Page images
PDF
EPUB

CHAPTER XIII.

THE SECOND MAHRATTA WAR.

" DISTRUST OF EACH OTHER, OR THE LUST OF POWER, MIGHT MAKE THEM CONFEDERATE WITH US FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE MOMENT; BUT WHEN THEY FOUND THAT THEY HAD BEEN MADE THE INSTRUMENTS OF SUBVERTING THE DOMINION OF THE RACE TO WHICH THEY BELONGED, AND THAT THEIR POWER WAS CONTROLLED BY THE VERY PERSONS BY WHOM IT HAD BEEN SO RECENTLY ESTABLISHED, IT BECAME NATURAL FOR THEM TO SEEK, THROUGH EVERY MEANS, EMANCIPATION FROM SUCH HUMILIATING THRALDOM."*-MALCOLM.

While the war with Scindiah and the to engage the co-operation of Meer Khan, Rajah of Berar lasted, Holkar was left un- an active minor chieftain, by holding out to disturbed. Though a main cause or pre- him the prospect of sharing in the territorial text for the armed interference of the Eng- spoil. And no effort was spared for weaning lish in the affairs of the Mahratta empire in the subordinate rajahs from the defence of the previous year, it was not deemed expe- their country, by lures of various glitter. dient to resent his contumacy or his talents, “ They kept alvof, however,” and could, at until his rivals were subdued. No sooner, furthest, be induced to observe neutrality. * however, had the Governor-General consum- How long their devotion to the cause of mated his schemes for their humiliation, their race might have withstood the tempthan he began to feel uneasy at the scandal tations thus held forth to them, 'twere vain which the British name must suffer, if terms to guess, had the tide of conquest been alwere any longer kept with the reigning chief lowed to pour on uninterruptedly. Despair of Malwa. Jeswunt Rao was a junior is the twin brother of desertion; while hope branch of the house of Holkar, and had by remains-while a chance of eventual justice force or stratagem usurped the place of being done to the motives that dictate selfCashee Rao, who was the lineal heir. That devotion is left,-heroism hath where to lay disinterested sense of justice to which the its head; and however inhospitable that Anglo-Indian administration had hitherto shelter be, it can wake up from its hard laid claim, required that war should at pillow with strength sufficient to endure or this particular moment be declared against die. But endure or die for country's the usurper, for the purpose of wresting sake, strength is needful; and amid the from him the dominions he had unlawfully wreck and fall of successive hopes, that obtained possession of, and of conferring strength fails. The Mahrattas had not dethem upon the dependent allies of the serted Scindiah even in his adversity; now Company. As for the rightful heir, he was Holkar was assailed; he was Scindiah's formally to be spoken of until Malwa was enemy no doubt, but the assailant was the reduced; after that he could only stand in common foe. Even Scindiah could stifle the way of satisfactory adjustment, and his old hatred, and secretly assure Jeswunt must be provided for in some other way: Rao, that in his camp he should find protecIt was anxiously desired that Scindiah and

tion, and, at the prudent time for throwing the Paishwah should be made partakers of off the mask he had been compelled by the the spoil; and, whether sincerely or not, they victors to assume, an ally. both professed to aid in the vast preparations Call this duplicity if you will; but weigh which, under Lord Lake, were made in the fraud in candid scales. Here was the 1804, for the destruction of Holkar. + impoverished and disabled rival of the des

This expedient of corruption had already tined victim, at the moment when all the been resorted to, although it does not ap- jealousy and resentment of a life were about pear with much success, in the previous to be gratified, not at his cost, but for the struggle. We find General Wellesley urg- certain purpose, among other objects, of his ing the resident at Hyderabad, in 1803, direct aggrandizement, secretly preparing

to forego the selfish profit, and the only History of Central India. † Mill, book 6, chap. 13.

