Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIII. - The History of British India, vol. 6
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CHAP. XIII. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 6 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 6.
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Necessity inferred of curbing Holkar—Intercourse between Holkar and Scindia renewed—Governor-General resolves to take the Holkar Dominions, but to give them away to the Peshwa, Scindia, and the Nizam—Holkar retreats before the Commander-in-Chief, toward the South—The Commander-in-Chief withdraws the Army into Cantonments, leaving Colonel Monson with a Detachment in advance—Holkar turns upon Monson—Monson makes a disastrous Retreat to Agra—The British Army from Guzerat subdues Holkar's Dominions in Malwa—Holkar by a Stratagem attacks Delhi—Brave Defence of Delhi—The Holkar Dominions in Deccan subdued—Defeat of Holkar's Infantry at Deeg—Rout of his cavalry at Furruckabad—The Rajah of Bhurtpore, one of the allied Chieftains, joins with Holkar—Unsuccessful Attack upon the Fortress of Bhurtpore—Accommodation with the Rajah of Bhurtpore—Disputes with Scindia—Prospect of a War with Scindia—Holkar joins the Camp of Scindia—The British Resident ordered by the Commander-in-Chief to quit the Camp of Scindia—Scindia endeavours to prevent the Departure of the Resident—Marquis Wellesley succeeded by Marquis Cornwallis—Cornwallis's View of the State of the Government—Of Wellesley's System of subsidiary and defensive Alliance—Cornwallis resolves to avoid a War with Scindia, by yielding every Point in Dispute—To make Peace with Holkar by restoring all the Territories he had lost—To dissolve the Connexion of the British Government with the minor Princes on the Mahratta Frontier—Negotiations between Scindia and the Commander-in-Chief—Death of Lord Cornwallis—Sir G. Barlow adheres to the Plans of Lord Cornwallis—Holkar advances into the Country of the Seiks—Pursued by Lord Lake—A fresh Treaty concluded with Scindia—Treaty with Holkar—Financial Results.
When the English were freed from the burthenBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. and the dangers of the war with Scindia and the Rajah of Berar, they began to think of placing a curb on the power of Jeswunt Rao Holkar. Though Holkar had engaged, and upon very advantageous terms, to join with the other chieftains, he had abstained from co-operation in the war against the English; and though he had committed some ravages on a part of the Nizam's territory, toward the beginning of the war; the Governor-General had not held it expedient to treat this offence as a reason for hostilities: Holkar, on the other hand, had been uniformly assured that the English were desirous of preserving with him the relations of peace.
In the month of December, 1803, Holkar, having marched towards the territory of the Rajah of Jyenagur, took up a position which threatened the security of this ally of the British state. At the same time, he addressed letters to the British Commander-in-Chief, containing assurances of his disposition to cultivate the friendship of the British government. But a letter of his to the Rajah of Macherry, suggesting to him inducements to withdraw from the British alliance, was communicated by that Rajah to the Commander-in-Chief; further correspondence of a hostile BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.nature was discovered; and intelligence was received of his having murdered three British subjects in his service, on a false charge that one of them had corresponded with the Commander-in-Chief. It appeared imprudent to remove the army of the Commander-in-Chief from the field, till security was obtained against the projects of Holkar.
The determination which hitherto had guided the conduct of the Governor-General, that he would abstain from the dispute in the Holkar family respecting the successor of Tuckojee, still operated in his mind. And he authorized the Commander-in-Chief to conclude an arrangement with Jeswunt Rao, engaging, on the part of the British government, to leave him in the unmolested exercise of his authority, provided he would engage to abstain from all aggression upon the British or their allies.
The Commander-in-Chief addressed a letter to Holkar, dated the 29th of January, 1804, in conformity with the instructions which he had received; inviting him to send vakeels to the British camp for the purpose of effecting the amicable agreement which both parties professed to have in view; but requiring him, as a proof of his friendly intentions, to withdraw his army from its menacing position, and abstain from exactions upon the British allies. At the same time the British army advanced to Hindown, a position which at once commanded the principal roads into the Company's territory, and afforded an easy movement in any direction which the forces of Holkar might be found to pursue. On the 27th of February an answer from that chieftain arrived. It repeated the assurance of his desire to cultivate the friendship of the British government, and expressed his intention to withdraw from his present position, and send a vakeel to the British camp. In the mean time, however, letters were intercepted, addressed by Holkar toBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. subjects and allies of the British government, exciting them to revolt, and stating his design of sending troops to ravage the British territories. The Commander-in-Chief made an amicable reply to his letter; but warned him, at the same time, against the practices in which he had begun to indulge. And on the 16th of March two vakeels from Holkar arrived in the British camp.
They were commissioned to demand; 1. leave to collect the choute according to the custom of his ancestors; 2. certain possessions formerly enjoyed by his family, namely, Etawah, twelve pergunnahs in the Doab, one in Bundelcund, and the country of Hurriana; 3. the guarantee of the country which he there possessed; 4. a treaty similar in terms to that which had been concluded with Scindia. These demands were treated as altogether extravagant; and the vakeels, after receiving a remonstrance on the continuance of their master in his present threatening position, departed from the camp, bearing to him another letter from the Commander-in-Chief. In this, Holkar was invited to send again a confidential agent, with powers to conclude an arrangement on terms in which the British government would be able to concur. In the mean time, he had addressed a letter to General Wellesley; containing a demand of certain territories, which he said belonged to his family in Deccan; and intimating that, notwithstanding the greatness of the British power, a war with him would not be without its evils; for “although unable to oppose their artillery in the field, countries of many coss should be over-run, and plundered, and burnt; that they should not have leisure to breathe for a moment, and that calamities would fall on lacs of human beings in continued war by the attacks of BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.his army, which overwhelms like the waves of the sea.” An answer, however, to the letter of the Commander-in-Chief was received in the British camp on the 4th of April; still evading either acceptance or rejection of the simple proposition of the British Commander, and urging his pretensions to something like the terms he himself had proposed. That letter drew another from the Commander-in-Chief, applauding the forbearance of the British government, and assuring Holkar that he would best consult his own interest by complying with its demands.1
Holkar, though fully aware of the hatred towards him in the bosom of Scindia, was not deterred from the endeavour of opening a negotiation, or at any rate of giving himself the benefit of an apparent intrigue, with that chieftain. A vakeel of his arrived in the camp of Scindia, on the 5th of February, 1804. The account, which Scindia and his ministers thought proper to render of this event to the British resident in his camp, was liable to suspicion, on the one hand from the extreme duplicity of Mahratta councils, on the other from the extraordinary desire which appeared on the part of Scindia to produce a war between that rival and the British government. They said, that the vakeel had endeavoured to prevail upon Scindia to accommodate his dispute with Holkar, and form a union for the reduction of the British power, the continual augmentation of which could be attended with nothing less than the final destruction of the Mahratta state; but that the answer of Scindia was a positive refusal, on the professed grounds, of the treachery with which Holkar had violated his pledge to the late confederacy, the impossibility of confiding in any engagement intoBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. which he might enter, and the resolution of Scindia to adhere to his connexion with the British state. Notwithstanding this supposed reply, a vakeel from Scindia proceeded to the camp of Holkar, on the alleged motive that, unable as he was to resist the arms of that chieftain, it was desirable both to effect an accommodation with him, and to sound his inclinations. According to the representation made to the British resident, the vakeel was authorized to propose a continuance of the relations of amity and peace, but to threaten hostilities if depredations were committed on any part of the territory either of Scindia or his dependants.1
Scindia's vakeel arrived in Holkar's camp on the 3d of March. Previous to this time, Holkar had moved, with the main body of his troops, into Ajmere, a country belonging to Scindia. His pretence was devotion; but he levied contributions on the people, and made an attempt, though unsuccessful, to obtain possession of the fort. Notwithstanding a declaration to the British Commander-in-Chief, that he intended to proceed homewards from Ajmere, a portion of his army still remained on the frontier of the Rajah of Jyenagur, and no longer abstained from depredations on his country. The ministers of Scindia made report to the British resident, respecting the vakeel who had been sent to the camp of Holkar, that he had been received with distinguished ceremony and respect; that he was invited to a private conference; that Holkar, on this occasion, openly professed his design of making a predatory war upon the British possessions; that, when the vakeel expostulated BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.with him on his proceedings in Ajmere, he apologized, by stating his intention to leave his family with the Rajah of Jodepore when he commenced his operations against the English; the refusal of that Rajah to join with him, till he put him in possession of the province and fort of Ajmere; and thence his hope, that Scindia would excuse an irregularity, which not inclination, but necessity, in the prosecution of a war involving the independence of them both, had induced him to commit. Of this report, so much alone was fit for belief, as had confirmation from other sources of evidence.
The only matters of fact, which seem to have been distinctly ascertained, were, first, certain trifling depredations at Jyenagur, less material than those at Aurungabad which had been formerly excused, on the score of a necessity created by troops whom he was unable to maintain; secondly, a disposition to haggle for better terms, in forming a treaty, than the British government were willing to grant; and thirdly, the existence and character of him and his army, to whom predatory warfare was a matter, it was supposed, both of choice and necessity, as the plunder of the Company's territory was the only source of subsistence. On these facts and suppositions, with a strong disposition to believe reports, and to magnify grounds of suspicion, the Governor-General, on the 16th of April, issued orders to the Commander-in-Chief, and Major-General Wellesley, to commence hostile operations against Holkar, both in the north and in the south.1
In his despatch to the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors, dated 15th of June, 1804, the Governor-General says: “Jeswunt Rao Holkar beingBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. justly considered as an adventurer, and as the usurper of the rights of his brother Cashee Rao Holkar—consistently with the principles of justice no arrangement could be proposed between the British government and Jeswunt Rao Holkar, involving the formal sanction of the British government to that chieftain's usurpation, and to the exclusion of Cashee Rao Holkar from his hereditary dominions.”1 Yet these very dominions, thus declared to belong to Cashee Rao, the Governor-General had already resolved, without a shadow of complaint against Cashee Rao, to take, and give away to other persons. In his instructions to the British resident in the camp of Scindia, dated the 16th of April, 1804, he says; “His Excellency thinks it may be useful to you to be apprized, that it is not his intention, in the event of the reduction of Holkar's power, to take any share of the possessions of the Holkar family for the Company. Chandore, and its dependencies and vicinity, will probably be given to the Peshwa; and the other possessions of Holkar, situated to the southward of the Godavery, to the Subhadar of the Deccan: all the remainder of the possessions of Holkar will accrue to Scindia, provided he shall exert himself in the reduction of Jeswunt Rao Holkar.” In lieu of “his hereditary dominions,” which it was not pretended that he had done any thing to forfeit to the British government, “it will be necessary,” says the Governor-General in a subsequent paragraph, “to make some provision for Cashee Rao, and for such of the legitimate branches of the family as may not be concerned in the violation of the public peace, or in the crimes of Jeswunt Rao Holkar.”2
The motive which led the Governor-General to BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.decline a portion of the territory of Holkar for the Company, immediately after having taken for it so great a portion from Scindia; and to add so largely to the dominions of Scindia, immediately after having so greatly reduced them, is somewhat mysterious, if viewed through the single medium of national good; but is sufficiently intelligible, if we either suppose, that he already condemned the policy of his former measures, and thought an opposite conduct very likely to pass without observation; or, that, still approving the former policy, he yet regarded escape from the imputation of making war from the love of conquest, as a greater good, in the present instance, than the territory declined.
Scindia, we are told, was highly delighted, as well he might be, with the announcement of the intention of the Governor-General, both to commence hostilities upon Holkar, and to make such a division of the territory of the family. He promised to promote the war with his utmost exertions.
When Major-General Wellesley received instructions to begin hostilities, the Deccan was labouring under a scarcity approaching to famine. The principal possessions held for the benefit of Holkar in that quarter of India were; the fort and territory of Chandore, about 130 miles north of Poona; the fort and territory of Dhoorb, about twenty miles west by north from Chandore, on the same range of hills; Galna, a hill fort thirty-five miles north-north east of Chandore, and eighty-five miles from Aurungabad; some territory in Candeish; and a few districts intermixed with those of the Nizam. With the capture of the fortresses of Chandore and Galna, these territories would be wholly subdued. But to conduct the operations of an army, in a country totally destitute of forage and provisions, appeared to General Wellesley so hazardous, that he represented it as almost impossible for him to advance against Chandore till theBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. commencement of the rains. In the mean time, he augmented the force in Guzerat by three battalions of native infantry, and instructed Colonel Murray, the commanding officer, to march towards the territories of Holkar in Malwa, and, either by meeting and engaging his army, or acting against his country, to accelerate, as much as possible, his destruction.1
During the negotiation with Holkar, the Commander-in-Chief had advanced slowly toward the territory of the Rajah of Jyenagur. A detachment of considerable strength, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Ball, had occupied a position near Canore, about ninety miles south-west of Delhi, to guard in that direction the Company's frontier. To protect and encourage the Rajah of Jyenagur, whose territory Holkar, now returned from Ajmere, began to ravage, occupying a position which even threatened his capital, General Lake sent forward a detachment of three battalions of native infantry, under the command of the Honourable Lieutenant-Colonel Monson, on the 18th of April. This detachment arrived in the vicinity of Jyenagur on the 21st. On the morning of the 23d, Holkar decamped from his position, and began his march to the southward with great precipitation. Some parties of Hindustanee horse, under European officers, which the General had detached for the purpose of observing the motions of Holkar, and harassing his march, followed him in his retreat. A halt of two days, on the part of Holkar, induced the British commander, suspecting a feint, to advance with the army; while Monson, with his detachment, BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.was directed to precede the main body, as rapidly as possible. On the approach of the British forces, Holkar resumed his retreat, which he continued with great precipitation, till he arrived in the vicinity of Kolah. Here he had so far preceded the British troops, that he could halt without fear of an immediate attack. The Hindustanee horse, who had hung upon his rear, described his army as being in the greatest distress, the country remaining nearly desolate from its former ravages. A letter without date was received by the Commander-in-Chief, from Holkar, on the 8th of May, offering to send, according to his desire, a person duly authorized “to settle every thing amicably.” The Commander-in-Chief replied, “When I wrote you, formerly, that vakeels might be sent to confirm a friendship, conditions were specified, which you have not any way fulfilled; but have acted directly contrary to them. This had forced the British government to concert, with its allies, the necessary measures for subverting a power, equally inimical to all. This has been resolved upon. You will perceive that I cannot now enter into any bonds of amity with you, without consulting the allies of the British government.” The fort of Rampoora, which the British army were now approaching, was the grand protection of the northern possessions of Holkar. For the attack of this place, a detachment was formed, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Don. Having encamped before the place, this officer adopted the plan of entering the fort by blowing open the gates. He advanced to the assault, a little before day-break, on the morning of the 16th of May; and as a well-concerted plan was well executed, all resistance was speedily overcome, and the place was taken with inconsiderable loss.
