Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Book V. species of tribute, formerly yielded by Baroach to the government of Surat; * 'and for indemnification of an overcharge in the customs which for the six preceding years had been levied on the merchants trading under the Company's protection. The more effectually to enforce the demand, a body of troops was sent to invade the Nabob's territory; but after proceeding so far as to attack his capital, they were obliged to abandon the enterprise, and return to Surat. This expedition the Directors condemned in the severest terms; as involving the Presidency in expense, when it was under the greatest pecuniary difficulties; as unskilfully conducted; as disgracing the Company's arms; and, even if successful, promising no proportional advantage. The supreme authority, weakened by its distance, prevented not the subordinate from raising a new expedition out of the first. The Nabob of Baroach, despairing of his power to resist the arms of the Company, repaired to Bombay, and represented his inability to comply with their heavy demand, amounting to thirty-three lacs of rupees. Among the various expedients to which he had recourse for conciliating the favour of the Bombay administration, and obtaining a mitigation of their claims, he recommended with great assiduity the conquest of Guzerat; which he represented as easy, and promised to assist them with all his resources. The Presidency lent him a very favourable ear. After great discussion, an arrangement was concluded at the end of November, 1771. A species of military alliance; a sum of four lacs of rupees to be paid by instalments; the privilege of levying all duties on those who trade under the protection of the Company in the territory of Baroach; the erection of an English factory; and exclusion of all other Europeans excepting the Dutch, who had a previous establishment; were the advantages which the treaty promised to the English. Before the lapse of a year the Presidency began to accuse the Nabob of an intention to elude his agreement. After the question was left undetermined in the Committee, it was decided in the Council, with the censure of the Court of Directors on the former expedition lying before them, to send an armament to chastise the Nabob, and wipe off the former disgrace of their arms. Now indeed the enterprise succeeded; the Nabob was ruined; and the Presidency settled the division of the revenues with Futty Sing on the same terms on which they had formerly been shared between the government of Guzerat and the Nabob.

* Surat was still governed nominally by a Mogul Nabob, who was however now, in a great measure, dependant upon the Company.

The assassination of Narrain Row, and the succession of Ragoba, announcing Chap. II. a weak and distracted government, appeared to the Council to present a favour- J^s_'' able opportunity for accomplishing an object which their honourable masters had Hopes ofobso much at heart, the possession of Salsette and Bassein: In their select con- sette uud Bas. sultations, on the 17th of September, 1773, they agreed to instruct Mr. Mostyn, JUU^aST their resident at Poonah, to improve diligently every circumstance favourable to 6oba' the accomplishment of that event; and on no account whatever to leave the Mahratta capital: Baroach, and several of the recent acquisitions, as Fort Vittoria, and Rajapore, were offered in exchange: But in their letter to the Directors, of the 12th of January, 1774, the Council declare the disappointment of all their endeavours; and their opinion that no inducements would prevail upon the Mahrattas willingly to part with those favourite possessions, so justly the object of the Company's desire. They next represent the violent distractions of the Mahratta government; and the opinion, which they had received from Mr. Mostyn, that Ragoba would be either assassinated, or deposed. With this event, say they, "our treaties with the present government may be deemed at an end." The violent competitions for the throne, and consequent weakness of the state, might afford them, released as they would be from all engagements, an opportunity of acquiring those important possessions by what appeared to be the only means of acquiring them, force of arms; and they signify to the Court of Directors their determination not to let the occasion be lost, provided their pecuniary situation would permit, and the circumstances of Ragoba, which some recent intelligence represented as not yet desperate, should be found to be such as the Resident described.

After the dispatch of this letter, Ragoba had returned upon his enemies; On the rugained the victory already mentioned* over their forces in the field; fled from Portuguese his army to Guzerat; and opened a negotiation with the Presidency; when, J^J^gJJj* towards the end of November, 1774, intelligence was received at Bombay from sette, it is

. . seized by the

the Company's resident at Goa, that great preparations were making by the Presidency. Portuguese for the recovery of their lost possessions; and, in particular, of Salsette and Bassein. The accomplishment of this project appeared to the Presidency not only to cut off all chance of making this favourite acquisition for the Company, but to give to the Portuguese the command of the passes into the interior country, and the power of harassing, by what imposts and restrictions they pleased, the trade of the English. They came therefore to the resolu

[blocks in formation]

Book V. tion of preventing, at all events, the fall of Salsette and Bassein into the hands of the Portuguese; and for that purpose regarded no expedient so good as taking possession themselves. It was agreed to signify to Ragoba, with whom they were treating, that it was a measure purely of precaution, and in no respect intended to interfere with his rights. To avoid an immediate rupture with the Mutseddies, the Resident was instructed to make to them a similar declaration; and to renounce all intention of holding Salsette and Bassein in opposition to the will of the existing government at Poona. On the 12th of December a considerable force set out from Bombay; it carried by assault the principal fort in Salsette on the 28th; and without further opposition took possession of the island.* . . Treaty con- The negotiation was not interrupted with Ragoba. The Presidency regarded

eluded with . .

