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that commander produced the desired effect; the sultan agreed to the propositions laid before him, and the treaty was concluded without any more delay. By some oversight, however, or carelessness on the part of the Madras Government, no mention had been made of our Hindoo allies, who thus found themselves exposed, in a defenceless condition, to the revengeful animosity of Tippoo.

1781.]

PECUNIARY NECESTITIES OF HASTINGS.

10

CHAPTER IX.

PECUNIARY NECESSITIES OF HASTINGS-SEIZURE OF THE RAJAT OF

BENARES—THE BEGUMS OF OUDE-CHARACTER OF HASTINGS' ADMINISTRATION-HIS RETURN TO ENGLAND, TRIAL, ACQUITTAL AND DEATH.

1781–1818.

DURING the war in the Carnatic, the financial difficulties of the governor-general had been increasing daily, since remittances to the Company at home, together with subsidies for the troops in the south, seemed likely, in a very short period, to exhaust even the well filled treasury at Calcutta. The evil day was rapidly approaching, and Hastings cast his eyes anxiously around, to discover, if possible, a source from which the necessities of the government might be relieved. The expedient he at last adopted was specious, though scarcely in accordance with the strict rules of right.

The sacred city of Benares is situated upon the banks of the Ganges to the north-west of Calcutta. In the eyes of a devout Hindoo it occupies the same position that Rome held in the estimation of our ancestors during the middle ages. Countless temples, and shrines of the most costly magnificence, darkened with their fantastic pinnacles and porticos the narrow streets, or lanes of the city. Fakeers, Saniyassies, and Brahmins, everywhere venerable, attracted to their persons a double portion of respect when residing here. Even the Ganges itself, which had been deified by Hindoo superstition, gained a vast accession of reputed holiness on account of its passage through Benares. The long broad terraces dese cending by ample steps to the edge of the river, were crowded with those whom a false and idolatrous creed had seduced into the persuasion that to breathe his last sigh on that sacred spot, would infallibly secure for the deluded pilgrim, the blessings of eternal happiness. Owing to this and similar causes, a large multitude was always found at Benares, whose pretensions to superior sanctity had rendered them arrogant beyond conception, and whom rabid fanaticism might at any moment inspire with a degree of courage but seldom found among their usually submissive race.

The Rajah of Benares, Cheyte Sing, had been for some years a vassal of the Company, and in that capacity transmitted annually a fixed tribute to the treasury of Calcutta. This remittance had never been kept back, but suddenly the supreme government demanded extraordinary contributions towards the expenses of the war. The first of these amounted to 50,0001. and as one requisition followed another with unparalleled rapidity, Cheyte Sing began to manifest considerable dissatisfaction. He murmured at the burdens laid upon him, evaded compliance, as long as he could, with the demands of the Council

, and even was said to have opened a correspondence with the French. Hastings seized at once upon so plausible a pretext for extortion. “I resolved," he himself writes in his narrative of these transactions,“ to draw from the rajah's guilt the means of relief of the Company's distresses, to make him pay largely for his pardon, or to exact a severe vengeance for past delinquency."

Cheyte Sing grew alarmed when he heard of the governor-general's determination. He promised, deprecated, offered bribes, but in vain. Hastings announced that he would himself visit Benares, and demand from the rajah in his own city a full and satisfactory explanation of certain recent transactions. The step was a bold one, the more especially as Hastings, in order that his journey might

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1731.).

HASTINGS AT BENARES.

111

people

not be retarded by numbers, had taken with him only bis body-guards. At Buxar he encountered the rajah himself, who trembling and repentant, strove to avert, by the most abject submission, the indignation of his illustrious visitant. Hastings received these advances coolly, maintaining an imperturbable reserve until they entered Benares, when he forwarded to the rajah a paper containing the enumeration of the charges made against him. His explanations were not deemed satisfactory, and at the command of the governor-general, an officer with two companies of Sepoys arrested him in his own palace.

This unwise measure at once excited the passions of the populace, who being warmly attached to their prince, naturally felt indignant that one of so sacred à race should be insulted in his own holy city by strangers and foreigners. Cheyte Sing had governed mildly the over whom he ruled, the ties of race united him to his subjects, and the grinding tyranny of the Moslem yoke in Oude, contrasted favourably with the equitable sway of the Hindoo prince. Among the inhabitants of Benares also were found numbers of devotees, accustomed to inflict upon their bodies every species of self-torture, and therefore insensible to danger when provoked by rage and fanaticism. On this occasion they proved themselves determined and active foes ; with wild looks and dishevelled hair they rushed frantically from place to place, stirring up the people, who readily responded to their cries for vengeance. An infuriated mob attacked the English Sepoys, and forced the palace, which had now become the rajah's prison. The troops fought manfully in defence of their post, but they possessed no ammunition, and their adversaries were all armed. A detachment sent by Hastings to the rescue perished in a vain attempt to reach their comrades, the English officers falling sword in hand and covered with wounds upon a heap of slain enemies. In the confusion, the prisoner about whom they were contending effected his escape, and crossed the Ganges followed by the majority of his partizans.

Had the rajah remained on the other side of the river, and attacked with his adherents the quarters of Hastings, hardly one Englishman would have left Benares alive; but Cheyte Sing no sooner found himself at liberty, than the probable consequences of the late tumult excited, in a mind which was none of the strongest, emotions of anxiety and alarm. He despatched the most pacific messages, the most unlimited promises to Hastings, but the governor-general preserved a haughty silence. Although besieged on all sides by the mob, and defended by fifty men only from the rage of those who were clamorous for his blood, the mind of Hastings did not for an instant lose its self-possession. He had so little anticipated the dangerous position in which he found himself placed, that Mrs. Hastings with Sir Elijah and Lady Impey were on their road to join him at Benares. But when the first surprise was over, his acuteness at once suggested a means of extricating himself from danger. The Hindoos are accustomed, when they travel, to remove from their ears the costly rings which they usually wear, while, in order that the orifice may not close up, they keep the aperture distended by the insertion of quills. Hastings wrote his orders on small pieces of paper placed them within these quills, and despatched his messengers to different quarters for aid and assistance. No suspicion was excited, the men passed through the crowd unnoticed, and one of them proved fortunate enough to light upon Sir Elijah Impey, then only a small distance from Benares.

The exertions of Impey and others, to whom the several quills were directed, soon brought to the rescue a large body of Sepoys. Unfortunately, however, the officer who accompanied them, eager to distinguish himself under the eye of the governor-general, made a hasty

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