Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

1779.

Book V. July, when they came to the resolution of supporting Ragoba. And they urged the delay of this detachment, and the uncertainty of its arrival, as a reason for having undertaken the expedition to Poonah, without waiting for that addition of strength which its union and co-operation would have bestowed. Dissatisfied with the long inactivity of the detachment at Chatterpore, the Supreme Council wrote to the commanding officer on the 31st of August, desiring him to explain the reasons of his conduct, and to pursue the march. He had put himself in motion about the middle of the month, and was at Rajegur on the 17th, where a party of Mahrattas disputed the passage of the river Kane. On the 17th of September he dispatched a letter to the Supreme Council from Rajegur, where he still remained, stating, that the retardation of the detachment had been occasioned by the weather; that he had concluded friendly engagements with Goman Sing, and Coman Sing, two Rajahs of Bundelcund; and had received satisfactory assurances from Moodajee Bonsla, the Regent of Berar, to whom the proposition of an embassy from the English rulers appeared to have yielded peculiar gratification.*

The views of The person, who had been chosen to conduct this embassy, died upon the Co'uncSnoT journey, before he reached the capital of Berar. After some fluctuation of mmate'and opinion, it was determined not to continue the negotiation by appointing a clear. successor; but rather to wait in expectation of some advances from the Regent.

The party of Mr. Francis now urgently pressed for a distinct declaration of the design with which the detachment, on its way to the western Presidency, was directed to continue its march. There was not only a complication, they affirmed, but a contrariety of objects; the alliance for raising Moodajee Bonsla to the throne of Sevagee being inconsistent with the scheme of establishing Ragoba in the office of Peshwa. The Governor General, without any explanation, alleged that the re-instatement of Ragoba had never been as an end, but only as a means; that his hopes and expectations were placed on

* The sentiments of the Court of Directors were unfavourable to this attempted alliance. In their letter of the 14th of May, 1779, to the Governor General and Council, they say, "The undertaking appears to us contrary to the Company's former policy, to our engagements with Ragoba and Nizam Ali, and doubtful respecting any reasonable prospect of advantage." And in another letter, dated on the 27th of the same month, to the President and Select Committee of Bombay, they say, "We earnestly hope, that upon your negotiation and treaty with Ragoba being communicated to our Governor General and Council, they would concur with you in giving full effect thereto, and desist from entering into any new connexions which may set aside, or counteract, your recent agreements with Ragoba." Sixth Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781, p. 84.

Moodajee; that the detachment, whether its services should be required for the Chap. III. restoration of Ragoba, in prosecution of engagements with Moodajee, or in opposing the French, ought equally to continue its march. The opposite party once more urged in vain their reasons for its recall. But all parties agreed in condemning Colonel Leslie, for the delay which he had incurred, and the engagements which he had formed; in pronouncing him unfit to be any longer trusted with the command which he held; and in transmitting orders that he should resign it to Colonel Goddard, the officer next in command. Leslie, however, survived not to receive the intelligence of his disgrace; nor to produce, it ought to be remembered, what he might have urged in vindication of his conduct. He was an officer of experience and reputation. It is known, that he held a high language, that he complained of the Governor-General, to whom, by his special directions, he had communicated a private journal of his transactions, and to whom he had trusted for the explanation of his proceedings. But no inference can safely be founded on the allegation that the Governor-General, who had previously defended his conduct, was informed of the deadly nature of his disease, and the hopelessness of his recovery, at the time when he condemned him and voted for his recall. By the death of Leslie, the command devolved on Colonel Goddard on the By the death 3d of October. On the 22d he wrote a private letter to the Governor-General, ii^ie^Colonel informing him of the progress which the detachment had made towards the ^"j^J1^0" Nerbudda, or the boundary of Berar. At the same time with the letter from command of

