The Peishwa’s proceedings, after being re-established on his musnud – Appoints Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir to conduct affairs with the British residency – Ingratitude to Khundee Rao Rastia – and total disregard of the claims of the former servants of the state – Appoints Ballajee Luximon, Sur-Soobehdar of Candeish and Buglana – Treacherous seizure and murder of the Bheels at Kopergaom – Rebellion of the Pritee Needhee – Suppressed by Bappoo Gokla, who is enriched in consequence – Appa Dessaye Nepankur – called to interfere in the wars of Kolapoor and Sawuntwaree – Affairs of these petty states – Revert to affairs at Poona – Collusion of Sewdasheo Mankesir and Khoosroojee Moodhee – Mr Elphinstone is appointed Resident – Settlement with the southern Jagheerdars, who are compelled to submit to the Peishwa – Suppression of piracy in the Concan – Treaties with Kolapoor and Sawuntwaree – Exultation of the Peishwa – he raises a brigade of regular troops – Accusations against Khoosroojee Moodhee, by Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir – Rise of Trimbukjee Dainglia – Bajee Rao extends his views of policy – recruits his army – Conduct of Bappojee Sindia in regard to the surrender of Dharwar – Trimbukjee Dainglia becomes prime minister – Mode of letting the districts inform Bajee Rao’s neglect of civil government – amasses considerable wealth – perseveres in sequestrating Jagheers – Case of Mahdoo Rao Rastia – Plan of an extensive confederacy – Endeavours to establish an ascendancy in Guzerat – Affairs of the Baroda government – Able management of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker – Claims of the Peishwa – Counter claims of the Gaekwar – Attempt at adjustment – fails – Gungadhur Shastree is deputed to Poona – progress of his mission – he is murdered by Trimbukjee – Trimbukjee delivered up to the British Government – effects his escape from confinement – The Peishwa raises troops
through Trimbukjee for the purpose of maintaining war secretly against the British government – Conduct of the resident for defeating this design – The troops assembled are declared insurgents – pursued, and attacked – Intercourse suspended – Proposed preliminary to an adjustment – Bajee Rao denies all knowledge of Trimbukjee or his adherents – Refuses to comply with the proposed terms – Poona surrounded – The Peishwa submits – New treaty
Bajee Rao was scarcely re-established on his musnud, when he evinced the distrust and duplicity of his character towards his new allies; and openly avowed, in regard to many persons subject to his authority, that in entering on the alliance with the English a principal inducement was a motive of revenge.
He kept up a correspondence with the chiefs confederated against the British power137, and ascribed his connexion with that government, which to them he reprobated and deplored, to necessity, occasioned by their absence, and to the treachery of the southern Jagheerdars. He withheld the services of his troops, as much as possible, and prevented the Putwurdhuns from accompanying General Wellesley, by secretly inciting the Raja of Kolapoor to invade their Jagheer; thereby hoping to make a merit with Sindia, and afford to himself an opportunity of wreaking his vengeance on the family of Pureshram Bhow, by making it appear that they were enemies to the alliance with the British government, and had forfeited their Jagheer by disobedience to him.
These indications spoke very unfavourably to his new allies, of what might be expected from the Peishwa in case any reverse should attend the British arms. Bajee Rao, as the reader has had ample occasion to observe, was not deficient in a species of ability, but he had little talent for government; intrigue was with him a passion; profound in the arts of deceit, he believed all his plans infallible, and at this period no person shared his entire confidence. He aimed at conducting the administration himself; but as his chief business for some time lay with the British resident, with whom it was his plan to avoid all personal discussion where difference of opinion might arise, he found it expedient to intrust the management of that important branch to Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir, whom we have already mentioned as the agent of Govind Rao Pingley, the Peishwa’s envoy at Hyderabad. Sewdasheo Bhow was subsequently employed, on the part of Sindia and Bajee Rao, to endeavour to engage the Nizam in the proposed confederacy against the British government, during the last war with Tippoo, at the moment when the speedy reduction of Seringapatam, and the fall of the Sultan crushed their machinations.
Sewdasheo Mankesir, was a Deshist Bramin, one of the family of the Deshpandya of the village of Taimboornee, and at one time gained a livelihood, by reciting Kuthas138 in Poona, before he entered
the service of Pingley; but notwithstanding his humble origin, he was dignified in his manner, polite and affable in conversation, and, as a statesman, possessed of considerable ability. His avowed enmity to the alliance with the English was Bajee Rao’s chief motive for selecting him as minister for their affairs; and during several months, the Peishwa was at pains to show, that circumstances alone had forced him, to sign the articles of the treaty; but the success of the war, the protection which the presence of the British troops afforded, and the power, the security, and the comforts, to which he had hitherto been a stranger, and which he soon experienced in the connection, not only reconciled him to it, but induced him to declare, and probably for a time with sincerity, that he considered the alliance as the most fortunate of events. The forts hitherto in possession of Amrut Rao? or Nana Furnuwees, were reduced and given up to the Peishwa; his country, which for a time after his re-establishment, was overrun by freebooters and exhausted from the effects of war and famine, even under the disadvantage of a pernicious revenue system, gradually recovered itself in most places; and his authority, at first scarcely acknowledged beyond the environs of Poona, soon became respected throughout his dominions.
The British force, although seldom required to be put in motion, was the chief cause of strengthening his authority by its presence, and gave a power and stability to his government, which he had never known since his first accession to the musnud. Adherents were not long wanting, and a few had been faithful even in his adversity. Khundee Rao Rastia, Sur Soobehdar of the Concan, from the time of Bajee Rao’s flight to his restoration, had shown great fidelity to his cause, and his respectable support was at first of much consequence to the Peishwa; but his influence was undermined by Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir, who unjustly represented his being in league with the British resident in every measure proposed; and in a few years, on an accusation, never attempted to be proved, of corrupt practices in his government in the Concan, he was removed from office, and his Jagheer was sequestrated.
The year after the re-establishment of the Peishwa, Khundee Rao Rastia had an opportunity of performing a service of some importance. When Amrut Rao and Moraba Furnuwees joined General Wellesley, Baba Rao Phurkay went off with the Hoojrat Pagah139, and acted during the war with Rughoojee Bhonslay against the British government. After the peace, Baba Rao returned from Nagpoor, gave his followers the slip, and retired to Merich, where he was protected by Appa Sahib
Putwurdhun, the son of Pureshram Bhow. His troops, thus left to themselves, plundered the country and erected the standard of insurrection; Bajee Rao had no disposable force, and the British troops could not at that time be spared to hunt down horse. Khundee Rao Rastia, having formerly served with the men exciting these disturbances, had the address to effect an arrangement with the whole body, and brought them under the Peishwa’s authority, at a critical time, when they might have committed infinite mischief. But Bajee Rao made no permanent provision for the commanders of the army, the soldiery of the country, nor the civil servants of the government. They had served the state under Nana Furnuwees, which was of itself a strong reason with him for excluding them from employment. His total disregard of their claims and their necessities, must inevitably have increased the disorders prevalent on his restoration, and under ordinary circumstances, had he persevered in such a line of conduct, it probably would have required the whole power of the British government to keep him on his musnud; but the severe famine of 1804 destroyed vast numbers of men and horses; a provision was thus opened to many of the remaining Sillidars by the quantity of land and wutun to which they succeeded by deaths amongst their relations and fellow villagers; and as Sindia was then exchanging his Rajpoots and Mahomedans for Mahrattas, a great part of those persons who would have joined an insurrection became interested in the tranquillity of the country, or were withdrawn to another scene.
Ballajee Luximon, the Dewan of Wittul Nursing Vinchorkur, who, during his master’s minority, managed the affairs of the Jagheer, was a staunch adherent of the family of Rugoba; and one of the very few respectable men who to the last preserved a large share of Bajee Rao’s confidence. He was appointed with the fullest powers Sur Soobehdar, of Candeish and Buglana; and a body of the Peishwa’s infantry, under Munohurgeer Gosaeen, was sent to support him. But such was the state of those provinces, that they were never restored to order under the Peishwa’s government. Holkar’s ravages had been followed by various plunderers; and the Bheels, who until 1802, had lived intermixed with the rest of the population, betook themselves to the mountains, and carried on precisely the same system of plunder as is now practised by the brigands of Italy and Spain.
One of the first acts of Ballajee, instigated by the Gosaeen, has left a stain on his memory which cannot be effaced. Finding it impracticable to reduce the Bheels by force, he inveigled a whole tribe of them, with their wives and families, to an interview at Kopergaom, on pretence of affording them a settlement, when they were treacherously seized, and most barbarously precipitated into wells, where the whole perished. This inhuman action had the effect, in some degree, of checking the Bheels about Chandore, and the southern part of Buglana; but to the northward, and along the Sautpoora mountains, it drove them to desperation, and they continued to molest the country.
