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(Concluded from page 92.) friend, or vigorously encountered as an
enemy. Unhappily the English authorities In a very short time it was made signally in the south provoked their powerful neighmanifest to how great a danger the Govern- bour's hostility, without being prepared to or-General had, on this occasion, exposed repel it. On a sudden, an army of ninety his country. A crisis arrived with which thousand men, far superior in discipline and be, and he alone, was competent to deal. efficiency to any other native force that It is not too much to say, that, if he had could be found in India, came pouring been taken from the head of affairs, the through those wild passes, which, worn by years 1780 and 1781 would have been as mountain torrents, and dark with jungle, fatal to our power in Asia as to our power lead down from the table-land of Mysore to in America.
the plains of the Carnatic. This great The Mahrattas had been the chief objects army was accompanied by a hundred of apprehension to Hastings. The meas- pieces of cannon; and its movements were ures which he had adopted for the purpose guided by many French officers, trained in of breaking their power, had at first been the best military schools of Europe. frustrated by the errors of those whom he Hyder was everywhere triumphant. The was compelled to employ; but his perse- sepoys in many British garrisons Aung verance and ability seemed likely to be down their arms. Some forts were surcrowned with success, when a far more rendered by treachery, and some by desformidable danger showed itself in a distant pair. In a few days the whole open counquarter.
try north of the Coleroon bad submitted. About thirty years before this time, a The English inhabitants of Madras could Mahommedan soldier had begun to distin- already see by night, from the top of Mount guish himself in the wars of Southern India. St. Thomas, the eastern sky reddened by a His education had been neglected; his ex- vast semi-circle of blazing villages. The traction was mean. His father bad been a white villas, embosomed in little groves of petty officer of revenue ; his grandfather a tulip-trees, to which our countrymen retire wandering Dervise. But though thus after the daily labours of government and meanly descended – though ignorant even of trade, when the cool evening breeze of the alphabet — the adventurer had no springs up from the bay, were now left sooner been placed at the head of a body without inhabitants; for bands of the fierce of troops, than he approved himself a man horsemen of Mysore had already been seen born for conquest and command. Among prowling near those gay verandas. Even the crowd of chiefs who were struggling for the town was not thought secure, and the a share of India,'none could compare with British merchants and public functionaries him in the qualities of the captain and the made haste to crowd themselves behind the statesman. He became a general — he be- cannon of Fort St. George. came a prince. Out of the fragments of There were the means indeed of forming old principalities, which had gone to pieces an army which might have defended the in the general wreck, he formed for himself presidency, and even driven the invader a great, compact, and vigorous empire. back to his mountains. Sir Hector Munro That empire he ruled with the ability, se- was at the head of one considerable force; verity, and vigilance of Louis the Eleventh. Baillie was advancing with another. UnitLicentious in his pleasures, implacable in ed, they might have presented a formidable his revenge, he had yet enlargement of front even to such an enemy as Hyder. mind enough to perceive bow much the But the English commanders, neglecting prosperity of subjects adds to the strength those fundamental rules of the military art, of governments. He was an oppressor ; of which the propriety is obvious even to but he had at least the merit of protecting men who have never received a military his people against all oppression except his education, deferred their junction, and were own. He was now in extreme old age; separately attacked. Baillie's detachment but bis intellect was as clear, and his spirit was destroyed. Munro forced to as high, as in the prime of manhood. Such abandon his baggage, to fling his guns into was the great Hyder Ali, the founder of the the tanks, and to save himself by a retreat Mahommedan kingdom of Mysore, and the which might be called a flight. In three most formidable enemy with whom the weeks from the commencement of the war, English conquerors of India have ever bad the British empire in southern India had to contend.
been brought to the verge of ruin. Only Had Hastings been governor of Madras, a few fortified places remained to us. The Hyder would bave been either made a glory of our arms had departed. It was
known that a great French expedition might the government of Bengal, but of maintainsoon be expected on the coast of Coroman-ing a most costly war against both Indian del. England, beset by enemies on every and European enemies in the Carnatic, and side, was in no condition to protect such of making remittances to England. A few remote dependencies.
