« ПредишнаНапред »
treated prince, while the servants of the Company were his plunderers and Chap. IV. tyrants. ^ v——'
J 1770. Nor was this all. As the grand intent of the eleventh article of the treaty of Paris was to preserve peace between the English and other powers in India, and as there is nothing in the relations of one state to another which the care of peace may not be said to embrace, the whole international policy of the British government in India was, by the new ministerial expedient, deposited in the hands of the King's Minister Plenipotentiary.
On the 26th of July, 1770, Sir John Lindsay, after having remained some months at Bombay, arrived at Madras; and at once surprised and alarmed the servants of the Company by the declaration of his powers. In one of their first communications with Sir John, they say, "When you now inform us, you are invested with great and separate powers, and when we consider that those powers, in their operation, may greatly affect the rights of the Company, we cannot but be very much alarmed."* To their employers, the Court of Directors, they expound themselves more fully. "To give you a clear representation of the dangerous embarrassments through which we have been struggling, since the arrival of his Majesty's powers in this country, is a task far beyond our abilities. They grow daily more and more oppressive to us; and we must sink under the burthen, unless his Majesty, from a just representation of their effect, will be graciously pleased to recall powers, which, in dividing the national interest, will inevitably destroy its prosperity in India. Such is the danger J and yet we are repeatedly told, that it is to support that interest, by giving the sanction of his Majesty's name to our measures, that these powers were granted, and for that alone to be exerted. It has always been our opinion, that with your authority, we had that of our Sovereign, and of our nation, delegated to us. If this opinion be forfeited, your servants can neither act with spirit nor success; for under the control of a superior commission, they dare not, they cannot, exert the powers with which they alone are entrusted. Their weakness and disgrace become conspicuous; and they are held in derision by your enemies." f
The first of the requisitions which Sir John Lindsay made upon the President and Council was to appear in his train, when he went in state to deliver to the Nabob his Majesty's letter and presents. They considered, that, as the servants of the Company had heretofore been the medium through which all communi
* Letter to Sir John Lindsay, dated 16th August, 1770, Rous's Appendix, p. 254. t Letter to the Court of Directore, dated July 20th 1771, Ibid. p. 400. VOL. II. 3 I
Book V. cations to the princes of India had been made, and as they had heen considered
v 'in India, the immediate representatives of the British Monarch, and the highest instrument of his government, they could not appear in the train of Sir John Lindsay without degradation in the eyes of the natives, and a forfeiture of the dignity and influence of the Company, which, as they had no instructions upon the subject, they did not think themselves at liberty to resign. With the assignment of these reasons, they respectfully signified to Sir John Lindsay the inability under which they found themselves to comply with his request. This brought on an interchange of letters, which soon degenerated into bitterness and animosity on both sides.*
Among the reasons which the President and Council assigned for declining to appear in the train of Sir John Lindsay, they had stated, that any suspicion, disseminated in the country, of the annihilation or diminution of the Company's power "might, at this crisis particularly, prove fatal to the existence of the Company, and the interests of the nation in India: because they were on the brink of a war with the most formidable power in India, which it would require all their efforts to avoid, while they feared that all their efforts would be insufficient." f This apprehension was a good deal exaggerated, to serve the present purpose; and the exaggeration yielded an advantage to Sir John Lindsay of which he immediately availed himself. He was very sorry, he said, to find them on the brink of a dreadful war, which was all but inevitable: He pressed upon them the consideration of the importance of peace to a commercial body: And as he was sent out to watch over the execution of the eleventh article, of which peace was the main object, he begged they would lay before him such documents and explanations, as "would make him acquainted with the real state of the Company's affairs." \ He also informed them, that he was "commanded by his Majesty to apply to them for a full and succinct account of all their transactions with the Nabob of Arcot since the late treaty of Paris; and inquire with the utmost care into the causes of the late war with the Subah of the Deckan and Hyder Ali, and the reasons of its unfortunate consequences." § To this point the reply of the President and Council was in the following terms: "Duplicates of our records, and very minute and circumstantial details of all our transactions, have already been transmitted to the Court of Directors of the East India Company, our constituents. We have heard, that when an inquiry
at home into the state of the Company's affairs was thought necessary, it was Chap. IV. signified by his Majesty's ministry to the Court of Directors, that they would v be called upon by parliament to produce their records; that they were accordingly called upon by parliament, and did produce them. This, we believe, was a constitutional course; but we have never heard, that the Company's papers and records were demanded by, or surrendered to, the ministry alone; for that we believe would be unconstitutional. The Company hold their rights by act of parliament; their papers and their records are their rights; we are entrusted with them here; we are under oath of fidelity, and under covenants, not to part with them; nevertheless all conditions are subservient to the laws, and when we shall be called upon in a legal and constitutional way, we shall readily and cheerfully submit ourselves, our lives, and fortunes, to the laws of our country. To break our oath and our covenants would be to break those laws. But we hold them sacred and inestimable, for they secure the rights and liberties of the people." * With as much jealousy and dislike as Sir John Lindsay was received by the Sir John President and Council; with so much cordiality and pleasure was he received by ferencebl*dlf" the Nabob and those who surrounded him. To the Nabob he explained, thatNaboband he was come to recognize him as a fellow sovereign with the King of Great Presidency in Britain, and to afford him the protection of that great King against all his enemies. The Nabob, who had a keen Oriental eye for the detection of personalfeelings, was not long a stranger to the sentiments with which his Majesty's Minister Plenipotentiary, and the Company's President and Council, regarded one another. He described the President and Council as his greatest enemies; for they withdrew the greater part of his revenue and power. Sir John, who was already prejudiced, and ignorant ofthe scene in which he was appointed to act, fell at once into all the views of the Nabob, and the crowd by whom he was beset. The Nabob laid out his complaints, and Sir John listened with a credulous ear. The Nabob described the policy which had been pursued with respect to the native powers, by the servants of the Company; and easily made it assume an appearance which gave it to the eye of Sir John a character of folly, or corruption, or both. He drew the line of policy which at the present moment it would have gratified his own wishes to get the Company to pursue; and he painted it in such engaging colours, that Sir John Lindsay believed it to be recommended equally by the sense of justice, and the dictates of wisdom. * Ibid, p. 257.
