Affairs at the imperial court – Najaf Khan – Shujah-ud-dowlah – dies – is succeeded by his son Asoph-ud-dowlah – Mujd-ud-dowlah – his intrigues against Nujeef Khan frustrated – Nujeef Khan establishes a paramount authority, which he upholds till his death – His -adopted son, Afrasiab Khan obliged to relinquish the succession, to Mirza Shuffee disputed by Mohummud Beg Humadanee – Mirza Shuffee assassinated – Afrasiab Khan resumes his situation, and contests the succession with Mohummud Beg – Treaty of Salbye – Reasons for the delay in its ratification explained – Mahadajee Sindia, and Nana Furnuwees – their respective views – Hyder Ally – Proposal for invading Bengal – Sindia’s reasons for desiring the friendship of the English – Policy of Nana Furnuwees – Death of Hyder Ally – Ratification of the Treaty – Outrage committed by the Peishwa’s Admiral – Capture of the English ship Ranger – Tippoo professes to acquiesce in the terms of the treaty, but continues the war against the English – Mahadajee Sindia threatens him in consequence – A separate treaty concluded between the English and Tippoo – disapproved – but confirmed by the Governor- General – The court of Poona affect to consider the separate pacification a violation of the treaty of Salbye – Views of the Poona and Hyderabad courts – A conference – claims discussed – Offensive alliance against Tippoo proposed – Seedee of Jinjeera – Tippoo insults Nizam Probability of a rupture – Hostilities postponed – Death 0f Rugonath Rao – Intrigues in favour of his son Bajee Rao – Mahadajee Sindia – his proceedings
For some years, whilst the Mahrattas were engaged in domestic dissensions, or in war with the English, the imperial court was not subjected to their busy and rapacious intrusion;
but, as the affairs of Delhi soon resume a considerable influence on their politics, we must Apt lose sight of the principal events that had occurred in that quarter.
On the retreat of the Mahrattas, in 1773, Nujeef Khan regained his lost, authority at the imperial court, and immediately directed his arms against their garrisons. Husham-ud-dowlah, the rival of Nujeef Khan, Who had been secretly subservient to the Mahrattas, was removed from the administration. Shujah-ud-dowlah likewise took advantage of the retreat of the Mahratta army, to expel their garrisons from his neighbourhood; and, after possessing himself of Etaweh, advanced towards Agra, for the purpose of assisting Nujeef Khan, who was besieging it; but the fortress having surrendered, Nujeef Khan placed Mohummud Beg Humadanee, one of his own dependants, in command of the garrison. The nabob vizier, to conciliate Nujeef Khan, appointed him his deputy at the imperial court; and these two might have become formidable enemies to the Mahrattas north of the Nerbuddah, had not the vizier’s attention been for a time fully engaged in prosecuting the Rohilla war; and shortly after its termination, death put an end to all his schemes.
His demise occurred in January, 1775, and his son, Asoph-ud-dowlah, after some delay on the part of the emperor, was confirmed in his father’s title and possessions340.
Nujeef Khan carried on various military expeditions with success. Although the emperor did not sanction the measure by remaining in the field himself, Nujeef Khan took part with the English, and Shujah-ud-dowlah in the war against the Rohillas; he was afterwards successful against the Jhats; the imperial arms were again respected, and his own authority acknowledged throughout the province of Agra. But whilst thus employed, at a distance, he found a domestic enemy in the person of one, from whom he had a right to expect fidelity and friendship. As his own deputy, in the imperial presence, he had chosen Abdool Ahud Khan, to whom he confided the care of the court and capital, together with the general administration of civil affairs.
The new Dewan was shortly afterwards honoured with the title of Mujd-ud-dowlah; but the first use he made of his power, was to establish his own influence over the imbecile mind of the emperor, to the prejudice of his patron. Nujeef Khan did not remain ignorant of the progress of the intrigues against him, but he continued in the field, and vigorously prosecuted the measures he had undertaken341. Much of his success) it may be observed, was owing to some regular infantry, the better part of which were originally disciplined by the English, when the emperor resided under their protection; but there were now two distinct bodies in the service of Nujeef Khan: the one,
under Sumroo, a German342, and the other, commanded by Madoc, a Frenchman.