years before this time he had obtained reThen it was that the fertile genius and lief by plundering the Mogul, and enslaving serene courage of Hastings achieved their the Rohillas ; nor were the resources of his most signal triumph. A swift ship flying fruitful mind by any means exhausted. before the south-west monsoon, brought the His first design was on Benares, a city evil tidings in few days to Calcutta. In which in wealth, population, dignity, and twenty-four hours the Governor-General sanctity, was among the foremost of Asia. had framed a complete plan of policy adapt- It was commonly believed that half a miled to the altered state of affairs. The lion of human beings was crowded into that struggle with Hyder was a struggle for life labyrinth of lofty alleys, rich with shrines, and death. All minor objects must be sac- and minarets, and balconies, and carved rificed to the preservation of the Carnatic. oriels, to which the sacred apes clung by The disputes with the Mahrattas must be hundreds. The traveller could scarcely accommodated. A large military force and make his way through the press of holy a supply of money must be instantly sent to mendicants, and not less holy bulls. The Madras. But even these measures would broad and stately flights of steps which debe insufficient, unless the war, hitherto so scended from these swarming haunts to the grossly mismanaged, were placed under the bathing-places along the Ganges, were worn direction of a vigorous mind. It was no every day by the footsteps of an innumertime for trifling. Hastings determined to able multitude of worshippers. The schools resort to an extreme exercise of power; to and temples drew crowds of pious Hindoos suspend the incapable governor of Fort St. from every province where the Brahminical George, to send Sir Eyre Coote to oppose faith was known. Hundreds of devotees Hyder, and to entrust that distinguished came thither every month to die — for it general with the whole administration of was believed that a peculiarly happy fate the war.
awaited the man who should pass from the In spite of the sullen opposition of Fran- sacred city into the sacred river. Nor was cis, who had now recovered from his wound, superstition the only motive which allured and had returned to the Council, the Gov- strangers to that great metropolis. Comernor-General's wise and firm policy was merce had as many pilgrims as religion. approved by the majority of the board. All along the shores of the venerable stream, The reinforcements were sent off with lay great fleets of vessels laden with rich great expedition, and reached Madras be- merchandise. From the looms of Benares fore the French armament arrived in the went forth the most delicate silks that Indian seas. Coote, broken by age and adorned the balls of St. James's and of the disease, was no longer the Coote of Wan- Petit Trianon ; and in the bazars, the musdewash; but he was still a resolute and lins of Bengal, and the sabres of Oude, skilful commander. The progress of Hyder were mingled with the jewels of Golconda, was arrested; and in a few months the and the shawls of Cashmere. This rich great victory of Porto Novo retrieved the capital, and the surrounding tract, had long honour of the English arms.
been under the immediate rule of a Hindoo In the meantime Francis had returned to prince, who rendered homage to the Mogul England, and Hastings was now left perfect- emperors. During the great anarchy of ly unfettered. Wheler had gradually been India, the lords of Benares became inderelaxing in his opposition; and, after the pendent of the court of Delhi; but were departure of his vehement and implacable compelled to submit to the authority of the colleague, co-operated heartily with the nabob of Oude. Oppressed by this formiGovernor-General ; whose influence over dable neighbour, they invoked the protechis countrymen in India, alwaye great, had, tion of the English. The English protection by the vigour and success of his recent was given ; and at length the Nabob Vizier, measures, been considerably increased. by a solemn treaty, ceded all his rights over
But though the difficulties arising from Benares to the Company. From that time factions within the Council were at an end, the Rajah was the vassal of the government another class of difficulties bad become of Bengal, acknowledged its supremacy, more pressing than ever. The financial and sent an annual tribute to Fort William. embarrassment was extreme. Hastings had These duties Cheyte Sing, the reigning to find the means, not only of carrying on prince, had fulfilled with strict punctuality,
Respecting the precise nature of the legal | Titles and forms were still retained, which relation between the Company and the implied that the heir of Tamerlane was an Rajah of Benares, there has been much absolute ruler, and that the nabobs of the warm and acute controversy. On the one provinces were his lieutenants. In reality, side, it has been maintained, that Cheyte he. was a captive. The nabobs were in Sing was merely a great subject on whom some places independent princes. In other the superior power had a right to call for places, as in Bengal and the Carnatic, they aid in the necessities of the empire. On had, like their master, become mere phanthe other side, it has been contended that toms, and the Company was supreme. he was an independent prince, that the only Among the Mahrattas again, the heir of claim which the Company had upon him Sevajee still kept the title of rajah; but he was for a fixed tribute, and that, while the was a prisoner, and his prime minister, the fixed tribute was regularly paid, as it as- Peshwa, had become the hereditary chief suredly was, the English had no more right of the state. The Peshwa, in his turn, was to exact any further contribution from him, fast sinking in the same degraded situation than to demand subsidies from Holland or to which he had reduced the rajah. It was, Denmark. Nothing is easier than to find we believe, impossible to find, from the precedents and analogies in favour of either Himalayas to Mysore, a single government view.
