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163 North, the governor of the former place, who even placed a formal protest upon record.
General Baird took the command of the Egyptian expedition, but Colonel Wellesley, who had been appointed second in authority, was detained by illness at Bombay. He, however, handed over to his chief some important memoranda which he drew up at Ceylon, with regard to anticipated operations in the Red Sea ; an act the more praiseworthy as his mind seems during the whole time to have suffered considerably from a sense of slight, produced by the feeling that he had not been well used by persons in power. When convalescent, he returned once more to his old post at Mysore, where he spent two years in organizing the civil and military administration of that lately-annexed region.
At the commencement of the year 1801, the Marquis Wellesley was appointed by the Crown captain-general in India, a rank which invested him with vice-regal authority over all the king's officers on that continent. He had not long enjoyed his new honours when the affairs of Oude called for a special exercise of authority.
Since the appointment of Saadet Ali by Sir John Shore that country continued to be agitated by the intrigues of Vizier, the late pretender to the musnud. This man resided at Benares, where he possessed a strong party among the Mohammedan nobles and wealthy Hindoo baboos, whose influence and authority had been materially impaired since the introduction of English rule. He also corresponded with Zemaun Shah, King of Cabool, whom he exhorted and encouraged to invade the northern provinces as soon as possible, promising that he would afford him considerable assistance.
The knowledge of these circumstances induced Lord Mornington to direct that he should be removed from Benares. Before, however, the English resident, Mr. Cherry, could collect a sufficient force for the purpose of carrying out his instructions, Vizier Ali, to whom the
order had been betrayed, assembled a band of desperadoes, attacked all the houses of the English in succession, murdered some of their occupants, and barbarously maltreated others. The judge of the place, Mr. Davies, defended himself on this occasion with great bravery, and by keeping the attention of the rabble engaged, facilitated the
escape of many of his countryinen. At last a large body of cavalry arriving, dispersed the mob, but Vizier Ali, attended by his principal adherents, had previously made good their retreat to Betaul. When this event, commonly termed the massacre of Benares, was known at Calcutta, orders were given that several of the baboos in the vicinity of the former city, who had been concerned in the conspiracy, should be arrested. These dignitaries, like the ancient nobles of Italy, maintained in their pay troops of bravoes, called bankas, who acted as guards to their respective fortresses, and carried into execution the nefarious projects suggested by cupidity or revenge.
It appeared, therefore, somewhat difficult to make these arrests without exciting a popular commotion. Only one baboo, however, ventured to resist, and he lost his life in a vain attempt to cut his way through the soldiers who surrounded his house. Most of his fellow conspirators fled ; two were condemned to death, one of whom. perished by his own hand, the other by that of the executioner. The bankas and other retainers were finally disbanded or driven into exile, and the city soon assumed an aspect of tranquillity which it had never known for many generations.
The capture of Vizier Ali himself followed speedily the discomfiture of his party. After being paraded through the streets of Benares, he was conveyed to Calcutta, where his punishment might have recalled the old Eastern legend of Bajazet and Tamerlane. A bomb-proof chamber in the fort was divided into three compartments, by means of strong iron gratings, and in the central cage thus formed the captive took up his abode; while two sen
165 tinels, one an Englishman, and the other a native, watched him, as they would have done an imprisoned wild beast, from either side of his den.
The fears of Saadet Ali as regarded the pretender to his dominions were now set at rest; but still he found himself doomed to experience fresh troubles, from the insubordination and violence of his own soldiers. At length, by the persuasion of the governor-general, he disbanded this useless rabble, receiving in their room a body of English troops, for whose support he gave up the revenue of several districts. This arrangement had generally been found necessary, since it prevented those difficulties, which invariably arose whenever an Indian prince happened to be called upon for monthly or annual contributions towards the payment of his foreign troops. Nor was this arrangement without precedent, since both the Nizam and other potentates acted in a similar manner with the French officers who entered their service, or in any way placed themselves at their disposal. The same steps had also been taken with regard to the Nabob of Surat, who, in 1800, received a pension, and transferred over his dominions to the rule of the Company.
REVIEW OF THE ENGLISH POSSESSIONS IN INDIA-RISE OF SCINDIAI
AND HOLKAR-TREATY OF BASSEIN-CAPTURE OF AHMEDNUGGURBATTLE OF ASSAYE-ITS RESULTS- ANECDOTE OF GENERAL WELLESLEY-CAMPAIGN OF GENERAL LAKE.
BEFORE the transactions connected with the Mahratta war engage our attention, it may be advisable to take a rapid glance at the dominions possessed by the English on the continent of India. The provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, with the sacred district of Benares, had been recently placed under the jurisdiction of the Company, and these regions, being about 1000 miles in breadth, formed their principal extent of territory in the north. The Northern Circars, the Carnatic, the Madras district, with portions of Tanjore and Tinnevelly, owned their sovereignty in the south. The kingdom of Mysore, with its puppet rajah, might almost be considered an English possession; while the Nizam, whose domain occupied a central position between Bombay and the Circars, had been subsidised by the treaty of 1798.
On the western coast, the regions of Cannara and Malabar were either subject to the English, or desirous of their protection, and further north came the territory of Bombay, with the island of Salsette, the district of Surat, and some lands ceded by the Nabob of Baroach. The Punjaub, Nepaul, Ava, and Bootan had not engaged, as yet, the attention of Indian statesmen; there remained, therefore, only the Mahratta districts, and the province of Berar, that presented the slightest appearance of in
16. dependence, or from which might be anticipated any bostile movement. The territories of Agra and Delhi, with the person of the Mogul, were held by Scindiah, while his ally the Rajah of Berar, possessed the lands extending from the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal, towards the Bombay Ghauts, being bounded on the west by the Nizam's dominions.
The Mahrattas associated themselves with the English in effecting the subjugation of Seringapatam, but since this period there had been little intercourse between them. The great chiefs of the former preferred the alliance of France, and 1. Perron, an officer of that nation, commanded a large army of disciplined troops in the pay of Scindiah. This great Mahratta leader and his rival Holkar were destined to play such prominent parts in the future war, that some notice of their origin and past actions seems imperative.
Ranojee Scindiah sprang from the Cultivator tribe, and in early life was engaged in the humble capacity of slipper-bearer to the Peishwa. This dignitary on quitting his durbar, where the discussions happened to have been protracted to an unusual length, found his attendant asleep, but holding his master's slippers clasped to his breast. Struck by the tenacity with which, even when weary and fatigued, his faithful servant guarded so unimportant a portion of his employer's property, the Peishwa promoted the fortunate slipper-bearer to his body-guard. The favoured Ranojee left two sons, the youngest of whom, Madhajee Scindiah, made himself the head of the family. He opposed the increasing power of the English in every way, took possession of Shah Alim's dominions, and ruled with imperious sway the territories of the haughty and warlike Rajpoots.
Coming to Poonah for the purpose of paying his respects to the Peishwa, he placed himself below all the hereditary nobles. The Peishwa immediately motioned to a higher and more dignified seat the man who ruled