* Gurwood, vol. I, p. 329, 334.

apparent chance of revenge, and hazard- | pointed out the vast additional powers of ing the implacable enmity of that enemy controul and mastery, which a few successes from whose recent onslaught he had hardly in the field would inevitably confer. But enjoyed breathing time. Whatever the the Governor-General declared his fixed detrue motive of Scindiah's conduct towards termination, to pursue in every respect a Holkar may have been, whether it was totally opposite line of policy. He found a returning insight into the only true the treasury of Calcutta empty, and the pay and great policy, by which the invader could of the officers in every department in arrear. be effectually kept at bay, or an unreasoned He saw in the system of intermeddling in impulse of sympathy for the last unhum- the domestic administration of the Mahratta bled bulwark of the Mahratta dynasty, it kingdoms, nothing but interminable toil and seems impossible to regard it as an or- perplexity; he perceived that the undertakdinary instance of faithlessness or instability ing to garrison the palace of a despotic of purpose.

prince with British troops, was to render him Holkar successfully baffled Lake, and de- irresponsible, and thereby to render him infeated Monson in a variety of desultory tolerable to his subjects, while it in no way conflicts, during the autumn of 1804; and rendered the defence of the country more before the campaign of 1805 could be pro- secure; he declared that for the sake of the perly opened, the ambitious spirit who had Company and of the people of Hindustan, been the restless cause of so much misery this system of a double government ought to and evil, was replaced at the head of Indian be abandoned everywhere; and he notified affairs by one of a very different temper. his resolution of restoring to Holkar, all the The Directors in England had at an early provinces that had been taken from him since period become alarmed, at the impetuous the beginning of the war. Upon his death, and grasping policy of Lord Wellesley. When which took place in a few months after, Sir Mysore was conquered, they could hardly G. Barlow, as senior member of the Supreme conceal their ill-humour, at finding that their Council, assumed the temporary reins of gojoint-stock sovereignty had been increased, at verument; and fully participating in the the cost of several additional millions of cautious views of the deceased nobleman, joint-stock debt.* Had it been only a few peace was restored by the end of the year.* thousand lives that had been wasted, it would The administration of Lord Wellesley have been nothing : “such is the fortune of had lasted upwards of seven years.

In war.” But the sordid soul of Leadenhall- rapidity and extent of acquisition, it stands street sickened at the impiety of unpro- unrivalled in the annals of British India. ductive conquest; that was shocking; and Three powerful sovereigns were either under the influence of this feeling, letters of crushed or reduced to vassalage; 140,000 very mingled import were addressed to their miles of territory were added to the empire vain-glorious Lieutenant, acknowledging his of England it and her revenues were augfame and retaining his plunder, but em- mented by £8,561,430 a year. I And yet phatically protesting against his Excellency's when the din of glorying had ceased, and investing any more of their resources in such the victors in cool blood sat down to count brittle, though brilliant ware.

their gains, what profit had they in those Whereupon the indignant Marquis, stung things whereof they were not, although to the quick by such ingratitude, resigned, and they ought to have been, ashamed ? By could only be induced to retain his coinmis- the report of a select committee of the sion, until his successor should be named House of Commons upon the affairs of Early in 1805, the aged Lord Cornwallis India, in 1810, “the final result" of a was sent out as Governor-General, charged searching scrutiny into the financial history with instructions, and prepared also as it of the Company, since the conclusion of would seem by his own convictions, to put the first war with Tippoo Saib, appeared a peremptory stop to the “comprehensive to be this :—That in 1793 their revenue policy" of Lord Wellesley. He found on his being £6,963,625, and the net charges, arrival the second campaign recommenced including interest upon the funded debt, in Malwa, and the dispositions of Scindiah £5,800,048, their clear profits amountmore than doubtful. Lord Lake, who still helded to £1,163,577 a-year; while in 1808 the command-in chief, warmly advocated the their gross receipts being £15,525,055, and necessity of vigorous measures; and being a disciple of the Subsidiary Alliance school,

Mill, book 6, 13 chap.

† Marquis Wellesley's Desp. vol. I. note to map. Mill, book 6, chap. 13.'

