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Full text of "The story of India"

THE STORY OF THE EMPIRE. 

Edited by Howard Angus Kennedy. 



The Story of the Empire 
Series. 



THE RISE OF THE EMPIRE. 1897. 

By Sir Walter Besant. 

THE STORY OF INDIA. 

By Demetrius C. Boulger. 

THE STORY OF AUSTRALASIA. 

By Flora L. Shaw. (Sept. 30.) 

THE STORY OF CANADA. 

By Howard A. Kennedy. (Nov. 30.) 

THE STORY OF SOUTH AFRICA. 1898. 

By E. F. Knight. (Jan. 31.) 



\1* 



THE STORY 



OF 



INDIA. 



EY 

DEMETRIUS C. BOULGER. 






Cf 



London : 



HORACE MARSHALL & SON, 

Temple House, 

E.C. 



CONTENTS. 

India and Her People. By the Editor 
THE STORY OF INDIA. 



Chapter 




Page. 


I. 


India Bufore Our Time 


i 


II. 


Our Merchant Adventurers 


... 13 


III. 


The Growth of the Company 


... 29 


IV. 


Our Rivalry with France ... 


... 47 


V. 


The Conquest of India 


... 69 



VI. The Decline and Fall of the 

Company 91 

VII. The India of the Queen 113 



INDIA AND HER PEOPLE. 

The story of India is that of a land quite 
different from any other in the British Empire. 
Its population of three hundred millions is 
immensely larger than any that a European 
power has undertaken to rule elsewhere, and it 
confronts us with problems more stubborn than 
any we have to solve in America, Australasia, 
or even Africa. It cannot compete with Canada 
or Australia in actual size of territory; still, it is 
thirty times as large as England, and larger than 
the continent of Europe without Russia. Its 
general outline on the map is familiar enough, 
a great triangle pointing southward into the 
Indian Ocean, and northward a huge dome- 
shaped mass rising high into Central Asia. 
Every variety of climate is to be found in India ; 
for her million and a half of square miles in- 
clude every height of land, from the level of the 
sea to the tallest mountain peaks on the surface 
of the globe. There is plenty of variety among 
the people, too. Those of the north-west and 



viii. India and Her People. 

centre have a strain of Aryan blood and are 
more or less closely akin to ourselves ; those of 
the north-east and Burmah are more like the 
Chinese ; and those of the south belong to the 
Dravidian branch of the human family. The 
peoples of India vary in creed, language, and 
civilisation as they do in race. The Hindus, 
divided into innumerable sects and worshipping 
more gods than there are inhabitants ; the 
Mahomedans, with their one god and a prophet; 
the Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Devil-wor- 
shippers, — differ from each other not only in 
their faith but in their history, manners and 
dress. They differ, indeed, far more widely 
than do the inhabitants of Protestant and 
Roman Catholic Europe. The principal 
languages in use are descended from the 
Sanskrit (as the French, Spanish and Italian 
are all derived from Latin), or belong to 
a separate group called the Dravidian ; 
but it is reckoned that over 300 languages 
and dialects are spoken in India. Then 
it is a mistake to suppose that the in- 
habitants are all on the same intellectual level, 
for some are mere barbarians and others are 
full of elaborate and curious learning. Finally, 
the social distinctions which mock our profes- 
sions of democratic equality at home exist in 
a peculiarly aggravated form in India, where 
the high-caste Brahmin reckons his food polluted 



India and Her People. ix. 

if the very shadow of a low-caste Sudra or 
an out-caste Pariah falls upon it. 

In only one way are the people of India 
united, and that is — in being the people of 
India. In the far past, which most of them 
know nothing of, some of their ancestors came 
from distant lands ; but now they are all at 
home. The white men who rule them, on the 
other hand, are foreigners, who come and 
govern and go away in an endless succession of 
arrivals and departures. The white man could 
never be at home in India, even if the natives 
adopted his customs and his creed. I have 
spoken of mountains ; but these cover a com- 
paratively small part of the country. The 
India where the millions live and where the 
governing has to be done is a hot and feverish 
land. Here the white man may live for a time 
and keep his faculties fresh enough for adminis 
trative work, with frequent visits to the healthier 
hill-country and a trip to England every few 
years. By the greatest care in eating and 
drinking, by adapting himself to the necessities 
of the climate as the unbending Englishman 
finds it hard to do, and by the help of quinine, 
he may even ward off malaria and cholera for 
many years ; but the climate has its effect at 
last, either on the man himself or on his 
descendants. Few white men even attempt to 
bring up their children in India ; and it. is said 



x. India and Her People. 

that in those few cases their descendants never 
survive to the fourth generation. 

There are two other ways in which a large 
majority of the natives, though not all, are 
unhappily united. They are poor, and they are 
ignorant. Their poverty is not that of people 
who make themselves miserable by always 
wanting something they cannot afford. It is 
the poverty of those who have just enough to 
keep body and soul together when all is going 
well. When the crops fail they must simply 
lie down and die of starvation unless their 
masters, the Government and the charitable 
British public, hasten to feed them. As for 
what we call education, or even the smattering 
of knowledge that we give in our elementary 
schools, not one native in twenty has yet 
received it. The other nineteen have what is 
worse than the mere absence of knowledge — 
they have superstition in the most burden- 
some quantities. Their lives are governed and 
hampered in many directions by ridiculous 
beliefs, their minds oppressed and disturbed 
by appalling suspicions. For instance — when 
the local authorities order a new bridge to 
be built, there is a common and firmly-fixed 
idea among the villagers that the white men 
kidnap native children and bury them under 
the foundations. The taking of a census gives 
rise to a belief that the Government is 



India and Her People. xi. 

searching for a miraculous child, with milk 
instead of blood in his veins, who will over- 
throw British rule — as Herod sought for the 
infant Christ. Small-pox is cured, the ignorant 
natives think, by taking the " crusts " formed 
by the disease and exposing them at the cross- 
roads ; and cholera is supposed to be carried 
from village to village by a scapegoat. In some 
parts of the country every family boasts of a 
witch; and men commit suicide in order that 
their ghosts may avenge imaginary wrongs. 

What is to be the future of these people, 
and what part are we to take in that future ? 
These are the great questions the British public 
will have to answer. Fortunately for us, the 
life of the East moves slowly, and we are not 
driven to solve the problem in a day; but a 
traveller does not wait till his journey is half 
done before asking himself where he is going. 

Split up as they are by the barriers of blood, 
of sect, of social custom, and of distance, it is 
hard to imagine the peoples of India welded 
into a nation till centuries have gone by. To 
suggest that the natives of India should now 
be left to govern themselves would show an 
ignorance equal to their own. We might as 
well dress them in tall hats and trousers and 
expect them to be comfortable as equip them 
with a Parliamentary Franchise and expect them 
to show the political energy and intelligence 



xii. India and Her People. 

of a self-governing nation. Nevertheless, the 
people of India are not going to remain sunk 
in ignorance for ever. They are able to learn, 
and they will learn. When they have won 
knowledge, when education has developed their 
capacity and at the same time made them more 
like one another, they will certainly not rest 
content as subjects of a foreign Power. They 
will claim the place of citizens, and they will get 
it. Meanwhile, in the long period which must 
elapse before such a claim can possibly be 
justified or enforced, the ruling power itself may 
be greatly altered. If the British Empire is then 
in existence, it will probably be stronger than 
it is now ; but its strength will not be that of a 
little and populous kingdom controlling vast 
outlying territories with small or uncivilised 
populations all over the world — it will be the 
strength of a great alliance or federation of 
strong and self-governing nations. Will there 
be no room in such an elastic system for a 
nation which, though not of British blood, has 
had the British Empire for her foster-mother ? 
May we not venture to hope that when India 
has the choosing of her own future she will 
connect herself with the nation to which she is 
now involuntarily bound ? 

There are other forces than gratitude — which, 
indeed, is said to have no existence in politics; 
and it is not always kindest to do what would 



India and Her People. xiii. 

make others most grateful to us at the moment. 
But it is our plain duty not to do anything 
in India for which history will say that India 
was justly ungrateful. We were not thinking 
of India's interests when we took possession of 
her, and even now there are some who would 
have us treat her as if she existed chiefly for 
our benefit. From this point of view, we are 
to feel a miserly satisfaction that India furnishes 
careers and salaries for a multitude of English 
officials. We are to thank heaven that the 
frontier tribes are wicked enough to give our 
armies practice in the art of fighting. We are 
to manipulate Indian tariffs so as to prevent 
the Indian manufacturer from competing with 
us in his own country. Happily our responsible 
statesmen have committed themselves to a prin- 
ciple in direct opposition to all this — the principle 
that in our government of India the interests of 
India must be considered first. It is our busi- 
ness now to see that this admirable policy is 
carried out, and carried out with boldness and 
with insight. If we are to care for Indian 
interests we must make it our business to 
develop the capacities of her people as we 
develop the capacities of our own. We must 
not be frightened out of our policy of education 
because a handful of the natives whom we have 
educated use their new-found power to diminish 
our own : on the other hand, we must not be 



xiv. India and Her People. 

afraid of putting down these educated gentle- 
men with a firm hand when they take unfair 
advantage of their fellow-countrymen's ignor- 
ance and try to upset our rule with lies. We 
have rightly admitted natives to a share in the 
government of India ; but we must not imagine 
that those natives who can most easily pass an 
examination of the English fashion are the best 
qualified to rule their fellow-countrymen. We 
must not be checked in our education of the 
people by a fear lest when they are educated 
we shall not be able to govern them, — any more 
than we should allow them to cut each other's 
throats because the population is growing 
too dense, or let the plague desolate their 
cities because they are prejudiced against 
sanitation. 

India is valuable to the British Empire 
because it forms a station on the imperial 
highway between east and west. It is an 
important link in the chain of islands and terri- 
tories from which our armies and navies can 
dart out upon any part of the world at short 
notice. This would not justify us in keeping 
India if she were a State with a moderately 
developed national existence. As things are, 
by leaving India we should not only give up 
an advantage to ourselves but should be doing 
the worst injury in our power to India, for 
Russia would at once step into our place, and 



India and Her People. xv. 

would make short work of any rudiments of 
British liberty we had introduced. 

That we have begun to endow India with 
the most valuable gifts we have ourselves re- 
ceived, there is no doubt whatever. We have 
given her peace and order. We have given 
her an example of religious toleration, which 
she greatly needs, by officially respecting her 
forms of religion except when they degenerate 
into murder and suicide. At the same time we 
have unofficially put Christianity within her 
reach, with its practical ideals of truth, honesty, 
and disinterested humanity. We have given 
her a firm and pure administration of justice 
by officials who, if they are foreign, are at 
least impartial and incorruptible. We have 
set over them a government which, as they are 
beginning to understand, has some genuine 
concern for the welfare of the people governed. 
We must continue in this path, vigorously up- 
holding the dignity of our position as ruler and 
arbiter among the peoples of India, but making 
the welfare of those peoples and the develop- 
ment of their highest faculties the principal 
object of our rule. Only on these terms can 
the British democracy consent to play the 
autocrat of India. 

A few facts drawn from government sources 
had better be given here for the benefit of 



xvi. India and Her People. 

readers who want more precise information on 
some of the points mentioned above. The 
blue-book quoted is the " Statistical Abstract 
relating to British India " ; and the issue of 
that publication gives figures for the official 
year 1894-95. 

The population of British India — that is, of 
the territories under direct British government 
— was 198,860,606 in 1881 and had increased 
to 221,172,952 when the last census was taken 
in 1891. The population of the states which 
are governed by native rulers under the eye of 
British representatives increased in those ten 
years from 54,932,908 to 66,050,479. The 
figures for 1891 show that of the total 
population 146,727,296 were males, and only 
140,496,135 were females. British India 
covers 964,993 square miles and Native States 
595,167 ; but in the former the average 
number of persons living on every square mile 
is 229 and in the native states it is only in. 
The highest average is 471 per square mile in 
Bengal, and the next is 436 in the North West 
Provinces and Oude ; while the lowest average 
in British India is 35 in Upper Burmah — the 
native state of Cashmere falling still lower to 3 1 
per square mile. In England we had in the 
same year 540 people to the square mile, and 
in Scotland 134. The next census in 1901 
will doubtless show that India's population 



India and Her People. xvii. 

continues to rapidly increase. The great famine 
of 1897 has not been allowed to have the fatal 
results of previous times of scarcity ; and the 
plague, though terribly fatal where it raged, 
was kept within a comparatively small space. 

As to the general death rate, figures collected 
with reference to 217,941,325 of the population 
show that 33 in every thousand died in 1894 95. 
The actual number of deaths was 7,301,170, 
of which 4,987,304 were caused by fevers, 
521,975 by cholera, 261,996 by dysentery and 
diarrhoea, 43,623 by small-pox, and 93,110 by 
injuries. That was a particularly unhealthy 
year, worse even than the bad year 1892-93. 
In 1893-94 the death rate was only 25. Wild 
beasts destroyed as many as 24,431 lives in 
the twelve months of 1894-95, and 21,583 of 
these deaths were caused by snakes. Tigers 
killed 864 persons, leopards 371, wolves 227, 
bears in and elephants 68, while 1,226 human 
beings were slain by jackals, alligators, wild 
pigs, scorpions, and other animals. The 
number of cattle killed in the same way was 
91>31 l > of whom tigers took more than a third. 
In the same year the Government paid about 
,£6,700 in rewards for the destruction of 
102,210 snakes, 1,311 tigers, 4,052 leopards, 
1,456 bears, 2,614 wolves, 935 hyenas, 28 
elephants and 3,051 other beasts. 

During the year the loss of population by 



xviii. India and Her People. 

emigration was only 17,932, of whom 11,173 
went to the West Indies, 1,964 to South Africa, 
1,082 to Fiji, 486 to Mauritius, and 1,219 to 
Dutch Guiana. 

Of the whole population (287,223,431) as 
many as 171,735,390 are living by agriculture, 
3,645,849 by the provision and care of cattle, 
and 25,468,017 by earthwork and general 
labour. Manufactures provide a living for 
29,482,731 ; while 5,600,153 are in the employ 
of the State or local bodies (besides 664,422 in 
the army and navy), and 5,672,191 belong to 
the learned and artistic professions. Those 
who are rich enough to live without working 
number 4>773>993; and 1,562,981 others are 
described as having "undefined and disreput- 
able means of livelihood." On the last date 
mentioned 96,564 persons were in prison. 

There are 126,244 lepers in India, 458,868 
blind, and 196,761 deaf-mutes; while 74,289 
are officially reported as insane. 

The educational returns show 2,997,558 
males and 197,662 females under instruction. 
Of the rest of the population only 11,554,035 
males and 543,495 females can even read and 
write. 

The people of British India, of course 
including the Europeans, received only 
403,525,902 letters, newspapers and other 
packets through the post during the year — 



India and Her People. xix. 

about one seventh of the number handled by 
the post office in the United Kingdom for a 
population of less than 40,000,000. 

The census of religions shows this result : — 
Hindus, 207,731,727; Mahomedans, 57,321,164; 
Aboriginals, 9,280,467 ; Buddhists, 7,131,361; 
Christians, 2,284,380; Sikhs, 1,907,833; Jains, 
1,416,638; Parsees, 89,904; Jews, 17,194; and 
42,763 "others." 

The Christian population includes 247,790 
persons wholly or partly of European blood, 
and of these 130,988 belong to the Church of 
England. The native Christians, numbering 
2 >°36,59o, are divided thus : — Roman Catholics, 
1,243,529; Syrians, 200,449; Baptists, 186,487; 
Church of England, 164,028; Lutherans, 
64,243; Presbyterians, 30,915 ; and 146,939 of 
other denominations. The Nestorians are 
believed — we have done with the Blue Book 
now — to have first planted Christianity in India, 
in the third century. In the fourteenth century 
the Roman Catholics began to arrive ; and in 
1706 a German Protestant Mission was begun 
under Danish protection. In the summer of 
1793 England sent out William Carey to begin 
the great missionary movement now carried on 
by a number of British and American societies, 
who work as a rule harmoniously and without 
overlapping and competition. This is no place 
for a discussion of missionary methods. It is 



xx. India and Ilev People. 

enough to say on the one hand that the natives 
returned as Christians have imbibed the spirit 
of Christianity in varying degrees and, on the 
other hand, that missionary work has largely 
Christianised the spirit and opinions of very 
many who do not call themselves Christians. 
From whatever point of view the aims and 
methods of this movement are regarded, there 
has been and still is in the men who carry it on 
enough earnestness, self-sacrifice, and intelli- 
gence to compel our admiration. 

Howard Angus Kennedy. 

August 20th, 1897. 



CHAPTER I. 

INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

WHEN in 1579 Thomas Stephens, the 
first Englishman to visit India, resided 
at Salsette, an island now forming part of the 
proud City of Bombay, the Mogul dynasty in 
the person of the wise and illustrious Akbar 
had established itself on the throne of Delhi, 
and a settled and successful Government existed 
throughout the northern and more important 
portion of the peninsula of Hindustan. When 
Captain Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe ap- 
peared in 1608 and 1616 respectively at Agra 
and Ajmere in the character of Ambassadors 
from James the First, the Mogul dynasty had 
attained the zenith of its power under Shah 
Jehangir. Those Englishmen found India a 
practically united Empire with a magnificent 
Court and obedient to the sway of a Potentate 
whose wealth and military power made him 
appear more than the equal of the rulers of 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

Europe. The visitors could not be expected 
to know that what they saw was not the normal 
position of the country, or to realise that they 
had only chanced to arrive at the moment of 
the triumph of one ot those invaders of India 
who in two thousand years have made it their 
favourite battle ground and prey, from the time 
of Alexander to that of Nadir Shah and his 
successor, the Afghan, Ahmed Shah. 

It is desirable to make it clear beyond all 
possibility of misconception that India before 
our time was not a single united State. Even 
the Mogul dynasty, the most successful of all 
alien dominations in the Peninsula until we 
came on the scene, never subdued the whole 
country; its authority in the first century of 
its existence was either successfully defied or 
speedily cast off by the Rajputs and Marathas, 
and it would have been overthrown by the 
militant chiefs of Hinduism before the French 
and English fought for supremacy in the Deccan 
but for the terrible inroads of Nadir and Ahmed 
uniting the discordant and hostile elements of 
Indian society to meet a great and common 
danger. The normal condition of India was 
marked by disunion, internecine strife and 
inability to resist a bold and active invader. 
There is no case on record of the races of 
Hindustan having successfully repelled an 
invader from the North West, — that is to say 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 3 

one coming through or from Afghanistan. The 
Mogul conquerors themselves had come from 
that quarter in the time of Akbar's grandfather 
Baber ; and their conquest — considering the 
smallness of their force, for Baber had less 
than 5,000 men with which to emulate the 
deeds of his ancestors Tamerlane and Genghis 
by the subjection of India — was one of the 
most remarkable in the whole list. But even 
the Mogul conquerors in turn had to succumb 
whenever the Persian and Afghan conquerors 
advanced their standards to the historic plain 
of Paniput. 

The evidence of the disunion of India was 
clear even in the time of Alexander the Great. 
It was over kings who would not combine that 
he triumphed between the Indus and the 
Beas; and when the chivalry of heroic India 
was hastening to continue the struggle, the 
tame submission and subsequent co-operation of 
Porus ensured the safe and unmolested retreat 
of the Greek army. India was not called upon 
to face the ordeal of another foreign invasion 
for nearly a thousand years after Alexander; 
but compensation was found for this tranquillity 
in an increased amount of internal strife. The 
petty Hindu kings warred on each other with 
little intermission. Not one of them was strong 
enough to gain any wide or durable ascend- 
ancy j even the much-vaunted kingdom of 



4 INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

Kanauj controlled a region smaller than the 
present Punjab, and the great majority of the 
Rajput kinglets esteemed themselves fortunate 
if they could retain their own hereditary 
territories. The India of that day may not 
hav.e been as miserable as this ceaseless 
struggle might lead one to think, for the wars 
were conducted by a code of chivalry which 
deprived them of a sanguinary character. The 
motives of the contestants were not ambition or 
a settled design of conquest, but racial pride 
and the traditional claim of one House to rank 
before another. But if civil strife did not make 
India as poor or as unhappy as would have 
been the result if conducted on the sterner 
lines of our Western methods, it unquestionably 
made her weak and insecure against foreign 
aggression. Her weakness was increased 
because for centuries no external aggressor 
presented himself, and the spirit of patriotism 
was never called forth to quell the prevalent 
disunion. 

When the peril came it appeared in an 
unexpected manner and was attended by a 
circumstance which eventually added another 
and most potent cause to the many already 
existing elements of strife and disunion in 
India. In the seventh century of our era the 
Arab emirs who began the propagation of 
Mahomedanism by the subjection of Perias 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 5 

turned aside from their threatened movement 
westwards to march on India. It is said that 
their anger had been provoked by the seizure 
of one of their trading ships on the coast of 
Guzerat. If so, the act of some petty chief 
involved the whole state in many misfortunes 
which were not limited to the period of the 
Arab incursions. In fact, the importance of 
the Arab invasions is not so much what they 
accomplished themselves as it is that they 
marked the commencement of Mahomedan 
inroads which continued in one form or other 
for the better part of a thousand years. 