During the war between Holkar and the British government, Futih Sing Manay returned to the Peishwa’s territory, and recommenced his ravages to the south of the Neera with an army of nearly ten thousand men. But Bulwunt Rao Furnuwees, the Mootaliq of the Pritee Needhee, assisted by the troops of Chintamun Rao Putwurdhun, planned a judicious attack on his camp, routed his troops, killed Futih Sing. Manay, together with a great number of his followers, and completely dispersed them; after which, he formally addressed a despatch, stating the particulars to the Peishwa, who approved of the service performed, and was much gratified by this act of courtesy from the Mootaliq of the Pritee Needhee. Bulwunt Rao was at this time chief director of his master’s affairs. Pureshram Sree Newass, the son of the deceased Bowan Rao, Pritee Needhee, was a young man of some spirit, but of weak intellect and of dissolute morals. He was born on the day of his father’s death, and during his minority, had been kept in a state of tutelage by Nana Furnuwees, and reared with hereditary enmity to the house of Rugonath Rao. Bajee Rao, before his connection with the British government, had, with Sindia’s assistance, laid a plan for seizing the Pritee Needhee in his own house at Poona; but it was frustrated by his bravery, and the exertions of one of his adherents, named Doulut Rao Ghatgay, by whose assistance he cut down the persons who laid hold of him, and immediately fled from Poona to his own Jagheer at Kurar.
The management of his Jagheer was in the bands of his mother, who was assisted by Bulwunt Rao Furnuwees, the Mootaliq already mentioned. The Pritee Needhee wished to assume the control himself; and he was assured by his mother that he should be placed in authority; but being deceived by false hopes for a period of years, he at last determined on asserting his rights by force.
Bajee Rao saw their differences with satisfaction, as he wished for a favourable opportunity of stripping the Pritee Needhee of his possessions; but this extreme measure he at first would not venture upon, as he apprehended that the Pritee Needhee might be supported by the Putwurdhuns. Pretending, therefore, to be anxious to mediate between the parties, he decided in favour of Bulwunt Rao Furnuwees; in which he was supposed to have been influenced by the good conduct of the Mootaliq, in suppressing the depredations of Futih Sing Manay. In order to support Bulwunt Rao, he sent a body of his troops, under Bappoo Gokla, to enforce submission, and the Pritee Needhee was placed in confinement by his mother, in the Gurhee of Mussoor. Gokla returned to Poona, the country was tranquillized, the adherents of Pureshram sought safety in concealment, and it was generally supposed that the Pritee Needhee would remain a prisoner for life. But Pureshram Sree Newass had a friend from whom no one expected his succour. His wife, one of the most respectable ladies in the country, perceiving the weakness and violence of her husband’s character, had several years before endeavoured to bring hint into his
mother’s views, which so exasperated the Pritee Needhee, that he never afterwards would live with her. He chose as his mistress, a Telin, or with of an oil-seller, with whom he cohabited, and to the great scandal of his cast as a Bramin, made no secret of the connection. The Telin, after the Pritee Needhee was confined, had the address to obtain possession of the fort of Wassota, situated in a most inaccessible part of the Syhadree mountains, where having collected some followers, she headed a party, attacked Mussoor, and rescued the prisoner.
As soon as the Pritee Needhee found himself at liberty, he hoisted his standard, declared himself the servant of the Raja of Satara, and bound by no tie to obey the Punt Purdhan. The inhabitants of the tract between the Neera and Warna, in which the Pritee Needhee’s districts were situated, being prone to insurrection, the standard of rebellion soon found supporters, and some of the old retainers of the Pritee Needhee’s family joined him. The temporary power thus obtained, by the assemblage of a body of troops, was, however, exceedingly abused. He committed great cruelties on such of the adherents of his mother and of Bulwunt Rao, as fell into his hands; and he rendered himself odious to the peasantry by a system of plunder and extortion, worthy of the lowest Pindhara. Had the Pritee Needhee possessed moderation and ability, equal to his spirit, there were materials for a rebellion in that quarter, which Bajee Rao, unassisted by British troops, could never have suppressed; but, before he had made adequate preparations
for resistance, Gokla once more came against him; the few faithful Sillidars who accompanied him, recommended his retiring to the hills, and raising the Ramoosees, until like Chitoor Sing, he could attack with effect. Regardless, however, of this advice, he waited for Gokla, near Wussuntgurh, a few of his men stood by him, but most of them fled at the first charge.
The Pritee Needhee was supposed to have been killed; he was taken up by his enemies for dead; but, although he had lost his hand, and was severely wounded in the head, he recovered, and was ever after, during the reign of Bajee Rao, confined in the city of Poona, where a small portion of his late extensive Jagheer was assigned for his support; the remainder, without any separate provision for the opposite party, was sequestrated. Bulwunt Rao Furnuwees regretted the opportunity thus afforded to Bajee Rao by their differences, when too late; the country was soon reduced, all the garrisons having surrendered excepting the fort of Wassota, which held out for eight months, when the Telin, after a spirited defence, surrendered, in consequence of a fire which destroyed her granary. The jewels and private property of the Pritee Needhee’s family were seized by Bappoo Gokla, and never accounted for to the Peishwa. In order to prevent the odium likely to arise from having thus reduced the Pritee Needhee, Bajee Rao allowed Bappoo Gokla to retain possession of the conquered districts, as if they were kept more as a punishment to the Pritee Needhee, than as an advantage to himself. During the period Gokla retained possession
of the conquered territory, his exactions were most severe; and being supported by a large force, they were irresistible.
By these means Bappoo Gokla became the wealthiest of the Peishwa’s Surdars. He succeeded to the command of his uncle’s troops, when the latter was killed by Dhoondia Waug, as already mentioned; but he owed his elevation chiefly to General Wellesley, whom he accompanied in the war of 1803, and, excepting Appa Dessaye Nepankur, was the only good officer in the immediate service of Bajee Rao.
Appa Dessaye’s name is Seedojee Rao Nimbalkur; we have already had occasion to mention this person on more than one occasion, but about this period he became more conspicuous from the following circumstances.
About the year 1785, the petty states of Kola-poor and Sawuntwaree, always jealous of each other, went to war, because Luximee Bye, the wife of Kern Sawunt, Dessaye of Waree, and niece of Mahadajee Sindia, had obtained some privileges of royalty for her husband, from the Moghul emperor, through her uncle’s all-powerful influence at the court of Delhi. With a few intermissions, and with various success, this warfare had continued for twenty-three years; when at last, the troops of Kolapoor gained a victory over those of Sawuntwaree in a pitched battle, fought at the village of Chowkul, and the fort of Waree was immediately besieged; Kern Sawunt had been dead some years; he had left four widows, the eldest of whom Luximee Bye, became regent, on
account of the minority of Kem Sawunt’s only son, by Dawee Bye his third wife. Luximee Bye, when her capital was besieged, called in the aid of Wiswas Rao Ghatgay, and Appa Dessaye. Wiswas Rao Ghatgay had been put in possession of two districts called Chickooree and Menowlee, belonging to Kolapoor, by Shirzee Rao Ghatgay. His pretended right to dispose of then’, originated in their having been conquered by the first Mahdoo Rao, and bestowed on the family of Putwurdhun; and Sindia, having authority for possessing himself of the sequestrated Jagheer of the Putwurdhuns, Shirzee Rao who had seized those two districts, made them over to his brother, Wiswas Rao, when he was ordered by his son-in-law to join him in Malwa. Wiswas Rao would have been driven out of them by the Raja of Kolapoor, but he was supported by Appa Dessaye, who afterwards took them for himself: The Peishwa, on the plea of wishing to avoid disputes with Sindia, pretended to take no concern in those districts140, but it was on the authority of his secret orders that Appa Dessaye seized them, and Bajee Rao at a subsequent period, in 1812, asserted his own claim to them, on grounds which were admitted by the British government.
On the present occasion, when Luximee Bye applied for aid, Appa Dessaye with the Peishwa’s secret concurrence, readily afforded it; the siege of Waree was raised, and the territory of the Kolapoor Raja, above the Ghauts, was invaded; so that the
Kolapoor troops were recalled from the Concan to defend their own capital. Application was made to the British government for its mediation, but Lord Minto, then governor-general, declined all interference; and the Peishwa who was the principal cause of the disturbance, began to hint at his rights of supremacy over all parties; a disposition to encroachment, which if checked by the British authorities on its very first indication, would have been of essential importance to the stability of Bajee Rao’s government.
Appa Dessaye, however, made himself complete master of Chickooree and Menowlee, and endeavoured to establish his authority over Sawuntwaree. The son of Kern Sawunt was strangled at the instigation of Appa Dessaye’s carcoon, with the concurrence of Luximee Bye, and of Poond Sawunt, the next heir to the principality. But Appa Dessaye did not profit by this atrocious deed.
Poond Sawunt, taking advantage of the weak state of Appa Dessaye’s troops, the greater part being withdrawn to maintain the war above the Ghauts, drove them from the country, and possessed himself of the government.
Luximee Bye died soon after, when Poond Sawunt found a rival, rather than a coadjutor in the person of Doorga Bye, the second widow of Kern Sawunt, and the daughter of a Mahratta officer named Khanwelkur.