• j - . . . tne detach

Colonel Goddard, arrived dispatches from Moodajee, expressing his lamentation ment o,. the upon the death of the late ambassador, and his hopes that such an event would Bengal to" not frustrate the plan of friendship which it had been the object of that embassy Bombayto establish. Upon the receipt of these letters the Governor General moved, Goddard enthat the negotiation with Moodajee Bonsla should be resumed; and that powers po"^^^1^. to treat with him should be communicated to Colonel Goddard. The opposite e°t,atf WItl>

rr the rulers of

party contended, that an alliance with the Regent of Berar would be equivalent Berar. to a declaration of war against Nizam Ali, and involve the Carnatic in misfortune; that neither did Colonel Goddard possess the qualifications of a negotiator, nor did the duties of his command enable him to devote his mind to the business which a negotiator was required to perform; and that the Presidency of Bombay, under whose orders the detachment had been placed, might take measures in favour of Ragoba, with which the instructions they might give in regard to Moodajee would not be reconcilable. On the 7th of December, after intelligence had arrived of the second revolu- Situation in

_ _ which God- Book V. tion at Poonah, which the Governor-General regarded as defeating the original design upon which the assistance of the detachment had been sent to Bombay, dard was he proposed that it should no longer act under the orders of that Presidency, perfect and""" lest tne designs of those rulers should defeat the negotiation with Moodajee, contradictory entrusted to Colonel Goddard. While this proposition was under debate, a dispatch was received from the resident at Poonah, stating his expectation of being immediately recalled, as the Select Committee at Bombay had determined to proceed against the governing party at Poonah. After this intelligence, the proposition of the Governor-General, for retaining the detachment of Colonel Goddard under the immediate authority of the Supreme Council, received the sanction of the Board. In the mean time Moodajee Bonsla, for whose alliance so much anxiety was expressed, had written an evasive letter to Colonel Goddard, dated the 23d of November; manifesting pretty clearly a wish to embroil himself as little as possible either with the English or with the Poonah confederacy. Goddard crossed the Nerbuddah on the 1st of December; and sent an agent to Nagpore, to ascertain how far he might depend upon Moodajee. In conclusion, he inferred, that no engagement would be formed between that chieftain and the English; but that a friendly conduct might be expected toward the detachment, while it remained in his dominions.

By this time the army of Bombay was on its march to Poonah. But though Colonel Goddard had transmitted regular intelligence of his movements to Bombay, he had received no communications from that quarter; and remained in total ignorance of their designs, except from some intimations communicated by Moodajee, that an expedition against Poonah was in preparation. Uncertain as was the ground upon which he had to proceed, he had come to the determination, that the balance of probabilities required his proceeding to Poonah, when he received dispatches from the Council at Bombay, unfolding what they had done, and what they were intending to do, and pressing it upon him to march to Poonah with the smallest possible delay. To the question why the Presidency at Bombay had not sooner made Colonel Goddard acquainted with the design of the expedition, and taken the precautionary steps for securing cooperation between his detachment and their own, the answer must be, either that they exercised not the degree of reflection necessary for that moderate display of wisdom; or that they wished to have to themselves the glory of setting up a Mahratta government; or that, to avoid the expense of the detachment, they wished it not to arrive. Moodajee, who was afraid to embroil himself with the Poonah government, if he gave a passage to the troops of Goddard, and. :' • 5

with the English government, if he refused it, was very earnest with him to Chap. III. wait till he received satisfactory letters from Calcutta. But, notwithstanding this solicitation, Goddard, on the 16th of January, began his march from the banks of the Nerbudda.

He took the great road to Boorhanpoor and Poonah, and arrived at Charwah on the 22d, where he received intelligence that the army from Bombay had advanced as far as Boraghaut, a place fifty miles distant from Poonah.

On the 24th, he received a letter dated the 11th, from the Field Committee, who conducted the Bombay expedition, representing, that in consequence of an alteration which had taken place in the state of affairs, it was not expedient he should advance; that he should either proceed to Surat, if he found himself in a condition to make his way, in spite of the Mahratta horse, by whom his march would be annoyed, or remain in the territories of the Rajah of Berar, till further instructions. This letter placed him in a state of perfect uncertainty, whether the Bombay army had sustained a disaster which cut off their hopes, or had so flattering a prospect of success, that all additional force was accounted unnecessary. On the next day a letter arrived from the Council at Bombay, apparently written without a knowledge of the circumstances which dictated the letter of the Field Committee, and urging him to proceed. Under the perplexity which this lack of information, and discrepancy of injunctions, inspired, he resolved to proceed to Boorhanpoor, in hopes of obtaining intelligence, and arrived at that ancient capital on the 30th.