The distance which Holkar had gained by his rapid flight, the improbability of forcing him to action, orBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. of his returning to the upper provinces, presented to the mind of the Commander-in-Chief the inexpediency of retaining the advanced position, which he now occupied, with the main body of his army. Only the British troops in Guzerat, in concert with those of Scindia, appeared capable, during the present season, of acting with advantage upon the territories of Holkar. He accordingly withdrew the army into cantonments within the British dominions, leaving Colonel Monson with injunctions to make such a disposition of his force as would preclude, in that direction, any sort of danger from Holkar's return.1
On the 21st of May, a body of predatory horse, estimated at five thousand, made an incursion into the province of Bundelcund, where seven companies of sepoys, a troop of native cavalry, and the park of artillery, detached, under the command of Captain Smith, from the main body of the troops in that province, were employed in the reduction of a fort, about five miles distant from Kooch. On the morning of the 22d this body of horse succeeded in cutting off a part of the British detachment which was posted in the pettah of the fort, and compelled the whole to retreat, with the loss of two howitzers, two twelve-pounders, one six-pounder, and all the tumbrils belonging to the park. The same party made an attempt afterwards upon the town of Calpee, and aimed at crossing the Jumna, but were repulsed with loss; and having afterwards sustained a defeat near Kooch, evacuated the province. The refractory Bundela chiefs still afforded considerable employment to the British army.2
On the 7th of July, Monson received intelligence, that Holkar, who, since his retreat before the Commander-in-Chief, had occupied a position in Malwa, having the Chumbul river between himself and the British detachment, had crossed that river with the whole of his army and guns. The force under Monson consisted of five battalions of sepoys, with artillery in proportion; and two bodies of irregular horse, about three thousand strong, the one British, under LieutenantBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. Lucan, the other a detachment sent by Scindia, commanded by a leader named Bappoojee Scindia. Monson was now advanced about fifty miles beyond the Mokundra pass, where he had expected to procure supplies, and to communicate with Colonel Murray, who was advancing from Guzerat towards Ougein. He made his first movement toward the spot where Holkar crossed the river, in the hope of being able to attack him, with advantage, before his troops recovered from the confusion which the passage of the river would be sure to produce. Afterwards, however, reflecting, that he had only two days grain in his camp, that part of his corps was detached to bring up grain, that one battalion of it was on the march to join him from Hinglais-Ghur, and that the enemy's cavalry was very numerous; expecting, also, to be joined by an escort, with treasure, for the use of his detachment; and having received accounts from Colonel Murray of his intention to fall back on the Myhie river, he determined to retire to the Mokundra pass. The whole of the baggage and stores was sent off to Soonarah, at four in the morning of the 8th. Monson remained on the ground of encampment till half-past nine, with his detachment formed in order of battle. No enemy having appeared, he now commenced his march; leaving the irregular cavalry, with orders to follow in half an hour, and afford the earliest information of the enemy's motions. The detachment had marched about six coss, when intelligence was received that the irregular cavalry, thus remaining behind, had been attacked and defeated by Holkar's horse; and that Lieutenant Lucan, and several other officers, were prisoners. The detachment continued its march, and, next day about noon, reached, unmolested, the Mokundra pass. On the morning of BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.the 10th, a large body of the enemy's cavalry appeared, and continually increased in numbers till noon the following day; when Holkar summoned the detachment to surrender their arms. A refusal being returned, he divided his force into three bodies, and made a vigorons attack on the front and flanks of the British corps. The position and steadiness of the troops enabled them to sustain reiterated onsets, persevered in till night, when Holkar drew off to a distance of two coss; and being joined by his infantry and guns, was expected to renew his attacks on the following morning. Monson, not regarding his position as tenable, and fearing lest the enemy should get in his rear, adopted the resolution of retiring to Kotah. Arrived at this place, on the morning of the 12th, after two marches, rendered excessively harassing by the rain, which fell in torrents, and the enemy who pursued them; the Rajah refused to admit them, and professed his inability to furnish any supplies. As the troops were suffering by want of provisions, the decision of Monson was, to advance to the ghaut or ford, of the Gaumus Nudde, only seven miles off. But the rain had fallen with great violence, since the 10th, and the soil was soft. The troops were unable, therefore, to reach the rivulet till the morning of the 13th, when it was found impassable. They halted on the 14th, to procure a supply of grain from a neighbouring village; and attempted, on the 15th, to continue the march; but it was found impossible to proceed with the guns. In hopes of an abatement of the rain, they made another halt. It rained during the whole of the night of the 15th; and, next morning, the guns had sunk so deep in the mud, as not to be extricable. The camp was without provisions; and all the neighbouring villages were exhausted. The detachment was under an absolute necessity to proceed Monson was therefore obliged to spike andBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. leave the guns, sending injunctions to the Rajah of Boondee to extricate, and remove them to a place of security. The country was so completely overflowed, that the troops could hardly march. The Chumbulee rivulet, which they reached on the 17th, was not fordable; on the 18th, the European artillerymen were crossed over on elephants, and sent on to Rampoora; on the 19th, the rivulet continued to swell; corn, with great difficulty, and some danger, was procured for two days; on the evening of the 21st, the camp of a body of the enemy's horse was successfully beaten up; on the 23d and 24th, a few rafts having been procured, three battalions of the detachment were moved across; the remainder, about seven hundred men, were attacked by a party of the enemy's horse, but able to repel them. On the morning of the 25th, after the whole of the detachment had been got over, not without loss, they moved in different corps, assailed as they passed, by the hill people and banditti, towards Rampoora, at which some of them arrived on the 27th, others not till the 29th.
At Rampoora, Monson was joined by two battalions of sepoys, a body of irregular horse, four six pounders, two howitzers, and a supply of grain, sent to his relief from Agra, by the Commander-in-Chief, as soon as he received intelligence of the disasters of the detachment. As the country, however, was destitute of provisions, as Holkar was advancing in considerable force, as Monson expected to be joined at Khoosul-Ghur by six battalions and twenty-one guns, under Sudasheo Bhow Bukshee, in the service of Scindia, and then to obtain provisions which would enable him to keep the field, he resolved to continue his march to that place, leaving a sufficient garrison for the protection of Rampoora.
During the retreat of this detachment, Colonel Murray, with the division of the British army from Guzerat, advanced into the heart of the Holkar dominions; and on the 24th of August took possession of the capital, Indore. The commander of BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.the troops which had been left for its protection retired without opposition.1
Upon the escape of Monson to Agra, Holkar advanced with the whole of his army to Muttra, situated on the right bank of the Jumna, about thirty miles from Agra; and took possession of the place. The Commander-in-Chief marched from Cawnpore on the 3d, arrived at Agra on the 22d of September, and proceeded immediately to Secundra, where he assembled the whole of the army under his personal command. On the 1st of October, he marched towards Muttra, from which as he advanced, Holkar retired, and planned an important stratagem. Leaving his cavalry to engage the attention of the British Commander, which they effectually did, he secretly dispatched his infantry and guns, for the execution of his destined exploit. On the night of the 6th, he encamped with his cavalry about four miles in front of the British position. Before daylight next morning General Lake moved out to surprise him. The General formed his army into three divisions; leaving the park, and an adequate force, for the protection of the camp; but Holkar was apprized of his approach, and retired too promptly to permit an attack. Early on the morning of the 8th, the infantry of that chieftain appeared before Delhi, and immediately opened a heavy cannonade. The garrison was small, consisting entirely of sepoys, and a small corps of irregular infantry; the place was extremely extensive; and the fortifications were in a ruinous state. Every thing promised a successful enterprise.
From the first notice of the enemy's approach, in that direction, the most judicious precautions had been taken, under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonels Ochterlony and Burn, the first acting as residentBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. in the city, the second commandant of the troops, to place the city in the best state of defence, which circumstances would permit. During the 8th, the distance from which the enemy fired prevented much execution. On the 9th, however, having erected a battery, within breaching distance, they demolished a part of the wall, and would have quickly effected a breach; when a sally was planned to check their progress. Two hundred sepoys, and 150 of the irregular corps, under the command of Lieutenant Rose, performed the exploit with great gallantry; took possession of the enemy's battery; spiked their guns; and threw them into so much confusion, that they fired upon their own people, who, flying from the assailing party, were mistaken for British troops. The principal operations from this time were carried on under cover of extensive gardens and adjoining ruins on the southern face of the fort; and they soon made a breach in the curtain between two of the gates. Measures, which were completed by the evening of the 12th, to preclude communication between the breach and the town, prevented their profiting by that advantage. But, on the 13th, appearances indicated the intention of a very serious attack. At daybreak on the 14th, the guns of the enemy opened in every direction. A large body of infantry advanced under cover of this cannonade, preceded by ladders, to the Lahore gate. They were received, however, with so much steadiness and gallantry, that they were driven back, leaving their ladders, with considerable confusion, and considerable loss. Inactive to a great degree, during the rest of the day, they made a show towards evening of drawing some guns to another of the gates; but took advantage of the night; and in the morning BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.their rear guard of cavalry at a distance was all that could be seen. As the number of the men, by whom Delhi was defended, was too small to admit of re-regular reliefs, or to make it safe for them to undress; provisions and sweetmeats were served out to them daily at the expense of government, “which,” according to the information of Colonel Ochterlony, “had the best effect upon their spirits.” That officer concludes his report with the following merited eulogium: “The fatigue suffered by both officers and men could be exceeded by nothing but the cheerfulness and patience with which it was endured; and it cannot but reflect the greatest honour on the discipline, courage, and fortitude of British troops, in the eyes of all Hindustan, to observe, that, with a small force, they sustained a siege of nine days, repelled an assault, and defended a city, ten miles in circumference, and which had ever, heretofore, been given up at the first appearance of an enemy at its gates.”1
About this period it was, that the Governor-General made his final arrangement respecting the maintenance and condition of Shah Aulum and his family. Over the city of Delhi, and a small portion of surrounding territory, a sort of nominal sovereignty was reserved to the Emperor. The whole was, indeed, to remain under the charge of the British resident; but the revenues would be collected, and justice administered, in the name of the Mogul. Beside the produce of this territory, of which the Emperor would appoint a duan, and other officers, to inspect the collection and ensure the application to his use, a sum of 90,000 rupees would be issued from the treasury of the resident at Delhi, for the expenses of himself and his family. But “in extending,” saysBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. the Governor-General, “to the royal family the benefits of the British protection, no obligation was imposed upon us, to consider the rights and claims of his Majesty Shah Aulum as Emperor of Hindustan; and the Governor-General has deemed it equally unnecessary and inexpedient, to combine with the intended provision for his Majesty and his household, the consideration of any question connected with the future exercise of the Imperial prerogative and authority.”1
Towards the end of June, the state of the country at that time rendering military operations impracticable in Deccan, Major-General Wellesley was called to Calcutta, to assist in the deliberation on certain military and economical plans; and surrendered the general powers, military and civil, with which he was invested. Before his departure, a portion of the troops in the field were made to return to Fort St. George and Bombay; leaving disposeable, in Deccan, two regiments of European infantry, four regiments of native cavalry, and thirteen battalions of sepoys. The principal part of this force, four regiments of native cavalry, two regiments of European infantry, six battalions of sepoys, with a battering train, and the common proportion of artillery and pioneers, were directed to assemble for active operations at Aurungabad, under the general command of Lieutenant-Colonel Wallace. Of the remaining seven battalions of sepoys, six were ordered to remain as a reserve; four at Poona and two at Hyderabad; and one was required as a garrison at Ahmednugger.2
Having completed his arrangements for action, Colonel Wallace marched from Foorkabad on the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.29th of September; and reached Chandore on the 8th of October. On the same day he detached a battalion with two 12 pounders, against a small fort, called Laussoolgaum, garrisoned by Holkar, and distant about tzwelve miles. The battalion met with a desperate resistance and lost its commander. A reinforcement was sent during the night, and the place was stormed the following morning. Wallace took possession, without resistance, of the pettah of Chandore on the evening of the 8th; on the 10th he had carried his approaches within three or four hundred yards of the gate of the fort, when the Kelledar, or governor, sent overtures of capitulation. The terms, permitting the garrison to depart with their private effects, were agreed upon, on the night of the 11th, and at ten on the morning of the 12th, the British troops were placed in possession of the fort. It was a place of great strength, being quite inaccessible at every part but the gate-way; and of considerable importance, as commanding one of the best passes in the range of hills where it stands. The fort of Dhoorb surrendered to a detachment on the 14th; the forts of Anchella, Jeewunta, and some minor posts, on the same range of hills, were evacuated; and Colonel Wallace, leaving a garrison in Chandore, began his march to Galna on the 17th. He arrived on the 21st; took possession of the pettah on the following morning; on the 25th two practicable breaches were made in the walls; and the storming parties were on the point of advancing, when the garrison offered to surrender. The reduction of Galna yielded possession of all the territories of Holkar in Deccan. Of those in Malwa the conquest was already completed, by Colonel Murray's detachment.1
On the 31st of October, that General, taking the reserve, his three regiments of dragoons, three regiments of native cavalry, and the mounted artillery, crossed the Jumna to pursue the cavalry of Holkar. At the same time Major-General Frazer, with the main body of the infantry, two regiments of native cavalry, and the park of artillery, was directed to move upon the infantry and artillery of Holkar, which had reached BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.the neighbourhood of Deeg, on the right bank of the Jumna. The object of this double movement was, to force both the cavalry and the infantry of Holkar to risk an action with the British troops, or to make him fly from Hindustan, under circumstances of so much ignominy and distress, as would have a disastrous effect upon the reputation of his cause.
