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to that decayed potentate. When Scindiah was at the CHAP. head of sixteen regular battalions, sixty thousand horse, and two hundred pieces of cannon, he placed himself at the court of the Peishwa below all the hereditary nobles of the state, declined to sit down in their presence, and untying a bundle of slippers, said, “This is my occupation : it was my father’s.” But, though thus humble in matters of form, no man was more vigorous and energetic in the real business of government. He was the nominal subject but real master of the unfortunate Mogul Emperor, 1 Auber. ii. Shah Aulum ; the ostensible friend but secret enemy of 22, 2017 his rival Holkar; the professed inferior but actual supe- lesley to rior and oppressor of the Rajpoot chiefs of central India ; mittee, Sept.
1803, iii. the enrolled soldier but tyrannic ruler of the declining 372. throne of the Peishwa.1
The family of Holkar had been originally of the shepherd tribe; the first who rose above the class of peasants And of was Mulhar Row, born in 1693. By the vigour and ability which they subsequently displayed, his ancestors gradually rose to eminence under the Mahratta chiefs, and at the death of Tukajie, the head of the family, in 1797, two legitimate and two natural sons of the house appeared to contest the palm of supremacy. Jeswunt Row was the youngest of the latter class : and in the first civil contest which ensued with his legitimate brothers, he was totally defeated, and obliged to fly with only a few followers. The native vigour of his character, however, rose superior to all his difficulties. He underwent the most extraordinary vicissitudes of fortune, in the course of which, on one occasion, he quelled a revolt among his Pindaree 1798. followers by springing from his horse, and with his own hand loading and discharging a field-piece among them. By the force, however, of courage and
perseverance he at length succeeded in all his designs, and under the title of guardian to the infant son of his elder legitimate brother, in effect obtained the command of the whole possessions of the Holkar family. For some time he was engaged in
Oct. 25, 1802.
iii. 27, 34, Introd.
CHAP. hostilities with Scindiah ; but no sooner was his power
fully established than these two formidable chieftains united their forces against the Peishwa, the acknowledged head of the confederacy. The combined armies encountered those of their nominal superior in the neighbourhood of Poonah. Scindiah's forces commenced the action, and his troops at first met with a repulse ; while Holkar, with his cavalry dismounted, watched the conflict from the heights in the rear. Instantly mounting his horse, the brave chief bade all who did not intend to conquer or die to return to their wives and children ; for himself, he was resolved not to survive defeat. Bearing down with
his squadrons, yet fresh, on the wearied foe, Holkar soon 2.Au berz. ii. restored the combat, and finally routed the Peishwa's Malcolm; troops with great slaughter.
with great slaughter. The unhappy monarch was Wel. Desp. obliged to fly from his capital, which was soon occupied
by his enemies, and the august head of the Mahrattas appeared as a suppliant in the British territories.
Lord Wellesley justly deemed this a favourable opporReasons for tunity to establish a proper balance of power among the war. Per. Mahratta states, and erect a barrier between their most
enterprising chiefs and the British dependencies. It had long been a leading object of English policy to prevent the establishment of any considerable state in India with whom the French might form dangerous connections; and already a sort of military power had risen up, of the most formidable character, under French officers, and under Scindiah's protection, on the banks of the Jumna. Perron, a French officer in the service of that chieftain, had organised a formidable force, consisting of thirty thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry, admirably equipped and disciplined, with a train of a hundred and fifty pieces of cannon of brass, and one hundred and twenty iron guns, entirely under the direction of officers of his own country, and disposed equally to second the hostile views of the Mahratta confederacy, or forward those of Napoleon for the subversion of the British power in the East.
. ron's French force.
For the maintenance of this subsidiary force he had ob- CHAP. tained a grant of a rich and extensive territory, yielding £1,700,000 a-year of revenue, extending from the banks 1802. of the Jumna towards those of the Indus, through the Punjaub, and comprising Agra, Delhi, and a large portion of the Doab, or alluvial plain between the Jumna and the Ganges. It was not the least important circumstance in this military establishment, that it gave M. Perron the entire command of the person of the unfortunate Shah Malcolm , Aulum, the degraded heir of the Mogul empire of Delhi ; Desp. iii.29 and promised at no distant period to put the French Em-Auber, ji. peror in possession of the rights of the house of Timour Gurw. i.87. over the whole Indian peninsula.