which was at once de facto and de jure Our own impression is, that neither view which possessed the physical means of makis correct. It was too much the habit of ing itself feared by its neighbours and subEnglish politicians to take it for granted jects, and which had at the same time the that there was in India a known and defi- authority derived from law and long prenite constitntion by which questions of this scription. kind were to be decided. The truth is, that Hastings clearly discerned, what was during the interval which elapsed between hidden from most of bis contemporaries, the fall of the house of Tamerlane, and the that such a state of things gave immense adestablishment of the British ascendency, vantages to a ruler of great talents and few there was no constitution. The old order scruples. In every international question of things had passed away; the new order that could arise, he had his option between of things was not yet formed. All was the de facto ground and the de jure transition, confusion, obscurity. Everybody ground; and the probability was that one kept his head as he best might, and scram- of those grounds would sustain any claim bled for whatever he could get. There that it might be convenient for him to make, have been similar seasons in Europe. The and enable him to resist any claim made by time of the dissolution of the Carlovingian others. In every controversy, accordingly, empire is an instance. Who would think he resorted to the plea wbich suited his of seriously discussing the question, what immediate purpose, without troubling himextent of pecuniary aid and of obedience self in the least about consistency; and Hugh Capet had a constitutional right to thus he scarcely ever failed to find what, to demand from the Duke of Britanny, or the persons of short memories and scanty inforDuke of Normandy? The words consti- mation, seemed to be a justification for tutional right' had, in that state of society, what he wanted to do. Sometimes the nano meaning. If Hugh Capet laid hands on bob of Bengal is a shadow, sometimes a all the possessions of the Duke of Norman- monarch; sometimes the vizier is a mere dy, this might be unjust and immoral; but deputy, sometimes an independent potenit would not be illegal, in the sense in tate. If it is expedient for the Company which the ordinances of Charles the Tenth to show some legal title to the revenues of were illegal. If, on the other hand, the Bengal, the grant under the seal of the Duke of Normandy made war on Hugh Mogul is brought forward as an instrument Capet, this might be unjust and immoral; of the highest authority: When the Mogul but it would not be illegal in the sense in asks for the rents which were reserved to which the expedition of Prince Louis Bo- him by that very grant, he is told that he is naparte was illegal.
