assume the command. On the 24th of February the brigade arrived within the territory of the Vizir; and on the 17th of April the united forces entered the Rohilla dominions. On the 19th Col. Champion wrote to the Presidency, that the Rohilla leader “had by letter expressed earnest inclinations to come to an accommodation with the Vizir; but that the Nabob claimed no less than two crore of rupees.” After this extravagant demand, the Rohillas posted themselves on the side of Babul Nulla, with a resolution of standing their ground to the last extremity. And early on the morning of the 23d, the English advanced to the attack. “Hafez,” says the English General, with a generous esteem, “and his army, consisting of about 40,000 men, showed great bravery and resolution, annoying us with their artillery and rockets. They made repeated attempts to charge, but our guns, being so much better served than theirs, kept so constant and galling a fire, that book v.Chap. 1. 1774. they could not advance; and where they were closest, was the greatest slaughter. They gave proof of a good share of military knowledge, by showing inclinations to force both our flanks at the same time, and endeavouring to call off our attentions by a brisk fire on our centre. It is impossible to describe a more obstinate firmness of resolution than the enemy displayed. Numerous were their gallant men who advanced, and often pitched their colours between both armies, in order to encourage their men to follow them; and it was not till they saw our whole army advancing briskly to charge them, after a severe cannonade of two hours and twenty minutes, and a smart fire of musketry for some minutes on both flanks, that they fairly turned their backs. Of the enemy above 2,000 fell in the field and amongst them many Sirdars. But what renders the victory most decisive is the death of Hafez Rhamet, who was killed whilst bravely rallying his people to battle. One of his sons was also killed, one taken prisoner, and a third returned from flight to day, and is in the hands of Sujah Dowla.”
In passing to another character, the General changes his strain. “I wish,” says he, “I could pay the Vizir any compliment on this occasion, or that I were not under the indispensable necessity of expressing my highest indignation at his shameful pusillanimity; indispensably, I say, because it is necessary that administration should clearly know how little to be depended on is this their ally. The night before the battle, I applied to him for some particular pieces of cannon, which I thought might prove of great service in the action; but he declined giving the use of them. He promised solemnly to support me with all his force, and particularly engaged to be near at hand with a large body of cavalry, to be used as I should direct. But instead of being nigh me, hebook v.Chap. 1. 1774. remained beyond the Gurrah, on the ground which I had left in the morning, surrounded by his cavalry and a large train of artillery, and did not move thence till the news of the enemy’s defeat reached him.” Then, however, his troops began to be active, and effectually plundered the camp; “while the Company’s troops, in regular order in their ranks, most justly” (says their commander) “observed, We have the honour of the day, and these banditti the profit.”1
This action, in reality, terminated the war. Though Fyzoolla Khan, with his treasures and the remains of the army, had made good his flight toward the mountains, the whole country, without opposition, lay at the mercy of the Vizir; and never probably were the rights of conquest more savagely abused. Not only was the ferocity of Indian depredation let loose upon the wretched inhabitants, but as his intention, according to what he had previously and repeatedly declared to the English government, was to exterminate the Rohillas, every one who bore the name of Rohilla was either butchered or found his safety in flight and in exile.2
book v.Chap. 1. 1774. Shortly after this decisive affair, the army marched to the city of Bissouly, which was near the centre of the Rohilla country, with the intention of passing in quarters the season of the rains. At this place had arrived before them Nujeef Khan, with the army of the Emperor. In obedience to the treaty between the Emperor and Vizir, they had marched from Delhi to assist in the reduction of the Rohillas; but before they reached the scene of action the rapidity and vigour of the English had terminated the war. Nujeef Khan demanded partition of the country and of the plunder, according to the conditions on which the countenance and co-operation of the Emperor hadbook v.Chap. 1. 