Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

had so lately seen in a very subordinate station, he was appointed to the chief Chap. VIII. command against this formidable enemy; and acquitted himself with so much v vigour and success, that before the end of the campaign he reduced them to an inclination for peace; and concluded a treaty on what were deemed favourable terms. Hyder was now advanced tothe rank and power of commander-in-chief, and had only his friend and patron Nunjeraj, for Deoraj was dead, between him and the entire control of the resources of the state. Hyder's impatience admitted little delay. To secure the countenance of the Rajah against a man who was at once his robber and his gaoler, was an easy intrigue; and the troops, whose arrears had not been fully paid, and had again increased, were artfully incited to mutiny against Nunjeraj, and to place Hyder, by compulsion, at their head. The Rajah now interposed, and offered to procure pay for the troops, as soon as Hyder should take an oath to be obedient, and to renounce his connexion with the usurping minister. Hyder failed not to exhibit reluctance; but at last allowed himself to be constrained; and Nunjeraj, who could not any longer misunderstand the game, and whose courage was not remarkable, consented to retire, upon the condition of receiving an honourable provision. The Rajah was complimented with the show of greater liberty; but Hyder, to be enabled to provide for the arrears, and the regular pay of the troops, took care to procure the assignment of the revenues of so many districts, that what was now in his direct possession exceeded half the territory of the state. In March, 1759, Hyder received overtures from Lally, inviting him to his assistance against the English; and, amid the contentions of the rival strangers, looked forward to acquisitions in Carnatic. To pave the way for the share which he proposed to take in determining the fate of that important region, he resolved to obtain possession of the territory which separated Mysore from the confines of Carnatic, and which consisted first of the territory of Anicul, situated on the eastern verge of the tract of woody hills, between Savendy Droog and the Cavery, and next of the Baramahal, a province situated on the intermediate level between the first and second ranges of hills. Immediately after the termination of the stratagem against Nunjeraj, a part of the troops, with a confidential general, were detached to occupy this intermediate territory, which opened a safe communication into the very centre of the province of Arcot. Anicul and Baramahal were secured; and the General proceeded to Pondicherry, under orders from Hyder, to settle the terms of co-operation with the French. These were speedily adjusted; and, on the 4th of June, 1760, a Book IV. detachment of the Mysorean army arrived at Thiagar, which was surrendered to tn^m by the treaty. The defeat which was sustained by a detachment of the English army, sent to intercept the Mysoreans on their march to Pondicherry, greatly elevated the spirits of Hyder; and inspired him with a resolution to exert his strength in the war of Carnatic. Several divisions of his troops were ordered to assemble in Baramahal, and the affairs of Carnatic might have undergone a revolution, had not a storm arisen in another quarter which it required all the address and power of Hyder to elude.

The distant employment of the troops of Hyder, and his own position with a small detachment, under command of the guns of the palace, and surrounded by the river, which, being now full, it was impossible to pass, suggested to the queen-mother the possibility of cutting him off, and delivering her son from the thraldom in which it was the evident intention of Hyder to retain him. The assistance was secured of a Mahratta chief, who was at the head of an army in a neighbouring territory ", and a cannonade began. Hyder soon discovered that his situation was desperate; but the main attack being deferred till the arrival of the Mahrattas, night came on, when Hyder, with the assistance of a few boats, crossed the river unperceived, with a small body of horse, leaving his family behind him; and having travelled ninety-eight miles in twenty hours, the first seventy-five on the same horse, he arrived at Bangalore. He was just in time to precede the orders of the Rajah, by which the gates of the fort would have been shut against him; and he now hastened to collect his forces, of which those serving with Lally constituted a principal part.

The fortunes of Hyder tottered on the verge of a precipice. The troops, which were hastening towards him from Carnatic and Baramahal, were intercepted by the Mahrattas, who had joined the Rajah; and besieged in their camp. The utmost efforts of Hyder were ineffectual to relieve them; and his power was ready to drop from his hands; when the Mahrattas agreed to march off, upon receiving the cession of Baramahal, and the payment of three lacks of rupees. They had engaged their services to Lally, now besieged in Pondicherry; but had afterwards accepted the promise of a large sum from the English Nabob, on condition of returning immediately to Poonah. It was in consequence of this stipulation, so fortunate for Hyder, that they accepted his additional bribe; and the man, who was destined to bring the English interests to the brink of ruin, was saved by a stroke of English politics. *

Hyder took the field against the forces of the Rajah, but still perceiving himself to be inferior to his enemies, he took a resolution, which it required Oriental hypocrisy and impudence to form, and of which nothing less than Chap. VIII. Oriental credulity could have been the dupe. Unexpected, unarmed, and alone, he presented himself as a suppliant at the door of Nunjeraj, and being admitted, prostrated himself at his feet. He acknowledged, in terms of bitter anguish, the wrongs of which he was guilty toward the first and greatest of his friends; vowed to devote his future life to their reparation; and entreated a firm and sincere union, that he might establish Nunjeraj in the station of honour and power in which he had formerly beheld him. It requires a high degree of improbability to prevent the greater part of mankind from believing what they vehemently wish. Nunjeraj was gained; and lent his troops, his exertions, his name, and his influence, to give ascendancy to the cause of Hyder. Fraud was an operative instrument in the hands of this aspiring general. Finding himself intercepted with the small detachment which had accompanied him on his sudden journey to the retreat of Nunjeraj, and his junction with the main body of his army which he had left to hang during his absence upon the rear of the enemy, rendered difficult, and his situation dangerous, he forged letters, in the name of Nunjeraj, to the principal commanders in the hostile army, letters purporting to be the result of a conspiracy into which these commanders had already entered to betray their General to Nunjeraj. The bearer was seized of course; and the letters delivered into the hands of the General, who fulfilled the fondest wishes of Hyder, by taking the panic, and running away from the army. During its confusion it was assailed by the main body of Hyder's forces, in the rear, by the detachment with himself in front; and yielded an easy and decisive victory. The triumph of Hyder was now secured. He delayed, only till he augmented his army, and took possession of the lower country; when he ascended the Ghauts, and early in the month of May, 1761, arrived at the capital. He sent to the Rajah a message; "That large sums were due to Hyder by the State, and ought to be liquidated: After the payment of these arrears, if the Rajah should be pleased to continue him in his service, it was well; if not, Hyder would depart, and seek his fortune elsewhere." The meaning of this humble communication no one misunderstood. It was arranged, that districts should be reserved to the amount of three lacks of rupees for the personal expenses of the Rajah, and one lack for those of Nunjeraj; and that of the remainder of the whole country the management should be taken by Hyder, with the charge of providing for the expenses, civil and military, of the government . From this period Hyder was undisputed master of the kingdom of Mysore.

