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of settling with the Committee the further operations of the army, and there Chap. VI. received intelligence of the irruption of Hyder into Carnatic, and the destruction of Colonel Baillie's detachment. An attack, which might operate as a ations of diversion, on the western side of Hyder's dominions was pressed upon the Presi- Goddarddency of Bombay by that of Madras; and at the same time arrived from the Supreme Council intelligence of their designs respecting peace with the Mahrattas, and a copy of the treaty which it was intended to offer. Though directed immediately to obey a requisition in writing from the Peshwa to suspend hostilities, General Goddard and the Committee of Bombay were exhorted to prosecute the war with vigour, till such time as that application should arrive. After several fluctuations of opinion, it was determined not to evacuate Tellicherry; as a place which, though burthensome to defend, might ultimately be of importance for commencing an attack upon the dominions of Hyder: And, notwithstanding the desire of the Committee to secure Concan, or the country below the Ghauts, it was resolved, upon the recommendation of the General, to occupy the passes of the mountains, and to threaten the enemy's capital, advancing into the country as far as might appear consistent with the safe return of the army. The terror which might thus be inspired was expected to operate as the most effectual inducement to peace; and that terror would be the more powerful, as the two leading chiefs, Scindia and Holkar, were understood to be occupied in the defence of their own dominions against the attack carried on from Bengal. The army marched from Bassein about the middle of January. The Mahratta force in Concan was computed at 20,000 horse and foot, with about fifteen guns. It was commanded by Hurry Punt Furkea, and posted on the road to B'hore Ghaut, by which, as the easiest of the passes, and that leading most directly to the Mahratta capital, it was expected that the English would endeavour to ascend. Notwithstanding the numerical superiority of the enemy, they offered little resistance in the level country, and with only a few slight skirmishes, the English reached the foot of the pass on the 8th of February. The enemy had ascended; and from intelligence it appeared that they had assembled in great force to dispute the passage. Holkar, whom the attack from Bengal had been too feeble to retain on the opposite side ofthe Mahratta country, and who had left Scindia as sufficient to cope with the force by which he was assailed, had lately joined the Poonah army, of which the whole was encamped near the top of the Ghaut. The General, who saw the advantage of audacity and dispatch, resolved to storm the pass the very night of his arrival. The party, which consisted of the grenadiers, headed by Captain Parker, entered about midnight, and with consummate gal
lantry, forcing the enemy from every battery and post which they occupied, reached the summit at five o'clock in the morning.
At the top of the Ghaut, the English army were not distant more than fortyfive miles from the Mahratta capital. On the 12th, a person arrived, commissioned, as he said, by Nana Furnavese, the Poonah minister. His object was, to declare the earnest desire of the Minister to obtain the friendship of the English; but he brought with him no credentials to authenticate his mission. For this he apologized, by the doubts which Nana felt of the disposition towards him entertained by the English. Goddard was not willing that a mere adherence to forms should obstruct the acquisition of peace. He instructed him to assure the minister of the readiness with which the English would second his views for a termination of the existing contests and the formation of an alliance against their respective enemies. Among other circumstances, the Mahratta agent affirmed, that the copy of the treaty which had been sent for transmission to the Regent of Berar, the Regent, who had not approved of it, had declined to forward. The General, therefore, transmitted to the minister a copy, together with information of his being vested with full powers to treat; and agreed to wait eight days for an answer. The answer arrived within the time prescribed, containing a simple and explicit rejection of the terms. Fully acquainted with the progress of Hyder in Carnatic, and regarding the eagerness of the English for peace, as a declaration of inability for war, the Mahrattas, at this juncture, expected greater advantages from continuing, than terminating hostilities. To the application of the Supreme Council to Moodajee, that he would employ his mediation between them and the Poonah government, an answer was not received till the 9th of January, 1781; and when it did arrive, it contained so many objections to the treaty, and even advanced so many pretensions, on the part of Moodajee himself, that it not only convinced them of the little prospect of peace, but brought in doubt the sincerity of the former professions of that person himself.
Notwithstanding this disappointment in the hopes of peace, and the approach of the English army to the capital of the enemy, Goddard, convinced that possession of the capital, which the enemy had determined to burn, would by no means ensure the attainment of his object, declined any further progress into the interior of the country; and recommended a system of defensive warfare, permitting the return of the Madras troops to the coast of Coromandel, both for assistance against Hyder, and to lessen the pressure upon the Bombay finances.
After maintaining their post with little disturbance at the head of the Ghauts till the 17th of April, the English descended secretly during the night. The difficulty of supplying the troops with provisions, while the enemy, it was found, Chap. VI. could descend by other passes, and intercept their convoys; together with the ■ j^~""^ expense of fortifying the post at the top of the Ghauts, appeared to surpass the advantage of maintaining it. The enemy descended in pursuit the following day. The route from the bottom of the hills to the coast was about twentyfour miles, through a country full of bushes, thickets, and narrow defiles. This was highly favourable to the irregular and unexpected assaults of the Mahrattas, who greatly harassed the English during the three days of the march; but though several lives were lost, and among the rest that of Colonel Parker, the second in command, no material impression was made, nor any loss sustained of the baggage and stores. The Mahratta army re-ascended the Ghauts; and the English, left in possession of Concan, prepared, with the Madras detachment which the reduced state of the battalions now rendered it desirable to retain, to remain at Callian through the approaching monsoon.*
On the Bengal side of the Mahratta country, it was determined, notwithstand- Attack on tb»
• • • n •»«■ T, rp Bengal side of
ing the eminent services of Major Popham, to supersede that officer in the the Mahratta
command, and relieve his corps by that of Colonel Carnac, who, having already country•
advanced into the territory of the Rana of Gohud, was, about the beginning of
the year 1781, commanded to penetrate, at the head of five battalions of sepoys,
towards Oogein, the capital of Scindia. The force employed in this service, as it
was too small to prevent Holkar from returning to assist in turning the balance
against Goddard, so it was too feeble to intimidate even Scindia alone, and seems
to have been saved from destruction, or at any rate from flight, by nothing but a
fortunate exploit. Having reached Seronge, in the month of February, it was
surrounded by a powerful enemy; its supplies were cut off; it was harassed on
all sides; the princes expected to join it stood aloof; it was reduced to distress
for want of provisions; and the commanding officer was obliged to apply by
letter for the troops stationed at Futtyghur, under Colonel Muir, to enable him
to retreat into the country of the Rana. Colonel Muir arrived at Gohud on the
29th of March. But before this time Colonel Carnac was reduced to such
extremity, that on the 23d of the same month he had summoned a council of
war, in which Captain Bruce, the officer who commanded the storming party
at the taking of Gualior, recommended, as the only possible means of preserving
* Sixth Report of the Committee of Secrecy, 1782, p. 100—113, with the official document* in its voluminous appendix.