Book V. The King's Commissioner, measuring his own consequence by that of the master **"~^0"~~' whom he served, and treating the Company and their servants as not worthy of much regard, on the score either of wisdom or of virtue, widened the difference between the partnership sovereigns of the Carnatic. The royal functionary assumed the character of protector of the Nabob; and appeared to interpose the royal authority, between an ally of the crown, and the oppression of the Company. The contempt which the Nabob saw bestowed upon the authority to which he had been accustomed to bend, and the dignity to which he appeared to be exalted as an ally of the British King, augmented his opinion of the injustice under which he appeared to himself to groan; and the letters of the Commissioner to the ministers in England were filled with accounts of the oppression exercised by the insolent and rapacious servants of a counting-house, over an independent and sovereign prince. The feeble discernment which has generally scanned the proceedings of the East India Company, and which has often lavished upon them applause where their conduct has been neither virtuous nor wise, has almost uniformly arraigned them for not accomplishing impossibilities, and uniting contrary effects; for not rendering themselves powerful and independent, without trenching upon the power and independence of princes, who would suffer their power and independence, only in proportion as they were deprived of those attributes themselves. Beside this fundamental consideration, it was not to be disputed, that, left to himself, Mahomed Al i could not maintain his possession of the province for even a few years; and that nothing but the power of the English could prevent it from falling a prey to the neighbouring powers, or even to its own disorganization. Though it is not disputed that the rapacity of individuals, who preyed upon the Nabob, may have added to the disorder of his affairs, it is true that the poverty of the Carnatic, and the wretched administration of the Nabob, enabled it not to fulfil the golden hopes of the English, or even to provide for its own necessities.* The English When the President and Council described themselves as on the brink of a SEfrtwal war, tne circumstances to which they alluded were these. In the second article ^e^hdb^eof the treaty which was concluded with Hyder Ali, in 1769, it was agreed; Mahrattas; "That in case either of the contracting parties shall be attacked, they shalL
to great dan- irom then: respective countries, mutually assist each other to drive the enemy ger from both. out.an(j -m ^ 0f wh0m the troops were employed, was to afford them maintenance at a rate which was mutually determined. This was a con
* See Rous's Appendix, No, 17, passim.
dition so highly esteemed by Hyder, that of an accommodation with him, on Chap. IV. any other terms, all hopes, at the time of the treaty, were regarded as vain. TJC
Within a few weeks Hyder endeavoured to persuade the English of the great advantage which he and they would derive from uniting Janojee Bonsla with them, in a triple league. He also informed them of his intention to recover from Madhoo Row, the Peshwa, certain possessions which that invader had wrested from him two years before; and requested that they would send him a certain number of troops, no matter how small, merely to show to the world the friendship which now happily subsisted between the English and him. The Presidency, pointing out in what manner this, to which the treaty did not bind them, would be an act of unmerited hostility against the Mahrattas, declined compliance with his request.
Early in 1770, the Mahrattas invaded his country; and again he solicited assistance, if it were but a few troops, for the sake of the manifestation on account of which he had requested them before. If a more substantial aid was afforded, he professed his readiness to pay three lacs of rupees. It was not very easy for the English now to find a pretext. They evaded, procrastinated, and withheld rather than refused compliance with his desire.
The Mahrattas reduced Hyder to great difficulties, nay dangers; and seemed resolved to annex his dominions to their spreading conquests. During this period of his distress, in which he was obliged to abandon the open country, and to depend upon his forts, he endeavoured to persuade the English that their own interest was deeply concerned in combining with him against the Mahrattas, who would touch upon their frontier, and present them a formidable neighbourhood, if the barrier which he interposed were broken down.
The Mahrattas, too, very earnestly pressed for the assistance of the English. They had indeed, by weight of superior numbers, driven Hyder from the open country; but the protection of his strong holds enabled him still to hold out, and they saw the time rapidly approaching, when the exhausted state of the country would compel them to retire for want of the means to support their army. The skill, therefore, which enabled the English to subdue the strongest places with a rapidity which to them appeared like magic rather than natural means, they regarded as a most desirable acquisition. To attain this object, they endeavoured to work upon the fears of the Nabob; and in their communication with him threatened to invade the Carnatic, unless the English complied with their desires.
The difficulties on the part of the President and Council were uncommonly Amid the difficulties of tb*