Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. IV. - The History of British India, vol. 4
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CHAP. IV. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 4 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 4.
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In Carnatic, Relations between the English and Nabob—Plenipotentiary, with independent Powers from the King—English courted by Hyder Ali and the Mahrattas, and in Danger from both—Nabob and Plenipotentiary desire Alliance with the Mahrattas—Presidency adhere to Neutrality—Relations with the King of Tanjore—After Hesitation, War is made upon him—War upon the Marawars—A second War upon Tanjore—Condemned by the Directors—Pigot sent out to restore the Rajah—Opposition in the Madras Council—Pigot imprisoned—Sentiments and Measures adopted in England—Committee of Circuit—Suspended by Governor Rumbold, who summons the Zemindars to Madras—Transactions with Nizam Ali respecting Guntoor—Censured by the Supreme Council—Governor Rumbold, and other Members of the Government, condemned and punished by the Court of Directors.
BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.While the principal station of the Company’s power in India was giving birth to so many important transactions, their Presidency on the Coromandel coast was not barren of incidents entitled to a great share of our regard.
The relation, in which the Company professed to stand to the country, was different in Carnatic, and in Bengal. By the avowed possession of the duannee, they entered in Bengal into the direct discharge of the principal functions of internal government. InBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. Carnatic, during the contest with the French, they had held up Mahomed Ali; upon the termination of it, they had acknowledged him, as the undoubted sovereign of the country. He was established, therefore, in the possession of both branches of power, both that of Nazim, or the military power, and that of Duan, or the financial power; and the Company held the station of dependents, possessing their privileges through his sufferance, and owing obedience to his throne. They possessed a district of land, surrounding Madras, which had been granted in 1750, and in 1762 was confirmed, by the Nabob of Carnatic or Arcot, in recompense of the services rendered by the Company to him and his family. This was a sort of estate in land, under what is called jaghire tenure, enabling the owner to draw the revenue, which would otherwise accrue to government; and to exercise all those powers which in India were usually connected with the power of raising the taxes. This Presidency also possessed, and that independent of their Nabob, the maritime district, known under the title of the four Northern Circars, which they had obtained by grant from the Mogul in 1765, and enjoyed under an agreement of peshcush, entered into the succeeding year, with the Nizam or Subahdar.
Partly from characteristic imbecility, partly from the state of the country, not only exhausted, but disorganised by the preceding struggle, the Nabob remained altogether unequal to the protection of the dominions of which he was now the declared sovereign. Instead of trusting to the insignificant rabble of an army which he would employ, the Presidency beheld the necessity of providing by a British force for the security of the province. For this reason, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.and also for the sake of that absolute power1 which they desired to maintain, the English were under the necessity of urging, and, if need were, constraining, the Nabob, to transfer to them the military defence of the country, and to allow out of his revenues a sum proportional to the expense. The Nabob, having transferred the military power of the country, was placed in absolute dependence upon the Company; they being able to do what they pleased, he to do nothing but what they permitted. In a short time it was perceived that his revenue was by no means equal to the demands which were made upon it. The country was oppressed by the severity of his exactions, and instead of being repaired, after the tedious sufferings of war, it was scourged by all the evils of a government at once insatiable and neglectful. When his revenues failed, he had recourse to loans. Money was advanced to him, at exorbitant interest, frequently by Englishmen, and the servants of the Company. He generally paid them by a species of assignments,BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. called in India tuncaus, which entitled the holders of them to the revenue of some portion of the territory, and to draw it immediately from the collectors. While his embarrassments were by these means increased, the exactors were encouraged to greater severities.
In this situation the Nabob and the Presidency were both dissatisfied, and both uneasy. Finding his power annihilated, and his revenues absorbed, after feasting his imagination with the prospect of the unlimited indulgences of an Eastern prince, he regarded the conduct of the Presidency as the highest injustice. The gentlemen entrusted at once with the care of their own fortunes and the interests of the Company, for both of which they imagined that the revenues of Carnatic would copiously and delightfully provide, were chagrined to find them inadequate even to the exigencies of the government; and accused the Nabob, either of concealing the amount of the sums which he obtained, or of impairing the produce of the country by the vices of his government.
Upon the termination of the disputes in London, toward the end of the year 1769, between the Ministers of the Crown and the East India Company, respecting the supervisors, and respecting the power of the King’s naval officer to negotiate and to form arrangements with the Indian powers,1 a marine force, consisting of some frigates of war, was commissioned under the command of Sir John Lindsay to proceed to the East Indies: “to give countenance and protection to the Company’s settlements and affairs.” In conformity with the terms to which the BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.Company had yielded, they vested Sir John Lindsay with a commission to take the command of all their vessels of war in the Indian seas; and also, on their behalf, “to treat and settle matters in the Persian Gulph.”
So far, there was mutual understanding, clearness, and concert. But in addition to this, Sir John Lindsay was appointed, by commission under the great seal, his Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, with powers to negotiate and conclude arrangements, with the Indian Sovereigns in general. This measure was not only contrary to what the Company had claimed as their right, against which the Minister appeared to have ceased, for the time, to contend; but it was a measure taken without their knowledge: and Sir John Lindsay appeared, in India, claiming the field for the exercise of his powers, before they or their servants had the smallest intimation that any such powers were in existence.
If there was a danger which must strike every considerate mind, in sending two independent authorities, to act and clash together in the delicate and troubled scene of Indian affairs, a danger inevitable even if the circumstances had been arranged between the Ministers and the Company with the greatest harmony and the greatest wisdom, all the principles of mischief were naturally multiplied, and each strengthened to the utmost, by the present stroke of ministerial politics.
The ground upon which this disputed and imprudent exercise of power appears to have been placed was the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris, concluded in 1763. With a view to maintain peace in India, and to close the disputes between the English and the French, who, according to their own professions, appeared to have nothing else in view but to determine who was the just and rightful Nabob ofBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. Carnatic, who the just and rightful Subahdar of Deccan, it was there decided and agreed, that the two nations should acknowledge Mahomed Ali as the one, and Salabut Jung as the other. It occurred to the ingenuity of practical statesmen, that the King of Great Britain, having become party to an article of a treaty, had a right, without asking leave of the Company, to look after the execution of that article; and hence to send a deputy duly qualified for that purpose. If this conferred a right of bestowing upon Sir John Lindsay the powers of an ambassador; it also conferred the right of avoiding altercation with the East India Company, by taking the step without their knowledge.
The power of looking after the due execution of the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris was not a trifling power.
It included, in the first place, the power of taking a part in all the disputes between the Nabob and the Company’s servants; as Mahomed Ali was in that article placed upon the footing of an ally of the King of Great Britain, and hence entitled to all that protection which is due to an ally. The servants of the Company had been at some pains to keep from the knowledge of the Nabob the full import of the new relation in which he was placed to the British throne; as calculated most imprudently to inflame that spirit of ambition and love of independence, with which it was so difficult already to deal, and with the gratification of which the existence in the Carnatic either of his power or of that of the Company was altogether incompatible. The band of Englishmen and others, who surrounded the Nabob, for the purpose of preying upon him, wished of course to see all power in his hands, that they might prey the more abundantly. BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.They filled every place with their outcries against every restraint which was placed upon him: and in particular had endeavoured, and with great success, to disseminate an opinion in England, that he was an oppressed and ill-treated prince, while the servants of the Company were his plunderers and tyrants.
Nor was this all. As the grand intent of the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris was to preserve peace between the English and other powers in India, and as there is nothing in the relations of one state to another which the care of peace may not be said to embrace, the whole international policy of the British government in India was, by the new ministerial expedient, deposited in the hands of the King’s Minister Plenipotentiary.
On the 26th of July, 1770, Sir John Lindsay, after having remained some months at Bombay, arrived at Madras; and at once surprised and alarmed the servants of the Company by the declaration of his powers. In one of their first communications with Sir John, they say, “When you now inform us, you are invested with great and separate powers, and when we considers that those powers, in their operation, may greatly affect the rights of the Company, we cannot but be very much alarmed.”1 To their employers, the Court of Directors, they expound themselves more fully. “To give you a clear representation of the dangerous embarrassments through which we have been struggling, since the arrival of his Majesty’s powers in this country, is a task far beyond our abilities. They grow daily more and more oppressive to us; and we must sink under the burthen, unless his Majesty, from a just representation of their effect, will be graciously pleased to recall powers, which, in dividing the national interest, willBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. inevitably destroy its prosperity in India. Such is the danger; and yet we are repeatedly told, that it is to support that interest, by giving the sanction of his Majesty’s name to our measures, that these powers were granted, and for that alone to be exerted. It has always been our opinion, that with your authority, we had that of our Sovereign, and of our nation, delegated to us. If this opinion he forfeited, your servants can neither act with spirit nor success: for under the control of a superior commission, they dare not, they cannot, exert the powers with which they alone are entrusted. Their weakness and disgrace become conspicuous; and they are held in derision by your enemies.”1
The first of the requisitions which Sir John Lindsay made upon the President and Council was to appear in his train, when he went in state to deliver to the Nabob his Majesty’s letter and presents. They conceived, that, as the servants of the Company had heretofore been the medium through which all communications to the princes of India had been made, and they had been considered in India the immediate representatives of the British Monarch, and the highest instrument of his government, they could not appear in the train of Sir John Lindsay without degradation in the eyes of the natives, and a forfeiture of the dignity and influence of the Company, which, as they had no instructions upon the subject, they did not think themselves at liberty to resign. With the assignment of these reasons, they respectfully signified to Sir John Lindsay the inability under which they found themselves to comply with his request. This brought on an interchange of letters, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.which soon degenerated into bitterness and animosity on both sides.1
Among the reasons which the President and Council assigned for declining to appear in the train of Sir John Lindsay, they had stated, that any suspicion, disseminated in the country, of the annihilation or diminution of the Company’s power “might, at this crisis particularly, prove fatal to the existence of the Company, and the interests of the nation in India: because they were on the brink of a war with the most formidable power in India, which it would require all their efforts to avoid, while they feared that all their efforts would be insufficient.”2 This apprehension was a good deal exaggerated, to serve the present purpose; and the exaggeration yielded an advantage to Sir John Lindsay of which he immediately availed himself. He was very sorry, he said, to find them on the brink of a dreadful war, which was all but inevitable: He pressed upon them the consideration of the importance of peace to a commercial body: And as he was sent out to watch over the execution of the eleventh article, of which peace was the main object, he begged they would lay before him such documents and explanations, as “would make him acquainted with the real state of the Company’s affairs.”3 He also informed them, that he was “commanded by his Majesty to apply to them for a full and succinct account of all their transactions with the Nabob of Arcot since the late treaty of Paris; and inquire with the utmost care into the causes of the late war with the Subah of the Deckan and Hyder Ali, and the reasons of its unfortunate consequences.”4 To this point the reply of the President and Council was in the following terms: “DuplicatesBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. of our records, and very minute and circumstantial details of all our transactions, have already been transmitted to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, our constituents. We have heard, that when an enquiry at home into the state of the Company’s affairs was thought necessary, it was signified by his Majesty’s ministry to the Court of Directors, that they would be called upon by parliament to produce their records; that they were accordingly called upon by parliament, and did produce them. This, we believe, was a constitutional course; but we have never heard that the Company’s papers and records were demanded by, or surrendered to, the ministry alone; for that we believe would be unconstitutional. The Company hold their rights by act of parliament; their papers and their records are their rights; we are entrusted with them here; we are under oath of fidelity, and under convenants not to part with them; nevertheless all conditions are subservient to the laws, and when we shall be called upon in a legal and constitutional way, we shall readily and cheerfully submit ourselves, our lives, and fortunes, to the laws of our country. To break our oath and our covenants would be to break those laws. But we hold them sacred and inestimable, for they secure the rights and liberties of the people.”1
Corresponding to the jealousy and dislike with which Sir John Lindsay was received by the President and Council, were the cordiality and pleasure with which he was received by the Nabob and those who surrounded him. To the Nabob he explained, that he was come to recognize him as a fellow sovereign with the King of Great Britain, and to afford him the protection. BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.of that great King against all his enemies. The Nabob, who had a keen Oriental eye for the detection of personal feelings, was not long a stranger to the sentiments with which his Majesty’s Minister Plenipotentiary, and the Company’s President and Council, regarded each other. He described the President and Council as his greatest enemies; for they withdrew the greater part of his revenue and power. Sir John, who was already prejudiced, and ignorant of the scene in which he was appointed to act, fell at once into all the views of the Nabob, and the crowd by whom he was beset. The Nabob laid out his complaints, and Sir John listened with a credulous ear. The Nabob described the policy which had been pursued with respect to the native powers, by the servants of the Company; and easily made it assume an appearance which gave it to the eye of Sir John a character of folly, or corruption, or both. He drew the line of policy which at the present moment it would have gratified his own wishes to get the Company to pursue; and he painted it in such engaging colours, that Sir John Lindsay believed it to be recommended equally by the sense of justice, and the dictates of wisdom. The King’s Commissioner, measuring his own consequence by that of the master whom he served, and treating the Company and their servants as not worthy of much regard, on the score either of wisdom or of virtue, widened the difference between the partnership sovereigns of the Carnatic. The royal functionary assumed the character of protector of the Nabob; and appeared to interpose the royal authority, between an ally of the crown, and the oppression of the Company. The contempt which the Nabob saw bestowed upon the authority to which he had been accustomed to bend, and the dignity to which he appeared to be exalted as an ally of the British King, augmented his opinion of theBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. injustice under which he appeared to himself to groan; and the letters of the Commissioner to the ministers in England were filled with accounts of the oppression exercised by the insolent and rapacious servants of a counting-house, over an independent and sovereign prince. The feeble discernment which has generally scanned the proceedings of the East India Company, and which has often lavished upon them applause where their conduct has been neither virtuous nor wise, has almost uniformly arraigned them for not accomplishing impossibilities, and uniting contrary effects; for not rendering themselves powerful and independent, without trenching upon the power and independence of princes, who would suffer their power and independence, only in proportion as they were deprived of those attributes themselves. Beside this fundamental consideration, it was not to be disputed, that, left to himself, Mahomed Ali could not maintain his possession of the province for even a few years; and that nothing but the power of the English could prevent it from falling a prey to the neighbouring powers, or even to its own disorganization. Though it is not disputed that the rapacity of individuals, who preyed upon the Nabob, may have added to the disorder of his affairs, it is true that the poverty of the Carnatic, and the wretched administration of the Nabob, enabled it not to fulfil the golden hopes of the English, or even to provide for its own necessities.1
When the President and Council described themselves as on the brink of a war, the circumstances to which they alluded were these. In the second article of the treaty which was concluded with Hyder Ali, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.in 1769, it was agreed; “That in case either of the contracting parties shall be attacked, they shall, from their respective countries, mutually assist each other to drive the enemy out;” and the party in aid of whom the troops were employed, was to afford them maintenance at a rate which was mutually determined. This was a condition so highly esteemed by Hyder, that all hopes of an accommodation with him, on any other terms, were, at the time of the treaty, regarded as vain.