In the seventh century the Arabs overran the 
countries which are now called Scinde and 
Afghanistan. During the following century 
they made good their positions in those 
territories, but failed to make any further 
headway, repulsed on the one side by the 
chivalry of the Rajputs and checked on the 
other by the snows of the Hindu Kush moun- 
tains. In the ninth century they lost Scinde, 
but by that time Mahomedanism formed a solid 
wedge in Western Asia from the Aral sea to 
the Indian Ocean. It had however not crossed 
the river Indus, where it was opposed by as 
firm a front on the part of Hindu Brahminism 
as on the west by the Christian churches. 
Having lost the only Indian province they con- 
quered, the Arab attempts against the peninsula 



O INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

may be regarded as concluded, but their 
colonies, in conjunction with native chiefs who 
had embraced Mahomedanism, firmly held the 
whole of Afghanistan, and at least two 
dynasties which became historically famous 
originated with them. It is with these rather 
than with the Arabs that the first Mahomedan 
invasions of India must be connected. 

At Ghuzni, famous as a fortress to the 
present day, the more powerful of these 
dynasties had established itself. Of necessity 
there were relations between it and the princes 
of India, and causes of strife soon arose. It 
must in fairness be recorded that on this occa- 
. sion the Hindus were the aggressors. Filled 
with pride and self-confidence, they forced the 
mountain passes and marched on Ghuzni, 
They were signally defeated by Sebukhtegin, 
the ruler of Ghuzni, who also skilfully cut oft 
their line of retreat, and thus compelled them to 
purchase a safe exit from Afghanistan at a 
price which will stand for a million pounds. 
On their return to India the question was 
debated in solemn council whether the indem- 
nity should be paid, the Brahmins arguing that 
there was no need now to pay the money, while 
the Rajput warriors pleaded for the due fulfil- 
ment of the promise. The King was weak and 
yielded to the civil councillors, but the price 
paid for this breach of honour was immense. 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 7 

Sebukhtegin seized Peshawur and the passages 
of the Indus. Then he died j but he left to his 
son and successor, Mahmud, the legacy of 
exacting retribution from the false Hindus. 
Well was that task fulfilled ! In 25 years 
Mahmud of Ghuzni led sixteen victorious 
invading armies into India, his two most signal 
successes being marked by the overthrow of the 
Kingdom of Kanauj and the plunder of the 
holy city and shrine of Somnath. The Punjab, 
wrested by him from the Rajputs, now became 
the base of Mahomedan enterprise and en- 
croachment within the recognised geographical 
limits of Hindustan. 

The Ghuzni dynasty existed for 150 years 
after the death of Mahmud, and when it 
succumbed it was not to any Hindu opponent. 
A rival Mahomedan family and race in Western 
Afghanistan, known as the Ghor dynasty, 
took upon itself the task which had become 
too heavy for Mahmud's degenerate successors. 
About the year 1190 Mahomed of Ghor seized 
Ghuzni and occupied the Punjab. He followed 
up these preliminary measures in the orthodox 
manner by plundering Delhi in n 93 and 
sacking Kanauj in the following year. He 
might have equalled the total of the 
Ghuzni conqueror's invasions if three Rajput 
warriors, animated by patriotism, had not 
murdered him in his tent during the night. 



8 INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

The Hindus could not offer a combined and 
warlike resistance to an assailant inferior both 
in numbers and resources, but they could 
produce heroes capable of isolated feats of 
daring. 

The generals who had fought under the 
Ghor conqueror became Indian chiefs and 
kings. His most successful lieutenant founded 
the dynasty of the slave kings, and from that 
time onward the Punjab and the whole of 
north- west India was subject to Mahomedan 
rule. The first break in this rule was when 
the Sikh chief Runjeet Singh shook off the 
Afghan yoke at the beginning of the present 
century. Even the incursions of the formidable 
Mongols made no alteration in this respect. 
In the time of the dreaded Genghis, first of 
" the scourges of God," they merely brushed 
past the border regions of India on their return 
from Persia to Mongolia. They found North- 
West India Mahomedan, and their devastating 
legions, as they retired satiated with slaughter 
and laden with plunder under Tamerlane — 
the conqueror who feasted for five days in Delhi 
while his soldiers butchered the inhabitants so 
that the dead were piled high in the streets of 
that capital — left it unaffected in its constitution 
and only smitten by an appalling calamity. 
When the Mongols returned for the third and 
last time in the person of Baber at the beginning 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 9 

of the 1 6th century, they had themselves become 
Mahomedans and were consequently of the 
same creed as the Afghan Lodis reigning at 
Delhi whom they overthrew. 

Unlike his predecessors Genghis and Tamer- 
lane, Baber the Lion was not the leader of a 
host of marauders, but a great statesman aim- 
ing at clear and definite results. With far 
smaller resources than his ancestors he achieved 
more splendid and more durable results. Baber, 
who made his capital at Cabul in preference to 
either Delhi or Lahore, did not long enjoy the 
supremacy he established throughout the Punjab 
and the adjacent Provinces. He founded the 
Mogul dynasty in 1526, and four years later he 
died leaving a divided inheritance. His elder 
son Humayoun became Emperor of India, 
with his capital at Delhi ; his younger son 
Kamran, the abler and more ambitious of the 
two, got the Afghan provinces and established 
his seat of power at Cabul. A struggle for 
empire ensued between these brothers, but 
although Humayoun retained the style of 
Emperor for 26 years, he was a fugitive in 
Persia during the latter part of them, and 
Kamran remained victorious until the genius 
of Humayoun's son Akbar turned the scale 
against him. 

Akbar was the true founder of the Mogul 
dynasty. In 49 years, from 1556 to 1605, this 



10 INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

great contemporary of Queen Elizabeth assured 
by the astuteness of his policy not less than by 
the terror of his arms the Mogul conquest of 
India, and extended his authority to Goa on the 
one side and the mouths of the Ganges on the 
other. The system on which Akbar acted was 
a new one. He determined to win over to his 
person and cause the noblest race of India and 
to associate them in his work. However con- 
temptible were the efforts of the oldest Aryan 
races of India to hold their own against the 
North-Western invaders, the Rajputs, who have 
been not incorrectly termed the Normans of 
India, preserved throughout these national 
misfortunes an unblemished reputation for 
personal courage and chivalry. Akbar made 
it his first object to win over some at least of 
the chief representatives of this noble people to 
his side, and he succeeded in the case of the 
great and still illustrious family of Jeypore. 
He married a Princess of that House, and her 
brother, Raja Man Singh, became the generalis- 
simo of his armies. His exploits cannot be 
recited here, but he was perhaps the greatest 
military leader whom the soil of India ever 
produced. Akbar took his statesmen as well 
as his soldiers from the Hindus. The name of 
Todar Mall is still among the greatest in India 
as a financier and law-giver, while that of Abu 
Fazl remains unequalled among the wise and 



INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 1 1 

courageous counsellors whom a despot is 
fortunate to find at his elbow. 

The edifice erected by Akbar was as firmly 
planted as ever in the reign of his son and 
successor Jehangir when the English envoy 
Sir Thomas Roe came, hat in hand as it 
were, to beg favours from "the Mightie 
Emperour commonly knowne as the Great 
Mogul." No one could have foreseen that 
before another generation passed away the 
Moguls would be humiliated in the field by the 
Persians under Shah Abbas, and threatened 
by a Hindu uprising in the formation of the 
Maratha League under the redoubtable Sivaji. 
Sir Thomas Roe could not be expected to show 
a prophetic instinct. His instructions were very 
simple. He was to get a " factory" or trading 
agency at Surat and to " procure such rarities 
as China and Japan afforded." As he accom- 
plished the former portion of his task — mainly 
it is said through the celebrated Nur Mahal, 
the Queen of Jehangir — his embassy must be 
termecPsuccessful ; but in one sense it was mis- 
leading, for it strengthened the view that India 
was a vast united Empire of immense power 
and resources far beyond the reach of our 
greatest efforts, and that the utmost we could 
expect were such crumbs from the Imperial 
table as the mighty Emperor might condescend 
to cast us. It was this belief that led our early 



i2 INDIA BEFORE OUR TIME. 

adventurers to look to the isles of the Eastern 
Archipelago rather than to India itself for 
trade, and that paralysed the hand of the East 
India Company in its dealings with the Native 
Powers until Clive indicated a broader and 
more successful course. The characteristics of 
India before our time were disunion and 
inability to use its immense latent strength 
for defensive purposes. At the moment we 
came into contact with India there happened 
to be established what seemed an imposing 
and powerful Government. It Was an episode, 
not a solid and durable creation. The swing 
of the pendulum soon carried Mogul India 
back to its natural condition of disunion which 
placed it at the mercy of aggressors whether 
they came through the passes or across the 
seas. 






CHAPTER II. 

OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

THE discovery of America by Columbus in 
1492 and the rounding of the Cape of 
Good Hope by Vasco da Gama in 1497 were 
the two events that turned the energy of the 
maritime races of Europe in the direction of 
India. Both were enterprises undertaken for 
the quest of the Indies. While the Portuguese 
were actively establishing their position and 
extending their trade by the south-east route, 
the northern nations and especially England 
clung to the hope that the North-west Passage 
might still prove the highway to the markets 
of the East. Henry the Seventh gave John 
Cabot his royal authority to discover that 
passage in 1496, before da Gama had sailed 
from Lisbon. Sebastian Cabot renewed his 
father's attempt at half a century's interval; 
Sir Hugh Willoughby went to his death on the 
same errand ; Martin Frobisher, John Davis 

B 



14 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

and others followed on their track; and the 
sixteenth century closed with English maritime 
enterprise baffled in its most attractive outlet 
by the icepack and frozen seas beyond Baffin's 
Bay. During that century the Portuguese 
claimed a monopoly of trade and navigation 
east of the Cape, and they kept it until the 
Dutch entered the field as competitors in 1595 
and were followed a few years later by the 
English. 

Undoubtedly the repeated defeats in the quest 
of a North-west passage led English mariners 
to attempt to reach the Indies by a different 
route. When Sir Francis Drake left our shores 
in 1577 to sail round the globe it was deemed 
that the Portuguese held the Cape route too 
securely to make it safe for Englishmen to go 
that way; Drake therefore sailed westwards 
and rounded Cape Horn. The success of his 
cruise was immense, and is not to be depreciated 
by the fact that he never reached India or 
touched at any land except one of the Molucca 
isles. Drake's example was followed by Thomas 
Cavendish, who may be called the first English 
navigator of the China seas, as he reached the 
Ladrones, not far from Hong Kong and Macao, 
in 1587. It was the voyages of Drake and 
Cavendish that led the Spanish King to com- 
plain that those navigators had infringed the 
divine rights of Spain, which then included 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. I 5 

Portugal, by sailing round the world ; Queen 
Elizabeth made the proud retort that what the 
Spaniards did it was lawful for the English to 
do also, since the sea and air were common to 
all men. That diplomatic passage of arms was 
followed by the Invincible Armada; and the 
overthrow of the Spanish fleet, besides saving 
England from invasion, opened to her the barred 
doors of the Indies. If the naval supremacy 
of Spain had not been shattered on that occa- 
sion it may be doubted whether the fitful efforts 
of a few Drakes and Cavendishes would ever 
have resulted in our holding " the Golden East 
in fee." It was not merely that the successes 
of that running seafight from Eddystone to 
Berwick Head gave our sailors and captains 
confidence in their superiority over the Dons, 
but around our shores lay the wrecks of the 
very guard-ships that deterred the boldest of 
our countrymen from using the Portuguese 
high road past St. Helena and the Cape. 

The obstacles in the path of Englishmen 
using the direct route being removed, it only 
remained to turn to the best account the new 
avenue of trade with the Indies. The first 
attempts made by Englishmen to reach India 
were disastrous. Several ships were lost ; and 
to add to the mortification of the London 
merchants the Dutch under Houtman estab- 
lished themselves in Java before the last year 

b 2 



l6 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

of the sixteenth century, while England, who 
had shattered Spain's naval power, had not yet 
been able to fly the St. George's Cross on the 
Indian Ocean. 

These were weighty reasons closely touching 
our national pride. For a hundred years and 
more we had been looking for a way to the 
Indies. Heroes whose names are forgotten or 
rarely mentioned had given their lives for the 
cause. A magnificent national triumph had 
consolidated our own position, raised the 
enthusiasm of the people and the confidence 
of the Government, and finally removed the 
Cerberus who watched the gate to the Indies. 
These were the causes which led our merchant 
adventurers eastwards. It was the knowledge 
that our mariners had realized Elizabeth's asser- 
tion that the sea was common to all, that 
banded the wealthy citizens of London in an 
undertaking which was adventurous, which 
should be profitable, but which above all was 
the natural consummation of a national purpose 
followed under every discouragement during 
four reigns. It is magnifying a petty incident 
to say, as has been said, that our trade with the 
Indies began because the Dutch in 1599 raised 
the price of pepper from three shillings to more 
than double that sum a pound. If there had 
been no increase in the price of pepper the 
disastrous attempts made in 1591 and again in 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 1J 

1596 to reach India would still have had suc- 
cessors, and there would still have been "a 
company of merchants of London trading to 
the East Indies." 

The association which bore that name was 
incorporated by Royal Charter on the last day 
of the year 1600. Elizabeth took a special 
interest in promoting its fortunes, even sending 
an ambassador overland to the Court of the 
Great Mogul, which however he did not reach. 
Having obtained the charter, the merchants 
and others — chiefly members of the official 
nobility — subscribed the money to fit out the 
ships for a voyage and to entitle them to a 
share in the profits. The first of these 
voyages began early in 1601, when five ships 
— the " Mare Scourge," or " Scourge of the 
Sea" (subsequently named "Red Dragon"), 
the " Hector," the " Ascension," the " Guest " 
(or more probably the "Gift"), and the 
" Susan " — under command of Captain James 
Lancaster, sailed from the Thames. This 
expedition was fairly successful in a commercial 
respect, and resulted in the opening of direct 
trade with Java, where a station or " House of 
Trade" was established at Bantam. On the 
return of Sir James Lancaster, who was knighted 
for the voyage, Elizabeth was dead and James 
the 1st was king ; but the new monarch took as 
much interest in trade with the Indies as his 



18 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

great predecessor. A second voyage was 
therefore arranged for in the same year as 
Lancaster's return, and four of his vessels 
composed the expedition, for it seems probable 
that the " Dragon " was identical with the 
"Red Dragon" or "Mare Scourge." This 
voyage was under the command of Sir Henry 
Middleton. Up to the year 1612 twelve of 
these voyages may be counted, and with one 
exception they were all successful, paying the 
"adventurers" from 100 to 200 per cent, 
and making the English flag known from the 
Persian Gulf to the seas of Siam, Tonquin, and 
Japan. Captain Hawkins, who was attached 
to the third of these voyages, proceeded to 
Agra, the favourite residence of the Mogul 
Emperor, and resided there for three years as 
envoy from King James. While the bulk of 
the commerce now established was with the 
Eastern Archipelago, and with Japan, where 
Captain Saris founded the factory of Firando in 
1 613, the English succeeded in carrying on 
some trade through Surat, a town on the 
Taptee where the Portuguese had an important 
station, but as the new-comers had no licence 
from the Great Mogul to establish a factory at 
that town they were not on an equality with the 
Portuguese. Hawkins had been sent to Agra 
to get that licence, but although civilly enter- 
tained he did not succeed, and it was not 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. IQ 

until Sir Thomas Roe arrived as ambassador 
that his request was complied with. In the 
meantime much had happened that indirectly 
promoted the attainment of the object the 
English adventurers had in their hearts. 

The Portuguese, firmly established at Surat, 
resented the appearance of the English near 
the chief place of trade in India, and resorted 
to force with a view of repelling the English, or 
at the least of discrediting and humiliating them 
in the eyes of the natives. For several years 
fights between the English and their rivals went 
on at the mouth of the Taptee and in the gulf 
of Cambay. Sir Henry Middleton, commander 
of the sixth voyage, fought a stiff fight with 
the Portuguese in 1611 before he could land at 
Cambay. A more serious encounter was 
fought in the following year, when the " Dragon" 
and "Osiander" under Captain Thomas Best 
were opposed at Swalley by 16 Portuguese 
vessels and a large number of small boats. 
Desultory fighting between them continued for 
three months, during which period Best was 
constantly pressing the Mogul Governor for 
authority to establish a factory at Surat; but 
when his pertinacity was rewarded with the 
necessary charter be took umbrage because it 
was sent as a private letter, refused to receive 
it, and sailed away in the beginning of 1613. 
The credit of obtaining the Surat factory and of 



20 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

establishing the martial credit of the English 
people has been given to Best ; whereas the 
main result was due to his successor, the 
gallant Downton. It was Downton who led 
the first of the " Joint Stock Voyages," in 
which the enormous sum (for that day) ot 
^"1,600,000 was invested by 954 persons. 

No English ship appeared off Swalley in 
1 61 3, but late in the following year a flotilla of 
4 ships under Captain Downton arrived. The 
vessels were the " New Year's Gift," the 
" Hector," the " Hope " and the " Solomon," 
and they seem to have presented a superior 
fighting force to previous squadrons. No sooner 
was the arrival of the English ships known than 
the Portuguese Admiral at Goa fitted out a large 
expedition to attack them ; but, whether through 
the greater skill and courage of the English 
sailors or because the Portuguese were over- 
confident, this superior force was decisively 
defeated with a loss of 350 Portuguese soldiers 
and sailors. This was the victory that estab- 
lished the reputation of the English, and that 
simplified the task of Sir Thomas Roe. The 
right to establish a factory at Surat, with minor 
or dependent factories at Gogra, Cambay and 
Ahmedabad, was really won at the sword's 
point from the Portuguese in Swalley roads. 
Having gained this triumph Downton continued 
his cruise to Bantam in Java, where he died 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 21 

suddenly, ''lamented, admired, unequalled." 
The epitaph was uttered over him that he was 
" the true hero, piety and valour being seasoned 
by gravity and modesty." Among the early 
promoters of our trade in the East Downton, 
the long forgotten, whose laurels were trans- 
ferred to Best, deserves a prominent and 
honourable place. 

The majesty and power of the Great Mogul 
somewhat appalled our merchant adventurers, 
and led them the more willingly perhaps to 
follow in the wake of the Dutch, who had made 
the Archipelago the seat of their Eastern trade. 
There were the spice islands, and for a long 
time spices represented the staple product 
of the East in the eyes of Europeans. The 
chief inducement to proceed there was the 
absence of any powerful or arrogant potentate 
at whose mercy foreign traders held their lives 
and their property. But if the English repre- 
sentatives experienced opposition at the hands 
of the Portuguese at Swalley and along the 
western coast of India, it was small compared 
with that they met with from the more energetic 
and determined Dutchmen when they intruded 
on Java, Sumatra and the Moluccas. For six 
or seven years the struggle was carried on 
with a bitterness and ferocity on the Dutch 
side unexampled in the long competition for 
commercial supremacy in the East ; and the 



22 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

balance of success rested decidedly with our 
opponents. 

The massacre of the small garrison at Pulo 
Condore, which had been occupied because 
it was supposed to command the Gulf of Siam, 
was followed up by the fight in Pattania Har- 
bour on the east coast of Malacca, — when Cap- 
tain John Jourdan, President of the Indies, 
lost his life on board the " Sampson and 
Hound," which was assailed and defeated by 
a larger Dutch force. It is' said that only 
three Englishmen escaped from the fray and 
that they made their way in a junk to Firando, 
our early settlement in Japan. Such was the 
implacability of the Dutch that they followed 
these fugitives to their place of retreat and de- 
manded their surrender with menaces. But 
George Cock, the Governor of Firando, was a 
man of metal, and refused to yield one of his 
countrymen. He placed the factory in a posi- 
tion of defence, mounted ships' guns, and bade 
the Dutch do their worst. Then the Dutch in- 
voked the intervention of the Japanese, — who 
like wise men retorted that the Europeans must 
settle their quarrels among themselves. As 
neither the Dutch nor the English wished to 
lose the Japan trade, no serious breach of the 
peace ensued. 

The success at Pattania was followed by 
other naval victories, which added greatly to 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 23 

the Dutch reputation. The years 1618 and 
16 19 witnessed a general humiliation of the 
English in those seas. Captain Bonner and his 
ship the " Dragon," the same which figured in 
the first voyage as the " Scourge of the Sea," was 
sunk in one fight; the " Swan" and a second 
vessel were captured in another. The Dutch 
appear to have mastered one strategical prin- 
ciple, the bringing a preponderating force to 
bear on their adversary, — and the English 
vessels were destroyed or captured when left 
single-handed by want of judgment or over- 
confidence. But if the English ships were lost 
the factories remained and were bravely held. 
Polaroon and Lantore in the Moluccas, cut off 
from external communications by the loss of 
the ships named, were stoutly and successfully 
defended. The details in more durable form 
than letters home were never recorded, these 
contemporary manuscript records have perished, 
and all we know is that 32 of our countrymen 
on Polaroon baffled the Dutch in their full tide 
of triumph. Even under the gloom of Dutch 
prejudice and mastery there were gleams of the 
superior greatness of the future lords of the East. 
When these calamities were commencing the 
East India Company had reinforced its fleet 
in the Archipelago and entrusted the supreme 
command to Sir Thomas Dale, but the new 
arrivals did not more than make up for the 



24 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

losses enumerated. Sir Thomas Dale arrived 
at a critical moment in the affairs of Java. 
The Native King of Bantam had taken 
umbrage at something the Dutch factors at 
Jacatra or Batavia had done, and he con- 
cluded an alliance with the English, who, 
nothing loth, attacked and destroyed the 
Dutch factory. This success was of transitory 
effect, for on the one side the King of Bantam 
did not wish to push the Dutch to extremities, 
and on the other the Dutch soon collected their 
forces, recovered Batavia, and renewed the 
contest of supremacy with increased forces and 
resolution. 

