Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Book V. the Mahratta war, the responsibility of which Mr. Francis had disclaimed, —; and thrown personally on the Governor-General, should be conducted in conformity with his conceptions and plans. It was this part of the agreement which Mr. Hastings accused his opponent of violating; and of depriving him, by a treacherous promise of co-operation, which induced Mr. Barwell to depart for Europe, of that authority which the vote of Mr. Barwell ensured. Mr. Francis, on the other hand, solemnly declared, that he "never was party to the engagement stated by Mr. Hastings, or had a thought of being bound by it." His agreement with regard to the Mahratta war he explained as extending only to the operations then commenced on the Malabar coast, but not to fresh operations on another part of the Mahratta dominions. Mr. Hastings produced a paper, containing the following words, "Mr. Francis will not oppose any measures which the Governor-General shall recommend for the prosecution of the war in which we are supposed to be engaged with the Mahrattas, or for the general support of the present political system of his government." To the terms of this agreement, presented to Mr. Francis in writing, he affirmed that Mr. Francis gave his full and deliberate consent. The reply of Mr. Francis was in the following words; "In one of our conversations in February last, Mr. Hastings desired me to read a paper of memorandums, among which I presume this article was inserted. I returned it to him the moment I had read it, with a declaration that I did not agree to it, or hold myself bound by the contents of it, or to that effect." Mr. Francis added some reasonings, drawn from the natural presumptions of the case. But these reasonings and presumptions had little tendency to strengthen the evidence of his personal assertion; the ground, between him and his antagonist, on which this question seems finally to rest. With the utmost earnestness Mr. Hastings repeated the affirmation of the terms on which Mr. Francis declared his assent; and at this point the verbal controMr. Francis versy between them closed. Soon after, a duel ensued between Mr. Hastings Europe. * an(l Mr. Francis, in which the latter was wounded; and on the 9th of December that gentleman quitted India, and returned to Europe.*

* Sixth Report of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781, p. 98, and Appendix, No. 288; also Fifth Report of the Select Committee, 1781, p. 14, 18, 30; Memoirs of the late War in Asia, ■ i. 301, &c.

CHAP. IV.

In Carnatic, Relations between the English and NabobPlenipotentiary, with independent Powers from the KingEnglish courted by Hyder Ali and the Mahrattas, and in Danger from bothNabob and Plenipotentiary desire Alliance with the MahrattasPresidency adhere to NeutralityRelations with the King of TanjoreAfter Hesitation, War is made upon himWar upon the MarawarsA second War upon TanjoreCondemned by the DirectorsPigot sent out to restore the RajahOpposition in the Madras CouncilPigot imprisonedSentiments and Measures adopted in EnglandCommittee of CircuitSuspended by Governor Rumbold, who summons the Zemindars to MadrasTransactions with Nizam Ali respecting GuntoorCensured by the Snpreme CouncilGovernor Rumbold, and other Members of the Government, condemned and punished by the Court of Directors.

While the principal station of the Company's power in India was giving Chap. IV. birth to so many important transactions, their Presidency on the Coromandel v v —'

1770

coast was not barren of incidents entitled to a great share of our regard.

The relation, in which the Company professed to stand to the country, was Relations be- different in Carnatic, and in Bengal. By the avowed possession of the duannee, iuh6and Na!6" they entered in Bengal into the direct discharge of the principal functions of hob* internal government. In Carnatic, during the contest with the French, they had held up Mahomed Ali; upon the termination of it, they had acknowledged him, as the undoubted sovereign of the country. He was established, therefore, in the possession of both branches of power, both that of Nazim, or the military power, and that of Duan, or the financial power: and the Company held the station of dependents; possessing their privileges through his sufferance, and owing obedience to his throne. They possessed a grant of land, surrounding Madras, which had been obtained in 1750, and in 1762 confirmed by the Nabob of Carnatic or Arcot, in recompense of the services rendered by the Company to him and his family. This was a sort of estate in land, under what is called jaghire tenure, enabling the owner to draw the revenue, which would otherwise accrue to government; and to exercise all those powers which in India are

Book V. usually connected with the power of raising the taxes. This Presidency also possessed, and that independent of their Nabob, the maritime district, known under the title of the four Northern Circars; which they had obtained by grant from the Mogul in 1765, and enjoyed under an agreement of peshcush, formed the succeeding year, with the Nizam or Subahdar.

Partly from characteristic imbecility, partly from the state of the country, not only exhausted, but disorganised by the preceding struggle, the Nabob remained altogether unequal to the protection of the dominions of which he was now the declared sovereign. Instead of trusting to the insignificant rabble of an army which he would employ, the Presidency beheld the necessity of providing by a British force for the security of the province. For this reason, and also for the sake of that absolute power* which they desired to maintain, the English were under the necessity of urging, and if need were constraining, the Nabob, to transfer to them the military defence of the country, and to allow out of his revenues a sum proportional to the expense. Having transferred the military power of the country, he placed himself in absolute dependence upon the Company; they being able to do what they pleased; he to do nothing but what they permitted. In a short time it was perceived, that his revenue was by no means equal to the demands which were made upon it. The country was oppressed by the severity of his exactions, and instead of being repaired, after the tedious sufferings of war, it was scourged by all the evils of a government at once insatiable and neglectful. When his revenues failed, he had recourse to loans. Money was advanced to him, at exorbitant interest; frequently by Englishmen, and the servants of the Company. He generally paid them, by a species of