Mujd-ud-dowlah was unsuccessful in military expeditions. Foiled by Zabitah Khan, and harassed by plundering irruptions of the Seiks, who laid waste the country, but still more alarmed at the rapid power which his rival’s successes had gained him in the provinces, he sought to crush him, by involving the emperor in a war with the Rajpoots, which he hoped might prove fatal to his progress; but the result was contrary to his anticipations, for, although the war was brought on, and Nujeef Khan actively employed, it terminated advantageously for the emperor, and creditably for his general343. In this situation, Mujd-ud-dowlah began a negotiation with Mahadajee Sindia, from which he hoped to free himself from all difficulties, and attain the entire control in the state, by the ruin of Nujeef Khan; after which, in hopes of freeing himself from the Mahrattas, he intended to accede to a scheme, proposed by Sindia, for invading the English provinces in Bengal; and promised, as soon as they could be spared, to lend both the authority and the army of the emperor, in aid of Sindia’s design344. But
these schemes were at once overturned, by his removal from the administration, which Nujeef Khan, with the emperor’s concurrence, at last effected. No obstacle now interfered with that paramount authority which Nujeef Khan established.
He became Umeer Ool Oomrah, with the title of Zoolfikar Khan, and continued, till his death, which happened 22d April, 1782, to rule both the emperor and his territory with judgment and firmness345. His adopted son, Afrasiab Khan, was at first acknowledged his successor, but he was, for a time, obliged to relinquish his new dignity, in favour of his relation, Mirza Shuffee, who was, himself; opposed by a powerful faction, headed by Mohummud Beg Humadanee, the governor of the province of Agra.
An opportunity seemed thus afforded to the emperor for ridding himself of all parties, by a vigorous effort, which he, at first, seemed disposed to make; but he suffered the opportunity to pass, and his friends became the victims of his imbecility. A scene of contention and treachery soon took place amongst the competitors; Mirza Shuffee was assassinated by Ismael, the nephew of Mohummud Beg Humadanee, so that Afrasiab Khan only remained to contest the supremacy346.
Such was the state of affairs at Delhi when the treaty of Salbye was pending; and now, to account for the long period which elapsed between its conclusion by Sindia, and its ratification by the Peishwa, it is necessary to unfold the motives which then actuated the leading parties in the, Mahratta state. –
Notwithstanding the increasing jealousy between Mahadajee Sindia and Nana Furnuwees, though the farmer sought to establish a kingdom virtually independent, and though each was desirous of extending his control over the whole Mahratta nation, both continued sensible of the necessity of preserving the strength of the empire undivided. By the progress of the war with the British government, Nana’s influence and reputation had increased, whilst those of Sindia had diminished. Yet, by the treaty of Sake, Sindia, whilst his fortunes seemed on the decline, had attained one main object of his policy, a sovereignty virtually independent, without any apparent break in the great link of interest which bound the Mahratta confederacy. Although both Mahadajee and Nana Furnuwees were desirous of a general peace, yet each of them had secret intentions of soon breaking it, in such partial instances as suited their respective schemes of aggrandizement. Nana aspired to the recovery of all the territories south of the Nerbuddah that had ever belonged to the Mahrattas, whilst Sindia projected the re-establishment of their power in the provinces of Hindoostan. Although the terms of the treaty of Salbye were so much more favourable to the Mahrattas
than any that could have been anticipated before the war between the English and Hyder broke out, yet Nana, being jealous of the prominent part which Sindia acted in the negotiation, and hoping that he might, by temporizing, recover Salsette from the English, maintained, in all communications with the British authorities, an appearance of steadfast alliance with Hyder347 whilst to the envoys of the latter he affected to be satisfied with the treaty of Salbye, and declared, that its immediate ratification by the Peishwa could only be prevented by Hyder’s restoring the Mahratta possessions south of the Kistna, which would ensure their co-operation; but, if not restored, the Mahrattas would unite with the English against him348. Nana’s ulterior views, in case the pending treaty should be ratified, were hostile towards Hyder, as he, in that event, projected an offensive alliance with Nizam Ally, against the usurper of Mysore, from which the English were to be carefully excluded349.
