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my reliance on his faith, and his breach of it, were the principal causes that no other provisions had been made for the detachment, and that it suffered much want in consequence.'
Such was the first serious charge brought against the Raja. The second was, in principle, the same.
I again quote the words of Warren Hastings. “On the second of the month of November, 1780, a resolution passed the Board, that a letter should be written to the Nabob Vizier, advising him to require from the Nabob FyzOolla Khán the number of troops stipulated by treaty, expressed, as it was then understood, to be 5000 horse ; and that the like demand should be made on Raja Cheit Singh for all the cavalry in his pay which he could spare for our service. At that time we stood in need of every aid that could be devised, to repel the multiplied dangers which surrounded us. The Raja was supposed to maintain a very large and extensive standing force; and the strength of his cavalry alone was estimated at two thousand. I had formerly experienced their utility, in the war with the Seneasses, in which they were successfully employed, and liberally rewarded. The demand was formally made, both in a letter from myself, and, in person, by the Resident, Mr. Fowke, in the easy and indefinite terms mentioned above. His manners were evasive, pleading (as I recollect, for I am not in possession of them,) scantiness of the establishment, its employment in enforcing the collections, and the danger of these failing, if the detachment were withdrawn. At length, a more peremptory order was sent to him,
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 3, 4, 5.
no more success.
and repeated by the present Resident, Mr. Markham. The number required was 2,000, and afterwards reduced to the demand of 1,500, and, lastly, to 1,000, but with
He offered 250, but furnished none." It was not to be imagined that such acts of contumacy, disrespect, and implicit rebellion, should be left unnoticed. The honour and reputation of the Indian Government demanded that the Raja should be called on to explain his extraordinary conduct. Warren Hastings regarded these instances of disobedience as "evidences of a deliberate and systematic conduct, aiming at the total subversion of the authority of the Company, and the erection of his own independency on its ruins.” “This,” he adds, “had been long and generally imputed to him. It was reported that he had inherited a vast mass of wealth from his father, Balwant Singh, which he had secured in the two strong fortresses of Bidjeygur and Lutteefpoor, and made yearly additions to it; that he kept up a large military establishment, both of cavalry, of disciplined and irregular infantry, and of artillery ; that he had the above and many other fortresses, of strong construction and in good repair, and constantly well-stored and garrisoned; that his aumils and tenants were encouraged and habituated to treat English passengers with inhospitality and with enmity; that he maintained a correspondence with the Mahrattas, and other Powers who either were, or might eventually become, the enemies of our state ; and, if the disaffected Zemindars of Fyzabad and Behar were not included in the report, which I do not recollect, we have
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 6, 7.
had woful proof that there was equal room to have suspected the like intercourse between them; and, lastly, that he was collecting, or had prepared, every provision for open revolt, waiting only for a proper season to declare it, which was supposed to depend either on the arrival of a French armament, or a Mahratta invasion.”l
The Governor General determined, therefore, that some measures should be taken with the Raja, in order to bring him to his senses. Moreover, he says: “I was resolved to draw from his guilt the means of relief to the Company's distresses, and to exact a penalty which, I was convinced, he was able to bear, from a fund which, I was also convinced, he had destined for purposes of the most dangerous tendency to the Company's dominion. In a word, I had determined to make him pay largely for his pardon, or to exact a severe vengeance for his past delinquency.” Opportunity was, first of all, given to the Raja to clear himself; and Warren Hastings, on his arrival in Benares, in the month of August, 1781, sent a letter to him, setting forth the leading charges against him, to which he requested an immediate reply. The answer which the Raja. returned was regarded as “not only unsatisfactory in substance, but offensive in style; and less a vindication of himself than," says Warren Hastings, "a recrimination on me.
It expresses no concern for the causes of complaint contained in my letter, or desire to atone for them; nor the smallest intention to pursue a different line of conduct. An answer couched nearly in terms of defiance to requisitions of so serious a nature, I could not but consider as a strong indication of that spirit of independency which the Raja has for some years past assumed, and of which, indeed, I had early observed other manifest symptoms, both before and from the instant of my arrival.”
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 7, 8.
On the receipt of this communication, the Governor General ordered the Resident, Mr. Markham, to proceed, on the following morning, to the fort at Sivála Ghát, and there arrest the Raja. In obedience to his instructions, the Resident, accompanied by his usual guard, visited the Raja, who submitted, without opposition, to the arrest. Shortly after, two companies of
, grenadier sepoys arrived, under the command of three lieutenants, when Mr. Markham returned to the Governor General, to report the success of his enterprise. In the course of the day, three letters were sent by the Raja to Warren Hastings, two of which were expressive of much anxiety and terror.
Seeing the apprehension and alarm which had seized hold of his mind, the Governor General wrote a note to Cheit Singh, wishing him to keep calm, and not to allow himself to be unduly distressed, or to imagine that any evil would befall him. The Raja's third letter was in answer to this, and was expressive of his gratitude for the gentle tone of the Governor General's communication.
The fort in which Cheit Singh was confined must, originally, have been a very strong place, capable of making a strong resistance, in case of an attack. It stands upon the banks of the Ganges, and, as seen from the river, has an appearance of great solidity. Its high walls and buttresses are built with such compactness and strength, that, even now, not a trace of decay is noticeable in them; and they possess, moreover, all the freshness of new-built structures. In the direction of the city the fort is almost contiguous to a multitude of houses, the interval being but slight. The interior of the fort is spacious, and is sufficient to accommodate a large body of men. The two companies of sepoys who had charge of the Raja were quartered within the walls, a circumstance which, seeing that they were in possession of the fort, would have mattered little, had they had sufficient ammunition with which to defend themselves. Strange to say, these troops had been dispatched through a hostile city, on a most perilous errand, without ammunition. It is impossible to comprehend the cause of such astounding and culpable neglect. There is reason for believing that the Raja's followers were acquainted with this circumstance, and, consequently, hastily formed their plans for surprising the garrison and rescuing the Raja. In the afternoon, intelligence reached the Governor General, that large bodies of armed men were crossing the river from Rámnagar, another fort belonging to Cheit Singh, situated on the opposite side of the river, but lower down. The apartments which the Raja was at this time occupying opened on a small square, in which the troops were stationed.