1774. been procured. The Vizir did not dispute the treaty, a copy of which the Emperor had sent to Col. Champion; he alleged, however, that the counterpart, which was in his own possession, expressed a condition that his Majesty should take the field in person; and that the breach of that article annulled the contract. “But when the counterpart,” says Col. Champion, “which he put into the hands of my interpreter, came to be examined, it appeared there was no such stipulation, nor indeed did it ever exist even verbally.”1 The decision of the English government is the next incident in the scene. Instructing on this subject the commander of their troops, when he had as yet sent them only a surmise, and the treaty had not been produced, “our engagements (they say) with the Vizir are to aid him in the conquest of the Rohilla country; and if he is opposed by Nujeef Khan, or the King himself, you are to pay no regard to either. We cannot” (they add) “entertain so bad an opinion of the Vizir as to suppose him capable of acting in avowed breach of a treaty; but if any plea of that kind should be made for contesting our right to occupy any part of the Rohilla country yet unconquered, it will be proper to put to him the question, whether such treaty does exist or not? If he should acknowledge such a treaty, you must undoubtedly abstain from further hostilities in abetment of his breach of faith.” Yet after they were fully satisfied of the existence of such a treaty; and not only of the capability, but the resolution of the Vizir to act in avowed breach of it, they laid their commands upon the English general, to abet and support him, because “it is our intention,” say they, “to persevere in pursuit of the object which book v.Chap. 1. 1774. originally engaged us in the present enterprise, and to adhere strictly to our engagements with the Vizir, without suffering our attention to be diverted by foreign incidents or occurrences,”1 that is, by solemn treaties, or the breach of them.
From Fyzoolla Khan an early application arrived, offering to come to the camp upon the faith of the English, and to hold the district which had belonged to his family as a dependent or renter of the Vizir. His offers, variously modified, were frequently repeated, with great earnestness. But the Vizir persisted in his declaration, that he would allow no Rohilla chief to remain on the further side of the Ganges; and only offered him one of the districts in the Dooab, which had been recently conquered from the Mahrattas. Fyzoolla Khan, with justice, observed, that this the Mahrattas would take from him the first time they returned to the country.
Towards the end of July, the united forces of the English and Vizir marched towards Fyzoolla Khan, who occupied a strong post on the skirts of the mountains, near Pattir Gur. At the beginning of September they came near the enemy, and as the Vizir began to exhibit a strong desire of an accommodation with the Rohillas, an active intercourse of letters and messengers ensued. Whether his mind was operated upon by the approaching arrival of the new counsellors at Calcutta, or the dread which he pretended of assistance to Fyzoolla Khan from the Mahrattas and Afghauns, he now made offer of terms to which a little before he would not so much as listen. He proposed to make Fyzoolla collector of the revenues, or Zemindar, of the whole territory of Rohilcund, allowing six lacs of rupees per annum for his own expenses. But this offer, and even thatbook v.Chap. 1. 1774. of a jaghire of ten lacs of rupees in the Rohilcund country, were rejected. The Rohillas were so advantageously posted, with works thrown up in their front, that it was necessary to advance by regular approaches, and the army were so discontented, on account of hardship, arrears of pay, and ill-usage, either real or supposed, that the General was doubtful of their steadiness and order. After several days, in which the approaches were carried on, and the scouting parties of both armies were frequently engaged, it was at last agreed that, Fyzoolla Khan should receive a jaghire of fourteen lacs and seventy-five thousand rupees in the Rohilcund territory, and should surrender one half of all his effects to the Vizir. Thus terminated the first Rohilla war.1
Before closing the account of the events to which the visit of Mr. Hastings to Benares gave birth, it is necessary to mention its effects with regard to the deserted Emperor. Upon receiving from him the grant of the duannee, or the receipt and management of the revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, it was agreed that, as the royal share of those revenues, twenty-six lacs of rupees should be annually paid to him by the Company. His having accepted of the assistance of the Mahrattas to place him on the throne of his ancestors was now made use of as a reason for telling him, that the tribute of these provinces should be paid to him no more. Of the honour or the discredit, however, of this transaction, the principal share belongs not to the Governor, but to the directors themselves; book v.Chap. 1. 