Book V. the army, to make that very night an attack upon the camp of Scindia. After V~""^^~"' some debate and hesitation, the resolution was adopted. At sun-set on the 24th, the army moved from their ground, and after a march of thirteen hours arrived at the camp. The surprise was, happily, complete; and all the terror and confusion ensued which usually result from a nocturnal assault unexpectedly falling upon a barbarian army. The enemy dispersed, and fled in disorder, leaving several guns and elephants, with a quantity of ammunition, in prize to the victor.
Colonel Muir was so retarded, by want of cattle for the conveyance of provisions, and by other difficulties,* that he arrived not at Antry till the 4th of April; and, as senior officer, upon joining Carnac, he assumed the command. In order to overcome the backwardness of the Rana of Gohud, whom the apparent feebleness of the English led to temporise, and even to intrigue with Scindia, directions were given to place him in possession of the fort of Gualior, which had been professedly taken only for him. Though the English were now enabled to remain within the territory of Scindia, they were too feeble to undertake any active operations; and spent several months in vain endeavours to induce the Rana of Gohud, and the neighbouring chieftains, to yield them any efficient support. In the mean time the army of Scindia lay close to that of the English, which remained at Sissai, a place within the Mahratta dominions, several days' march beyond the frontiers of Gohud. The Mahratta horse daily harassed the camp, and cut off the supplies. And the troops were reduced to great distress, both by sickness and want of provisions.! Happily the resources of Scindia, too, were not difficult to exhaust; and he began seriously to desire an end of the contest. About the beginning of August, an overture was made, through the Rana of Gohud, which the English commander encouraged; and on the 16th of that month, an envoy from Scindia, with powers to treat, arrived in the English A peace is camp. Similar powers were transmitted to Colonel Muir. Negotiation with Scindia. commenced; and on the 13th of October a treaty was concluded. All the territory which the English had conquered on the further side of the Jumna was to be restored to Scindia: On the other part, Scindia was not to molest the chiefs who had assisted the English, or to claim any portion of the territory which the English had annexed to the dominions of the Rana of Gohud: It was alsoagreed",
* "Difficulties beyond conception," they are called by Mr. Hastings. See his "Answer to the Fourteenth Charge."
f Mr. Hastings'Answer, before the House of Commons, on the Fourteenth Charge.
that Scindia should use his endeavours to effect a peace between the English and Chap. VI. their enemies, Hyder Ali, and the Peshwa.* ^"""1781"
During these proceedings the Governor-General and Council were involved in other affairs of no ordinary importance.
When the wisdom of parliament embraced the subject of the government of Supreme India, and by its grand legislative effort, in 1773, undertook to provide, as far asdicature, and it was competent to provide, a remedy both for the evils which existed, and forlts P°*6"' those which might be foreseen, a Court of Judicature was created, to which the title of Supreme was annexed, and of which the powers, as well as the nomination of the judges, did not emanate from the Company, but immediately from the King. It was framed of a Chief Justice and three puisne Judges; and was empowered to administer in India all the departments of English law. It was a court of common law, and a court of equity; a court of oyer and terminer, and gaol-delivery; an ecclesiastical court, and a court of admiralty. In civil cases, its jurisdiction extended to all claims against the Company, and against British subjects, and to all such claims of British subjects against the natives, as the party in the contract under dispute had agreed, in case of dispute, to submit to its decision. In affairs of penal law, its powers extended to British subjects, and to another class of persons, who were described, as all persons directly or indirectly in the service of the Company, or of any British subject, at the time of the offence.
In the establishment of this tribunal, the British legislature performed one Temptation to important act of legislative wisdom. They recognized, and by adopting they fVompocketing sanctioned, the principle, that to leave any part of the emoluments of judges, as ^S^®m the so great a portion of them in England is left, to be made out of fees extracted J ud6esfrom the suitors in their own courts, is an abuse; an infallible cause of the perversion of judicature. They enacted that a sufficient salary should be fixed for the judges; that no additional emolument, in the shape of fees, or in any other, should accrue from their judicial functions. A sure temptation to exert, for the multiplication of suits and of their expenses, the great powers of judges,
* Hastings' Answer, ut supra; A retrospective View, and Consideration of India Affairs; particularly of the Transactions of the Mahratta War, from its commencement to the month of October, 1782, p. 72. The author of this short narrative has evidently enjoyed the advantage of access to the records of the Bombay government. Some particulars have been gleaned in the "Memoirs of the late War in Asia." See also the copy of the Treaty with Scindia, in the Collection of Treaties, with the Princes of Asia, printed by the E. I. C. in 1812, p. 97.