Within a few weeks Hyder endeavoured to persuade the English of the great advantage which he and they would derive from uniting Janojee Bonsla with them, in a triple league. He also informed them of his intention to recover from Madhoo Row, the Peshwa, certain possessions which that invader had wrested from him two years before; and requested that they would send him a certain number of troops, no matter how small, merely to show to the world the friendship which now happily subsisted between the English and him. The Presidency, pointing out in what manner this, to which the treaty did not bind them, would be an act of unmerited hostility against the Mahrattas, declined compliance with his request.
Early in 1770, the Mahrattas invaded his country; and again he solicited assistance, if it were but a few troops, for the sake of the manifestation on account of which he had requested them before. If a more substantial aid was afforded, he professed his readiness to pay three lacs of rupees. It was not very easy for the English now to find a pretext. They evaded, procrastinated, and withheld rather than refused compliance with his desire.
The Mahrattas reduced Hyder to great difficulties, may dangers; and seemed resolved to annex his dominions to their spreading conquests. During thisBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770. period of his distress, in which he was obliged to ahandon the open country, and to depend upon his forts, he endeavoured to persuade the English that their own interest was deeply concerned in combining with him against the Mahrattas, who would touch upon their frontier, and present them a formidable neighbourhood, if the barrier which he interposed were broken down.
The Mahrattas, too, very earnestly pressed for the assistance of the English. They had, indeed, by weight of superior numbers, driven Hyder from the open country; but the protection of his strong holds enabled him still to hold out, and they saw the time rapidly approaching, when the exhausted state of the country would compel them to retire for want of the means to support their army. The skill, therefore, which enabled the English to subdue the strongest places with a rapidity which to them appeared like magic rather than natural means, they regarded as a most desirable acquisition. To attain this object, they endeavoured to work upon the fears of the Nabob; and in their communication with him threatened to invade the Carnatic, unless the English complied with their desires.
The difficulties on the part of the President and Council were uncommonly great. They state their view of them in their consultations, on the 30th of April, 1770. Their assistance would enable the Mahrattas indeed to prevail over Hyder, but of all events that was, probably, the most alarming; the Mahrattas would in that case immediately adjoin Carnatic, with such an accumulated power, as would enable them to conquer it whenever they pleased; and what, when they had power to conquer, the Mahrattas would please, nobody acquainted with BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1770.India entertained any doubt: If they assisted Hyder; that was immediate war with the Mahrattas, accompanied with all its burdens and dangers: It was not clear, that both united could prevail over the Mahrattas; and if they did, the power of Hyder would bring along with it a large share of the dangers to which they would be exposed from the Mahrattas, if sovereigns of Mysore: If they stood neuter, and thereby offended both parties; either Hyder or the Mahrattas, most probably the latter, would prevail; and in that case the victor, whoever he was, would wreak his vengeance on the rulers of Carnatic. Amid these difficulties they conceived it their wisest policy after all to remain neuter; to gain time; and take up arms, only when the extremity could no longer be shunned.
The views and wishes of the Nabob were exceedingly different. He was bent upon forming an alliance with the Mahrattas. In the first place, he had a personal antipathy to Hyder Ali, which in a mind like his was capable of weighing down more respectable motives, and made him express extreme reluctance to join or see the English concur in any thing favorable to Hyder. In the next place, the Mahrattas were successful in working upon the short-sighted ambition of the Nabob, with the promise of splendid gifts of territory, which, if they had the power of giving, they would also have the power of resuming at pleasure. But in the third place, he expected, according to the opinion of the President and Council, to place the English government by means of the alliance with the Mahrattas in a state of dependence upon himself; and that was what he valued above all other things. “Once engaged in the war,” said they, “we are at the Nabob’s mercy, for we have no certain means of our own. Enter, we are told, into an engagement with the Mahrattas; engage toBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. assist them in the conquest of the Mysore country, and they will cede to the Nabob the Ghauts, and all the countries dependant on Mysore on this side the Ghauts. If we enter into such a measure, utterly repugnant to every order and every idea that has been suggested to us by our employers, we cannot see any end to the consequences, but utter ruin; we must thenceforth follow the schemes of the Mahrattas and the Nabob, wheresoever they shall please to drag us, be it to place the Nabob on the musnud of Deckan or to subjugate the whole peninsula.”
Sir John Lindsay adopted completely the views of the Nabob with regard to the Mahratta alliance: nor was there any reproach, or exhortation, or threat, which he spared, to entice or to drive the Presidency into that measure.
The ministry, it would appear, became in some degree alarmed at the accounts which they received of the contentions which prevailed between the King’s minister plenipotentiary, and the servants of the Company in India; and they thought of an expedient; which was, to change the person, and leave the authority. Sir John Lindsay was recalled, and Sir Robert Harland, with an addition to the marine force, was sent to exercise the same powers in his stead.
Sir Robert arrived at Madras on the 2d of September, 1771. Sir Robert took up the same ideas, and the same passions exactly, which had guided the mind of Sir John Lindsay; and the only difference was, that he was rather more intemperate than his predecessor; and of consequence created rather more animosity in his opponents.
The progress of the Mahrattas had become still more alarming. In the month of November, they BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.were in the possession of the whole of Mysore, excepting the principal forts. They had advanced to the borders of Carnatic; and some straggling parties had made plundering incursions. They openly threatened invasion; and it was expected that about the beginning of January when the crops would be ready, they would enter the country. The Nabob was, or affected to be, in the utmost alarm; and Sir Robert Harland urged the Presidency to accept the terms of the Mahrattas, who bid high for assistance on the one hand, and threatened fire and sword on the other. In this trying situation the Presidency vent the most bitter complaints, at being left by the Court of Directors, totally without instructions.1 Nevertheless, “although we have not yet,” say they, “had any answer from our constituents, to the repeated representations of the embarrassments we labour under for want of their clear and precise instructions with respect to our conduct in the present critical situation of affairs; yet it is evident from the whole spirit of their orders for some years past, that they look upon the growing power of the Mahrattas with jealousy and apprehension.” From this; from an adoption of the same sentiments; from a regard to the treaty with Hyder, which rather required them to assist than allowed them to join in destroying that sovereign, and from a regard to the opinion of the other Presidencies, they determined not to complyBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. with the exhortations or commands of Sir Robert. They would have thought it advisable on the other hand to support Hyder as a barrier against the Mahrattas, had not the opposition of the Nabob, supported as he was by the minister of the King, placed it, for want of resources, out of their power. They determined, therefore, to remain neutral; and only to collect a body of troops in some central position, where they might best protect the country in case of an attack, and distress the enemy by cutting off their supplies.
The Mahrattas, notwithstanding their threats, had not, it would appear, any serious intention of invading Carnatic; for in the month of January, 1772, the Nabob and Sir Robert, finding the Presidency inflexible against their project of alliance, found the means of prevailing upon them to promise a cessation of hostilities till the pleasure of the British King should be known.1 The Mahrattas were afraid of provoking the English to join Hyder Ali; and they began now to feel their situation abundantly uneasy. They activity and capacity of that great leader were still able to give them incessant annoyance; and the country was so excessively ravaged and exhausted, that the means of subsisting an army could no longer be found. They became, therefore, desirous of an accommodation; and in the beginning of July consented to a peace, for which, however, they made Hyder pay very dearly, both in territorial and pecuniary sacrifices.1
BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.If a judgment may be formed from this instance, the chance for good government in India, if the ministers of the crown were to become, and the East India Company cease to be its organ, would undergo an unfavourable change. The course into which the ministers of the crown would have plunged the nation bears upon it every mark of ignorance and folly; that which was pursued by the East India Company and their servants is eminently characterised by prudence and firmness.
Amid the pecuniary wants of the Nabob and the Presidency, both had often looked with a covetous eye to the supposed riches of the King of Tanjore. They considered the natural fertility of his country, and its general exemption from the ravages of the war which had desolated the rest of the province; but they did not consider that the temporizing policy by which he had laboured to save himself from the resentment of all parties, had often cost him considerable sums; that the wars which raged around and perpetually threatened himself, had imposed upon him the maintenance of an army, as great as he could possibly support; that the country which he governed, though fertile, was small; that the expense of a court aims to be as grand in a small as an extensive country; that the expense of protecting a small country is comparatively heavy; that hardly any government has ever yet been so good, as not to expend as much as it could possibly drain from its subjects; and that the government of Tanjore was a true specimen of the ignorance and rudeness of the Hindus.
In the war with Hyder, the Rajah of Tanjore had not only contributed less both in troops and treasure to the maintenance of the war than was expected of him, but was known to have held a correspondence with Hyder; and if he did not afford, at any rateBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. promised assistance. Without making any allowance for the current policy of the feeble princes in India, who aim at contributing as little as possible to the wars of the greater powers, from which they see not that they have any thing to gain, and by professions of friendship for both parties, to avert the dangers of their resentment, the Company and the Nabob were sufficiently disposed to have treated the Rajah as a faithless ally. In the treaty, however, which they concluded with Hyder in 1769, they insisted upon including the Mahratta chieftain Morari Row, whose territories would have formed a convenient conquest for Hyder; and he refused to accept the condition, unless the Rajah of Tanjore was admitted to the same protection. That the Rajah might not appear to owe his safety to the interposition of Hyder, the English pretended to regard him as their partisan, and included him in the treaty as their own ally.
In their letter to the Select Committee at Fort St. George, dated 17th March, 1769, the Court of Directors said, “It appears most unreasonable to us that the Rajah of Tanjore should hold possession of the most fruitful part of the country, which can alone supply our armies with subsistence, and not contribute to the defense of the Carnatick. We observe the Nabob makes very earnest representations to you on this subject, wherein he takes notice that the Zemindars of the Carnatick have been supported, and their countries preserved to them by the operations of our forces employed in his cause; and that nothing was more notorious, than that three former princes of the Carnatick had received from the Tanjore Rajah seventy, eighty, may even one hundred lacs of rupees at a time. We therefore enjoin you to give the Nabob such support in his pretensions as may be BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.effectual; and if the Rajah refuses to contribute a just proportion to the expense of the war, you are then to pursue such measures as the Nabob may think consistent with the justice and dignity of his government. Whatever sums may, in consequence of the above orders, be obtained from the Rajah of Tanjore, we expect shall be applied to the discharge of the Nabob’s debt to the Company; and if more than sufficient for that purpose, to the discharge of his debts to individuals.”1
Upon this injunction of the Court of Directors, the Select Committee deliberated on the 13th of September, 1769. “With regard,” they say, “to the demand recommended to be made on the King of Tanjore, our situation at this time is such, for want of money, that, if there were no other obstacles, that alone would put it utterly out of our power to undertake an expedition against him. The treaty of 1762 being before the Hon. Court; considering also, on the other hand, the late conduct of the King of Tanjore, we certainly should not postpone an undertaking so warmly recommended, if it were in our power now to attempt it consistently with good policy and the safety of the Carnatic. But as the case is, were the difficulty of money out of the question, it would become a point of serious consideration, whether an attempt upon Tanjore might not again involve us in a war with Hyder Ally, as the Rajah is expressly included in the treaty lately made with Hyder Ally Khan. However unreasonable it may be, that he should enjoy the benefits derived from the government of the Carnatic, without contributing his proportion of its expense; and however impolitic, and contrary to the natural rights of government, to suffer such a power to remain independent in theBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. heart of the province, we must submit to necessity, and the circumstances of the times. He has indeed lately made some objections by his letters to the payment of his annual peshcush, alleging in excuse the great expense of the troops sent to join our army; although, as the Nabob informs us, it be contrary to the custom of the country for tributary princes to make any demands for the charges of troops furnished to the power to whom they are tributary, while employed within the districts dependant on such power. Should he persist in requiring an abatement in the peshcush due on account of his late charges, it might furnish us with a just pretext to accuse him of a breach of his engagements, and to take our measures accordingly when our situation will admit of it. But as the case now is with us; under difficulties to provide the money necessary even for our current expenses; doubtful of the intentions of the Mahrattas; suspicious of the designs of the Subah; and apprehensive of the King of Tanjore’s calling upon Hyder for aid, and thus raising a fresh flame, the Committee are clearly of opinion, that at this juncture the undertaking would be impolitic and unwarrantable.”1
The Rajah had urged, that, instead of having any money, the late expenses, which was the fact, had involved him deeply in debt; and he prayed, if a remission could not be granted, at any rate for a delay in the payment of the exacted tribute; an indulgence to which the expense incurred by him in sending troops to assist in the wars of the Nabob afforded, he thought, a reasonable claim.2
Early in the month of February, 1771, the Presidency received intelligence that the Rajah of BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.Tanjore was setting out upon an expedition against one of his neighbours the Polygar of Sanputty, one of the Marawars. On the 14th of February, the President wrote to the Rajah, that as Marawar belonged to the Nabob, as a dependency of the Carnatick, it was contrary to the treaty between the Rajah and him, to make war upon that country, and that, as the English were guarantees of that treaty, it was their duty to request he would relinquish his design.1
The Rajah represented that Hanamantagoody was a district of country which did belong to the King of Tanjore, and was actually in his possession at the time of the conclusion of the treaty of 1762; that it had been unjustly seized by the Marawar chief, while the armies of Tanjore were engaged in the service of the Nabob; that the King of Tanjore, at the time when the Nabob was setting out upon his expedition to Madura, had represented the necessity of wresting back this territory from the Marawar, but the Nabob professed to have undertaken the expedition against Madura only upon the strength of the assistance which he expected from his dependants, and therefore requested execution of his design might be delayed, till that expedition was accomplished; that he had represented the necessity of recovering the territory in question to the President himself, who had offered no objections. “For these reasons,” said he, “I was in hopes to this day, that the Nabob and your honour would give strict orders to Marawar to restore our country. I also wrote to my vackeel on that head. But you and the Nabob did not get the country restored to me. Besides which, when the elephants relating to my present from Negapatnam were coming, Nalcooty,2 pretending that the vessel was driven on shore by aBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. storm in his seaports, seized the said elephants, and detained them; concerning which I sent him word, as well as to your honour; but he did not return them to me. If I suffer Marawar to take possession of my country, Nalcooty to seize my elephants, and Tondiman to injure my country, it will be a very great dishonour to me among my people, to see such compulsions used by the Polygars. You are a protector of my government: Notwithstanding, you have not settled even a single affair belonging to me: If I stay quiet, I shall greatly hurt my dignity: Wherefore, I marched myself. If you now advise me to desist, what answer can I give? In the treaty, it was not forbidden to clear the country possessed by Marawar, or to undertake any expedition against the Polygars, who may use compulsions. Since it is so, it cannot be deemed contrary to the treaty.”1
The Presidency urged that, whatever was the truth with regard to the facts set forward by the Rajah, he knew that they were disputed by the Nabob; and for that reason was guilty, because he had taken upon himself to be judge and executioner in his own cause, when he ought to have reserved the decision to the English government. In his defence the Rajah observed; “You was pleased to write, that if I desist in my present expedition, you will then settle the affairs in a reasonable manner. I continued to speak to you for this long time concerning this affair, but you have not settled it. Notwithstanding, if you now write that I did not acquaint you before I began it, what answer can I make to it? I did not undertake to do any thing contrary to the hereditary custom observed.”2
BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.The Nabob called upon the Presidency, with unusual force and boldness of importunity, to make war upon the Rajah; as the honour of his government was concerned in chastising a refractory dependant; and the honour of the Company’s government was concerned in supporting a faithful ally. Sir John Lindsay vehemently urged the same conclusions, not without reproaches that the Presidency were betraying the Nabob, and violating their duty, by even deferring the assistance which he required.1
On both hands the Presidency were assailed by the greatest difficulties. There was imminent danger that the views of Sir John Lindsay, who was the creature of the ministry, would prevail at home; and that the Council, should they refuse to join with the Nabob, would be condemned, punished, and disgraced. They were restrained, on the other hand, by the consideration of the want of money, of the improbability of receiving sufficient funds from the Nabob, of the danger, while the troops were engaged in a distant quarter, of an attack upon the Circars by the Nizam, and of a war with the Mahrattas, with whom the King of Tanjore was allied, and who already hung over the Carnatic with alarming menaces. They believed that, beside the Nabob’s old passion for the conquest of Tanjore, he was at present stimulated by the desire of that part of the Mysore country which lay on the Carnatic side of the passes; and which he had been promised by the Mahrattas, as the price of the assistance which they wished to receive; that he now despaired of being able to persuade the English to give that assistance; but expected, if he could inveigle them into a war with the King of Tanjore, that they would then be glad to form an alliance with the Mahrattas, in order to escape theBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. calamity of their arms. In these circumstances the Governor and Council bitterly complained, that they were left by their honourable masters, with instructions and orders which might be construed all manner of ways; and that, whatever course they took they were sure of condemnation if they failed, could expect approbation, only as a consequence of success.1 They resolved to collect as much of the army and of military stores, at Trichinopoly, as could be done without appearing to prepare for war; and to abstain from hostilities unless unavoidably involved in them.
