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THE THREE PRESIDENCIES.
MR. PITT'S INDIA BILL-ARRIVAL OF LORD CORNWALLIS-ARROGANCE
AND CONQUESTS OF TIPPOO-HIS DEFEAT AT TRAVANCORE-ENGLISH ALLIANCE WITH THE PEISHWA AND NIZAM-INVASION OF MYSORESUBMISSION OF TIPPOO.
A most important change took place in the government of India during the year 1784. On the 13th of August, Mr. Pitt's India Bill, as it was termed, became a portion of the English law. This measure had been designed as a check upon the Directors of Leadenhall-street, and one of its most prominent clauses accordingly called into being the Board of Control. Six commissioners appointed by the Crown composed the new council, to whom were to be submitted, for the future, all despatches relating to military, civil, and financial affairs. The Company's territories in India were divided into three Presidencies, Calcutta taking precedence of the other two, and being considered as the seat of government.
To each Presidency was assigned its governor and council, the former possessing in every instance a casting vote. Both Madras and Bombay, however, remained in strict subordination to the Bengal Presidency, neither being permitted to act for itself, except in trifling matters, or under certain pressing and unforeseen emergencies.
The governorgeneral, it was arranged, should be nominated by the Court of Directors and confirmed by the Crown; the latter, also, might recall him whenever it saw fit, even against the wishes of the East India Company.
The Crown likewise appointed the commander-inchief at each Presidency, and possessed considerable control over the different members of council.
Such were the new regulations under which the Marquis Cornwallis, the successor of Hastings, commenced his career as governor-general of India. The unfortunate issue of the American war had not materially injured his lordship's high military reputation, while he added to his fame as a soldier the credit of possessing a calm and moderate temper. A brave and energetic commander he was known to be, at the same time a lover and maintainer of
both Parliament and Directors deemed most necessary for India and England at the present juncture. The most positive instructions, indeed, were given to the new governor that he should eschew as far as possible the extension of the Company's territory in Hindoostan. He himself had censured Hastings, for engaging too readily in hostile measures ; and there seems every reason to believe that, as far as his personal feelings went, Lord Cornwallis entered upon the duties of his new station with a steady determination to avoid all interference with foreign native powers. But these intentions were destined never to be carried into effect, since three years after the Marquis's arrival he found it necessary to check the ambitious designs of Tippoo Sultan.
That prince had been of late engaged in propagating by the most indefensible means the faith of Islam. He first attacked the Christians of Canara, a narrow strip of seaboard, bounded on the north by the Portuguese territory, and on the south by the Malabar coast. These people had received the doctrines of Rome from the Portuguese Missionaries of Goa, and Xavier himself pursued for some time his zealous labours amongst them. Like the Spaniards, however, in the Western hemisphere, the colonists of Goa did not trust solely to the eloquence and piety of Xavier and his brethren. The Inquisition reared its head among the other European institutions of the colony, and quickened the zeal of the officials as much as it softened the obstinacy of the subject races. The timid
TIPPOO INVADES COORG.
nature of the Indian yielded to the dread of torture, accompanied by the attractions of a system which had been purposely assimilated as nearly as possible to his
The Mohammedan zeal of Tippoo induced him to imitate closely the policy of the Holy Office. Thirty thousand Christians were collected together, circumcised, and distributed throughout the different garrisons of his dominions. The mountaineers of Coorg, a small province contiguous to Mysore, next fell victims to his ambitious fanaticism. They had offended him by revolting against his authority when Seringapatam was menaced by an English invasion, and they still preserved a hostile aspect. Tippoo determined, therefore, to crush at once this domestic foe. It proved, however, no easy task. The territory of Coorg was nearly covered with vast forests, the obscure recesses of which seemed incapable of being penetrated by strangers. Into these, their native woods, the persecuted mountaineers retreated, and for a time succeeded in keeping the invader at bay. The sultan, however, drew a circle of armed men round their various positions, and finally gained possession of about 70,000 prisoners, whom he obliged to receive circumcision.