a mere pageant; that the English power Very similar to this was the state of India rests on a very different foundation from a sixty years ago. Of the existing govern- charter given by him; that he is welcome ments not a single one could lay claim to to play at royalty as long as he likes, bat legitimacy, or plead any other title than that he must expect no tribute from the recent occupation. There was scarcely a real masters of India. province in which the real sovereignty and It is true, that it was in the power of the nominal sovereignty were not disjoined. I others, as well as of Hastings, to practise
this legerdemain; but in the controversies ment. The Rajab, after the fashion of his of governments
, sophistry is of little use un- countrymen, shuffled, solicited, and pleaded less it be backed by power. There is a poverty. The grasp of Hastings was not principle which Hastings was fond of as- to be so eluded. He added another £10,serting in the strongest terms, and on which 000 as a fine for delay, and sent troops to he acted with undeviating steadiness. It is exact the
money. a principle which, we must.own, can hardly The money was paid. But this was not be disputed in the present state of public enough. The late events in the south of law. It is this — that where an ambiguous India had increased the financial embarrassque tion arrises between two governments, ments of the Company. Hastings was dethere is, if they cannot agree, no appeal ex- termined to plunder Cheyte Sing, and, for cept to force, and that the opinion of the that end, to fasten a quarrel on him. Acstrongest must prevail. Almost every ques- cordingly, the Rajah was now required to tion was ambiguous in India. The English keep a body of cavalry for the service of government was the strongest in India. the British government. He objected and The consequences are obvious. The Eng- evaded. This was exactly what the Govlish government might do exactly what it ernor-General wanted. He had now a prechose.
text for treating the wealthiest of his vassals The English government now chose to as a criminal. I resolved,' these are the wring money out of Cheyte Sing. It had words of Hastings himself, to draw from his : formerly been convenient to treat him as a guilt the means of relief to the Company's sovereign prince; it was now convenient to distresses - to make him pay largely for his treat him as a subject. Dexterity infe- pardon, or to exact a severe vengeance for rior to that of Hastings could easily find in past delinquency.' The plan was simply that general chaos of laws and customs, ar- this — to demand larger and larger contriguments for either course. Hastings want- butions, till the Rajah should be driven to ed a great supply. It was known that remonstrate, then to call his remonstrance Cheyte Sing bad a large revenue, and it a crime, and to punish him by confiscating was suspected that he had accumulated a all his possessions. treasure. Nor was he a favourite at Cal
Cheyte Sing was in the greatest dismay. cutta. He had, when the Governor-Gener- He offered £200,000 to propitiate the Brital was in great difficulties, courted the fa- ish government. But Hastings replied, vour of Francis and Clavering. Hastings, that nothing less than half a million would who, less we believe from evil passions than be accepted. Nay, he began to think of sellfrom policy, seldom left an injury unpun- ing Benares to Oude, as he had formerly ished, was not sorry that the fate of Cheyte sold Allahabad and Robilcund. The matSing should teach neighbouring princes the ter was one which could not be well mansame lesson which the fate Nuncomar had aged at a distance; and Hastings resolved already impressed on the inhabitants of to visit Benares. Bengal.
Cheyte Sing received his liege lord with In 1778, on the first breaking out of the every mark of reverence; came near sixty war with France, Cheyte Sing was called miles, with his guards, to meet and escort upon to pay, in addition to his fixed tribute, the illustrious visitor; and expressed his an extraordinary contribution of £50,000. deep concern at the displeasure of the EngIn 1789, an equal sum was exacted. In lish. He even took off his turban, and laid 1780, the demand was renewed.
