Lord Wellesley

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Article Sub-Category: THE BRITISH OR ANGLO-INDIAN PERIOD

Title: Lord Wellesley
 
Lord Wellesley: fourth Mysore war; second Maratha war ; subsidiary alliances


Lord Wellesley assumes charge, 1798.  In May 1798, Sir John Shore, who had been created an Irish peer as Lord Teignmouth, made way for a man of a different type, Richard, Earl of Mornington in the peerage of Ireland, and Baron Wellesley in that of Great Britain, who had been for four years a member of the Board of Control.  Lord Wellesley, when he assuemd charge, was thirty-seven years of age, in the full vigour of his powers, and thoroughly well informed on Indian affairs as seen by the home Government.  His younger brother, Arthur, afterwards the famous Duke of Wellington, was already serving at Madras in the army.  The rule of Lord Wellesley, which lasted for a little more than seven years, until July 1805, has been pronounced to have been 'the most memorable in the annals of the Company', and in support of that opinion.
  Preparations for war with Mysore.  Immediately after his arrival the news of Tipu's intrigues with the revolutionary Government of France determined him to crush the power of Mysore and to finish the work of Lord Cornwallis.  The Governor-General's plans from the first were definite, comprising a march on the capital of Mysore, the seizure of the Sultan's conquests in Malabar, the appointment of a British Resident at his court, the expulsion of all Frenchmen from his service, and the compulsion on him to defray the whole expense of the war.  As a preliminary the Nizam, then much weakened by the Maratha victory at Kardla (properly Kharda), was induced to accept a treaty which imposed on him the support of a British sepoy force of six thousand men, and required the dismissal of all the French officers in his employ.  The Nizam took some part in the campaign, and was handsomely rewarded.
  Fourth and last Mysore war, 1799;  restoration of the Hindu dynasty.  The war when it came was short and sharp.  General Harris took command on 3 February 1799, and on the fifth of the following month his troops entered Mysore.  On 4 May Tipu lay dead inside the breach in the walls of Seringapatnam, which had been stormed by General Baird and his men in seven minutes.  Thus was fulfilled the saying that Haidar Ali was born to win, and Tipu to lose, a kingdom.  This one exploit practically ended the war, which had carried the Governor-General farther than he had anticipated.  He had planned to bridle the power of Mysore, and found that he had utterly destroyed it.  The Sultan's territory was divided.  The company took Kanara, the entire sea-coast, and other districts which gave it an uninterrupted dominion from sea to sea.  The Nizam received a considerable amount of lands to the north, while the Marathas were offered, on conditions which they declined, certain smaller areas adjoining their territories.  On their refusal, those lands were divided between the Nizam and the British.'  The rest of the kingdom was assigned to a youthful representative of the old dynasty of Hidus Rajas, dispossessed by Haidar Ali.  The new state thus constituted was placed under the control of a Resident.  The young chief, Krishna Raja Wodeyar, did well at first, but lapsed into evil ways, and in 1831 the Governor-General was obliged to deprive him of all authority, and to confide the administration directly to British officers.

  Rendition of Mysore, 1881.  That arrangement, with various chages of form, lasted until 1881, when Lord Ripon felt justified in again making over the state to its own Government.  This event, known as the Rendition of Mysore, took place on 25 March 1881, when Maharaj Chama Rajendra Wodeyar, adopted son of Krishna Raja, was installed with befitting ceremony, and the disinterested good faith of the British Government was triumphantly vindicated.  The subsequent excellent administration of the state justified the confidence and generosity exhibited by Lord Ripon and the home Government.

  Significance of the destruction of Tipu's power.  The splended success of the Mysore war roused enthusiam in all parts of British India, and the news was received in England with universal applause.  The Governor-General was promoted to the rank of marquess in the peerage of Ireland, and endowed by the Directors of the Company with an annuity of five thousand pounds for twenty years.  The destruction of Tipu's power was rightly recognized as being a serious blow to the schemes of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose dream of an Eastern empire had been finally dissipated in August of the preceding year (1798) by Nelson's naval victory at the battle of the Nile.
  Wellesley's policy ; subsidiary alliances.  The Mysore war finally pacified the south.  The north and west continued to be unquite in consequence of the domination of the restless Maratha chiefs.  Lord Wellesley aimed avowedly at the establishment of British supremacy in the whole of India, and so necessarily came into conflict with the Maratha power.  He sought to gain his end by a system of subsidiary alliances, involving the subordination of the Indian princes to the British Government in all matters of external policy, the dismissal of officers belonging to other European nations, and the acceptance of the services of a continent of troops under the orders of the Government in India, and usually paid by an assignment of territory.

