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ambition, and, perhaps, to excite in his mind an opinion that he possessed an inherent right of selfdependency.” 1
Such being the nature of the relation subsisting between the Raja and the Indian government, it was only just and right, that, at a time of national peril, he should be called upon to contribute his quota of men and money towards the defence of his own estates and of the country in general. “On the first intelligence of the war with France, in July, 1778, it was resolved, in Council, that Raja Cheit Singh should be required to contribute an extraordinary subsidy for the expense which this new exigency had imposed on our Government; and the sum was limited to five lacks of rupees for the current year. After many excuses and protestations of inability, he, at length, consented, with a very ill grace, to the payment, and, with a much worse, discharged it.
The next year the same demand was repeated ; and he attempted, in like manner, to elude it, affecting to borrow money in small sums, and to sell his plate and jewels to raise it: nor was it paid at last, till he had reduced the Board to the extremity of ordering two battalions of sepoys to the neighbourhood of Ramnagar, and quartering them upon him, with their pay charged to his account, until the whole payment was completed."
Fearing the anger of the Governor-General, the Raja, in the early part of the following year, despatched his confidential
manager, Lálá Sadanand, to him “to solicit,” says Warren Hastings, “my forgivenesss of his past
1 Warren Hastings's Insurrection in Benares, pp. 8, 9. • Insurrection in Benares, p. 3.
conduct, and to give me assurances, confirmed by oath, of his future submission to the orders of my government, and compliance with my advice. I accepted his excuses, and promised him an oblivion of all that had passed exceptionable in his conduct, and my future protection, and every good office in my power, so long as he adhered to his professions; requiring only, as the pledge of their sincerity, that he would immediately notify his ready and unreserved consent to the demand which would be made upon him—this being the period for it—of the subsidy for the current year, and that he would use no delay in discharging it.” The Lálá “vowed the fullest obedience on the part of his master; the demand was accordingly made; and the Raja answered it with a liberal and unreserved declaration of his acquiescence.” Notwithstanding these protestations of obedience, the Raja failed to act up to them. The whole payment of the money was due in July; but “it was not until the month of October, nor until the same constraint was practised, to compel his obedience, as had been used in the preceding year, by an order for the advance of two battalions of sepoys for that purpose, that the balance of the subsidy, which was two lacks and a half of rupees, was discharged. In the meantime, the Resident received an order from the Board to remit the money, as he received it, by bills, to the Paymaster of Lieutenant-Colonel Carnac's detachment; but these, from the lateness of the receipts, were not sent until the detachment had suffered the extremity of distress from the want of money, and very great desertions; all which calamities I charge to Raja Cheit Singh's account; as it is certain that 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.” 1
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, 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
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 3, 4, 5.
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 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."!
no more success.
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 6, 7.
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 bis 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
1 Insurrection in Benares, pp. 7, 8.