1774. who, in their letter to Bengal of the 11th of November, 1768, had said, “If the Emperor flings himself into the hands of the Mahrattas, or any other power, we are disengaged from him, and it may open a fair opportunity of withholding the twenty-six lacs we now pay him.”1 Upon the whole, indeed, of the measure, dealt out to this unhappy sovereign; depriving him of the territories of Corah and Allahabad; depriving him of the tribute which was due to him from those provinces of his which they possessed; the Directors bestowed unqualified approbation. And though they condemned the use which had been made of their troops in subduing the country of the Rohillas; they declare frankly, “We, upon the maturest deliberation, confirm the treaty of Benares.”2
The circumstance upon which, in summing up the account of his administration to his honourable masters, Hastings advanced the strongest claim to applause, was the alleviation of the pecuniary difficulties of the Indian government, and the improvement of the revenues. In the letters from the Bengal administration to the Court of Directors, under date 22d August, and 17th October, 1774, after presenting the most flattering picture of the financial situation to which the government was happily exalted, they advance a confident prediction, that in the course of the ensuing season, the whole of the bond debt would be discharged.3 And in that representation of the state of Bengal, which was published by Mr. Hastings in 1786, he declares, “When I took charge of the government of Bengal in April 1772, I found it loaded with a debt at interest of nearly the same amount as the present; and in less than two years I saw that debt completely discharged, and a sum in ready cashbook v.Chap. 1. 1774. of the same amount actually accumulated in store in the public treasuries.”1 This boasting exhibits some remarkable features, when the facts are sufficiently ascertained. No improvement had been made in the productive powers of the country, which is the only permanent and satisfactory source of an improved revenue. The gross revenues of the year ending in April 1772 were 3,13,63,894 current rupees; the gross revenues of that ending in April 1774 were only 2,76,10,556. Hardly had any improvement been made in the nett receipt. That for the year ending in April 1772, was 2,16,88,538 rupees equal to 2,373,650l.; that for the year ending 1774, was 2,20,56,919 rupees, or 2,481,404l.2 In the next great department of financial administration, the expense of the civil and military services, instead of any retrenchment there had been an increase. In the year ending in 1772, the civil service is stated at 154,620l., the marine at 52,161l., the military at 1,164,348l., and the total expense, exclusive of buildings and fortifications, at 1,371,129l.3 In the year ending in 1774, the civil service is stated at 159,537l., the marine at 53,700l., the military at 1,304,883l., and the total at 1,518,120l.4 In the year 1772, the proportion of the military expense, defrayed by the Nabob of Oude, was 20,766l.5 In the year 1774, the proportion defrayed by him was 131,430l.6 In the following year, that ending in April 1775, there was a slight improvement in the collections, which may in part be ascribed to the measures of the preceding book v.Chap. 1. 1774. administration; and there was a total cessation of war which produced a reduction of the military expenditure, remarkable only for its minuteness. The gross collections amounted to 2,87,20,760 rupees, the nett receipt to 2,51,02,090, or 2,823,964l.; the civil service to 231,722l., the marine to 36,510l., and the military to 1,080,304l.; total, 1,349,836l.: and the proportion this year borne by the Nabob of Oude was 240,750l.1 It thus abundantly appears that nothing so important as to deserve the name of improvement had arisen in the financial administration of the Company. A pecuniary relief had indeed been procured, but from sources of a temporary and very doubtful description; partly from the produce of the bills drawn in such profusion upon the Company, by the predecessor of Hastings; partly from the reduction of the allowance to the Nabob of Bengal, from thirty-two to sixteen lacs; but chiefly from the plunder of the unhappy Emperor of the Moguls, whose tribute of twenty-six lacs per annum for the duannee of Bengal was with held, and whose two provinces Corah and Allahabad were sold for fifty lacs to the Vizir; from the sale of the Rohillas, the extirpation of whom was purchased at forty of the same eagerly coveted lacs; and from the pay and maintenance of a third part of the troops, which were employed in the wars and dominions of the Vizir. With regard even to the payment of the debt, an inspection of the accounts exhibits other results than those presented by the declarations of the President.