There, on the 2d of February, he received another letter from the Field Com- Goddard armittee, dated on the 19th of January, more mysterious than any which had yet nv"s at" arrived. It shortly cautioned him against obeying the order in their letter of the 16th, which on better consideration they deemed themselves not competent to give. Goddard could ill conjecture the meaning of this warning, as he had not received the letter of the 16th; but he believed that it indicated evil rather than good; and saw well the dangers which surrounded him in the heart of the Mahratta country, if any serious disaster, which might produce a change in the mind of Moodajee himself, had befallen the army from Bombay. He waited at Boorhanpoor till the 5th, in hopes of receiving more certain information, when he was made acquainted with the nature of the disaster pretty exactly by Moodajee. He resolved to retreat to Surat, and marched on the 6th. On the 9th a vakeel arrived from the Poona government, bearing the letter written by the Field Committee on the 16th of January. It was the letter in which, under the dictation of the Mahrattas, they had commanded his immediate return to Bengal. This injunction it was the business of the vakeel to enforce.

Book V. But Goddard replied that he was marching to Bombay in obedience to the "^^~J orders of the Supreme Council; and with the most friendly intentions toward the Mahratta state. The march was conducted with great expedition. The troops were kept in such exact discipline, that the people, having nothing to fear, remained in their houses, and supplied the army by sale with many conveniencies for the march. They arrived at Surat on the 30th; a distance of nearly three hundred miles in nineteen days.* The Supreme In consequence of these events, it was resolved at the Supreme Board, to vest avow the^'" ColoneP>Goddard with full powers for treating with the Poonah government; by tbedMah-ed to disavow the convention concluded with the Poonah committee, but to express rattas to the a desire for accommodation, on the basis of the treaty of Poorunder, if the

leaders of the

Bombay army: Mahrattas, on their part, would afford encouragement, by relinquishing all Goddard to claims founded on that convention, and by a promise of forming no connexion, thf"basis of °" either commercial or political, with the French. If they should reject these die treaty of proposals, Colonel Goddard, whom the Supreme Council now promoted to the rank of General, was empowered to renew the war, and if possible to form connections with the head of the Guicawar family, and the government of Berar. Negotiation Goddard had commenced his correspondence with the Poonah ministry, when resolved. Ragoba made his escape, and repaired to Surat, where he received an asylum. Discordance prevailed among the Mahratta chiefs, and much uncertainty hung over their proceedings. Dissension broke out between Nana and Scindia, by whose united power Siccaram and Moraba had been subdued. With professions of a desire for peace, they kept aloof from definite terms; reports were received of their preparations for war; and negotiation lingered till the 20th of October, when Goddard sent his declaration, that if a satisfactory answer to his proposals was not returned in fifteen days, he should consider the delay as a declaration of war. A reply arrived on the 28th. Without the surrender of Ragoba, and the restoration of Salsette, it was declared that the Mahratta powers would make no agreement. The General upon this broke off the negotiation, and repaired to Bombay to concert with that Council the plan of hostilities.

The President and Council of Bombay had received, with considerable indignation, the intelligence of the power, independent of themselves, with which

* It is worthy of remark, that Gazee ad dien Khan, formerly Vizir of the empire, and grandson of the great Nizam al Mulk, was at this time found at Surat, in the disguise of a pilgrim, and confined, till the Supreme Council, being consulted, disapproved of all acts of violence, but forbid his appearing within the territories of the Company. See the Letter from Gov.-Gen. to Directors, dated 14th January, 1780. Sixth Report to the Secret Com. Appendix, No. 2*6.

« ПредишнаНапред »