Inquiring into the supposed dependance of the Marawar country, the Presidency found, that both Tanjore and Trichinopoly had alternately made use of their power to set up and put down the chiefs of Marawar. But in conclusion, “it appears,” they said, “to us, that the only right over them is power, and that constitutionally they are independent of both; though Trichinopoly, since it has been added to the government of the Carnatic, having been more powerful than Tanjore, hath probably received more submission from them.” Between states in India, “power,” they remark generally, “is the only arbitrator of right; established usage or titles cannot exempt one state from a dependance on another, when superior force prevails; neither can they enforce dependance where power is wanting.”2
These reasonings and conclusions, with regard to Tanjore, bear date in the records of the Presidency BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.from the beginning of February to the end of March. On the 12th of June, when Trichinopoly was sufficiently supplied with stores for defence, and the question was to be determined whether more should be sent, the Nabob dissuaded any further preparations; alleging that the Mahrattas would never give the necessary respite for undertaking an expedition against Tanjore, and that to him every article of expense, however small, was an object of importance. Upon this, the Presidency express themselves in the following terms: “When we consider the earnest and repeated solicitations urged by the Nabob to engage us in an expedition against Tanjore; when we consider the taunts and reflections cast on us by Sir John Lindsay for refusing to comply with the Nabob’s requisition of proceeding immediately against Tanjore at a time when we were unprepared; when we consider that our apprehensions from the Mahrattas are not now near so great, since most of the grain is now collected in the different forts, which would render it difficult for an army of Mahrattas to subsist: all these circumstances considered, it appears strange that the Nabob should so suddenly alter his opinion, and should now decline entering on the expedition, which he so lately and so earnestly urged us to undertake.” They conjectured, that, as his grand motive for urging the expedition at first, was to force them into an alliance with the Mahrattas, so now, despairing of that event, he wished not to give the Mahrattas a pretext for overrunning his dominions.1
On the 24th of July, the Committee resolved, first, that an expedition against the Rajah would, in itself, be adviseable, but being contrary to the inclinations of the Nabob ought not to be undertaken: secondly, that negotiation should be used instead ofBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. war, and that the negotiation, in which the Nabob wished the English not to appear, should be left to be conducted by that ostensible prince.1
No sooner was conference attempted than the Rajah declared, that he had already “referred all differences between him and the Nabob to the Company, and that he wished the Company would mediate between them; that he was ready and willing to settle terms of accommodation under the guarantee of the English, on whose faith and promise he would rely; but that he would never trust the Nabob without the security of the English, as he well knew the Nabob’s intentions were to accommodate matters for the present, but that he had bad intentions whenever an opportunity should offer in future.”2
On the 29th of July, the demands of the Nabob were presented to the Rajah’s vakeel at Madras; but as he required fifteen or twenty days to receive the instructions of his master, and as the distance of Madras would aid the Rajah in spinning out the time till the commencement of the rains, the Nabob proposed to send his two sons to Trichinopoly; the eldest, Omdut ul Omrah, to conduct the negotiations; and the younger, Mader ul Mulk, to manage the supply of the army; while the negotiation, he thought, should be supported, by the show of inevitable war, if the Rajah declined implicit submission.3
Now was required a decision on the question, what, if the war should issue in a conquest, was to be done with Tanjore. The Presidency knew, that the grand cause of the reluctance which the Nabob had latterly shown to the war, was a fear lest the Company should conquer Tanjore for themselves; and, that BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.there was no accommodation, how unfavourable soever, which he would not make with the Rajah, rather than incur the hazard of so hateful a result. The Nabob offered to give to the Company ten lacs of pagodas, if after conquering, they delivered Tanjore, in full dominion, to him. The Presidency wished to reserve the question to the proper authorities in England, but the Nabob would not consent. The Presidency imagined, that as they had now convinced the Rajah of the hostile designs both of themselves and Nabob, it was highly dangerous to leave him possessed of power, which he would have an interest in lending to the French, or any other enemy; and as they could not proceed to war, except with consent of the Nabob, it was therefore best to comply with his terms.1
Early in September, the young Nabob, (such was the name by which the English generally spoke of Omdut ul Omrah) who had repaired to Trichinopoly, to conduct the negotiation, reported to General Smith, the commander of the English troops, that nothing but compulsion would bring the Rajah to the submission required. The army was ready to march on the 12th of September; but the department of supplying the army had been intrusted wholly to the Nabob’s second son; and it was found upon inquiry that there was not rice in the camp for the consumption of a single day.2
The greatest exertions were made by the general to enable the army to move; and on the 16th it arrived before Vellum, a fortress of considerable strength, and one of the great bulwarks of Tanjore. The battery, having been constructed first in a wrong place, was not ready till the morning of the 20th; and the breach could not have been made practicableBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. till about three o’clock the next afternoon, but towards evening the garrison stole out of the fort.1
On the 23d the army again marched, and encamped before Tanjore. They broke ground late on the evening of the 29th, and by that time began to be distressed for want of provisions. On the 1st of October, the enemy made a strong sally, which threatened to have considerable effects; but Major Vaughan, the officer against whose post it was directed, acted with firmness and judgment, and the attack was repelled without much loss. The operations proceeded but slowly. The 27th of October had arrived, when the engineers reported that the breach would be practicable the next morning. On that day the young Nabob signed a peace with the Rajah, and hostilities ceased.2
The Rajah engaged to pay eight lacs of rupees for arrears of peshcush; 30,50,000 for the expense of the expedition; to restore whatever he had taken from the Marawars; and to aid with his troops in all the wars of the Nabob. Vellum was the principal difficulty. It was finally agreed, that it should be restored to the Rajah, but demolished if the Nabob chose.
Before this event, a dispute had arisen about the plunder. Omdut ul Omrah was informed, that, by the usage of war, the plunder of all places, taken by storm, belonged to the captors. Omdut ul Omrah, unwilling to lose the plunder of Tanjore, offered a sum of money in lieu of it to the troops. His offer was not satisfactory; and a disagreeable and acrimonious correspondence had taken place. By concluding a peace, before the reduction of the fort, any BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.allowance to the army was a matter of gratuity not of right.1
The Presidency were struck, as they say, with “alarm,” when, expecting every hour to hear of the fall of Tanjore, they were accosted with the news of the conclusion of a peace. They expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with the terms, which ought, in their opinion, to have been nothing less than the surrender of the fort at discretion. The terms were not only inadequate, but no security, they said, was provided for the execution of them such as they were. On this account they held it necessary to keep themselves prepared as for immediate war. Orders were sent not to give up Vellum without farther instructions. The expectation was entertained, that the Rajah would not be exact to a day in the delivery of the money and jewels he had agreed to resign. This happened. The want of punctuality was pronounced a breach of the treaty; the guns had not yet been drawn out of the batteries; and the troops were under the walls of Tanjore: the fort of Vellum, and the districts of Coiladdy and Elangad, were demanded: a renewal of hostilities was threatened as the only alternative: the helpless Rajah could do nothing but comply.2
In averting from themselves the effects of this disapprobation, the General stated, that he communicated to Omdut ul Omrah the progress of the siege, and the great probability of success; that he had no control over the negotiation, and was bound by his instructions to desist from hostilities the moment the Nabob desired: on the other hand, Omdut ul Omrah affirmed, that he took not a step without consulting the General; that the troops were under the greatest apprehension on account of the rains whichBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771. had begun; that when the breach was partly made, he stated the terms to which the Rajah had yielded, declaring that he would not accept them, if the fall of the place were assured; that the General replied, he could not say he would take the place, but he would endeavour to take it; that being asked his opinion, whether the Rajah would give such terms as he now offered, if the siege were unsuccessful, the General said, “My opinion is, that in that case he will give you nothing, but if he does he is a great fool;” that when asked if he would guarantee equivalent terms in case the enterprise miscarried, he repelled the proposal; that when peace was then held up to his view, as what in that case appeared the most politic choice, he replied, “It was well; it was at the Nabob’s option.”1
Before all things were settled with Tanjore, the Nabob made-application for the Company’s forces to reduce the two Marawar Polygars. The Governor and Council, in their letter upon this to the Court of Directors, make the following pertinent remarks: “It is well worthy of observation that Marawar and Nalcooty are the two Polygars whom the Rajah of Tanjore attacked in the beginning of the year, asserting their dependance on his government; while the Nabob claimed the right of protecting them, as tributaries to the government of Trichinopoly. It was in this cause that the late Plenipotentiary2 took the field of controversy; asserted the Nabob’s pretensions to us, who did not deny them; exaggerated the outrage of the Rajah of Tanjore in taking arms against them; and extolled their obedience and submission to the Nabob’s government: and he will say, he BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1771.compelled us to vindicate the Nabob’s dignity. What honours are due to the minister’s zeal for his friend’s cause! mark now the reasoning of that friend: the Rajah humbled; Marawar and Nalcooty, from obedient dependants, become immediately dangerous and ungovernable delinquents; and there can be no safety to the Nabob’s government unless they are reduced.”1
Notwithstanding the contradiction which the Presidency thus remarked in the pretexts of the Nabob, they consented, without any difficulty in this case, to undertake the expedition. The season of the rains of necessity delayed their operations; but in the mean time inquiries were made; terms were settled with the Nabob; and the army was kept ready at Trichinopoly, the nearest of the stations to the place of attack.