Upon this statement, if we compare the year in whichbook v.Chap. 1. 1774. Mr. Hastings began his administration, with that in which it ended, we see a prodigious deterioration. If we compare it even with that which follows, the total amount of debt in 1772 was 1,60,30,000 rupees; in 1775 it was 1,77,68,584, which is an increase of 17,41,455. The only improvement appears in the balance of cash, which in 1775 exceeded the balance in 1772 by 58,86,557 rupees. Deducting from this a sum equal to the increase of debt, there remains 41,45,102 rupees, by which alone the state of the exchequer, after all the calamity which had been produced to supply it, was better in 1775 than it had been in 1772.
Minutes of Evidence on Mr. Hastings’ Trial, p. 966.
This is expressly stated by Hastings, and the Committee of Revenue, in their letter of the 3d of Nov. 1772, in the sixth Report of the Committee of Secrecy, in 1773.
Fifth Report of the Select Committee, 1810, p. 5.
The Committee of Circuit, in entering upon their task, remark a still more extraordinary failure in the sagacity of the Directors, who did not even foresee, that while their new resolution was totally inconsistent with their former regulations they gave no authority for abolishing them. “They have been pleased,” say the Committee, “to direct a total change of system, and have left the plan and execution of it to the discretion of the Board, without any formal repeal of the regulations which they had before framed and adapted to another system—the abolition of which necessarily includes that of its subsidiary institutions, unless they shall be found to coincide with the new.” Extract, Proceedings of the Committee of Circuit, dated Cossimbuzar, 28th July, 1772, inserted in the Sixth Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1773, p. 21.
These reasons are assigned in the Consultation 14th May, Report, ut supra.
The reason they assign for this change of title is worth transcribing. “The term ’Supervisor’ was properly suited to the original commission, which was to examine, inspect, and report. This office has been long since annulled; but we apprehend that the continuance of the name, and of many of the residents, in the same stations which they now fill as collectors, may have misled even our Honourable Masters, who were never regularly advised of the change, into the opinion that the first commission still subsisted.” So much for the care of instructing, and the accurate information of the Honourable Directors.
Consultation, 14th May, ut supra.
Extract of Proceedings, Sixth Report, ut supra. See also Sixth Report of the Select Committee of 1782, Appendix, No. i.; Colebrooke’s Supplement to Digest of Bengal Regulations, p. 174—190; and the Fifth Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1810, p. 4, 5.
For this sketch of the state of the administration of justice in Bengal, see the Seventh Report of the Committee of Secrecy in 1773.
Fifth Report, Committee 1810, p. 6. It would appear however, from Hastings’ Minute, 21st November, 1775 (Fifth Report of Committee of Secrecy in 1782, Appendix, No. clvii) that Hastings was averse to the entrusting of a native with the uncontrouled administration of criminal justice, and that it was the act of that hostile majority of the Council, by whom Mahomed Reza Khan was in 1775 raised to the office of Naib Nazim. It is necessary at the same time to state, that the gentlemen of the majority (see their letter of the same date, Ibid.) declare that previous to this measure of theirs, “the administration of criminal justice throughout the country was at a stand.”—It was at a stand, while under the superintendance of the English rulers: What was it likely to be, under a creature, without one atom of power, having the name of a Nabob?
Seventh Report, ut supra; General Regulations, dated 15th August, 1772; Colebrooke’s Supplement, p. 1; Fifth Report from the Select Committee on India Affairs, 1810, p. 6.
See the Letter, Minutes of Evidence on the Trial of Warren Hastings, Esq., p. 993.
Company’s Letter to their President and Council, dated 22nd February, 1764; Minutes, ut supra, p. 996.
Committee of Secrecy, 1781, Fifth Report, Appendix, No. iv.
Consultation, 11th July, 1772, Minutes of Evidence, ut supra, p. 972.
Comp. Consultation, 28th April, 1772, Minutes, ut supra, p. 972; and Consultation, 11th July, 1772, Ibid. p. 978, 994.
See the Letter, Minutes, ut supra, p. 974.
“Though we have not a doubt but that by the exertion of your abilities, and the care and assiduity of our servants in the superintendancy of the revenues, the collections will be conducted with more advantage to the Company, and ease to the natives, than by means of a Naib Duan; we are fully sensible of the expediency of supporting some ostensible minister in the Company’s interest at the Nabob’s court, to transact the political affairs of the Circar, and interpose between the Company and the subjects of any European power, in all cases wherein they may thwart our interest, or encroach on our authority.” Letter from the Court of Directors to the President and Council at Fort William, 28th August, 1771; Minutes, ut supra, p. 973.