In the meantime the utmost apparent cordiality subsisted between the British resident and the Peishwa’s court. Bajee Rao, as often as he could find a-pretext, was prosecuting with inflexible perseverance,
his favourite plan of sequestrating the Jagheers of all whom he considered the political opponents of his family, and appropriating their revenues to his own use. Whilst thus engaged, Bajee Rao was happy. On every occasion he enlarged on the blessings he enjoyed through his alliance with the British government; he professed the warmest affection and friendship for the resident, Colonel Close; and it is probable that Bajee Rao, in all he thus expressed, was in a great measure sincere.
Colonel Close was in the habit of receiving all native visitors through an agent, a Parsee, named Khoosroojee, familiarly styled the Moodhee: a person of comprehensive judgment, and of great address, who soon attained considerable influence with his master. Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir and the Moodhee soon formed a compact, and having united with them Byajee Naik, a Hoojra, or personal servant of the Peishwa by whom Byajee was much trusted as a spy, they contrived to persuade Bajee Rao, that by gaining Koosroojee to his interests he might command the services of the British residency: a proposal well suited to the mind of Bajee Rao, by whom no means were spared to attain an end so desirable.
The triumvirate, in all probability, participated in the spoils, and all intercourse, public, as well as private, went on so agreeably by the agency of those persons, that there was no cause of dissatisfaction. Any subject likely to occasion unpleasant discussion, was either postponed, or so arranged, that before being brought forward on either side,
it was smoothed of its asperities, so that little difficulty remained in the adjustment.
The services of Colonel Close during this year were called for, on a very important occasion, to Hyderabad, and he never returned to his situation at Poona. Mr. Henry Russell succeeded to the temporary charge of that residency, until the return of Mr. Elphinstone from a mission to Cabul, and the same harmony continued to prevail.
Khoosroojee, though a servant of the British residency, had been permitted to accept the high office of Sursoobehdar of the Carnatic under the Peishwa’s government, and he appointed as his deputy, a Bramin named Bappoo Sawney.
Mr. Elphinstone had been an assistant to Colonel Close at Poona, before he was attached to General Wellesley’s staff, in the war of 1808, so that he took charge of his appointment as resident, with considerable local information.
Being in the habit of communicating with the natives direct, he saw all persons who had business, and discontinued the form of introduction through any one agent. This alteration, superadded to a quarrel, which had taken place between Khoosroojee and Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir, was a source of secret vexation and discontent to the former, as it so greatly tended to lessen his importance and his gains; but Khoosroojee had much personal influence with the Peishwa, which he unfortunately exercised in prejudicing his mind against the resident, by representing him as one who entertained the same sentiments as General Wellesley, whom Bajee Rao hated, because he had
opposed his schemes of vengeance against Amrut Rao, and the family of Pureshram Bhow Putwurdhun. Several instances might be adduced of the effect which the Moodhee’s insinuations produced on the mind of the Peishwa; but although many subjects hitherto kept back, were now brought into discussion in hopes of creating a necessity of again interposing the agency of the Moodhee, Bajee Rao had soon reason to acknowledge the impartiality of the resident on the subject from which his chief prejudice against him had arisen.
As soon as he had resumed the lands of the inferior Jagheerdars who had ever been disobedient to himself, or who had taken an active part against his father, the Peishwa desired Bappoo Gokla to make over the Pritee Needhee’s district to the state, and again brought forward his complaints and claims against other great Jagheerdars, particularly the Putwurdhuns, Rastia, and the Dessaye of Kittoor.
These persons, presuming on the protection already afforded to them by the British government, neglected to obey the orders of the Peishwa, and omitted to send their troops, which were now much wanted to defend the country from the Pindharees, whose inroads were every year becoming more powerful and destructive. When Bajee Rao embraced the British alliance, he wrote to the Jagheerdars in question, to assist the British troops. Most of them being personally acquainted with General Wellesley, readily obeyed Bajee Rao’s orders, co-operated in his re-establishment, and were disposed to forget past injuries, until the rancorous
revenge and studied aggressions of Bajee Rao completely alienated their minds. They were only deterred from supporting the Pritee Needhee’s rebellion by the fear of the subsidiary force, and had the interposition of the British government been withheld, they would, when joined to the Pritee Needee have probably effected another revolution, as it was estimated they could at that time bring into the field nearly twenty thousand horse. In considering a plan of settlement between these Jagheerdars and the Peishwa, several modes were discussed at a very early period by the British authorities. To have avowedly withheld support, from both parties, would have involved the country in war and confusion; to have assisted in the destruction of families in whose favour so much might be urged, would have been unjust; and it would have been still more so, to raise them into independent principalities under the guarantee of the British government. It therefore appeared advisable to steer a middle course; and it was determined to enforce the service of their troops as due to the Peishwa, and to cause them to restore all usurped lands; but to guarantee their territory as long as they chose to abide by the tenor of their original engagement to the Poona state.
With this arrangement of the southern Mahratta country, it was resolved to combine the effectual suppression of piracy in the states of Kolapoor and Sawuntwaree, which it was foreseen, could never be rooted out, until some harbours and fortresses, on the coast of Malwan, were placed in the hands of the British government,
The Putwurdhuns were very averse to acknowledge fealty to Bajee Rao, but they at last submit, ted, and complied with the conditions imposed by the British government. The Raja of Kolapoor nearly lost his capital by the intrigues of the Peishwa, who secretly encouraged him to resist the demands of the English; hoping that his General Appa Dessaye, then besieging Kolapoor as if in his own quarrel, might be able to reduce it before the terms were accepted; whilst, on the other hand, in order to cause delay, he declared to the resident, that the British government had no right to enter into a treaty with the Raja of Kolapoor, who was his subject: an assertion as bold as it was false. Before any of the objects could be effected, Mr. Elphinstone found it necessary to assemble an army at Punderpoor, and move it down to the neighbourhood of the Kistna. In regard to the Jagheerdars, besides what has been already stated in the general plan of settlement, Appa Sahib Putwurdhun was obliged to surrender the person of Baba Rao Phurkay a concession to the Peishwa, on the part of the British government, which was very unpopular in the Mahratta country; and although it may have been strictly just, the policy of the measure is questionable. Baba Rao was confined by the Peishwa in the fort of Bassein, where he shortly after died. By the terms tendered and accepted by the Raja of Kolapoor, he renounced all right to Chickooree and Menowlee, which were ceded to the Peishwa; but all other places taken from the Raja in consequence of the disputed right to these districts, were restored. To the
British government; the Raja ceded the harbour of Malwan, which included the forts and island of Malwan or Sindidroog and its dependancies; he also agreed to renounce piracy, to permit no armed vessels to be fitted out, or to enter his ports, on pain of becoming lawful prize to the British government, and to restore wrecks, as well as to assist vessels in distress. He also became bound for himself and his successors to pursue no manner of hostility against any other state, without the consent of the British government. The British government renounced its long existing claims against the Raja, and became bound to guarantee his possessions against the aggressions of all foreign powers and states.
Poond Sawunt, Dessaye of Sawuntwaree, was at the same time bound down to suppress piracy, to make over the fort of Vingorla and the battery of Gunaramo Tembe, with its port and limits; and in case of being guilty of further piratical acts, the forts of Newtee and Rairee were likewise to be required of him. British merchants were to be allowed free ingress and egress to and from the Dessaye’s territory, on paying the customary duties; but all articles of consumption required for the British troops, stationed within the territory, were to pass duty free.
Soon after the conclusion of the agreement, Poond Sawunt died, and Doorga Bye became regent. This old lady, regardless of the guarantee of the British government, attacked the possessions of the Raja of Kolapoor, took the fort of Burratgurh, which had formerly belonged to Sawuntwaree,
and refused to evacuate it. A British detachment from the Madras establishment was brought down to protect the Kolapoor territory, when she withdrew the garrison of Burratgurh, but continued to brave the threats and despise the arguments, which were offered to deter or induce her to refrain from aggression. No retaliation was permitted against Doorga Bye, till every reasonable proposal had failed; when the British troops were ordered to occupy some of the districts, with a view of forcing her into terms. No opposition was actually made, but the British troops were kept perpetually on the alert by threatened attacks, and thus was engendered a state of affairs, neither of peace nor of war, but which occasioned all the expence and inconvenience of the latter. Doulut Rao Sindia, though unconnected with the Waree state after the death of Luximee Bye, interested himself in behalf of Doorga Bye, and much discussion and correspondence resulted from her contumelious behaviour; nor did she desist from her vexatious opposition, until, in consequence of many hostile acts against the British government, her territory was reduced in the beginning of 1819 by a British force; but after exacting the necessary securities, the principality of Sawuntwaree was left in its original independence.
In the mean time, although Bajee Rao was disappointed in the hope of being able to ruin the southern Jagheerdars, they were compelled to bow before him. He could scarcely refrain from insulting the Putwurdhuns when they carve to pay their respects, and his exultation at getting Baba
Rao Phurkay into his power knew no bounds. He was profuse in his acknowledgments and expressions of gratitude to the governor-general and the resident; but he at the same time declared, that he should wish not to have a single Surinjamee horseman141 in his service, and proposed raising a brigade of infantry, to be disciplined entirely by European officers, and paid like the British Sepoys, direct from the treasury.