# Second Report of Select Committee, 1810.

their total expenditure £15,551,097, instead government is an advantage dearly bought, of a surplus there appeared a deficit of by the sacrifice of independence, of national

£26,042.* Such is the sagacity of con- character, and of whatever renders a people quest—such its knack at overreaching itself respectable. The natives may pursue their its haste to be rich.

occupations as traders or husbandmen; but To understand thoroughly the causes that none of them can aspire to any thing becontributed to produce a result apparently yond this mere animal state of thriving in so unaccountable, it were necessary to anti- peace; none of them can look forward to cipate that portion of our narrative which any share in the civil or military governmust form its sequel, namely, a review of ment of their country. The effect of this the system of administration, fiscal, politi- state of things is observable in all the Brical, and judicial, which the English adop- tisa provinces, whose inhabitants are certed in the provinces they obtained by war. tainly the most abject race in India.”* In passing, however, let us hear the con- At the time when the able document from fession of one whose testimony is that of a which the foregoing observations are taken, partizan of conquest, and whose weight as was presented to the Marquis of Hastings, an authority upon Indian affairs has never a new conflict with the Mahralta powers yet been questioned. Sir Thomas Munro was impending. Ten years of peace had was one of the few men, who had opportuni- succeeded the former struggle, and the old ties of forming a correct judgment upon the appetite of appropriation had grown keen comparative worth of systems of rule, in once more. On the mountainous frontiers almost every department of government, of the Mahratta country, a wild and lawless civil as well as military, in times of pro- race called Pindarries had for generations longed tranquillity, and amid the troubles of dwelt, who levied a capricious tribute from

His willingness to see conquest ex- the peaceable inhabitants of the plains, and tended even further than it had yet been, whose character, as their name bespoke, was was not concealed in a letter addressed to that of professed freebooters. Being nuLord Hastings, Governor-General in 1817. merous and troublesome, the British governHe points out therein, the facility wherewith ment justly strove to induce the Paishwah new acquisitions might be made at the ex- and Scindiah, as well as the minor chiefs, to pense of Scindiah; but he earnestly depre- unite in general measures for their supprescates any extension of the subsidiary sys- sion. Whether from indifference or ill will, tem, which had been long established in these powers evaded or neglected doing so ; those territories, which the Company had and an excuse for aggression being desirawrenched from the Nabob of Oude, the ble, this neglect was made use of as a jusMahrattas, and the Nizam. Such a mode tification for demanding the cession of furof rule he says, " has a natural tendency to ther provinces, and the augmentation of the render the government of every country in subsidiary forces already quartered upon which it exists, weak and oppressive, to them; or, in case of relusal, for declaring extinguish all honourable spirit among the war. higher classes, and to degrade and im- To this mode of proceeding, Munro, in poverish the whole people. The presence his memorial to Lord Hastings, strongly of a British force cuts off every chance of objected. He ridicules the notion of the remedy of a bad government, by supporting Mahratta powers hazarding a war for the the prince against every enemy. It renders sake of the Pindarries, and urges multihim indolent, by teaching him to trust to plied arguments, grounded alike on policy strangers for his security; and cruel and and hunanity, against any further extension avaricious, by showing him he has nothing of the wretched subsidiary system. He to fear from the hatred of his subjects. recommends instead “ the simple and direct Wherever the subsidiary system is intro- mode of conquest from without, as more duced, unless the reigning prince be a man creditable both to their armies and national of great abilities, the country will soon bear character, than that of dismemberment from the marks of it, in decaying villages and within, by the aid of subsidiary forces.' decreasing population. This has long been He concludes by proposing that they should observed in the dominions of the Paishwah at once “ seize the districts” belonging to and the Nizam, and is beginning to be seen in Mysore. The protection of the British

war.

* Memoirs of Munro, vol: 1. p. 462, 465. Tes

timony without end might be adduced confirmaSecond Report of Select Committee, 1810, tory of these assertions.