“The Committee are fully sensible of the expediency remarked by the Honourable Court of Directors, of holding out the authority of the country government to the European powers, in all cases wherein their interests may interfere with those of the Company.” Consultation, 11th July, 1772, Minutes, ut supra, p. 978. Mr. Hastings in his letter, 24th March, 1774, seems to have questioned altogether the wisdom of clandestinity: “There can be but one government, and one power in this province. Even the pretensions of the Nabob may prove a source of great embarrassment, when he is of age to claim his release from the present state of pupillage which prevents his asserting them.” Ibid. p. 999.
Ibid. p. 978.
Consultation, 11th July, 1772, Minutes, ut supra, p. 978.
Minutes, ut supra, p. 979. It is curious enough that Hastings, in his letter to the Nabob, calls her “The rightful Head of his Family;” and tells him, that “She stands in the place of his deceased Father.” Ib. 980. In a private account to the Secret Committee of Directors, Mr. Hastings states other reasons: the first was, that she was “the declared enemy of Mahomed Reza Khan,” and that it was necessary, in order to obtain evidence of his guilt, to fill every department with the enemies of that prisoner, who was arrested without warning, and whose papers were secured. He adds, “the only man,” he says nothing of a woman, “who could pretend to such a trust was the Nabob Yeteram O’Dowla, the brother of Meer Jaffier; a man indeed of no dangerous abilities, nor apparent ambition, but the father of a numerous family; who, by his being brought so nigh to the Musnud, would have acquired a right of inheritance to the Subahship; and if only one of his sons, who are all in the prime of life, should have raised his hopes to the succession, it would have been in his power at any time to remove the single obstacle which the Nabob’s life opposed to advancement of the family. The guardian, at least, would have been the Nazim, while the minority lasted; and all the advantages which the Company may hope to derive from it, in the confirmation of their power, would have been lost, or could only have been maintained, by a contention hurtful to their rights, or by a violence yet more exceptionable. The case would be the same were any other man placed in that station. The truth is, that the affairs of the Company stand at present on a footing which can neither last as it is nor be maintained on the rigid principles of private justice: You must establish your own power, or you must hold it dependant on a superior, which I deem to be impossible.
Minutes, ut supra, p. 994: The President goes on, “These reasons will justify the nomination of a man to supply the place of the late Naib Soobah, who is known to be his most violent opponent, and most capable of opposing him. It is not pretended that these ends are to be obtained merely from the abilities of Rajah Gourdass; his youth and inexperience render him, although unexceptionable in other respects, inadequate to the real purposes of his appointment; but his father hath all the abilities, perseverance, and temper, requisite for such ends, in a degree, perhaps, exceeding any man in Bengal. These talents, heretofore, made him obnoxious to government itself, and therefore it might be thought unsafe to trust him with an authority so near the Nabob;….it is therefore proposed to confer it upon his son, who is of himself incapable of making a very bad use of it, and to allow of his acting under the influence and instruction of his father, who, holding no office under the Nabob, and being a subject of our government, may be removed without eclat, or the least appearance of violence, whenever he shall be proved, or even suspected, to abuse his trust.” Messrs. Dacres, Lawrel, and Graham, dissented from the President and the majority, and objected to the appointment of Rajah Goordass, “Because,” say they, “we esteem it, in effect, the appointment of Nundcomar, who, with respect to the various accusations against his political conduct, and the orders which have been in consequence received, stands in such a predicament as to preclude, in our opinion, an acquiescence in the President’s proposition.” Ib. 996. In his answer, the President vindicates the political conduct of Nundcomar, which he affirms to be without blemish, though he says he will “not take upon him to vindicate his moral character.” Ib. 996, 997.
Committee of Secrecy, 1781, Fifth Report, Appendix, No. iv.
For the above scenes, beside the documents already quoted, see Scott’s Hist. of Bengal, p. 453; and Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 418.