To this proposal the governor-general readily acceded, and Captain John Ford, of the Madras establishment, who had been long attached to the escort of Colonel Close, was, at the recommendation of Khoosroojee, selected by the Peishwa as commandant of the brigade, and able officers from the line, chosen by Captain Ford, were lent from the Bombay establishment to assist in its formation and discipline. The men, excepting a small proportion of Mahrattas, were chiefly raised in the Company’s provinces in Hindoostan, and on entering their battalions, swore fidelity to the Peishwa, whilst he continued in affiance with the British government142.
The cantonment allotted for this brigade was about four miles to the northwest of Poona. One brigade of British troops was stationed on a spot originally selected for the protection of the city, in its immediate vicinity; and the rest of the
British subsidiary force, occupied a position about half way between Poona and Ahmednugur, near the village of Seroor, on the river Ghore.
The Peishwa had soon a fresh instance of the utility of the British force by finding it necessary to call in a part of it, against Appa Dessaye, who, although he came to Poona on being ordered, refused to comply with certain claims devolving on the Peishwa by the late settlement, or to give up some territory belonging to the Raja of Kolapoor. The British authorities interposed, but Bajee Rao, artfully contrived by his intrigues, to induce Appa Dessaye to trust to his lenity, and to resist the demands; by which insidious conduct, the Dessaye was led on to forfeit one fourth of his Jagheer to the Peishwa.
We have already alluded to the quarrel, between Khoosroojee Moodhee and Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir. Their differences likewise originated in the intrigues of the Peishwa, who, having been informed of their collusion, concluded with some justice, that such a cabal might as often act against him as for him, and he therefore determined on creating a division between them. It was with this view that he conferred the appointment of Sur Soobehdar of the. Carnatic on the Moodhee, in preference to Sewdasheo Bhow, who would have been much gratified by it. The Moodhee was thus secured in Bajee Rao’s interests, but the envy of Mankesir was excited, and he in a short time informed the Peishwa of the-corrupt practices of the Moodhee in the affairs of his government. These charges Bajee Rao secretly advised his minister to prefer to the resident, which was accordingly
done, and as the Moodhee was a servant of the British government they would have been immediately investigated, but the Peishwa’s object being answered, by the accusation from Mankesir143, he interfered to prevent the inquiry, and, as it related to an affair connected with his government, the proceedings were quashed at his request144. This intrigue answered its purpose, by incensing Khoosroojee against the minister; and as friendship, according to the interpretation of the court of Bajee Rao, was to aid, and to conceal the acquisition of corrupt emolument, the Peishwa secured the good will of Khoosroojee, but the nature of the Moodhee’s confidential situation at the residency, being incompatible with his appointment as governor of a Mahratta province, he was afterwards required by Mr. Elphinstone, to resign the one or the other, and he accordingly relinquished the latter145. Trimbukjee Dainglia was immediately appointed to the vacant office. Trimbukjee was originally a jasoos or spy, and brought himself to the Peishwa’s notice, when he fled to Mhar from the power of Holkar, by carrying a letter to Poona, and bringing back a reply, in a very short space of time. Being afterwards entertained on the personal establishment of the Peishwa, his activity, intelligence and vigour, soon became conspicuous; and by unceasing diligence,
and, above all, by being pander to his vices, never hesitating to fulfil his wishes whatever they might be146, he gradually gained the confidence of his master, and was the only man who ever obtained it. When Gunput Rao Phansay, the respectable commandant of the Peishwa’s artillery, was deprived of his Jagheer, Trimbukjee was appointed commandant in his stead. He at first courted Mankesir and Khoosroojee; but having discovered their collusion, he disclosed it to the Peishwa, and though it did not, for some time, become apparent, he entirely supplanted Mankesir in his master’s councils, and retained Khoosroojee in the manner already described.
Bajee Rao’s success in bringing his Jagheerdars under his authority encouraged him in more extensive plans for aggrandizing his power. He occasionally mentioned his claims on the Nizam, but as often as the resident prepared for entering on The investigation, Bajee Rao found some excuse for delay. He likewise spoke, at first distantly, of his claims on Sindia and Holkar, although sensible that they were dissolved by treaties, to which he was himself a party; and he pressed, with seeming earnestness, an early settlement of the debts due to him by the Gaekwar: a subject which had already for several years occupied attention, and to which we shall presently advert.
Unfortunately for Bajee Rao, the low favourite
whom he had chosen, and who, had much of the character, of Shirzee Rao Ghatgay, entertained a strong prejudice against Europeans; and his arrogant presumption, and unprincipled mind were equal to any attempt. Bajee Rao, at first, in wishing to extend his power, entertained no hostile designs against the British government; but, elated by his encreasing consequence, without reflecting from whence it was derived, and flattered by the suggestions of Trimbukjee, who tried to persuade him that he would recover by the force of his wisdom all that his ancestors had gained by their swords, he became irritated by opposition to his wishes, and was hurried forward, until he was overwhelmed in the intrigues and crimes which Dainglia led him on to perpetrate.
In frequent consultations with the Moodhee and Trimbukjee, they advised him, before entering on the more important discussions with the British government, to increase his military establishment, which without any design or appearance of hostility, would, they represented, tend to render him more respectable in the eyes of all India, and give weight to arguments with his allies. Of, the benefit derived by the British government from the treaty of Bassein the Moodhee, perhaps from conviction, impressed Bajee Rao with the most exaggerated opinion; and he may have thought, from the evident desire of conciliation which existed in the councils of the British government, that much would be conceded to avert a war. The annual inroads of the Pindharees and a pilgrimage undertaken by Bajee Rao, for the second
time, to a celebrated temple in the Carnatic, furnished ample excuse for raising troops had a pretext been wanting, but the fact was, the resident had been constantly pressing on the attention of the minister, the inadequate force maintained by the Peishwa for the protection of his country. Up to 1812, exclusive of the troops maintained by the Jagheerdars, and the Sebundees, or irregular infantry employed in collecting the revenue, his army amounted to no more than 2,500 horse and 3,000 infantry. Four thousand horse were that year added to the establishment, and several hundreds each year subsequently; but instead of continuing to increase the levies of horse so useful to check the Pindharees, a large body of Gosaeen infantry was now entertained at Trimbukjee suggestion; and Arabs, whose enlistment Bajee Rao, had at one time, not only prohibited, but had begged of the Bombay government to arrest on their route from the coast to his dominions, now met with every encouragement. An opportunity of exercising the new levies soon occurred, by the refusal of Bappoo Sindia, Killidar of Dharwar to surrender that fortress. Having come to pay his respects to the Peishwa on his route to the Carnatic, Bajee Rao desired him to give up the fort to Trimbukjee, “If your highness,” replied the Killidar, “will send a gentleman to relieve me in the command, or if you will send a Carcoon, in your own name, to whom I can commit my charge, your servant will present the keys to him, but I will never give over the fort of Dharwar to such a person as Trimbukjee Dainglia.” In consequence
of this speech, as soon as he had reached the door of the Peishwa’s tent, he was arrested, bound, and tortured by Trimbukjee, until a promise of surrender was extorted. His carcoon, a Bramin on whom the Killidar could rely, was despatched with Trimbukjee, who, accompanied by a body of troops, proceeded to take possession; but, on approaching the gate, the carcoon begged permission to go on a few minutes in advance of the party, that he might speak to the garrison, and make some arrangements; when, no sooner had he got inside, than he shut the gate, and on pretence of being detained by the garrison, opened a fire on Trimbukjee and his followers, who were obliged to retire with precipitation. This insult could not be resented at the time, nor until the Peishwa’s return to Poona, when Dharwar was invested; but the faithful Carcoon did not surrender until an order was obtained from his imprisoned master, through the interposition of Bappoo Gokla.
About this period the conduct of Khoosroojee Moodhee, which from the first had not escaped the resident’s observation, became such as to render it necessary to remove him from Poona, in order to prevent, as far as possible, the bad effects of the dangerous opinions which he inculcated. His past services entitled him to all due consideration from the British government; and it would have been both difficult and ill-judged to have proved the circumstances by which he had forfeited his claim to its reward. A liberal provision was therefore made for him in his native province, Guzerat;
but, about the eve of his intended departure, he died by poison. Whether it was administered by others, or taken wilfully or accidentally by himself, could never be discovered, although the case underwent a long and strict investigation. If he knew more secrets, with respect to foreign intrigues, than Bajee Rao and Trimbukjee Dainglia thought fit to trust to any third person beyond their own power, his death may be imputed to their machinations; but it was the general opinion of the people at Poona, that he had poisoned himself through a fear of the loss of reputation, when, by removal from power and office, his corrupt practices might become public. It is, however, remarkable, that in succession to this general report, the Peishwa, who had before quashed the proceedings against him, now became his accuser; and Bappoo Sawney, the deputy of the deceased, was called upon by Bajee Rao to account for the defalcation, bribery, and corruption of his master. During the proceedings, Bappoo Sawney died suddenly; of fright it was said, at what he might expect if proved delinquency threw him into the power of Trimbukjee Dainglia.