  Annexation of the Carnatic.  Mohammed Ali, the old Nawab of the Carnatic, died in 1795.  'Six years later the Governor-General very properly annexed his territory and so got rid of the 'double government' which had lasted so long in Southern India and had caused untold misery to the people, as well as grave corruption in high places.  Mohammed Ali was a thoroughly worthless person throughout his long life.

  Treaty of Bassein, 1802.  The wars between the rival Maratha chiefs gave the opportunity and created the necessity for British intervention.  In 1795 Ahalya Bai, the saintly Maratha lady who had guided the affairs of Holkar's dominions with wisdom and justice for nearly thirty years, died, and in the scramble for the succession which followed, Jaswant Rao Holkar, a wild and unscrupulous leader of bandits, made himself master of the state.  His defeat of the Peshwa Baji Rao II at Poona in 1802 constrained that prince to seek British protection, and to accept from Lord Wellesley a treaty of subsidiary alliance in the usual form.  The document recording the agreement is known as the Treaty of Bassein, and marks, the extinction of the independent power of the Peshwas.  Daulat Rao Sindia, who had succeeded the great Mahadaji in 1794, and the Bhonsla of Nagpur, also known as the Raja of Berar, at once prepared for war with the Company.

  Second Maratha war; Assaye, Laswari, etc.  General Arthur Wellesley defeated the army of Sindia, at least seven times more numerous than his own, at Assaye, near Aurangabad, on 23 September, 1803.  A little later the Bhonsla was defeated even more decisively at Argaon in Berar.  The capture of the ancient Bahmani fortress of Gawilgarh, also in Berar, followed, and the Bhonsla was brought to his knees.  By the Treaty of Deogaon be accepted a subsidiary alliance, and gave up the province of Cuttack (Katak) in Orissa.  The war in Hindustan was in the competent hands of Lord Lake, who captured Aligarh, defeated the army under the command of M.Perron, the successor of de Boigne (ant.p.278), and entered Delhi in September 1803.  In the following month the remaining troops of Sindia were defeated at Laswari, in the Alwar State, with great slaughter.  By the Treaty of Surji Arjangaon, concluded at the end of the year, that prince surrendered all the territory in the Doab between the Ganges and Jumna, recognized the rights of several Rajput chiefs, and submitted to a subsidiary alliance.  Holkar remained to be subdued, and an expedition was sent against him, but he gained an unexpected advantage by the folly of Colonel Monson, a relative of his namesake, Hastings's opponent, who 'advanced without reason, and retreated in the same manner', in south-eastern Rajputana (1804), losing thereby nearly the whole of his force.  Holkar next suffered a severe defeat at Dig(Deeg), but was not yet wholly subjugated.  Lord Lake, who did not well understand siege operations, was repulsed in repeated attempts to storm the Jat fort of Bhurtpore (Bharatpur) in 1805.  The Raja, although he succeeded in holding the fort, submitted to a treaty.  The titular emperor, poor old blind Shah Alam, was handsomely pensioned, and all pretence of regarding him as a power in the land was avowedly dropped.

  Recall of Lord Wellesley.  The authorities at home had long been restive at Lord Wellesley's bold policy, which seemed to them needlessly expensive, while the tone of his dispatches was not calculated to soothe their feelings.  The disaster suffered by Colonel Monson's force filled the cup.  On receipt of the news, the Directors and the Board of Control resolved to recall the Governor-General, and reverse his policy through the agency of Lord Cornwallis, who was persuaded to accept office at Calcutta for the second time.  As has happened so often to timid Governments, the event proved that the home authorities in seeking peace had been preparing war.  Their shortsighted, although natural, caution plunged a large area of India into acute misery for many years, and resulted in a formidable war in the time of the Marques of Hastings.  Great Britain, having become the paramount power, could not enjoy the gains without assuming the duties of the position.  The recall of Wellesley left the Maratha power still
face to face with the English.  The struggle for mastery was bound to come.

  Lord Wellesley's internal reforms and character.  The primary importance of Lord Wellesley's wars in setting to a large extent the fate of India must not make us forget that the Governot-General was a scholary man of many interests, as keen to devise internal reforms as he was determined to assert the inevitable British supremacy.  The college founded by him at Fort William for the training of young civil servants ws reduced by the Directors to the rank of a school of Oriental languages, but even as such it was a valuable institution.  Calcutta owes to him Government House, erroneously believed to be modelled on Lord Scarsdale's mansion at Kedleston, and sundry other civic improvements.  In spite of his costly wars, he improved the public credit, and brought the finances into order with the aid of Mr. Tucker.  Lord Wellesley's solid merits were to some extent obscured by his imperious temper, a tendency to inflated language in speech and writing, and an excessive fondness for ceremonial display.  He lived
until 1842, when he died at the age of eighty-two, having filled many important positions after his retirement from India.