Francklin’s Shah Aulum, p. 36. In the Seer Mutakhareen the Vizir is said to have exerted himself to deter the Emperor. The truth is, he acted insidiously; in appearance dissuading the Emperor from the projected expedition, to keep fair with the English; secretly encouraging him to it, from the hopes of profiting, as he did, by this improvident adventure.
Scott (Aurungzebe’s Successors, p. 249) mentions ten lacs of rupees, without any other conditions or exactions.
Book iii. chap. iv.
This chief had impressed, both on Indians and Europeans, the highest opinion of his character. Mr. Verelst, giving an account of the surrounding powers, at the conclusion of his government, thus describes him. “As a man, and a prince, he is perhaps the only example in Hindostan of, at once, a great and good character. He raised himself from the command of fifty horse to his present grandeur, entirely by his superior valour, integrity, and strength of genius; and has maintained himself in it with universal applause, by a spirited and well-grounded system of policy. Experience and abilities have supplied the want of letters and education; and the native nobleness and goodness of his heart have amply made amends for the defect of his birth and family. He is a strict lover of justice, a most faithful subject to his Emperor; and has long been the sole defence and support of the royal family at Delhi. His wisdom and conduct were no where more manifest than in his transactions last year with the Shah Abdalla. He found himself obliged to join him, or expose his country to an immediate invasion, and therefore complied with the necessity; but, at the same time, so protracted their councils, and threw so many secret obstacles in the way of their designs, that, after several months, the Shah finding his troops mutiuous for want of pay or plunder, himself harassed by the Seiks, the heats begun, and the rains approaching, was obliged to return home with disgrace, and rest contented with a sum of money infinitely inferior to what his expedition had promised. Another man in such a situation would probably have lost his life or liberty; but Nujeeb ad Dowla, by his prudence, at once saved his dominions, and extricated himself. He is now about sixty years old, and his constitution much worn down by fatigue and sickness; so that it is probable he will soon be succeeded by his eldest son Zabita Khan, aged near thirty-five, who, to all his father’s virtues, joins the improvements of a liberal education.” Verelst to the Courts of Directors, March 28, 1768.
Of this, Mr. Verelst had left his decided conviction upon record. “There is something in the constitution of the Rohillas which must ever make them weak and inconsiderable as aggressors. Their government is divided into chiefships: but no one chief has singly troops or resources to enterprise a foreign war. When attacked, their national affection will unite, the common cause will animate them. A private contest will not rouse them; nor is it practicable to engage their voice on any other motive than the general safety.” Verelst, Appendix, No. 28.
For the preceding facts, see the Papers in the Appendix, No. 21 of the Fifth Report of the Committee of Secrecy in 1781.
This is distinctly asserted in a letter of Hafez Rhamet himself, addressed to the Gov. General; and it is too conformable to the state of the circumstances to be liable to any reasonable doubt. Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 19.
See Sir Robert Barker’s Letter, 23d March, 1773, Ibid. App. No. 18.
Fifth Report, ut supra, App No. 18.
Ibid. App. No. 12.
Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 19. See also his Minute, addressed to the New Government, Ibid. No. 45; and his Answer to the first of the Charges of Burke.
“I found him,” (says he, in his Appeal to the Directors, dated 3d Dec. 1774, Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 45,) “still equally bent on the design of reducing the Robillas, which I encouraged, as I had done before, by dwelling on the advantages which he would derive from its success.”
Appeal, ut supra.
See the official letters of Sir Robert Barker, who commanded the British forces upon the spot, Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 18. He condemned the assistance given to the destruction of the Rohillas, but less on the score of justice, than expediency. See his Minute, ut supra, App. No. 23. The Rohillas, among other reasons, alleged with truth, that merely driving the Mahrattas across the river was no deliverance, as they would return the very next campaign. See Barker’s Evidence, in Minutes of Evidence before the House of Commons, May 2d, 1786. Sir Robert was asked; “Were the Mahrattas in fact prevented from invading the Rohillas, by any acts of Sujah Dowla, or by his protection of that country?—No.”