This person, who had been for some time the chief director of the Peishwa’s councils, was at last appointed his minister in the transaction of affairs, with the British government. He studied his master’s humours, and attained entire ascendancy over his mind; his measures were vigorous, though marked by ignorance, violence, and treachery. His punishments were at once lenient and
severe; robbery and murder might be compensated by a small fine, but a failure in a revenue contract was an unpardonable offence.
The Peishwa farmed his districts to the highest bidder; and those who failed in their contracts, were compelled to surrender their whole property with that of their securities; and should all be insufficient, they were thrown into hill-forts, and treated with the greatest rigour. On one occasion, Trimbukjee, before his power was completely established, being enraged at some delay on the part of a banker who had become security for a revenue contractor, used him in the harshest manner, and at last ordered the banker to be dragged before him, when he struck him a violent blow on the head, which, owing to a heavy ring on his finger, proved instantly fatal; but, although the person thus deprived of life was a Bramin of respectability147, no notice was taken of the circumstance.
These severities to the contractors did not deter others from adventuring on the same course; for Bajee Rao, who let the districts himself, was an adept in the art of flattery, and his manner, plausible to a degree which few could resist. His court, which was gay and licentious beyond that of any other Peishwa, soon became agreeable to the generality of Bramins in Poona, and a high offer for a district was a sure way to the temporary notice of the prince. All his expenditure was regulated by contract. The net revenue of the state was about one hundred and twenty lacks of rupees, of which
Bajee Rao saved annually about fifty lacks, and had, at this period, collected treasure exceeding fifty millions of rupees. Whilst thus intent on amassing wealth, his time was divided in the encouragement of the grossest debauchery, and the practice of the most absurd superstitions. He aspired to a character for sanctity; was rigid in the observance of every form required by the rules of cast; and the murder of Narrain Rao, attributed to his parents, was a subject of inquietude and remorse. To atone for their crime, he planted several hundred thousand mango trees about Poona; gave largesses to Bramins and religious establishments, and was particularly generous to the temple at Punderpoor. As an instance of his superstition may be mentioned, a dream of one of his religious attendants, who declared he saw the ghost of Narrain Rao, and that it had ordered a dinner for one hundred thousand Bramins; an entertainment which was immediately provided.
To the complaints of his subjects he never listened; and if the villagers endeavoured to approach his presence, they were driven away by the attendants. The farmers of the districts had generally the superintendence of civil and criminal justice, and their powers in this respect enabled them to increase their collections by fines and exactions. There was a nominal court of justice at Poona, under a Shastree, who had a very large establishment. It was supported entirely by the corrupt emoluments which power enabled its members to draw from the public, and was so notoriously corrupt, that the poorer suitor, unless he had interest,
or could bribe some great man of whom the Shastree stood in awe, was certain to lose his cause.
Defective as the system was under Mahdoo Rao Bullal, the Shastree who then superintended and directed the Punchayets was a person of strict integrity, and that Peishwa’s reign was always referred to as the times when a poor man had justice: even the administration of Nana Furnuwees was spoken of with applause; but Bajee Rao, the only Peishwa who had full leisure to amend the civil government, had neither ability nor inclination for the task.
He persevered in his plan of sequestrating Jagheers, and Mahdoo Rao Rastia having failed to produce his quota of horse for muster, the Peishwa represented to the British resident this departure from what was stipulated, as wilful disobedience to his authority. The agreement in question being one of those concluded through the interposition of the British government, Rastia was called upon by the resident to fulfil his engagement with the Peishwa, otherwise he must abide by the consequences. Rastia hesitated, declared his inability to furnish so many horse, owing to the disobedience of the Duflays, who were Jagheerdars under him, and by the Peishwa’s usual artifice, was secretly encouraged to believe, that by trusting to his lenity more favourable terms might be obtained. It was in vain that the resident represented his situation in its true colours, and warned him of his ruin; he steadfastly refused compliance, and was stripped by the Peishwa of all his possessions.
Every day made it more evident that the Peishwa’s government was now aiming at the revival of the old Mahratta policy, and was running a Course equally incompatible with the Peishwa’s alliance and his political existence, unless it were expected that he could overturn the British government. By Trimbukjee’s advice, he had sent agents in the preceding year148 to the courts of Sindia and Rughoojee Bhonslay; he also despatched an envoy149 to Holkar, with whose court Bajee Rao had never before held any friendly communication; but, what was still more extraordinary, he sent an agent150 to reside with the Pindharees, and had a secret interview at Kopergaom, with some of their chiefs. The object of his missions to the Mahratta courts above named, was to negociate a secret treaty of general confederacy and support, which was actually concluded. The declared intention seems to have been for the purpose of strengthening themselves, and uniting together in case the British government should meditate further encroachment on any of the states concerned, or to act offensively against the British should an opportunity arise, either in consequence of their expected failure in the Nepaul war, then going forward, or on any future occasion; but those of his countrymen, who know Bajee Rao best, are of opinion, that notwithstanding these extensive and
apparently well-ordered intrigues, he had neither a fixed plan, nor any serious intention of making war upon the English at this period; certain it is, however, that his measures were such as would have subjected him to the loss of his musnud, had the facts been formally substantiated and strict justice enforced.
His next scheme was to establish his ascendancy in Guzerat. Like his claims on the Nizam, he frequently expressed a wish to have his affairs with the Gaekwar settled; but as often as the wish was met by the British government, he contrived to delay the adjustment. There had been no settlement between the Gaekwar and the Peishwa, since the accession of Govind Rao. On the suppression of the rebellion of Aba Shelookur, the Baroda government agreed, as already mentioned, to hold Ahmedabad in farm from the Peishwa, including the tribute of Kattywar, with Pitlaud, Nappar, Chura-Ranpoor, Dhundooka, Gogo, and some rights in Cambay, for the annual sum of five lacks of rupees. When the Bombay government sent the, detachment into Guzerat, to support the party of Rowjee Appajee, at Baroda, the government was fast approaching to that state of anarchy and confusion, in which the dominions of Sindia and. Holkar were afterwards involved. This fine province was in a great degree preserved from similar misery, by the active interference of the British government, under the able arrangements of Lieutenant-Colonel Walker, the resident. The revenues of the state amounted to fifty-five, lacks of rupees, and its expenditure to eighty-two. The power of
the government was, as we have seen, in the hands of a body of Arab mercenaries, and the divisions in the family of Gaekwar, afforded a wide field of hope and of profit to military adventurers of all descriptions, who abound in that quarter. The Arabs were driven out: the debts, exclusive of the heavy balance due to the Peishwa, were compromised for a sum less than forty-two lacks; and money was raised on the security, or advanced from the treasury of the British government for its liquidation. Mulhar Rao Gaekwar, whose rebellion brought the English permanently to Baroda, went off from Neriad, as the reader may recollect, about the time when the Arabs were besieged in Baroda. He was afterwards, when nearly famished, taken prisoner by Babajee, commander of the Gaekwar’s troops, delivered over to the charge of the British government, and long kept a prisoner at large in the fort of Bombay, or its environs, where he ended his days. Kanhojee surrendered himself in 1808, and at first was allowed his liberty, and an ample pension; but his natural turbulence and love of intrigue could ill brook the undisturbed Calm of such a life. In a short time he forfeited the advantages he enjoyed, engaged in plots against the existing government, and was finally conveyed to Madras as a state prisoner.
The collection of the tribute in Kattywar, required a considerable force every year from Baroda. The Mahrattas give the name of Kattywar to the whole western Peninsula of Guzerat, although strictly applicable to one district only of that extensive tract, which derives its name from the
Kattees, a very peculiar race, who worship the sun. The whole region is inhabited by a warlike people, chiefly Jarejah Rajpoots, who are under separate chiefs, and whose internal divisions had early made them an easy prey to the plundering bands of Kantajee Kudum Banday, and Dummajee Gaekwar. The resident, attended by a British force, repeatedly accompanied the Gaekwar’s army, and contributed much to tranquillize the province, and to improve its revenues. He also humanely exerted himself, though in the end with little success, to suppress the barbarous practice of female infanticide, to which the Jarejah Rajpoots are prone. From all these circumstances, the Baroda govern-merit fell much under the control of the British resident; but as Lieutenant-Colonel Walker was enabled to direct its principal acts, without paralyzing its internal authority, much benefit resulted to the country from his superintendency.
The ministry was chiefly composed of a set of Purvoes, a cast frequently remarkable for great fidelity and bravery, and when poor, they are often frugal to parsimony; but it may be observed of the Purvoes, that wherever they attain power, and can command wealth, they are lavish and improvident. The head of this ministry was Rowjee Appajee who died in July 1803, but having previously adopted his nephew Seetaram Rowjee as his son, he was, with the consent of the resident, appointed his successor. After a patient trial of his ability and resources, Seetaram was found incompetent to the duty, and his uncle Babajee, hitherto at the head of the army, was invited to assist him.