99

Holkar, Scindiah, and Meer Khan, where might well feel that he was no longer the Pindarries, as it was alleged, were har- either its master or his own. And

upon

his boured.*

refusal to return, the British government Although we are informed that the ex- declared that they had been insulted, and pediency of this last suggestion was “per- war was forthwith proclaimed. Meanwhile fectly in accordance with the sentiments of the tone assumed towards Holkar and Scinthe Governor-general," + the arguments of diah, had warned those chieftains that their Munro appear to have produced but little only hope of preserving their independence, impression, regarding the system of piece-lay in making common cause against the meal conquest, through the instrumentality insatiable aggressor. A defensive league of subsidiary forces. The ill-fated Paish- was formed between the four principal wah was required, in the beginning of 1817, Mahratta states, including the Rajah of Beto subscribe a new treaty of alliance, hav- rar; and considerable efforts were made to ing, as was said, for its object, “the more revive the national spirit of the people. convenient mode “of providing for the dis- But it was now too late. Faction and charge of the engagements already in force," the quelling influence of foreign garrisons with the Company. The meaning of this, had done their work. The governments when unwrapped from its official swaddling had lost all unity, all nerve; and the people (or swindling) clothes, was this: Lord had been suffered to forget the honour and Hastings becoming aware that “ his High- the rights of their race, and tacitly to acness the Paishwah,” after twelve years' expe- quiesce in the usurpations of an alien power. rience of the subsidiary force, that had been I'he duration of a foreign yoke has far hired out to him by the treaty of Bassein, less to do with its strength, than the temwas beginning to entertain serious misgiv- per in which it is borne. Time doth not ings of its efficacy for the purpose it was run against the sovereign claims of nationprofessedly granted for, namely, “his per- bood, provided those claims be kept alive, manent protection, honor, and prosperity;" and of force in the minds of the many, by they therefore resolved that the best means the secret or open observance of the sacred of quieting his doubts, or at least of silenc- rites of freedom. But when these are sufing all complaints on the subject was to fered to die out, the shrine hath no longer double the dose of mercenaries, and accept within itself, that whereby alone it can be from his Highness an additional province defended. It falls defenceless because inor two “as compensation for their main- defensible. The trampler comes, and entenance." The wretched prince in vain tering, wonders that a dome so vast should expostulated, and attempted to avert this have no guardian deity within ; and thinks new humiliation. But the heart of aggres- within himself as he surveys the physical sion is hard ; no evasion or alternative strength that withstood him not,-how inwould be listened to; we surrounded him domitably might not have these resisted, in his capital,” says the Governor-general, had the tutelary spirit still been here ! "and obliged him to submit to terms which Malwa was invaded in 1817, by a strong preserved ancient appearances, but deprived force under the command of Sir J. Mal. him of much strength for future machina- colin. Jeswunt Rao, by whom Lord Lake nations :

:"* and on the 13th June, 1817, the had been baffled in 1805, was dead ; and a Paishwah was coerced into signing a treaty, minor, surrounded by a profligate regent, whereby he alienated to the Company, the and intriguing ministers, now occupied provinces of Sangur, Huttah, and Darwar, the place of rule. The presence of the containing no less than 10,000 square invading army hardly sufficed to recall miles,|| and yielding a revenue estimated at the various internal factions to a sense of £350,000 a year.

their danger and their duty. A revolution The Paishwah hankered after the fair in the administration was effected, whereby provinces of which he had thus been divested all those whose treachery or weakness had ere the ink of the treaty was dry. He fled left their country open to the English, were soon after from his capital, wherein he displaced, and able men summoned to pro

vide for the public safety. But the oppor. Annual Register for 1819.

tunity for effectual resistance had gone by ; Munro, vol. i. 456.

a sanguinary engagement took place at Idem, 457.

Soopra on 21st December, in which the Idem, p. 457, 458.

British under Sir T. Hislop were victoNote to Map prefixed to Marquis Wellesley's rious; and in January, 1818, a treaty was Despatches. Munro, ut supra.

dictated by the conquerors, and signed at

arms.