The Nabob imputed no other crime to the Marawars, except their not sending troops to the late war upon Tanjore, and not paying the money which he exacted of them. And the Presidency acknowledged that he had no right over them whatsoever, but that right of oppression, which is claimed by the strong man over the weak. The reason for concurring with the Nabob in his desire to attack them, was, that the Nabob, by his ill usage, had made them his enemies. They concurred, they said, “not to gratify the Nabob’s revenge on those Polygars; but because, if they were not originally and naturally, he has made them his enemies; and therefore it is necessary they should be reduced. It is necessary; or it is good policy they should. We do not say it is altogether just, for justice and good policy are not often related.”2
The objects, however, of the Nabob and of the Company were somewhat different. The ardent passionBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1772. of the Nabob was to destroy every creature who bore any rule in the country, and place the whole under his own immediate authority. The intention of the Company was by no means to proceed to “the total extirpation of the Polygars; but only to reduce them to such a state of dependance, by seizing their forts and strong holds, as might prevent their being troublesome in future.”1
The Nabob’s application for reduction of the Marawars was made at the beginning of November, 1771; at the beginning of December, when the concurrence and views of the Presidency, were understood, he recommended, if not a dereliction, at any rate a suspension of the design, for fear of the Mahrattas; and at the beginning of March, 1772, he renewed his application for undertaking the expedition. On the 12th of May, a force, consisting of 120 artillery-men, 400 European infantry, three battalions of sepoys, six battering cannon, a body of the Nabob’s cavalry, and two of his battalions of sepoys, marched from Trichinopoly, accompanied by Omdut ul Omrah, who was deputed by his father to conduct all operations, not military, connected with the expedition. They arrived, having met with no opposition, at Ramnadaporam, the capital of the greater Marawar on the 28th. The batteries were opened in the morning of the 2d of April, and a practicable breach was effected before the evening. This time a bargain had been made with the Nabob, that he should not forestall the wishes of his allies, by the precipitate conclusion of a peace. Terms were, however, offered both by Omdut ul Omrah and the General, which, notwithstanding their inadequate means of resistance, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1772.the people of the Polygar refused. The fort was assaulted the same evening, and carried with the loss of only one European and two sepoys killed. The Polygar, a minor of only twelve years of age, with his mother, and the Duan, were taken in the place; and soon reduced to a situation which extorted the compassion of Englishmen. The Nabob bargained for the plunder by a sum of money to the troops.1
The Nabob’s troops, before the 15th of June, were put in possession of all the forts in great Marawar; and on the 16th, the army began its march toward the others principality of that name. The Polygar had betaken himself to a strong hold, named Kala-Koil, or Carracoil, surrounded by thick woods, which they approached on the morning of the 23d. An English officer, with a detachment of the army, was sent to approach by a road, on the opposite side, with a hope, either of drawing off some of the enemy’s attention, or of finding an opportunity to enter by surprise. In the mean time submissive offers arrived from the Polygar. To guard against any stratagem to amuse, the advance of the troops was not interrupted till the morning of the 25th, when Omdut ul Omrah gave the General notice that peace was concluded, and requested that orders might be sent to stop the detachment. The orders, it seems, were intrusted to the Polygar’s vakeels; the Polygar’s vakeels, it is said, used not the requisite diligence; at any rate the sending of the orders was unhappily if not criminally mismanaged; the detachment advanced; found the Polygar reposing upon the security of the treaty, and totally off his guard; with scarcely any resistance it entered the place, and the Polygar was killed while endeavouring to escape at one of the The Nabob, here too, gave a sum of moneyBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1772. in redemption of the plunder. And these sums became the subject of immediate animosities and disputes, among the parties by whom pretensions to a share of them were advanced.1
The settlement of the territory was rendered difficult, by excess of misgovernment. The people of the country, who had facilitated the conquest by remaining at their ploughs, and who expected equal indulgence under one despot as another, were turned out of their lands, and took arms all over the country. “I must represent to you,” said the English officer who was left to support Omdut ul Omrah, (these are the words of a letter addressed to the Council,) “that the settling this country in the manner expected by the Nabob, requires extremities of a shocking nature. When we are marching, we find all over the country most villages abandoned by the men, there remaining in them only women and children, who, likely if the Nabob persists in this undertaking, must, with other poor innocents, become a sacrifice to this conquest: For, if any of our baggage remain behind, it is usually taken; our parties and stragglers are attacked. This is done by the inhabitants of some village or other. Those villages being pointed out to me, I cannot pass the outrage without punishment; and not finding the objects on which my vengeance should fall, I can only determine it by reprisals: which will oblige me to plunder and burn those villages; kill every man in them; and take prisoners the women and children. Those are actions which the nature of this war will require: For, having no enemy to encounter, it is only by severe examples of that kind, that we may expect to terminate it, so as to answer the end proposed.”2
BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1772.Complaining, that they were left without any specific instructions by the Court of Directors, that they were commanded generally to support the Nabob in all his pretensions, that they were blamed as not having given him sufficient support, that they were bullied by the Plenipotentiaries to support him more than they could believe was either expedient or safe, the Governor and Council alleged that they were led on by that friend and ally from one step to another, without knowing where to stop, and without being able to make those reservations in favour of the Company which the interests of the Company appeared to require: In this manner had Tanjore been humbled and fleeced: In this manner the two Marawars had been conquered, and delivered up as a dominion to the Nabob. It must be allowed, that except for a little time when he first demanded the attack on Tanjore, the Presidency had shown themselves abundantly forward to second, or rather to excite the Nabob’s ardour for conquest of the minor states. The Nabob had only one scruple, the fear of their conquering for themselves. The declarations however, of the Presidency, of the Directors, and the King’s minister plenipotentiary, the interpretations of the treaty of Paris, and especially the recent example in the surrender of the Marawars, raised up a hope in his Highness that the time was at last arrived when the long desired possession of Tanjore might be fully acquired.
In a conference with the President about the middle of June, 1773, the Nabob brought complaint, that there was now due from Tanjore about ten lacs of rupees, that the Rajah had applied to the Mahrattas and to Hyder for a body of troops, and had encouraged the Colleries to ravage part of the Carnatic territory: and intimated his intention of subduing him; all which he desired the President toBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. consider of.1
After a few days, at another conference, “the Nabob expressed his earnest desire that the expedition should be undertaken; spoke much of his friendship to the Company; and to show his regard for them was willing, in case of success, to give them ten lacs of pagodas.”2
As the question immediately occurred, what, in case the expedition was undertaken, was to be expected from, or done with, their neighbours, Hyder, and the Mahrattas; a curious change appeared in the sentiments of the Nabob. A friendship, he said, must be established between him and Hyder; for notwithstanding all that he had done to procure for the Mahrattas the benefit of English assistance, “yet he found they were not fair and open towards him at Poonah;3 and that whether he reduced Tanjore or did not reduce it, they would still come against him when it suited their affairs; that by God’s blessing, however, if he and Hyder were joined, they would, with the assistance of the English, keep the Mahrattas effectually on the other side of the Kistnah.”4
On the 22d of June, the question underwent deliberation in the Select Committee. As to the complaint about the moneys unpaid, the Committee pass it over as a matter of slight importance. And as to the other complaint, that the Rajah was looking to the neighbouring powers for support against the Nabob, of which they had before them no satisfactory BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773.proof, they were constrained to confess, that, if it were true, he would not be to blame. “That the Nabob,” they say, “has constantly had in view the design of conquering Tanjore, will not admit of a doubt. We are firmly persuaded, that his chief motive for concluding peace with the Rajah, at a time when our troops were upon the point of getting possession of the place, arose from his jealousy lest the Company purposed at a convenient opportunity to take the country from him. By that expedition, however, he obtained what he earnestly wished for, namely, the removal of that restraint which he thought himself under, by the Company’s guarantee of 1762.”
The Committee next record a solemn declaration, that the treaty, which was then concluded, left the Rajah at the mercy of the Nabob, and bound, by a sense of self preservation, to seek for protection against him in every quarter. “We then expressed our firm opinion, that the peace, concluded without the intervention of the Company, would not be considered by the Rajah as any security to him; and that he would avail himself of the first opportunity of freeing himself from his apprehensions of the Nabob. The intelligence communicated to us by the Nabob of the Rajah’s application to the Mahrattas and Hyder Ally for assistance, is, in some measure, confirmed by the advices transmitted to us by Mr. Mostyn from Poonah:1 Neither is the conduct of the Rajah, in this instance, to be wondered at. The apprehensions he before had have been increased by the publication of the Nabob’s intention of reducingBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. him; which has gained credit all over the country. He knows that, in our present situation, we cannot interfere, in the disputes between him and the Nabob; that the Nabob did not even allow his vakeel to visit the late President. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising, that the Rajah should endeavour to strengthen himself, by every means in his power, to enable him to withstand any attempts of the Nabob against him.”1
That the Presidency had reason to pass over in silence, or at least with neglect, the complaints of the Nabob, respecting the payment of the Rajah’s debt, sufficiently appears from the statement of the facts. Of fifty lacs, exacted as the compensation for peace, twelve lacs and a half were paid down. By mortgaging jewels and land, to the Dutch at Negapatnam, and the Danes at Tranquebar, he had contrived to pay the remainder, together with eight lacs for the peshcush of two years, leaving a balance of only ten lacs upon the whole.2
Notwithstanding the absence of criminality on the part of the Rajah, the Presidency resolved that they ought to destroy him. “It is evident,” they say, “that in the present system,3 it is dangerous to have such a power in the heart of the province: for, as the Honourable Court have been repeatedly advised, unless the Company can engage the Rajah to their interest, by a firm promise of support in all his just rights, we look upon it as certain, that, should any BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773.troubles arise in the Carnatic, whether from the French or a country enemy, and present a favourable opportunity of freeing himself from his apprehensions of the Nabob, he would take part against him, and at such a time might be a dangerous enemy in the south. The propriety and expediency, therefore, of embracing the present opportunity of reducing him entirely, before such an event takes place, are evident.”1
Never, I suppose, was the resolution taken to make war upon a lawful sovereign, with the view of “reducing him entirely,” that is, stripping him of his dominions, and either putting him and his family to death, or making them prisoners for life, upon a more accommodating principle. We have done the Rajah great injury: We have no intention to do him right: This constitutes a full and sufficient reason for going on to his destruction. Such is the doctrine: The practical improvement is obvious. Do you wish a good reason for effecting any body’s destruction? First do him an injury sufficiently great, and then if you destroy him, you have, in the law of self-defence, an ample justification!
In the opinion of the Presidency, no danger attended the operations required for the destruction of the Rajah: As to Hyder, he had too much business on his hands, and knew his own interest too well, to make the English just now his enemies on account of the Rajah: With regard to the Mahrattas, they were sure to invade the Carnatic, whenever they could expect to do so with any success; and that would happen neither sooner nor later on account of the reduction of Tanjore.2
The next point to consider was, the conditions upon which the Nabob should be accommodated with theBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. destruction of the Rajah and the transfer of his dominions. The first condition was, that the Nabob should advance cash, or good bills, sufficient for the expense of the expedition. The second was, that all sorts of necessaries, excepting military stores, should be amply provided by the Nabob. The third was, that instead of paying for 7,000 sepoys, he should henceforth pay for 10,000. The condition, which the Presidency endeavoured before the first war to obtain, but which they afterwards gave up, that of reserving the disposal of Tanjore to the Court of Directors; and the maxim laid down by the Directors, and recognised by the Presidency in the case of the Marawars, viz. that it was for the interest of the Company to leave the minor chiefs in the Carnatic totally defenceless, as likely to aid the Nabob in those schemes of independence which he incessantly cherished; were on this occasion totally neglected.
The Nabob, in these cases, was accustomed to press his project eagerly, as long as he found the Presidency reluctant or undetermined; as soon as he found them engaged, and warm in the project, to manifest something of indifference, or aversion. So it happened, on the present occasion. The Nabob, after several conferences, told the President; “he would not be too pressing upon the expedition’s being undertaken, without it suited the Company’s affairs.” The Presidency, however, were in a very different disposition; they were determined, and impatient, to begin the operations immediately.1
BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773.The Nabob, without much difficulty, accepted the conditions; on which, the Presidency were eager to make for him the conquest of Tanjore; and it was agreed, that no peace should be concluded with the Rajah, unless it should be found to be absolutely impossible to effect his destruction. The General was furnished with his instructions on the 5th of July. The Nabob bargained with the troops, by a sum of money, for the plunder of Tanjore, if the place should be taken by storm. And on the 3d of August the army marched from Trichinopoly.
They encamped, after a skirmish, within a short distance of Tanjore, on the 6th of August. On the 13th, the following letter was received from the Rajah. “The friendship and support offered by the English to this country is a matter of universal celebration and report among all the Mahratta and Rajahpoot nations, as well as others. We have quietly submitted to the hard terms imposed on us by the Nabob; and have given him all that, by these means, he required. Some deficiency happened in the revenues of the mortgaged lands; for the payment of the sums so deficient, as well as the last year’s peshcush (though the latter was not yet become due) I borrowed of the Soucars; and having engaged with them also for an additional sum, to discharge what was due to the young Nabob and other lesserBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. accounts, I took bills for the whole amount, and sent them to the Nabob; who, having protested my bills,1 has set on foot an expedition against me. Considering that no deviation of conduct can by any means be laid to my charge, and that I have fulfilled my engagements in respect of the payments I agreed to, I am confident you can never consent to this measure. Some offence should surely be proved upon me, before an expedition be undertaken against me: Without any show of equity to wage an unjust war against me, is not consistent with reason. This BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773.charitable country is the support of multitudes of people: If you, Sir, will preserve it from destruction, you will be the most great, glorious, and honoured of mankind. I am full of confidence, that you will neither do injustice, yourself, nor listen to the tale of the oppressor. I only desire a continuance of that support which this country has formerly experienced from the English, and you will reap the fame so good an action deserves.”1
Ground was broken before Tanjore, late on the evening of the 20th of August; and a party was advanced to a commanding spot within 500 yards of the walls. On the 23d, the engineers had run their parallels to the destined extent, but had not time to erect a redoubt which was intended to secure their left. On the morning of the 24th, the enemy sallied in a considerable party, and attacked the trenches with musketry. They retired upon the brisk advancement of the grenadiers, but not without some loss to the English assailants. On the 27th, in the morning, the batteries were opened. About the same time the Presidency received from Mr. Mostyn, at Poonah, a letter, to say, that a dispute between the Peshwa’s government, and that of Berar, afforded present occupation to the Mahrattas, and removed the danger of interruption to the expedition against Tanjore. The approaches were made, and the breaching batteries opened, early in the morning of the 14th of September. On the 16th a passage of twelve feet wide was completed across the wet ditch which surrounded the walls, and the breach was so considerable, that the enemy expected the assault by day-light the next morning, when 20,000 fighting men were prepared to defend the breach.BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. This hour being permitted to pass, they expected no farther attempt till the evening; but when the sun was in the meridian, and intensely hot, and the garrison had mostly retired to obtain a little refreshment and repose, the English troops were drawn out without noise to the assault. The success of the stratagem was complete. The troops entered with scarcely any resistance, or any loss. And the Rajah and his family were taken prisoners in the fort.1
The Dutch had received the seaport town of Nagore and its dependencies, in assignment for the money which they had lent to the Rajah of Tanjore. It was the wish, neither of the English, nor of the Nabob, that they should enjoy the advantage of retaining these possessions. The first pretence made use of was, that assistance had been lent to the Rajah against the late expedition. Before the troops withdrew from Tanjore, a letter was written by the Nabob to the Presidency, recording the complaint, and demanding assistance to punish the offenders. It was also necessary to send information of the charge to the Dutch. They utterly denied the facts; and as there appears to have been nothing to prove them, the charge was permitted to drop. Another resource remained. The Dutch had purchased Nagore. Upon this the Presidency gravely and solemnly declare: “As the Rajah of Tanjore held his lands of the Nabob in fee, he could not, agreeable to the feudal system, which prevails all over BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773.India, alienate any part of this country to any other power, without the consent of his liege lord, the ruler of the Carnatic Payen Ghaut.”1 Upon this foundation, they felt no scruple in joining with the Nabob to make war upon the Dutch. Yet it is abundantly certain, that such an idea as that of “land held in fee” could hardly enter into the mind of a native Indian, even in the way of imagination and conception. Such a thing as a feudal system or a liege lord, never had a moment’s existence in India, nor was ever supposed to have, except by a few pedantic, and half-lettered Englishmen, who knew little more of the feudal system than the name. If this doctrine were true, the English had originally no just title, either to Calcutta or Madras. When they obtained the one from the Subahdar of Bengal, he was the vassal of the Mogul; when they obtained the other from the Nabob of Carnatic, he was the vassal of Nizam al Mulk, the Subahdar of Deccan. Besides, the Presidency themselves, had only two years before declared that no such thing as feudality existed in India; that the only right of one state over another was power; that the stronger uniformly exacted tribute of the weaker; but that legal dependance there was certainly none.2 The troops advanced. The Dutch made a solemn protest against the injustice; but they were not in a condition to make effectual resistance; and they prudently retired. The Nabob complained of the cold-heartedness and supineness of his English friends, because they would not support him in attacking the ancient possessions of the Dutch. At length it was arranged, that the Dutch should be re-imbursed by the Nabob the money which they had advanced to the Rajah; and that they should give up to theBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1773. Nabob the lands and jewels which they had received in payment or in pledge.1
When the former war with Tanjore was projected, the Nabob, though he would not consent that the English should garrison Tanjore, if taken, yet proposed that he himself should place in it a garrison of Europeans. This time he would not consent to even so much, but insisted upon it, that Tanjore should be garrisoned with his own troops.2 The Presidency so far attended to humanity, and the suggestion of their own general, as to express their wishes to the Nabob for humane treatment of the Rajah and his family. But they were satisfied with very slight evidence of the gratification of those desires. The wretched Rajah and his mother addressed a letter, each of them, to the Nabob; telling him that they were remarkably well treated. These letters were shown to the Presidency, and the Presidency tell the Directors, “We have much satisfaction to learn, by letters from the Rajah and his mother to the Nabob, communicated to us, that they are treated with much attention and humanity in their confinement.”3 The Nabob could never be at a loss, upon such admirable terms as these, for a proof of any thing which he could possibly desire.
