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to this coalition, but the Emperor persisted in his design, and being joined by several Mahratta chiefs, and assisted by the Mogul nobles, set out upon his march, and arrived at Delhi in December 1771. The Vizir, Nujeeb ud Dowla, who had for so many years served the imperial family with faithfulness and ability, was now dead, and had left the government of Delhi in the hands of his son, Zabita Khan. The Emperor, on resuming the government of Delhi, from the son of Nujeeb ud Dowla, imagined that now he had offended that chief, no measures were to be kept with him, and therefore resolved at once to sieze upon his hereditary jaghire, or estate, of Saharunpore, which lay at a convenient distance from Delhi. In the expedition now undertaken against Zabita Khan, the Emperor's commander was Mirza Nujeef Khan, a Persian, of royal extraction. By the united forces of the Emperor, under this man, and the Mahrattas, Zabita Khan was defeated, and driven across the Ganges, whither he was closely pursued by his enemies. Nevertheless, he escaped, and took refuge in the camp of Sujah Dowla. His country, in spite of the Emperor, was taken possession of by the Mahrattas.
The Rohillas, an Afghaun race, who had established themselves between the Ganges and the mountains, and could, on an emergency, bring 80,000 men into the field, were now alarmed at the approach of the Mahrattas and the Emperor; and opened negotiations with their ancient enemy, Sujah Dowla, Subahdar of Oude. The Subahdar had long desired some opportunity to strip them of a part of their territory, and thought the present conjuncture favourable to his views. He knew, however, that the Rohillas, who understood his character, would put no trust in him, and therefore made application to the English General, Sir Robert Barker, then marching toward Allahabad, to become guarantee for the fulfilment of his part of the compact to be entered into. As Sujah Dowla demanded a large sum of money for clearing their country of the Mahrattas, the Rohillas were unwil ling to negociate with him, and were only at length induced to it by the interference of the English. It was, however, agreed that the Subahdar should be paid forty lacs of rupees for expelling the Mahrattas from the Rohilla country, part on the performance of the condition, the remainder in three years. Understanding that internal dissensions would inevitably recal the Mahratta forces in a short time, Sujah Dowla made no effort to repulse them; and, in the sequel, the Rohillas were compelled to treat with the Mahrattas, and pay them a sum of money to retreat out of their country.
Having accomplished this undertaking, the Emperor and the Mahrattas began to disagree. The former longed for some opportunity to break with his dangerous allies; and the latter made proposals to Zabita Khan to compel the Emperor, for a sum of money, to restore his territory, and bestow on him the office of Emir ul Omrah, which his father had enjoyed. The Emperor resisted these encroachments on his authority, and the Mahrattas, marching to Delhi, besieged him there, and taking the city, after a respectable defence, compelled him to submit to their demands, and likewise obtained from him the cession
of the provinces of Corah and Allahabad, which had been guaranteed to him by the English. After this, they prepared to cross the
The Subahdar, now thrown into the utmost alarm, dreaded the union of the Rohillas with the Mahrattas, and engaged to remit the forty lacs of rupees they had promised him, if they would now unite with him against the common enemy. Sujah Dowla likewise entreated the Bengal Government to succour him with a military force. He was in both points successful; both the Rohillas and the English united their forces with his. The cession of Allahabad to the Mahrattas, by Shah Aulum, the English properly considered an act of necessity, and, to prevent the effect of that measure, threw a garrison into the place, and sent a member of Council to superintend the revenue. Shortly after this, the Mahrattas retired, without coming to any decisive engagement.