With regard to Sindia’s particular views of aggrandizement, in order fully to understand the reasons which operated in inducing the British government passively to view the growth of such a power as he acquired in Hindoostan, it may be requisite to explain, that Mahadajee Sindia, even before his campaign against Goddard in Guzerat, had suggested a plan of attacking the English in
Bengal, and when his own territory was invaded, he renewed the proposal to the Peishwa, requesting that Tookajee Holkar might be sent to support the design350. To the whole of this scheme, Nana Furnuwees at first objected, until he saw a probability of its recalling Goddard, but he was afraid to detach Holkar from the Peishwa, not only from being apprehensive that Goddard might not be withdrawn, but lest Sindia should allay the existing jealousy on the part of Holkar towards himself; which Nana, for his own security, was solicitous to foment. In giving, therefore, a tardy acquiescence to Sindia’s plan, he proposed, instead of Holkar’s quitting Poona, that Sindia should augment his army, by a body of Sillidars from the Mahratta country, whom he offered to assist in raising. Sindia gave various reasons for declining this suggestion; but the most important one was, the removal just at that period, of Mujd-ud-Doulah from the administration, and that Nujeef Khan would not lend his support351. Hyder Ally, who had been apprized that such a design was at one time in agitation, endeavoured, when he broke with the English, to engage Sindia to prosecute the enterprise352; but the negotiations which Sindia was carrying on with Mr. Hastings, the death of Nujeef Khan, and the subsequent contentions amongst the Mahomedan factions at Delhi, opened a prospect to Sindia of realizing those schemes which he
had long cherished, and made it of more consequence to him to court the favour of the English, than to excite their hostility. Mr. Hastings, if supported by his council, would probably, on the death of Nujeef Khan, have anticipated Sindia, by interposing the British influence at the imperial court; but instead of that course, the policy of which might certainly have been questionable at such a crisis, Mr. Hastings turned the circumstance to advantage, by giving Sindia to understand, that he would not interfere with his views at Delhi353, and thus not only engaged his interest in obtaining the ratification of the treaty, but secured him against the gold of Hyder, which was liberally proffered in support of the scheme for invading Bengal354. After the treaty of Salbye was signed, an envoy from Hyder was permitted by the court of Poona to proceed to Sindia’s camp; and Nana Furnuwees, in prosecution of his own views on Salsette, which he hoped the British government might be induced to cede, in order to propitiate his favour, gave out, that the Peishwa had engaged in a new treaty with Hyder, to which the French were parties. But the death of Hyder, which happened on the 7th of December 1782, had a speedy effect in deciding the measures of the Mahratta minister, and the ratification of the treaty of Sal-bye was the immediate result. As already noticed,
the treaty was ratified by the Peishwa on the 20th December 1782, formally exchanged on the 24th February 1783, and the term for restoring the districts on the Bombay side limited to the 24th April. Before that date, an outrage was committed, which, had it happened at a time when peace was less essential to the British government, might have occasioned a renewal of the war.
The Ranger, a small ship of the Bombay marine, on her voyage from Bombay to Calicut with several military officers of distinction as passengers on board, was unexpectedly attacked by the-fleet of Anund Rao Dhoolup, the Peishwa’s admiral, consisting of two ships, one ketch, and eight gallivats; and after a very gallant defence, in which most of the crew and passengers were killed or wounded, she was at last overpowered and carried as a prize into Viziadroog. Colonel Humberston and Major Shaw were killed, and besides Lieutenant Pruen, the commander of the vessel, three of the passengers were desperately wounded. Of this number was Colonel Norman McLeod, who being disabled in one arm, continued to fight on, hand to hand with the other, until shot through the body, when he fell, as was supposed, mortally wounded; but though carried into confinement at Viziadroog, where the prisoners had neither medical attendance nor ordinary necessaries, all the wounded officers recovered. This violation of the treaty produced a strong remonstrance from the British government, and the surrender of the Peishwa’s districts was suspended; but upon an apology for the outrage,
and the restoration of the vessel, the terms of the pacification were carried into effect. The war, however, was not at an end with the successor of Hyder Ally. Tippoo, although to the Mahrattas he professed his acquiescence in the terms of the treaty of Salbye, continued hostilities against the English. Mahadajee Sindia called upon him to desist, threatening him, in case of refusal, with an immediate attack from the united armies of the English and the Mahrattas. Tippoo, however, persisted; and in consequence, Sindia on the 28th October, concluded a new treaty with the English, for the purpose of enforcing compliance. It was as much the wish of Nana Furnuwees as of Sindia, to oblige Tippoo to conform to the terms of the treaty of Salbye, in order that he might appear to the other powers of India, a Mahratta dependant as well as a tributary; but Nana’s jealousy of Sindia’s assumption of authority, and his own projected alliance with Nizam Ally, impeded the scheme of this league, in which Sindia and the English would have borne parts so prominent.