Appeal, ut supra. This is a contradiction to his former assertion, that the acquisition of the Rohilla country made his territories more defensible. True. But having a bad cause to defend, his apology is full of contradictions. There can be no doubt that the Rohillas, whose troops were among the best and bravest of Hindustan, were a barrier against the Mahrattas. But the desire of territory and plunder blinded the Vizir; that of money, the Governor.
Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 19.
Hastings’ Report, App. No. 19, ut supra; Letter of 17th June, 1744, App. No. 25.
Francklin’s Shah Aulum, p. 54. Letter of Col. Champion; Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 45; and the treaty itself, App. No. 27. Scott’s Aurungzebe’s Successors, p. 259, 260.
Fifth Report, ut supra, App. Nos. 22, 23, 24, 25.
Letter of Col. Champion to the Hon. Warren Hastings, &c. 24th April, 1774; Fifth report, ut supra, App. No. 26.
“The inhumanity and dishonour,” says Col. Champion, in his letter of June 12, 1774, “with which the late proprietors of this country and their families have been used, is known all over these parts; a relation of them would swell this letter to an immense size. I could not help compassionating such unparalleled misery; and my requests to the Vizir to show lenity were frequent, but as fruitless as even those advices which I almost hourly gave him, regarding the destruction of the villages, with respect to which I am now constrained to declare, that though he always promised as fairly as I could wish, yet he did not observe one of his promises, nor cease to overspread the country with flames, till three days after the fate of Hafez Rhamet was decided.”—In another letter he says, “Above a lack of people have deserted their abodes in consequence of the defeat of Hafez.” Ibid. App. No. 27. In another, “The whole army were witnesses of scenes that cannot be described.” That the President was perfectly aware of the designs of the Vizir, before his engagement to assist in them, sufficiently appears from his own letter to that chief, dated the 22d of April, 1773. “I have received,” says he, “your Excellency’s letter, mentioning…. that if, should the Rohillas be guilty of a breach of their agreement [viz. about the forty lacs], we will thoroughly exterminate them, and settle your Excellency in the country, you will in that case pay the Company fifty lacs of rupees, and exempt them from the King’s tribute.” Ibid. App. No. 21. In the nabob’s own letter to the President, of the 18th November, 1773, he says, “During our interview at Benares, it was agreed that I should pay, &c…. and that I should, with the assistance of the English forces, endeavour to punish and exterminate the Rohillas out of their country.” Ibid. App. No. 22. Mr. Hastings only admits the atrocities in part, and then defends them in a curious manner; that is to say, not only by the example of Indian barbarity in general, but by the example of British barbarity, on the subjects of the Vizir. “I believe it to be a truth,” says he, “that he [the Vizir] begun by sending detachments to plunder. This I pronounce to have been both barbarous and impolitic. But too much justified by the practice of war established among all the nations of the East; and I am sorry to add by our own; in an instance (which the Vizir has a right to quote in vindication of the charge against him), of a detachment employed in the war in which we were engaged with him in the year 1764 to burn and ravage his country.” He then quotes a letter from Major Champion, who commanded the detachment, which says, “Two separate parties have been sent into the enemy’s country, the one of which was as high up as Buxar, and (according to the directions given me) there are destroyed upwards of a thousand villages. Had not the rains, &c. prevented, we should have done very considerably more damage.” Minute of the Governor-General, dated 10th Jan. 1775, in the Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 45.
App. No. 45, ut supra.
Letter of 23d May, and 14th July, App. ut supra, No. 27.
See the correspondence, Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No. 27, and Col. Champion’s long defensive letter, Ibid. App. No. 45. See also No. 28, of the Bengal Treaties, in the Collection of Treaties, &c. with the native Princes, printed in 1812. Rampore, and some dependent districts, formed the territory bestowed upon Fyzoolla Khan.
Fifth Report, ut supra, App. No 12.
Company’s Letter to Bengal, 3d March, 1775, Ibid. App. No. 46.
Fifth Report, ut supra, p. 37, and App. No. 43.
Memoirs relative to the state of India, by Warren Hastings, Esq p. 21.
Fifth Report, ut supra, p. 7 and 35.
Ibid. p. 8.
Ibid. p. 35.
Ibid. p. 8.
Ibid. p. 35.
Fifth Report, ut supra, p. 41.