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Sahou, who, as he advanced in life becoming infirm and indolent, delegated to his minister, Balla-jee Bishwanaut, a Brahmin, born at Gokum, the cares of government and the entire exercise of his power, with the title of Mookliperdhaun, or chief civil magistrate.*
Rajah Sahou, or Saho-jee, died without issue in 1740, after a reign of fifty years, leaving nephews by his brother. The wisdom of the administration of Balla-jee Bishwe naut, during the time he had enjoyed the office of Mookh, or Peishwah, had gained him the love and confidence of the people and army; but the sentiments of gratitude and loyalty were absorbed by ambition to rule.-He made use of the influence he had acquired under his benefactor, so firmly to establish his power, that he not only retained the high office of Peishwah during his life, but transmitted it to his posterity, and this form of government has subsisted ever since. On the death of a Peishwah, his son, or in failure of a son, his next male relation, succeeds to his title and authority.
Saho-jee, during the latter years of his life, having shut himself up in the fortress of Sattarah, was never seen by the public; and the Mahrattas, forgetting his rights with his person, looked up to and obeyed his vicegerent only. The mean capacity of his successor, Ram Rajah, was another favourable circumstance for consolidating the power of Bishwanaut, who, on his decease, was succeeded in the full enjoyment of the authority he had exercised by his son, Bajee-Rao. At that time Rago-jee
*The Persian word Peishwah, responding to Mookh, is generally employed in speaking of this office, but Mookh only is engraved on the seal of the person who holds this office.-Marquis of Wellesley's History of the Mahratta War, Appendix, p. 5.
Booslab, of the family of Seeva-jee, was Buckshi, or chief commander of the Satarah troops, and held the province of Berar as a Jagheer. Discontented at the usurpatious of the Peishwah, he retired to Berar, which he retained under his own dominion, acknowledging, however, the Satarah Rajah as his liege lord and chief.
The descendants of Seeva-jee still exist, and reside in the fortress of Satarah; where, though in fact prisoners, the eldest in succession is nominally considered as sovereign of the Mahratta nation. The Peishwah, on succeeding to that office, receives a dress of honour from him; before he takes the field in person he goes to Satarah, to have an audience of leave from him, and the country, to a certain extent round Satarah, is secure against all military exactions, and held in respect.
All negociations, on the part of the Mahratta nation, generally considered, are carried on, and the treaties that may result from them concluded, by the Peishwah only; they are held to be obligatory upon all Mahratta chieftains and feudatories, even though not consulted in regard to them, as being made in the name of the supreme head of the state, the Peishwah apparently acting by his authority. But several of those chiefs, in consequence of the weakness of the Peishwal's government, for some time past, and of the frequent contentions, which have arisen among the members of the family itself, are in fact become independent, although they still continue to acknowledge the Peishwah as the exécutive minister of state.
"They possess no acknowledged right, however, to conclude separate engagements with foreign states, unless the tacit permission to make conquests* should be thought
* "When the province of Malwa was assigned to Holkar and Scindiah, for the payment of their troops, it was stipulated, that of the
to confer that right; but even in this case it must also be inferred, that they have not the right to conclude engagements affecting the Peishwah's supremacy. They are bound to pay allegiance to the Peishwah, and are to every intent officers and subjects of the Mahratta state, of which the Peishwah is the supreme executive authority."* The principal chiefs of the Mahratta nation, are,
1. The Peishwah, whose capital and place of residence is the city of Poonah.
2. The Holkar family, whose capital is Indore, a city of Malwa.
3. The Scindiah family, whose capital, we believe, is now Oujein. The late Madha-jee Scindiah, who died at the beginning of 1794, extended his territories over a great part of the northern provinces of Hindūstān, got possession of Dehly and the person of the Mogul Emperor, in whose name he affected to act as first minister. He was succeeded by his nephew, Dowlat Row Scindiah, whom he had adopted as his son.
4. The Rajah of Berar, who does not indeed possess so great a military force as Scindiah had, though his government is more solidly established, and his person more respected. The province of Berar, as has been observed, formed part of the dominions of the Rajah of Satarah. Rago-jee Boosolah, the first Rajah of Berar, and from whom the present Rajah is descended, was of the Satarah family; and, though he has acted with the Peishwah
conquests which they might atchieve, one portion should belong to the Peishwah, and another portion to Holkar and Scindiah respectively."-Note of the Marquis of Wellesley-History of the Mahrattu War, Appendix, p. 9.
* Marquis of Wellesley, ibid.
on many occasions, yet we do not believe that he ever acknowledged himself to be subordinate to him, or obliged to enter into his plans.
Besides these four principal chiefs, there are several other Rajahs of inferior_note.*
Before the Mahrattas, like some of the other fudian powers, began to entertain Europeans in their service, and adopt and imitate the European discipline and tactics, the strength of a Mahratta army consisted almost entirely of cavalry. Both horse and rider were inured to fatigue. Great bodies of cavalry have been known to march at the rate of fifty and sixty miles a day for some days successively. Some parts of the Mahratta countries abound with horses, and produce a breed, much esteemed, called the Bheemerteddy horse; but the common Mahratta warhorse is a large-boned ill-looking animal. The only weapon used by horsemen is a sabre, in the choice of which they are very curious and intelligent. They learn the use of it, and dexterity in the management of the horse, from their infancy. Their dress, in war, consists of a quilted jacket of cotton cloth, which is perhaps a better defence against cuts of the sword than any other light military dress; under it is a vest of linen, made to fit close to the body, and cross over the breast. The jacket is taken off when its warmth proves inconvenient. A pair of pantaloons, fastened round the middle, over the end of the vest, descends to the ankles. On the head a broad turban is worn, which descending behind, and on each side of the head, nearly as low as the top of the shoulder, defends the head and neck both from the heat of the sun and from the
* For an account of them see the Marquis of Wellesley's History of the Mahratta War, Appendix, p. 27, et seq.
sword of the enemy. Food for the rider and his horse, to be had recourse to in case of emergency, is contained in a small bag tied tight upon the saddle. That for the rider consists in a few cakes, a sinall quantity of rice or flour, and some salt and spices: that of the horse, of a kind of black peas called gram, and balls made of the meal of those peas mixed with ghee* and some hot herbs or spices. Those balls are given by way of cordial, to restore the vigour of the horse after extraordinary fatigue, and it is said that a small quantity of bang is sometimes added, a drug which, if taken moderately, exhilarates the spirits; but, if taken in large quantities, it produces a sort of furious intoxication. Tents, except a few for some of the principal officers, were rarely used. Their irruptions were frequently so sudden, and so rapidly executed, that the first intelligence of their hostile intentions was their appearance in the territories they designed to invade. In consequence of their frequent wars, there are few countries in Hindustan which are not perfectly known to them. Detached parties precede the main army; others scour the country on either flank, and the provisions they can collect are driven towards the spot where the main army is to halt. As hay is scarcely ever made in the southern parts of India, the horses are accustomed to eat grass dug up by the roots, which afford a considerable degree of nourishment, and correct the purgative quality of the blade. The rider having first provided for his horse, goes to his own temperate meal, which having finished, he lies down perfectly contented by his side, and on the first stroke of the nagar, or great drum, instantly mounts him again.
* A sort of clarified butter.