« ПредишнаНапред »
Once more the subject was taken up by the House of Commons. On the 16th Chap. IV. of April, 1779, Admiral Pigot, the brother of the deceased Governor, began the 1 discussion with a history of the transactions which had led to the deposition of Lord Pigot, and with the heaviest charges against the actors in that scene: After which he moved a series of resolutions, affirming the principal facts, affirming also that orders had been given to hold courts-martial for the trial of the principal military officers engaged in the crime, and directing an address to his Majesty for the prosecution, by the Attorney-General, of four of the members of the Council, who had returned to England. The resolutions gave rise to considerable debate; but were finally adopted. Proceedings in the courts of law were immediately commenced; and on the 20th of December, the four members were tried for a misdemeanour, before a special jury; and found guilty. When brought up for judgement, a fine of 1000/. was imposed upon each; to men of their fortunes, a punishment hardly to be felt: Such is the difference, in the minds of English judges, between the crime of deposing the head of a government in the East Indies, and writing a censure upon one of the instruments of government at home.*
When the northern circars were first delivered into the hands of the Company, Appointment lt was judged expedient to govern the country for a time in the manner which ings of the was already established. The Circars of Rajamundry, Ellore, and Condapilly, circuit."66 °f were consigned, under a lease of three years, to a native, named Hussun Ali Khan, who had previously governed them, under the Nizam, with the state and authority of a viceroy. The remaining Circar of Cicacole was placed under a similar administration, but in the hands of a separate deputy.
A change was introduced in 1769. Administration by the agency of natives was discontinued: And the Circars were placed under the charge of Provincial Chiefs and Councils, a title and form which at that period the commercial factories were made to assume. Under the Chief and Council, formerly the Factory, of Masulipatam, were placed the districts of Condapilly, Rajamundry, and Ellore. The Chief and Council of Vizigapatam received in charge the southern parts of Cicacole: and at Ganjam, where the factory had been discontinued, a new establishment was made of a chief and council for those affairs of the country which could be most conveniently ruled from that as a centre. To these provin
residence in different parts of India, three of which were spent in the service of the Nabob of
Book V.cial boards, the financial, judicial, and, in short, the whole civil and political administration of the country, was consigned.
The disappointment in their expectations of pecuniary supply from the northern circars, as from their other dominions, and the sense which they entertained of the defects of the existing administration, had recommended to the Court of Directors the formation of the Committee of Circuit. This Committee were directed by personal inspection, and inquiry upon the spot, to ascertain, with all possible exactness, the produce, the population, and manufactures of the country; the extent and sources of the revenue; the mode and expense of its collection; the state of the administration of justice; how far the financial and judicial regulations which had been introduced in Bengal were applicable in the Circars; what was the condition of the forts; and the circumstances of the Zemindars or Rajahs; what the military force of each; the expenses both of his army and household; and the means which he possessed of defraying them. The Directors declared it to be their intention to let the lands, after the expiration of the present leases, for a term of years, as in Bengal; not, however, to deprive the hereditary Zemindars of their income; but leave them an option, either to take the lands which had belonged to them, under an equitable valuation, or to retire upon a pension. They avowed, at the same time, the design of taking the military power into their own hands, and of preventing the Zemindars from maintaining those bodies of troops, with which they were perpetually enabled to endanger the peace and security of the state.
Within a few days after the deposition of Lord Pigot, the new Governor and Council drew up the instructions of the Committee; and sent them to the discharge of their duties. They had made some progress in their inquiries;when Sir Thomas Rumbold took the reins of government at Madras, in February, 1778*
The Commit- In Council, on the 24th of March, the Governor represented, that on account luspLdedby of tne diminution in the number of members, it was now inconvenient, if not Wd sudthe iroiH'ssikle, to spare a sufficient number from the Council to form the Committee; Zemindars that the Committee was attended with very vast expense; that all the ends
summoned to , .
Madras. which were proposed to be served by it might be still more effectually accomplished if the Zemindars were sent for, the information desired obtained from the Zemindars, and the jummabundy, or schedule of rent, settled with them at the seat
* Fifth Report of the Committee of the House of Commons, 1810; Second Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781. App. No. 153.
of government; that by this expedient the Zemindars would be made to feel Chap. IV. more distinctly their dependance upon the government, both for punishment and ^ y^g^ protection; that intrigues and the pursuit of private, at the expense of public interests, which might be expected in the Circars, would be prevented at Madras; and that an indefinite amount of time would be saved. For these reasons he moved, that the Committee of Circuit should be suspended, and that in future the annual rent of the districts should be settled at the Presidency to which the Zemindars should for that purpose be ordered to repair. The Council acquiesced in his reasons, and without further deliberation the measure was decreed. As soon as this intelligence reached the Zemindars, they were thrown into the greatest consternation. It was expressly urged by the provincial councils on the spot, that the Zemindars were in general poor, and hardly able to support their families with any appearance of dignity; that many of them were altogether unable to defray the expense of a distant journey, and of a residence for any considerable time at the seat of government; that the greater part of them were in debt, and in arrears to the Company; that they must borrow money to enable them to undertake the journey, and still further incapacitate themselves for fulfilling their engagements; that their absence would greatly augment the confusions of the country, obstructing both the collection of the revenue, and the preparation of the investment; and that some of them laboured under the weight of so many years, and so many bodily infirmities, as to render the journey wholly impracticable. The President and Council persevered in their original design; and a consider- Transactions able number of the Zemindars were brought to Madras. Of the circumstances mindars at*" which followed, a few it is necessary to particularize. In every case the Governor Madrasalone negotiated with the Zemindars, and regulated their payments; in no case did he lay the grounds of his treaty before the Council ; in every case the Council, without inquiry, acquiesced in his decrees. Of all the Zemindars in the northern Circars, the most important was Vizeram Raz, the Rajah of Vizinagaram, whose territory had the extent of a considerable kingdom, and whose power had hitherto held the Company in awe. The character of the Rajah was voluptuousness and sloth; but along with this he was mild and equitable. Sitteram Raz, his brother, was a man who possessed in a high degree the talents and vices of a Hindu. He was subtle, patient, full of application, intriguing, deceitful, stuck at no atrocity in the pursuit of his ends, and was stained with the infamy of numerous crimes. Sitteram Raz had so encroached upon the facility and weakness of his brother as to have transferred to himself the principal power in
3 o 2 .
