« PreviousContinue »
Mysore: and that the Mahrattas should not possess Oude, or Rohilcund.
I believe there are many who think that the British might have extended their possessions in Hindoostan, ad libitum : however, one of the greatest of our Indian statesmen, Lord Clive, thought that the Bengal provinces and the circars, together with a moderate tract of land round Madras,* and the island of Salsette, near Bombay, were fully equal to the measure of good policy, and to our powers of keeping possession. Nor have his successors acted otherwise: for our wars since his time, have not been wars of conquest for ourselves; though erroneously represented as such. The late war in India may convince such persons, as require conviction on the subject, that conquests made either on Tippoo, or the Mahrattas, could not be preserved with such an army as the revenues of the conquered tracts would support. We got possession of Bengal and the circars, under circumstances particularly favourable: such as may never occur again.
The Bengal provinces which have been in our actual possession near 23 years (that is, from the year 1765, to the present, 1788), have, during that whole period, enjoyed a greater share of tranquillity than any other part of India; or indeed, than those provinces had ever experienced since the days of Aurungzebe. During the above period of 23 years, no foreign enemy has made cursion into any part of them, nor has any rebellion happened in any of the provinces (the very inconsiderable one of the zemindar of Jungleterry, in 1774, excepted). † Previous to the establishment of our infuence, invasions were frequent, particularly by the Mahrattas: and one province or other was ever in rebellion; owing to a want of energy in the ruling power; an ill paid, and mutinous army; or an excess of delegated power. Those who know what miseries are brought on a country, by its being the seat of war, will know how to appreciate the value of such a blessing, as that of having the horrors of war removed to a distance from our habitations. There are, doubtless, evils that are inseparable from the condition of a tributary state, where the supreme ruling power resides at the distance of half the circumference of the globe: but these are, I hope, amply balanced by the advantages of military protection: and it is a fact not to be controverted, that the Bengal provinces have a better government, and are in a better state, as to agriculture and manufactures, than any other of the Asiatic countries, China alone excepted. But this state is doubtless very susceptible of improvement, even under a despotic government: though it unfortunately happens, that the grand object for which the Bengal provinces are held, militates against the ease and happiness of their inhabitants: for there can be no inducement to increase a national income for the purpose
• That is, the Carnatic being already the property of another. No one can doubt but that it would be more for our advantage to have the largest part of the Carnatic in our own hands, than in those of Mahomed Ally; although the whole revenue of it should be laid out in its defence. But the Carnatic is our weak side, in more respects than one.
+ The province of Benares, in which a rebellion happened in 1781, is distinct from the Bengal provinces. It was ceded to the British, as has been observed above, in 1775.
of finally enriching another nation.
The state into which Hindoostan has fallen, since the downfall of the Mogul empire, is materially different from what it was,
before it was united under the Mahomedan conquerors. It was then parcelled out into several moderate kingdoms, which appear to have preserved a degree of balance among themselves: but now, Hindoostan and the Deccan may be said to consist of six principal states, which hold as tributaries, or feudatories, all the inferior ones; of which there are many. The reader will not be at a loss to know that the two Mahratta states, the Nizam, Tippoo, the Seiks, and the British, are those I mean: for whatever verbal distinctions may be made, a compulsive alliance is at least a dependant, if not in fact, a tributary situation. I have ran over the events of the late war in India, with a bre
may probably be deemed censurable, considering their importance and variety. But I reflected that the accounts of those
events are in every body's hands; and that every day produces some fresh matter, illustrative of them. The history of events that have happened, and that have also been recorded, in our own times, may be referred to, by the aid of memory; their connexion or dependency traced; and their chronology ascertained: but it was necessary to bring the events of a remoter period more within the view of the reader; the public records of those times being less copious, as the scenes recorded were less interesting to public curiosity,
GEOGRAPHICAL Division of HINDOOSTAN, into PROVINCES or
The following account is divided into two parts: the first of which, contains the provincial division of the empire under the Moguls, so far as the particulars have come to my knowledge; the other contains the present division of it, into independent states, of very unequal extent and power. It will not be expected that the revenues or military force of those states, should be, in general, well ascertained; or that the exact relation in which many of the inferior provinces stand, to the more powerful ones in their neighbourhood, should be correctly known: since the knowledge requisite for such a detail, can only be collected from persons who have had opportunities either of making the proper inquiries on the spot, or of consulting such documents as have received the sanction of authority. In some instances, it has been found impossible to resort to authorities of this kind: as there are large tracts within this widely extended country, which no European of character (as far as I have heard) has visited, of late years. To this may be added, that the changes are so frequent, that the progress of inquiry and information would scarcely keep pace with them, throughout the whole region.
Acbar's Division of HINDOOSTAN.
I Shall not attempt to trace the various fluctuations of boundary that took place in this empire, since the æra of the Mahomedan conquests, according as the seat of government was removed from Ghizni to Lahore, to Delhi, or to Agra, as suited the politics of the times. It is sufficient for my purpose that I have already impressed on the mind of the reader, an idea that the provinces of Hindoostan proper have seldom continued under one head, during a period of twenty successive years, from the earliest history, down to the reign of Acbar, in the 16th century: and that Malwa, Agimere, Guzerat, Bengal, &c. were in turn independent; and that sometimes the empire of Delhi was confined within the proper limits of the province of that name.
During the long reign of Acbar in the 16th century, the internal regulation of the empire was much attended to. Inquiries were set on foot, by which the revenue, population, produce, religion, arts, and commerce of each individual district, were ascertained; as well as its extent and relative position. Most of these interesting and useful particulars, were, by Abul Fazil, collected into a book called the AYIN ACBAREE, * or INSTITUTES of ACBAR; and which, to this day, forms an authentic register of these matters. Acbar began by dividing HindOOSTAN PROPER into eleven soubahst or provinces, some of which were in extent equal to large
• It is with pleasure I inform the reader, that an English translation of the whole AYIN ACBAREE has been made, and published in Bengal, by Mr. Gladwin; and was begun under the patronage of Mr. Hastings; to whose munificence, and attention to useful literature, the world will be indebted for the means of access to a most valuable repository of intelligence respecting the former state of Hindoostan.
An account of the contents of the Ayin Acbaree, will be found at the end of Mr. Fraser's History of Nadir Shah.- Catalogue of Oriental MSS. page 12.
+ It is probable that Acbar might have changed the boundaries of some of the old soubahs, by adding or taking away certain circars, by way of rendering each province more compact, and the provincial capital more centrical to the several parts