At that juncture news arrived from Europe 
that a Treaty of Defence had been signed 
between the two States, and their repre- 
sentatives in the East were enjoined to live 
peaceably and act harmoniously together. 
These orders were received with external 
tokens of respect; salutes were fired, and 
the ships' yards were manned; but the con- 
test had entered on too keen a stage to be 
arrested by orders dated six months before 
they could reach the field of rivalry. In the 
very year of their receipt, 1620, the Dutch 
retaliated for the attack on Batavia by driving 
the English out of Bantam, so that the object of 
the Treaty of Defence, the prevention of disputes 
between the English and Dutch, was defeated 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 25 

at the very commencement. After this tem- 
porary expulsion of the English from Bantam 
— they returned in 1628 and set up a 
subordinate factory — their chief station became 
Amboyna, in the Banda Isles. But even here 
the Dutch would not leave them alone. The 
fortunes of the English were at such a low ebb 
that it seemed to the Dutch that one bold stroke 
might place them in undisputed possession of 
the field. 

The Dutch factory at Amboyna was stronger 
and held a larger garrison than the English. 
Mynheer Carpentier, the Governor-General of 
the Dutch Indies at Batavia, was a man of deter- 
mination, and his subordinate at Amboyna had 
no scruples. The former was resolved to expel 
the English from the Archipelago, the latter 
saw a good opportunity of realising this desire 
by inventing a plot on the part of the English 
residents at Amboyna to overthrow the Dutch 
with the co-operation of the Japanese. With 
the view of proving the existence of this plot 
and at the same time to defeat it the Dutch 
lieutenant seized all the English at Amboyna. 
Their chief, Captain Gabriel Towerson, with 
nine English factors, nine Japanese and one 
Portuguese sailor, were all arrested, and some 
were tortured with the view of extracting a 
confession of conspiracy. This object having 
been attained, the ten Englishmen and their 



26 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

associates were executed on 17th February 1623, 
and the incident is very properly known to 
history as the Massacre of Amboyna. Car- 
pentier refused to repudiate the act of his 
subordinate j no punishment was ever inflicted 
on the perpetrators of this barbarous act, and 
more than 30 years passed away before Crom- 
well obtained such reparation as compensation 
for some of the representatives of the victims 
could be deemed. 

The Massacre of Ambcyna raised a great 
outcry in England at the time, but it had more 
important consequences than its perpetrators 
foresaw. It established Dutch supremacy in 
the Eastern Archipelago; for in 1624 the 
English formally withdrew, and their subsequent 
efforts in this direction were made on a feebler 
and less extensive scale. But on the other hand 
it was this calamity that drove the English to 
make India the chief scene of their efforts to 
found a commercial supremacy. Several cir- 
cumstances contributed to strengthen this reso- 
lution. If the Dutch were the victors in the 
Spice Islands, the English had signally triumphed 
over their other European rivals the Portuguese. 
In 1620 Captain Shillinge, after occupying Sal- 
danha Bay at the Cape, and thus planting for the 
first time a European flag in South Africa, had 
sailed to Surat, defeating the Portuguese fleet 
in several encounters and further lowering 



OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 27 

their reputation among the Indians. But a 
still greater blow followed. In 1622 the island 
of Ormus, the seat of Portuguese power in the 
Persian Gulf since the time of Albuquerque, 
was captured by the English for the Persians ; 
and although fighting continued for some years 
— in 1 63 1 Swalley witnessed another serious en- 
counter between English ships and the Viceroy 
of Goa's fleet — the Portuguese had ceased to 
be formidable before they signed a permanent 
treaty of peace with us in 1635. 

These military successes had considerably 
increased the reputation of Englishmen along 
the coast of India, and had resulted in their 
obtaining many extra privileges from the Mogul's 
lieutenants. They were given authority by 
them, or by some of the still unsubdued kings 
of the Carnatic, to found factories at Agra and 
Patna in the north, and at Masulipatam and 
Armagon in the south. For a time Armagon, 
which is on the Coromandel coast, north of 
Madras, was the chief factory in India, its fort 
being defended by 12 guns, and the establish- 
ment consisting of 23 factors and soldiers. But 
the enumeration of these places, each of which 
signified a commercial and diplomatic success, 
is merely intended to show that the failure and 
humiliation of our merchant adventurers in the 
Archipelago were in marked contrast with the 
progress achieved in India itself. It is not 



28 OUR MERCHANT ADVENTURERS. 

surprising, therefore, that the operations and 
energy of our ancestors turned into the more 
profitable opening offered to them in the Mogul 
Empire, instead of to the islands where their 
Dutch rivals had established a firm foothold. The 
English may also be credited with having fore- 
seen that the prizes offered by trade intercourse 
with a great and populous Empire like India 
must far exceed in value those to be wrested 
from the sparse populations of the Eastern 
Archipelago. The Amboyna Massacre marked 
the relaxation of our grasp on what may be 
called the Dutch Indies, but it was the deter- 
mining cause which led to the concentration of 
our efforts on the mainland of India itself. 




CHAPTER III. 

THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

ALTHOUGH the attention of the English 
was thus diverted from the Archipelago 
and concentrated as it were on India, it is 
proper to repeat that their only thought during 
the whole of the seventeenth century and for 
the first forty years of the eighteenth was to 
obtain trading facilities and factories by the 
favour of the great Mogul. The annals of the 
nascent East India Company are made up of 
the recorded establishment of their stations 
round the western and eastern coasts of the 
peninsula, and the fact that is most striking 
about their operations is that at one time or 
other they occupied and tested the merits of 
every possible port from Cambay on the one 
side to the Ganges on the other, — with of course 
the exception of Goa, then and still firmly held 
by the Portuguese as their metropolis in India. 
These factories were established as coigns of 
vantage not for purposes of conquest — no 
thought was more foreign or repugnant to the 
Company, which eventually became the most 



30 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

aggressive and conquering corporation the 
world has ever seen, than to play a role of 
high policy and aggrandisement — but as the 
best points for tapping the wealth of the 
interior. Many of them proved failures for 
the purpose with which they had been selected, 
the names of some are so completely forgotten 
that search in geographical dictionaries is 
necessary to identify them, but they one and 
all furnished evidence of the remarkable energy 
and persistency with which the English were 
pushing their trade with the chiefs and peoples 
of India. It was probably this systematic 
mode of proceeding which resulted in the 
fixed opinions of Maratha Chiefs and Mogul 
Governors that the English were a trading and 
not a fighting people. 

Although factories had been set up at Patna 
and other places in the Gangetic valley in 1620 
it was not till 1634 that a firman was given by 
the Emperor for trade in Bengal, and then it 
was restricted to such an inconvenient port — 
Pipli in Orissa — that the concession was 
practically of little value. Bengal, the milch 
cow of India, was at that time of such little 
importance in our eyes that it was placed under 
the restored presidency of Bantam in far off 
Java. In 1642 permission was given the 
English to remove their port of call from Pipli 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 31 

to Hughli in the Gangetic delta, and in 1645-6 
further material concessions were made to them 
in this quarter owing to the services Dr. Gabriel 
Broughton had rendered in a medical capacity 
to the Emperor Shah Jehan. But the develop- 
ment of Bengal was very slow, and in 1658 
it was made subordinate to Madras, which had 
in the meantime been established, in place of 
Bantam. 

On the Coromandel coast the first station 
occupied was Masulipatam, and tacked on to 
this was a minor dependent factory at Armagon. 
In 1628 the former was abandoned and Armagon 
became the chief station on this coast. For its 
defence a corps of 20 soldiers, Englishmen 
recruited at home for Indian service, was raised 
and this is claimed as the stem from which the 
1st European Madras (afterwards the 101st) 
Regiment sprang. Armagon itself was aban- 
doned in 1638 as unsuited for commerce, and 
in 1639 Fort St. George at Madraspatam or 
Chineepatam was made the head factory on 
the coast of Coromandel. Fort St. George was 
occupied by the staff of the abandoned Ar- 
magon and received its garrison. It justified 
its selection, becoming in time the Presidential 
capital of Madras, but until 1683 it also was 
subordinate to the central administrative factory 
of Bantam. 

On the west or Malabar coast Surat still 



32 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

maintained its old supremacy, and even when 
Bombay was ceded to England as part of the 
dowry of Catherine of Braganza trade did not 
desert the old mart on the Taptee. Bombay, it 
must be noted, was obtained in a different 
manner from all our other possessions in India. 
The sovereign rights in that island were trans- 
ferred to the King of England by another 
European monarch, and with the transfer we 
came for the first time into absolute possession 
of a portion of Indian territory. Charles the 
Second thought so little of his acquisition that 
in 1665 he assigned his rights over it to the 
East India Company in return for an annual 
payment of ten pounds. For a time it looked 
as if the King had accurately appraised the 
value of his cousin of Portugal's gift, for the 
Portuguese authorities refused to surrender the 
adjacent islet of Salsette, and for twenty years 
trade ignored the new emporium of Bombein, 
Bon Bay, or Bombay, which was a dependency 
of Surat until the year 1687. 

It was during this period of uncertainty that 
one of the most memorable incidents in the 
early history of the English in India occurred, 
and as it was the first indication furnished to 
the natives that if the Company was all for 
peace its representatives could on occasion 
show themselves valiant men of war, it deserves 
special notice. The Moguls had not been firmly 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 33 

seated on the throne fifty years when the Hindus 
began to make efforts to shake off their autho- 
rity, and in Central India the Marathas had 
found in Sivaji a leader worthy of their con- 
fidence and cause. His adventurous career 
must not turn our attention from our theme, for 
it only affects that in one incident. The wealth 
of Surat offered an attractive prize to a military 
chief seeking to draw followers to his standard 
and pressed by the difficulty of paying them 
when enlisted. Having overrun Malwa Sivaji 
made a descent on Surat in the year 1664, 
hoping not only to humble the Mogul Governor 
but to capture at a swoop the rich merchandise 
and treasures of the foreign merchants. Some 
tidings of the coming storm seems to have 
reached the ears of Sir George Oxenden, then 
" Governor of the English in India," for he 
called up guns and men from the anchorage at 
Swalley and placed the English factory at Surat 
in a good position of defence. When Sivaji 
arrived with his Maratha horde he had no 
difficulty in capturing the town, and in plun- 
dering its bazaar, the Parsee houses, and the 
Dutch factory, but when he reconnoitred the 
strong and well prepared position of the English, 
notwithstanding the inducement of its containing 
nearly ^"80,000 of merchandise, he drew off his 
forces, and our countrymen held their ground 
and property without firing scarcely a shot. It 



34 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

is said that Sivaji carried oft with him spoil to 
the extent of one million sterling, but of that not 
sixpence was English. Sir George Oxenden's 
success stood him in good stead. The Mogul 
Emperor was vastly pleased at the check he 
had imposed on the progress of the formidable 
rebel Sivaji, and the English reputation rose in 
Western India at the expense of the Dutch and 
Portuguese. 

In 1687 the Surat head factory was removed 
to Bombay, which thus became the centre and 
base of English power in Western India, just as 
Madras had become the English capital of 
Southern India 48 years earlier. In 1681 
Bengal was released from its dependence on 
Madras, and in 1688, after many changes ot 
site, the chief factory was fixed at Chuttanatee 
or Calcutta, where in the following year Fort 
William was erected in honour of the new king. 
Sir John Child was sent out from England with 
full powers to make peace or war with the 
Native Powers and to take charge of the Com- 
pany's affairs as "Governor General" — a title 
that seems to have been only used in this 
isolated instance until conferred on Warren 
Hastings a century later. The three adminis- 
trative divisions in India which exist at the 
present time were therefore well established 
before the close of the 17th century, and at the 
same time our merchants were finally expelled 
from Java by Dutch intrigues and violence. 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 35 

The increased number of factories and 
fortified stations, the employment of a regular 
and increasing body of soldiers in the pay and 
subject to the orders of the Company, and 
perhaps also the discovery that the Mogul 
Empire was not quite so solid or substantial a 
creation as had been supposed, led some at 
least of the Company's representatives in India 
to form a larger conception of England's 
mission in that country. The secure possession 
of Bombay, free from the exactions of the 
ruling powers and from tyrannical interference 
by the Mogul governors, was also an incentive 
to acquire other positions in India on the same 
favourable conditions. It was at this time that 
ambitious schemes began to be entertained and 
perhaps discussed in the counting houses of the 
English factories, but they bore no fruit for 
another half century unless the following 
remarkable definition of policy expressed in 
1689 in a letter of instructions sent out by the 
Court to its servants may be deemed such : — 

"The increase of our revenue is the subject 
of our care as much as our trade ; 'tis that 
must maintain our forces when twenty accidents 
may interrupt our trade, 'tis that must make 
us a nation in India; without that we are but 
a great number of interlopers united by his 
Majesty's Royal Charter, fit only to trade 
where nobody of power thinks it their interest 



36 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

to prevent us ; and upon this account it is that 
the wise Dutch in all their general advices that 
we have seen write ten paragraphs concerning 
their Government, their civil and military policy, 
warfare and the increase of their revenue for 
one paragraph they write concerning trade." 

The bolder attitude taken up by the Company 
towards the Native Powers was probably the 
cause of the conflicts that occurred in the first 
years of the settlement of Bengal, and amid 
which Calcutta was founded. The exactions 
of the Mogul's Governors increased ; the native 
chiefs resorted to insults, one declaring that the 
" English were a company of base quarrelling 
people and foul dealers " ; and at last the 
Company gave authority, if there was no other 
way out of the difficulty, to make war on the 
Mogul. In a letter of the Secret Committee 
received at Calcutta a few days after it was 
founded there occurs this remarkable passage : 

" You must always understand that though 
we prepare for and resolve to enter into a warr 
with the Mogulls (being necessitated thereto) 
our ultimate end is peace for as we have never 
done it so our natures are most adverse to 
bloodshed and rapine which usually attend the 
most just warre. But we have no remedy 
left but either to desert our trade, or we must 
draw the sord his Majesty hath entrusted us 
with to vindicate the rights and honour of the 
English nation in India." 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 37 

Hostilities actually took place. The Com- 
pany's fleet captured several Mogul ships, and 
on Hidgley Island a regular engagement was 
fought. The English, twice repulsed in an 
attack on a native battery of n guns, carried 
it at the third attempt, when a Captain 
Arthburtnot — no doubt a misspelling for 
Arbuthnot — distinguished himself by leading 
his men to victory and spiking the guns. In 
this first battle of the English in Bengal, fought 
close to the scene of the more memorable 
Plassy, the Moguls left 60 killed on the 
ground, while our loss was two killed and two 
wounded. It was probably the discovery of 
the importance of Bengal, which was described 
by a contemporary as the " best flower in ye 
Company's garden," that led to this exceptional 
vigour, which was repaid by more than fifty 
years tranquillity in the Gangetic delta. 

It was not only in the north that the English 
had to have recourse to arms to maintain their 
position. Several petty wars were fought in the 
neighbourhood of Fort St. David, the English 
neighbour of the French station of Pondi- 
cherry, but the details are not preserved. It is 
otherwise with the dramatic defence of Anjengo, 
the most southern of the English stations on 
the Malabar coast, which was in itself a most 
memorable occurrence and may be taken as 
typical of many another collision with the 
natives that has passed into oblivion. I give 



38 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

the account as contained in the manuscript 
record which alone preserves the incident : — 

" A war ensued and several skirmishes hap- 
pened 'twixt the English and the natives, but 
the former always gaining the better a cessation 
of arms was agreed on and remained so till 
Mr. Walter Brown (of Council of Bombay) 
arrived at Anjenga, who brought matters to 
such an issue that it was agreed upon — viz., 
so soon as ever the customary annual allow- 
ance to the Queen and Poolar was paid that all 
disputes should be laid in oblivion. Now the 
unhappy affair works to a period. No sooner 
was Mr. Brown gone off the place but Mr. 
Gyfford, flushed with the hopes of having peace 
and pepper and the more to ingratiate himself 
with the country government, thought he could 
not send those presents in too pompous a 
manner. Therefore he musters all the English 
menial servants, many of the inhabitants, and 
all the flower of the garrison, and marches on 
a fixed day to the Queen's Palace at Attinga 
with as little concern as to take the air, leaving 
none but a few invalids for the defence of the 
fort (the most preposterous and unprecedented 
action as ever was heard of). On their arrival 
at Attinga they found a great conflux of the 
natives ready to receive them, and as the cus- 
tom of the country arm'd, which, however, at 
first did not give room for the English to 
suspect there was such a damnable treason on 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 39 

foot, but rather that they were come to be 
spectators. 

" As I have said, on their arrival at Attinga 
Mr. Cowse was pitched upon to go and consult 
with the chief men how to behave in the 
delivery of the presents, whom it was necessary 
to gratify at such a juncture, and what sum to 
each person of distinction. It was at this con- 
sultation that Mr. Cowse imagin'd there was 
some evil on foot because of the whispers and 
delays on the part of the Mallabars, upon 
which he was very pressing with Mr. Gyfford 
to return, who was deaf to all his entreatys. 
During the interim some of the most active of 
the commonalty secures the ammunition, which 
no sooner was known (than) the Caraccars 
first and then the mob in general rushed on 
our people who were drawn up in an enclosure, 
and in a manner pounded were soon overcome. 
Messrs. Gyfford, Burton, Fleming and some 
others of the English was tortured very much, 
and the linguist dismembered gradually that he 
might feel the greater torment. Mr. Cowse 
luckily got out of the crowd on the first onset, 
disguising himself in the country habit, hoping 
thereby to escape. But when they had made . 
an end of killing nigh two hundred souls, the 
murtherers made directly to the fort, and in the 
way a Moor merchant in company of others 
accidentally taking the path Mr. Cowse did 
(and to whom the former was largely indebted) 



40 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

he was discovered and kill'd to quit scores, 
notwithstanding all the assurance man could 
give that he freely acquitted him (the Moor) of 
all he owed to spare his life, but so it was 
resolved for stone dead has no fellow." 

Such was the catastrophe at Attinga when 200 
Englishmen and their servants lost their lives. 
Strangely enough the whole episode had passed 
into oblivion until my discovery some years ago 
of the contemporary evidence among the India 
Office records. But if the natives had massacred 
the English colony the valour and energy of 
one Englishman, the gunner Ince, saved the fort, 
and I continue the story in the words of the 
original narrator : — " Three of the Topasses 
(much wounded) and a Christian boy or two 
were the first that gave notice to the fort of the 
misfortune. Upon which the gunner Ince, with 
the ablest of those invalids Mr. Gyfford had 
left to guard the fort and by the assistance of 
the souldiers' wives, directly carry'd provisions 
from the Bank Sal to the fort, and secured 
themselves ere the country people made any 
attempt. But their arrival was soon enough to 
terrify those handful of men was in the fort. 
The gunner, a man of true courage and pru- 
dence, did wonders on this emergency by 
animating those with him to make a vigorous 
defence, even to blow up the magazine and 
perish that way rather than fall into the enemy's 
hands. And to his praise be it spoken, as 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 41 

often as the enemy attempted the fort (which 
they did several times, thinking themselves so 
fine of carrying their design that they endea- 
voured to scale it) he as often repulsed them, 
killing a considerable number of the enemy, 
which so discouraged them that they quitted 
their design on the fort and fell to plundering 
and burning the Limitts. However the fort 
and Bank Sal was defended upwards of five 
months with great resolution and bravery, more 
especially considering it was then the monsoon 
time and by daily alarms from the enemy our 
people almost harassed to death, and at last 
must certainly have fallen into their hands had 
not the vigilance of that worthy gentleman Mr. 
Adams, Chief of Tillicherry, sent them a 
succour of men and provisions, through which 
timely assistance without dispute the Honour- 
able Company owe the enjoying Anjenga Fort 
at this juncture." 