The Peishwa was not insensible of the need in which he stood of British protection, to maintain his precarious The Peishwa authority over the unruly Mahratta chiefs ; but dread of moi benefits the hostility of Scindiah and Holkar, joined to a secret allianco. jealousy of the rising power of the aspiring foreigners, had hitherto prevented him from closing with the advances made to him by the governor-general. Nay, he had even declined to accept the share of the spoils of Mysore, which, in order to conciliate his cabinet, had, notwithstanding their dubious conduct in the war with Tippoo, been offered by the British government. The decisive overthrow received from Scindiah and Holkar, however, and the desperate state of his affairs in consequence of their invasion, entirely overcame these scruples; and, on the morning of the day on which he evacuated his capital, the fugitive monarch eagerly solicited the aid of a British Oct. 25. subsidiary force to enable him to make head against his rebellious feudatories. He was cordially received, there- Dec. 3. fore, by the British authorities; and having escaped out of his dominions, he embarked on board a British vessel, Dwel
. Desp. and landed safely at Bombay. The result of these dis-iii. 33, 36.
Malcolm, astrous circumstances was the conclusion of the treaty of 290, 291. Bassein between the Company and the Peishwa, in virtue 207, 289. of which a close alliance offensive and defensive was con
CHAP. tracted by the two powers, and the latter agreed to receive
a subsidiary force, to be maintained at his expense, of six thousand men.
This crisis was rightly considered by Lord Wellesley Collection to require the immediate application of the most vigorous and delivery measures. In contemplation of its arrival, he had already by Colonel collected a body of twenty thousand men under General Wellesley. Stuart, at Hurryhurr, a town of the Madras presidency,
near the Mahratta frontier ; while General, afterwards LORD LAKE, received the command of the principal force, called the army of Bengal, which was stationed in Oude. The Madras army, however, was afterwards divided into two parts, and the command of the advanced column, consisting of ten thousand European and sepoy troops, with two thousand of the Mysore horse, was intrusted to Colonel Wellesley, whose admirable dispositions, during the war with Doondiah, had both won for him the confidence of the troops and conciliated the goodwill of the
With this force, that enterprising officer March 9, broke up from Hurryhurr on the 9th March, and, after
crossing the Toombudra river, entered the Mahratta territory. He was everywhere received by the people as a deliverer. The peasants, won by the strict discipline of his troops, and the regular payment for provisions in the former campaign, flocked in crowds with supplies, as they afterwards did in France, to the camp ; while the whole inhabitants, worn out with the incessant oppression of the Mahratta sway, welcomed, with loud shouts, the troops who were to introduce in its room the steadiness of British rule and the efficiency of British protection. Holkar had left Poonah some time before, with the bulk of his army, and the garrison which he had left in that capital abandoned it on the approach of the British forces. Colonel Wellesley, therefore, deemed it unnecessary to wait the tardy movements of the infantry; and aware of the importance of gaining possession of the capital before Scindiah could assemble forces for its relief, or the
iii. 37, 38.
threats of burning it, which they had uttered, could be CHAP. executed, put himself at the head of the cavalry, and, advancing by forced marches, reached Poonah on the 19th April, and entered the city amidst the acclamations of the inhabitants, whom, by an extraordinary effort, he had saved from the vengeance of the retiring enemy. In the
April 19. thirty-two hours immediately preceding, he had marched Wel
. Desp. at the head of his horse about sixty miles—an instance of Introd. sustained effort, under the burning sun of India, which 138, 145. has never been exceeded in history.
The effects of this vigorous step were soon apparent. The Peishwa, relieved from his compulsory exile in NegotiaBombay, returned to his dominions, and was reseated Scindiab with much
of the British army, on the Rajah of musnud, or hereditary throne of the Mahrattas. His principal feudatories renewed their allegiance to him, and even, in some instances, joined their troops to the British forces ; and it was for a short time hoped that this great stroke of securing that monarch to the British interest, by the strong bond of experienced necessity, would be accomplished without the effusion of blood. It ere long appeared, however, that these hopes were fallacious. The jealousies and animosities of the Mahratta chiefs had been subdued by the approach of common danger; and it speedily became manifest, from the great accumulation of forces which assembled on the frontiers of the Nizam's territories, that hostilities on a very extended scale were in contemplation. Lord Wellesley's preparations were immediate, and proportioned to the greatness of the danger. General Lake assumed the command of the principal army, twenty-five thousand strong, which had assembled near Cawnpore on the frontiers of Oude ; while Colonel Wellesley, now promoted to the rank of general, drew near to the threatening mass of forces which was collected on the Nizam's frontier. A long negotiation ensued, conducted by Colonel Collins, the British resident at the court of Scindiah--the pro