General Lake arrived at Bhaugput on the 1st of November. On the second he performed a march of more than twenty-eight miles, and reached Kondellah. On the 3d he arrived at Saumlee, from which the enemy had decamped early in the morning.
Major-General Frazer marched from Delhi on the 5th of November, and arrived at Goburdun on the 12th, a place within three coss of the fort of Deeg. His force consisted of two regiments of native cavalry, his Majesty's 76th regiment, the Company's European regiments, six battalions of sepoys, and the park of artillery, in all about six thousand men. The force of the enemy was understood to amount to twenty-four battalions of infantry, a large body of horse, and 160 pieces of ordnance; strongly encamped, with their left upon Deeg, and a large jeel of water covering the whole of their front.
As the hour was late, and the General had little information of the enemy's position, he delayed the attack till morning. Having made his arrangements for the security of the camp, he marched with the army in two brigades at three o'clock in the morning; making a circuit round the water to the left, to enable him to come upon the right flank of the enemy. A little after day-break, the army was formed, in two lines; and attacked, and carried a large village on the enemy's flank. It then descended the hill, and charged the enemy's advanced party, under a heavy discharge of round, grape, and chain from their guns,BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. which they abandoned as the British army came up. General Frazer, whose gallantry animated every man in the field, was wounded, and obliged to be carried from the battle, when the command devolved upon General Monson. The enemy retired to fresh batteries as the British advanced. The whole of the batteries were carried for upwards of two miles, till the enemy were driven close to the walls of the fort. One body of them, drawn up to the eastward of the lower end of the lake, still retained a position, whence they had annoyed the British with a very destructive fire. Seeing the British troops, under cover of a fire from several pieces of cannon, moving round to their left, they made a precipitate retreat into the lake, where many of them were lost.
The British took eighty-seven pieces of ordnance in this battle, and lost in killed and wounded about 350 men. The enemy's loss, which was great, could only be conjectured. The remains of the army took shelter in the fortress of Deeg.
After the flight of Holkar with his cavalry from Saumlee, on the morning of the 3d, the Commander-in-Chief went after him with such expedition, as might allow him no time to ravage the country without risking an engagement with the British cavalry. On the 9th of November, that General arrived at Happer, which the enemy had left the preceding night, moving in the direction of Coorjah, with design, as was supposed, to re-cross the Jumna, in the neighbourhood of Muttra. General Lake arrived at Khass Gunge, on the 14th of November, when Holkar appeared to have taken the direct road to Futty Ghur. On the 16th, Lake arrived at Alygunge, distant about thirty-two miles from Futty Ghur. He halted only to refresh his men and horses, and, marching BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.with the cavalry early in the night, came up with the enemy before day-break. They were encamped close under the walls of Furruckabad, and taken by surprise. The execution done upon them was therefore prodigious; and their resistance inconsiderable. Several discharges of grape being given to them from the horse artillery, the cavalry advanced, and put them to the sword. Many of the horses were still at their picquets, when the British cavalry penetrated into their camp. From the 31st of October, when they departed from Delhi, the British troops had daily marched a distance of twenty-three or twenty-four miles; during the day and night preceding the attack, they marched fifty-eight miles; and from the distance to which they pursued the enemy, must have passed over a space of more than seventy miles before they took up their ground.
After allowing the troops to halt for two days, the British General again marched in pursuit of Holkar, who fled to the Jumna in great distress, and re-crossed it near Mohabun on the 23d, hastening to join the remainder of his army at Deeg. The Commander-in-Chief arrived at Muttra on the 28th; and joined the army at Deeg on the 1st of December On his march he received the melancholy intelligence, that the wound of General Frazer had proved mortal. The loss of that officer was felt as a national, and almost an individual, calamity, by every Briton in India.
Of the enemy's force, a considerable portion having thrown themselves into the town and fort of Deeg, and the remainder occupying a position under its walls, arrangements were taken for the reduction of the place. The battering train and necessary stores arrived from Agra, on the 10th; and ground was broken on the 13th. The possession of an eminence which commanded the town, and in some degree theBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. fortress itself, appeared of importance for the further operations of the siege. It was defended by a small fortification; the enemy had strongly entrenched themselves in its front; had erected batteries in the most commanding situations; and were favoured by the nature of the ground. The breach in the wall was practicable on the 23d; and arrangements were made to storm it, together with the entrenchments and batteries, during the night. The force destined for the attack was divided into three columns, and moved off in such a manner as to reach the different points of attack a little before twelve at night. The right column, under Captain Kelly, was ordered to force the enemy's batteries and trenches, on the high ground to the left of the town. The left column, under Major Radcliffe, was destined to carry the batteries and trenches on the enemy's right. The centre column formed the storming party, and was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Macrae. The whole service was performed with equal gallantry and success. “By means of the darkness of the night,” says the Commander-in-Chief, “the enemy was taken by surprise, and prevented from availing themselves of the advantages they possessed, or of making a very formidable resistance.” The loss of the British was not trifling, and that of the enemy very great. Overawed by this example of the audacity and success of the British troops, the enemy evacuated the town of Deeg on the following day; the fort, on the succeeding night; and fled in the direction of Bhurtpore, leaving nearly the whole of their cannon behind.1
The fort of Deeg belonged to Runjeet Sing, the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.Rajah of Bhurtpore. When the British, in the battle fought on the 13th, pursued the troops of Holkar under the walls of the fort, a destructive fire of cannon and musquetry was opened upon them by the garrison. The Rajah of Bhurtpore was one of the first of the chiefs in that part of India, who at the time when General Lake advanced against Scindia beyond the Jumna, made overtures for a combination with the British state. As he was one of the most considerable of the minor sovereigns in that part of India; and possessed great influence among the Rajahs of the Jaats; his accession to the British cause was treated as a fortunate event; and he was indulged with very advantageous terms. A treaty was concluded with him, by which the British government bound itself to protect his dominions; bound itself not to interfere in the smallest degree with the administration of his country; freed him entirely from the heavy tribute which he annually paid to the Mahratta powers; and of the surrounding districts, conquered from Scindia, annexed so much to the territories of the Rajah, as equalled in extent and value one third of his former dominions.
Notwithstanding these great advantages, and the Governor-General's system of defensive alliance, no sooner had Holkar assumed an attitude of defiance to the British Power, than Runjeet Sing manifested an inclination to join him. On the 1st of August, 1804, a secret agent of the Rajah, with letters to Holkar, was apprehended at Muttra, and discovery made of a treacherous correspondence. The Rajah, very soon after concluding his treaty with the British government, had exhorted Holkar to despise the British power, and offered to join him, on condition of receiving certain accessions of territory. During the same month in which this discovery was made, several complaints were addressed to him by the Commander-BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.in-Chief, on account of the little assistance received from him in providing for the war. In the intercepted correspondence, offence appeared to have been taken, by the Rajah, at the violent manner, in which the British resident at Muttra had decided some disputes respecting the traffic in salt; and some alarm was conveyed to his mind by a report that the English government was to introduce the English courts of justice into his dominions.
Upon reference of all these circumstances to the Governor-General, though he regarded them as ample proof of traitorous designs, he was yet disposed, on the present occasion, when his defensive system was upon its trial, to exercise an uncommon degree of lenity and forbearance. He imputed the offences of the Rajah and his son, to the corrupt intrigues of mischievous advisers; and said, that “the just principles of policy, as well as the characteristic lenity and mercy of the British government, required that a due indulgence should be manifested towards the imbecility, ignorance, and indolence of the native chiefs, who have been drawn into these acts of treachery and hostility, by the depravity and artifices of their servants and adherents.”1 And he instructed the Commander-in-Chief to warn the Rajah of his danger; to assure him that no design of interfering with his government was entertained by the British rulers; and to require him to break off immediately all communication with the enemies of the British state. Towards the end of October, the Commander-in-Chief complained to the Governor-General, that the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.Rajah had evaded his application for the troops, with which, according to the treaty, he was bound to assist the British government; while he had afforded to Holkar positive and material assistance. In reply, the Governor-General left the question of peace or war to be decided by the opinion of expediency which the Commander-in-Chief, with his more intimate knowledge of the circumstances, might be induced to form; still, however, remarking, that “if considerations of security should not require the punishment of Bhurtpore, those of policy suggested the expediency of forbearance, notwithstanding the provocation which would render such punishment an act of retributive justice.” The behaviour however of the garrison of Deeg, at the time of the battle fought under its walls, produced orders from the seat of government for the entire reduction of the Rajah, and the annexation of all his forts and territories to the British dominions. As Bappoojee Scindia, the officer who at the beginning of the war with Holkar commanded that detachment from the army of Scindia which co-operated with General Monson at the commencement of his retreat, and was one of the chieftains included in the list of those who under the operation of the late treaty, were to receive jaghires and pensions from the British government, had afterwards openly joined Holkar with the troops under his command; and Suddasheo Bhow, another of Scindia's officers, who had been sent to co-operate with Monson, had also joined the enemy, the Governor-General at the same time directed the Commander-in-Chief to proceed against them as rebels; try them by a court martial; and carry the sentence into immediate execution.1
The loss of Deeg was a tremendous blow to Holkar and the Rajah. The surrounding country immediatelyBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. submitted to the authority of the British government; and General Lake, having taken the requisite steps for securing the fort, and administering the country, moved from Deeg on the 29th of December. The army of Guzerat, under the command of Colonel Murray, had been ordered to advance from the southward, in the direction of Kotah, to intercept, if made by that route, the flight of Holkar into Malwa. This officer had reached the neighbourhood of Kotah by the end of December; and General Lake believed, if he could have made the Mahratta chieftain retreat in that direction, that he might have been effectually destroyed. But Holkar, though pursued from place to place, could not be driven from the Bhurtpore territories, so long as his infantry could find protection in the city of Bhurtpore, his cavalry, by its rapid movements, could elude all attacks, and supplies were derived from the resources of the Rajah. The reduction of Bhurtpore presented itself, therefore, to the Commander-in-Chief as, of necessity, the first of his future operations.
After being joined at Muttra by the King's 75th regiment, which he had summoned from Cawnpore, he arrived before the capital of the Rajah, on the 3d of January, 1805. The town of Bhurtpore, eight miles in extent, was every where surrounded by a mud wall of great thickness and height, and a very wide and deep ditch filled with water. The fort was situated at the eastern extremity of the town; and the walls were flanked with bastions, at short distances, mounted with a numerous artillery. The whole force of Runjeet Sing, and as many of the surrounding inhabitants as were deemed conducive to its defence, were thrown into the place; while the broken battalions of Holkar had entrenched themselves BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.under its walls. The British army, after driving the battalions from this position, with great slaughter, and the loss of all the artillery which they had been enabled to carry from Deeg, took up a position south-west of the town. The batteries were opened on the 7th of January. On the 9th a breach was reported practicable; and the General resolved to assault in the evening, as the enemy had hitherto stockaded at night the damage sustained by the wall in the course of the day. When the storming party arrived at the ditch, they found the water exceedingly deep. Over this difficulty they prevailed; and gained the foot of the breach. Here they made several gallant and persevering exertions; but all ineffectual: they were repulsed with a heavy loss, including Lieutenant-Colonel Maitland, the officer who bravely commanded in the assault.
The operations of the besiegers were immediately renewed, and a second breach was prepared on the 21st. It was deemed advisable to give the assault by day-light. The storming party moved out of the trenches, where they had been lodged for the purpose, a little before three o'clock in the afternoon. They were unable to pass the ditch; and, after being exposed for a considerable time to a fire which did great execution, were obliged to retire.
The want of military stores and provisions delayed the commencement of renewed operations, till the beginning of February, when the batteries were opened upon the wall, at some distance from the part which was formerly breached. On the 20th of the same month, the breach being as complete as it was supposed to be capable of being made, one column, composed of 200 Europeans, and a battalion of sepoys, was ordered to attack the enemy's trenches and guns outside the town: a second column, composed of 300 Europeans, and two battalions of sepoys, to attackBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. one of the gates; while a third, headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Don, and formed of the greatest part of the European force belonging to the Bengal army, and three battalions of sepoys, was to ascend the breach. The signal to be observed by the storming party was, the commencement of the attack by the first column on the enemy's trenches, a little before four o'clock in the afternoon. This column was successful, and got immediate possession of the enemy's guns. The second column was delayed by a party of the enemy's horse; and was exposed, by a mistake, it is said, of their guide, to a destructive fire from the town, which destroyed their ladders, and rendered ineffectual the attempt on the gate. The storming party was also delayed, according to the statement of the Commander-in-Chief, by circumstances, which he does not mention; and found the ditch so deep, that it was impossible to arrive at the breach. The troops, having attempted to ascend by the bastion, were repulsed with great slaughter, though the colours of one of the native regiments were planted within a short distance of the top.
As the Commander-in-Chief ascribed the failure to accidental obstructions and delays; as the storming party had nearly gained the summit of the bastion; and as he was informed, he says, that a few hours more battering would make the ascent there perfectly easy, he determined to make another attempt on the following day. The whole European part of the Bengal army, and the greater part of two King's regiments, with upwards of four battalions of native infantry, moved on to the attack, under Brigadier-General Monson, about three o'clock in the afternoon. “Discharges of grape, logs of wood, and pots filled with combustible materials, immediately,” says the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.report of the Commander-in-Chief, “knocked down those who were ascending; and the whole party, after being engaged in an obstinate contest for two hours, and suffering very severe loss, were obliged to relinquish the attempt and retire to our trenches.” The steepness of the ascent, and the inability of the assailants to mount, except by small parties at a time, were, it was said, the enemy's advantages.1
The guns of the British army had, in consequence of incessant firing, become for the most part unserviceable; the whole of the artillery stores were expended; provisions were exhausted; and the sick and wounded were numerous. It was therefore necessary to intermit the siege of Bhurtpore. One of the most remarkable, perhaps, of all the events in the history of the British nation in India, is the difficulty, found by this victorious army, of subduing the capital of a petty Rajah of Hindustan. The circumstances have not been sufficiently disclosed; for, on the subject of these unsuccessful attacks, the reports of the Commander-in-Chief are laconic. As general causes, he chiefly alleges the extent of the place, the number of its defenders, the strength of its works, and lastly the incapacity of his engineers; as if a Commander-in-Chief were fit for his office, who is not himself an engineer.