These incidents will suffice to prove that 
from the very beginning of its career in the 
East the English Company had to show that 
it could stand up for its rights and that it was 
ready if no alternative course offered itself to 
draw the sword even against the Mogul. One 
cause of this increased confidence was no 
doubt the possession of more accurate know- 
ledge as to the Emperor's power, and at the 
end of the 17th century the Mogul Empire occu- 
pied a much lower position in the estimation 



42 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

of Englishmen than it had at the beginning. 
Aurungzebe was not Akbar or even Jehangir, 
and it was well known that the principal of his 
generals had set up an independent dynasty at 
Hyderabad, in the Deccan. What has been 
written may serve as a corrective for the narrow 
but hitherto generally accepted view that the 
French pointed out to us the way to conquest 
in India. Englishmen are too apt to consider 
that English exploit in the East began with 
Clive and that but for Dupleix we should have 
nothing in our Asiatic enterprises worthy of the 
notice of history. The truth is very different, 
for the whole of the 17th century was marked 
by many noteworthy deeds, referred to in this 
and the preceding chapter, as well as by a 
persevering energy in overcoming obstacles and 
a consistent policy without which it is scarcely 
too much to say that Clive's achievements 
would not have borne fruit. 

At this stage it will be convenient to record 
briefly the names of the various companies or 
associations, all of which were finally merged 
in 1708-9 into the United Company which con- 
stituted the famous association known to history 
that disappeared in 1857. The London Com- 
pany which received its Charter from Elizabeth 
is rightly regarded as the Parent stem, and the 
achievements we have recorded were performed 
by its servants. In 1635 a new association 
named Corn-ten's was founded by the favour of 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 43 

Charles the ist, but in 1650 it was absorbed by 
the London Company. For the first years of 
its existence it was very energetic, but its 
captains acted more like buccaneers than 
peaceful traders. One of these, Captain Wed- 
dell, sailed up the Canton River, and when 
the Chinese authorities showed their customary 
obstructive tactics he at once resorted to 
strong measures. He landed his men, captured 
a fort, and seized what he required. 

Another chartered association, called the 
Merchant Adventurers, was founded in 1655, 
but it was united with the head Company 
within two years. The last, known as the 
English Company, was incorporated in 1698 
and promised to prove a most formidable 
rival to the London Company, which had spent 
^90,000 in bribing the Privy Council to renew 
its own Charter and to withhold one from its 
rival. Evelyn in his diary says the London 
Company lost the day by only ten votes in 
Parliament, and that because " so many of its 
friends were absent to see a tiger baited by 
dogs." Baffled in one direction, a solution was 
found in another by the negotiations which 
commenced in 1702 and concluded in 1709 for 
the union of the two companies, whose path 
was thenceforward the same and whose only 
rivals were not their fellow-countrymen but 
their national enemies. 

The East India Company was a close 



44 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

corporation, and strongly resented any encroach- 
ment on its rights, even when the rival asso- 
ciations had royal or Parliamentary authority. 
How much more did it resent the competition 
of adventurous individuals who traded without 
any authority but their own courage and con- 
fidence. These men were called Interlopers, 
and the Company pursued them in the East 
with sword and imprisonment, in London with 
fines and other legal penalties, as only the 
powerful can oppress the weak. They were 
denounced as rats and treated as vermin, yet 
the national character was as well vindicated 
by their reckless bravery as by the systematic 
but more selfish proceedings of the Company's 
servants. We can only refer to the greatest of 
all the Interlopers, Thomas Pitt, the founder of 
the family which gave England two of her 
proudest names. For twenty years of his life 
he was the terror of the East India Company. 
He was a ' ' desperate fellow," the leader of the 
Interlopers, a man to be hunted down whenever 
found. Fined in London, imprisoned in India, 
he still sailed his ship under the nose of the 
Company's squadrons, and sold his goods on 
the London market in despite of the Honour- 
able Court, for he was " cool in action, saw 
what to do and did it." At length admiration 
or helplessness suggested another course. 
Thomas Pitt, having expended some part of his 
Indian profits in gaining a seat in Parliament, 



THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 45 

vvaji taken into the Company's service, and sent 
out as President of Fort St. George at Madras. 
For more than ten years he governed that 
important possession to the profit of the Com- 
pany and the enhancement of his own credit, 
being known as " The Great President " or 
" The Great Pits." 

He was a worthy predecessor of the great 
men who followed, from Clive to the Law- 
rences — all servants of the Company, and all 
makers of British India. Yet his name has 
been preserved, not for what he accomplished, 
but partly because he was the grandfather of 
Chatham and the ancestor of the Great Com- 
moner, and chiefly because he brought the 
famous Pitt or Regent diamond to England. 
Among his original methods in dealing with 
Indian trade was that which he adopted in 
the matter of home remittances. Wishing to 
make them in the simplest and most compact 
form, he fixed on diamonds. He must have 
been a sound judge of the stone and a shrewd 
dealer to have got the better of the native 
gem merchant. Among his purchases he 
bought a large stone of 410 carats for 
^12,500. He had it recut on his return, 
and when reduced to 137 carats it was valued 
at twelve times the price he gave for it. The 
transaction was a big one for those days, 
but neither his courage nor his judgment can 
be impugned. For some years he wore the 

c 



46 THE GROWTH OF THE COMPANY. 

. stone as an ornament, and his picture was 
painted with the gem fixed in his hat. The 
fame of the stone became European, and the 
Regent of France, the Duke of Orleans, ex- 
pressed a desire to become its purchaser. 
Long negotiations ensued, and at last, in 17 17, 
the stone was sent to France on the receipt of 
security in two boxes of gems, and on the 
understanding that ;£i 35,000 should be paid 
for it. There is reason to think that the money 
was never paid, but the security may have 
sufficed. Seventy-five years later the Pitt or 
Regent diamond was valued in France at half a 
million sterling. 

For thirty years after the departure of Pitt 
the history of the East India Company was 
uneventful. It strengthened its position in the 
many factories it held round the coast, it ex- 
tended its trade operations, it earned greater 
dividends ; but there were fewer incidents, and 
the political functions of the Presidents and 
their staff were merged in their commercial 
pursuits. The rivalry of the Portuguese and 
Dutch had been practically overcome, and so 
long as the native Powers were not too exacting 
there was no call for special energy or self- 
assertion. Things were in this tranquil state 
when a new and more formidable rival appeared 
on the scene and threatened us with the loss 
of all we had built up during a century and 
a*half of sustained if silent effort. 



CHAPTER IV. 

OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

IF rivalry with the Portuguese and Dutch 
marked the early period of English enter- 
prise in India, the more serious rivalry and 
struggle with France that followed will always 
attract greater historical attention because it 
was associated with the first assertion of British 
political and military power in the peninsula. 
That assertion would inevitably have come 
sooner or later. Sixty years before the French 
won the battle of St. Thome the English had 
fearlessly thrown down the gage to the Mogul 
himself and defeated his armies. Only a 
qualified assent can therefore be given to the 
view eloquently expressed by Macaulayand Mal- 
leson that Dupleix pointed out for our ancestors 
the road to conquest in India. If Dupleix 
could have controlled the sea as at one moment 
he did control the Carnatic everything would 

C 2 



48 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

have been possible for France, but without that 
mastery the successes of her great representa- 
tive were always hollow and ephemeral. Apart 
from the question of naval superiority the 
resources which England possessed in India were 
immeasurably greater than those of France, owing 
first of all to England having had a start of 
her neighbour of over eighty years and secondly 
to the energy and enterprise with which the 
East India Company pushed its undertakings 
as compared with the French Company. 
Behind the former was a people resolute to 
extend its trade while the latter could only 
depend on the personal and passing support 
of an occasional Minister of France. At the 
moment of the commencement of the struggle 
there were ten English factories in India for 
one French ; where one French ship rounded 
the Cape twenty English could be counted, 
and, as Dupleix himself admitted, Madias 
overshadowed Pondicherry and the English 
held all the besi: places for trade. 

The first French attempt to trade with India 
is said to have been made in 1603, when the 
City of Rouen fitted out two ships. The 
expedition resulted in failure and loss. In 1642 
Richelieu founded the first French East India 
Company. It was not successful, and Colbert 
is entitled to the credit of having launched the 
enterprise in a more successful and conspicuous 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 49 

manner. He gave the company an extended 
charter and financial support. His representa- 
tive, Caron, became the first Governor of 
Pondichcrry, and although the French got a 
bad name for leaving Surat without paying 
their debts they made good their position on 
the Coromandel coast and a few years later at 
Chandernagore in the delta of the Ganges. 
Francois Martin and his successor Lenoir were 
able administrators and in every way a credit 
to their country, and in their hands Pondicherry 
made as much progress as could have been 
expected. Chandernagore on the other hand 
languished, and Dupleix first made his reputa- 
tion as an administrator by the extraordinary 
improvement he effected in its condition during 
his intendantship from 1730 to 1741. In the 
latter year Dupleix was rewarded for his skill 
and success in Bengal with the supreme control 
of French India as Governor of Pondicherry. 

The French were not very energetic or very 
successful traders at their most flourishing 
epoch, but they were more affable in their 
manners to the natives and more considerate 
towards their prejudices and customs than it 
can be said the English were then or indeed 
are now. Their relations with the native chiefs 
were consequently of an agreeable nature and 
conveyed the idea of an influence and power 
which were mainly on the surface. Still they 



50 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

cannot be described as altogether barren, for 
in 1736 Governor Dumas obtained from the 
Governor of the Carnatic the right, subse- 
quently confirmed by the Emperor of Delhi, to 
coin the gold and silver money for his pro- 
vinces. This was a task specially suited to 
French skill and was no doubt performed with 
mutual satisfaction, for if the Moguls obtained 
a handsome and intrinsically valuable currency 
the French cleared an annual profit of one 
hundred thousand pounds, which represented 
the cargoes of many vessels. The Indian con- 
nection was therefore not altogether valueless 
to France, and there seems to have been during 
those early years a complete absence of that 
spirit of rivalry between the French and the 
English which had characterised our relations 
with the Portuguese and the Dutch. The 
explanation may have been that the French 
were never in a position to attempt rivalry 
with us in matters of trade. Whatever the 
reason, the fact remains indisputable that until 
the outbreak of the war of the Austrian succes- 
sion in 1742 there had been no conflict between 
the two nations in India. 

When news of that war reached India, 
Dupleix, fully alive to the inferiority of his 
position as compared with the English, made a 
proposition to Governor Morse of Madras that 
the hostilities in progress in Europe should not 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 5 1 

be extended to India and that there should be 
abstention from all warfare between Madras 
and Pondicherry. Governor Morse, not less 
aware than Dupleix of his superiority, declined 
to tie his hands by any such understanding. 
In this difficulty Dupleix appealed to Anwar- 
ud-Din, Governor of the Carnatic, who was 
induced by goodwill to the French or more 
probably for his own reasons to send Governor 
Morse a peremptory order to the effect that he 
would not allow the Europeans to fight with 
one another on the soil of India. As this 
representative of the Mogul possessed an army 
capable of enforcing his orders compliance was 
the only course open to the English Governor. 

This precautionary measure was taken by 
Dupleix before the war had actually commenced, 
but as he knew that Anwar-ud-Din's order would 
not apply to the sea he took such steps as were 
within his power to avert his being cut off from 
Europe. At the moment an English squadron 
commanded the approach round Ceylon, and 
Dupleix had no ships or expectation of ships 
from Europe wherewith to combat them. In 
these circumstances he made strong representa- 
tions for assistance to La Bourdonnais, the 
Governor of Mauritius, who had distinguished 
himself when a young man by the capture of 
Mahe, the third French possession in India, and 
who had at a later period raised the civil and 



52 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

military administration of Mauritius to a high 
state of efficiency. La Bourdonnais was not 
deaf to those messages, but several years were 
occupied first in making the French position 
in his own island secure against a sudden attack 
and secondly in equipping something approach- 
ing a fighting squadron from unpromising and 
insufficient materials. It was not until 1746 
that these necessary preliminaries were com- 
pleted and La Bourdonnais sailed for French 
India. 

As his fleet although numerically equal was 
inferior in armament to the English squadron 
under Commodore Peyton, the best chance of 
the French leader to reach Pondicherry seemed 
to lie in his evading the enemy; but the English 
watch was good, and if their courage had 
matched it the ambitious projects of Dupleix 
would never have emerged from the stage of 
conception. The two fleets engaged, and after 
a desultory fight, which the English commander 
had only to press home to convert into a 
decisive victory, La Bourdonnais was allowed 
to continue his voyage unmolested to Pondi- 
cherry, while the English ships withdrew to a 
safe anchorage on the northern coast of 
Sumatra. It was not a day of which our navy 
had reason to be proud, for Commodore 
Peyton's retreat left Madras at the mercy of 
the French. 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 53 

The arrival of La Bourdonnais with his ships 
and the considerable body of troops they had 
on board promised Dupleix the triumph he had 
contemplated over the English. In the early 
stage of the war he had saved himself from 
being overwhelmed by invoking the interven- 
tion of the Mogul Governor, but now that he 
was ready to assume the offensive he paid no 
heed to the other side of that functionary's order 
that the Europeans were not to engage in 
hostilities. The execution of his scheme for 
the destruction of the English at Madras was 
delayed by differences with his colleague which 
at last culminated in an open rupture, but 
before that occurred La Bourdonnais left to 
attack Madras by land and sea. The English 
position was not a strong one, and no adequate 
preparations had been made to stand a siege. 
In his difficulty Governor Morse sent a mission 
to the Governor of the Carnatic requesting him 
to order the French to retire. Anwar-ud-Din 
would not send the order, and the French 
batteries opened fire on Fort St. George. In a 
few days Governor Morse seeing no alternative 
surrendered and the French occupied the place. 
Negotiations were then entered into between 
Morse and La Bourdonnais for the ransom of 
the town, and, notwithstanding the protests and 
opposition of Dupleix, were concluded with that 
object. There is no doubt that La Bourdonnais 



54 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

was induced to concede these favourable 
terms to the English by the receipt of a 
large bribe, but in one respect our representa- 
tives miscalculated for they could not compel 
the French commander to remain to carry out 
his agreement. La Bourdonnais was most 
anxious to leave the coast before the outbreak 
of the monsoon, a terrible storm shattered his 
vessels and cost the lives of 1,200 soldiers, and 
in a moment of consternation or despair he 
hastened on board his ship and left the coast, 
which he declared he wished he had not seen. 

After his colleague's departure Dupleix re- 
fused to recognise the ransom of Madras, and 
his troops remained in that place. The Mogul 
Governor had refused Morse's request to stop 
the French advance, but he was ill-pleased at 
the magnitude of their success, and when he 
found them retaining possession of Madras he 
sent an order to restore it to the English and 
followed up his' message by despatching an 
army to give it effect. Dupleix, undismayed 
by this threat, held on to his prize and sent all 
the troops he could collect under the command 
of an experienced Swiss soldier named Paradis 
to encounter the Mogul army. The two forces 
met at St. Thome, and the Moguls were routed. 
Then was shown for the first time what a small 
disciplined body of European troops could 
accomplish against native untrained masses 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE 55 

although possessing a numerical superiority of 
twenty to one. Encouraged by that success 
Dupltix openly repudiated the ransom of 
Madras, which up to that moment he had 
only ignored. Some of the English residents 
hearing this escaped from Madras to Fort St. 
David, and one of the number was Robert 
Clive. 

Dupleix resolved to add Fort St. David to 
his conquests ; and as the Governor of the 
Carnatic, impressed by the French victories, 
abandoned the English, there seemed every 
reason to anticipate his success. The Fort St. 
David garrison however made a st3Ut defence, 
and repulsed two attacks, one led by Paradis, 
the victor of St. Thome. The chances of 
ultimate success were still on the side of the 
French when the arrival of a fresh English 
fleet under Admiral Griffin saved Fort St. 
David and restored the equality of the struggle. 
Major Stringer Lawrence also arrived to take 
the command of the Company's forces, and 
obtained a success at Gudalore in January 
1748, which was however neutralised by his 
being taken prisoner while besieging Ariakuram. 
The English forces were further increased by 
the arrival of Admiral Boscawen, and an expe- 
dition was fitted out to attack the French in 
Pondicherry as a set off for the loss of Madras, 
which still remained in their hands. Dupleix 



50 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

and his lieutenant Paradis, who was killed in 
a sortie, made a gallant and successful defence, 
and after six weeks Admiral Boscawen, whose 
skill on land was not equal to his capacity at 
sea, was constrained to order a retreat, with a 
loss of one thousand of his men during the 
siege. Before the struggle could be renewed 
intelligence arrived of the signing of the Treaty 
of Aix la Chapelle. Dupleix restored Madras, 
and a truce obtained in the struggle between 
France and England on the Coast of Coro- 
mandel. 

Compelled by the peace to forego his projects 
for the discomfiture of the English, Dupleix 
turned his attention to the task of aggrandise- 
ment by taking a side in the intrigues and strife 
of the several native chiefs of Southern India. 
This was no new departure, for in the time of 
M. Dumas the French had given shelter to the 
widow of the ruler of the Carnatic after her 
husband had fallen in battle with the Marathas. 
It was at that time too that the French first 
established an influence over Chunda Sahib, 
the nephew of that potentate. In 1741 Chunda 
Sahib was taken prisoner by the Marathas and 
carried off to Sattara. There he remained until 
Dupleix in 1849, turning over his schemes for 
establishing French supremacy, bethought him 
that he might prove a useful puppet and sent 
the amount of his ransom to Sattara. Chunda 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 57 

Sahib was released and by the aid of a French 
force under Bussy recovered Arcot and the 
titular position as ruler of the Carnatic. At 
the same time Dupleix took up the cause of 
Muzaffir Jung as Subahdar of the Deccan, so 
that France was for the moment a political 
power, whereas the English on the conclusion 
of peace seemed to have returned to their com- 
mercial pursuits and laid aside their swords. 
Within a year of Dupleix's bare escape at the 
hands of Admiral Boscawen he had made 
himself the apparent arbiter of the Deccan, and 
had been rewarded by his native allies with 
titles, presents, and territorial possessions. 
This moment, when the two principal rulers of 
Southern India were the sworn allies and per- 
sonal debtors of Dupleix, represented the high 
water mark of French power in India. 

The French position had scarcely been thus 
fairly established when it began to perceptibly 
weaken. In 1 75 1, one year after his succession 
to the Subahdarship of the Deccan, Muzaffir 
Jung died. The French were bound to support 
as his successor Salabat Jung, an ardent 
admirer of themselves. The English, stirred 
by an instinct of self - preservation as well 
as rivalry, recognised Mahomed Ali, and his 
title was certainly the better, but as the English 
were assumed to have no military power their 
support seemed but a weak reed to lean on. 



58 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

The defeat of a small English force at Vol- 
conda, when Clive was present, pointed to the 
triumph of the French and their nominees. 
Chunda Sahib had recovered Arcot, and was 
now engaged in the siege of Trichinopoli, held 
by a small English force, which was reduced to 
the lowest straits when the repulse of the 
relieving expedition at Volconda seemed to seal 
its fate. It was the lowest point reached by 
English fortune during these years of unceasing 
struggle. 

At this juncture a man of genius and a born 
leader of men appeared on the scene in the 
person of Robert Clive, and gave the whole 
struggle a different course. Robert Clive had 
reached India in 1744 as a youth of seventeen. 
The restraint and dull routine of a commercial 
life were distasteful to him, but he played a 
manly part in the defence of Madras, from 
which he made his escape when Dupleix refused 
to carry out the terms of the ransom. In May 
1747 he was given at his own request an 
ensign's commission at Fort St. David, because 
he was " of a martial disposition." He showed 
himself active and dutiful in his new profession, 
gaining the good opinion of Major Stringer 
Lawrence, but it was not until the repulse at 
Volconda that he came to the front. After 
that reverse he hastened to Madras, and, 
representing to Mr. Saunders the Governor that 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 59 

Trichinopoli must fall when the French triumph 
would be assured, unless some prompt measures 
of rescue were adopted, drew up a plan for 
carrying the war into the enemy's country by 
attacking Arcot and thus drawing off some of 
the troops before Trichinopoli. The proposer 
of this bold scheme was a young man of twenty- 
four who had never had any military training, 
and it is not going too far to say that from the 
majority of governors he would have received 
an absolute and probably a sneering rejection 
of his proposal as impracticable and visionary. 
Fortunately Mr. Saunders was a man of broad 
views and free from prejudice. He saw the 
advantage of the plan and he did not sneer at 
' the youth or want of experience of its proposer. 
He placed a small force of 200 Englishmen 
and 300 natives at Clive's orders and promised 
him every support in his power. 

Clive marched on and occupied Arcot without 
opposition, but the French did not relax their 
efforts before Trichinopoli and for the moment 
it looked as if the main object of his move would 
fail. But Chunda Sahib could not acquiesce 
in even the temporary loss of his chief city, and 
he drew off a considerable portion of his own 
army to recover it, with the help of a small 
French contingent. As Clive's force had been 
reduced by sickness to little more than half its 
original strength the destruction of the English 
seemed inevitable. Clive, however, had made 



60 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

skilful preparations for defence, and after seven 
weeks' resistance he had the satisfaction of 
defeating the final assault of Chunda Sahib's 
army. The success was rendered the more 
remarkable because it led the Maratha chief 
Morari Rao, who thought the French triumph 
assured, to take the field and fulfil his engage- 
ments to Mahomed Ali. 