Intelligence of the dethronement of the Rajah, and of the transfer of his dominions to the Nabob, was not delayed by the Company’s servants. It was received in London with all the documents and details, on the 26th of March, 1774. Three weeks elapsed before the departure of the last ships of the season; BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1774.but the Directors made no remarks upon the revolution in Tanjore. Upon so great a change effected in the state of their dominions, without advice or authority, the sovereign body, as if they had no opinion to express, that is, were incapable for the moment of executing the functions of government, maintained absolute silence. In the course of the summer various dispatches arrived, describing the subsequent measures to which the transfer of the Tanjore kingdom had given rise. No observations were elicited from the Court of Directors. During the winter of 1774, and more than two months of 1775, the same silence was observed; and, if acquiescence might be taken for approbation, the actors in India had reason to congratulate themselves upon a favourable construction of their conduct.
The secret history at that time of the East India House, that is, the history of the interests of the individuals by whom it was governed, even if it could be given upon such evidence as history confides in, which secret history seldom can be, would not, on the present occasion, be of any importance. The only point which deserves our attention is, the general result; that the East India Company is a governing body so constituted, no matter by what secret agency in the minds of individuals, as to be incapable of giving, or capable of withholding to give, for nearly twelve months, an opinion on one of the most important transactions to which their authority and power could be applied.
There was no little division, at that time, in the councils of the East India House. Early in the year 1775, the question was agitated of a successor to the Governor of Fort St. George. The Court of Directors, by a small majority, declared for Mr. Rumbold. A Court of Proprietors, called soon after to deliberateBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1775. upon the subject, reversed their decision, by a small majority, and made choice of Lord Pigot.
This ancient Governor had returned to England about the end of the year 1763; and had been successively raised to the dignities of a baronet, and of an Irish peer. By the weight of his fortune, by his connexion with individuals, and the reputation of his services, he enjoyed a great influence in the Company; and after a residence of twelve years in England, discovered an inclination, or a wish, to resume the burthen of the Presidentship at Madras, and to rival the glory of Clive, by introducing the same reforms under the Presidency of Madras, as that illustrious Governor had introduced in Bengal. The decision in the Court of Proprietors gave the ascendancy to his party in the Court of Directors, and the gratification of his ambition was no longer delayed.
Respecting the revolution in Tanjore there was no indecision in the mind of Pigot; and no sooner was the ascendancy of his party determined, than it also disappeared in the East India House. The treaty of 1762, which gave the Rajah security for his throne, was the act, and a favourite act, of Governor Pigot. The subversion of it became the subject of severe condemnation in the Company’s Courts. There was in the transaction, it is not to be doubted, enough to interest the feelings of any man who looked upon it with partial, or even impartial eyes; and to account for the zeal of Lord Pigot upon the most honourable motives. That his favourite dubash Moodoo Kistna, with whom he maintained a correspondence in England, had rented lands to a great extent from the Tanjore Rajah; that he was offended with the Nabob, who, after appointing him his agent in England, had failed in those remittances which made the place BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1775.of agent desirable; and that an auction between two princes for the favour of the powerful servants of the Company promised a golden harvest to the relatives and connexions of the Directors, were allegations thrown out by the enemies of the new resolutions;1 allegations which, if they had general surmise, and even general presumptions in their favor, were unsupported by particular facts.
On the 12th of April, the very day on which the Court of Proprietors met to choose new Directors, the Court of Directors proceeded at last to declare their decision on the business of Tanjore, and to prescribe the rules of future operation.
Notwithstanding their ambiguous language, and still more ambiguous conduct, they declared that they had been perfectly uniform in two things; in commanding that no addition should be made to the possessions either of themselves or the Nabob; and in condemning the policy of placing Tanjore under the dominion of that ruler; “more especially,” they add, “as they on the spot were of opinion, that, on account of oppressions exercised by the Nabob in his own dominions, and of his inveterate hatred to the King of Tanjore, the Tanjoreans would submit to any power whatever, rather than to the Nabob.” First they condemn, though after solemn thanks formerly given to the Governor who had carried it on, the war of 1771; declaring that though it would have been right to call the Rajah to account for arrears of tribute, and to interpose between him and the Marawars, it was wholly unjustifiable to make war upon him when he offered to submit to the arbitration of the company; and still more “on any account or pretence, or under any circumstances, to put the Nabob in possession of that kingdom.”1 They complain,BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1775. upon this subject, of their servants as sending them disingenuously incomplete information, and then taking their measures without authority.2
With regard to the second expedition, that in 1773, intended for the complete destruction of the Rajah, they declare that it was founded upon pretences which were totally false; 1. as the Rajah was not proved to have committed any offence; and, 2. as the destruction of him, instead of adding to the security of the Company, had only increased its dangers. They decree, therefore, that Mr. Wynch, their President, shall be removed from his office; that the members of their council shall be severely reprimanded; and, “unless their zeal for the interests of their employers shall manifest a proper sense of their lenity, that they shall certainly experience more rigorous marks of their resentment.”3
After this retrospect of the past, the Directors immediately pen their regulations for the guidance of the future. They regarded two subjects; 1st, the restoration of the Rajah of Tanjore; and 2dly, the management of the Company’s own possessions, on the coast of Coromandel; that is, the Northern Circars, and the jaghire lands in the neighbourhood of Madras. “We are convinced,” said the Directors, addressing the Council of Madras, “that success must, in a great measure, depend upon the wisdom of your councils, the integrity and firmness of your conduct, and in no small degree, upon the seasonable exertion of those peculiar abilities for which your Right Honorable President is so justly and eminently distinguished.”
With regard to the King of Tanjore, the Presidency BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1775.were first to provide security, by a proper guard, for the persons of him and his family; and next, but under certain conditions, to restore him to his dominions, as they existed in 1762. The conditions were, that he should receive a garrison of the Company’s troops into the fort of Tanjore; assign lands for their maintenance; pay to the Nabob the peshcush of 1762; assist him with such troops alone as the Presidency shall join in requiring; form no treaty with foreign powers, except in concurrence with the English rulers; and neither directly nor indirectly furnish any assistance to their enemies.
For the better management of the Company’s possessions, the Council were directed, “when affairs respecting Tanjore shall have been accommodated and finally adjusted,” to form a committee, consisting of five members of the Council, who should make the circuit of the Northern Circars, and collect information of all those circumstances in the state of the country which government is chiefly interested in knowing; and after this information should be gained, to take the proper steps for letting the lands during a term of years, on principles similar to those on which the lands had been let in Bengal. Respecting the jaghire, which the Nabob hitherto had rented under the allegation, that the appearance, presented to the people of the country, of the exemption of any part of his dominions from his immediate jurisdiction, would be injurious to his authority; the Directors declared their dissatisfaction with the present arrangement, their determination to take the lands under their own control, unless the Nabob should submit to their conditions; and they directed their servants in the mean time to let them to him, only from year to year.1
Lord Pigot resumed the office of Governor of FortBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1775. St. George on the 11th of December, 1775. “Upon my arrival,” says his Lordship, “I found a general reform was necessary in the settlement, to preserve the Company from ruin.”1 A “general reform” has many enemies; and those, for the most part, very powerful ones. The injunctions of the Directors were to proceed immediately to the restoration of the Rajah of Tanjore. It was, however, agreed that the communication should be made with all delicacy to the Nabob, to whom it was known that it would be unpleasing in the highest possible degree. There was no expedient to which Oriental artifice could have recourse which the Nabob left untried to ward off the blow. He endeavoured to make it appear that he had an undoubted right to the possession of Tanjore; he magnified the merit of his services and attachment to the Company; he enlarged upon the disaffection of the Rajah; he claimed the support which the letter of the King of England, brought by Sir John Lindsay, had promised him; he deprecated the policy adopted by the Company, of doing one thing by their servants in India, and the very reverse by their Directors in England, and declared that he was unable to understand them in this double capacity. He tried the tone of humility, he tried that of audacity. He sought to affect their sympathy by reminding them of the many Englishmen to whom he was indebted, and whom, if stripped of Tanjore, he would be less able to pay: and of that confidence in their honour with which he had placed his residence, and that of his family, under the guns of Fort St. George. He offered to place an English garrison in the fort of Tanjore; and only entreated, that the country might not be taken out of his hands, till the BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776.Company, who had proceeded upon partial information, should decide upon what he had to suggest.
The Council availed themselves of his offer to admit an English garrison into the fort of Tanjore; because it enabled them at once to set the Rajah at liberty, and guard his person. But they showed the Nabob that the commands of the Directors were peremptory in regard to the time of the restoration, and left them no liberty to grant the delay for which he applied. It seems to have been the expectation of the principal military officer belonging to the Presidency, Sir Robert Fletcher, that he should be the person by whom the immediate business of restoring the Rajah should be performed. But when the President signified his intention of proceeding for that purpose to Tanjore in person, the Council voted unanimously, that the business should be placed in his hands; and as the crop was on the ground, and the harvest approaching, that no time should be lost in giving possession of the country to the Rajah.
Sir Robert Fletcher, however, though he had joined in the vote for sending the President, proposed another for sending along with him two other members, under express and particular instructions of the Board; declaring that without this condition he would not have assented to the vote in favour of the President; that the board were not justified in the delegation of undefined and unlimited powers, except in a case of extreme necessity: and that, if this measure were drawn into a precedent, the effect would be, to serve the corrupt interests of individuals at the expense of the public. The proposal was rejected by a majority of the Council; but the President took with him by choice two members of the Council, and one of them a person who had voted for the deputation.
Lord Pigot set out on the 30th of March, and arrived at Tanjore on the 8th of April. On the 11thBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776. the restoration of the Rajah was proclaimed. Instead of employing the troops of the Company to do nothing more than garrison the fort of Tanjore, the president got the Rajah to request that they might be employed for the protection of the whole country. And instead of assigning revenue barely to defray their expenses, to save the trouble and dispute which accounts are apt to produce, he offered to give a neat sum to cover all expenses, namely, four lacs of pagodas a-year. On the 5th of May, Lord Pigot returned to Madras, and having laid before the Council a copious diary of his proceedings, with all the documents which belonged to them, received a vote of approbation, which, with regard to the general measures, was unanimous.
Mr. Paul Benfield was a servant of the Company in the civil department, and as yet in one of the lowest situations. He had betaken himself to more lucrative functions, than the duties of his office; and had become not only a favourite of the Nabob, but the principal agent, in what was at that time one of the first concerns in the settlement, the lending of money.
It appears, that Mr. Benfield gave to Lord Pigot a general intimation of certain interests which he held in Tanjore, before the departure of that Lord for the restoration of the Rajah, and received from him a general disavowal of any intention to injure his rights. Immediately after the restoration of the Rajah was proclaimed, a letter from Mr. Benfield was delivered to Lord Pigot at Tanjore, in which he stated, that for money lent to the Nabob he had assignments upon the revenues of Tanjore, to the amount of 405,000 pagodas, equal to 162,000l.; and for money lent to individuals in Tanjore, assignments upon the present crop to the amount of 180,000 pagodas, equal BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776.to 72,000l.; making together, the immense sum of 234,000l., lent by a junior servant of the Company, with a salary of a few hundred pounds a-year, and who was conspicuous among other things for keeping the finest carriages and horses at Madras.
Lord Pigot replied, that, in a case like this he could do nothing more than lay the circumstances before the Board. Mr. Benfield expressed dissatisfaction that the powers of government were not immediately exerted to procure him all that he desired; and he wrote to the Council, expressing his confidence that they would afford him “assistance to recover his property, while the Right Honourable President, under their commission, remained in authority over those countries.” Certain Members of the Board were for proceeding immediately to consider the claims of Mr. Benfield. The majority, however, decided, that the consideration should be postponed till Lord Pigot’s return.
A few days after the return of Lord Pigot to the Board, the application of Mr. Benfield was appointed for the subject of deliberation. Mr. Benfield was called upon for particulars and vouchers; but vouchers Mr. Benfield was unable to produce. The transactions, he said, were registered in the books of the Cutcherry; and the Nabob would acknowledge them. As for the books of the Cutcherry, they were never produced; and as for the acknowledgement of the Nabob, there were two questions; one whether the assignments of the Nabob, if the debts were real, gave any right to the revenues of Tanjore, now restored to the Rajah; another, whether the whole, demand and acknowledgement, taken together, were not a collusion between the Nabob and Benfield; a studied fraud upon the Company and the Rajah. For the debts, said to be due from individuals, which, in the specification, had dwindled down to 30,000 pagodas, there was nothing to give but the word of Mr. BenfieldBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776. himself. After due consideration a majority of the Board came to the following decision: “That the Rajah of Tanjore, being put in full possession and management of his country by the Company’s express orders, it is the opinion of the Board that it is not in their power to comply with Mr. Benfield’s requests in any respect, those claims on individuals, which bear the appearance of having no connexion with government, not being sufficiently explained to enable the Board to form an opinion thereon, and the assignments of the Nabob not being admissible.”