The Bombay army, from Guzerat, which had been directed to move towards Kotah, was afterwards commanded to join the Commander-in-Chief at Bhurtpore; where it arrived, on the 12th of February, and under Major General Jones, who had succeeded Colonel Murray, bore a full share in the succeeding operations.
During the detention of the army before the capital of Runjeet Sing, the cavalry under General SmithBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. had been employed in expelling Ameer Khan, an adventurer of Afghaun descent, who had found the means of collecting a predatory army, and made an incursion into the Company's territory. Before the preparations were completed for resuming the siege of Bhurtpore, this force returned, and might, it appeared to the Commander-in-Chief, be now advantageously employed in dislodging Holkar from the neighbourhood of Bhurtpore; and, if possible, expelling him from that quarter of India. At two o'clock in the morning of the 29th of March, he left his camp, with the whole of the cavalry and the reserve, intending to surprise the enemy about day-break. Colonel Don, with the reserve, moved directly upon their left, while the General himself made a circuit to their right, in the line in which it was expected they would fly from the attack on their left. They were so much however upon their guard, as to be secured by a timely flight from any considerable injury. In two days, it was heard, that they were again encamped within twenty miles of Bhurtpore. On the 1st of April, the Commander-in-Chief proceeded with the same force at midnight, for another chance of reaching them before they could take to flight. Though now passing the night in so much vigilance that they kept their horses saddled, they had not begun to march before the British force were within two hundred yards from them, and, having horses superior both in speed and strength, were able to perform upon them considerable execution, before they had time to disperse. So little did the enemy think of defending themselves, that of the British, in either of those onsets, not a man was lost.
In addition to other causes, which tended to reduce the power of Holkar, the most respectable of the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.chiefs who belonged to his army now came over with their followers to the English camp. The Rajah of Bhurtpore also, discovering the fallacy of the hopes which he had built upon Holkar, and dreading the effects of a renewed attack, began, soon after the suspension of operations, to testify his desire for reconciliation. Though an example to counteract the impressions made upon the minds of the people of Hindustan, by the successful resistance of the Rajah of Bhurtpore, might have appeared, at this time, exceedingly useful; yet some strong circumstances recommended a course rather of forbearance than of revenge. The season was very far advanced, and Bhurtpore might still make a tedious defence: The severity of the hot winds would destroy the health of the Europeans in the trenches, and affect even that of the natives: Great inconvenience was sustained from the continuance of Holkar in that quarter of India, from which it would be difficult to expel him, with Bhurtpore for a place of refuge and support: And, above all, it was necessary to have the army in a state of readiness to act against Scindia, who appeared on the point of renewing the war. The proposals of the Rajah, therefore, met the British rulers in a very complaint temper; and the terms of a new treaty were settled on the 10th of April, when the preparations for the renewal of the siege were completed, and the army had actually taken up its position at the place. As compensation for the expense which the Rajah, by his disobedience, had inflicted on the British government, he agreed to pay, by instalments, a sum of twenty lacs of Furruckabad rupees; and the additional territory, with which he had been aggrandized by the Company, was resumed. In other respects he was allowed to remain in the same situation in which he had been placed by the preceding treaty. The fort of Deeg was not indeed to be restored tillBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. after experience, for some time had, of his fidelity and friendship; but if that were obtained, a part of the compensation money would not be required.1
The conclusion of a treaty with Scindia, even his entering into the system of subsidiary defence, created no sense of tranquillity, no expectation of peace between him and the British government. Before the signature of the treaty of subsidiary alliance, a dispute had arisen about the fort of Gualior, and the territory of Gohud. The British government included these possessions in the construction of that article of the treaty which bound Scindia to all the engagements formed by the British government during the war, with any of the chiefs who had previously paid to him tribute or obedience. Scindia contended that they could not be included in that article by any just and reasonable construction; and also represented them as so important to himself that he could by no means retain his state and condition without them.
The behaviour of Ambajee Englah, or Ingliah, had produced even hostile operations, between the time of signing the treaty of peace, and signing the treaty of defensive alliance. After having separated his interests from those of Scindia, under whom he rented and governed the possessions in question, and after having formed engagements with the British government, on the terms which it held out, during the war, to every chief whom it found possessed of power; that versatile leader, as soon as he understood that peace was likely to be concluded with Scindia, renounced his engagements with the English, and endeavoured to prevent them from obtaining possession of the fort BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.and districts which he had agreed to give up. The Commander-in-Chief sent troops, and seized them.
The disputes on the subject of Gualior and Gohud began on the 17th of February, 1804; and were pressed, with infinite eagerness, by the ministers of Scindia. They did not prevent the signature of the defensive treaty, because the Mahratta ministers declared, that, how much soever convinced of his right, and how deeply soever his interests would be affected by the alienation of that right, their master would not allow it to disturb the relations of peace so happily established; but would throw himself on the honour and generosity of the British chiefs. They argued and contended, that the article of the treaty which bound him to the engagements, formed with his dependants and tributaries by the British government, could only refer to such chiefs as the Rajahs of Jodepoor and Jyepoor, or, at any rate, to Zemindars and Jaghiredars; that Gohud was the immediate property of the Maha Rajah; that it was absurd to talk of a Rana of Gohud; as no such person was known; as all the pretensions of that family were extinct, and the province had been in the immediate and absolute possession of Scindia and his predecessor for thirty years; that no right could be justly founded on the revival of an antiquated claim, in favour of some forgotten individual of an ancient family; and that it was not for the interest of the British government, any more than of Scindia, to call in question the foundations of actual possession, since a great part of all that belonged to both was held by neither a more ancient, nor a more valid title, than that which Scindia possessed to the territory of Gohud. As for the fort of Gualior, it was not so much, they affirmed, as a part of Gohud; it was a fortress of the Mogul, granted to Scindia, of which the Rana of Gohud, even when such a personage existed, could be regarded as no more than theBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. Governor, nominated by Scindia, and employed during his pleasure. The English affirmed, that as the operation of the treaty extended, by the very terms, to all the territories of Scindia, excepting those “situated to the southward of the territories of the Rajahs of Jyepoor, Jodepoor, and the Rana of Gohud,” it was evident, that it was meant to apply to those of the Rana of Gohud; that if the possession in question had not passed to the English, by treaty with the parties to whom they were now consigned, they would have passed to them by conquest; as the army, after the battle of Lasswaree, was actually moving towards Gohud and Gualior, when Ambajee Ingliah, against whom the heir of the family of the Rana of Gohud had been acting, in aid of the British government, with a considerable body of troops, concluded a treaty, by which they were surrendered.
It would appear, that General Wellesley believed there was weight in the arguments of Scindia. In the answer which he returned to Major Malcolm, when that officer made communication to him of the conclusion of the treaty of defensive alliance, which he negotiated with Scindia: “It appears,” he remarked, “that Scindia's ministers have given that Prince reason to expect that he would retain Gualior; and, I think it possible, that, considering all the circumstances of the case, his Excellency the Governor-General may be induced to attend to Scindia's wishes upon this occasion. At all events, your dispatches contain fresh matter, upon which it would be desirable to receive his Excellency's orders, before you proceed to make any communication to Scindia's Durbar, on the subject of Gualior.”
The Governor-General continued steadfastly to consider the arrangement which he had made respecting BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.Gualior and Gohud, as necessary to complete his intended plan of defence, by a chain of allied princes and strong positions between the British and Mahratta frontiers. Scindia, after a fruitless contest, was obliged to submit; and on the 21st of May, 1804, he received in public Durbar, the list of treaties to which he was required to conform.
The apparent termination of this dispute by no means introduced the sentiments of friendship between the two governments. In a letter, dated the 18th of October, 1804, which was addressed, in the name of Scindia, to the Governor-General, various complaints were urged, “tending,” says the British ruler, “to implicate the justice and good faith of the British ruler, to implicate the justice and good faith of the British government, in its conduct towards that chieftain.”
First of all, the British government had used him ill in regard to money; for, whereas the losses to which he had recently been exposed had deprived him of the pecuniary means necessary to bring his forces into the field, the English had disregarded his earnest applications for the sums necessary to enable him to co-operate in the subjugation of Holkar; the consequence of which was, that when he sent two chiefs, Bappojee Scindia, and Suddasheo Bhow, to join the army under General Lake, as that General would afford them no money, they were soon obliged to separate from him, in order to find a subsistence, and even to effect a temporary and feigned conjunction with the enemy, to avoid destruction, either by his arms, or by the want of subsistence.
Secondly, the British government had used him ill, in respect to Gualior and Gohud; which had long formed part of his immediate dominions, and were not included in the list, delivered to General Wellesley, of the places which he ceded by the treaty of peace.
Fourthly, the lands which were to be restored, as the private property of Scindia, had not yet been given up; and the pensions, and other sums, which were agreed for, had not been regularly paid.
Fifthly, the British government had not afforded to his dominions that protection which, by treaty, they owed; for even when Colonel Murray was at Oujein, Holkar had besieged the fort of Mundsoor, and laid waste the surrounding country; while Meer Khan, the Afghaun, who was a partisan of Holkar, had captured Bheloa, and plundered the adjoining districts.
At the time of the date of this letter, Scindia had moved from Boorhanpore, and reached the Nerbudda, which his army was already beginning to cross. In compliance with the urgent remonstrances of the British government, he professed the intention of repairing to the capital of his dominions, and undertaking the regulation of his affairs. In reality, he took the direction of Bhapaul: and, with or without his consent, two signal enormities took place. Some of his troops plundered Sangur, a city and district pertaining to the Peshwa; and a party of his irregular troops attacked and plundered the camp of the British resident. At the time when this outrage was committed, the British force in Bundelcund had been summoned, by the Commander-in-Chief, to reinforce the main army at Bhurtpore, which had suffered a material reduction in the late unsuccessful attempts. BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.The army from Bundelcund was on its march, and had arrived at Gualior, when, late in the evening, hircarrahs came in with intelligence of the violation of the British residency, in Scindia's camp. The greatest alarm was excited. The route through Bundelcund into Allahabad, from Allahabad to Benares, and from Benares to Calcutta, was denuded of all its troops; and there was nothing to oppose the progress of Scindia, through the heart of the British dominions, to Calcutta itself. It immediately suggested itself to the minds of the British officers, that Scindia had resolved to avail himself of the fortunate moment, when the British troops were all withdrawn to the disastrous siege of Bhurtpore, to perform this brilliant exploit; and that the violation of the residency was the first act of the war. Under this impression, it was resolved to march back the army of Bundelcund to Jansee, which lay on the road by which it was necessary for Scindia to pass. Scindia proceeded rather in a contrary direction, towards Narwa. The probability is, that Serjee Rao Gautka, his minister, and father-in-law, committed the outrage upon the British residency, in hopes to embroil him beyond remedy with the British government, and thus to ensure the war to which he found it so difficult to draw the feeble and irresolute mind of his Prince; while the promptitude with which the British force was again opposed to his march into the British dominions maintained, in his mind, the ascendancy of those fears which the minister found it so hard to subdue. A spirited prince might have made a very different use of his opportunity.
The letter which contained the complaints of Scindia was conveyed in so tedious a mode, that four months elapsed before it was delivered at Calcutta; nor was the answer penned till the 14th of April, 1805. The Governor-General had satisfactory argumentsBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. with which to repel the several allegations of Scindia; though he allowed that the Rajah of Jodepore had refused to abide by the stipulations contracted with the British government; which, therefore, would not interfere between him and Scindia. He then proceeded to give a list of offences, thirteen in number, with which Scindia was chargeable toward the British state.
First, after remaining at Boorhanpore, till towards the end of the year 1804, Scindia, instead of proceeding to his capital, in conformity with the pressing instances of the resident, and his own repeated promises, for the purpose of co-operating with the British government, directed his march toward the territory of Bhapaul, where he was not only remote from the scene of utility, but positively injurious, by alarming and robbing one of the British allies.
Secondly, notwithstanding the repeated remonstrances of the resident, a vakeel of Holkar was allowed to remain in Scindia's camp; and Scindia's minister maintained with him a constant clandestine intercourse.
Thirdly, Scindia's officers, at Oujein, instead of yielding any assistance to the operations of Colonel Murray, had obstructed them.
Fourthly, two of Scindia's commanders had deserted from the British army, and had served with the enemy during almost the whole of the war.
Fifthly, Scindia, notwithstanding his complaint of the want of resources, had augmented his army as the powers of the enemy declined, thereby exciting a suspicion of treacherous designs.
Sixthly, the heinous outrage had been committed of attacking and plundering the camp of the British resident, without the adoption of a single step towards BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.compensation, or atonement, or even the discovery and punishment of the offenders.
The remaining articles in the list were either of minor importance, or so nearly, in their import, coincident with some of the articles mentioned above, that it appears unnecessary to repeat them.
The Governor-General declared; “By all these acts, your Highness has manifestly violated, not only the obligations of the treaty of defensive alliance, but also of the treaty of peace.” According to this declaration, it was the forbearance alone of the British government, which prevented the immediate renewal of war.
The next step, which was taken by Scindia, produced expectation that hostilities were near. On the 22d of March, 1805, he announced, officially, to the British resident, his resolution of marching to Bhurtpore, with the intention of interposing his mediation, for the restoration of peace, between the British government and its enemies. “To proceed,” says the Governor-General, “at the head of an army to the seat of hostilities, for the purpose of interposing his unsolicited mediation, was an act not only inconsistent with the nature of his engagements, but insulting to the honour, and highly dangerous to the interests, of the British government.” In the instructions, however, which the Governor-General issued upon this emergency, he was extremely anxious to avoid the extremity of war, unless in the case of actual aggression. But he deemed it necessary, to make immediate arrangements for seizing the possessions of Scindia, if that chieftain should proceed to extremities. Colonel Close was vested with the same powers which had formerly been confided to General Wellesley; and orders were issued to the officers commanding the subsidiary force at Poona, and at Hyderabad, to occupy, with their troops, theBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. positions most favourable for invading the southern dominions of Scindia. The force in Guzerat, which had been weakened by the detachment sent to co-operate in the war against Holkar, was reinforced, with a view as well to defence, as to seize whatever belonged to Scindia in Guzerat, and its vicinity. Upon some further disclosure of the hostile, or, at least, the unfriendly councils of Scindia, the Commander-in-Chief was instructed to oppose the march to Bhurtpore, as what, “under all the circumstances of the case, constituted not only a declaration of war, but a violent act of hostility.”