In the meantime, a separate treaty was concluded by Tippoo and the English presidency at Fort St. George. Mr. Hastings had authorized the Madras government to negociate a treaty, of which that of Salbye was to be the basis. But instead of following their instructions, from an over anxiety to terminate the troubles and distresses in which they found themselves involved, they were led into a train of moat injudicious proceedings; in the course of which they were systematically insulted by Tippoo, their
representatives treated with indignity, the British nation held up as supplicants for peace, and finally, on the 11th March, the treaty of Mangalore was signed, in which even allusion to the treaty of Salbye was omitted; a circumstance than which nothing could have been more gratifying to Tippoo or more offensive to the Mahrattas. The strongest disapprobation of this omission, and of many other points of that humiliating pacification, was expressed by the governor-general, and he was only prevented from disavowing and annulling it, by the confusion which must have resulted to the Company’s affairs, in consequence of the fulfilment of a part of the terms, before it could have been possible to obtain their ratification. The Poona government affected to disbelieve that any treaty could be settled without their concurrence, and declared, that such an agreement would be a violation of the treaty of Salbye. But Mr. Hastings had previously apprized Mahadajee Sindia, through Mr. Anderson, of the instructions sent to the Madras government, and he now explained the departure from his orders of which that government had been guilty, stating likewise some part of the motives which had operated to induce him to ratify their proceedings; in consequence of which, as the leading parties in the Mahratta state were anxious to prosecute their respective views, there was little difficulty in reconciling them to a measure which had become irrevocable355. The first proceeding of Nana Furnuwees, in his designs on Tippoo, was a
formal demand on that prince for arrears of tribute; Tippoo admitted the justice of the demand, but offered various excuses for not immediately complying with it. At the same time that the demand was made on Tippoo, a like formal application was preferred to Nizam Ally, for the outstanding Mahratta claims to Chouth and Surdeshmookhee within his territory. But a secret understanding existed between the courts of Poona and Hyderabad. They were on the best terms, in so much, that a short time previous to making this demand, Nana Furnuwees, had assisted the latter state to suppress a formidable rebellion which was headed by Ihtisham Jung, the Jagheerdar of Neermul. Nizam Ally, in reply to the application, proposed, as had been secretly agreed in order to cover their designs on Tippoo, to hold a conference with the Poona minister on the frontier. Accordingly each of the parties, attended by a large army356, set out from their capitals, and in the month of June had a meeting at Eedgeer, near the junction of the Beema and Kistna. Many points of importance regarding their mutual claims were discussed, some of which had existed for a long period, but it was agreed, that such of the Mahratta thannas as had been displaced by Nizam Ally since 1774, should be re-established in the Moghul territory; and that the claims for Chouth and Surdeshmookhee of
the two past seasons, should be put into an immediate train of payment, adopting as a rule in all cases, the practice usual in the time of Mahdoo Rao Bullal. Where any considerable doubt existed, the demands were to lie over until a general settlement could be made upon the admitted claims in the time of Nizam Ool Moolk; according to which, Nizam Ally bound himself to pay up all arrears. Thus far the result of this conference was publicly known, but the principal object, as already alluded to, was an offensive alliance against Tippoo, for the recovery of the districts which both states had lost by the encroachments of Mysore. Nizam Ally, who over-estimated the value of his own alliance, demanded as a preliminary article of the agreement, the restoration of Ahmednugur and Beejapoor. Nana Furnuwees promised to give up Beejapoor, after they should recover the territory north of the Toongbuddra, but after a prolonged discussion, neither party being very well satisfied, nor as yet by any means prepared to prosecute their scheme, the conference terminated in a general treaty of alliance, the particulars of which were to be specified as soon as they found themselves prepared to enter upon its execution357. After levying the tribute due by the Naik of Sorapoor358 both parties returned to their respective capitals in July, and Nana Furnuwees took this opportunity of endeavouring to possess himself of the ever coveted island of Jinjeera, but the mediation of
the British government prevented the attack, until events of greater moment diverted all immediate designs from the Seedee359.