                                              Wars with Mysore
  First, 1767-9.  Ended by treaty dictated by Haidar Ali under the walls of Madras
  Second, 1780-4.  Ended by the Treaty of Mangalore, based on mutual cession of conquests
  Third, 1790-2.  Ended by peace dictated by Lord Cornwallis under the walls of Seringapatnam, which deprived Tipu of half his kingdom
  Fourth, March to May 1799.  Ended by the death of Tipu, the capture of Seringapatnam, and the partition of his kingdom, part of which was formed into a protected Hindu state

                                                  CHAPTER XXVII
  Lord Cornwallis again;  Sir George Barlow; Lord Minto I: abolition of trade monopoly
  Lord Cornwallis; Sir George Barlow; and Lord Minto I.  Lord Cornwallis, when cummoned to resume charge of the Indian Government in order to carry out the policy of non-intervention, was in the sixty-seventh year of his age and feeble health, and consequently unfitted for the task imposed upon him.  He reached Calcutta on 30 July 1805, and having proceeded up country, died at Ghazipur on 5 October.  In the sort interval he found time to address letters to the Directors and Lord Lake expressing in distinct terms his resolve to reverse the policy of Lord Wellesley.  He found a willing disciple in Sir George Barlow, the senior Member of Council, who succeeded his as Governor-General, pending an appoinment from home.  Ultimately Lord Minto, President of the Board of Control, and great-grandfather of the Viceroy who succeeded Lord Curzon in 1905, was  appointed Governor-General, adn assumed charge on 31 July 1807.

  Mutiny of Vellore, 1806.  Even Sir George Barlow could not bring himself to carry out the desire of the Directors to withdraw from the Treaty of Bassein (ante,p.284), adn to permit the resumption by the Peshwa of his old position as head of the Maratha states.  He also insisted on maintaining the control of the Resident over the policy of the Nizam.  His period of rule was marked by the mutiny of the sepoys at Vellore, where the sons of Tipu had been assigned a residence.  Those princes had been rashly allowed to assemble a following of eighteen hundred men, besides some three thousand other immigrants from Mysore.  Such a gathering of refugees from a recently conquered kingdom, and close to its frontiers, necessarily became a centre of disaffection, adn encouraged the mutiny of the troops, which was provoked directly by injudicious of the kind.  During the disturbances, one hundred and thirteen Europeans, including fourteen officers, were massacred.  The Directors balmed Lord William Bentinck, the Governor of Madras, for his policy, and recalled him, a decision which he always resented as unjust.

  Travancore rebellion; mutiny of officers.  The new Governor-General soon discovered that, whatever his prejudices and instructions might be, he could not avoid interference with the native states.  In 1808 the minister of the Raja of Travancore in the extreme south engaged in a mad rebellion, attacking the British Resident and murdering a surgeon and thirty-three privates of the 12th Regiment.  The rising was put down early in the following year.  During the same year (1809) much anxiety was caused by the mutinous conduct of the officers of the army of Madras, where Sir George Barlow had been appointed Governor.  Lord Minto went down to the south, but the trouble had passed before his arrival.

  Bundelkhand.  In Bundelkhand, as in Travancore, the Governor-General found the policy of non-intervention to be impracticable.  The anarchy in that province, which had been ceded by the Marathas, forced him to declare that 'it was essential, not only to the preservation of political influence over the chiefs of Bundelkhand, but to the dignity and reputation of the British Government, to interfere for the suppression of intestime disorder'.  The ensuing military operations resulted in the surrender of the fort of Ajaygarh and the capture of the famous fortress of Kalanjar after a difficult siege.  The suppression of the growing Pindari outrages in Central India, and the checking of Gurkha and Burmese encroachments on the northern and north-eastern frontiers, were recognized by Lord Minto as necessary measures, but he was obliged to leave their execution to his successor, his own action in these matters being hindered by the disposition of the home Government.

