« PreviousContinue »
famous Koh-i-noor, " the mountain of light," the history of whose migrations, since it left its native mine, would almost furnish sufficient matter for an entertaining history. Yet the officers of this magnificent prince appropriated to their own use the camels which conveyed the splendid presents of the governor-general; they even wished to retain two English footmen, who they insisted formed part of the donation, and the monarch, himself, condescended to covet the silk stockings worn by the envoy and the gentlemen of his suite.
The kingdom of Cabool was, however, at this period, far from being in a position to render much assistance to the English. A civil war raged between the Shah Shujah-ool-Mulk and one of his relatives, Prince Mahmoud. While the embassy awaited in the vale of Cashmere permission from the Sikhs to pass through their territories, news reached Mr. Elphinstone that Shah Shujah had been completely defeated. The whole of Cabool was soon a prey to anarchy of the worst kind; every petty chieftain asserted his independence, and collecting around him a band of marauders, waged war with his neighbours, and devastated their lands.
As the British ambassador passed through the Sikh region, he was overtaken by the harem of Shujah-oolMulk, after whom came Zemaun Shah, now a blind and helpless captive, but formerly monarch of Cabool. The aged man spoke of his misfortunes, with that appearance of placid philosophy and stoic indifference, by which an oriental endeavours to conceal from the outer world his sorrows and inward repinings. He affected to consider his fate one of those misfortunes common to princes, which all elevated above the ordinary sons of Adam must anticipate daily, and endure, when it arrives, with dignified resignation. His philosophy might have been sincere, but they who understand and appreciate the deceitfulness of the human heart, will, perhaps, consider that such expressions are but too often the very
MISSION TO PERSIA.
reverse of those internal feelings which they are supposed to represent.
Towards the termination of 1807, intelligence reached the governor-general, that the French, in conjunction with the Turks And Persians, were organizing an invasion of India. In order to counteract the influence acquired by Buonaparte's envoy over the Persian Court, Sir John Malcolm was despatched to Bushire. He received instructions to proceed farther, if practicable, and even to attempt a journey to Teheran. T'he French ascendency, however, was then paramount in the councils of Persia, and Colonel Malcolm, after transmitting some able state papers from Bushire, returned to Calcutta without proceeding into the interior. He proposed to Lord Minto, that the English should seize an island in the Persian Gulf, and thus work upon the fears of the Shah, but this hostile movement was rendered unnecessary by the arrival of Sir Harford Jones, who had been empowered by George III., to act as ambassador to the Persian Shah. Just at this time, also, a coolness ensued between that monarch and his French allies, which tended to procure for Sir Harford Jones a more favourable reception than perhaps he would otherwise have experienced. The rich presents displayed by the English envoy decided the matter; the French were dismissed in disgrace, and the Shah agreed, finally, to conclude a treaty, offensive and defensive, with England.
In August, 1809, the government opened negotiations with Runjeet Sing, whose recent territorial acquisitions now brought him to the frontier of the Company's dominions. The English bound themselves to leave him the territories north of the Sutledge, while he promised to maintain as few troops as possible near the Company's boundaries. The present of an English carriage and a pair of horses, forwarded by the governor-general on this occasion, tended materially, we are told, to cement harmony.
Some of the Ghoorka tribes, in Nepaul, invaded the territories of a rajah in alliance with the English go vernment ; these marauders were finally driven back, in 1813, after many fruitless negotiations and threats. The Mhugs, a Burmese tribe, also made incursions into Chittagong, and the hostile feeling thus engendered on the frontiers, led eventually to a war between the English and the King of Ava.
DISTURBANCES AT MADRAS-EXPEDITION TO CHINA-CONQUEST OF
JAVA-ADMINISTRATION OF SIR STAMFORD RAFFLES,
DURING the year 1809, serious disturbances took place in the Madras Presidency. They originated in the exclusion of the commander-in-chief, General Hay McDowall, from a seat in council, by the order of Sir George Barlow, who, upon Lord Minto's arrival in India, had been transferred from Calcutta to Madras. At first this ill-judged measure seemed likely to terminate in a mere official dispute, but, finally, several detachments of the army took up the question and broke out into open mutiny. In addition, however, to the exclusion of the commander-in-chief from council, there existed other causes of discontent. During the rule of Lord William Bentinck, the quartermastergeneral had been commissioned to draw up a report on the subject of “Tent Contract," a monthly allowance made to the officers of native corps for the provision of camp furniture. In his remarks, the quartermastergeneral characterised the “Tent Contract” as a system which might place an officer's public and private interest in opposition to each other. This observation created universal dissatisfaction, and the officers of the different native
addressed a communication to their commander-in-chief, demanding that the writer should be placed under arrest, and be tried by a court-martial.
Their requisition, however, received little notice, until General McDowall, finding himself involved in a quarrel with the civil authorities, determined, by espousing the complaints of the officers, to attach them more firmly to his party. He accordingly arrested the quartermaster-general, who forthwith appealed to the council, they having sanctioned his report, and acted upon it by abolishing the "Tent Contract." The council, finding remonstrance and entreaty fruitless, released the prisoner by their own authority. The commander-inchief, irritated beyond measure, threw up his office, and, without tendering a formal resignation, left the Presidency for England, having previously forwarded a letter of complaint from the officers of the army to the council. He also placed in the hands of the deputy-adjutant general, an address, reflecting somewhat severely upon the conduct of the quartermaster-general. The deputyadjutant published the order, the governor suspended him forth with, and issued a public notice, removing General McDowall from the office of commander-inchief. The officers next presented an address to the suspended deputy-adjutant, approving his conduct, which the government severely censured, cashiering at the same time some of those who had signed it.
An open war now broke out between the civil and military authorities, part of the troops remained faithful, others, with their officers, mutinied, and two battalions who had embraced different sides, meeting accidentally, they fired upon each other like mutual enemies. Purneah, the chief minister of Mysore, distinguished himself under these trying circumstances by the most unshaken fidelity towards the English government. Although the mutineers threatened to pillage his effects, the Hindoo official could not be induced to act contrary to the advice of the resident, whom he materially aided, by placing 550 horses at the disposal of a king's regiment of dragoons. When Purneah delivered these to the resident, he assured him that every opportunity