* The resolution of maintaining this absolute power is thus clearly expressed in the letter of the Court of Directors, to the Presidency of Madras, dated 24th December, 1765. "The Nabob has hitherto desired, at least acquiesced with seeming approbation, that garrisons of our troops should be placed in his forts: it is not improbable that after a time he may wish to have his protectors removed. Should such an event happen, it may require some address to avoid giving him disgust, and at the same time a degree of firmness to persist in your present plan: But persist you must; for we establish it as a fundamental point, that the Company's influence and real power in the province cannot be any way so effectually maintained as by keeping the principal forts in our hands." See First Report of the Committee of Secrecy, 1781, Appendix, No. 23.— "By being in possession of most of his strong places, the troops being officered by the Company, and the garrisons perfectly under their orders, the Company have it in their power to give law to the Carnatick. Without the concurrence of the Presidency he can do nothing; they are arbiters of peace and war; and even if one of his own tributaries refuse the peshcush, the payment of which they had guaranteed, without them he cannot call him to an account." Letter from Sir John Lindsay, to the President and Council of Madras, 22d June, 1771; Rous's Appendix, p. 368. assignments, called in India, tuncaus, which entitled the holders to the revenues Chap. IV. of some portion of the territory, and to draw them immediately from the ^ v~—"' collectors. While his embarrassments were by these means increased, the exactors were encouraged to greater severities.

In this situation the Nabob and the Presidency were both dissatisfied, and both uneasy. Finding his power annihilated, and his revenues absorbed, after feasting his imagination with the prospect of the unlimited indulgences of an Eastern prince, he regarded the conduct of the Presidency as the highest injustice. The gentlemen entrusted at once with the care of their own fortunes and the interests of the Company, for both of which they imagined that the revenues of Carnatic would copiously and delightfully provide, were chagrined to find them inadequate even to the exigencies of the government; and accused the Nabob, either of concealing the amount of the sums which he obtained, or of impairing the produce of the country by the vices of his government.

Upon the termination of the disputes in London, toward the end of the year sir John Lind1769, between the Ministers of the Crown and the East India Company, KJngTcom-1" respecting the supervisors, and respecting the power of the King's naval officer to Jn1di1"oner in negotiate and to form arrangements with the Indian powers,* a marine force, consisting of some frigates of war, was commissioned under the command of Sir John Lindsay to proceed to the East Indies; "to give countenance and protection to the Company's settlements and affairs." In conformity with the terms to which the Company had yielded, they vested Sir John Lindsay with a commission to take the command of all their vessels of war in the Indian seas; and also, on their behalf, "to treat and settle matters in the Persian Gulph."

So far, there was mutual understanding, clearness, and concert. But in addition to this, Sir John Lindsay was appointed, by commission under the great seal, his Majesty's Minister Plenipotentiary, with powers to negotiate and conclude arrangements, with the Indian sovereigns in general. This measure was not only contrary to what the Company had claimed as their right, against which the Minister appeared to have ceased, for the time, to contend; but it was a measure taken without their knowledge: and Sir John Lindsay appeared in India claiming the field for the exercise of his powers, before they or their servants had the smallest intimation that any such powers were in existence.

If there was a danger, which must strike every considerate mind, in sending its dangerous two independent authorities, to act and clash together in the delicate and conse<^uences

* See the account of these disputes, supra, p. 287.

troubled scene of Indian affairs, a danger inevitable even if the circumstances had been arranged between the Ministers and the Company with the greatest harmony and the greatest wisdom, all the principles of mischief were naturally multiplied, and each strengthened to the utmost, by the present stroke of ministerial politics. • The ground upon which this disputed and imprudent exercise of power appears to have been placed was the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris, concluded in 1763. With a view to maintain peace in India, and to close the disputes between the English and the French, who, according to their own professions, appeared to have nothing else in view but to determine who was the just and rightful Nabob of Carnatic, who the just and rightful Subahdar of Deccan, it was there decided and agreed that the two nations should acknowledge Mahomed Ali as the one, and Salabut Jung as the other. It occurred to the ingenuity of practical statesmen, that the King of Great Britain, having become party to an article of a treaty, had a right, without asking leave of the Company, to look after the execution of that article; and hence to send a deputy duly qualified for that purpose. If this conferred a right of bestowing upon Sir John Lindsay the powers of an ambassador; it also conferred the right of avoiding altercation with the East India Company, by taking the step without their knowledge.

The power of looking after the due execution of the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris was not a trifling power.

It included, in the first place, the power of taking a part in all the disputes between the Nabob and the Company's servants; as Mahomed Ali was in that article placed upon the footing of an ally of the King of Great Britain, and hence entitled to all that protection which is due to an ally. The servants of the Company had been at some pains to keep from the knowledge of the Nabob the full import of the new relation in which he was placed to the British throne; as calculated most imprudently to inflame that spirit of ambition and love of independence, with which it was so difficult already to deal, and with the gratification of which the existence in the Carnatic either of his power or that of the Company was altogether incompatible. The band of Englishmen and others, who surrounded the Nabob, for the purpose of preying upon him, wished of course to see all power in his hands, that they might prey the more abundantly. They filled every place with their outcries against every restraint which was placed upon him: and in particular had endeavoured, and with great success, to disseminate an opinion in England, that he was an oppressed and ill

« ПредишнаНапред »