The Governor-General, in the event of a war, now resolved to reduce the power of Scindia to what he calls “the lowest scale.” He observes, that the principle of compensation, which had regulated the terms of the former treaty, “had proved inadequate to the purposes of British security, and that the restraints imposed by the provisions of the treaty of peace upon Dowlut Rao Scindia's means of mischief were insufficient—that another principle of pacification must therefore be assumed; that Scindia must not be permitted to retain the rights and privileges of an independent state; nor any privileges to an extent that might at a future time enable him to injure the British or their allies; and that the British government must secure the arrangement by establishing a direct control over the acts of his government—experience having sufficiently manifested, that it was in vain to place any reliance on the faith, justice, sincerity, gratitude, or honour of that chieftain”—he might have added, or any chieftain of his nation, or country.
No declaration can be more positive and strong of the total inefficacy of the system of defensive alliance. BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.As there is here a declaration of what was not sufficient for British security, namely, the system of defensive alliance, so there is a declaration of what alone is sufficient, namely, the total prostration and absolute dependance of every surrounding power. This, however, we have more than once had occasion to observe, is conquest—conquest in one of the worst of its shapes: worst, both with respect to the people of India, as adding enormously to the villanies of their own species of government, instead of imparting to them the blessings of a better one; and the people of England, as loading them with all the cost of governing and defending the country, without giving them all the revenues.
Scindia continued his march to the northward, and on the 29th of March had advanced with all his cavalry and Pindarees to Subbulghur, on the river Chumbul, leaving his battalions and guns in the rear. His force at this time was understood by the British government to consist of eight or nine thousand cavalry, 20,000 Pindarees, and nominally eighteen battalions of infantry with 140 guns, all in a very defective state of discipline and equipment. On the 31st of March he had advanced about eighteen miles in a north-easterly direction from Subbulghur. Here he was joined by Ambajee; and the British resident in his camp, understanding that it was his intention to cross the Chumbul with his cavalry and Pindarees, leaving the bazars and heavy baggage of the army under the protection of Ambajee, requested an audience. His object was to represent to Scindia the impropriety of crossing the Chumbul, and the propriety of waiting for Colonel Close, who was expected soon to arrive on an important mission from the capital of the Rajah of Berar. The propositions of the British agent were received with the most amicable professions on the part of Scindia and his ministers; whoBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. represented, that the embarrassment of his finances was so great as to prevent him from returning to effect the settlement of his country; that his march towards Bhurtpore was intended solely to accelerate the arrival of peace; but that, if the British government would make any arrangement for the relief of his urgent necessities, he would regulate his proceedings agreeably to its desires. A copy of a letter to the Governor-General was also read, in which reparation was promised for the outrage on the resident's camp.
This conference, when reported to the Governor-General, appeared to him to indicate a more submissive turn in the councils of Scindia: the resident was accordingly instructed, to inform the chieftain, that the atonement offered for the outrage was accepted; that the distresses of his government would be relieved by pecuniary aid, if he would act in co-operation with the British government; and that he could do this, only by returning to the southward, and employing himself in the seizure of the remaining possessions of Holkar in Malwa.
On the 2d of April Scindia marched about eight miles in a retrograde direction towards Subbulghur; leaving the whole of his baggage and bazars under the charge of Ambajee. On the 3d, the resident was visited by Scindia's vakeel, whose commission was, to importune him on the subject of pecuniary relief. A discussion ensued on the two points, of receiving money, and deferring the declared intention of crossing the Chumbul and proceeding to Kerowly, till the arrival of Colonel Close. The result was, an agreement on the part of Scindia, to return and wait at Subbulghur, and on that of the British resident to afford a certain portion of pecuniary aid.
On the 11th, General Lake received a letter from the said minister, who had arrived at Weir, a town situated about fifteen miles S.W. of Bhurtpore, stating that, as the British resident in the camp of Scindia had expressed a desire for the mediation of his master, he had commanded him to proceed for that purpose to Bhurtpore. The British General replied, that, peace having been concluded with the Rajah of Bhurtpore, the advance of the minister of Scindia was unnecessary, and might subvert the relations of amity between the British government and his master, to whom it was highly expedient that he should return. Notwithstanding this, he advanced on the 12th, with a small party of horse, within a few miles of Bhurtpore, whence he transmitted a message to the Rajah, soliciting a personal conference, which the Rajah declined. The minister then returned to Weir. Holkar, who had been obliged, on the submission of the Rajah, to leave Bhurtpore, joined him, at this place, with three or four thousand exhausted cavalry, nearly the whole of his remaining force; and both proceeded towards the camp of Scindia at Subbulghur.
The advance of the minister, immediately after the master had agreed to halt, the Governor-General regarded as an evasion and a fraud. The conduct of Scindia, and some intercepted letters, taken from an agent of Scindia dispatched to Holkar toward BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.the close of the month of March, convinced the Governor-General of a coincidence in the views of these two chiefs. And, whether they united their forces for the sake of obtaining better terms of peace, or for the purpose of increasing their abilities for war; as it would be of great importance for them, in either case, to prevent an accommodation between the British government and Runjeet Sing, it was not doubted, that the design of Scindia to proceed to Bhurtpore had that prevention for its end. On the 11th, the 14th, and the 15th of April, Bappojee Scindia, Ameer Khan, and Holkar, respectively, joined the camp of Scindia, who offered to the British resident a frivolous pretext for affording a cordial reception to each. He affirmed that Holkar, who had determined, he said, to renew his invasion of the British territories, had, in compliance with his persuasions, abandoned that design, and consented to accept his mediation for the attainment of peace.
On the 21st of April, the Commander-in-Chief, with the whole of his army, moved from Bhurtpore, toward the position of the united chiefs; and signified his desire to the British resident, that he would take the earliest opportunity of quitting Scindia's camp. The necessity of this measure appeared to him the stronger from a recent event. Holkar had seized the person of Ambajee, for the purpose of extorting from him a sum of money; an audacity to which he would not have proceeded, in the very camp of Scindia, without the consent of that chieftain, and a perfect concurrence in their views.
On the 27th, in consequence of instructions from the Commander-in-Chief, the British resident solicited an interview with Scindia; and he thought proper to give notice that the object of it was, to require the return of Scindia from the position which he then occupied, and his separation from Holkar. TheBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. evening of the same day was appointed; but, when it arrived, the attendance of the resident was not demanded. All that day, and the succeeding night, great alarm and confusion prevailed in Scindia's camp; for it was reported that the British army was near. On the morning of the 28th, Scindia and Holkar, with their respective forces, began to retreat with great precipitation; and pursued a difficult march, for several days, during which heat and want of water destroyed a great number of men, to Sheopore, a town in the direct route to Kotah, and distant from that place about fifty miles.
The resolution, which this retreat suggested to the Governor-General, was, “To adopt the necessary measures for cantoning the army at its several fixed stations. In his judgment,” he says, “this measure, properly arranged, might be expected to afford sufficient protection to the British possessions even in the event of war; and the best security for the preservation of peace would be” (not the system of defensive alliance, but) “such a distribution of the British armies as should enable them to act against the enemy with vigour and celerity, if Scindia should commence hostilities, or Holkar again attempt to disturb the tranquillity of the British territories. At the same time this arrangement would afford the means of effecting a material reduction of the heavy charges incident to a state of war.” Yet he had argued, in defence of the former war, that to keep the British army in a state of vigilance would be nearly as expensive as a state of war.
On the 10th of May, Scindia and Holkar re-commenced their retreat to Kotah; while the demand was still evaded of the English resident for leave to depart from Scindia's camp. The opinion, entertained by the Governor-General of the state of Scindia'sBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. councils, at the time when he arranged the cantonment of the British troops, is thus expressed, in his own words: “The weakness and the indolence of Scindia's personal character, combined with his habits of levity and debauchery, have gradually subjected him to the uncontrolled influence of his minister, Serjee Rao Ghautka, a person of the most profligate principles, and whose cruelty, violence, and abandoned conduct, have rendered him odious to whatever remains of respectable among the chiefs attached to Scindia. Ghautka's personal views, and irregular and disorderly disposition, are adverse to the establishment of Scindia's government upon any settled basis of peace and order. Ghautka is therefore an enemy to the treaty of alliance subsisting between Dowlut Rao Scindia and the Honourable Company. Under the guidance of such perverse councils the interests of Dowlut Rao Scindia have actually been sacrificed by Ghautka to those of Jeswunt Rao Holkar; and it appears by the report of the acting resident, contained in his despatch of the 9th of May, that in the absence of Serjee Rao Ghautka, the functions of the administration are actually discharged by Jeswunt Rao Holkar.”
With respect to Holkar, the Governor-General was of opinion, that his turbulent disposition and predatory habits would never allow him to submit to restraint, “excepting only in the last extremity of ruined fortune:” And that, as no terms of accommodation, such as he would accept, could be offered to him, without the appearance of concession, no arrangement with him ought to be thought of, except on terms previously solicited by himself, and such as would deprive him of the means of disturbing the possessions of the British government and its allies.
About the beginning of June, the confederate chieftains proceeded in a westerly direction towards Ajmere. For the countenance or aid they had received, or might be expected to receive, in that quarter, from the petty princes who had entered into the Governor-General's system of alliance, that Governor provided the following legitimate apology. “The conduct of the petty chiefs of Hindostan, and of the Rajpoot states, must necessarily be regulated by the progress of events. None of those chiefs possesses singly the power of resisting the forces of the confederates, and any effectual combination among those chiefs is rendered impracticable by the nature of their tenures, by their respective views and prejudices, and by the insuperable operation of immemorial usages and customs. They are therefore compelled to submit to exactions enforced by the vicinity of a superior force, and their preservation and their interests are concerned in supporting the cause of that power, which, engaged in a contest with another state, appears to be successful, and in abstaining from any opposition to either of the belligerent powers which possesses the means of punishing their resistance.2 In contracting alliances with the petty states of Hindostan the British government has never entertainedBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. the vain expectation of deriving from them the benefits of an active opposition to the power of the Mahratta chieftains, or even of an absolute neutrality, excepting under circumstances which should enable us to protect them against the power of the enemy. At the same time the actual or expected superiority and success of the confederates can alone induce those states to unite their exertions with those of the enemy in active operations against the British power.” It is not easy to see, what utility could exist in alliances, of which these were to be the only results.
In the early part of June, intelligence was transmitted to the Governor-General by the resident in Scindia's camp, whom Scindia, in spite of reiterated applications, had still detained, of the probability of an important change in the councils of that chieftain, by the dismission of Serjee Rao Ghautka, the minister, and the appointment of Ambajee in his stead. Though it appeared that the ascendancy of Holkar in the councils of Scindia was the cause of the expected change, the Governor-General was disposed to believe that it increased all the probabilities of a speedy dissolution of the confederacy; as Ambajee, it was likely, would favour the projects of Holkar no longer than necessity required.
On the 17th of June, the acting resident delivered to Scindia a letter from the Commander-in-Chief, declaring, that if he were not permitted to quit the camp in ten days, the relations subsisting between the two states would be regarded as no longer binding on the British government. In some supposed inconsistency in the letters of the Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief Scindia found a pretext for delay, requiring time to apply for elucidation to the Commander-in-Chief.
On the 27th of June, the last of the days allowed to precede the departure of the resident agreeably to the demand of the Commander-in-Chief, he was visited by one of the principal servants of Scindia. The object of the conference was, to prevail upon the resident to wave his demand of dismission. On this occasion, the strongest professions of amicable intentions with respect to the British government were made on the part of Scindia; and his extreme reluctance to part with the resident was ascribed to the appearance which would thence arise of enmity between the states; while he would by no means allow, that detention could be considered as a sufficient motive for war.1
Thus stood the relations between the British state and the Mahratta chiefs, when the Marquis Cornwallis arrived in India. In the month of December, 1803, the Marquis Wellesley had notified to the Court of Directors his intention of resigning the government of India, and of returning to Europe, as soon as the negotiations with Dowlut Rao Scindia, and the Rajah of Berar, should be conducted to a conclusion. The hostilities, in which the Company became involved with Holkar, induced him to deferBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. the execution of his intentions; and, even in the month of March, 1805, though he expressed his increasing solicitude, in the declining state of his health, to be relieved from the cares and toils of government, and to return to a more genial climate, he declared his resolution not to abandon his post, till the tranquillity and order of the British empire in India should rest on a secure and permanent basis.1 Before this time, however, measures had been contemplated in England for a change in the administration of India. The Directors, and the Ministry themselves, began to be alarmed at the accumulation of the Indian debt, and the pecuniary difficulties which pressed upon the Company. Lord Wellesley was regarded as a very expensive and ambitious ruler; the greater part of his administration had been a scene of war and conquest; war and conquest in India had been successfully held forth to the British nation, as at once hostile to the British interests, and cruel to the people of India; with a ruler, possessing the dispositions of Lord Wellesley, it was supposed, that the chances of war would always outnumber the chances for peace; the popular voice, which often governs the cabinets of princes, ascribed a character of moderation and sageness to the Marquis Cornwallis; and to those who longed for peace and an overflowing exchequer in India it appeared, that the return of this nobleman would afford a remedy for every disorder. Though bending under years and infirmities, his own judgment, and that of the parties on whom the choice depended, succeeded in sending him, in the prospect, to a probable, in the event, to an actual, grave.
The extent of the condemnation, thus speedily pronounced on the policy of his predecessor, was somewhat equivocal. The meaning might be, either that so much success had already been gained in the contest, that no further success would be of any advantage; or, that it was a contest, in which from the beginning “the most brilliant success could afford no solid benefit.”