Book V. the province. The yoke, however, which he had placed upon the neck of the ^~^^~J Rajan was galling, and sustained with great uneasiness. Jaggernaut Raz, a connexion of the family, united by marriage with the Rajah, who had superintended the details of government, as Duan, or financial minister, and was universally respected as a man of understanding and virtue, had been recently deprived of his office, through the machinations of Sitteram Raz. The points which required adjustment between Vizeram Raz and the Company had suggested a use, or afforded a pretext, for calling him to the Presidency before Sir Thomas Rumbold arrived. Against this order he remonstrated, on the ground of his poverty, and of the detriment to his affairs which absence would induce. He offered to settle with the Council at Vizigapatam for any reasonable tribute or rent; and complained of his brother Sitteram Raz, whom he described as engaged in machinations for his ruin. Sitteram had obeyed the very first summons to repair to Madras, and had negotiated successfully for the farm of one principal division of the lands. He carried another point of still greater importance; which was to receive from the Presidency the appointment of Duan to the Rajah. To this regulation the Rajah manifested the greatest aversion. The President addressed him in the following words: "We are convinced that it is a measure which your own welfare and the interest of the Company render indispensably necessary. But should you continue obstinately to withstand the pressing instances that have repeatedly been made to you by the Board, conjunctively as well as separately, we shall be under the necessity of taking such resolutions as will in all probability be extremely painful to you, but which, being once passed, can never be recalled." To this Vizeram Raz made the following answer: "I shall consider myself henceforward as divested of all power and consequence whatever, seeing that the Board urge me to do that which is contrary to my fixed determination, and that the result of it is to be the losing of my country." The reason which was urged by the President for this arbitrary proceeding was, the necessity of having a man of abilities to preserve the order of the country, and ensure the revenues. The Court of Directors, however, say, in their general letter to the Presidency of Madras, dated the 10th of January, 1781, "Our surprise and concern were great, on observing the very injurious treatment which the ancient Rajah of Vizianagaram received at the Presidency; when, deaf to his representations and entreaties, you, in the most arbitrary and unwarrantable manner, appointed his ambitious and intriguing brother, Sitteram Raz, Duan of the Circar, and thereby put him in possession of the revenues of his elder brother, who had just informed you that he sought his ruin: For, however necessary it might be to adopt measures for securing payment of the Company's tribute, no Chap. IV. circumstance, except actual and avowed resistance of the Company's authority, ^' could warrant such treatment of the Rajah." * And in one of the resolutions which was moved in the House of Commons by Mr. Dundas, afterwards Lord Melville, on the 25th of April, 1782, it was declared, "That the Governor and majority of the Council of Fort St. George did, by menaces and harsh treatment, compel Vizeram Raz, the Rajah of Visianagrum, to employ Sitteram Raz as the Duan, or Manager of his Zemindary, in the room of Jaggernaut, a man of probity and good character; that the compulsive menaces made use of towards the Rajah, and the gross ill treatment which he received at the Presidency, were humiliating, unjust, and cruel in themselves, and highly derogatory to the interests of the East India Company, and to the honour of the British nation."
Nor was this the only particular in which the Presidency and Council contributed to promote the interest and gratify the ambition of Sitteram Raz. They not only prevailed upon the Rajah to be reconciled to his brother; they confirmed his adoption of that brother's son; and "agreed," say the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, "that all under-leases should for the future be made in the adopted Rajah's name; that his name should be used in all acts of government; and that Sitteram Raz his father, who was in reality to enjoy the power, should be accepted of by the Board as a security for this young man." f
In the opinion of the Directors, even this was not all. They accused the DisapprobaPresidency of underselling the lands by a corrupt connivance with Sitteram Raz. Directors. "The report," they said, "of the Committee of Circuit, and the positive evidence of Sitteram Raz, warrant us in asserting that more than double the amount of the tribute for which you have agreed, might and ought to have been obtained for the Company. We are in possession," they add, "of one fact, which, so far as it extends, seems to convey an idea, that the Zemindars have been abused, and their money misapplied at the Presidency." t
The Directors alluded to the following fact; that Mr. Redhead, private secretary to Sir Thomas Rumbold, the Governor, had actually received from Sitteram Raz a bond for one lac of rupees, on condition of his services in procuring for the donor, the duanship of the Zemindary, a reconciliation with his brother, a confirmation of his son's adoption, the Zemindary of Ancapilly, and the fort of Vizinagaram; advantages, the whole of which Sitteram Raz obtained;
* Second Report, Committee of Secrecy, 1781 ; Appendix, No. 153. t Ibid. p. 16;
t See Letter of 10th of January, 1781, quoted above*