This resolution was passed on the 29th of May. On the 3d of June Mr. Brooke, one of the majority who had thrown out the claims of Mr. Benfield, entered a minute, in which he stated, that supposing Mr. Benfield to have demanded the assistance of the Council, he had voted against him; if he had then, as now, understood that he only requested their assistance, he would have voted for him: he, therefore, moved, that the Board should reconsider their vote on the claims of Mr. Benfield; and gave his opinion, that the crop on the ground, at the time of the restoration of the Rajah, was by the Company meant to belong to the Nabob. The vote for reconsideration was supported by the majority. On the 13th of June, the subject being resumed, a motion was made by Lord Pigot that the vote of the 29th of May should be confirmed; it was negatived by a majority of seven to five. On the following day Lord Pigot was proceeding to move that “all the claims of Mr. Benfield were private and not public concerns,” when a member of the Council claimed a right to priority. The claim of the member was founded upon the notice which he had given the preceding day of his intention to put certain motions. BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776.The claim of Lord Pigot was founded upon the custom of the Presidency, corroborated by convenience, that the President should possess the initiation of business. The claims were put to the vote, when the question was decided in favour of the member; and he moved, that the crop sown during the time of the Nabob’s possession be declared the Nabob’s property, his assignments on it, therefore, good; and that the Rajah should be instructed to respect and to restore, if they had been disturbed, the pledges in corn which were held by Mr. Benfield. When all this was voted, the question of the President, whether the claims of Mr. Benfield were private or public, was finally considered. The majority thought them, “so far as they regard Mr. Benfield, private claims; so far as they regard the Nabob’s assignments to Mr. Benfield, public.”
The following point was agitated next. On the 28th of June, the President opened a proposal for establishing a factory at Tanjore. A motion to this effect was rejected by the majority on the 8th of July. As he could not obtain a factory, the President supposed that a resident would be useful. He moved that Mr. Russel, a member of the Council, and a closely connected friend of his own, should be appointed resident at Tanjore, and this was carried without much opposition.
Velore was the principal military station in the Carnatic, as a frontier fortress, in the line of invasion both to Hyder and the Mahrattas; it was therefore provided with the greatest number of troops, and regularly, as the post of honour, assigned to the officer second in command. Col. Stuart, the officer second in command, thought proper to consider Tanjore, where a small number only of troops were required, as at this time the military station of principal importance in the province; he therefore claimed it as his right,BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776. and that claim the majority sustained.
Though liberty had been restored to the Rajah, and his rights proclaimed, much was yet to be done to put the administration of the country fully in his hands. The struggle between the President and the majority in the Council now was, whether Colonel Stuart, who would manage the business agreeably to the views of the majority, or Mr. Russel, who would manage it agreeably to the views of the President, should have the opportunity of placing the administration in the hands of the Rajah.
Mr. Russel was one of the gentlemen named by the Court of Directors to form one of the Committee of Circuit to explore the Circars; and this Committee was directed to proceed upon its mission, as soon as the final settlement of affairs in Tanjore should be effected. The majority laid hold of this circumstance; and voted, as well for the immediate departure of the Committee to the northern Circars, as that of Colonel Stuart to his command in Tanjore. The President insisted, that neither was there any necessity for precipitating the departure of the Committee, nor was the business of Tanjore settled; that the Rajah, who believed that the interests which had dethroned him were now triumphant, and those which restored him overthrown, was in a state of apprehension bordering upon despair. He proposed that, for the termination of this unfortunate struggle, two members of the Board, who were stationed at the out settlements, and were not involved in the disputes, should be summoned to attend. This proposition was rejected. The President offered to be satisfied. if Mr. Russel was allowed to go to Tanjore for only a few days, to preserve the appearance of consistency in BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776.the proceedings of the Council, and to quiet the alarms of the Rajah. This too was rejected.
Hitherto the proceedings of both parties, whatever name they may deserve in point of wisdom or virtue, were regular in point of form. Only one alternative now remained for Lord Pigot—the majority was either to be obeyed, or their authority was to be resisted. Lord Pigot resolved to resist, and the method which he pursued was as follows:
He assumed that the President was an integrant part of the Council; that it was not competent to perform any acts of government without him; and that he had a right to withhold his concurrence from any propositions which the majority might urge. This was pretty nearly the same doctrine which had suggested itself to Mr. Hastings in Bengal; but the practical application was somewhat different.
On the 19th of August, it was moved that a copy of instructions for Colonel Stuart, prepared by the commanding officer, should be taken into consideration. The President declared that he would not put the question. The obstruction presented a question of importance; and the majority resolved to adjourn. The following day the Council assembled, and the same motion was made. The President declared that he would not allow the question to be agitated at the Board. The majority, nevertheless, approved of the instructions, and prepared the draught of a letter to the officer at Tanjore, directing him to deliver over the command of the garrison to Colonel Stuart. The President declared that he would sign neither; affirmed that without his signature they could have no authority, and warned his opponents to desist. The minds of the majority were yet embarrassed, and they adjourned the Council for two days. On the 22d of August, the day on which they first assembled,BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776. the majority produced a minute, in which they deny that the concurrence of the President is necessary to constitute an act of government; affirm that the vote of the majority constitutes an act of government; and that it tends to subvert the constitution, for the President to refuse either to put a question, or to carry into execution the decisions of the majority. The President proposed, that questions of so much importance should be left to the decision of their honourable masters; and that here, till their pleasure should be known, both parties should allow the matter to rest.
This, too, was not agreeable to the wishes of the majority. They came to a resolution, that, as the President would not sign the instructions to Colonel Stuart and the letter to the officer at Tanjore, a letter should be written to the Secretary, directing him to sign them in the name of the Council, and transmit them as authoritative instruments of government to the parties addressed.
The letter was written, and approved by all the gentlemen of the majority. They began to sign it in order, and two of them had already written their names, when Lord Pigot took, or snatched it out of the hand of the man who held it. He then took a paper out of his pocket, and said he had a charge to present against two members of the Board, and named the two who had just signed the letter which he had snatched. The accusation was, that by signing orders to the Secretary to give instructions to Colonel Stuart, they had been guilty of an act, subversive of the authority of government, and tending to introduce anarchy. By the standing orders of the Company, any member of the Council, against whom a charge was preferred, was not allowed to deliberate or vote BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776.on any of the questions relating to the charge. When the two accused members were excluded, the President had a majority by his own casting vote. It was therefore voted to suspend the members in question, and then the President had a permanent majority. After the vote of suspension, the Council adjourned to the following day, which was the 23d. The gentlemen of the former majority forebore to attend; but they sent by a public notary a protest, in which, beside denouncing the principal act of the following day, they, as the majority of the Board, declare themselves the governing body, and claim the obedience of the settlement. This protest was sent by the same agency to the commanders of his Majesty’s troops, and to all persons holding any authority at Madras. In consequence of what he deemed so great an outrage, Lord Pigot summoned the Council again to meet at four o’clock, when they passed a vote, suspending the whole of the members who had signed the protest, and ordered Sir Robert Fletcher, the commanding officer, to be put under arrest, and tried by a court martial.
The opponents were not behind in violence. They speedily assembled, declared themselves a Council vested with all the powers of government, and resolved to arrest the person of Lord Pigot, and confer the command of the army, Sir Robert Fletcher being ill, on Colonel Stuart.1 The task of performing the arrest of Lord Pigot was devolved on the Colonel,BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1776. who, by acquiescence, had accepted from him the command of the army. The greater part of the next day, the 24th, the Colonel passed in company, or in business, with his Lordship, breakfasted with him as well as dined; and having accepted an invitation to sup at his house, and made his arrangements to arrest him by the way, was in the carriage of Lord Pigot along with him, when it was surrounded and stopped by the troops.
As the point, for which all this confusion was created, was the extremely minute one, whether Mr. Russel should or should not go for a few days to Tanjore, it is not easy to believe, that something of importance did not remain at the bottom, which it was not the interest of the parties to disclose. One thing is certain, that the parties, and they had the best means of information, cast the most odious imputations upon one another, and charged the most corrupt and dishonourable motives. They were accused of desiring to have an opportunity of enriching themselves, the one party by sharing in the revenues of the Rajah, the other by sharing in those of the Nabob.1 The party who espoused the views of the Nabob seem to have been afraid, after the extremities on which they had ventured, to carry their own resolutions into effect. They had voted that the crop which was on the ground at the time of the restoration belonged to the Nabob, and ought to follow the assignments he had made; yet the Rajah was not disturbed in the possession of it; and the BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1777.debts, real or fictitious, to Benfield, remained at the end of their administration still undischarged.1
They proceeded to the further violence of suspending all those members of the Council, who had voted with the President; but it does not appear that any harshness attended his confinement, or that he was not indulged with every freedom, consistent with the means necessary to prevent his resuming his place in the government.
When intelligence was brought to England of the violent act of the Council of Madras, it excited among the members of the Company, and still more in the nation at large, both surprise and indignation. In the Court of Directors, the party who defended, or at any rate attempted to apologize for the authors of the late revolution, were nearly equal to the party by whom they were condemned. But in a Court of Proprietors, held on the 26th of March, 1777, a resolution was passed by a majority of 382 to 140, in which it was recommended to the Court of Directors to take the most effectual measures for restoring Lord Pigot to the full exercise of his authority, and for inquiring into the conduct of the principal actors in his imprisonment. In consequence of this proceeding it was, on the 11th of April, carried by a casting vote, in the Court of Directors, that Lord Pigot and his friends should be restored to the situations from which they had been improperly removed; that seven members of the Council, including the Commander in Chief, who were declared to have subverted the government by a military force, should be suspended from the service, and not restored without the immediate act of the Directors. But a vote of censure was at the same time passed on Lord Pigot, whose conduct in several instances was pronounced worthyBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1777. of blame. The means were not yet exhausted of defeating this turn of affairs. Not only were impediments accumulated, and placed in the way; but a fresh set of resolutions were brought forward, importing the recall of both parties, as the only mode of accomplishing that fundamental investigation which the importance of the occasion required. These propositions, in favour of which the ministers were supposed to have exerted all their influence, were voted by a majority of 414 to 317, in a General Court on the 9th of May. The attention of Parliament was also attracted. Governor Johnstone, who was distinguished for the part which he had taken in discussions relative to Indian affairs, moved, on the 22d of the same month, a series of resolutions, highly approving the conduct of Pigot, and the measures which had been pursued for his restoration, while they condemned the proceedings of his enemies, and the motion for his recall. Almost all the questions of English policy relating to the affairs of Carnatic underwent discussion in a long and animated debate, which was closed by a vote of no more, notwithstanding ministerial influence, than ninety to sixty-seven, against the resolutions.
After these proceedings, a commission was prepared under the Company’s seal, bearing date the 10th of June, 1777, by which Lord Pigot was restored to his office; but he was at the same time directed, within one week after the dispatch of the first ship, which, subsequent to the date of his restoration, should proceed from Madras, to deliver over the government to his successor: and either by that ship, or the first that should follow, to take his passage to England. The members of the Council who had concurred in displacing Lord Pigot were recalled; BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1777.and the military officers, who had been chiefly instrumental in executing the arrest and confinement, were ordered to be tried by courts martial on the spot. Till inquiry should be made into the conduct of both parties in the recent scenes, when it would be seen which of the actors might deserve, and which might not deserve, to be removed from the service, the Directors thought proper to form a temporary government; in which Sir Thomas Rumbold, after the departure of Lord Pigot, was to succeed to the chair; John Whitehill to be second in council; and Major General Hector Munro, Commander of the Forces, to be third, without the power of any further advancement.
Before these orders were received in India, Lord Pigot had passed beyond the reach of honour or disgrace. His constitution, worn out by age, and the operation of a hostile climate, sunk under the inactivity of his situation, and the painful feelings which preyed upon his mind, after a confinement of somewhat more than eight months. Mr. Whitehill reached Madras on the 31st of August, 1777, and being the senior in council acted as President and Governor till the 8th of February following, when Sir Thomas Rumbold arrived.1
Once more the subject was taken up by the HouseBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1777. of Commons. On the 16th of April, 1779, Admiral Pigot, the brother of the deceased Governor, began the discussion with a history of the transactions which had led to the deposition of Lord Pigot, and with the heaviest charges against the actors in that scene: After which he moved a series of resolutions, affirming the principal facts, affirming also that orders had been given to hold courts-martial for the trial of the principal military officers engaged in the crime, and directing an address to his Majesty for the prosecution, by the Attorney-General, of four of the members of the Council, who had returned to England. The resolutions gave rise to considerable debate; but were finally adopted. Proceedings in the courts of law were immediately commenced; and on the 20th of December, the four members were tried for a misdemeanour, before a special jury; and found guilty. When brought up for judgment, a fine of 1000l. was imposed upon each. To men of their fortunes, this was a punishment hardly to be felt: Such is the difference, in the minds of English judges, between the crime of deposing the head of a government abroad, and that of writing a censure upon one of the instruments of government at home.1
When the northern circars were first delivered into the hands of the Company, it was judged expedient to govern the country for a time in the manner which was already established. The Circars of Rajamundry, Ellore, and Condapilly, were consigned, under a lease of three years, to a native, named Hussun Ali Khan, who had previously governed them, under the Nizam, with the state and authority of a viceroy. The remaining Circar of Cicacole was BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1777.placed under a similar administration, but in the hands of a separate deputy.
A change was introduced in 1769. Administration by the agency of natives was discontinued: And the Circars were placed under the charge of Provincial Chiefs and Councils, a title and form which at that period the commercial factories were made to assume. Under the Chief and Council, formerly the Factory, of Masulipatam, were placed the districts of Condapilly, Rajamundry, and Ellore. The Chief and Council of Vizigapatam received in charge the southern parts of Cicacole: and at Ganjam, where the factory had been discontinued, a new establishment was made of a chief and council for those affairs of the country which could be most conveniently ruled from that as a centre. To these provincial boards, the financial, judicial, and, in short, the whole civil and political administration of the country, was consigned.
The disappointment in their expectations of pecuniary supply from the northern circars, as from their other dominions, and the sense which they entertained of the defects of the existing administration, had recommended to the Court of Directors the formation of the Committee of Circuit. This Committee were directed, by personal inspection, and inquiry upon the spot, to ascertain with all possible exactness, the produce, the population, and manufactures of the country; the extent and sources of the revenue; the mode and expense of its collection; the state of the administration of justice; how far the financial and judicial regulations which had been introduced in Bengal were applicable in the Circars; what was the condition of the forts; and the circumstances of the Zemindars or Rajahs; what the military force of each; the expenses both of his army and household; and the means which he possessedBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. of defraying them. The Directors declared it to be their intention to let the lands, after the expiration of the present leases, for a term of years, as in Bengal; not, however, to deprive the hereditary Zemindars of their income; but leave them an option, either to take the lands which had belonged to them, under an equitable valuation, or to retire upon a pension. They avowed, at the same time, the design of taking the military power into their own hands, and of preventing the Zemindars from maintaining those bodies of troops, with which they were perpetually enabled to endanger the peace and security of the state.