  Lord Minto and the Sikhs.  On the north-western frontier he acted with uncompromising firmness, and did not allow himself to be detered by the non-invention bogy from defining the line of the Sutlaj as the frontier separating the British dominions from those of Ranjit Singh, the lord of the Punjab.  We have already noticed the early history of the Sikh sect(ante,p.226), which was gradually hammered into ten shape of an organized military power by its conflicts with the Afghans during the eighteenth century.  After the last invasion and withdrawal of Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1767 the Sikhs occupied the country between the Jumna and Rawalpindi. Their progress was then checked by the Marathas, but when the Maratha power in Hindustan was broken by Lord Lake in 1803 (ante,p.286), some of the Sikh chiefs between the Sutlaj and the Jumna tendered their allegiance to the victor and all looked to the British Government as their protector.

  Rise of Ranjit Singh.  At that time the Sikh community was organized into twelve sections or fraternities called misls.  One of these came under the rule of Ranjit Singh, who, in 1799, when nineteen years of age, had helped Zaman Shah of Kabul in his invasion of the Panjab.  The Afghan ruler, who claimed the sovereignty of the country, appointer Ranjit Singh governor of Lahore.  From that vantage ground the young chief gradually made himself master of the Panjab and Kashmir, retaining his power until his death in 1839.  He followed the example of the more southern princes by engaging European adventures to train his troops, and thus organized the fine army which fought the British so stoutly in 1846 and 1849.
  Treaty of Amristar, In 1809.  In 1809, encouraged by Sir George Barlow's non-intervention policy, Ranjit Singh claimed control of all the Sikh principalities between the Sutlaj and Jumna.  Lord Minto, without waiting to refer home for orders, made up his mind that Ranjit Singh's pretensions could not be admitted without breach of faith to allies and imminent danger to the British possessions.  The Sikh ruler naturally was unwilling to submit to dictation, but the arrival of a British army on the Sutlaj put an end his hesitation, and on 25 April 1809, at Amristar, he signed a brief treaty of fifteen lines establishing 'perpectual amity between the British Givernment and the state of Lahore'.  During the remaining thirty years of his life Ranjit Singh observed this engagement with honourable fidelity.  A British garrison was posted at Ludiana, which now became the frontier station, and so it happened that a Governor-General, appointed to carry out the non-intervention policy, practically advanced the British boundary from the Jumna to the Sutlaj.

  Foreign embassies outside India.  During the whole of Lord Minto's term of office Great Britain was engaged in the deadly, world-wide struggle with Napoleon, in which the ruler of India had to take his share.  His predecessors had extinguished the French power in India; Lord Minto made it his business to curb it in the adjoining countries and surrounding seas.  His Panjab policy was partly based on the fear of French interference, and the embassies sent by him under Malcolm to Persia and Mountstuart Elphinstone to Kabul were decided on solely with the object of checkmating Napoleon's plans.  A treaty with Persia was arranged, but the results hardly justified the heavy cost of the mission.  The embassy intended for Kabul never arrived there in consequence of the deposition of Shah Shuja (Soojah), the Afghan ruler to whom it had been dispatched.  We shall meet Shah Shuja again.

  Expeditions by sea.  Lord Minto's expeditions by sea were more fruitful, and testify to his broad grasp of political poroblems.  In those days Mauritius and the neighbouring islands in the Indian commerce.  In the course of fifteen years the Maritius privateers had plundered property  of Calcutta merchants worth three millions sterling.  The Governor-General determined to stop this, and in 1810 a fleet acting under his orders captured Mauritius and its dependencies.  Mauritius still is a British Crown Colony, but the neighbouring island of Bourbon or Reunion was restored to France at the peace of 1815.  Lord Minto's expedition to Java and the Spice Islands, Dutch colonies then under French control, was even more daring and brilliantly successful.  The Governor-General, who accompanied the force intended for the reduction of Java, which was under the command of Sir Samuel Auchmuty, amde suitable arrangements for the civil government of the island.  Batavia, the capital of Java, was taken after a hard fight
at the end of August 1811, and the operations, naval and military, being admirably arranged, were successful at all points.  The valuable conquests so gallantly won were unfortunately surrendered at the general peace.

  Abolition of the Company's monopoly of the Indian trade.  The renewal of the East India Company's charter granted in 1793 (ante,p.278), was to hold good for only twenty years.  As the end of the term fixed drew near, a lively discussion took place, the Directors fighting to keep their monopoly, while the general public in Great Britain demanded liberty for all to take part in Eastern commerce.  In the end Parliament decided to throw open the Indian trade to all comers, while maintaining the Company's exclusive rights in the China seas.  On these terms the charter was renewed in 1813 for twenty years longer.  At the same time permission was given for missionaries to enter India as freely as merchants, a reform also resisted strenuously by the Directors.
 












 
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