Cheyte it in the lap of Hastings - a gesture which Sing, in the hope of obtaining some indulg: in India marks the most profound submisence, secretly offered the Governor-General sion and devotion. Hastings bebaved with a bribe of £20,000. Hastings took the cold and repulsive severity. Having armoney; and his enemies have maintained rived at Benares, he sent to the Rajah a that he took it intending to keep it. He paper containing the demands of the gove certainly concealed the transaction, for a ernment of Bengal. The Rajah, in reply, time, both from the council in Bengal, and attempted to clear himself from the accusafrom the Directors at home; nor did he tions brought against him. Hastings, who ever give any satisfactory reason for the wanted money and not excuses, was not to concealment.' Public spirit, or the fear of be put off by the ordinary artifices of eastdetection, however, determined him to with- ern negotiation. He instantly ordered the stand the temptation. He paid over the Rajah to be arrested, and placed under the bribe to the Company's treasury, and in- custody of two companies of sepoys. sisted the Rajah should instantly comply In taking these strong measures, Hastings with the demands of the English govern- scarcely showed his usual judgment. It is
probable that, having had little opportuni-| tle and enterprising men were found who ty of personally observing any part of the undertook to pass through the throng of population of India, except the Bengalees, enemies, and to convey the intelligence of he was not fully aware of the difference be the late events to the English cantonments. tween their character and that of the tribes It is the fashion of the natives of India to which inhabit the upper provinces. He wear large ear-rings of gold. When they was now in a land far more favourable to travel, the rings are laid aside lest they should the vigour of the human frame, than the tempt some gang of robbers ; and, in place Delta of the Ganges; in a land fruitful of of the ring, a quill or a roll of paper is insoldiers, who have been found worthy to serted in the orifice to prevent it from closfollow English battalions to the charge, and ing. Hastings placed in the ears of his mesinto the breach. The Rajah was popular sengers letters rolled up in the smallest comamong his subjects. His administration had pass. Some of these letters were addressed been mild; and the prosperity of the dis- to the commanders of the English troops. trict which he governed presented a strik- One was written to assure his wife of his ing contrast to the depressed state of Bahar, safety. One was to the envoy whom he had under our rule — a still more striking con- sent to negotiate with the Mahrattas. Intrast to the misery of the provinces which structions for the negotiation were needwere cursed by the tyranny of the Nabobed; and the Governor-General framed them Vizier. The national and religious preju- in that situation of extreme danger, with as dices with which the English were regarded much composure as if he had been writing throughout India, were peculiarly intense in his palace at Calcutta. in the metropolis of the Brahminical super- Things, however, were not yet at the stition.. It can therefore scarcely be doubt-worst. An English officer of more spirit ed that the Governor-General, before he than judgment, eager to distinguish himself, outraged the dignity of Cheyte Sing by an made a premature attack on the insurgents arrest, ought to have assembled a force ca- beyond the river. His troops were entanpable of bearing down all opposition. This gled in narrow streets, and assailed by a ħad not been done. The handful of sepoys furious population. He fell, with many of who attended Hastings. would probably his men, and the survivors were forced to have been sufficient to overawe Moorsneda- retir bad, or the Black town of Calcutta. But This event produced the effect which has they were unequal to a conflict with the never failed to follow every check, however hardy rabble of Benares. The streets sur- slight, sustained in India by the English rounding the palace vere filled by an im- arms. For hundreds of miles round, the mense multitude; of whom a large propor- whole country was in commotion. The tion, as is usual in upper India, wore arms. entire population of the district of Benares The tumult became a fight, and the fight a took arms. The fields were abandoned by massacre. The English officers defended the husbandmen, who thronged to defend themselves with desperate courage against their prince. The infection spread to Oude. overwhelming numbers, and fell, as became the oppressed people of that province rose them, sword in hand. The sepoys were butch- up against the Nabob Vizier, refused to pay ered. The gates were forced. The captive their imposts, and put the revenue officers prince, neglected by his jailors during the to flight. Even Bahar was ripe for revolt. confusion, discovered an outlet which open- The hopes of Cheyte Sing began to rise. ed on the precipitous bank of the Ganges, Instead of imploring mercy in the humble let himself down to the water by a string style of a vassal, he began to talk the lanmade of the turbans of his attendants, found guage of a conquerer, and threatened, it a boat, and escaped to the opposite shore. was said, to sweep the white usurpers out
If Hastings had, by indiscreet violence, of the land.. But the English troops were brought himself into a difficult and perilous now assembling fast. The officers, and even situation, it is only just to acknowledge, the private men, regarded the Governorthat he extricated himself with even more General with enthusiastic attachment, and than his usual ability and presence of flew to his aid with an alacrity which, -as he mind. He had only fifty men with him. boasted, had never 'been shown on any The building in which he had taken up his other occasion. Major. Popham, a brave and residence was on every side blockaded by skilful soldier, who had highly distinguished the insurgents. But his fortitude remained himself in the Mahratta war, and in whom unshaken. The Rajah from the other side the Governor-General reposed the greatest of the river sent apologies and liberal offers. confidence, took the command. They were not even answered. Some sub- The tumultuary army of the Rajah was