Lord Cornwallis lost no time in commencing his journey to the upper provinces. In a letter of his, dated on the river, August 9th, 1805, he informed the Court of Directors, that “one of the first objects to which his attention had been directed, was, an inquiry into the state of their finances. The result,” he says, “of this inquiry affords the most discouraging prospects; and has convinced me, that unless some very speedy measures are taken to reduce our expenses, it will be impossible to meet with effect the contingency of a renewed war with Scindia and those powers who may be disposed to confederate withBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. him.” The only source of relief to which it appeared that he could have immediate recourse, was the reduction of as many as possible of the irregular troops.
Among the measures of Lord Wellesley, already described, for reducing the power of the Mahratta princes at the commencement of the war, was that of encouraging, by offers of engagement in the British service, the officers employed by those princes, to desert with their troops. The number of those who came over to the British service became at last very considerable; and the expense exceedingly severe. Measures had been taken to lessen the burthen, before the close of the late administration; and the expense had been reduced from the sum of 5,83,669 rupees per month, to that of 3,90,455. The expense appeared, and with justice, in so very serious a light to Lord Cornwallis, that the troops in question he declared, “would certainly be less formidable if opposed to the British government in the field, than while they remained so distressing a drain upon its resources.” A formidable impediment however opposed the dismission even of those to whom the faith of the government was in no degree pledged; because their pay was several months in arrear, as well as that of the rest of the army, and there was no money in the treasury for its discharge. In this exigency the Governor-General resolved to retain the treasure which the Directors had sent for China; and apprised them of this intention by his letter, dated on the 9th of August. In another letter, dated on the 28th of the same month, he says, “I have already represented to your Honourable Committee, the extreme pecuniary embarrassments in which I have found this government involved: every part of the army, and every branch of the public departments attacked to it, even in BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.their present stationary positions are suffering severe distress from an accumulation of arrears; and if, unfortunately, it should become indispensably necessary to put the troops again in motion, I hardly know how the difficulties of providing funds for such an event are to be surmounted.”1
The next part of the late system of government, in which the Governor-General thought it necessary to interfere, was the scheme of alliances. On that subject his sentiments differed widely from those of the ruler who had gone before him.
In a letter dated the 20th of July, 1805, Colonel Close, resident at Poona, had stated to the Governor-General, that he had obtained an interview with one of the principal officers of the Peshwa's government, “with whom,” says he, “I conversed largely on the present distracted conduct of the Poona government; pointing out to him, that, owing to the want of capacity and good intention on the part of the Dewan, the Peshwa, instead of enjoying that case of mind and honourable comfort, which his alliance with the British government was calculated to bestow upon him, was kept in a constant state of anxiety, either by remonstrances necessarily made to his Dewan by the British resident, or by the disobedience and wicked conduct of the persons placed by the Dewan in the civil and military charge of his Highness's territories, which, instead of yielding a revenue for his Highness's treasury, went only to maintain a set of abandoned men, whose first object is obtaining authority to assemble hands of freebooters, and who then, acting for themselves, hold his Highness's government at defiance.”
The Governor-General alludes to certain circumstances: BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.but the question is, whether these very circumstances are not the natural result of such an alliance, not with the Peshwa exclusively, but any one of the native states; and whether there is any rational medium between abstinence from all connexion with these states, and the avowed conquest of them; the complete substitution, at once, of the British government to their own wretched system of mis-rule.
The Governor-General recurs to his former opinions respecting the impolicy of all connexion with the Mahratta states; opinions of which the reason was not confined to the Mahratta states; and he says, “It must be in your recollection, that, during Marquis Cornwallis's former administration, his Lordship foreseeing the evils of mixing in the labyrinth of Mahratta politics, and Mahratta contentions, sedulously avoided that sort of connexion with the Peshwa's government, which was calculated to involve the Company in the difficulties and embarrassments of our actual situation. The evils, however, which his Lordship then anticipated from such an alliance, appear to his Lordship to have been exceeded by those which have actually occurred under the operation of the treaty of Bassein.”
The views of Lord Cornwallis were less clear and decided with regard to the Nizam, although his observations, addressed to the resident at Hyderabad, under date the 21st of August, 1805, announced the existence of the same evils, resulting from the alliance with the Nizam, as resulted from that with the Peshwa; that is, a total dissolution of the energies of government, in the hands of the native prince, and the necessity, on the part of the British, of exercising all the functions of government under infinite disadvantages. “The Governor-General,” says that address, “observes, with great regret, the degree of interference exercised by the British government,BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. through the channels of its representative, in the internal administration of the government of Hyderabad. It appears to his Lordship to have entirely changed the nature of the relations originally established between the British government and the state of Hyderabad. His Lordship is aware, that this undesirable degree of interference and ascendency in the counsels of the state of Hyderabad, is to be ascribed to the gradual decay of the energies of government; to the defect of efficient instruments of authority; to the circumstances which attended the nomination of the present ministers; and to the personal character of his Highness Secunder Jah.—But the evils, which appear to his Lordship to be the necessary result of such a system of interference and paramount ascendency in the government of Hyderabad, greatly exceed those which the maintenance of that system is calculated to prevent.—The former are of a nature more extensive and more durable; and affect the general interests and character of the British government, throughout the whole peninsula of India. The evils of an opposite system are comparatively local and temporary; although rendered more dangerous at the present moment, by the probable effects of a belief which, however unjust, appears to be too generally entertained, of a systematic design on the part of the British government to establish its control and authority over every state in India.—It is the primary object of his Lordship's policy to remove this unfavourable and dangerous impression, by abstaining in the utmost degree practicable, consistently with the general security of the Company's dominions, from all interference in the internal concerns of other states. His Lordship considers even the preservation of our actual alliances to be an BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.object of inferior importance to that of regaining the confidence, and removing the jealousies and suspicions of surrounding states.”
In terms exactly correspondent, the Governor-General wrote to the Secret Committee of the Court of Directors. In a letter enclosing the above despatches, dated on the river near Rage Mahl, on the 28th of August, he says; “One of the most important, and, in my opinion, not the least unfortunate consequences of the subsisting state of our alliances, has been the gradual, increasing ascendency of the British influence and authority, exercised through the medium of our residents, at the courts of Poona and Hyderabad. The weak and wretched state of the Peshwa's internal government cannot be more forcibly described than in the enclosed despatch, recently received from Colonel Close. And I have reason to believe, that the authority of the Soubah of the Deccan over his dominions is approaching fast to the same state of inefficiency and weakness. The evils likely to ensue from the above statement are sufficiently obvious; but the remedy to be applied to them is unhappily not so apparent.—In the hope, that by degrees, we may be able to withdraw ourselves from the disgraceful participation in which we should be involved, by mixing ourselves in all the intrigues, oppression, and chicanery of the active management of distracted and dislocated provinces, I have ordered those letters to be addressed to the residents at the courts of Hyderabad and Poona, of which copies are herewith enclosed.”1
The conduct which Lord Cornwallis determined to pursue in regard to the relations between the British state and the belligerent or contumacious chiefs,BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. Holkar and Scindia, was lastly disclosed. His sentiments on that subject, were addressed in a despatch to General, then Lord Lake, on the 18th of September.
In this he declared that “the first, and most important object of his attention was, a satisfactory adjustment of all differences between the British government and Dowlut Row Scindia.” To the accomplishment of this primary object of his desire he conceived that two things only operated in the character of material obstructions: the detention by Scindia of the British resident; and the retention, by the British government, of the fortress of Gualior, and the province of Gohud.
The British Governor had made up his mind with regard to both causes of dissension. With regard to the first, he says, “I deem it proper to apprize your Lordship, that as a mere point of honour, I am disposed to compromise, or even to abandon, the demand which has been so repeatedly, and so urgently made, for the release of the British residency, if it should ultimately prove to be the only obstacle to a satisfactory adjustment of affairs with Dowlut Row Scindia.” With regard to the second, he says, “It is, in my decided opinion, desirable to abandon our possession of Gualior, and our connexion with Gohud, independently of any reference to a settlement of differences with Dowlut Row Scindia: I have, therefore, no hesitation in resolving to transfer to Dowlut Row Scindia the possession of that fortress and territory.”
This accordingly formed the basis of the scheme of pacification planned by the Governor-General. On his part, Scindia was to be required to resign his claim to the jaghires and pensions, stipulation for which had been made in the preceding treaty; to make a provision for the Rana of Gohud to the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.extent of two and a half, or three lacs of rupees per annum; and to make compensation for the loss sustained by the plunder of the residency: On the other hand, the Jynegur tribute, amounting to the annual sum of three lacs of rupees, might be restored to Scindia; and leave might be given him, to station a force in Dholapoor, Baree, and Rajah Kerree, the districts reserved to him in the Dooab, as the private estates of his family.
With regard to Jeswunt Row Holkar, Cornwallis declared it to be his intention to restore to that chieftain the whole of the territories and possessions which had been conquered from him by the British arms.
Two important subjects of regulation yet remained: those minor princes in the region of the Jumna, with whom the British government had formed connections: and the territory to the westward and southward of Delhi, of which that government had not yet disposed. The plan of the Governor-General was, to give up both. He purposed to divide the territory among the princes with whom the British government had formed connections; and to reconcile those princes to the renunciation of the engagements which the British government had contracted with them, by the allurement of the territory which they were about to receive. His plan was to assign jaghires, in proportion to their claims, to those of least consideration; and to divide the remainder between the Rajahs of Macherry and Bhurtpore. He meant that the British government should remain wholly exempt from any obligation to ensure or defend the possession of the territories which it thus conferred. He expressed a hope, that those princes, by means of a union among themselves, might, in the reduced condition of Scindia, have sufficient power for their own defence. “But even the probability,” he adds, “of Scindia'sBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. ultimate success would not, in my opinion, constitute a sufficient objection to the proposed arrangement; being satisfied of the expediency even of admitting into the territories in question the power of Dowlut Rao Scindia, rather than that we should preserve any control over, or connection with them.” Any attempt of Scindia, in any circumstances, against the British possessions in the Dooab, he pronounced to be altogether improbable. And “Scindia's endeavours,” he said, “to wrest their territories from the hands of the Rajahs of Macherry and Bhurtpore may be expected to lay the foundation of interminable contests, which will afford ample and permanent employment to Scindia.”
In the spirit of these instructions, a letter to Scindia had been penned on the preceding day; intended to inform him that, as soon as he should release the British residency, Lord Lake was authorized to open with him a negotiation, for the conclusion of an arrangement, by which Gualior and Gohud might revert to his dominion.1
Before these letters were received by the Commander-in-Chief, the dismission of Sirjee Row Gautka from the office of minister to Scindia, and the appointment of Ambajee, had for some time taken place. This event the British rulers ascribed to the disappointment of Scindia, in the hopes with which they supposed that Sirjee Row Gautka had nourished him, of finding in the union with Holkar a force with which the English might be opposed. Upon the dismission of Sirjee Row Gautka from the service of Scindia, he repaired to the camp of Holkar, which for some time had been separated from that of Scindia. It was the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.interest, however, of Holkar, to preserve a connection with Scindia, which the latter was now very desirous to dissolve. Holkar offered to give no asylum to the discarded minister, who in a short time left his camp, and repaired to Deccan. Scindia played the double part, so agreeable to eastern politics; and temporized with Holkar till he felt assured of a favourable adjustment of the subjects of difference between him and the British state.
Moonshee Kavel Nyne was one of the confidential servants of Scindia, who had been opposed to Sirjee Row Gautka, and of course leaned to the British interests. During the ascendancy of Sirjee Row Gautka, Moonshee Kavel Nyne, from real or apprehended dread of violence, had fled from the dominions of Scindia; and had taken shelter under the British government at Delhi. Upon the first intimation, from the new Governor-General to the Commander-in-Chief, of the altered tone of politics which was about to be introduced, Moonshee Kavel Nyne was invited to the camp of the Commander-in-Chief; where it was concerted, that one of his relations should speak to Scindia, and explain to him the facility with which, through the medium of Moonshee Kavel Nyne, be might open a negotiation, calculated to save him from the dangers with which he was encompassed. Scindia was eager to embrace the expedient; and immediately sent proposals through the medium of Kavel Nyne. By this contrivance, the British commander stood upon the vantage ground; and stated, that he could attend to no proposition, while the British residency was detained. Upon this communication, the residency was dismissed; and was upon its march to the British territories, while the Commander-in-Chief had forwarded to Scindia a plan of settlement, fashioned a little according to the views of the Governor-General, before the Governor-General's instructions ofBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. the 19th of September, and his letter to Scindia, arrived in the British camp.
Impressed by dread of the effects, which the manifestation of so eager a desire for peace, and the appearance of indecision in the British counsels, if, one proposal being sent, another should immediately follow, might produce upon Mahratta minds; while at the same time he was strongly persuaded of the impolicy of the measures which the Governor-General had enjoined; the Commander-in-Chief took upon himself to detain the letter addressed to Scindia, and to represent to the Governor-General the views which operated upon his mind.
Apologizing, for the interposition of any delay in carrying the commands of the Governor-General into effect, by the alternation which had taken place in the state of affairs; and announcing the actual transmission of a plan of settlement which it was probable that Scindia would accept, the Commander-in-Chief proceeded to represent; first, that it would be inconsistent with the interests of the British state to let the Mahrattas regain a footing in the upper provinces of India; secondly, that it would be inconsistent with the justice and honour of the British state to relinquish the engagements which it had formed with the minor princes on the Mahratta frontier.
If the princes in this region were for a while protected by the British government, they would recover from that state of disunion, poverty, and weakness, into which they had been thrown, partly by the policy, partly by the vices of the Mahratta governments. If abandoned to themselves, they would soon be all subdued, either by Scindia, or some other conquering hero; and a state of things would be introduced, in the highest degree unfavourable to the interests of the British government. “These petty states would first quarrel with each other; would then call in the different native powers in their vicinity, to their respective aid; and large armies of irregulars would be contending upon the frontier of our most fertile provinces; against whose eventual excesses there would be no well-grounded security but a military force in a state of constant preparation.” The military habits of the people would thus be nourished, instead of those habits of peaceful industry, which it was found by experience they were so ready to acquire. The Jumna, which it was the intention of the Governor-General to make the boundary of the British dominions, was not, as had been supposed, a barrierBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. of any importance; as above its junction with the Chumbul, except during a few weeks in the year, it is fordable in a variety of places, and would afford little security from the incursions of a predatory army, to the provinces in the Dooab, to Rohilcund, or the countries of the Vizir.