Within a few days after the deposition of Lord Pigot, the new Governor and Council drew up the instructions of the Committee; and sent them to the discharge of their duties. They had made some progress in their inquiries; when Sir Thomas Rumbold took the reins of government at Madras, in February, 1778.1
In Council, on the 24th of March, the Governor represented, that on account of the diminution in the number of members, it was now inconvenient, if not impossible, to spare a sufficient number from the Council to form the Committee; that the Committee was attended with very great expense; that all the ends which were proposed to be served by it might be still more effectually accomplished if the Zemindars were sent for, the desired information obtained from the Zemindars, and the jummabundy, or schedule of rent, settled with them at the seat of government; that by this expedient the Zemindars would be made to feel more distinctly their dependance BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778.upon the government, both for punishment and protection; that intrigues, and the pursuit of private, at the expense of public interests, which might be expected in the Circars, would be prevented at Madras; and that an indefinite amount of time would be saved. For these reasons he moved, that the Committee of Circuit should be suspended, and that in future the annual rent of the districts should be settled at the Presidency, to which the Zemindars should, for that purpose, be ordered to repair. The Council acquiesced in his reasons, and without further deliberation the measure was decreed.
As soon as this intelligence reached the Zemindars, they were thrown into the greatest consternation. It was expressly urged by the provincial councils on the spot, that the Zemindars were in general poor, and hardly able to support their families with any appearance of dignity; that many of them were altogether unable to defray the expense of a distant journey, and of a residence for any considerable time at the seat of government; that the greater part of them were in debt, and in arrears to the Company; that they must borrow money, to enable them to undertake the journey, and still further incapacitate themselves for fulfilling their engagements; that their absence would greatly augment the confusions of the country, obstructing both the collection of the revenue, and the preparation of the investment; and that some of them laboured under the weight of so many years, and so many bodily infirmities, as to render the journey wholly impracticable.
The President and Council persevered in their original design; and a considerable number of the Zemindars were brought to Madras. Of the circumstances which followed, it is necessary that a few should be pointed out. In every case the Governor alone negotiated with the Zemindars, and regulated theirBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. payments; in no case did he lay the grounds of his treaty before the Council; in every case the Council, without inquiry, acquiesced in his decrees. Of all the Zemindars in the northern Circas, the most important was Vizeram Râz, the Rajah of Vizinagaram, whose territory had the extent of a considerable kingdom, and whose power had hitherto held the Company in awe. The character of the Rajah was voluptuousness and sloth; but along with this he was mild and equitable. Sitteram Râz, his brother, was a man who possessed in a high degree the talents and vices of a Hindu. He was subtle, patient, full of application, intriguing, deceitful, stuck at no atrocity in the pursuit of his ends, and was stained with the infamy of numerous crimes. Sitteram Râz had so encroached upon the facility and weakness of his brother as to have transferred to himself the principal power in the province. The yoke, however, which he had placed upon the neck of the Rajah was galling, and sustained with great uneasiness. Jaggernaut Râz, a connexion of the family, united by marriage with the Rajah, who had superintended the details of government, as Duan, or financial minister, and was universally respected as a man of understanding and virtue, had been recently deprived of his office, through the machinations of Sitteram Râz. The points which required adjustment between Vizeram Râz and the Company had suggested a use, or afforded a pretext, for calling him to the Presidency before Sir Thomas Rumbold arrived. Against this order he remonstrated, on the ground of his poverty, and of the detriment to his affairs which absence would induce. He offered to settle with the Council at Vizigapatam for any reasonable tribute or rent; and complained of his brother Sitteram Râz, whom he BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778.described as engaged in machinations for his ruin. Sitteram had obeyed the very first summons to repair to Madras, and had negotiated successfully for the farm of one principal division of the lands. He carried another point of still greater importance; which was to receive from the Presidency the appointment of Duan to the Rajah. To this regulation the Rajah manifested the greatest aversion. The President addressed him in the following words: “We are convinced that it is a measure which your own welfare and the interest of the Company render indispensably necessary. But should you continue obstinately to withstand the pressing instances that have repeatedly been made to you by the Board, conjunctively as well as separately, we shall be under the necessity of taking such resolutions as will in all probability be extremely painful to you, but which, being once passed, can never be recalled.” To this Vizeram Râz made the following answer: “I shall consider myself henceforward as divested of all power and consequence whatever, seeing that the Board urge me to do that which is contrary to my fixed determination, and that the result of it is to be the losing of my country.” The reason which was urged by the President for this arbitrary proceeding was, the necessity of having a man of abilities to preserve the order of the country, and ensure the revenues. The Court of Directors, however, say, in their general letter to the Presidency of Madras, dated the 10th of January, 1781, “Our surprise and concern were great, on observing the very injurious treatment which the ancient Rajah of Vizianagaram received at the Presidency; when, deaf to his representations and entreaties, you, in the most arbitrary and unwarrantable manner, appointed his ambitious and intriguing brother, Sitteram Râz, Duan of the Circar, and thereby put him in possession of the revenuesBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. of his elder brother, who had just informed you that he sought his ruin: For however necessary it might be to adopt measures for securing payment of the Company’s tribute, no circumstance, except actual and avowed resistance of the Company’s authority, could warrant such treatment of the Rajah.”1 And in one of the resolutions which was moved in the House of Commons by Mr. Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville, on the 25th of April, 1782, it was declared, “That the Governor and majority of the Council of Fort St. George did by menaces and harsh treatment, compel Vizeram Râz, the Rajah of Visianagrum, to employ Sitteram Râz as the Duan, or Manager of his Zemindary, in the room of Jaggernaut, a man of probity and good character; that the compulsive menaces made use of towards the Rajah, and the gross ill treatment which he received at the Presidency, were humiliating, unjust, and cruel in themselves, and highly derogatory to the interests of the East India Company, and to the honour of the British nation.”
Nor was this the only particular in which the Presidency and Council contributed to promote the interest and gratify the ambition of Sitteram Râz. They not only prevailed upon the Rajah to be reconciled to his brother; they confirmed his adoption of that brother’s son; and “agreed,” say the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, “that all under-leases should for the future be made in the adopted Rajah’s name; that his name should be used in all acts of government; and that Sitteram Râz his father, who was in reality to enjoy the power, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778.should be accepted of by the Board as a security for this young man.”1
In the opinion of the Directors, even this was not all. They accused the Presidency of underselling the lands by a corrupt connivance with Sitteram Râz. “The report,” they said, “of the Committee of Circuit, and the positive evidence of Sitteram Râz, warrant us in asserting that more than double the amount of the tribute for which you have agreed, might and ought to have been obtained for the Company. We are in possession,” they add, “of one fact, which, so far as it extends, seems to convey an idea, that the Zemindars have been abused, and their money misapplied at the Presidency.”2
The Directors alluded to the following fact; that Mr. Redhead, private secretary to Sir Thomas Rumbold, the Governor, had actually received from Sitteram Râz a bond for one lac of rupees, on condition of his services in procuring for the donor, the duanship of the Zemindary, a reconciliation with his brother, a confirmation of his son’s adoption, the Zemindary of Ancapilly, and the fort of Vizinagaram; advantages, the whole of which Sitteram Râz obtained; and corruption, of which, though made known to the President and Council by the proceedings of a court of justice, they afforded to the Court of Directors no information.3
Another fact was; that to the same Mr. Redhead, as appeared by a codicil to his will, Ameer ul Omra, son of the Nabob, had an order from his father to pay a lac of rupees.
Another fact was; that two lacs and one thousandBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. rupees had been transmitted to Sitteram Râz, while at Madras; of which money, though he was greatly in arrear, no part was paid to the Company.
It further appeared; that according to one of the checks devised by the Company upon the corruption of their servants, if Sir Thomas Rumbold possessed in India any money on loan, or merchandize on hand, at the time of entering upon his office, he was by his covenant bound, before he proceeded to recover the money, or dispose of the goods, to deliver to the Board a particular account of such property upon oath: that upon an accurate examination of the records of the Council during the whole of Sir Thomas Rumbold’s administration, no proceedings to that effect could be found: that Sir Thomas Rumbold, nevertheless, had remitted to Europe, between the 8th of February, the day of his arrival at Madras, and the beginning of August in the same year, the sum of 45,000l., and, during the two subsequent years, a further sum of 119,000l., the whole amounting to 164,000l. although the annual amount of his salary and emoluments did not exceed 20,000l.
Sir Thomas opposed the evidence of corruption which these transactions imported, by asserting, that he had property in India at the time of his return, sufficient to account for the remittances which he afterwards made. The evidence which he produced consisted in certain papers and books of account, which exhibited upon the face of them sums to a great amount. And one of the witnesses, examined before the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, stated his having heard in conversation from Sir Thomas Rumbold, that he had in Bengal, at the time of his last arrival in India, about 90,000l.; part in Company’s cash; part in bonds, and mortgages at BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778.interest, on some of which three or four years’ interest was due.1
The lands or taxes in the circars were let, some for ten years, some for five. The jaghire about Madras was re-let to the Nabob, not for one, but for three years. And in no case was any satisfactory inquiry performed.
The Directors, complaining that their orders, and the interests of the Company, had been equally disregarded, and that, while the dignity and feelings of the Zemindars were violated, the rights of the immediate cultivators were left without protection; pronounced upon the whole of these proceedings their strongest condemnation.
In the agreements formed with the Subahdar, or Nizam, respecting the five northern circars, in 1766 and 1768, it was arranged, that Guntoor, which was one of them, should be granted in jaghire to Bazalut Jung, his brother; to be enjoyed by that Prince during his life, or so long as the Subahdar should be satisfied with his conduct; and upon expiration of the interest of Bazalut Jung, to revert to the Company. About the latter end of the year 1774, the Governor and Council were informed by letters from the chief of Masulipatam, that a body of French troops, under the command of M. Lally, were retained in the service of Bazalut Jung, and received reinforcements and stores by the port of Mootapilly. The mention of a French force in the service of a native prince was sure to kindle the jealously of the English. The Presidency of Madras held the affair of sufficient importance to communicate with the Supreme Council of Bengal on the propriety of using measures to procure the removal of the French from the territories of Bazalut Jung: and received the authority of thatBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. Board, not only to insist with Bazalut Jung upon their immediate dismissal; but to prepare a body of troops for marching to his frontiers, and to threaten him, that “they would take possession of his country, and negotiate with the Nizam, even by an entire renunciation of the revenues, for the cession of it to the Company.” It was deemed advisable to treat with the Nizam, as principal in the treaty of 1768, and a party to every agreement between the Company and Bazalut Jung: and they desired his co-operation for compelling his brother, either first to dismiss the Europeans from his service, and trust to the English the defence of Guntoor, which was their own; or, 2dly, to let that Circar to them at a rent determined by amicable valuation. The Nizam replied in friendly terms; declaring that he had sent a person of distinction to procure the removal of the French from the service of his brother; and that “every article of the treaty should remain fixed to a hair’s breadth.” From the date of these transactions, which extended to the beginning of the year 1776, though several representations had been received of the continuance of the French in the territory of Bazalut Jung, no ulterior measures were adopted by the Board until the 10th of July, 1778, when the President and Select Committee entered a minute, expressing a conviction of danger from the presence, in such a situation, of such a body of men. A negotiation, through the medium of the Nabob, without the intervention of the Nizam, was commenced with Bazalut Jung. That prince was now alarmed with the prospect presented by the probable designs of Hyder Ali, and well disposed to quiet his apprehensions by the benefit of English protection. On the 30th of November, the President presented to the Board a proposal, tendered, BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778.by Bazalut Jung, in which that Prince agreed to cede the Guntoor district for a certain annual payment, to dismiss the French from his service, and to accept the engagement of the English to afford him troops for the defence of his country. On the 27th of January 1779, when the treaty was concluded with Bazalut Jung, it was thought expedient to send to the court of the Nizam a resident; who should ascertain as far as possible the views of that Prince, and his connexions with the Indian powers or the French; obviate any unfavourable impressions which he might have received; and transact any business to which the relations of the two states might give birth. And on the 19th of April a force, under General Harpur, was ordered to proceed to the protection of the territory of Bazalut Jung.
In the contest with the Mahrattas, in which, at the Presidencies of Bengal and Bombay, the English were engaged, the Nizam had expressed a desire to remain neutral, though he had frankly declared his hatred of Ragoba, and his connexion by treaty with Pundit Purdaun, the infant Peshwa, that is, with the prevailing party of the Poona council; and though an alliance with the Berar government had been attempted by the Supreme Council, on the condition of recovering for that government some countries which had been wrested from it by the Subahdar of Deccan. When Mr. Holland, who was sent as resident by the Presidency of Madras, arrived at Hyderabad, the capital of the Nizam, on the 6th of April, he was received with every mark of respect, and with the strongest assurances of a desire to cultivate the friendship of the English. But when, at his audience, the resident proceeded to explain the transactions, which, without the participation of the Nizam, had taken place between the Company and his brother, the painful emotions of his Highness were visible; heBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1778. read over the articles of the treaty of 1768; affirmed that it was violated by the conduct of the Presidency; disavowed the right of the English to interfere in the concerns of his family; declared that, if the treaty was to be regarded, the troops which, without his leave, were about to march into the country, possessed by Bazalut Jung, a dependant of the Subah, ought to be stopped; if the treaty was not to be regarded, he should be constrained to oppose them. To the apology urged by Mr. Holland, that the probability of an immediate attack by Hyder Ali left not sufficient time for consulting him, the Nizam replied that Hyder had no immediate intention to molest his brother, but was meditating a speedy attack upon Carnatic, to be conducted, like the former invasion of that province, by plundering and burning, while he avoided a battle. The Nizam was jealous of the presence of a British force with Bazalut Jung, who, with such assistance, he doubted not, would soon aspire at independence. The French troops he had taken into his own service immediately after they were dismissed by his brother; but he assured the British resident that he had adopted this expedient solely to prevent them from passing into the service of Hyder or the Mahrattas; and described them as of little value, the wreck of the army of Bussy, augmented by persons of all nations. This was a contingency, which, in their eagerness to see the French discharged by Bazalut Jung, the Presidency had somewhat overlooked. It was no doubt true, as they alleged, that had the Nizam consulted the friendship of the English, he would have ordered the French troops to the coast, whence with other prisoners they might have been sent on their passage to Europe.