Futih Sing, the brother of the Gaekwar, and the heir apparent, whose liberty had, been purchased from one of Holkar’s commanders who carried him off from Poona in 1803, was also at the same time brought into the administration. Futih Sing chose as his secretary, Gungadhur Shastree, originally in the service of the Phurkay family at Poona, and a man of considerable activity and address, who had been very useful to the resident in the important measures he had effected. Lieutenant-Colonel Walker placed the highest confidence in the integrity and fidelity of the Shastree, and upon the death of Babajee, and great misconduct on the part of Seetaram, Gungadhur Shastree supported as he was, both by Futih Sing and the resident, soon became prime minister, in all but the name.
The first arrangement of any importance which took place between the government of Poona and that of Baroda, after the treaty of Bassein, was the settlement of the farm of Ahmedabad, and its dependencies.
The former agreement was made in October 1800, and the term of its duration was to have been five years, but as Ranpoor, Gogo, Dhundooka, and the Peishwa’s rights in Cambay were ceded to the British government, by the treaty of Bassein, the Gaekwar was anxious to obtain a perpetual lease of the remainder; as the evils of divided authority would be avoided, and his own districts become more valuable in consequence. The British government was equally desirous of having the farm continued, both for the reasons mentioned, and because much confusion and oppression
were likely to be averted by the arrangement. The Peishwa, on these representations, and upon condition of receiving five and a half lacks of rupees for the remaining districts, consented, without difficulty, to allow the Gaekwar to retain them for ten years from June 1804, and a new agreement was concluded accordingly. But at the expiration of the period, the Peishwa’s views were entirely altered, and five times the amount of the sum realized from the districts, could not compensate, in his estimation, for the advantages of an increased political influence on the side of Guzerat: – nothing could induce him to renew the lease. Long, however, before the period of renewal, the question of his claims upon the Gaekwar had become a subject of attention with the British authorities.
The governor-general deemed it advisable to allow the two states, to settle their affairs by direct negotiation, and to desire that the arbitration of the British government should not be resorted to, except in the event of a failure on their part to effect an accommodation. At an early stage of the discussions, an agent of the Gaekwar government, named Bappoo Myraul, was sent to Poona. The debts of the Gaekwar to the Peishwa, according to the statements of the latter, which appear to have been correct, amounted to nearly a krore of rupees; but, as the chief cause of the embarrassments of the Baroda government originated in the attachment of the family to the cause of his father, Bajee Rao generously acceded to the relinquishment of sixty lacks of rupees of this demand. The
Baroda government, without claiming exemption as matter of favour, advanced, counter claims on the following grounds.
When Dummajee gave up half of Guzerat to Ballajee Bajee Rao, in. 1751, he retained his rights in Baroach undivided, and the Peishwa got Jumbooseer, and some other districts, as an equivalent for his share. Ry the treaty of Baroda, in 1775, Rugonath Rao obtained, from Futih Sing Gaekwar, the cession of his rights in Baroach for the East India Company; and by the treaty of Poorundhur, although the Poona ministry had no power to alienate Baroach from the Gaekwar, it was wholly ceded to the British government. It was in vain that Futih Sing demanded his rights in Baroach, from the. English who kept them, or from, the Peishwa who had given them away; and although, when the war was renewed, General Goddard put Futih Sing in possession of several of the Peishwa’s districts, he was compelled to relinquish them by the treaty of Salbye. Mahadajee Sindia, on the conclusion of that pacification, obtained Baroach from the British government: – with Sindia’s successor it remained until it fell, by right of conquest, to the English, in 1803; and the Gaekwar now advanced a demand on the Peishwa for the amount of his share of its revenue since the treaty of Poorundhur.
His other counter-claims were on account of expenses incurred in reducing the rebellion of Aba Shelookur, and in maintaining an extraordinary number of troops for the defence of the Peishwa’s, as well as of his own possessions in Guzerat.
These intricate claims occasioned infinite discussion; and when Bajee Rao adopted the plans of Trimbukjee, he threw every obstacle in the way of a settlement, because the outstanding demands on Baroda and Hyderabad were reserved as a means of communicating with these courts; from which, owing to the nature of their engagements with the British government, his intrigues might otherwise have been excluded. Bappoo Myratil, the Gaekwar’s agent at Poona, a sensible, upright man, and of a cautious observant disposition, was soon found unfit for the Peishwa’s purpose. Some other agent must be sent, With whom the settlement could be conducted. The Gaekwar’s government, therefore, resolved on sending Gungadhur Shastree, both for the adjustment of the accounts, and for obtaining a renewal of the lease of the Peishwa’s share of Guzerat.
Accordingly, the Shastree proceeded to Poona; but such was the general dread of the violent and unprincipled conduct of the powerful Trimbukjee, towards all who opposed his wishes, that the Gaekwar asked and obtained the formal guarantee of his minister’s safety, from the British government. As early as September, 1811, it had been proposed to send Gungadhur Shastree to Poona: the proposal was at that time readily and distinctly acceded to by the Peishwa; but on the Shastree’s arrival, in 1814, Bajee Rao objected to him; and even refused to see him, on the plea of his having been insolent to him when a carcoon in the service of Phurkay. The fact was, the Baroda minister, Seetaram Rowjee, jealous of the Shastree,
and already seduced by the Peishwa, represented, the Shastree as a person wholly in the interests of the English.
It must be explained, that Bajee Rao, on the decline of Seetaram Rowjee’s influence at Baroda, attempted, with success, to gain him to his views; and on the resident’s discovering the intrigue, and protesting against it, the Peishwa first denied and afterwards justified the correspondence, by endeavouring to prove his right to appoint the Dewan at Baroda, according to the ancient practice, in the plenitude of the Peishwa’s power. Such a right, in regard to the Senaputtee or his Mootaliq, Gaekwar, never did exist on the part of the Peishwa; but, without reference to the alleged right, or the object of the intrigue, the reasons urged did not appear sufficient, in Mr. Elphinstone’s opinion, for the Peishwa’s refusing to transact business with the accredited agent of a government in alliance with the nation which he represented, especially after having once assented to his mission: the Peishwa’s objections were therefore overruled.
The proposed renewal of the lease of Ahmedabad, for reasons already explained, was positively rejected by the Peishwa; and Trimbukjee having obtained the appointment of Sur Soobehdar, prepared his troops and agents, who, in the Peishwa’s name, took possession of the districts in Guzerat, and very soon commenced a systematic plan of insurrection and intrigue, which threatened to throw the whole country into confusion and disorder151.
No better success attended the other objects of the mission to Poona; and the Shastree, at last, with the concurrence of the resident, determined to return to Baroda, and leave the questions to the arbitration of the British government.
This determination produced a marked change towards the Shastree, in the conduct and demeanour of the Peishwa and Trimbukjee, who, foreseeing that they should thus be shut out from Baroda, resolved to spare no pains in gaining the Shastree to their interests. It was just at this period that Trimbukjee was appointed to carry on the communications between his master and the British government.
The Shastree was induced to postpone his departure, and every means was employed to conciliate his regard and confidence. Trimbukjee assailed him on the side of his vanity, which was the weak point of the Shastree’s character, and persuaded him that the Peishwa, in admiration of his talents both throughout the negotiation in which he was then opposed to his government, and in regard to what he had effected at Baroda, had resolved to appoint him his own minister. As a proof of the sincerity of this proposal, the Peishwa offered his sister-in-law in marriage to the Shastree’s son, and acceded to an adjustment of the
Gaekwar’s affairs for a territorial cession, on a plan suggested by the Shastree, though without consulting his own court or obtaining the sanction of the British authority. Every arrangement was made for the intended nuptials; when the Shastree, having received no reply from the Gaekwar respecting the territorial cession, became apprehensive that it might be supposed he was neglecting his master’s interests in forwarding his own, hesitated-and suspended the solemnization of the marriage, after great expense had been incurred by preparations. This conduct was deeply resented; and the refusal of the Shastree to permit his wife to visit the Peishwa’s palace, or to witness the scenes of gross debauchery to which every lady who entered it was subjected, was an offence which Bajee Rao never forgave, in him or in any other person. Trimbukjee, however, affected to treat the Shastree with more cordiality and friendship than ever.
The Peishwa proceeded on a pilgrimage to Punderpoor, and the Shastree accompanied him, although his colleague Bappoo Myraul warned him of his danger, and begged that he might at least be permitted to attend him; but the infatuated man would neither listen to his advice, nor allow him to be of the party. At Punderpoor, on the night of the 14th July, Gungadhur Shastree, who had that day dined with the Peishwa, was invited by Trimbukjee to repair to the temple for the purpose of paying his devotions on an occasion of particular solemnity. The Shastree, being a little indisposed, excused himself, but upon earnest and reiterated entreaties, he at last complied.
With a few unarmed attendants, he proceeded to the temple, where he performed his devotions, conversed with Trimbukjee, and paid his respects to the Peishwa, who was seated in the upper veranda of the temple, and on that occasion treated him with particular condescension.