The Subahdar of Oude, in conjunction with Warren Hastings, now projected the reduction or extermination of the Rohillas. He had long cast a wishful eye on their country, and the English Governor-General, knowing how eagerly he was bent on the design, engaged, in consideration of receiving forty lacs of rupees, and the expenses of the troops to be furnished the Nuwaub, to enter into his views, and concur in the destruction of a brave and independent people. Conscious that he was about to plunge into a nefarious transaction, Hastings endeavoured, in his despatches home, to cover his motives by pretending the imperious necessities of the Company. A highwayman, apprehended for robbery and murder, has always the same plea in his mouth: necessity drove him, he says, to tamper with the purses and lives of travellers; had his finances been better, men might for him have traversed the King's highway in peace. So reasoned Warren Hastings. He did not pretend, not he, to criminate the Rohillas, or to justify, on abstract principles, their extermination; it was enough for him that Sujah Dowla, who wished for the extinction of the unhappy race, had money to bestow, and that the Company's treasury was exhausted. It was not for him to think of justice and principle, when the Directors were pressing him for remittances; he had been sent out to India to improve the finances of the Company, not to weigh motives, and be nice about conscience and justice; and he was resolved that the dividend of honourable Proprietors should not be reduced, if cutting the throats of a few Rohilla people would prevent it. These were his reasons for uniting with the Subahdar, and he pretended no others. The next transaction, equal in injustice, though not in enormous atrocity, was the robbing the unfortunate Emperor of the provinces of Corah and Allahabad, which the English had guaranteed to him for his support, and the bestowing of them on the Vizir. This also was performed for money, the only motive to action at that time in British India.
It was at Benares that Hastings and Sujah Dowla hatched their atrocious plans for robbing the Emperor, and spilling the blood of the Rohillas. From that place they departed, the Vizir toward Delhi,
the Governor-General to Calcutta, to concoct despatches, full of disguise and cunning, for the Directors. Communications between the Vizir and the Bengal Government had generally passed hitherto through the medium of the military officers on duty in Oude. There was, however, a frankness in the military character, or some other good quality, which Hastings regarded as dangerous to his views. He procured the consent of the Council to the appointment of a private agent at the court of the Subahdar, who might be more entirely the instrument of the Governor-General's projects. To fill this honourable station, a Mr. Middleton was selected.
Meantime, the Vizir, by an artful show of friendship and fidelity, had won upon the easy disposition of the Emperor, and procured his sanction and concurrence in the destruction of the Rohillas, the half of whose territory was to be the reward of his criminal compliance. Upon this, the Vizir suddenly called upon the Governor-General for the aid he was to furnish him against that devoted people; and, although the demand was somewhat unexpected just at that moment, so great was the alacrity of Warren Hastings to stain his hands with guilt, that he prevailed upon the reluctant members of Council to come into his designs; and, in January 1774, despatched the first portion of an English army towards Rohilcund, to perpetrate the most cold-blooded murder that was ever disguised uuder the name of war. The gallant Rohillas did not decline coming to an engagement with their enemies; but, on the contrary, with a courage and resolution which inspired the English commander with admiration, determined to devote themselves for their country, and attacked our army with a courage much surpassing their skill, though in this quality they were by no means contemptible adversaries. European art, however, prevailed over their undisciplined valour; after withstanding for hours a tremendous cannonade, and seeing their General, with thousands of their comrades, fall upon the field of battle, these brave people were compelled to give They retreated as rapidly as possible towards the mountains; and then, but not before, the worthy Vizir approached the field, and gave orders for the devastation of the country, the burning of villages, the murder of every one who bore the name of Rohilla; and these orders were executed with a nice punctuality which does little honour to the Hindoo character.
Proceeding to Bissouly, a city in the centre of Rohilcund, the English found there Nujeef Khan, who had come with the imperial army to assist in the reduction of the Rohillas. That having, however, been accomplished before his arrival, the Vizir eagerly seized the occasion to defraud the Emperor of his share of the spoil; and, although perfectly aware of the solemn treaty which had been entered into, the Bengal Government shamelessly confessed that they would abet the Vizir in his impudent injustice. There still remained one Rohilla chief unsubdued, and so soon as Sujah Dowla had obtained the English to sanction his breach of faith with the Emperor, he and his mercenary allies marched against him. The Rohilla, Fyzoolla Khan, was posted advantageously at the roots of the mountains, near
Pattir Gur, and was expected to offer a gallant resistance. Negotiation was therefore resorted to; and, after considerable difficulty, it was agreed that, on surrendering half his effects to the Vizir, Fyzoolla Khan should receive a jaghire of fourteen lacs and seventy-five thousand rupees, in Rohilcund. Such was the end of the first Rohilla