If Give's defence of Arcot was creditable, 
his military genius was revealed more clearly 
in the promptitude with which he followed up 
his success. His patron Saunders, delighted 
at the success of an experiment in which his 
own reputation was involved, sent him as 
many troops as he could raise— 200 Europeans 
and 700 natives. With these, and supported 
by Morari Rao's irregular cavalry, Clive 
advanced to attack Chunda Sahib's army, 
which had been reinforced by a further French 
contingent and occupied a strong position on 
the Arni. lie gained a complete victory, and 
for the first time a French force had to leave 
an open field in the possession of the English. 
The success was the more gratifying because 
there were as many Frenchmen as Englishmen 
engaged in the battle. Other successes 
followed, but perhaps the most notable of 
them was the destruction of the city and 
monument which the French Governor had 
created in the plenitude of his power and 
named Dupleix Fattehabad, or City of the 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 6l 

Victory of Dupleix. As the campaign for the 
new year 1752 was about to commence Major 
Lawrence returned from Europe to take up the 
command, and as Clive's health had broken 
down he sailed for England, after adding 
two fresh military triumphs to his list in the 
capture of the forts of Covelong and Chingle- 
put. The relations between these two comrades 
in arms were excellent, and in strong contrast 
with those between Dupleix and his chief 
subordinates. Lawrence called Clive "a man 
of an undaunted resolution, of a cool temper and 
of a presence of mind which never left him in 
the greatest danger — born a soldier " ; and 
Clive, mindful of the consideration this soldier 
by profession had shown him, refused the 
jewelled sword offered him by the Company 
on his arrival in London unless a similar 
one was given to his chief and friend Major 
Stringer Lawrence. 

The campaign of 1752-3 was a remarkable 
one and led to the fall of Dupleix. Lawrence 
gained in the earlier year a considerable suc- 
cess at Bahur over the French, Chunda Sahib 
was taken prisoner and executed, and Dupleix 
made a fatal mistake in allowing his one 
capable officer, Bussy, to leave the Coro- 
mandel coast for Aurungabad, on the other 
side of India. When the struggle was resumed 
in 1753 Dupleix made a supreme effort to 
restore the fortune of war by the capture of 



62 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

Trichinopoli, and Lawrence covered that place 
with his small force. The manoeuvres which 
took place on the banks of the Cauvery 
occupied a period of months, during which 
Lawrence won three separate battles. It 
was not until the decisive repulse of Main- 
ville's attempt to capture Trichinopoli by a 
emtp de main that Dupleix resigned himself to 
defeat and recalled his beaten troops. It was 
almost his last act of authority. A few months 
later he was recalled by his own Government, 
which had been induced to concur with the 
English representations that the ambition of 
Dupleix formed the only obstacle to pacific 
relations between the two countries in India. 
An ungrateful country put this able statesman 
on his trial and prosecuted him till the day of 
his death in penury and grief. 

When France recalled Dupleix in 1754 the 
outlook in Europe was peaceful. Two years 
later the Seven Years War began, and France 
and England took opposite sides. The French 
then reverted to some of their old plans, not 
for founding an Indian Empire but for injuring 
their adversary in the east. An expedition 
composed of two veteran and distinguished 
regiments, those of Lally and Lorraine, was 
fitted out in 1757 and placed under the 
command of Lally Tollendal, a gallant and 
experienced soldier whose desperate courage 
and quick decision at the head of part of the 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 63 

Irish Brigade had turned Fontenoy from a 
defeat into the most brilliant victory the French 
ever gained over an English army. As the son 
of an Irish chieftain who had left his native 
country after the surrender of Limerick he was 
animated by a special hostility to the English, 
and he threw himself with extraordinary energy 
and zeal into the task of overthrowing his 
hereditary enemies. He was joined soon after 
his arrival by Bussy, who was the military 
director of the Subahdar of the Deccan — or the 
Nizam, as he soon began to be called — but 
Bussy, although experienced in Indian warfare, 
had not the same professional skill or honesty 
as Lally. Bussy was envious of the greater 
fame of his colleague, and Lally formed unfor- 
tunately the lowest opinion of Bussy and of 
everyone else associated with India. His own 
operations were conducted in a vigorous and 
daring manner that had not been seen in India 
except when Clive was present, and Clive was 
in Bengal heavily engaged in securing the new 
possessions. Lally sat down before Fort St. 
David and captured it. He laid siege to 
Madras, and the English emporium seemed on 
the eve of a second surrender. Troops were 
sent from Bengal under the command of Eyre 
Coote, and a fleet hastily assembled under 
Admiral Pocock brought the French covering 
squadron under D'Ache' to an action and 
defeated it on ioth September 1759. 



64 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

But the decisive engagement had to be fought 
on land and not at sea. Sir Eyre Coote had a 
force of nearly 2,000 Europeans and over 
3,000 natives. The French commanders had 
1,500 Europeans and 4,000 natives. Lally 
and Bussy, although not in close accord, were 
two brave and capable officers, and when the 
rival armies faced each other on the field of 
Wandiwash on 21st January 1760 no one could 
have confidently predicted the result. Although 
both armies contained a considerable number 
of natives they took little or no part in the 
action, which was almost entirely restricted to 
the Europeans. Lally's position was a strong 
one, with his left resting on a hill crowned by 
a battery manned by sailors, and on his right 
he placed his European cavalry, 150 in number. 
He decided to commence the action with a 
cavalry charge, in the hope of turning the 
English left and assisting his main infantry 
attack from the centre. Placing himself at the 
head of the cavalry he sounded the charge, but 
the men refused to follow him. It was only at 
the third attempt that they could be induced to 
charge, and then in a faint-hearted manner. 
In the meantime the battle became general and 
an accidental shot caused the explosion of a 
powder magazine on the hill, which killed 80 
of the sailors and destroyed the position. Not- 
withstanding this misfortune and the capture of 
Bussy, Lally made a strenuous resistance, and 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 65 

for a moment it seemed as if he might have 
inflicted on the English in India almost as 
severe a defeat as he had been the chief cause 
of bringing about in Europe. It was not to be, 
however, and all he succeeded in doing was to 
prolong the struggle by the vigorous defence of 
Pondicherry until January 7th 1761. In that 
month the French capital surrendered, the 
remnants of the regiments of Lally and Lorraine, 
with their gallant leader, were allowed to leave 
the country, and the English supremacy was 
placed beyond question. In 1766, Lally, 
despite the petition of the Duke de Soubise in 
the name of the French Army that his life 
might be spared, was executed, and three years 
later the French East India Company was 
allowed to expire, as all hopes of the resus- 
citation of French power had been extin- 
guished. 

Although our rivalry with France may be 
said to have been settled on the field of Wandi- 
wash, two incidents of a later date claim brief 
notice under the same head. It is true that 
the French pretensions to vie with us on any- 
thing like terms of equality ended with Lally's 
defeat, but individual Frenchmen kept alive 
for a time the tradition of the military prowess 
of the Grande Nation. Bussy and Raymond 
at the Nizam's court, and De Boigne at 
Scindiah's, were the most famous of these 
organisers of armies, but they had many 



66 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

successors more or less capable down to the 
fall of the Sikh system in 1849. ^ n I 7^° tne 
French made a second attempt to injure the 
English in India. Encouraged by the growth 
of Hyder Ali's power and by reports that the 
English were hard beset by the double wars 
with Mysore and the Marathas, the French 
Government despatched a fleet to the Indian 
ocean, first under D'Owis and subsequently 
under the able Suffren. The English men-of- 
war as well as traders suffered much at their 
hands, especially from Suffren, who anticipated 
some of Nelson's tactics— in particular the 
principle of " laying your enemy by the board." 
But these naval successes were ephemeral. 
They did not give a correct idea of the relative 
power of the two navies, and after two years 
of doubt and anxiety Suffren was constrained 
to return to Europe and the captains of the 
Company's argosies again breathed freely on 
their voyage home. 

But on land the period of doubt and anxiety 
did not last so long. In 1780 the reports of 
the progress of Hyder Ali's army and of the 
gross mismanagement of the Madras authorities 
alarmed Warren Hastings, then Governor 
general at Calcutta. With characteristic 
promptitude he decided to sen the best officer 
at his disposal to dismiss the incompetent 
Governor of Madras by an assertion of authority 
in excess of the written letter of his warrant. 



OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 67 

He induced Sir Eyre Coote, the victor of 
Wandiwash twenty years before, to take the 
command, although the force placed at his 
disposal was very meagre and scarcely exceeded 
that with which he had defeated Lally. When 
Coote reached Madras in November 1780 he 
found the French fleet in possession of the 
roadstead, the town of Wandiwash on the eve 
of surrender to Hyder Ali, and a state of panic 
prevailing at Fort St. George. The most 
important step was to draw Hyder Ali away 
from Madras, and to relieve Wandiwash. With 
this object Coote executed a difficult march to 
the south of Pondicherry, but although he suc- 
ceeded in his main object he found he had 
placed himself in a disadvantageous and 
dangerous position in face of Hyder Ali's 
numerous army, with which the French squadron 
was able to co-operate. When he reached 
Cuddalore, a short distance south of Pondi- 
cherry, he endeavoured to recover the ground 
he had lost by assuming the offensive, but in 
an attack on the Pagoda of Chelambakam he 
suffered a repulse which might have had grave 
consequences. It was then that he retired a 
few miles further south and took up a strong 
position at Porto Novo. The spirit of this 
gallant general, untamed by years or by his 
recent reverse, would not brook a defensive 
battle. He again assumed the offensive and 
inflicted on Hyder Ali as crushing a defeat as 



68 OUR RIVALRY WITH FRANCE. 

any recorded in Anglo-Indian history. He 
followed up his success on the field with re- 
markable energy and without leaving his enemy 
time to breathe. When he halted his small 
army in February 1782 he had in little more 
than twelve months rescued the whole of the 
Madras Presidency from a confident and daring 
assailant, and inflicted a succession of defeats 
on the ablest native soldier and ruler Southern 
India had ever known. 

The French expedition to Egypt under 
Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 was part of a 
general project to assist Tippoo Sultan, son of 
Hyder Ali, in his last struggle with the English. 
The reply to that menace was Nelson's victory 
of the Nile, the battle of Aboukir, the capture 
of Seringapatam and General Baird's expedition 
from India to Egypt. In 1808-9 Napoleon 
made a fresh effort to harass our commerce 
and to establish a new base in Java. His 
ships after doing some mischief to our com- 
merce were destroyed ; Java, at the instigation 
of Sir Stamford Raffles, was conquered and 
held for a period of years ; and with these 
incidents the name of France finally disappeared 
from the scene of competition in India. It is 
only of late years that it has reappeared further 
East in Indo-China, where some enthusiasts 
dream of executing the projects of Dupleix. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

THE conquest of India by the East India 
Company began with the struggle with the 
French, but this, although the opening incident, 
did not long occupy the stage, and even before 
Lally made his effort to restore the fortunes of 
his country the foundation of the British 
dominion in India had been securely laid. 
Mention was made in the last chapter that 
soon after his first successes Clive was com- 
pelled by ill health to leave for home, and 
the closing operations with Dupleix were 
conducted by Stringer Lawrence and others. 
Three years' stay in England sufficed to restore 
Clive's health, exhaust his savings, and make 
him willing to again enter on active work. In 
1755 he sailed for India as Governor of Fort 
St. David, and with the military rank of 
Lieutenant-Colonel conferred on him by George 
the Second. On his way out he turned aside 



70 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

to attack, with the co-operation of Admiral 
Watson, the piratical stronghold of Gheriah, 
held by the Maratha chief Angria, who had 
successfully defied the Bombay authorities and 
whose raids extended as far as the Persian Gulf 
and the Red Sea. This enterprise was crowned 
with complete success. Angria's fleet was 
destroyed, his fortress captured and dismantled, 
and his treasure — valued at ^150,000 — divided 
among the victors. With this addition to his 
laurels Clive arrived to take up his post at Fort 
St. David. 

The lull in events in Madras was broken upon 
by the receipt of startling news from Bengal a 
few weeks after Clive's arrival on the coast of 
Coromandel. That great province had been 
quite unaffected by the events in the southern 
and senior presidency. The French held 
Chandernagore, but there was no contest 
between that place and Calcutta in imitation of 
the struggle between Madras and Pondicherry. 
Still, the tendency to regard Bengal as " the 
fairest flower in the Company's garden," noted in 
an earlier epoch, had been strengthened by the 
increase of the trade in the Gangetic delta and 
by its exceptionally profitable character. But 
on the other hand the Mogul Viceroy of Bengal 
was supposed to wield a far superior military 
power to that possessed by any of the southern 
satraps. Behind his deputy at Moorshedabad 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 7I 

stood the great Emperor himself on the throne 
of Delhi, and, diminished as was the respect 
paid in Madras to the mere numbers of the 
native armies, it was still otherwise in Bengal. 
Moreover it is only fair to note that the estab- 
lishment at Calcutta was a civil and commercial 
one, whereas that at Madras had assumed an 
essentially military character with its European 
regiments and thousands of trained Sepoys. 
Surprise should not be felt therefore at the 
attitude of the Calcutta authorities being more 
respectful and even servile towards the native 
rulers than that of their colleagues in Madras, 
where victories easily won by Frenchmen and 
Englishmen over countless masses of natives 
had taught a correct appreciation of the 
superiority of discipline over numbers. 

The events that led to the establishment of 
British power on the Ganges can in no wise be 
attributed to the arrogance or self-assertion of 
the East India Company's representatives. 
Their policy was peace, and they would submit 
to any exactions short of absolute repression and 
extortion. There is absolutely no evidence to 
warrant the charge that Mr. Holwell and his 
colleagues had any political designs, and they 
must be wholly acquitted of having contributed 
in any way to the hostile and tyrannical pro- 
ceedings of the Viceroy of Bengal, Surajah 
Dowlah. 



72 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

That youthful potentate succeeded his grand- 
father at the early age of twenty almost at the 
moment of Clive's return to India. It is said 
that he hated the English from his childhood, 
— a statement as hard to prove as to dis- 
prove, — and that he gave himself up to the 
worst forms of brutal debauchery. It is cer- 
tain that if there had never been a Black Hole 
tragedy his name would long ere this have 
passed into oblivion. Taking offence at 
several trifling matters which he interpreted 
as infringing his dignity and authority, 
Surajah Dowlah marched with a large army 
upon Calcutta. It must be admitted that 
the English there showed great pusillanimity, 
and acted after a very different fashion from 
stout Job Charnock and Captain Arbuthnot 
who stormed the Mogul battery 70 years 
earlier. The Governor fled to the ships, 
and the ships sailed down the Hughli 
leaving Fort William to surrender at dis- 
cretion. Surajah Dowlah entered ne British 
factory and summoned the English prisoners 
into his presence. They were 146 in 
number and Mr. Holwell, Member of 
Council, was the chief of them. The Viceroy 
abused them in language made more forcible 
by disappointment at having found so little 
treasure, but he promised them their lives and 
there is no reason to suppose that he did not 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 73 

intend to keep his word. In fact his greed 
would have impelled him to do so, as he 
might look for a substantial ransom from 
their fellow-countrymen. But unfortunately 
for himself and his ill-fated prisoners he 
retired from the room without giving any 
orders for their disposal, and some cruel 
and careless subordinate forced these 146 
Europeans into the room, twenty feet square, 
which had been used to incarcerate the 
occasional prisoners of the factory, and 
which was familiarly designated the Black 
Hole. The officials who perpetrated this 
act of cruelty refused to repair it by asking 
the Nabob for final orders, on the ground 
that he was asleep and could not be dis- 
turbed. In the morning the Nabob gave 
orders for their release, but 123 of the 
captives were dead, and several of the sur- 
viving 23 died later, or never recovered 
their reason. 

It is unnecessary to dwell on the painful and 
terrible incidents of this tragedy. When the 
tidings reached Madras there went up a cry 
for vengeance such as was heard a century 
later under very similar circumstances at Cawn- 
pore, and Clive was on the spot to execute a 
mission imposed on him as much by outraged 
humanity as political expediency. Although 
no delay took place in the decision to send this 



74 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

expedition and in the completion of the arrange- 
ments for its despatch, it was not till December 
1756 that Clive and the squadron under Admiral 
Watson, his comrade in arms against Angria, 
arrived in the Hughli. The interval had 
given Surajah confidence, but it had also 
caused him to realise that by suppressing the 
English factory he had lost a promising source 
of revenue. He had no fear of retribution at 
the hands of the English, but he was disposed 
to restore Calcutta, still in the possession of his 
garrison, and to grant fresh trade facilities. 
Such were his feelings when news reached him 
that Clive had entered the river, recovered Fort 
William, and destroyed his garrison at Hughli. 
He was still anxious for an amicable settlement 
and proposed to compensate the members of 
the Calcutta factory for their losses and suffer- 
ings. These Englishmen themselves were 
willing to meet him half way. They had run 
away from Calcutta in the first place, and 
thought nothing of glory or of political expan- 
sion. They wanted their money bags re- 
plenished out of the Mogul treasury and to 
resume their ordinary pursuits. But Clive took 
a very different view of the situation, and 
although hampered by the Calcutta Board and 
also by the Madras Council — who wanted him 
back to fight the French — he succeeded in 
carrying out his own policy. 



The conquest of india. 75 

The conduct of Surajah Dowlah himself no 
doubt largely contributed to Clive's success. 
That Prince took military steps which were in- 
compatible with his peaceful protestations, and 
his agent Omichund played a double part. 
Clive saw the possible perils of the situation 
when Surajah Dowlah began to intrigue with 
the French, and he determined on a bold 
counter-stroke. War had not then been de- 
clared between England and France, but it 
was known to be inevitable, and Clive came to 
the resolution to nip in the bud all danger in 
Bengal from French hostility by conquering 
their settlement at Chandernagore. The ex- 
pedition was secretly fitted out and admirably 
led. The French were too surprised and taken 
too completely at a disadvantage to offer much 
resistance, and the 500 French soldiers who 
might have turned Plassy into a Mogul victory 
were disarmed and made prisoners of war. At 
this juncture several of Surajah Dowlah's prin- 
cipal relatives and officers, disgusted by his 
treatment or disappointed by his want of success, 
began to plot for his overthrow. Into these 
intrigues Clive threw himself with energy, for 
he quickly saw that they provided him with the 
means of thwarting the pusillanimous counsels 
of Bengal and at the same time of turning a 
deaf ear to the messages of recall from Madras. 
Mir Jafnr, the commander of the troops, was 



76 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

the leader of the plot ; and on its success 
he was promised the succession to Surajah 
Dowlah. 

At the moment when the plot wis ripe for 
fulfilment Omichund turned traitor, or rather 
he demanded the enormous sum of ^£300,000 
as the price of his keeping faith. Give, brought 
face to face with a peril that threatened the 
success of the whole design, resorted to villany 
to catch a villain. He expressed his readiness 
to comply with the Hindu's request. An 
agreement was drawn up, but Clive had two 
copies prepared, one on red paper, the other 
on white. The former contained the promise to 
Omichund, but was fictitious and bore the 
forged signature of Admiral Watson, which 
Clive did not scruple to append himself. The 
white treaty was the genuine one, and was only 
produced when the Hindu asked to be paid 
and discovered that he was to get nothing. It 
is unnecessary here to go into the moral side of 
this unpleasant matter. Clive vindicated himself 
some time afterwards by declaring in a letter 
still in existence that " delay and chicanery is 
allowable against those who take advantages of 
the times, our distresses and situations." 

Having completed these preliminaries Clive 
gave the signal by assuming the offensive and 
marching towards Moorshedabad at the head 
of 3,000 men who, as he said, never turned their 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 77 

backs. Surajah Dowlah collected all his forces 
to repel the English, and Mir Jaffir, his courage 
failing him at the last moment, held back and 
did not join Clive with his followers as had been 
arranged. In this grave position, when the two 
forces were only separated by the plain of 
Plassy, Clive called a council of war, and 
although Eyre Coote was in favour of attack, 
the majority decided for retreat. Clive seemed 
to yield to the majority, and for an hour the fate 
of the English in Bengal hung in the balance. 
Clive then came to the momentous decision to 
resume his advance and to attack the Nabob's 
army of nearly 60,000 men with the 1,000 
British and 2,000 native troops under his orders. 
The battle, which was fought on 23rd June 
1757, was short, sharp, and decisive. The 
Bengal army was put to the rout one hour after 
the first cannon shot, and, although it lost only 
500 killed, its camp, guns and baggage formed 
the prize of the victors. Mir Jaffir came into 
Clive's camp to congratulate him, not without 
doubt as to his reception, but his fears vanished 
when Clive greeted him as ruler of Bengal and 
its dependent provinces. Some days later the 
English commander installed him in the seat of 
Surajah Dowlah at the provincial capital of 
Moorshedabad. The new ruler's position was 
assured by the capture and murder of Surajah 
Dowlah. 