These petty triumphs exalted the vanity of Tippoo beyond measure. He adopted the title of Padishah, a term equivalent to that of Emperor, which had dignified the Mogul sovereigns of Delhi, and is still borne by the Sultan of Turkey. In imitation of Baber and Timour, he himself undertook the task of recording his own achievements, and also employed, in addition, a corps of authors to celebrate his praises.
The Nairs, a people or superior caste inhabiting the Province of Calicut, had incurred his displeasure, and were soon destined to feel his
vengeance. Their Zamorin was an ally of the English during the recent war, in which he had been aided by the petty rajahs of the Malabar coast. The Nairs, moreover, retained as strong
an attachment to their superstitions as Tippoo felt for the Prophet and the Koran. Their religion, indeed, presented nothing qualified to exalt the mind, or to call forth the noble emotions of the soul. It permitted or enjoined a system of abominable sensuality, from which even the most vitiated nations of past or present times would have shrunk with horror and disgust, and which rendered the degraded beings who practised it unworthy of the name of men. These practices Tippoo commanded his neighbours to renounce, vowing that, in case of refusal, he would exterminate them from the soil that they polluted by their abominations. The Nairs rejected his admonitions with disdain, upon which he marched an army into their country, burnt their temples, and forced great numbers to be circumcised. The victor himself, in his annals, takes credit for the destruction of 8,000 idol shrines, and although this statement may be somewhat exaggerated, more impartial witnesses have described as most extensive the devastation committed during the Mohammedan invasion.
Contemptible and degraded as their moral character was, the Nairs had always been renowned for personal courage. They disputed valiantly each inch of ground with the invader, and when vanquished by overpowering numbers, they sought refuge, disdaining submission, in the adjoining kingdom of Travancore.
That small state, situated at the utmost extremity of Southern India, was defended on one side by the Ghauts, and on the other by the sea. Besides these natural fortifications, a wall and ditch, constructed in very early times, constituted an artificial frontier that, up to this period, had never been crossed by the greatest of Indian conquerors. Here, tradition reported, St. Thomas first preached the Gospel on the Hindoo soil, and a small community of Christians bearing his name still lived at ease under the mild government of a Malabar prince.
SALE OF CRANGANORE AND JAYCOTTAH.
About the time of their first settlement in the East, the Dutch had taken from the Portuguese several tracts of country and towns on the Malabar coast. The dimi. nution of their Indian trade, and the fear of being drawn into a contest with Tippoo, made them anxious to abandon their possessions in those parts. The ports, therefore, of Cranganore and Jaycottah, were offered for sale by them to the Travancore Rajah. This prince unwisely consented to the bargain, and immediately received a remonstrance from Tippoo, urging, among other grounds of complaint, that the Dutch possessions were only held by his permission, and upon condition that a yearly rental should be paid for them.
The objection proved, indeed, as ill grounded, as most of the other complaints of Tippoo usually were. But it gave a plausible colour to the rapacity of the Mysorean sultan, and ministered to that spirit of self-justification which was so characteristic of him individually. A species of Pharisaism, moreover, very common among Mohammedans, and not extinct even in Christian communities, led him invariably to throw over his most unprincipled measures some decent cloak. If he invaded his neighbours, pillaged their temples, and obliged them to submit, with the most unfeigned reluctance, to a rite that they detested, the symbol of a religion of which they abhorred the very name, he always defended himself by pleading his zeal for the correction of their morals," and his anxiety to extend the dominion of the Moslem creed. Hyder Ali employed none of this fulsome cant. Although stern, ambitious, and cruel, his haughty nature would have scorned to seek excuses for actions, the nature of which his clear, unclouded intellect at once penetrated, and only defended on the ground of expediency.
Before Tippoo proceeded to carry out his designs respecting Travancore, he judged it necessary to offer some explanations to the English Government. Lord Cornwallis, acting upon the pacific policy to which he had