The next transaction to be related was of a kindred character. It will be remembered, that for the grant of the revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, the Company were annually to pay twenty-six lacs of rupees into the imperial treasury. When the Directors learned that Shah Aulum had made use of the Mahratta arms to establish himself on the throne of his ancestors, they considered it a plausible excuse for withholding his pension,-for it is true that the descendant of the antient sovereigns of Hindoostan now subsisted upon a pension grudgingly granted him by a Company of Tea-dealers in Londo... It was by such acts as these,-by pilfering from the Nuwaub of Bengal half his revenue; by selling to the Vizir the Rohillas for forty lacs; the provinces of Corah and Allahabad for fifty more; and by plundering the Emperor of twenty-six lacs per annum, that Warren Hastings was enabled to satisfy the avarice of the Directors, and to purchase himself a statue in the India House.1
Parliament had ordained, that the new constitution it had framed for India, should commence from the 1st of August 1774. But as all the members of Council did not arrive at Calcutta before the 25th of October, it was on that day that the first meeting of the Board took place. This first meeting was marked by dissension. The GovernorGeneral was thought to have behaved coldly towards his colleagues; they retaliated, by scrutinizing his conduct, and thwarting his views; and, as his contumelious manners had united a majority against him, they were enabled to do this effectually. Considering its motives and character, the Rohilla war was condemued by the new members of Government. Intelligence had not yet arrived of the treaty with Fyzoolla Khan; and believing therefore that a war of a doubtful complexion demanded their attention, they required that the whole correspondence between the Governor-General, the Agent at the court of the Vizir, and the Commander of the Forces, should be laid before them. A part of this correspondence Mr. Hastings consented to produce; but the remainder, described to be of a private nature, would be withheld. This would not satisfy the Councillors; they suspected that some atrocious secret was at the bottom of the Governor-General's reluctance, and peremptorily demanded a full disclosure. In this demand, they were afterwards seconded by the Directors themselves; but the letters hidden must have contained something of a very dark and nefarious nature, for no authority could ever wring them from the hands of the culprit.
Three out of the five Members of Council being now opposed to
Where it still stands, as if villainy and perfidy personified were the household god of the Honourable Company,
the Governor-General, who was supported by Mr. Barwell only, the majority assumed the powers of Government. Stung by the insolent neglect and suspicious concealment of the Governor, they were hurried into rash measures, and behaved with too great warmth and inconsiderateness: they voted the immediate recal of Mr. Middleton, the agent at the Court of Oude; and, although condemning the Rohilla war entirely, directed the Commander-in-Chief to demand of the Vizir immediate payment of the forty lacs of rupees, though they were ignorant whether or not the war was concluded. They likewise ordered him to march, with all his troops, out of the Rohilla country, into the antient territory of Oude, and, if the Vizir refused to comply with their demands within fourteen days, to withdraw the troops entirely from his service. Before the departure of these cominands, news arrived of the treaty with Fyzoolla Khan, of the Vizir's having paid fifteen lacs, and of the intended march of the English army into the borders of Rohilcund. Hastings now requested the Members in opposition to suspend their demands, and to proceed with more coolness and deliberation. But his motives were suspected; and the instructions to the Commander-in-Chief were no further softened, than that he was now directed to wait on the Vizir in his capital, and reckon the fourteen days from the date of his interview. These measures the Governor-General condemned as harsh and highly impolitic (he never thought of justice); and both parties represented their own proceedings, and those of their rivals, in their despatches to the Directors, in the colours best suited to their views.
To increase the discord and animosity that prevailed, Sujah Dowla died unexpectedly in the beginning of 1775, and was succeeded by his only legitimate son, Asoff ul Dowla, upon whom the majority in Council immediately formed new designs. Mr. Bristow was appointed to fill the place of Mr. Middleton at the Court of the Nuwaub; and it was determined to consider no part of the treaty with the late Nuwaub as binding, except that by which he agreed to pay certain sums of money to the Company. Should his successor need their aid, he was to purchase it with fresh sums. In reality, a new treaty was entered into with the inexperienced young man, by which he engaged to yield up to the Company the district of Benares, whose revenue amounted to twenty-two lacs and ten thousand rupees, and pay two lacs and sixty thousand rupees per month for the assistance of the Company's troops, besides all the former Vizir's debts to the Company. These impositions, because not made by himself, Mr. Hastings condemned as inequitable (as in reality they were); but the Directors, ever delighting in the prospect of gold, expressed themselves singularly satisfied with the treaty, which, they said, appeared to promise them solid and permanent advantages.
The new Board of Administration, having been invested by Parliament with a controlling power over the three Presidencies, very early demanded from each an account of its political, financial, and commercial situation, and discovered at Bombay a scene of difficulty