In the Select Committee, on the 5th of June, it BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1779.was proposed by the Governor, and agreed, that the peschush or tribute, of five lacs of rupees, which the Company were bound by their treaty to pay, in compromise, for possession of the Northern Circars, the Nizam should be solicited to remit. The payment of it had already been suspended for two years, partly on the pretence that the French troops were not dismissed, partly on account of the exhausted state of their finances. When this proposal was announced by Mr. Holland to the Nizam, he became highly agitated; and declared his conviction that the English no longer meant to observe the treaty, for which reason he also must prepare for war.
Mr. Holland, who had received instructions to communicate with the Supreme Council, conveyed intelligence of these transactions to Bengal, by sending, on the 3d of September, copies of the letters which had passed between him and the Presidency of Madras. On the 25th of October, the subject was taken into consideration at Calcutta, when the proceedings of the Madras Presidency, in forming a treaty with Bazalut Jung, without the interposition of his immediate sovereign, the Company’s ally, and in withholding the payment, and proposing the abolition of the peshcush, underwent the most severe condemnation, as tending to impeach the character of the English for justice and faith, and to raise them up a formidable enemy, when they were already exposed to unusual difficulties and dangers. It was agreed, that the case demanded the interference of the Superior Board; and a letter was written on the 1st of November, 1779, to assure the Nizam that the intentions of the English government were truly pacific, notwithstanding the interpretation which he put upon the proceedings of the Council at Madras. Mr. Holland was directed to suspend his negotiations till he should receive further instructions from hisBOOK V. Chap. 4. 1779. own Presidency. Letters were also written to that Presidency, acquainting them, in terms studiously inoffensive and mild, with the aberrations which it appeared to the Supreme Council that they had made from the line of propriety and prudence. The Nizam declared the highest satisfaction with the friendly assurances which the Supreme Council had expressed. But their interference excited the highest indignation and resentment in the Council of Madras. On the 30th of December a minute was entered by Sir Thomas Rumbold, the President, in which he treats the censure which had been passed on their conduct as undeserved, and its language unbecoming, denies the right of the Supreme Council thus to interfere in the transactions of another Presidency, and argues that their controlling power extended to the conclusion alone of a treaty, not to the intermediate negotiation; he turns the attack upon the Bengal Presidency, enters into a severe investigation of the policy and conduct of the Mahratta war, which in every particular he condemns: this it was which had alienated the mind of the Subahdar, not the regulation with his brother, or the proposed remission of the peshcush; the retention of a peshcush offended not the conscience of the Bengal Presidency, when themselves were the gainers, the unfortunate Emperor of India the sufferer, and when it was a peshcush stipulated and secured by treaty for the most important grants. In terms of nearly the same import the letter was couched in which the Presidency of Madras returned an answer to that of Bengal, and along with which they transmitted the minute of their President.
The Presidency of Madras had not only taken Guntoor on lease from Bazalut Jung, they had also BOOK V. Chap. 4. 1779.transferred it, on a lease of ten years, to the Nabob of Arcot, though well aware how little the Directors were pleased with his mode of exaction, either in their jaghire, or in his own dominions.
The measure of their offences, in the eyes of the Directors, was now sufficiently full. In their letter of the 10th of January, 1781, after passing the severest censure upon the abolition of the Committee of Circuit, and the proceedings with the Zemindars of the four Northern Circars, on the treaty with Bazalut Jung, the transactions with the Nizam, and the lease of Guntoor to the Nabob, they dismiss from their service Sir Thomas Rumbold, President, John Hill and Peter Perring, Esquires, Members of their Council of Fort St. George; deprive of their seat in council Mr. Smith and Mr. Johnson; and express their strongest displeasure against the commander of their forces Sir Hector Munro.1
The resolution of maintaining this absolute power is thus clearly expressed in the letter of the Court of Directors, to the Presidency of Madras, dated 24th December, 1765. “The Nabob has hitherto desired, at least acquiesced with seeming approbation, that garrisons of our troops should be placed in his forts: it is not improbable that after a time he may wish to have his protectors removed. Should such an event happen, it may require some address to avoid giving him disgust, and at the same time a degree of firmness to persist in your present plan; but persist you must; for we establish it as a fundamental point, that the Company’s influence and real power in the province cannot be any way so effectually maintained as by keeping the principal forts in our hands.” See First Report of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781, Appendix, No. 23.—"By being in possession of most of his strong places, the troops being officered by the Company, and the garrisons perfectly under their orders, the Company have it in their power to give law to the Carnatic. Without the concurrence of the Presidency he can do nothing; they are arbiters of peace and war; and even if one of his own tributaries refuse the peshcush, the payment of which they had guaranteed, without them he cannot call him to an account.” Letter from Sir John Lindsay, to the President and Council of Madras, 22d June, 1771; Rous’s Appendix, p. 368.
See the account of these disputes, supra, vol. iii. book iv. chap. ix.
Letter to Sir John Lindsay, dated 16th August, 1770, Rous’s Appendix, p. 254.
Letter to the Court of Directors, dated July 20th, 1771, Rous’s Appendix, p. 400.
Rous’s Appendix, p. 245–253.
Ibid. p. 248.
Ibid. p. 250.
Ibid p. 253.
Rous’s Appendix, p. 257.
See Rous’s Appendix, No. 17, passim.
“It is with infinite concern the Committee observe that notwithstanding their repeated and earnest representations to the Court of Directors, of the very critical situation of affairs with respect to the Mahrattas and Hyder Ally, which were so fully and clearly explained in order to enable them to give us their sentiments and orders with respect to the conduct they would wish as to observe in so important and interesting a matter, we still find ourselves not only without orders, but without the least intimation of their opinion thereon.” Select Consultations, 29th November, 1771; First Report, Committee of Secrecy in 1781, Appendix, No. 21.
That they gave money and gave largely, appears plainly from a letter in Rous’s Appendix, p. 952.
See First Report, ut supra, p. 28, and Appendix, No. 20, 21, 22, 23; and the Papers published by the Directors in Rous’s Appendix, No. 17 and 28.
Official Papers, in Rous’s Appendix, p. 525, 526.
Papers, ut supra, p. 631.
Ib. p. 563, 564.
Papers, ut supra, p. 574.
The Little Marawar.
Papers, ut supra, p. 608, 614.
Ibid. p. 645 and 609.
Papers, ut supra, p. 579, 283
See these considerations balanced, and this severe condemnation, passed upon their employers, Papers, ut supra, p. 662, 663, 666, 679.
Ib. p. 682, 682*. According to this account, there is no constitution in India but the law of the strongest. The fact is important; and has often (I should not err much if I said always) been mistaken, by the inaccurate minds, which hitherto have contemplated Indian affairs.
Papers, ut supra, p. 684, 685.
Papers, ut supra, p. 696.
Ibid. 718, 720.
Papers, ut supra, p. 726–731.
General Smith’s Letter, ibid. 742.
Papers, ut supra, p. 744–750.
Papers, ut supra, p. 827.
Ibid. p. 930, 931.
Papers, ut supra, p. 803, 857.
Sir John Lindsay.
Tanjore papers, ut supra, p. 1082.
Ibid. p. 969, combined with p. 1085, par. 54.
Tanjore papers, ut supra, p. 1081.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1081–1083, and 998.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1083–1085, 1006, 1037.
Ibid. p. 1058.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1107.
President’s Report to the Select Committee, Ibid. 1108.
His not getting for them assistance from the English, he represented as the cause of their want of friendship, since they believed (of course he had told them) that “he had got the entire control of the whole English nation, and could make them do as he pleased.” Ibid.
The author of the Defence of Lord Pigot (Introd. p. 63) says, that by the Nabob people were employed to personate the Rajah’s vakeels at Poonah: that letters were fabricated; and all sorts of artifice employed to mislead the Company’s servants. The Presidency are often complaining that the Nabob’s letters of intelligence state always a set of facts exactly calculated to support the point, whatever it is, which the Nabob is at that moment driving.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1117.
See the Letter from the Dutch to the Nabob (Ibid. 1273); Defence of Lord Pigot, Introd. 64.
By present system, they mean the orders from England to support the Nabob, as absolute sovereign, in all his pretensions; which held their hands from interfering to protect the Rajah.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1117.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1122, 1125. There is secret history in many of the proceedings of the Company’s servants which it is not possible to bring forward with such evidence as history admits, and which, except in a very general manner, it is not within the province of history to trace. Such articles of evidence as present themselves may be submitted for consideration. The Author of the History and Management of the East India Company, than whom no man was better acquainted with the secrets of Madras, and who, though he is a prejudiced and unfair, is not a mendacious writer, says, (p. 219) that the crime of the Rajah was his sending to borrow money of the Dutch; and had he pursued the plan of borrowing at Madras, “with more constancy, and to a much larger extent, the GREAT FOLKS at Madras might have had an interest in overlooking, for some time longer, his designs. But Tulja-jî, though not more faithless, was less prudent than his father Pretaupa Sing, who had always an expert agent at Madras to negotiate a loan, when he wished to obtain a favour.”
This transaction is explained, in the following manner, by the Author of the “Defence of Lord Pigot.” (Introd. p. 64.) “It happened that one Comera, a dubash of the virtuous Mr. Benfield, was at Tanjore, when the Nabob threatened a second visit. This Comera, servant of Mr. Benfield, was employed in lending money on mortgages. To him the Nabob addressed his Self; through him, he mortgaged to Mr. Benfield some districts, which had been formerly mortgaged to the Nabob; and obtained from Comera bills on his master Mr. Benfield payable at Madras for the twelve lacs which by the treaty of 1771 were still to be paid. But it was not the intention of the Nabob to receive this last instalment. His confidence in the servants of the Company was increased. And he now determined at all events to get possession of Tanjore. He therefore sent for the dubash, and by proper application, prevailed on him to deny that he gave the draughts: by proper applications he raised unexpected scruples in the breast of the delicate Mr. Benfield. Though he now avows that he has mortgages to a considerable amount in the Tanjore country; yet then, in a more enlightened moment, he discovered that it was his duty, as a servant obedient to the orders of the Company, to reject any proposal of lending money on mortgages. He does not indeed deny that the bills were drawn on him: he allows them to have been drawn, and actually sent to the Nabob: so far he contradicts his agent. But he seems not to know who it was that drew them. His own servant, Comera, dwindles, in his account, into an undescribable creature without a name; a black man to the southward, with whom the virtuous Mr. Benfield had indeed some mercantile concerns. In this statement, the fact of the drawing of the bills, and of their not being accepted by Mr. Benfield, are established. For the remaining points we have only the authority of the writer, and the mode of gaining a delicate point at Madras; the writer, it is to be remembered, a partisan; but the mode of gaining points at Madras, notorious, habitual, and altogether concordant with the assertion.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1177. The tone of the Rajah’s letter is indisputable; his assertions with regard to matters of fact are as much, or rather as little valuable, as those of the Nabob.
Papers, ut supra, p. 1197–1218. In giving an account, the next day, of the capture of the place, the English General writes to the Presidency: “The situation of the Rajah is truly pitiable, and likewise Monajee’s (the Generalissimo); I do therefore hope, as the place has fallen by the English arms, that the Honourable Board will exert their influence with his Highness, that those prisoners may be treated agreeable to the rank they once held in this country.” Ibid. p. 1218.
Consultation of the Governor and Council, 23d Sept. 1773; Papers, ut supra, p. 1226.
Vide supra, p. 81.
Papers ut supra, p. 1226, 1273, 1276, 1281, 1290, 1333, 1361.
Ibid. p. 1236.
Ibid. p. 1336.
Hist. and Management of the E. I. C. ch. viii,
General Letter to Fort St. George, 12 April, 1775; Papers, ut supra, p. 145.
Ibid, p. 146–149.
Ibid. p. 150, 151.
General Letter to Fort St. George, 12th April, 1775, Papers ut supra, p. 153–159.
Lord Pigot’s Narrative, &c.; Defence of Lord Pigot, p. 33.
In examining afterwards the conduct of the parties, a question was raised about the time of this resolution to arrest Lord Pigot. It appeared to have been taken, before the violence of Lord Pigot, in suspending the whole of the majority, and ordering the arrest of Sir Robert Fletcher. But the affidavits of the parties, who were prosecuted in England for the imprisonment of Lord Pigot, and which affidavits were not contradicted, affirmed, that the figure 8 indistinctly written and mistaken for 3, had been the source of the error; and that 8 o’clock, and not 3 p.m. was the time at which the resolution of the majority was taken.
Admiral Pigot declared, in the House of Commons, that his brother had been offered ten lacs of pagodas, and afterwards fifteen, a bribe, amounting to about 600,000l. of English money, only to defer, and that for a short and specified time, the reinstatement of the Rajah. See Parliamentary History, for the 16th of April, 1779, and Dodsley’s Annual Register, xxii.
See their affidavit, Howell’s State Trials, xxi. 1236.
Second Report of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781; and Parliamentary History, 1777, 1779, 1780; State of Facts relative to Tanjore, printed for Cadell, 1777; Tanjore Papers, printed for Cadell, 1777; Lord Pigot’s Narrative, with Notes of Mr. Dalrymple, &c.; Defence of Lord Pigot, drawn up by Mr. Lind; Case of the President and Council, fairly stated, &c. Almon, 1777; Proceedings against George Stratton and others (in Howell’s State Trials, vol. xxi.); Hist. and Management of the East India Company; Considerations on the Conquest of Tanjore, and the Restoration of the Rajah. The two last, both by the agents of the Nabob, were published by Cadell, in 1777. Genuine Memoirs of Asiaticus, in a series of letters to a friend, during five years residence in different parts of India, three of which were spent in the service of the Nabob of Arcot. By Philip Dormer Stanhope, Esq. p. 123–142.
Parliamentary History, vol. xx.; Howell’s State Trials, vol. xxi.
Fifth Report of the Committee of the House of Commous, 1810; Second Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781. App. No. 153.
Second Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781; Appendix, No. 153.
Second Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781; p. 16.
See Letter of 10th of January, 1781, quoted above.
Third report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781, p. 13, 14. Twelfth Resolution of Mr. Dundas, moved in the House of Commons, 25th April, 1782.
Second Report, ut supra, p. 21, 22.
These transactions are minutely detailed in the Second and Third Reports of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781; in the Appendixes to which the official documents are to be found.