Nizam Ally had scarcely reached his capital, when Tippoo, probably apprized of what had taken place, with premeditated insult, set up some absurd pretensions to the sovereignty of Beejapoor, -and called on Nizam Ally, in consequence, to adopt his standard of weights and measures360. Nizam Ally took little pains to obtain an explanation, until, in the month of October, Tippoo was said to have taken the field for the purpose of invading that part of the Moghul territory which lay south of the Kistna. An envoy from Hyderabad was immediately despatched to Tippoo’s camp, for the purpose of temporizing, and another to Poona, in order to hasten the projected operations of the alliance. Nana Furnuwees, however, was not only unprepared, but various affairs of internal government prevented him, at that moment, from supporting his ally. Nizam Ally, therefore, was glad to prevent hostilities through his envoy at Seringapatam, which he effected, not so much by any, forbearance of Tippoo, as by his want of preparation for war.
The principal reason, which induced Nana Furnuwees, to suspend the design he had so long contemplated,
was the reported progress of a conspiracy, said to have for its object, the deposition of Mahdoo Rao Narrain, and the elevation of Bajee Rao, the son of the late Rugonath Rao, to the Peishwa’s musnud. Rugonath Rao, after the treaty of Salbye was ratified, seeing no other alternative, accepted the terms there specified, and fixed on Kopergaom, on the banks of the Godavery, as his place of residence. He only survived this last humiliation a few months. His widow Anundee Bye was pregnant at the time, and shortly after, in April 1784, gave birth to a son, Chimnajee Appa. Bajee Rao, at the period of his father’s death, had scarcely completed his ninth year; but the partizans of Rugonath Rao, and many who were dissatisfied with the existing government, began to stir up a faction in his favour. It is creditable to Nana Furnuwees, that in adopting measures for smothering these indications, which were soon accomplished, he placed no additional restraint on the family at Kopergaom, but they naturally became objects of his suspicion; mutual distrust was the consequence, and hatred grew up between Nana Furnuwees and the sons of Rugonath Rao361. Mahadajee Sindia was said to have been the secret fomenter of the intrigues to which we have alluded; and from his usual policy of keeping Nana in perpetual alarm, there is ground to suspect his connivance; but he could have had no design of supporting such a faction,
as he was at this time, fully occupied in the accomplishment of those views on the imperial territory we have before seen him projecting; and events took place which suddenly elevated him to the pinnacle of his ambition.
340. Francklin’s life of Shah Alum.
341. Scott’s History, and Bengal Records.
342. The history and character of the infamous Walter Reignard, generally known by the name of Sumroo, the instrument of the barbarous massacre at Patna, in 1768, is sufficiently public. He entered the imperial service after that event, having in the interval served principally with the Jhats.
343. Scott’s History. Letters of Nujeef Khan. English Records.
344. Original Mahratta letters from Sindia’s camp, written by Ramajee Anunt, the Peishwa’s Dewan, with Mahadajee Sindia. His letters and papers were brought to me by his great grandson, who now resides at Poona. Conjoined with other materials, those letters throw considerable light on the Mahratta views and transactions of the period.
345. Scott, Francklin, and English Records.
346. Francklin’s Life of Shah Alum.
347. Original letters, Records, Oral information, and Mahratta MSS.
349. Mahratta MSS., and letters.
350. Original letter from Mahadajee Sindia.
351. Copy of an original letter from the Peishwa’s Dewan with Sindia, to Nana Furnuwees.
352. Original letters from Sindia’s camp.
353. English Records.
354. Mahratta MSS., and letters. I am not certain if it be twenty lacks of rupees, or pagodas, that are mentioned in an original Mahratta letter, from Sindia’s camp, which is my principal authority for this fact.
355. English Records, Mahratta MSS., and letters.
356. Nizam Ally had sixteen thousand horse, twenty thousand infantry, and seventy-five guns. The Mahrattas, eight thousand infantry, fifty thousand horse, and forty guns. (Official reports, from Nana Furnuwees and Hurry Punt, to the Peishwa.)
357. Poona Records.
358. Official letter from Nana Furnuwees. The Naik of Sorapoor, is the descendant of the Berud Naik, of Wakinkerah.
359. Bombay Records.
360. Bombay Records. Tareekh-dil-Ufroz, &c. It is scarcely worth enquiry how Tippoo arrogated to himself this right; but as Hyder, it Was once reported, had obtained from the Emperor the sovereignty of that portion of the Deccan, comprized in the space allotted by Aurungzebe to his son Kaum Bukhsh; the insult may have been suggested by that circumstance.
361. Mahratta Letters, and MS.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage