« IndietroContinua »
29. Death of Tippoo, and
CHAP. glorious triumph of taking vengeance for his wrongs, by
generously protecting and soothing the fears of the youthful sons of his redoubted antagonist.
Tippoo could never be brought to believe that the Eng
lish would venture to storm Seringapatam, and he looked his charac- forward with confidence to the setting in of the heavy
rains, which were soon approaching, to compel them to raise the siege. He was brave, liberal, and popular during his father's life ; but his reign, after he himself ascended the throne, was felt as tyrannical and oppressive by his subjects. This, however, as is often the case in the East, they ascribed rather to the cupidity of his ministers than his own disposition. The Brahmins had predicted that the 4th of May would prove an inauspicious day to him ; he made them large presents on that very morning, and asked them for their prayers. He was sitting at dinner under a covered shed, to avoid the rays of the sun, when the alarm was given that the British were moving ; he instantly washed his hands, called for his arms, and, mounting his horse, rode towards the breach, which he reached as they were crossing the Cavery. On the way he received intelligence that Syed Goffer, his best officer, was killed. “Syed Goffer was never afraid of death,” he exclaimed; “let Mahommed Cassim take charge of his division ; ” while he himself calmly continued to advance towards the tumult, and was actively engaged sustaining the rearguard, as it retired from the breach. His corpse was found under a mountain of slain, stripped of all its ornaments and part of its clothing, but with the trusty amulet which he always wore still bound round his right arm. He had received three wounds in the body, and one in the temple; but the countenance
was not distorted, the eyes were open, and the expression Lushing. ton's Life was that of stern composure. The body was still warm; and Alau's Nar- for a minute Colonel Wellesley, who was present, thought
he was still alive: but the pulse which had so long throbbed for the independence of India had ceased to beat.
rative, 337, 347.
The storming of Seringapatam was one of the greatest CHAP, blows erer struck by any nation, and demonstrated at once of what vast efforts the British empire was capable, 1799. when directed by capacity and led by resolution. The Immense immediate fruits of victory were immense.
A formid- of the blow able fortress, the centre of Tippoo's power, garrisoned by twenty-two thousand regular troops, with all his treasures and military resources, had fallen ; the whole arsenal and founderies of the kingdom of Mysore were taken, and the artillery they contained amounted to the enormous number of 451 brass, and 478 iron guns, besides 287 mounted on the works. Above 520,000 pounds of powder, and 424,000 round-shot, also fell into the hands of the victors. The military resources, on the whole, resembled rather those of an old-established European monarchy, than of an Indian potentate recently elevated to greatness. But these trophies, great as they were, constituted the least considerable fruits of this memorable conquest : its moral consequences were far more lasting and important. In one day a race of usurpers had been extinguished, and a powerful empire overthrown; a rival to the British power struck down, and a tyrant of the native princes slain; a military monarchy subverted, and a stroke paralysing all India delivered. The loss in the assault was very trifling, amounting only to three hundred and eighty-seven killed and wounded, though fourteen hundred had fallen since the commencement of the siege. But the proportion in which it was divided indicated upon whom the weight of the contest had fallen, and how superior in the deadly breach European energy was to Asiatic valour; for of that number three hundred and forty were British, and only forty-seven native soldiers.
iWel. Desp. It is not the least honourable part of this glorious exploit, i. 709. App. that, even in the dreadful moments which followed the Scher. 1. 39. storm, the palace was respected, and the whole ladies of
* “ We feel great satisfaction," said the Mysore commissioners, “ in being able to assure your lordship, that, before the Zenana was searched for treasure, VOL. VII.
CHAP. the harem were conducted to separate apartments before
it was searched for treasure.
Colonel Wellesley was not engaged in the storm ; but Appoint- he commanded the reserve, which did not require to be Wellesley as called into action, and merely viewed with impatient regret governor of Seringa
the heart-stirring scene. He was next day, however, patam.
named governor of the town by General Harris, which appointment was not disturbed by Lord Wellesley, and constitutes one of the few blots on the otherwise unexceptionable administration of that eminent man.