Book IV. Hyder was fortunately cast at one of those recurring periods in the history of v j^V Oriental nations; when, the springs of the ancient governments being worn out, and political dissolution impending, a proper union of audacity and intrigue has usually elevated some adventurer to the throne. The degraded situation of the Rajah, and the feeble and unskilful administration of the two brothers, opened an avenue to power, of which Hyder was well qualified to avail himself: The debilitated and distracted government of the Subahdar of Deccan; the dreadful blow which the Mahrattas had just received at the battle of Paniput; and the fierce and exhaustive contentions which the rival strangers in Carnatic were waging against one another, left all around a wide expanse, in which, without much resistance, he might expect to reap an opulent harvest: And had it not happened, by a singular train of circumstances, that he was opposed by the arms of a people, whose progress in knowledge and in the arts was far superior to his own, he, and his son, would probably have extended their sway over the greater part of India.

In prosecution of the design which Bassalut Jung had formed to render himself independent of Nizam Ali, he proceeded, about the month of June in 1761, to the reduction of Sera. This was a province, formerly governed by a Nabob, or deputy of the Subahdar of Deccan. It was now possessed by the Mahrattas. But the shock which the Mahratta power had sustained by the disaster of Paniput, inspired Bassalut Jung with the hope of making a conquest of Sera. By his approach to the territories of Hyder, that vigilant chief was quickly brought near to watch his operations. Bassalut Jung was, by a short experience, convinced that his resources were unequal to his enterprise; and as his elder brother was imprisoned by Nizam Ali, on the 18th of July, his presence at the seat of his own government was urgently required. That the expedition might not appear to have been undertaken in vain, he made an offer to Hyder of the Nabobship of Sera, though yet unconquered, for three lacks of rupees; and formally invested him with the office and title, under the name of Hyder Ali Khan Behauder, which he afterwards bore. The allied chiefs united their armies, and, having speedily reduced the country to the obedience of Hyder, took leave of each other about the beginning of the year 1762.

Hyder continued to extend his conquests over the two Balipoors; over Gooti, the territory of the Mahratta chieftain Morari Row; received the submission of the Polygars of Raidroog, Harponelly, and Chittledroog; and early in 1763 he marched under the invitation of an impostor, who pretended to be the young Rajah of Bednore, to the conquest of that kingdom. The territory of Bednore includes the summit of that part of the range of western hills, which, at a Chap. height of from four to five thousand feet above the level of the sea, and for ^ nine months of the year involved in rain and moisture, which clothe them with the most enormous trees, and the most profuse vegetation, overlook the provinces of Canara and Malabar. The capital and fort of Bednore, situated in a basin surrounded by hills, extended its sway over the maritime region of Canara, and on the eastern side of the mountains, as far as Santa Bednore and Hoolalkera, within twenty miles of Chittledroog. This country had suffered little from the calamities of recent war, and the riches of the capital, which was eight miles in circumference, are represented as having been immense. Hyder made the conquest with great ease, and confessed that the treasure which he acquired in Bednore was the grand instrument of his future greatness.*

Hyder devoted his mind with great intensity to the establishment of a vigorous and efficient administration in this country; which opened to him a new scene of conquest. He took possession of Soonda, a district on the northern frontier of Bednore: He reduced to submission and dependance the Nabob of Savanoor, a territory which formed a deep indentation between his recent acquisitions of Sera and Soonda: And he rapidly extended his northern frontier across the rivers Werda, Malpurba, and Gutpurba, almost to the banks of the Kistna.

This daring progress, however, again brought the Mahrattas upon his hands. Since the battle of Paniput, they had, in this quarter of India, been pushed with some vigour by Nizam Ali, the new Subahdar, who, at the commencement of his reign, gave some signs of military ardour and talent. He had constrained them to restore the celebrated fortress of Dowlatabad, in 1762; and, in 1763, carried his arms to Poona, the capital; which he reduced to ashes. The accommodation which succeeded this event, and the occupation which the Nizam was now receiving in the war for the reduction of his brother Bassalut Jung, seemed to present an opportunity to the Mahrattas of chastising

* Colonel Wilks thinks he estimates the amount of it very low at 12,000,000?. sterling. More likely it was not a third of the sum. "The immense property," he calls it, "of the most opulent commercial town of the East, and full of rich dwellings." The sound judgment of Colonel Wilks generally preserves him, much better than Oriental gentlemen in general, from this strain of Eastern hyperbole. The richest commercial town of the East, neither a sea-port, nor on any great line of communication, in a situation almost inaccessible, on the top of unwholesome mountains! Besides, there is little opulence in any house in India, or in any shop. The chief article of splendour is jewels, which almost always are carried away, or hid, upon the appearance of danger.

« ПредишнаНапред »