With regard to the Rana of Gohud, he expressed himself convinced of the utter incapacity of that feeble-minded person for the business of government; and, with respect to him, objected not to the arrangement which the Governor-General proposed.
Before the Governor-General received this remonstrance, he was incapable of discharging the functions of government. His health was impaired when he left England; and from the commencement of his journey from Calcutta had rapidly declined. On the 29th of September, he had become too ill to proceed, and was removed from his boats to a house in Gazeepore, a town in the district of Benares, at which he had arrived. Accounts were dispatched to the Presidency, BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.with intelligence that he could not survive many days. The evil consequences, to which the state was exposed, by the absurdity of those, who, at an eventful period, sent a man to govern India, just stepping into the grave, without the smallest provision for an event so probable as his death, began now to be seen. Two members alone of the Supreme Council, Sir George Barlow and Mr. Udney, remained at Calcutta. “Under the embarrassing circumstances,” says Sir George, “attendant on this heavy calamity, it has been judged to be for the good of the public service, that I should proceed immediately, by relays, to Benares, to join his Lordship, for the purpose of assisting in the conduct of the negotiations for peace commenced by his Lordship, if his indisposition should continue; or of prosecuting the negotiations to a conclusion, in the ever to be deplored event of his Lordship's death. The public service necessarily requires the presence of Lord Lake with the army in the field; and, as no provision has been made by the legislature for the very distressing and embarrassing situation in which we are unhappily placed by the indisposition of Lord Cornwallis, at a crisis when the public interests demand the presence of a competent authority near the scene of the depending negotiations, I have been compelled, by my sense of public duty, to leave the charge of that branch of the administration, which must be conducted at Fort William, in the hands of one member of the government. My justification for the adoption of this measure will, I trust, be found in the unprecedented nature of the case, and in the pressing exigency which calls me from the Presidency.”
It so happened, that affairs at that time were easy to be arranged; and fell into hands of considerable skill. It was very possible, they might have been of difficult arrangement; and highly probable, whenBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. left to chance, that they would have fallen into hands incapable of the task. Of sending a dying man to govern India, without foreseeing the chance of his death, how many evils, in that case, might have been the direful consequence?1
Lord Cornwallis lingered to the 5th of October, and then expired. During the last month he remained, for the greatest part of the morning, in a state of weakness approaching to insensibility. Till near the last, he revived a little towards the evening; was dressed, heard the dispatches, and gave instructions for the letters which were to be written. By the persons who attended him, it was stated, that even in this condition his mind displayed a considerable portion of its original force.2 Without reminding ourselves of the partiality of these reporters, and going so far as to admit the possibility of the force which is spoken of, we cannot help seeing that it could exert itself on those subjects only with which the mind was already familiar. Where was the strength to perform the process of fresh inquiry; to collect, and to fix in the mind the knowledge necessary to lay the basis of action in a state of things to a great degree new?
The duties and rank of Supreme Ruler devolved, of course, on Sir George Barlow, a civil servant of the Company, who had ascended with reputation through the several gradations of office, to the dignity of senior member of the Supreme Council, when Lord Cornwallis expired. The new Governor-General lost no time in making reply to the representation which the Commander-in-Chief had addressed to Lord Cornwallis, BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.immediately before his death. He stated his resolution to adhere to the plan of his predecessor, in “abandoning all connection with the petty states, and, generally, with the territories to the westward of the Jumna.” “This resolution,” he added, “is founded, not only upon my knowledge of the entire conformity of those general principles to the provisions of the legislature, and to the orders of the Hononurable the Court of Directors; but also upon my conviction of their expediency, with a view to the permanent establishment of the British interests in India.”
Early in the month of September, Holkar, with the main body of his army, moved from Ajmere, in a north-westerly direction, toward the country of the Seiks. He entered the Shekaotee, with about twelve thousand horse, a small body of ill-equipped infantry, and about thirty guns, of various calibres, most of them unfit for service. Skirting the country of the Rajah of Macherry, and the province of Rewarree, he proceeded to Dadree; where he left his infantry, guns, and about a thousand horse, under one of his chiefs. This chief, in conjunction with the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.Rajah of Neemrana, one of the districts to the south-west of Delhi, ceded to the British government by the treaty of peace with Scindia, proceeded to ravage the British territories. Holkar himself, with the main body of his cavalry, proceeded towards Patila, giving out his expectation of being joined by the chiefs of the Seiks, and even by the King of Caubul. The Commander-in-Chief took measures, with his usual promptitude, for not only defeating the schemes of the enemy, but rendering the desperate enterprise in which he had now engaged, the means of his speedy destruction. A force, consisting of three battalions and eight companies of native infantry, eight six-pounders, and two corps, exceeding two thousand, of irregular horse, with four galloper guns, was appointed to take up a position at Nernoul. Another force, consisting of three battalions of regular, and three of irregular, native infantry, with two thousand of the best irregular horse, was sent to Rewarree, where, aided by the troops of the Rajah of Macherry, it would maintain tranquillity, cut off the communication of the enemy with Ajmere and Malwa, and prevent him from retreating in the route by which he advanced. Major-General Jones, with the army under his command, received orders to advance towards the Shekaotee, with a view to secure the defeat of the enemy's infantry, and the capture of his guns; a loss which would not only sink his reputation, but deprive him of the means of subsisting his cavalry during the period of the rains. And the Commander-in-Chief, with the cavalry of the army, and a small reserve of infantry, proceeded from Muttra, about the middle of October to give chase to Holkar himself, in whatever direction he might proceed.1
In the mean time, the negotiation between theBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. British government and Scindia was conducted, under the auspices of Lord Lake, on the part of Scindia, by Moonshee Kavel Nyne, on the part of the British government, by Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm, the political agent of the Governor-General in the British camp. On the 23d of November, the treaty was concluded and signed. Of defensive, or any other, alliance, the name was not introduced. Of the treaty of peace, concluded through General Wellesley at Surjee Anjengaum, every part was to remain in force, except so much as should be altered by the present agreement. Gualior, and the greatest part of Gohud, were ceded; not, however, as due by the preceding treaty, but from considerations of friendship. The river Chumbul, as affording a distinct line of demarcation, was declared to be the boundary between the two states. Scindia renounced the jaghires and pensions, as well as the districts held as private property, for which provision in his favour was made in the preceding treaty. The British government agreed to allow to himself, personally, an annual pension of four lacs of rupees; and to assign jaghires to his wife and daughter, the first of two lacs, the second of one lac of rupees, per annum, in the British territories in Hindostan. It also engaged to enter into no treaties with the Rajahs of Oudepore, Jodepore, Kotah, and other chiefs, the tributaries of Scindia, in Malwa, Mewar or Merwar; and to interfere in no respect with the conquests made by Scindia from the Holkar family, between the rivers Taptee and Chumbul. The British government, high and mighty, held it fitting to insert an article in the treaty of peace, binding the Maharaja never to admit Sirjee Rao Gautka into his service or councils. “This article,” BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.says Colonel Malcolm, “was a complete vindication of our insulted honour.” Truckling to the master, you struck a blow at the servant, who, in no possible shape, was responsible to you; and this you were pleased to consider as a vindication of honour!
As this treaty appeared to the Governor-General to impose upon the British government the obligation of protecting the states and chieftains, north of the Chumbul, from Kotah to the Jumna, he insisted that two declaratory articles should be annexed, by which that inconvenience might be wholly avoided.
During the negotiations, which preceded the signature of this treaty, Lord Lake was marching in pursuit of Holkar. That chieftain, from the day on which the British General took the field, continued merely to fly before him. Totally disappointed in his hopes of assistance from the Seik chiefs, and reduced at last to the extremity of distress, he sent agents, with an application for peace, to the British camp. As the British commander had instructions to grant terms far more favourable than the enemy had any reason to expect, the negotiation was speedily terminated; and on the 24th of December, 1805, a treaty was signed at Raipoor Ghaut, on the banks of the river Beah, the ancient Hyphasis, to which Holkar had carried his flight. By this treaty, Holkar renounced all his rights to every place on the northern side of the Chumbul; all his claims on Koonah and Bundelcund, and upon the British government, or its allies; and agreed not to entertain Europeans in his service, without the consent of the British government. On these conditions, he was allowed to return to his own dominions; but by a route prescribed, and without injuring the territory of the British government, or its allies. The British government, on the other hand, agreed, not to interfere with any ofBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. the possessions or dependancies of Holkar, south of the Chumbul; and to restore the forts and territories captured by the British forces on the southern side of the rivers Taptee and Godavery. An article was inserted, by which Holkar was bound never to admit Sirjee Rao Gautka into his council or service. This article, however, as well as the correspondent article in the treaty with Scindia, were, after a few months, annulled, in consequence of a report that Sirjee Rao Gautka was about to join Holkar. In such a case, those articles might have created an embarrassment; “which, agreeably,” says Sir John Malcolm, “to the policy of that day, it was deemed prudent to avoid.”
Sir George Barlow made an alteration in this treaty, as he did in that with Scindia, which was sent to him for confirmation. The territories of Holkar, north of the Chumbul, would involve the British government in expense and trouble, either to guarantee or to keep them: He, therefore, annexed a clause, for leaving them to Holkar.
Acting upon his determination to break loose from the engagements, formed with the minor states and chieftains, between the Mahratta frontier and the Dooab, the Governor-General disregarded the remonstrances which were made by the Commander-in-Chief, in favour, more especially, of the Rajah of Boondee, and the Rajah of Jyepore. Lord Lake represented, that the district of Boondee, though not material in point of extent, was highly important, as commanding a principal pass into the northern provinces of the British empire; that the Rajah, steady in his friendship, and eminent for his services to the British government, had excited the utmost rage of Holkar, to whom he was tributary, by the great aid which he had rendered to Colonel Monson, during BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.his retreat; and that neither justice, nor honour, allowed him to be delivered over to the vengeance of his barbarous foe. The resolution of the Governor-General remained unchangeable, and by the article which he annexed to the treaty with Holkar, that chief was set free to do what he would with the Rajah of Boondee.
The Rajah of Jyepore had entered into the system of defensive alliance with the British state, at an early period of the war with Scindia; but, for a time, showed himself little disposed to be of any advantage; and Cornwallis, by a letter to the Commander-in-Chief of the 3d of August, had directed the alliance to be treated as dissolved. At that time, however, the united armies of Scindia and Holkar were on the frontiers of Jyepore, and the Bombay army, which had marched to a place not far from the capital, was drawing most of its supplies from the territories of the Rajah. In these circumstances, Lord Lake, before the receipt of the letter of Lord Cornwallis, had encouraged the Rajah to found a claim for British protection on the services which it was now in his power to render. He had also prevailed upon Lord Cornwallis to suspend the dissolution of the alliance. When Holkar, during the month of October, passed to the north in the direction of Jyepore, Lord Lake had exhorted the Rajah to discharge the duties of a faithful-ally, under assurances of British protection; the Rajah, on his part, had joined the Bombay army under General Jones, and, by his aid, and the supplies derived from his country, had enabled that General to maintain a position of the greatest importance to the operations of the war; and if, according to expectation, Holkar had retreated in that direction, no doubt was entertained that effective assistance would have been received from the troops of the Rajah. In the opinion,BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. therefore, of the Commander-in-Chief, the Rajah of Jyepore, who was exposed to a speedy attack from both Scindia and Holkar, the moment that British protection was withdrawn, could not be left exposed to their rapacity and vengeance, without a stain upon the British name. These expostulations altered not the resolutions of Sir George Barlow, who considered the obligations of the British government as dissolved by the early appearances of disaffection on the part of the Rajah, and not restored by his subsequent deserts. He would not even listen to the Commander-in-Chief, requesting that he would defer the renunciation of the alliance till the time when Holkar, who was pledged by the treaty to return immediately to his dominions, should have passed the territories of the Rajah. On the contrary, he directed that the renunciation should be immediately declared, lest Holkar, in passing, should commit excesses, which, otherwise, it would be necessary for the British government to resent. Lord Lake was afterwards compelled to receive the bitter reproaches of the Rajah, through the mouth of one of his agents, at Delhi.
Regarding the treaties wich the Rajahs of Macherry and Bhurtpore, as still imposing obligations upon the British government, the Governor-General directed the Commander-in-Chief to enter into a negotiation with them; and to offer them considerable accessions of territory as a return for their consent to the dissolution of the alliance. But Lake, apprehending that even the rumour of any such intention on the part of the British government would again set loose the powers of uproar and destruction in that part of India, represented his apprehensions in such alarming colours, that Sir George, though he BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.declared his resolution unchanged, disclaimed any desire for precipitation; and the Rajahs of Bhurtpore and Macherry, with the chiefs in their vicinity, were not at that time, deprived of the protection of the British power.1
It remains, that the finanical results of the operations of government from the close of the first administration of the Marquis Cornwallis, till the present remarkable era, should now be adduced. As regards the British nation, it is in these results that the good or evil of its operations in India is wholly to be found. If India affords a surplus revenue which can be sent to England, thus far is India is wholly to be found. If India affords a surplus revenue which can be sent to England, thus far is India beneficial to England. If the revenue of India is not equal to the expense of governing India, then is India a burthen and a drain to England. This is only an application of the principle, according to which the advantage or disadvantage of new territory, in general, is to be estimated. If the new territory increases the revenue more than the charges, it is advantageous; if it increases the charges in proportion to the revenue, it is hurtful. It is also to be observed, that the interest and redemption of the money expended in making the acquisition must be taken into the account. If it has been made by a war, for example; the whole expense of the war must be taken into the account. And the new territory must increase the revenue beyond the charges in a degree adequate to the interest and redemption of the whole sum expended in the war, otherwise the acquisition is a positive loss. If the BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.surplus of the revenue were the same after the acquisition as before, the whole expense of the war would be lost; the nation would not be the richer for the acquisition, but the poorer; it would have been its wisdom to have abstained from the war, and to rest contented with the territory which it possessed. If the revenue, after the acquisition, is lessened in proportion to the charge; if the surplus of the revenue is diminished, or the deficit enlarged; in that case, the loss is not confined to that of the whole expense of the war; it is all that, and more; it is the expense of the war, added to the sum by which the balance of the annual receipt and expenditure is deteriorated.