The unfortunate Shastree, who like many others, could never resist the agreeable manners of Bajee Rao, quitted his presence in the highest spirits, and set out on his return; but he had scarcely proceeded three hundred yards, when he was attacked in the street, and almost literally cut in pieces. Trimbukjee Dainglia hired the assassins, two agents of Seetaram Rowjee from Baroda assisted in pointing out the Shastree, and the Peishwa, if he did not instigate approved of the murder, which was rendered peculiarly atrocious in a Hindoo, by being not only perpetrated on a Bramin, but upon the consecrated ground of Punderpoor, a place of extraordinary sanctity. As Bajee Rao and Trimbukjee denied all knowledge or participation in the deed, the resident, who at the Peishwa’s request had not accompanied him to Punderpoor, called for an immediate inquiry into the circumstances, for the satisfaction of the British government: but no investigation took place. The general voice of the country pronounced Trimbukjee the perpetrator of the murder; Bappoo Myraul openly accused him of it, and the resident instituted a very minute and strict inquiry, which clearly established his guilt. The Peishwa was called upon to place him under restraint, and afterwards to deliver him up to the British government; but he
refused compliance, evaded the demand, and for a time seemed resolved to stand or fall with his favourite. Being however unprepared for extremities, and the British troops being assembled at Poona, his natural timidity prevailed over every other sentiment, and on the 25th September, he delivered up Trimbukjee whom he had previously sent into confinement in the fort of Wussuntgurh. The two agents of Seetaram being deeply implicated, were seized at the same time and delivered to the Gaekwar, by whom they were confined in hill-forts. Seetaram, who in conjunction with the agents of Trimbukjee, had been levying troops, whilst the Peishwa hesitated to deliver up his favourite, was removed from the administration at Baroda, and taken into custody by the British government. This measure was much against the inclination of the regent Futih Sing, who on this occasion betrayed symptoms of being himself swayed by the intrigues of the court of Poona.
Trimbukjee was confined by the British government in the fort of Tannah, on Salsette, whence he effected his escape over the wall between seven and eight o’clock of the evening of the 12th September152. The guard over Trimbukjee, owing probably to excessive precaution, had no mixture of Sepoys upon it, but was composed entirely of Europeans. From this circumstance, the Peishwa was able to communicate with Trimbukjee, and for some days previous to his making the attempt several of his
friends and servants were waiting in the neighbourhood with full expectation of his joining them. The principal agent of communication was a Mahratta horsekeeper, in the service of one of the officers in the garrison, who passing and repassing the window of Trimbukjee’s place of confinement, when in the act of airing his master’s horse, sung the information he wished to convey, in an apparently careless manner, which the Europeans, froth want of sufficient knowledge of the language, could not detect. The difficulties of this escape were exaggerated into an exploit worthy of Sivajee, and greatly contributed to raise the fame of Trimbukjee amongst his countrymen, with whom it gained him a degree of popularity which he had never enjoyed while in power. He confided his safety to the Bheels, Ramoosees and Mangs, and resided chiefly in the hills about Nassuck and Sungumnere, sometimes in Candeish and Buglana, and frequently amongst the Mahdeo hills towards Satara, but never in the original haunts of Sivajee, where he would not have been safe. This circumstance is to be accounted for, in his having treacherously seized Chitoor Sing, who was extremely popular in that part of the Mahratta country.
Chitoor Sing, since we had last occasion to mention him, after the battle of Poona in 1802, had served in most parts of India. He was conspicuous in the charge made upon the 74th regiment, at the battle of Assaye153, and was afterwards
in the armies of Holkar, Umeer Khan, and the Rajpoots. In 1812, he was returning home through Candeish, when Trimbukjee seduced him to a conference, took him prisoner, loaded him with irons, and threw him into the fort of Kangooree in the Concan. Many vain attempts were made by his partizans to effect his rescue; till at last, a Gosaeen of the same name, aided by some of the Ramoosee chiefs, taking advantage of the interest felt for him in the country, gave out that Chitoor Sing had escaped, and obtained possession of the fort of Prucheetgurh, by a daring and well-planned enterprise, suggested, it is said, by a traditionary account of one of Sivajee’s exploits154. They afterwards took many other forts, and raised a formidable insurrection, which, though generally kept in check by the troops of Bappoo Gokla, was never reduced by the Peishwa’s government. Their real object was plunder, but their avowed purpose was the re-establishment of the Mahratta sovereignty, and the release of the_ Raja of Satara; and had Trimbukjee Dainglia fallen into their hands, they would have put him to death; Chitoor Sing lingered in prison at Kangooree, where he died in the end of April 1818.. His brother Shao died at Satara, 3d May 1808, and was succeeded by his son, Pertab Siew, or Sing, the present. Raja, then in his sixteenth year.
However strong the suspicion of the Peishwa’s connivance at the escape and concealment of Trimbukjee, there was no proof of the fact; and as
it was thought, he would rest satisfied in having effected his freedom, little notice was taken of the circumstance. Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir was again called into the Peishwa’s councils; Moro Dixit, a student of Bassein, and Chimnajee Narrain, both Concanist Bramins, who, like most of Bajee Rao’s, courtiers, had gained the favour of their prince by the dishonour of their families, were likewise employed in the administration; and Captain Ford, the commandant of the regular brigade, in whom the Peishwa placed considerable confidence because his prosperity depended on the stability of his government, was frequently the channel of communication between the British residency and the Peishwa’s ministers. The utmost cordiality seemed to prevail between the court and the residency at Poona; but nothing could be more deceitful on the part of Bajee Rao. He was now engaged in the most active negotiations with Sindia, Holkar, the Raja of Nagpoor, Umeer Khan, and the Pindharees, against the British government; he made great additions to his army, and supplied Trimbukjee with large sums of money, directing him to raise troops at different places, in his own territory, which, even if discovered by the British government, might appear to be plundering Pindharees or insurgents.
The resident, who, had early and exact information of Trimbukjee’s secret proceedings, applied to the minister, to ascertain whether the assembly of such troops was authorized or not by the Peishwa; and he was assured, not only that it was not authorized, but that no such assembly existed. Mr. Elphinstone
was therefore bound to consider it an insurrection; he told the minister that such levies were going forward; that the principal body was assembling near Nattapoota, a village south of the Neera, within fifty miles of Poona; and he begged that immediate steps might be taken for its dispersion. Although the minister continued to deny the existence of any assembly of troops, a part of Bappoo Gokla’s horse, was sent down, as was pretended, for the resident’s satisfaction. They quietly occupied a position in the very district where the insurgents were collecting, but declared they could hear nothing of them. The Peishwa also persisted in denying all knowledge of Trimbukjee, or of an insurrection, and called on the resident, if he really did believe such an absurd report, to take his own measures for suppressing it. It was by this time known to the resident, that the Peishwa, during a visit to the country, had invited, and positively given Trimbukjee an audience at Phoolshuhur, within 17 miles of Poona; but what made this meeting the more remarkable, is the fact, afterwards ascertained, that Trimbukjee came there attended by a large body of horse, who surrounded the village during the interview. The subsidiary force was then in an advanced position, near Jaffeirabad, for the purpose of protecting the country from the ravages of the Pindharees, and of assisting in giving effect to political measures to the northward; but it was now with the consent of the governor general, ordered to act against the insurgents. Whilst two detachments of the Madras army advanced to the frontiers of the Nizam’s
territory, the one to Tooljapoor, the other to Beder, Colonel Lionel Smith, who commanded the Poona subsidiary, marched to the Neera with a light division; leaving his reserve to follow at leisure. The insurgents had moved from Nattapoota to Jhutt; but, on Colonel Smith’s approach, they countermarched, and passed, by a rugged and unfrequented route, through the Mahdeo hills; Colonel Smith followed them, but they had gained many hours march before the division got into their tract; the pursuit, however, was taken up by a party of infantry from the reserve, under Major Smith of the Madras native infantry, who, after a persevering march, surprised and killed several of them; but they had previously marked their course by several acts of atrocity, particularly by the murder of Lieutenant Warre of the Madras artillery. The object of this body in moving to the northward, was to join another party, assembled in Candeish, under Trimbukjee’s relation, Godajee Dainglia; but before their arrival, Lieutenant Evan Davies of the Bombay establishment, at the head of a body of the Nizam’s horse, had attacked and dispersed the troops of Godajee.
The existence of the insurrection could be no longer denied by the Peishwa; orders were therefore issued to the Jagheerdar of Vinchoor to act against them, and some time after, a letter from the Vinchoorkur, with a fictitious account of their attack and dispersion, was sent for the perusal of the resident, and the officer commanding the subsidiary force.