Mundissor, whereby the sovereignty of men, were put to the sword : a severe exKandeish, 12,430 square miles in extent, ample indeed, but absolutely necessary." was resigned for ever by the house of This is bad enough, but similar cruelHolkar :* “the British government thus ties are, perhaps, inseparable from every relieving them from the anarchy which species of war; the exasperation of recent lately prevailed in their state." +

loss will inhumanise an excited soldiery at A memorable instance, however, of the all times; and their leaders will be ever devotion wherewith the people still clung to tempted to extenuate, on that most convethe last hope of independance, is recorded in nient of all grounds—necessity, what many a letter from Sir T. Hislop to the com- of them would never have commanded. mander in chief, dated 28th February, But no such apology can be pleaded for the 1818.

miserable vengeance that followed the takThe Killedar of Talnier had determined ing of Talnier. We shall not trust ourto hold his fort to the last extremity for his selves to tell the tale, but allow the hero to native sovereign, and if assailed to resist by be his own historian. This resolution was decreed by the

“ I ordered the Killedar to be hanged on English general, to be “rebellion" to the one of the bastions, immediately after the Company, and the King of Great Britain; and place fell. Whether he was accessary or a letter was addressed to the brave chieftain, not to the treachery of his men,

his execuadmonishing him of his guilt, and “ warn- tion was justly due to his rebellion—(rebeling him of the consequences.” The Kille- lion !)-in the first instance, particularly dar refused to yield, and a cannonade was after the warning he had received in the forthwith opened on the devoted fortress. morning.”* And this is Christian warfare ! After some time, finding that the outworks And with such deeds reeking in the face of were giving way, and seeing that his troops, heaven, the spread of civilization by means who, by the confession of the victors, fought of conquest is trumpeted forth in the stunned with admirable skill and bravery, must eventu- ears of intelligent nations. tually be overpowered, the Killedar sent to “The complete overthrow" of all that offerterms. Unconditional submission would still subsisted of the Paishwah's governalone be granted ; and some delay having ment had been discussed at the commenceoccurred in opening the gates, the fire was ment of the war, as the punishment his recommenced against them. Upon the faithlessness deserved. + Destitute of restorining party entering, they were met by sources, talents, or popularity, the miserthe chief and his attendants in an attitude able fugitive was soon hunted down, and of submission. They advanced through marched back in triumph to his capital, another gate, and found the filth, which led where, in addition to the cessions which into the body of the place, shut, and those had been wrung from him a few months within still insisting upon terms. After before, Konkan, Poonah, and other dissome delay the wicket of this gate was tricts were now appropriated by the vicopened froin within ; Colonel Murray and tors. The extent of these last acquisitions Major Gordon entered with two or three was about double that of the former. officers and ten or twelve grenadiers. They Nothing further remained to be taken from were immediately attacked by those within, him bư his title, which “a positive moral and before adequate aid could be given, necessityrequired to be abolished. struck down. Major Gordon and Captain

Ahmedabad was taken from the GuickMacgregor resigned their invaluable lives war and permanently retained ; but the on this spot, and Colonel Murray was greatest sufferer in extent of dominions, was wounded in several places. Thirty or forty the Rajah of Berar. The whole of his grenadiers having now succeeded in getting possessions became virtually annexed to through the wicket, the garrison took shel- those of the Company; and from this ter in the houses in the fort, whence they riod, 1818, Berar and Paishwah cease to be still opposed an obstinate resistance; but reckoned for any political purpose among the remainder of the storming party having the powers of India. As in the Carnatic by this time got into the place, the whole garrison, consisting of about three hundred

* Letter of Sir Thomas Hislop, Lieutenant

General, to the Commander-in-chief. Annual ReMalcolm, vol. i. chap. vii.

gister for 1818. † Desp. Gov. Gen. to Secret Com. 230 January, 1818.

| Aunuai Register for 1818, c, xvii

.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »