Page:EB1911 - Volume 14.djvu/432

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UNDER THE COMPANY]
411
INDIA

had dethroned, while the rest was partitioned between the nizam and the British. At about the same time the province of the Carnatic, or all that large portion of southern India ruled by the nawab of Arcot, and also the principality of Tanjore, were placed under direct British administration, thus constituting the Madras presidency almost as it has existed to the present day.

The Mahrattas had been the nominal allies of the British in both their wars with Tippoo, but they had never given active assistance, nor were they secured to the British side as the nizam now was. The Mahratta powers at this Wars with Sindhia and Holkar. time were five in number. The recognized head of the confederacy was the peshwa of Poona, who ruled the hill country of the Western Ghats, the cradle of the Mahratta race. The fertile province of Gujarat was annually harried by the horsemen of the gaekwar of Baroda. In central India two military leaders, Sindhia of Gwalior and Holkar of Indore, alternately held the pre-eminency. Towards the east the Bhonsla raja of Nagpur reigned from Berar to the coast of Orissa. Wellesley tried assiduously to bring these several Mahratta powers within the net of his subsidiary system. At last, in 1802, the necessities of the peshwa, who had been defeated by Holkar, and driven as a fugitive into British territory, induced him to sign the treaty of Bassein, by which he pledged himself to hold communications with no other power, European or native, and ceded territory for the maintenance of a subsidiary force. This greatly extended the British territorial influence in western India, but led directly to the second Mahratta war, for neither Sindhia nor the raja of Nagpur would tolerate this abandonment of Mahratta independence. The campaigns that followed are perhaps the most glorious in the history of the British arms in India. The general plan and the adequate provision of resources were due to the marquis Wellesley, as also the indomitable spirit that could not anticipate defeat. The armies were led by General Arthur Wellesley (afterwards duke of Wellington) and General (afterwards Lord) Lake. Wellesley operated in the Deccan, where, in a few short months, he won the decisive victories of Assaye and Argaum. Lake’s campaign in Hindustan was no less brilliant, though it has received less notice from historians. He won pitched battles at Aligarh and Laswari, and captured the cities of Delhi and Agra, thus scattering the French troops of Sindhia, and at the same time coming forward as the champion of the Mogul emperor in his hereditary capital. Before the year 1803 was out, both Sindhia and the Bhonsla raja were glad to sue for peace. Sindhia ceded all claims to the territory north of the Jumna, and left the blind old emperor Shah Alam once more under British protection. The Bhonsla raja forfeited Orissa to the English, who had already occupied it with a flying column, and Berar to the nizam, who gained a fresh addition by every act of complaisance to the British government. The freebooter, Jaswant Rao Holkar, alone remained in the field, supporting his troops by ravages through Malwa and Rajputana. The concluding years of Wellesley’s rule were occupied with a series of operations against Holkar, which brought no credit to the British name. The disastrous retreat of Colonel Monson through Central India (1804) recalled memories of the convention of Wargaum, and of the destruction of Colonel Baillie’s force by Hyder Ali. The repulse of Lake in person at the siege of Bharatpur (Bhurtpore) (1805) is memorable as an instance of a British army in India having to turn back with its object unaccomplished.

The ambitious policy and the continuous wars of Lord Wellesley exhausted the patience of the court of directors at home. In 1804 Lord Cornwallis was sent out as governor-general a second time, with instructions to bring about peace Barlow. at any price, while Holkar was still unsubdued, and Sindhia was threatening a fresh war. But Cornwallis was now an old man and broken down in health. Travelling up to the north-west during the rainy season, he sank and died at Ghazipur, before he had been ten weeks in the country. His immediate successor was Sir George Barlow, a civil servant of the company, who, as a locum tenens, had no alternative but to carry out faithfully the orders of his employers. He is charged with being, under these orders, the only governor-general who diminished the area of British territory, and with violating engagements by abandoning the Rajput chiefs to the tender mercies of Holkar and Sindhia. During his administration also occurred the mutiny of the Madras sepoys at Vellore, which, though promptly suppressed, sent a shock of insecurity through the empire.

Lord Minto, governor-general from 1807 to 1813, consolidated the conquests which Wellesley had acquired. His only military exploits were the occupation of the island of Mauritius, and the conquest of Java by an expedition which he accompanied in person. The condition of central India continued to be disturbed, but Lord Minto succeeded in preventing any violent outbreaks without himself having recourse to the sword. The company had ordered him to follow a policy of non-intervention, and he managed to obey his orders without injuring the prestige of the British name. In his time the Indian government first opened relations with a new set of foreign powers by sending embassies to the Punjab, to Afghanistan and to Persia. The ambassadors were all trained in the school of Wellesley, and formed perhaps the most illustrious trio of “politicals” that the Indian service has produced. Sir Charles Metcalfe was the envoy to the court of Ranjit Singh at Lahore; Mountstuart Elphinstone met the shah of Afghanistan at Peshawar; and Sir John Malcolm was despatched to Persia. If it cannot be said that any of these missions were fruitful in permanent results, at least they introduced the English to a new set of diplomatic relations, and widened the sphere of their influence.

The successor of Lord Minto was Lord Moira, better known as the marquis of Hastings, who governed India for the long period of nine years, from 1814 to 1823. This period was marked by two wars of the first magnitude, the Gurkha War. campaigns against the Gurkhas of Nepal, and the third and last Mahratta War. The Gurkhas, the present ruling race in Nepal, are Hindu immigrants who claim a Rajput origin. Their sovereignty dates only from 1767, in which year they overran the valley of Katmandu, and gradually extended their power over all the hills and valleys of Nepal. Organized upon a sort of military and feudal basis, they soon became a terror to all their neighbours, marching east into Sikkim, west into Kumaon, and south into the Gangetic plains. In the last quarter their victims were British subjects, and at last it became imperatively necessary to check their advance. Sir George Barlow and Lord Minto had remonstrated in vain, and nothing was left to Lord Moira but to take up arms. The campaign of 1814 was little short of disastrous. After overcoming the natural difficulties of a malarious climate and precipitous hills, the sepoys were on several occasions fairly worsted by the unexpected bravery of the little Gurkhas, whose heavy knives or kukris dealt terrible execution. But in 1815 General Ochterlony, who commanded the army operating by way of the Sutlej, stormed one by one the hill forts which still stud the Himalayan states now under the Punjab government, and compelled the Nepal darbar to sue for peace. In the following year the same general advanced from Patna into the valley of Katmandu, and finally dictated the terms which had before been rejected, within a few miles of the capital. By the treaty of Segauli, which defines the English relations with Nepal to the present day, the Gurkhas withdrew on the one hand from Sikkim, and on the other from those lower ranges of the western Himalayas which have supplied the health-giving stations of Naini Tal, Mussoorie and Simla.

Meanwhile the condition of central India was every year becoming more unsatisfactory. Though the great Mahratta chiefs were learning to live rather as peaceful princes than as leaders of predatory bands, the example of Pindaris. lawlessness they had set was being followed, and bettered in the following, by a new set of freebooters, known as the Pindaris. As opposed to the Mahrattas, who were at least a nationality bound by some traditions of a united government, the Pindaris were merely irregular soldiers, corresponding most nearly to the free companies of medieval Europe. Of no common race and