78 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

The territorial reward to the East India Com- 
pany for the victory of Plassy was not much. 
For the chief part of its possessions south 
of Calcutta it paid a rent to Mir Jaffir. The 
pecuniary reward was a sum of ^800,000 out 
of the Bengal Treasury, but the most important 
result was the establishment in the north of the 
same military power and reputation which the 
English had acquired in the south. Having 
made this striking commencement Clive hastened 
to ensure and extend the authority and the 
influence of his country. He dispatched one 
expedition under the command of Major Forde 
into the region which is termed the Northern 
Circars ; and when Shah Alum the son of the 
Great Mogul advanced against Mir Jaffir at 
the head of a large force, boasting that he 
would reconquer Bengal, Clive went himself to 
encounter the new danger. At that moment 
Shah Alum was closely besieging Patna, which 
seemed on the point of falling, but such was 
the terror of Clive that on hearing of his rapid 
approach the Mogul force broke up their camp 
and dispersed in all directions. In his gratitude 
for this rescue Mir Jaffir assigned to Clive the 
rent paid him by the Company for the districts 
mentioned, namely the 24 Pergunnahs. 

At this juncture Clive was called upon to 
face a new and unexpected peril which 
threatened to destroy all that had been done. 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. Ji) 

The appearance of Lally had compelled him to 
send Eyre Coote and the larger portion of his 
European troops to Madras, and as the French 
power in Bengal had been destroyed there 
seemed no special risk in this step. But Mir 
Jaffir, fearful lest the power that had set him 
up might destroy him, had been intriguing 
with the Dutch at Chinsura, and the Dutch 
were induced to believe that by a bold stroke 
they might obtain on the Ganges the monopoly 
they had acquired in the Eastern Archipelago. 
They wrote to Batavia a full account of the 
position in Bengal, and the Dutch Governor of 
the Indies sent a powerful squadron and a land 
force of 1,500 good troops to snatch the prize 
Providence seemed to have placed within his 
reach. He reckoned without Clive, and he pre- 
sumed too much on the nominal peace between 
Holland and England deterring the English 
from attacking an armed expedition directed 
against themselves. Such considerations had 
not prevented the Dutch murdering Englishmen 
at Amboyna, they did not weigh a feather with 
Clive when he saw that he had to preserve 
the British possessions in Bengal. To reach 
Chinsura the Dutch had to sail up the Hughli 
and past Calcutta. Clive at the head of a very 
inferior naval and military force met them on 
the way, attacked and defeated them, destroyed 
several of their largest ships, and imposed on 

d 2 



80 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA 

the Dutch of Chinsura the onerous condition 
that they were never to interfere in politics 
again as the price of their retention of that 
factory. It was immediately after this extra- 
ordinary success that Clive returned for a second 
time to England. 

After his departure Mir Jaffir was deposed 
by the British, and Mir Casim was set up in 
his place. But Mir Casim also turned on the 
English, and having perpetrated a massacre of 
200 English prisoners at Patna fled before an 
avenging force under Major Munro into Oude. 
The Nawab Wazir of that state, and Shah 
Alum, who had now become the Great Mogul, 
took up his cause, and the confederated princes 
placed in the field the most formidable native 
army that had yet been gathered in Northern 
India. On the 23rd October 1764, it met and 
was signally defeated by the Anglo-Indian 
army under Major Munro at Buxar. That 
battle was in its way as decisive and striking 
as Plassy. It placed Oude at our mercy, and 
the Mogul Emperor visited the English camp 
as a suppliant. It was at first proposed to 
retain Oude, but during the negotiations Clive 
arrived a third time from England and he 
restored it to the Nawab Wazir, taking instead 
from the Emperor the divisions of Bengal, 
Behar, and Orissa. To these were added in 
the next year by treaty with the Nizam the 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 8l 

Northern Circars. With these acquisitions 
England first became a territorial power in 
Bengal. In the seven years from Plassy to 
Buxar the military position in Bengal was 
placed on so indisputable a basis that it passed 
without challenge in that vast province from the 
day of Munro's victory to the Mutiny. 

Not long after Clive's final departure from 
Calcutta in January 1767 a crisis arose in 
Southern India which threatened to prove more 
difficult to deal with than the rivalry of French 
governors and adventurers. In the productive 
and interesting kingdom of Mysore the native 
Hindu dynasty, which had maintained its inde- 
pendence long after the Mogul advance south of 
the Nerbudda, had been lately set aside by a 
Mahomedan soldier of fortune named Hyder 
Ali. Before Dupleix fell or Clive established 
his military reputation Hyder Ali had begun 
the career which made him the most striking 
Indian figure of the eighteenth century and our 
most formidable adversary. When Munro won 
Buxar he had become the sovereign of Mysore 
and a potentate with whom his neighbours 
must reckon. It was not till the end of the 
year 1767 that he crossed the path of the 
English, and then only because the Nizam of 
the Deccan regretting the loss of the Circars 
resolved for the first and last time to array his 
forces against the English. Bussy took a 



82 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

considerable part in organising the compaign, 
but treachery was the main weapon relied on. 
The Nizam's force was defeated at Veil ore, and 
the worst peril from the confederacy seemed 
passed when Hyder Ali descending from his 
mountain kingdom at the head of 30,000 men 
plundered the Carnatic and compelled the 
English authorities at Madras to purchase an 
ignominious peace by concluding an alliance 
with him. For ten years after this incident 
Hyder Ali's power seemed greater than that of 
the English in Madras. 

During that period the affairs of the Com- 
pany were guided by little men, but in 1774 
Warren Hastings, appointed the first Governor- 
General of Bengal, resumed the execution of 
the task that Clive had first begun. The 
military exploits of Clive might never have 
borne the fruit they did if at so short an interval 
the statesmanship and administrative skill of 
Warren Hastings had not supervened for their 
consolidation. Warren Hastings reformed the 
European administration, but his chief achieve- 
ments were the repudiation of the Mogul's 
authority by refusing to pay the tribute of 
300,000 rs. a year, the seizure of Allahabad, 
and the increase of the Company's revenue from 
these and similar high-handed and unjustifiable 
causes. From the moral point of view there 
is nothing to be said for them. They were the 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 83 

acts of a conqueror, and made the more remark- 
able because effected without the least employ- 
ment of force. In this manner Hastings added 
a quarter of a million to the Company's revenue, 
and obtained a capital sum of half a million, 
which was doubled by the subjugation of the 
Rohillas for the benefit of the ruler of Oude. 
These funds provided Hastings with the means 
of carrying on the important and serious wars 
that marked the later years of his administration. 
Without those funds he could not have brought 
them to a triumphant issue. 

The first opponents with whom Hastings 
felt it necessary to deal were the Marathas, 
who under the titular head of Sivaji's successor, 
the Rajah of Sattara, had founded the then 
great military states of Baroda, Gwalior and 
Indore. It was said that France, baffled in the 
south, had sent emissaries to these Courts to 
stir them up against the English, and the 
authorities in Bombay were filled with alarm as 
to whether they could hold their own. Hastings 
at once realised the gravity of the position ; he 
raised ten new native regiments, and he sent 
two expeditions across India to Bombay. 
Captain Popham stormed Scindiah's reputedly 
impregnable fort of Gwalior, Colonel Goddard 
overthrew the Gaikwar of Baroda, and the 
danger was dispelled. A peace on lenient 
terms was granted to the Marathas, for in the 



84 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

south a more ominous cloud had arisen. 
Hyder Ali, with the co-operation of JBussy, 
invaded Madras in 1780, but the diplomacy of 
Hastings had fortunately succeeded in detaching 
the Nizam from his side, and although one 
English brigade, under Baillie, was cut up, 
and the chief commander, Sir Hector Munro, 
was compelled to retreat, nothing irretrievable 
occurred before the arrival of Sir Eyre Coote, 
who vindicated the military honour of his 
country, as already described, at Porto Novo. 
The war lingered on until after the death of 
Hyder Ali in 1782, but the danger to Madras 
was finally staved off, and Bussy's scheme for 
the overthrow of the English shared the same 
fate as Lally's. 

While this arduous campaign was in progress 
in the south Hastings achieved easier and more 
profitable triumphs in the north. The Rajah of 
Benares incurred his anger and felt his heavy 
hand, and the holy city of the Hindus passed 
under the control of the English, who were now 
steadily pushing their way up the Ganges to 
the limits of the Emperor's own personal 
authority. The Nawab of Oude and the 
Begums or Princesses of Oude were compelled 
to disgorge large sums for the benefit of the 
Company, and the only thing that can be said 
in extenuation of these measures of extortion is 
that without them Hastings could not have 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 



8< 



maintained his position, and the many enemies 
of the English would eventually have triumphed 
not by their martial qualities but by their 
superior resources. Warren Hastings overcame 
two grave perils in Madras and the Maratha 
country, but his chief contribution to the making 
of India was the discovery of the sources of 
revenue which enabled the Company to play its 
new political and imperial part. 

Hastings was succeeded after a brief inter- 
regnum by Earl (afterwards Marquis) Corn- 
wallis, an appointment chiefly interesting 
because it testified to the increasing importance 
of an office hitherto monopolised by one of the 
Company's servants. His tenure of power was 
chiefly remarkable for the first war with Tippoo 
Sahib, son and successor of Hyder Ali. The 
war began at the end of 1789 with Tippoo's 
attack on Travancore, and the greatness of the 
danger in the eyes of the English authoiiiies 
can be inferred from the fact that Cornwallis 
exerted all the influence of the Government to 
conclude an alliance with the Nizam and the 
Marathas against the ruler of Mysore. The 
negotiations were successful, and at the least 
this signified the isolation of Tippoo, which 
became more complete as Britain recovered the 
mastery of the seas which had been temporarily 
lost in the time of Suffren. Lord Cornwallis 
took the command of the army in person, and 
during the whole of the year 1791 Southern 



86 THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

India was the scene of a bitter and stubborn 
contest, which did not close until the haughty 
" tiger of Seringapatam " was beleaguered in his 
capital. Then he agreed to surrender half his 
territory, to pay three millions sterling and to 
give his sons as hostages. 

But the settlement of this question was not 
reached in the time of Lord Cornwallis. His 
successor, Sir John Shore, was a man of peace; 
but in 1798 the Marquis Wellesley arrived in 
India specially charged with the mission of 
establishing British predominance in the 
peninsula, and filled with Pitt's convictions that 
the fate of the world depended on the life and 
death struggle between England and France. 
At that moment with Bonaparte in Egypt every 
vestige of French power in India became or 
magnified importance. The Nizam's army had 
been trained by Bussy and other French 
offirprs, Scindiah's army was becoming really 
formidable in the hands of De Boigne, and 
Tippoo's sympathies were French. Wellesley 
went to work at once. He cajoled or frightened 
the Nizam into dismissing his French officers, 
disbanding his regiments, and signing a treaty 
promising to employ no Europeans except 
Englishmen. Having made himself secure at 
Hyderabad he declared war on Tippoo, invaded 
his state with two armies, and captured his 
capital by assault. Tippoo himself was slain 
in the breach, and from that date, the 4th of 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 87 

May 1799, Southern India has been tranquil. 
No danger has arisen or seems capable of 
arising in that quarter of the peninsula where 
the foundation of our power was first laid. 

A more serious task awaited Lord Wellesley 
than the overthrow of the system of Tippoo, 
already shaken by the previous campaigns with 
Lord Cornwallis. He endeavoured to make the 
Maratha chiefs accept an arrangement similar 
to that he had imposed on the Nizam, and 
when he exacted from the Peishwa the Treaty 
of Bassein embodying such an arrangement it 
seemed as if his end might be attained by 
peaceful means. But the militant chiefs re- 
pudiated the action of the Peishwa who had 
been expelled from his capital by Holkar, and 
Scindiah and the Rajah of Nagpur formed a 
defensive and offensive alliance to resist the 
pretensions of the English. It was in this 
emergency that Wellesley showed the highest 
gifts of statesmanship, and he was fortunate 
enough to find in his younger brother, the future 
Duke of Wellington, and General Lake two 
extremely able commanders to realise his 
schemes. The campaigns which followed were 
among the most brilliant and successful in the 
whole of our Eastern experience. Sir Arthur 
Wellesley won the battles of Assaye and 
Argaum, and captured the strong fortress of 
Ahmednugger. Lake gained still more striking 
victories at Aligarh and Laswari and concluded 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

a most remarkable march at Delhi with the 
rescue of the Mogul Emperor from his Maratha 
gaolers. The reader must not imagine that 
these battles were won with ease or without loss. 
The Marathas fought with the greatest courage ; 
they were only vanquished by superior skill and 
exceptional military genius. The result of these 
wars was that the two largest and best trained 
Maratha armies were vanquished and humiliated, 
that large provinces were annexed to the terri- 
tories of the Company and its allies, and that 
the Mogul Emperor passed from the tutelage of 
the Marathas to that of the English. 

A second struggle began with Holkar, but 
the want of funds added to the dissatisfaction 
of the Company at the cost of the war com- 
pelled Wellesley to make peace before any 
decisive result was attained. Holkar's terri- 
tory was somewhat diminished, but at the 
moment of the termination of hostilities he 
showed his defiance by concluding an alliance 
with his hereditary enemy Scindiah. Peace 
was however preserved for several years, as 
the next Governor-Generals were peaceful and 
prevented by their orders from embarking on 
military adventures. Even Lord Minto, a states- 
man of broad views, was only allowed to crush 
the French in the Mauritius and Java and by 
these successes to finally preclude European 
influences from making themselves felt within 
the peninsula. 



THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 89 

The Governor-Generalship of Lord Hastings, 
which began m 1813 and lasted till 1823, was 
among the most important epochs in Anglo- 
Indian history and may be compared with 
those of Warren Hastings, Wellesley, and in 
later times Dalhousie. It might have proved 
more epoch-making than it did but for a 
stubborn campaign which had to be fought 
soon after its commencement with the gallant 
Goorkha tribes of Nepaul. There we learnt 
first to respect and value the martial qualities 
of a race which has ever since ranked among 
our most loyal and distinguished auxiliaries. 
The year 181 7 began with a war against the 
Pindari bands which held the whole of Central 
India and with whom the greater Maratha 
chiefs were more or less in sympathy and 
alliance. No sooner had Lord Hastings suc- 
ceeded in overcoming this danger than he was 
confronted by another and graver one in the 
alliance of Holkar and Nagpur supported by 
all the weight of the Peishwa's name. Fortu- 
nately Scindiah stood aloof in the second 
Maratha war, which was brought to a speedy 
and successful conclusion by the signal defeat 
at Mehidpore of Holkar's army. After this 
desperate struggle and conclusive triumph 
which concluded our twenty years' contest 
with the Marathas a long internal peace 
followed in India. With the exception of 
the first Burmese war in 1826 and the 



9° THE CONQUEST OF INDIA. 

capture in the same year of the strong fortress 
of Bhurtpore, which was not retained, there 
was peace throughout the peninsula until the 
Afghan campaign of 1839. 

The conquest of India, which practically 
began with the battle of Plassy in 1757, may 
be considered completed by the second Maratha 
war in 181 7. In sixty years the East India 
Company had extended its dominion from the 
few factories and trading ports stationed around 
the coast over the whole of the peninsula out- 
side the Punjab. The Viceroys of the Mogul 
in Bengal, the Deccan and Oude had been 
either superseded or reduced to a position of 
subordination. The most formidable military 
races, the Mahomedans of Mysore, the Marathas 
of every principality from Delhi to the Nerbudda, 
and the Rohilla Afghans of Northern India, 
had in turn been compelled to yield to the 
steady discipline and unsurpassable courage of 
the English. Kings held their states at the 
pleasure of that trading Company whose origin 
had been humble, whose fortunes had long 
been checkered by reverses, and whose great- 
ness had been thrust upon it. The great 
Mogul, whose Imperial power seemed so irre- 
sistible at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century, had become in the early years of 
the nineteenth the puppet of the English, 
thankful that their protection was less irksome 
and less costly than that of the Marathas. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

ALTHOUGH the decline of the East India 
Company is generally dated from the 
expedition into Afghanistan, and may to some 
extent have been hastened by the untoward 
incidents of that campaign, the evidence of 
military power continued to be displayed up to 
the very hour of the Mutiny in such a manner 
as seemed to dispel all idea of danger or decay. 
Before briefly describing the salient features 
of the first Afghan War, it will be useful to note 
some changes of importance that had been 
made in the constitution of the Company, and 
in its prerogatives. Originally the Company had 
been independent of all control and possessed a 
monopoly of the trade with India and China. 
The servants of the Company were allowed 
to trade on their own account and to take 
presents from the native chiefs. When Clive 



92 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

was sent out on the third occasion he put 
down this system, and in the time of 
Warren Hastings the servants of the Company 
received a fixed pay followed by a pension, of 
which latter fund Mir Jaffir's jaghir to Clive 
formed by his voluntary surrender the nucleus. 
In 1773 the Regulating Act more clearly 
defined the position of the Company and sanc- 
tioned the elevation of its head authority into a 
Governor-General. In 1783 Pitt's India Act 
established the Board of Control, an office in 
London for the supervision of the policy and 
administration of the Company in India. In 
return for submitting to that restraint the 
Charter was prolonged for thirty years, but 
when its renewal was granted in 181 3 the 
monopoly of Indian trade was shorn from it 
and a loud cry of ruin was raised by the pro- 
prietors. In 1833 the monopoly of the China 
trade was also taken from it, so that in this 
year the commercial functions of the East India 
Company, which had been gradually diminish- 
ing, finally disappeared. 

During the same period a number of reforms 
in the administration had been carried out, and 
Lord William Bentinck — the first to bear the 
full title of Governor-General of India — will 
always rank foremost among the benefactors of 
the Hindu races. If his name is chiefly 
associated with the abolition of Suttee — the 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 93 

compulsory immolation of Hindu widows on 
their husbands' biers — he conferred equally 
signal benefits on the people by his patronage 
of education, by the admission of natives into the 
civil service, and by making the roads secure for 
travellers, the "thugs" or professional poisoners 
who frequented them being hunted down. It 
was he who decreed that English should be the 
universal official language of the peninsula and 
that the Press should be absolutely free, 
although these laws did not come into effect 
until the time of his successor Lord Metcalfe. 
Evidence was thus afforded that the English 
were not mere conquerors or mere traders. In 
the time of Lord William Bentinck they first 
stood forth as the benefactors of the human 
race, and their reputation for justice reached 
perhaps a higher point than it has ever attained 
since. In the whole range of Anglo-Indian 
episodes there is not one more effective or more 
characteristic than that of Sir Charles Metcalfe 
taking the young Maharajah of Jeypore, one of 
the chief Rajput princes, on his knee in the 
midst of an angry and excited durbar, and pro- 
claiming that the English Raj had taken him 
under its protection. Great was the power of 
the Sirkar or Government in those days ! Its 
armies had never known defeat, its sway was 
beneficent, and it held forth to the millions of the 
peninsula a higher standard of justice, security 



94 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

and nobleness than any of its predecessors had 
approached. 

The fear of France had been a potent force 
in our Indian politics for half a century : in the 
time of Lord William Bentinck it was superseded 
or rather replaced by a corresponding dread of 
Russia, which has operated ever since as a vital 
influence permanently affecting the bent of our 
external policy in India. That statesman and 
soldier drew up an important State paper 
showing how a Russian army might invade 
India, and several adventurous travellers — of 
whom Burnes and Arthur Conolly deserve 
special mention — brought back from Central 
Asia news of Russian movements and ambition. 
No overt step was taken until the year 1838, 
Lord Auckland being Governor-General, when 
an unreasoning fear of Russia and an over- 
confident view of our own position impelled us 
to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan 
with the idea of setting up a friendly potentate 
on the throne of Cabul. The occupant of that 
position, a man of great ability named Dost 
Mahomed, grandfather of the present Ameer, 
was said to have been won over by a Russian 
envoy, and it was decided to take up the cause 
of Shah Shujah, then an exile in India but 
the chief representative of the royal family of 
Afghanistan. With this view an alliance was 
concluded with Runjeet Singh, the Sikh ruler of 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 95 

the Punjab, and in January 1839 the Anglo- 
Indian army crossed the Indus at Sukhur and 
began its march on Candahar. The campaign 
that followed was most brilliant, and considering 
that Lord Keane's force was mainly composed 
of the old Hindustani Sepoys armed with the 
old Brown Bess musket — a weapon inferior in 
several respects to the Afghan jezail — there has 
never been a war in Asia on which we might 
with greater reason pride ourselves than this 
first campaign in Afghanistan. In little more 
than three months our army captured Candahar, 
stormed the reputedly impregnable fortress of 
Ghuzni, and occupied the capital, Cabul, after 
having vanquished the principal national army 
in the open field. Shah Shujah was placed on 
the throne, and if our army had only been 
withdrawn as promptly as it had advanced all 
would have been well. Very probably Shah 
Shujah would have failed to maintain himself 
against his abler rival, but an impression 
would have been left west of the passes of the 
daring and invincibility of the new Lords of 
India. 