Ragoba. him as the rightful Peshwa; they expected, and with good reason, that their assistance would place him, without much difficulty, on his throne; and though he adhered with obstinacy to the possession of Salsette and Bassein, he offered territorial dominion and revenue to a large amount in the neighbourhood of Surat. Amid these proceedings arrived, on the 7th of December, the letter from the Supreme Council in Bengal, announcing the accession of the new government, and requiring an account of the state of the Presidency of Bombay. It was answered on the 31st, when accounts were rendered of the acquisition of Salsette and Bassein, of the negotiation with Ragoba, the intention of the President and Council to grant him their assistance, and the reasons which guided them in these acts and determinations. In the interval between the adjustment and execution of the treaty with Ragoba, he was brought to an action by the army of the Ministers; deserted in the battle by a body of Arabs, on whom he depended, and obliged to fly from the field with a small body of horse. This disaster the majority of the Council deemed it an easy matter to retrieve; as Ragoba still had powerful adherents; as the Ministers were neither united, nor strong; and the union of the English troops with his army would render him more than a match for his opponents. They resolved, therefore, "not to give up the great advantages which they were to reap by the treaty, when so fair an opportunity occurred." Ragoba made his way to Surat, and a treaty was concluded on the 6th of March, 1775, by which he now yielded up Salsette and Bassein, with the Mahratta share of the revenues of Baroach and other places in the district of Surat, to the amount, upon the whole, of a

* Fifth Report, ut supra, p. 69.

revenue of twenty-two and a half lacs of rupees. His army, with that of Chap. II. Govind Row, made good their retreat to the fort of Copperwange, about fifty * v~—'

1775.

coss from Cambay, and were joined by the English, under the command of An English Colonel Keating, on the 19th of April. The detachment consisted of eighty support Mm. European artillery, and 160 artillery Lascars, 500 European infantry, and 1,400 Sepoys, with a field train of twelve pieces, besides two mortars and several howitzers. The whole amounted to about 25,000 men in arms.*

The army of the Mutseddies had been deserted by Scindia, with 12,000 of The English, the best horse; Shabbajee Bonsla, who favoured their cause in Berar, had been the e*myto cut off by his brother, who befriended Ragoba; the fidelity of Holkar was held bud'da^took" in doubt; and the Nizam, though he received their concessions, and promised quarter Bt

*■ Dhubov dur

assistance, always evaded performance; but they were still superior in numbers ing the"rains. to Ragoba and his allies. As soon after conjunction as possible the English commander proposed to advance toward the enemy, who were encamped on the banks of the Sabermatty. After a few indecisive rencounters, finding they could not bring the enemy to a general action, the English, in concert with their allies, resolved to march toward the south, and, penetrating to the Deccan, arrive at Poona before the setting in of the rains. The enemy, as soon as they discovered their intention, laid waste the country in front, and destroyed the wells. At last, on the 18th of May, having reached the plain of Arras, on which they had given Ragoba his recent defeat, they advanced and commenced a cannonade upon the rear of the English and their ally. The enemy were received with great gallantry; but an officer of Ragoba having treacherously introduced as partizans a body of hostile cavalry, between the advanced party of the British army and the line, some confusion ensued, andthe first company of European grenadiers, by a mistake of the officer commanding them, began to retreat, and were followed in a panic by the rest of the party. Considerable execution was then performed by the enemy's horse; but so destructive a fire of grape and shells was immediately poured upon them from the British line, as compelled them to seek their safety by quitting the field. The loss of Europeans, seven officers and eighty men, mostly grenadiers, beside 200 Sepoys, rendered this an expensive victory; while the want of horse, and the backwardness occasioned or excused by the want of pay of the troops of Ragoba, made it impossible, by an active pursuit, to derive from it the advantages it might otherwise have given. The rear of the enemy * Forbes, Oriental Memoirs, ii. 32. S AS

Book V. was attacked in crossing the Nerbuddah, on the 11th of June, where they lost *g many lives, and were obliged to sink a part of their guns. After this rencounter, they hasted out of the province of Guzerat. And as Ragoba's troops refused to cross the Nerbuddah, till they obtained satisfaction in regard to their long arrears, it was resolved, as the season of the rains was at hand, to suspend the progress of the expedition. Dhuboy, a fortified city about fifty miles from Baroach, convenient for receiving reinforcements and supplies, was selected for quartering the English; while Ragoba encamped with his army at Bellapoor, a pass on the river Dahder, at ten miles distance. The favourable complexion of Ragoba's affairs produced, among other consequences, the alliance of Futty Sing. His overtures were made through the English; and, Govind Row being previously satisfied by the promises of Ragoba, the terms of a treaty were agreed Treaty with upon in the month of July. To the English, he consented to confirm all the and'a &v"o^r- grants within the Guicawar dominions, which had been yielded by Ragoba; for next «url- an(l to ma^e further concessions in perpetuity to the annual amount of about Pa1gn- one million seventy-eight thousand rupees: To Ragoba he engaged himself for the usual tribute and aid to the Poona durbar; and what was of unspeakable importance on the present emergency, for the sum of twenty-six lacs of rupees, to be paid in sixty days. The English and Ragoba had thus a prospect of marching to Poona in the next campaign, with a great augmentation of resources, and a friendly country in their rear.* . . . •. .Conduct, upon \ye have seen that the Presidency of Bombay informed the Directors by

these events,

of theDirec- letter, on the 12th of January, 1774, that the Mahratta government was in a peculiar crisis; and that such an opportunity now occurred of acquiring Salsette and Bassein, as they had very little intention of letting escape. The Directors, as if anxious to allow time for the conquest, replied not till the 12th of April, 1775, when their answer could not be received at Bombay, in much less than two years from the time when the measure was announced as on the verge of execution. Nearly six months after the place was reduced by their arms, and governed by their authority, they sat down to say, "It is with much concern we learn from your records, that we are not likely to obtain Salsette from the Mahrattas by negotiation. We, however disapprove your resolution to take possession of the island by force, in case of the death or deposition of Ragoba; and hereby positively prohibit you from attempting that measure, under any

* Mr. Forbes, who was private secretary to the commanding officer of the British detachment, gives us, though less of the campaign than of other objects, our best particulars, in the chapters xvi. to xx. of his Oriental Memoirs.

« ПредишнаНапред »