In the meantime the Peishwa continued to levy
troops, both cavalry and infantry; every endeavour was used to induce him to desist, – he was warned of the consequences of such proceedings, and of the dangerous course he had followed in abetting the insurgents, and thus evincing intentions decidedly hostile to the British government. But he still persevered; the language of his ministers assumed a peremptory tone, and they demanded from the resident whether he intended war or peace. Mr. Elphinstone, in order that nothing might be wanting to bring the Peishwa to a sense of his situation, had suspended the intercourse between the residency and the Poona court about the time when Colonel Smith proceeded against the insurgents; he now in expectation of receiving instructions from the governor-general, directed Colonel Smith to move towards Poona with the light division, acquainting the Peishwa with his having done so; the plan he pursued was to proceed gradually, giving the Peishwa time to correct his errors, if so disposed, at the same time relaxing nothing of the steadiness and dignity which became the representative of the British nation. Many reasons, however, combined to render it advisable to bring matters to an issue. The insurgents gained ground in Candeish: a fort fell into their hands; the Peishwa’s levies, and the repairs of his forts, which had been going on for some time, proceeded with great activity, and as the rainy season approached, it was apprehended the Peishwa might betake himself to a hill-fort, inaccessible at that season, and commence a war which must be protracted, and would probably encourage all the Mahratta
powers to unite in his cause. At this important crisis the communication between Calcutta and Poona was interrupted by disturbances in Kuttack; but in the absence of the expected instructions, Mr. Elphinstone had fortunately received a private letter from the secretary to the governor-general, which mentioned the surrender of Trimbukjee Dainglia as an indispensable preliminary to any new settlement whatever. On this information he determined to act without delay. Having intimated a desire to communicate with the minister, the Peishwa requested to see him, and throughout a long conference displayed an unusual degree of coolness and self-possession. He entered into a warm and most eloquent defence of himself; reverted, as usual, to his obligations to the British government, and spoke with so much apparent reason and candour of his own situation, and of the consequences of the conduct and views imputed to him, that any person who bad not considered the weight of the evidence, and fully understood the character of Bajee Rao, must have felt disposed to give credit to the soundness of his arguments, even if he had been inclined to doubt the sincerity of his protestations. But whilst his actions contradicted his words, Mr. Elphinstone was not to be deceived; he tried, however, by every means, both during the conference and subsequently, to induce the Peishwa to prove the sincerity of his professions and avert the danger by which he was threatened; he distinctly told him that Trimbukjee Dainglia must be delivered up, or not suffered to remain in his territory, and that the consequences of a refusal
must involve the states in immediate hostilities.; At last, after several days had passed in this manner, the resident formally demanded the seizure of Trimbukjee in the space of one month, and the immediate delivery of three principal forts Singurh, Poorundhur, and Raigurh, as a pledge for the fulfilment of the demand. Bajee Rao, still under an impression of the high importance of his affiance to the British government, believed that the resident would not proceed to extremities; and he hoped that without making such a humiliating concession, or surrendering pledges so important, he should be able to temporize until the season was advanced, and should find time to call into operation, with full effect, the extensive confederacy planned by himself and his favourite. Even when Mr. Elphinstone, on the 7th of May, intimated his determination to surround the city of Poona, Bajee Rao still refused compliance with the terms required.
At last, at one o’clock in the morning, the Peishwa sent a messenger in hopes that the resident might be induced to postpone or to relinquish his intention; and it was only on finding him steady to his purpose, that the messenger told him he was instructed to comply with his demands. During the discussion the day had dawned; the troops were moving round the city, and had completely surrounded it before the resident could reach the head of the line. They were withdrawn as soon as the order for the surrender of the forts was sent out; and the Peishwa, as if at length sensible to his situation, and resolved to give up his favourite, issued a proclamation, offering
rewards for the seizure of some of Trimbukjee’s adherents, and a sum of two lacks of rupees and an enam village of 1000 rupees a year to any person who should bring in Trimbukjee Dainglia dead or alive. He likewise seized some of Trimbukjee’s adherents, sequestrated the property of others concerned in the insurrection, and manifested an apparently strong desire to comply with the recommendation of his allies. Although these proceedings did not deceive his own subjects, and the proclamation, without the Peishwa’s cordial concurrence, was of little importance to the apprehension of Trimbukjee, still it seemed reasonable to admit these acts as a concession of that preliminary, without which no proposals for present satisfaction or future security would have been received by the British authorities.
The instructions of the governor-general, which reached Poona on the 10th May, were framed for the purpose of circumscribing the Peishwa’s power, of imposing such restrictions as should prevent the evils apprehended from the course of policy pursued by the court of Poona for several years, and of obviating inconveniences found to exist, in the performance of the articles of the treaty of Bassein.
A new treaty was therefore drawn up, by which, in order to mark the foundation of the whole proceedings, the Peishwa was compelled to admit the guilt of Trimbukjee Dainglia, as the murderer of Gungadhur Shastree, the accredited agent of the Gaekwar state residing under the guarantee of the British government within the Peishwa’s
territory, and his consequent obligation to seize and deliver him up to the British government; until the accomplishment of which, the family of Trimbukjee Dainglia were to be given over as hostages.
The Peishwa engaged to have no communication with any foreign power whatever, neither to send nor to receive wukeels, and as head of the Mahratta empire, renounced all rights beyond the boundary of his own dominions between the Toongbuddra and Nerbuddah; he relinquished all future demands on the Gaekwar, and agreed to compromise all past claims on him for the annual sum of four lacks of rupees. He also agreed to let the farm of Ahmedabad to the Gaekwar for four and a half lacks of rupees a year, exclusive of the tribute of Kattywar and his other rights in Guzerat which were dismembered by another article. Instead of furnishing the contingent of five thousand horse and three thousand infantry required by the treaty of Bassein, he agreed to cede territory, yielding thirty-four lacks of rupees for that purpose. This cession included Dharwar and Kooshgul with some undefined districts in the Carnatic, the Concan north of Bombay, and the Peishwa’s revenue in Guzerat except Ahmedabad and Oolpar; but Ahmedabad was subsequently included. The Peishwa, also ceded the fort of Ahmednugur, together with all his rights north of the Nerbuddah; he recognised the settlement with the Jagheerdars concluded in 1812; and at the recommendation of the British government, restored the Jagheer of the unfortunate
Mahdoo Rao Rastia; finally he renounced Mailghaut, a possession on the Nizam’s frontier which the Peishwa’s troops had occupied in 1811.
In consequence of this treaty, by which important advantages were secured to the Gaekwar’s government, a new arrangement was concluded with him, which had for its object, the consolidation of the territories of the respective governments, and also to impose on the Gaekwar a more adequate proportion of the military charges of the province of Guzerat, than he had been hitherto called upon to bear; for although his irregular troops were maintained at a great expence, they were found wanting in efficiency, and the duty, as well as extra charges of field service, fell upon the British government. It was therefore proposed, that a part of the irregulars should be discharged, that the subsidiary force maintained by the Gaekwar should receive an addition of one thousand regular infantry, and two regiments of cavalry; and that districts lying conveniently for the meditated consolidation should be assigned to the British government for defraying the additional expense. To this plan the Baroda government acceded, and a treaty to that effect was concluded on the 6th November155.
137. After Bajee Rao’s deposal, it was found that Sindia’s villages within the Peishwa’s boundary, ceded by the treaty of Surjee Angengaom, were all secretly continued to Sindia by Bajee Rao.
138. Sewdasheo Bhow Mankesir was a great musician and composer; all the airs of which he is the author, are distinguished by a peculiar plaintiveness, and several of them are well worthy of being preserved. Some of our countrymen at Poona, who have leisure, may be induced to do so, before they are forgotten, or corrupted by the general bad taste of the Deccan, which, according to a saying of the natives of Hindoostan, is the grave of music.
139. The Hoojrats, or household troops, were originally the Raja’s, and afterwards the Peishwa’s personal cavalry. Many of them were, to the last, composed of the immediate dependants of the Raja of Satara.
140. Colonel Close’s despatches, 5th May 1808.
141. That is horse furnished by Jagheerdars.
142. Oral information. If I am not mistaken, this condition was proposed and insisted upon, by the Hindoostan Sepoys themselves, without its being suggested by their officers.
143. The accusation was not made by Mankesir himself; but by three persons employed by him and the Peishwa.
144. The above is from native information of respectability; but I am not certain of the date, or whether Mr. Russell, or Mr. Elphinstone was resident at the time. I think the former.
145. Native information.
146. Trimbukjee once told Mr. Elphinstone, in conversation. “If my master order me, I will kill a cow,” – a declaration of servile devotedness, equally strong and impious.
147. The banker’s name was Sukharam Naik Loondee.
148. Trimbukjee is supposed to have held communication with Sindia and Rughoojee Bhonslay, as far back as 1811, no doubt with his master’s approbation.
149. The envoy was a Bramin, named Gunnesh Punt.
150. This agent was a Mahratta, his name Kistnajee Gaekwar.
151. In the rains of 1815, the British troops in the cantonment at Kaira, their usual strength being much reduced at the time, were for several nights in expectation of being attacked in their lines, by the Koolees, who are very numerous in that quarter, and were excited against the British government, by Trimbukjee’s agents.
152. Trimbukjee, in conversation with different officers on his guard at Tannah, before he had any hopes of escape, admitted the murder, but said he had merely obeyed his master’s orders.
153. I know this circumstance from Jeswunt Rao Ghorepuray, who was himself in that charge, and with Chitoor Sing.
154. The manner of it has already been explained in a note on Sivajee’s life. – Chapter 4th, Volume 1st, page. 141.
155. The above chapter is on the authority of English Records and Oral information – Mahratta MSS. and personal observation.
This collection transcribed by Chris Gage