But if valour led the armies of the Company 
reason did not sit on this occasion at her 
Council table. It was decided to prop up the 
prince whose cause we had espoused, for it was 
said we could not abandon our nominee, and 
at the same time we reduced our garrison to 



96 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

the lowest possible figure. In 1840 Dost 
Mahomed attempted to renew the struggle but 
he was defeated, and the greatness of the 
English reputation may be gathered from the 
fact that he voluntarily surrendered himself 
when he could easily have escaped. As we had 
no intention of annexing Afghanistan, — indeed 
such a project was at the moment quite 
impracticable owing to the British territory in 
India being cut off by the intermediate inde- 
pendent Sikh kingdom of the Punjab, — it seems 
incredible that this second favourable oppor- 
tunity for evacuation was not seized. History 
has never been able to explain such acts of 
folly except on the theory of the inexorable 
decrees of Fate. Our garrison remained on, 
and the year 1841 became one of the blackest 
in our national annals. The Afghans are a 
brave and freedom-loving race. They have 
fought bravely against us and for us, and in 
the future as in the past they must represent an 
important force on the North-west borders of 
India. In 1841 they rose in insurrection, and 
when the charm of English invincibility was 
broken the position of the small Anglo-Indian 
force soon became grave and almost desperate. 
Where the courage of the commander remained 
undiminished, as was the case with General 
Nott at Candahar, there the enemy was not 
merely kept at bay but beaten whenever 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 97 

encountered; but at Cabul the presumption 
and folly of our political, and the irresolution of 
our military representatives entailed defeat and 
disgrace which culminated in the destruction of 
an armed brigade of 4,000 men and 12,000 
unarmed followers. 

This was both the first and the greatest 
military calamity to befall us in India. In 
1842 an avenging army was sent into the 
country under Sir George Pollock, the Afghans 
were defeated in several encounters, "the 
illustrious garrison" of Jellalabad as it was 
specially called was rescued, the equally illus- 
trious garrison of Candahar was permitted to 
retire in triumph from that place via Cabul, 
and before the close of the year 1842 there was 
not a British soldier left in the country. Shah 
Shujah had been got rid of before our military 
triumph was complete, and when we evacuated 
the country we had not even the satisfaction of 
leaving behind us a government of our own 
choice. Dost Mahomed was released from his 
confinement in India, and allowed to resume 
the authority in which a wiser policy would 
have kept him undisturbed. 

If the Afghan war had been between equals 
the triumph of 1842 would have completely 
wiped out the failure of 184 1, but no subsequent 
success could obliterate the fact that English 
troops had been vanquished in battle. For a 



g8 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

quarter of a century no competitor had ventured 
to draw the sword against us in India, but 
those who retained the wish of supremacy now 
felt revived hope. The troops were scarcely 
back from Cabul when the smouldering fires 
that must always be latent in some section of 
Indian society burst into a flame in Gwalior, 
the state ruled by the house of Scindiah. The 
chief himself was a child and took no part in 
the revolt of his army. A brief but desperate 
campaign followed, and it was only after the 
Maratha army had been thoroughly beaten in 
two great battles at Maharajpure and Punneah 
that peace was restored. Had this Maratha 
rising been timed to coincide with the Sikh 
defiance two years later, there is no doubt that 
British power in India would have been 
subjected to a severe strain, but fortunately 
Central India was effectually tranquillised and 
the last of the Maratha armies was practically 
destroyed when the long-threatening war clouds 
burst on the Sutlej in 1845. 

The Sikhs had been our allies in the Afghan 
adventure. Their chief Runjeet Singh was a 
signatory of the Tripartite treaty with Shah 
Shujah, but his death in 1839 had destroyed 
this good understanding. Before General 
Pollock's force had returned from Cabul the 
opinion was freely held that the Sikhs had 
not kept faith with us, and the Sikhs were 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. gg 

undoubtedly husbanding their military power for 
some serious ordeal. The English conquest of 
the great province of Scinde in 1843, when Sir 
Charles Napier won the fierce battle of Meeanee 
and sent his famous laconic message Peccavi 
— or in other words " I have Scinde" — was a 
warning to the Sikhs, for it placed the lower 
course of the Indus in our hands. The warn- 
ing was not heeded, for after two years threat- 
ening the army of the Sikh Khalsa which had 
been trained by Avitabile and other foreign ad- 
venturers crossed the Sutlej and invaded British 
territory. At that moment Lord Hardinge, a 
Peninsular and Waterloo veteran and one of 
Wellington's favourite lieutenants, was Governor- 
General, and he hastened to the front to super- 
intend the military operations ; but the actual 
command was held by Lord Gough, an im- 
petuous soldier who had recently made a 
reputation in China by the capture of Canton. 
The first battle of the war was fought at 
Moodkee on the 18th of December 1845 an< ^ 
the last battle on the following 10th of Feb- 
ruary at Sobraon. Between those two actions 
occurred the equally severe struggles at Aliwal 
and Ferozeshah. These four encounters were 
of unexampled ferocity, but in each of them 
the Sikhs were decidedly beaten. When they 
had been driven across the Sutlej they were 
compelled to sign a treaty of peace at their 



lOO DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

capital, Lahore, and to surrender the Jullunder 
Doab, that portion of the Punjab lying between 
that river and the Beas. 

This treaty proved only a truce, for the warlike 
spirit of the Sikhs was not broken, and despite 
the confusion prevailing in their own Govern- 
ment their army was ready for a second trial 
of strength. The second Sikh War began in 
1848 with the murder of two English officers, 
Vans Agnew and Anderson, at Moultan, and 
before the end of the year Lord Gough had 
won several minor successes, of which the 
most important was achieved at Ramnugger. 
The principal Sikh army occupied however a 
strong and carefully prepared position at 
Chillianwallah, near the river Chenab, and 
there they were attacked by Lord Gough 
on the 13th of January 1849. The attack was 
made in a somewhat reckless fashion and 
without any preliminary artillery engagement 
which was the simple explanation of what 
followed. The English troops, although only 
one-third the number of the Sikhs — and it should 
be remembered that the bulk of our army was 
native — attacked with the greatest gallantry, 
and when night closed remained masters of the 
field ; but the loss had been heavy, about 2,500 
killed and wounded, and the confidence of . the 
force had been rudely shaken. The next day 
the English general slowly retreated without 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 101 

molestation to dispose of his wounded and 
to await reinforcements. 

Chillianwallah was regarded as a defeat, and 
in its moral effect it was one. When the news 
reached London there was the greatest excite- 
ment, and the Duke of Wellington exclaimed 
to Sir Charles Napier "You must go, or I 
must go." In the hurry and scare of the 
moment Napier was sent out as Commander- 
in-Chief, — an unjust reflection on the gallant 
Gough, the victor on so many memorable 
occasions, — but long before he reached India 
Lord Gough had redeemed his laurels by a 
decisive victory. A few weeks after Chillian- 
wallah that commander marched to meet the 
Sikhs at the head of an army of 25,000 men. 
He encountered them at Guzerat on 21st Feb- 
ruary 1849, an d having preceded his attack 
with a vigorous and destructive artillery fire 
gained the most signal and decisive victory. 
Three weeks later the remains of the Sikh 
army laid down their arms, the great province 
of the Punjab was annexed by the new 
Governor-General, the famous Lord Dalhousie, 
and the Company's territory embraced the 
upper part of the Indus as it had the lower 
and became adjacent to Afghanistan. 

Lord Dalhousie's subsequent acts of conquest 
may be briefly enumerated. In 1852, after a 
second war with the foolish and unreasonable 



102 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

King of Burmah, the province of Pegu with 
the mouths of the Irrawaddy and the important 
harbour of Rangoon became British. In 1853 
Berar was taken from the Nizam, and in 1856 
Onde, the most important Mahomedan State of 
India, was also annexed. In the same year an 
expedition to the Persian Gulf under Sir James 
Outram was completely successful, and the 
Persians who had seized the far-famed fortress 
of Herat were compelled to evacuate it. Amid 
these unusual demonstrations of our power and 
reputation the eventful administration of Lord 
Dalhousie terminated. It had been an epoch 
that ranked in importance with any in our 
Indian history, and his achievements placed 
him on the same list as Clive, Hastings and 
Wellesley. There was no indication of declin- 
ing power ; rather might it have been said that 
the invincibility of the Company had been 
placed beyond further possibility of demonstra- 
tion, for from Cashmere to Cape Comorin there 
was not left a military force entitled to the name 
of an army. It was at that moment of seem- 
ingly indisputable triumph that the greatest 
danger of the century suddenly beset us, and 
entailed the fall of the great Company which 
seemed far above the assaults of adverse 
fortune. 

The conquest of India had been effected with 
such rapidity and over such odds and difficulties 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. IO3 

that there was neither time nor inclination to 
reflect on the basis of British power in India, or 
on the perils that might attend the progress of 
empire. Still, some highly gifted persons had 
scanned the future with anxiety. Henry Law- 
rence and John Jacob, two of the most 
competent military leaders of their day, had 
independently come to the same conclusion, 
namely, that the native army, the force which 
had made the East India Company, might 
destroy it. These words of wisdom were written 
fourteen years before the blow fell. They were 
uttered to. deaf ears, and had long been forgotten 
when the crisis arrived. The native or Sepoy 
army had necessarily been largely increased by 
the wars with the Marathas, the Afghans and 
the Sikhs, until at this period it was not far short 
of 350,000 men. The force was of the three 
arms, and the main portion of the artillery was 
worked by Sepoys. At the same time the 
European garrison rarely exceeded 25,000 men. 
There was consequently a very glaring disparity 
in numbers, and in the distribution of troops 
many districts were left without any English 
garrison. The Sepoys were not then mainly 
composed as at present of special warlike races, 
but were taken as they presented themselves 
from the mass of the Hindu and Mussulman 
races, so that they continued in close touch and 
sympathy with the civil population. They were 



104 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

consequently open to all the influences of anti- 
English sentiment worked upon by waves of 
superstition, offended popular prejudice by 
interference with established custom, and the 
ambitious schemes of a few designing men. 

The native regiments were the pulse of the 
native races, but in their exaggerated belief in 
the loyalty of their men the officers refused to 
feel that pulse or to allow anyone else to detect 
the approach of fever. Yet, creditable as was 
the military record of the Sepoy army, it had 
on occasions, rare and isolated it is true, given 
evidence of an insubordinate spirit. In 1806 
a mutiny had broken out at Vellore which led 
to the execution of 800 Sepoys. Three years 
later there had been a similar rising at 
Seringapatam, and in 1827 the Bengal army 
followed with a mutiny at Barrackpore — when 
the 47th Regiment was exterminated to a 
man on its own parade ground — the bad 
example set it by Madras. On the principle 
that what has happened once may occur again, 
the military authorities might well have 
believed in the abstract possibility of a 
mutiny of the native army. But there were 
special reasons for apprehending that the 
army of 1857 might prove less amenable to 
reason than its predecessors. It had been 
increased by the necessities of war to vast 
and unwieldy proportions, yet no one ventured 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. IO5 

to suggest that it should be reduced to a more 
reasonable size. The men, by the extra 
allowance or "batta" given during active 
campaigning, had grown accustomed, during 
wars that seemed never to cease, to a scale 
of pay much in excess of that paid them in 
cantonments ; and after the annexation ot 
the Punjab it looked as if permanent peace 
had settled down over the peninsula and that 
the sword would be turned into the scythe. 
The native troops also believed that they were 
the buttress of the Company's power, for, as 
has been pointed out, the European troops 
were few in number and represented rather 
the Old Guard of the Company than the 
recognised garrison of its territory. 

It was at the moment that such thoughts 
were uppermost in the minds of the Sepoys 
that it was decided to introduce a new cartridge. 
There was nothing in that article to justify the 
dislike with which the Sepoys seemed to 
instinctively regard it or to support the view 
that its use involved a breach of caste for the 
Hindus, and a personal insult to the Ma- 
homedans. But it served the purpose of the 
intriguers who had for some years been organ- 
ising, and preparing the way for, a seditious 
movement. The secret history of the move- 
ment will perhaps never be known, but un- 
doubtedly one of the chief instigators of the 



106 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

revolt was Nana Sahib, the adopted heir of 
Baji Rao, the ex-Peishwa, to whom with ques- 
tionable justice and still more questionable 
economy we declined to continue the pension. 
Round him gathered the cleverest intriguers of 
the old Maratha court, while the Mahomedans 
were offended and alarmed by the summary 
proceedings in Oude, the home of a large 
portion of the Bengal army. It was their 
emissaries, no doubt, who sent the mysterious 
chupatties — cakes bearing a silent and secret 
message — who denounced the cartridges, and 
who disseminated the superstitious prophecy 
that Heaven had decreed the fall of the Com- 
pany on the centenary of Plassy. 

If the Sepoys had not been ripe for revolt for 
their own special reasons, some of which have 
been glanced at, it is very possible that the 
machinations of ambitious and disappointed 
intriguers would have borne no fruit; but a 
concatenation of circumstances, of which not 
the least was the extraordinary and delusive 
confidence in which the English themselves 
were lulled, contributed to the spread and 
success of a movement that a watchful or even 
a suspicious Government would have strangled 
at its birth. On the 24th of January 1857 the 
first open mutiny occurred at Berhampore, and 
a native regiment was sent from that place 
to Barrackpore, the chief cantonment near 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. IO7 

Calcutta, to be disbanded. A second regiment 
followed its example and shared its fate. 
Early in May a third regiment mutinied at 
Lucknow, and was disarmed by Sir Henry 
Lawrence. On the ioth of May the native 
troops at the important station of Meerut 
mutinied, killed some of their officers, fired the 
lines and made their escape to Delhi. The 
capture of that important city and of the 
Emperor, who still retained the title of the 
Great Mogul, although all vestige of his power 
had long disappeared, gave the mutineers a 
political importance they had not possessed up 
to that moment. The significance of the 
capture of Delhi would have been far greater 
if the rebels had secured the Arsenal, but the 
heroism of two English officers, by a deed of 
self-immolation that has never been surpassed, 
baffled the foe by exploding the contents of the 
building. 

After the seizure of Delhi there was a lull ol 
three weeks, and it was not until the end of 
May that the four Sepoy regiments at Lucknow 
turned their muskets on their officers, or for 
another month that Sir Henry Lawrence felt 
compelled to retire into the Residency, which 
with infinite resource he had placed in a posi- 
tion to stand a siege. A few days before, Cawn- 
pore — the base of Lucknow on the Ganges — had 
witnessed the surrender of the English garrison 



108 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

to Nana Sahib, who with oriental duplicity 
massacred his prisoners including the women 
and children after he had promised them their 
lives. This savage and treacherous act im- 
parted a ferocity into the struggle that would 
otherwise have been absent, and the Well of 
Cawnpore remains as a standing warning 
against over-confidence in India. By this time 
the whole of Northern India, with the excep- 
tion of the Punjab, was ablaze with mutiny and 
rebellion. The whole of the Bengal army had 
thrown off its allegiance, and in Central India 
the Maratha armies of Holkar and Scindiah 
showed that they too could not be held back 
by the influence of their chiefs. But the two 
principal centres of danger were at Delhi and 
Lucknow. The possession of the former place 
gave the rebels a power they would not other- 
wise have acquired, and at the latter a small 
band of Englishmen were holding out in a 
feeble position against overwhelming odds. 
Space will not admit of the baldest description 
of the Titanic struggle that ensued, but in the 
sea of difficulties by which our countrymen 
were beset in the early summer of 1857 recog- 
nition must be made of two circumstances 
which in the most providential manner con- 
tributed to enable them to hold their own until 
succour came across the seas from England. 
These were the loyalty of the Sikhs and the 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. log 

passage across the Indian Ocean of an English 
expedition on its way to China. 

The struggle with the Sikhs and the annexa- 
tion of the province of the Punjab have been 
described. The Sikhs fought us bravely and 
unflinchingly. Not eight years had elapsed 
from Chillianwallah, when the signal went 
forth that the Sirkar was doomed, and the 
wounds of that struggle might still have been 
deemed fresh. But the Sikhs were a noble 
race, and bore their recent adversaries no 
rancour. They respected courage, and let it 
ever be remembered to their credit they refused 
to take advantage of our troubles, or to turn on 
us in our adversity, or to play the game of other 
races whom they despised. Although many 
great Englishmen — Henry Lawrence, John 
Nicholson and Herbert Edwardes pre-eminent 
among them — had laboured, and not in vain, 
to win their confidence, the loyalty and staunch- 
ness of the Sikhs to our side was not a thing on 
which we had any reason to count in 1857. I 
am not going, in imitation of a prevalent bad 
practice of attributing to a single cause the 
result of many combined circumstances, to the 
extreme of saying that the Sikhs saved British 
India, but it would be ungrateful if we ever 
forgot or seemed to disparage the touching 
devotion of a race which gave its blood freely 
on our side in the supreme crisis of our Indian 
career. E 



110 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

The English troops arrested at Singapore on 
their way to China provided the garrison which 
secured Lower Bengal, and the column placed 
under the command of Sir Henry Havelock for 
the relief of the hard-pressed garrison of the 
Lucknow Residency. Although this column 
never exceeded 3,000 men Havelock fought 
his way to Cawnpore, inflicting several defeats 
on the mutineers and entering the town the day 
after the massacre. A few days later he 
defeated the main army of Nana Sahib at 
Bithoor. He was not in a position to relieve 
Lucknow until the end of September, and in 
connection with that splendid exploit the 
chivalrous conduct of his comrade in arms Sir 
James Outram deserves to be signalised. 
Outram had been appointed to the command 
as the senior officer over Havelock's head at a 
moment when Havelock had done much to- 
wards completing his plan of rescue, but Outram 
refused to deprive him of the command and 
served as a volunteer on his staff until after the 
relief of the Residency. Such chivalrous actions 
well entitled Outram to his name as the Bayard 
of India. The relief of the Residency on the 
25th of September 1857 was very far from 
closing the operations at Lucknow. The rein- 
forced garrison took up a new position while 
Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde, the new Com- 
mander-in-Chief, made his arrangements for the 



DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. Ill 

final overthrow of the rebel forces, which had 
collected in the large city of Lucknow to the 
extent it is said of 100,000 armed men, the 
majority of whom had been our own trained 
Sepoys. On the 21st of March 1858 the enemy 
was driven out of Lucknow after a series of 
Homeric struggles, during one of which 2,000 
mutineers were bayoneted in a Palace from 
which retreat was impossible. 

Four days before the relief of the Residency, 
Delhi, the Imperial city, had been recovered 
by assault. During its siege the same qualities 
of fortitude in the face of difficulty and of 
scorn for superior numbers had been evinced 
by the handful of British, Sikh and Goorkha 
soldiery on the Ridge. If Henry Lawrence, 
killed unfortunately in the first days of the 
defence, but whose spirit animated the garrison 
to the last, was the hero of the Residency, and 
Havelock of the relief, John Nicholson was the 
soul of the siege and assault of Delhi. To his 
spirit and dauntless courage its capture was 
largely due, but his death dimmed the satisfac- 
tion of victory. By the end of 1857 large 
reinforcements had arrived from England. Two 
armies were directed to march through Central 
India, and one of them under Sir Hugh Rose — 
afterwards Lord Strathnairn — carried out a 
campaign remarkable for its celerity and success. 
It ranks by general consent with Havelock's 

e 2 



112 DECLINE AND FALL OF THE COMPANY. 

capture of Cawnpore and relief of Lucknow as 
the two finest feats of the whole struggle in the 
larger measures of war. Of the smaller acts it 
is impossible to speak, yet a passing tribute 
may be paid to the loyalty of Salar Jung the 
Hyderabad statesman, and of Jung Bahadur of 
Nepaul. 

The Mutiny sealed the fate of the great 
Company which had represented this country in 
the East for a century. The opinion had long 
been held that India was too important and 
weighty a charge to be held by a private 
association. No one could justly blame the 
Company for the Mutiny, yet it obviously 
marked an appropriate termination for the old 
state of things and a suitable starting point for 
a new. On the ist of September 1858 the 
announcement was made of the termination of 
the East India Company's rule, and two months 
later the direct sovereignty of the Queen was 
proclaimed, Lord Canning the Governor-General 
of the Mutiny assuming at the same date the 
style of Viceroy. The reader who has followed 
in this brief chronicle the humble origin, the 
slow growth, and the magnificent development 
of the East India Company will not think that 
it needs any monument or testimonial. Its 
achievements speak for themselves. They form 
a considerable and glorious part of the greatness 
of England. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

IF it were asked what is the principal 
difference between the India of the Queen 
and the India of the Company, the unanimous 
answer of all authorities would be that, whereas 
the Company never ceased to annex the 
territories of the native princes of the peninsula 
and displayed an ambition to the very last 
hour of its life to absorb the whole of the 
country within its 'own administration, the 
Queen has not annexed a yard of territory 
within the frontier, and she has even given 
back one important state to its native dynasty. 
In this the Queen has been true to her word as 
conveyed in the Royal Proclamation on assum- 
ing the sovereignty of India, for therein occurs 
the guarantee of their possessions to the Princes 
on the one condition of good government. 
This promise, given spontaneously at a moment 



114 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

when angry feelings were paramount, tran- 
quillised Indian opinion, while its exact 
fulfilment during forty years has mainly contri- 
buted to that growth of loyal feeling towards the 
Throne on the part of the Indian feudatories 
which has been one of the marked features of 
the Victorian epoch. Although the Indian 
ruling Princes remained loyal throughout the 
Mutiny, several of their armies mutinied and 
fought against us. It would have been in accord- 
ance with precedent if the Princes had been 
treated by the light of the acts of their subjects 
and not by their own attitude, but a juster way 
of looking at things came into vogue with the 
Queen's assumption of power, and with it con- 
fidence and a new sense of security spread 
through every court and capital of India. 
There have indeed been one or two changes in 
the person of a ruler of a native state — the 
most notable case being that of the Gaikwar 
who was alleged to have poisoned the British 
Resident — for misgovernment, but in every 
case authority was continued in the same ruling 
family, and the great principality of Mysore 
was restored to its hereditary Maharajah in 
1 88 1 after 50 years of British occupation. 