Lord Wellesley was fully aware of the signal conduct and valour displayed by Baird in the siege and storm of Seringapatam ; but he selected his brother in preference to him, for the command of that important fortress, from his knowledge of the rare combination of civil and military qualities which he possessed. Had the appointment not been made by General Harris, he declared he would have made it himself. History, indeed, apart from biographical discussion, has little cause to lament an appointment which early called into active service the great civil as well as military qualities of the Duke of Wellington, which were immediately exerted with such vigour and effect in arresting the plunder and disorders consequent on the storm, that in a few days the shops were all re-opened, and the bazars were as crowded as they had been during the most flourishing days of the Mysore dynasty. But individual
injustice is not to be always excused by the merits of the Baird, i.
preferred functionary; and, unquestionably, the hero of 226. ScherSeringapatam, the gallant officer who led the assault, was ington's Life entitled to a very different fate from that of being super488. Pearce's seded in the command almost before the sweat was wiped Wellesley, i. 312, 313, from the brow which he had adorned with the laurels of
victory,* and seeing another placed as governor of the
i Hook's Life of
most important fortress that had ever been added to the CHAP.
XLIX. British dominions.
1799. The political arrangements consequent on the fall of Mysore, rivalled in ability and wisdom the vigour with Judicious which the military operations had been directed. The ments conbody of Tippoo was interred with the honours due to his the fall of rank, in his father's mausoleum : his sons obtained a
Mysore. splendid establishment from the prudent generosity of the victors. The principal Mohammedan officers of the Mysore family, the main strength of the monarchy, were conciliated by being permitted to retain their rank, offices, and emoluments, under the new government. The heir of the ancient rajahs of Mysore, whom Hyder had dispossessed, was restored to the sovereignty of the country, with a larger territory than any one of his ancestors had possessed ; and the Nizam was rewarded for his fidelity by a large accession of territory, taken from the conquests made by the Hyder family. The Peishwa was confirmed in his alliance by a grant somewhat more than half of what had been allotted to the Nizam, although his conduct during the war had been so equivocal as to have forfeited all claim to the generosity of the British government, and rendered his participation in the spoil a matter merely of policy. To the Company were reserved the rich territories of Tippoo on either coast, below the Ghauts, the forts commanding those important passes into the high table-land of Mysore, with the fortress and island of Seringapatam in its centre-acquisitions which entirely encircled the dominions of the new Rajah of Mysore by the British possessions, and rendered his forces a subsidiary addition to those of the Company. With such judgment were these arrangements effected by the directions of Lord Wellesley, and under the immediate superBaird in the assault of Seringapatam. A more judicious operation, conducted with more spirit and heroic gallantry, never was achieved. The decisive consequences of the success of that day, effected within two hours the entire destruction of our most formidable enemy in India. I am sure you will concur with me in an anxious solicitude to see the gallant leader of the assailants
CHAP. intendence of Colonel Wellesley, and so considerable were
the territories which were at the disposal of the victorious power, that all parties were fully satisfied with their acquisitions. The families of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultaun enjoyed more magnificent establishments than they had even done during the late reign; the infant Rajah of Mysore was elevated from a hovel to a palace, and reinstated in more than his ancestral splendour ; the Mohammedan officers of the fallen dynasty, surprised by the continuance of all the honours and offices which they had formerly enjoyed, were impressed with the strongest sense of the generosity of the British government; while the substantial power of Mysore had passed, with a territory yielding £560,000 a-year, to the munificent victors.* At the special request of Colonel Wellesley, and by the directions of the prize committee, the state-sword of Tippoo Sultaun was presented to General Baird, in the name of the army. And Marquis Wellesley, the distri
butor of all this magnificence, put the purest gem in the Lord Well. diadem of glory with which his brows were encircled, by Directors
, refusing for himself and his family any portion of the 1799 ; ii. 72, extensive prize-money derived from the public stores i. 335, 337. taken at Seringapatam, which had fallen into the hands
of the victorious army.11 The army had expressed their
rewarded in a manner suitable to his exertions and their beneficial effect." — LORD WELLESLEY to Mr DUNDAS, June 1799; Wellesley Desp. i. 619. Lord Wellesley's reasons for Colonel Wellesley's appointment are summed up in a few lines to him—“Great jealousy will arise among the officers in consequence of my employing you; but I employ you because I rely on your good sense, discretion, and spirit; and I cannot find all these qualities united in any other officer in India who could take such a command."-LORD WELLESLEY to COLONEL WELLESLEY, 1st Dec. 1800, respecting the Isle of France expedition.PEARCE, i. 312, 315.
* The territory acquired by Tippoo's overthrow at this juncture by the Company was 20,000 square miles, while the Rajah of Mysore was reinstated in 29,250. The cession made by Tippoo on occasion of Lord Cornwallis's treaty, was 24,000 square miles. Great Britain contains 91,000 square miles ; so that the territories wrested from Mysore by the two treaties were little short of the whole of Great Britain.-Martin's Map of India, Colonial Library; and Well. Desp. i. p. 1.
+ His letter on this subject is as follows :-"I understand that if the reserved part of the prize taken at Seringapatam, consisting of prize-money and ordnance,