With this principle in view, the following statements will require but little explanation.
In the year 1793-4, the revenues in India amounted to 8,276,770l.; the whole of the charges, including supplies to the outlying settlements, and the interest of debts, amounted to 6,633,951l. There was consequently a surplus of revenue to the amount of 1,642,819l.
But this favourable appearance was the result of merely temporary causes; for in the course of four years, though years of peace, and with an economical ruler, it gradually vanished; and in the year 1797-8, when the administration of Marquis Wellesley commenced, there was a deficit of revenue, or a surplus of charge. The revenues amounted to 8,059,880l.; the charges and interest to 8,178,626l.; surpassing the revenues by 118,746l.
The evil was prodigiously increased by the administration of Marquis Wellesley; after all the subsidies which he obtained, and all the territory which he added to the British dominions. In the year 1805-6, in which he closed his administration, the revenues amounted to 15,403,409l.; charges and interest BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.to 17,672,017l.; leaving a surplus of charge equal to 2,268,608l.1
Such, at the three different periods under comparison, was the state of the government of India, in respect to income and expenditure. Let us consider what was the condition of the Company at the same three periods in respect to debts both at home and in India. In 1793, the debts, both at interest and floating, as they appear upon the face of the Company's accounts, were, in England, 7,991,078l.;2 in India 7,971,665l.; total 15,962,743l. In 1797, the debts in England were 7,916,459l.; in India 9,142,733l.; total 17,059,192l. In 1805, they were 6,012,196l. in England, and 25,626,631l. in India, in all 31,638,827l.
In estimating the finanical condition of a great government, the annual receipt, as compared with the annual expenditure, and the debt, where debt is incurred, are the only circumstances, usually, which are taken into reckoning, and make up the account. The goods and effects in hand, which are necessary for the immediate movements of the machine, and in the course of immediate consumption, justly go for nothing; since if any part of them is taken away it must be immediately replaced, and cannot form a part of a fund available to any other purpose, withoutBOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. diminishing some other fund to an equal degree.
Departing from this appropriate rule, the East India Company has availed itself of its mercantile capacity, to bring forward regularly a statement of assets, as a compensation for its debts. This, however, is objectionable, on a second account; because, according to the mode in which this statement is framed, it may exhibit at pleasure, either a great or a small amount. Some of the principal articles have hardly any marketable value; could produce little, if the Company were left to dispose of them to the best advantage; yet the rulers of the Company assign to them any value which seems best calculated to answer their designs. Houses, for example, warehouses, forts, and other buildings, with their furniture, constitute a large article; set down at several times the value probably at which they would sell. Debts due to the Company, and arrears of tribute, form another material ingredient; of which a great proportion is past recovery. A specimen of the made, in which the account of assets is made up, may be seen in the following fact: that 1,733,328l., as due by the public for the expedition to Egypt, was continued in the Bengal accounts as an asset, after the expense had been liquidated in England; and upwards of 2,000,000l. due to the Company by the Nabob of Arcot, and Rajah of Tanjore, is continued in the Madras accounts as an asset, though virtually remitted and extinguished upon assuming the territory of the Carnatic.1
The account of assets, therefore, exhibited by the East India Company, deserves very little regard, in BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.forming an estimate of the financial situation of the government of India. Being, however, uniformly adduced, as an article of importance in the Company's accounts, its presence is thus rendered necessary here. As the Committee of the House of Commons, formed in 1810, instituted a comparison between the account of assets and debts, for the period of 1793, and the latest period to which their inquiries could extend, there will be an advantage in taking the same periods for the subject of that view of the assets which is here required. That Committee entered into a slight examination of the statement exhibited by the East India Company of assets in India, and by making certain large, though far from sufficient deductions, reduced the amount of it nearly one half. Unhappily they did not carry even the same degree of scrutiny into the statement of assets at home, and took it pretty nearly as made up by the Company. According to their adjustments the balance is exhibited thus:
The whole of the moneys which have passed into the Company's treasury for capital stock, amounts to the sum of 7,780,000l. This remains to be added to the debtor side of its account. The total, then, of the sums on the debtor side of the account at the period in question, viz. the year 1809-10, was 47,034,830l., surpassing the whole of its assets by the sum of 16,374,711l.
BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. Upon the statements by which was exhibited the financial condition of the Company at the close of the administration of Marquis Wellesley, it may be justly remarked, that the expenditure at that time was an expenditure of war, and that the ratio between the ordinary revenues, and a war expenditure, affords not a just view of the financial effects which his administration produced.
Let us take the statements for 1808-9, the last of the years for which we have the aid of the Committee of 1810, in unravelling the confusion, and removing the obscurity, of the Company's accounts. The government of India had at this time enjoyed three years of uninterrupted peace; when the financial effects of the administration which closed in 1805 may be supposed to be sufficiently ascertained. In that year the revenues amounted to 15,525,055l.; the charges, including supplies to out lying settlements, and the interest of debts, amounted to 15,551,097l.; constituting a surplus of charge to the amount of 26,042l. This was a great reduction from 2,268,608l., the excess of charge in 1805; it was even somewhat less than 118,746l., the excess of charge in 1798; but far was this from being a state of receipt adequate to pay the interest and redeem the capital of that enormous sum expended by the wars to which the administration of Marquis Wellesley had given birth. The debts, as they appear upon the face of the accounts were, in England 10,357,088l. in 1810; in India 30,876,788l. in 1809, which was the last year of which the Committee had received the accounts. The sum of debts was therefore 41,233,876l.; being an addition to the sum of the debts existing in 1805, of little less than 10,000,000l.1
On the 1st of March, 1793, the debts were less than the effects; in other words, there was a balance in favour of the concern, to the amount of 1,956,866l. On the 1st of March, 1810, the debts were greater than the effects; in other words, there was a balance against the concern, to the amount of 6,025,505l. This constitutes a deterioration during the intermediate period, amounting to 7,982,371l. To this the same Committee of 1810 add the money raised for capital stock in 1793 and 1794; and after some other adjustments exhibit the deterioration in those seventeen years at 11,062,591l.1
To the balance of 6,025,505l. against the Company in 1810 are to be added the sums received for capital stock, amounting as above to 7,780,000l.; exhibiting on the debit side of the Company's account, a balance of 13,805,505l.; in other words, an amount to that extent, of legitimate claims, which there is nothing whatsoever in the shape of property to meet.
As the operations of the Company are two-fold, BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805.those of government and those of commerce, it is a question whether the unfavourable result which appears on the comparison of the accounts of stock in the year 1793, and 1810, was produced by the government, or the commerce. This question the Committee in 1810 make an attempt to answer. Beside the charges which clearly belong to the government, and those which clearly belong to the commerce, there are some, of which it is doubtful whether they belong to the government or the commerce. The charges which the Committee represent as clearly belonging to the government exceed the receipts by 6,364,931l. Besides this amount there is a sum of 6,875,350l., which they represent as doubtful, whether it belongs to the government or the commerce. This constitutes an unfavourable balance, to the amount of 13,240,281l. Exclusive of these doubtful charges, there is a profit upon the goods purchased and sold, or, the commercial transactions of the period, to the amount of 14,676,817l. Out of this was paid the dividends upon stock, and the interest upon debt in England, amounting to 12,515,284l.; after which remained a surplus, in aid of government, to the amount of 2,164,533l.; reducing the unfavourable balance of 13,240,281l. as above, to 110,758, the net deterioration of the period.1
The Committee exhibited an account which was intended to show how much England gained or lost by India (not including China), during the period of seventeen years from 1793 to 1810. During that period the value of property sent by England to India is stated at 43,808,341l.; the value received by England from India is stated at 42,178,640l. England therefore lost 1,629,701l.2
The peace which terminated the war with the Mahrattas, a few months after the period of Lord BOOK VI. Chap. 13. 1805. Wellesley's administration, is the last great epoch, in the series of British transactions in India. With regard to subsequent events, the official papers, and other sources of information, are not sufficiently at command. Here, therefore, it is necessary that, for the present, this History should close.
Letter from the Governor-General in council to the Secret Committee, dated 15th June, 1804. Papers, ut supra, printed in 1806, No. 23, p. 263; Notes, ut supra, No. 25, p. 205.
Letter from Major Malcolm; Papers, ut supra, No. 23, p. 298; Gov.-Gen.'s Dispatch, ibid. p. 270.
Governor-General's Letter, No. 23, ut supra, p. 271: Notes, No. 25, ut supra, p. 208.
No. 23, p. 264.
Letters, ut supra, Ibid. p. 303, 304.
The documents relative to the correspondence and negotiations with Holkar, previous to the commencement of hostilities, were printed by an order of the House of Commons, under date, 11th of February, 1805.
See the Dispatch of the Governor-General, ut supra, in Papers, No. 23; and Notes, ut supra, No. 25.
Calcutta Gazettes, Papers, ut supra, No. 25, p. 229.
Dispatches from the Commander-in-Chief, and General Monson; Papers, ut supra, No. 25, p. 233.
Printed papers, ut supra, No. 25, pp. 222–339.
Printed papers, ut supra, p. 240.
Printed papers, ut supra, p. 233, 243–248.
Printed papers, ut supra, No. 23, p. 149.
Ibid. No. 25, p. 209.
Printed papers, ut supra, p. 250, 251, 266, 267.
Printed papers, ut supra, p. 224, 252–273; also General Lake's Letter to the Governor-General, dated Muttra, 1st July, 1805; Papers, ut supra, No. 15, p. 35.
Letter from the Governor-General to the Commander-in-Chief. Papers, No. 15, ut supra, p. 23. Compare the sentiments here expressed, with those employed against the Nabobs of Arcot: vide supra, p. 538.
Papers, ut supra, No. 15, p. 7–37.
No. 15, ut supra, p. 37, 38. No. 25, ut supra, p. 272–285.
No. 15, ut supra, p. 40–45, 53.
Printed papers, ut supra, No. 23; Extract of a Letter from the Governor-General, 7th June, 1805, relative to Gualior and Gohud, with enclosure, p. 167–203; and copy of a Letter from ditto, 31st May, with enclosures, p. 5–148.
Compare with these grounds of action, those laid down by Mr. Hastings, in regard to the Rohillas.
Despatch of the Governor-General, dated 30th July, 1805, with its enclosures, No. 23, ut supra, p. 227–248.
No. 23, ut supra, p. 253.
Copies of all letters from the late Marquis Cornwallis, &c. ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 19th February, 1808, p. 3, 4, and 6. For the reduction of the irregular troops by Lord Wellesley, see the letter of the Commander-in-Chief, No. 23, ut supra, p. 243.
Papers, ut supra, ordered to be printed 19th of February, 1808, p. 5–13.
Papers, (1806) ut supra, No. 11, p. 6–12.
Papers, (1806) ut supra, No. 11, p. 5–13; No. 17; and No. 25, p. 3 and 4.
Malcolm's Sketch, p. 413.
Letter of Sir George Barlow, dated on the river near Chunar, 20th Oct. 1805; Papers, ut supra, No. 18, p. 5–7.
Pepers, ut supra, No. 11, p. 15: and No. 25, p. 19, 20.
Collection of Treaties in India (published 1812), p. 290–297. Malcolm's Sketch, p. 406–436. On the negotiation of the new treaties with Scindia and Holkar, and on the discussions relative to the dissolution of the alliance with the minor states, the official documents, which have yet been printed, furnish scanty information. The supply afforded by Sir John Malcolm is peculiarly authentic, as he was the negotiator and agent, through whom almost every thing was transacted.
The following is a table of the particulars:
2,992,440l. being deducted, viz. the East India Annuities transferred to the Bank. Fourth Report, 1810, p. 450.
See the Third Report of the Committee, 1810, p. 368, and Appendix, No. 2.
See the second and fourth Reports of the Committee of 1810.
Fourth Report, ut supra, p. 451.
Fourth Report ut supra, p. 262. App. No. 51.
Third Report, ut supra, p. 373.
“The passage in the exposition itself, p. 7, requires to be seen. ‘The company have long been in the habit of paying in England political charges strictly appertaining to the territory. For these charges he Company never have credit in the Indian accounts. The large supplies of stores, and part even of the goods, sent out annually by the Company to India, are intended for political purposes, and the whole amount of them should be brought in India to the credit of the Home concern from the time they are shipped; but the practice has been to credit the Company for them only as they were taken out from the Indian warehouses for use, and no losses of such articles in the way outwards or in India, have ever been brought to the credit of London at all. Moreover, it is evident from what has been already stated in this exposition that the supplies of goods and bullion from England have at times at least exceeded the returns in the same period. The only way therefore to come to an accurate conclusion, is to state all that England has received from India and China; and sent to or paid for India and China in any given period, and thence to strike the balance. Such a statement is exhibited in the accompanying paper, No. 5, which begins with the year 1797-8, and ends with the year 1806-7. On the one side this statement shows all that has been sent to India and China in goods, stores, and bullion, and all that has been paid for bills drawn from thence or for political charges attaching to the Indian territory; and on the other side, the statement shows all that has been sent from India and China in goods and bills and all payments received here from government, or payments made in India for commercial charges, and also for any loss that has occurred in English exports sold there. India and China are not debited for goods lost in the way thither, and they are credited for goods sent thence which have been captured or lost on the passage home. After all these allowances and adjustments, which, according to the best knowledge of the Court, comprehend every thing the account ought to contain, the balance is in favour of England, or of the Company at home 5,691,689l. If it be asked from what funds at home the Company have been able to bring India so largely indebted? the answer is obvious; from the increase of their capital stock and bonded debt, and from the considerable temporary credits they always have for investments outward. From this account it is clear, that of the sum of 19 millions of debt contracted in India since the year 1798-9 down to the year 1807-8, England, or the Company in its commercial capacity, is justly chargeable with no part, and that, on the contrary, India has in that period become largely indebted to England.”