But if the period of the Queen's rule has 
been remarkable for internal tranquillity it 
cannot be described as peaceful beyond the 
frontier. Yet we must admit that those external 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 115 

complications and campaigns have contributed 
a good deal to the unification of Indian senti- 
ment under the aegis of the British sovereign, 
They have at least evoked loud expressions ot 
loyal and, let it be added, patriotic feeling; 
they have given the Princes a definite place in 
the defence of India, and they have provided 
them with an object in which they can take a 
hearty and traditional interest, for until the 
institution of the Imperial Service Corps the 
hereditary military career was dead for the 
noblest races of the peninsula. 

The annexation of the Punjab in 1849 had 
brought us into contact with Afghanistan, and 
two treaties concluded in the next seven years 
— coupled with our recovery of Herat by the 
war with Persia — had done something to place 
our relations with that state on a satisfactory 
footing. They served at least to keep the old 
Ameer Dost Mahomed inactive during the 
Mutiny. But that annexation had also brought 
us up to the possessions of lawless, predatory, 
and warlike tribes, whose hand was against 
everyone and who held the range of mountains 
that forms the western boundary of India. 
This region was correctly described asa" No 
man's land," for within it the writ of neither 
the Ameer nor the Queen ran. The establish- 
ment of a regular authority over the border 
districts was irksome to them because it put a 



Il6 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

stop to the raids they had been in the habit of 
executing on the cultivated districts and 
especially in the Peshawur valley. Then 
began a warfare which has been carried on 
with scarcely any intermission ever since and 
which even at the present hour cannot be 
called closed. But the first and most serious 
campaign of this character was largely 
influenced by political motives. A band of 
Hindustani fanatics, who had escaped from 
pursuit after the Mutiny, established a colony 
in the hills round Umbeyla beyond our frontier. 
There they stirred up some of the Pathan 
tribes, and their numbers increased to such 
large proportions that it was deemed advisable 
to take active measures against them before 
they had consolidated their position or banded 
further tribes in a league against us. In 1863 
a considerable expedition was fitted out against 
them, and after the true difficulties became 
revealed it was increased to the size of an 
army. The fighting that ensued was of a most 
desperate character, and the Umbeyla or 
Black Mountain campaign was certainly the 
most severe and critical border war in which 
we were ever engaged. Similar although less 
grave complications have constantly recurred 
down to the present hour. The recent sur- 
prise of a detachment in the Tochi valley by 
the Waziri tribe, the rising in the Swat valley 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. II7 

and the Afridi raids in the Khyber Pass show 
that a durable arrangement with these warrior 
tribes on a peaceful basis is still remote. 

The exigencies of the Imperial position in 
India received a wider illustration in 1878, 
when we were forced into a war with the ruler 
of Afghanistan. That contest can only be 
rightly judged by a careful consideration of the 
events which led up to it, and space obviously 
renders that impossible. Afghanistan is im- 
portant to the rulers of India because in the 
hands of an enemy it would constitute a great 
natural fortified camp out of which he might 
issue at his convenience to attack or invade 
India, while any attempt to expel him would be 
extremely hazardous. There is the old tradition 
to this effect crystallised into a proverb that " the 
lord of Delhi is not safe unless he is also master 
of Cabul," and there is the unimpeachable 
historical fact that every army issuing from 
Afghanistan has been victorious and every army 
entering it from the side of India defeated until 
we broke the rule in 1839 an d ^42 and again 
in 1878 and 1879. Yet notwithstanding these 
well-known facts our attitude towards Afghan- 
istan and its ruler from 1842 to 1877 was one of 
indifference. But we were not even consistently 
indifferent. During the six years of dynastic war- 
fare that followed the death of Dost Mahomed 
in 1863, Lord Lawrence supported each 



Il8 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

claimant as he happened to gain some military 
success, and with much naivetS expected them 
all to be our friends. He exposed the vacil- 
lation of our policy by not calmly awaiting the 
final triumph of one prince or the other, and it 
so happened that the victor was the chief who 
had received least help from us and conceived 
himself most hurt by our help to others. This 
chief was Shere Ali, who visited India in the 
time of the popular Earl of Mayo, and was un- 
doubtedly drawn towards us by that statesman. 
But unfortunately the impression he produced 
was destroyed under the next Viceroy by unwise 
interference with his own administration, and 
when Lord Lytton arrived in India with instruc- 
tions to place our relations on a better footing 
Shere Ali had been permanently alienated. 

But the true cause of our action lay outside 
Afghanistan. Russia had seized Khiva, and 
in disregard of her promise had retained its 
province on the right bank of the Oxus. She 
had also occupied Khokand and was com- 
mencing operations against the Turcomans. 
These facts explain the necessity felt for a 
clear understanding with the Ameer. Negotia- 
tions were commenced for a visit of the Ameer 
to India or for the despatch of a British envoy 
to Cabul, but they did not progress satisfac- 
torily. It was at this moment that news was 
received of the arrival and reception of a 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. II9 

Russian general as ambassador at Cabul, and 
at once an English officer of high rank and 
reputation, Sir Neville Chamberlaine, was 
despatched as special envoy to the Afghan 
capital. On reaching the Khyber Pass he was 
turned back by the Afghan commandant, and 
an affront was thus offered the Government to 
which, in the East at least, it could not submit. 
The decision to resent it was strengthened by 
the knowledge that Russian intrigues had been 
in progress for some time in Afghanistan and 
that several columns of Russian troops were 
actually on the march for the frontier. 

Three armies were directed to advance into 
Afghanistan at the beginning of the winter of 
1878-9, and notwithstanding the lateness of the 
season decisive successes were obtained by 
each of them. The Peshawur force under Sir 
Samuel Browne forced the Khyber, the Kohat 
under General Roberts stormed the Peiwar 
Kotal, and the Bombay Division under Sir 
Donald Stewart captured Candahar. This re- 
markable military success paved the way for 
an early peace, and as Shere Ali died the task 
of negotiation was simplified and a definite 
treaty was signed with his successor Yakoob 
Khan. The retreat of the Russian columns 
referred to, through the breakdown of their 
commissariat arrangements, also contributed 
more largely than is supposed to the termination 



120 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

of the war. The principal clause of the treaty 
was the reception and residence at Cabul 
of an English officer with a suitable staff and 
escort, and Sir Louis Cavagnari, an able 
official long acquainted with the frontier who 
had acted as British Plenipotentiary, was sent 
to fill the perilous office of resident at the 
Afghan capital. He had not been there two 
months when the horrible news reached India 
that he and all his comrades, British and 
Indian, with the exception of a few grass- 
cutters, had been massacred by some of the 
Ameer's troops and the townspeople. This 
terrible event revived the memories of 1841-42, 
but without a trace of hesitation the Govern- 
ment of India ordered the necessary military 
steps to punish this act of hostility and perfidy 
on the part of the Afghans. The arrangements 
for evacuating Candahar had fortunately not 
been completed, and it was retained, while 
General Roberts, who had done so well in the 
first campaign, was entrusted with the command 
of the army that marched on Cabul. It will 
suffice here to say that the excellence of his 
arrangements, the celerity of his advance, and 
the tactical skill he displayed in the battle of 
Charasia, established the reputation he had 
already won. Cabul was occupied, the Ameer 
Yakoob was sent to India, and a strong and 
carefully prepared position at Sherpur was 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 121 

occupied during the winter. There was no 
repetition of the blunders of 1841, and when 
the tribes gathered and attacked our position 
they received a warm reception and were 
beaten off. 

Once again in Afghanistan it was shown that 
our policy was not equal to our military prowess, 
and our difficulties were increased by there being 
no member of the ruling family available to put 
on the throne at this moment. Abdurrahman, 
a nephew of Shere Ali, returned from Russian 
Turkestan, where he had lived in exile for 
eleven years, and it was decided to acknowledge 
him as Ameer. The choice seemed a dubious 
one, when an event happened that showed it to 
be the only possible course, and that also con- 
tributed indirectly to its success. The pre- 
parations for evacuating the country were 
almost completed when the startling news 
arrived that a British regiment had been anni- 
hilated at Maiwand, a place west of Candahar, 
by an Afghan army that had silently moved 
eastwards from Herat under the command of 
Ayoob Khan, the younger brother of the 
Ameer Yakoob. On the receipt of this dis- 
astrous news it was determined to continue the 
withdrawal from the country, but at the same 
time to move a body of 10,000 specially selected 
troops from Cabul to Candahar with the object 
of retrieving as speedily as possible the reverse 



122 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

our arms had experienced. The command of 
that force was entrusted to General Roberts, 
who within one month of the receipt of the 
news of Maiwand amply avenged outside Can- 
dahar that defeat by the rout of Ayoob's army. 
By the same stroke we established our own 
position and that of our ally Abdurrahman, for 
there can be no doubt that if Ayoob had deferred 
his advance until we had withdrawn he would 
have swept Abdurrahman out of the country. 
When he renewed his attempt in 1881 with 
weakened force and diminished credit he almost 
succeeded in expelling his rival. This march 
to Candahar was a perfect piece of military 
workmanship, and established General Roberts' 
reputation as an able commander. 

Our relations with Afghanistan, far from 
closing with the war, continued on a footing of 
closer intimacy, and in 1883 we agreed to pay 
the Ameer a fixed annual subsidy. By the aid 
of this money he has established a vigorous 
administration, and formed the nucleus of a 
regular army. In 1885 the Ameer visited India 
in connection with the delimitation of his frontier 
on the side of Russia by means of a Joint Com- 
mission. Then occurred the collision between 
Afghans and Russians at Penjdeh which brought 
the two Empires to the verge of war. The 
danger was averted, and the Commission com- 
pleted its labours, which were supplemented 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 123 

some years later by the delimitation of the 
frontier across the Pamirs. The immediate 
cause of the settlement in that elevated region, 
which is known figuratively as "the roof of 
the world," was the encroachment of Russian 
officers on Hunza-Nagar, two petty states 
dependent on Cashmere. The chiefs of these 
remote valleys were promised Russian protec- 
tion and grew defiant. They thus brought 
down on themselves an Anglo-Indian expedi- 
tion, and after some resolute opposition the 
valleys were occupied and, what is more im- 
portant, the tribesmen, angry at their betrayal 
by Russia, have been quite won over to our 
side. Until this year the last incident in our 
frontier relations on the west was the Chitral 
campaign, when a small English force was 
besieged in the fort of that place, and rescued 
from its danger by a large expedition that 
advanced from the Peshawur Valley under 
General Sir Robert Low, and by a smaller force 
that marched across the glaciers and ice-bound 
paths from Gilgit under Colonel Kelly. A 
comparison between this campaign and that in 
Umbeyla thirty years before would show the 
immense progress made in the conduct of such 
enterprises by the improvement in weapons and 
organisation. 

If the eastern frontier of India has never 
been so disturbed as the western, there have 



124 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

still been important events in that quarter. 
The Bhutan war in 1865, the Looshai expedi- 
tion in the following year, and several minor 
contests with the Assamese tribes, exemplified 
the same lesson of the inevitable strife between 
a settled population and turbulent races that 
was apparent in the Punjab. But all these minor 
occurrences were overshadowed by the decision 
forced upon us in 1885 to bring the King of 
Burmah to his senses. In face of his insults 
and injuries we had been very long suffering, 
and no doubt we should under ordinary circum- 
stances have put up with them still longer, but 
our action was hastened by the intentions of 
France, which contemplated a grand coup on 
the Irrawaddy. The invasion and easy con- 
quest of Burmah was followed by its formal 
annexation, and in the 10 or n years that have 
since elapsed much has been done to develop 
its resources and to strengthen our position on 
the south-west frontier of China. It also brought 
us into contact with France on the Mekong, 
and as Lord Rosebery has stated a rupture was 
nearly caused between the two Powers by their 
antagonistic views as to the position of Siam. 
A termination was happily put to these threaten- 
ing troubles by the Convention of January 1896 
guaranteeing the independence and neutrality 
of Siam. Whatever changes may await our 
Indian Empire on both its frontiers diplomacy 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 12$ 

has done its best to define a clear and unmis- 
takable position. We hold the promises of both 
Russia and France that they will not encroach 
on spheres of territory over which we claim not 
merely a prior but a superior interest. 

But if the changes effected in India by war 
and policy have been great, those due to the 
introduction of railways and to the long period 
of internal peace which has allowed an extra- 
ordinary increase of both inhabitants and trade 
are certainly not inferior. The Queen's wars 
in the East have been wars it might almost be 
said for the preservation of peace. They have 
certainly kept strife and danger far removed 
from every home in India. When the Queen 
assumed personal responsibility the cost of 
administration rose by ten millions a year, and 
Indian financiers of the old school looked 
aghast as to where the money was to come 
from. The revenue of the Company never 
exceeded twenty-five millions sterling; that of 
the Queen has risen to over 92 millions in tens 
of rupees, bringing it down to about 53 millions 
sterling at the current rate of exchange. Of 
that revenue about ten millions is produced 
by the State railways, so that the Indian tax- 
payer after allowing for the increase in popula- 
tion pays considerably less than he did in 1857. 

When the Mutiny broke out there was not a 
mile of railway, and all locomotion was carried 

F 



126 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

on by dawk, the Indian diligence or stage coach, 
or by boat on the great rivers. It was by those 
means alone that troops could be moved to the 
front, and the long marches of our soldiers 
during that ordeal were not less remarkable than 
the extraordinary fighting powers they displayed. 
At the beginning of 1897 there were 21,000 
miles of railway open for traffic, and another 
1,000 miles in course of construction in India 
and Burmah. The majority of these lines had 
been built on definite and well-founded plans. 
There are the trunk lines connecting Bombay, 
the harbour nearest to Europe, with Calcutta 
and Madras, and both Bombay and Calcutta 
with Delhi, Lahore, and the Indus. Kurachee, 
the port of Scinde and in one sense of the whole 
of the western border, has been linked on to 
the Punjab, and will shortly be also connected 
with Bombay. Two lines have been carried 
across the Indus, one at Attock to Peshawur 
and the mouth of the Khyber Pass, the other 
across the Indus at Sukhur to Quettah and the 
Pi sheen Valley with the mountain range forming 
its northern barrier tunnelled and everything in 
readiness to continue the railway to Candahar. 
In Burmah we have not been idle. Mandalay 
has been connected with Rangoon, the Mu 
Valley line is approaching the upper course of 
the Irrawaddy, and in a few months the Salween 
Valley will have been linked with our main 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 127 

system by the Kunlon Railway. Among the 
achievements of the Queen's rule in India rail- 
way construction must be allowed a foremost 
place, and there is no doubt that private enter- 
prise will before very long give a fresh impetus 
to building new railways, especially in Burmah 
and Afghanistan. 

If railways benefit the people by increasing 
trade and opening up the more inaccessible 
parts of the peninsula they also increase the 
security of the supreme Government, and in 
that way contribute to the credit of the country 
by inspiring confidence as to the stability of the 
existing order of things. Among their imme- 
diate advantages may also be classed the 
facilities they provide for the despatch of sup- 
plies to the districts affected by those terrible 
famines to which India has always been more 
or less subject, and with which owing to the 
generally increased density of the population it 
would without them be impossible to cope. 
But railways are in the first place and above all 
other considerations important because they aid 
the task of garrisoning India and indefinitely 
increase the mobile power of the executive. 
The estimate that would exclude them would 
certainly give a very partial and delusive idea 
of our position. 

At the same time there has occurred a 
marked alteration in the military position in 



128 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

India since the Mutiny. Before that event 
there were 25,000 European troops and 350,000 
natives; now there are about 70,000 Europeans 
and 150,000 natives, and all the artillery except 
a few mountain batteries is European. It may 
fairly be said that in consequence of that rule 
we have not half enough artillery in India, but 
as one of security on paper the position may be 
pronounced perfect. The change is not one of 
mere numbers, it is also of composition. The 
native army of India is now composed of the 
pick of its fighting races, with a strong con- 
tingent of certainly not less than 10,000 men 
from those courageous and indomitable hillmen 
the Goorkhas of Nepaul. A sound policy, 
supplemented by the gracious demeanour and 
consideration of the Sovereign, has attracted to 
our side princes and races who looked askance 
at a mere mercantile Company, even when 
possessing great power, and who thought their 
dignity aspersed by subordination to it. The 
Princes have voluntarily made the arrangements 
which have resulted in the formation of the 
splendid Imperial Service Corps, the Uite of 
the native states. This army already numbers 
25,000 efficient troops and in course of time it 
will very likely reach twice that total. Its 
maintenance costs the Indian Exchequer practi- 
cally nothing, and the most competent observers 
speak in the highest terms of its efficiency and 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 129 

military ardour. But important as is this 
addition to the fighting strength of India it is 
exceeded in importance by the almost unnoticed 
movement of the noble Rajput race— the only 
hereditary noble caste according to British 
ideas in India — towards our service. This 
tribute as to the respect in which our adminis- 
tration is held by certainly the most attractive 
race in India has come at the end of the 
Queen's era, and is of hopeful augury for the 
future. Without making any aspersion on the 
Company's Hindustani Sepoys, there is no room 
for doubt that the bulk of the present native 
army is composed of far superior material, and 
many different authorities agree in assigning a 
very high meed of excellence to the native 
Bengal and Punjab cavalry. 

Reference has been made to the special 
interest taken by the Queen in her Eastern 
dependency. It was first shown in her Pro- 
clamation, and the tour made by the Prince of 
Wales in the cold season of 1875-6 throughout 
India was a further indication of that interest. 
The success of the tour, which gave actuality 
to the idea that India possessed a Sovereign, 
was immense, and from that time dates the 
desire of the most prominent native princes to 
visit the seat of Empire. Many have come, 
and others would have come but for difficulties 
of religious custom and civil etiquette which 



130 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

time alone can remove. During and after the 
Prince's visit the want was expressed for some 
title that should give the peoples of India a 
correct and suitable idea of their Sovereign's 
power and position, and in the course of 1876 
it was announced that the Queen would add to 
her titles one more as the Empress of India. 
The announcement was received at home with 
some criticism, but the adoption of the Imperial 
style has exactly filled the void it was intended 
to occupy, and the princes and peoples of India 
accept it as the proper designation for the 
wielder of supreme power. In measuring the 
full effect of the transfer of power from the 
Company to the Queen it is desirable to recol- 
lect that the proclamation of Her Majesty as 
Empress of India on 1st January 1877 was the 
complement of the earlier proclamation in 
1858. 

Without asserting too positively that the 
present prosperous and peaceful condition of 
India represents the normal and permanent 
state of a country ruled under strange and it 
might almost be said impossible circumstances, 
there can be no hesitation in saying that the 
India of the Queen is more prosperous and 
contented than was the same State in the days 
of the East India Company. That Corpora- 
tion ruled by fear alone, and even the trust in 
British good faith, complete as it was in a 



THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. I3I 

limited sense, never left the native rulers free 
from anxiety as to what might befall them 
after the temporary purposes of an engagement 
had been performed. This has now given 
place to a conviction that no ruler will be dis- 
turbed in his possessions except for gross 
misbehaviour, and that when removed those 
possessions will be transferred to his nearest 
or most suitable heir. The basis of the present 
harmony is mutual confidence, which the longer 
it endures must sink the deeper into the 
minds of both the rulers and the ruled in India. 
But this confidence has a still firmer root in 
the assumed and let it be said manifest power 
of the Sovereign and the British Government. 
In the last forty years many dangers have 
sprung up round India, and she has been 
drawn into the vortex of European politics. If 
the Company had survived till our time there 
can be no doubt that it would never have con- 
templated the possibility of accepting them with 
the serenity that the Imperial Government has 
displayed. It would certainly have resorted to 
that form of defence which is best carried out 
by offensive measures, and it would have gone 
forth with all its power to anticipate and dispel 
possible dangers in Central Asia and Indo- 
China. The Queen's Government, conscious 
of greater strength, has acted differently. It 
has seen the approach of Russia across the 



132 THE INDIA OF THE QUEEN. 

thousand miles of Central Asia without trepida- 
tion. The Company was disturbed when 
Russians were reported to be operating in 
Khiva, 1,500 miles from its frontier of that 
time : we are undisturbed when Russia's out- 
posts are not a hundred miles from ours, and 
when we have drawn a line across the path of 
Russia from the Pamirs to Persia, the infraction 
of which we are bound to make a casus belli. 
There could not be more striking proof of the 
confidence of power than this. The situation 
is rendered the more dramatic and encouraging 
because that confidence is evidently shared by 
at least the militant Princes and races of India. 
Such a condition of things was impossible 
under the Company. It constitutes the reward 
of the personal efforts made by the Queen and 
her advisers to unify an Imperial India. 



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