Images de page
PDF
ePub

DEFEAT OF THE EMPEROR.

A. D. 1759, 1760.

It is to be recollected, that at this time a part of the troops were with Col. Forde in the Deckan, another part at Patna, and that those from home destined for Bengal had been stopped at Madras, so that the garrison of Fort William was very weak; and, moreover, there were only three ships of war in the river. To suffer the Dutch, however, to pass, might endanger the very existence of the English in Bengal; and it, moreover, was believed to be the politics of the Nabob's durbar, to let the rivals weaken each other, and then try to reduce both, or, at worst, to side with the stronger. On the other side there was the hazard of being overcome, and the doubt, if they would be justified in commencing hostilities against an ally of England, in case the Dutch should attempt to pass the batteries. But while feeble-minded men were hesitating, and even representing to Clive his personal risk, in order to dissuade him, he replied, that "a public man may occasionally be called on to act with a halter round his neck," and resolved at all hazards to maintain the interest and honour of his country, and resist the Dutch if they offered to advance 7.

From the embarrassment about being the aggressors, the Dutch soon relieved them by seizing vessels, guns, and stores, making prisoners, and pulling down the English flag. It was concluded from this, that they had been advised of a war between the two nations in Europe, or that they counted on the Nabob's aid or neutrality. As their plans were not known, the greater part of the troops were stationed at the batteries named Charnock's and Tanna's, under Capt. Knox, while Col. Forde, who had returned from the Deckan on account of his health, marched with another party in the direction of Chinsura, to intercept the Dutch troops if they should debark below the batteries, and march for that place by land. The three ships were directed to come above the batteries, where fire-boats were placed, and other preparations

On the same day Col. Forde was attacked in the ruins of Chandernagore, by the garrison of Chinsura; but he routed and pursued them to the barriers of that town, which (being now joined by Capt. Knox from the batteries) he was preparing to invest, when he heard of the approach of the troops from the ships. Though his whole force did not amount to 400 Europeans, and 800 Sepoys, he advanced to meet them. The action was "short, bloody, and decisive;" for it lasted only half an hour, and the Dutch had 120 Europeans, and 200 Malays killed; 150 wounded, and 350 Europeans,

7 When Clive formed this resolution, almost the whole of his property was in the hands of the Dutch, through whom he was remitting it to Europe.

85

soners.

with fourteen officers, and 200 Malays, made priForde then returned, and sat down before Chinsura. But the Dutch sued for favour; they disavowed the conduct of their fleet, acknowledging themselves the aggressors, and agreed to pay costs and damages. Their ships were then restored.

But the troubles of the Dutch were not yet ended. In a few days Meerum, at the head of a body of horse, approached Chinsura, making demands. They wrote, supplicating the good offices of Clive. By his means a treaty was effected, limiting the number of troops they were to keep to 125 Europeans; and the young Nabob then withdrew and left them in quiet.

Clive now put into execution his plan of returning to England, for which he sailed on the 25th February, 1760, the richest man that ever left the shores of India for Europe. His departure was deeply regretted by the Nabob, who saw in him his only support; and many of the Company's servants augured ill, and but too truly, for the country from his absence.

CHAPTER X.

Defeat of the Emperor-Death of Meerum-Dethronement of Meer Jaffier-Seizure of Râm Narrain-The Private Trade-Quarrel with Meer Cossim-Affairs at PatnaRestoration of Meer Jaffier-Battle of Geriah-Massacre of English Prisoners-Battle at Patna-Mutiny of Sepoys -Battle at Buxar-Death of Meer Jaffier-His Successor -Presents received.

made.

On the 18th January this officer had marched for Patna, accompanied by a large native force, under Meerum. For the late Shâh-Zada, who was now emperor, his father having been murdered 8, was again before that city. Col. Calliaud had written to Râm Narrain, to avoid an engagement; but he gave no heed to the advice, fought, and was defeated. On the 22nd February, Calliaud fought a battle, in which the emperor was totally routed; and the victory would have been still more com

the seventh ran down the river, but she was met and captured.

On the 21st November the Dutch ships came to anchor, a little below the batteries, and on the 23rd they landed on the opposite shore 700 Europeans, and about 800 Buggoses, i. e. Malays. On the same day orders were sent to Commodore Wilson, to demand restitution of the ships, men, and property, or "to fight, sink, burn, and destroy" the Dutch ships on their refusal. Next day (24th) the demand was made, and refused, and the commodore then obeyed his further instructions. Unequal as were the forces, in two hours six of the Dutch ships struck; plete, if Meerum had not refused to give any cavalry for pursuit. The emperor marched for Bengal, followed by Calliaud, who came nearly up with him two or three times, and but for the refusal of the Nabob to give any cavalry, would probably have defeated him again. He thus was able by Law and his French, he made two assaults. to make his way back to Patna, on which, aided He was preparing to make a third, when the arrival of a detachment under Capt. Knox forced him to retire. Knox was then sent against the Foujdar joining the emperor. He gave him a defeat, and of Purneah, who was in arms for the purpose of Calliaud and Meerum, who had now arrived at Meerum impeded success, by refusing to give caPatna, went in pursuit of him. But here again valry. His career, however, was near its close, See above, p. 47.

By the rotation system which had been established
the fifth on the list, those above him having died
the office of governor now came to Mr. Holwell,
or returned to Europe. Col. Forde also returned,
Calliaud.
and the chief military command lay with Col.

On the night of the 2nd July there was a fearful | storm, in which the lightning struck the tent of Meerum, and all within it perished. As in the East the troops always disperse on the death of the general, it was resolved to keep that of Meerum a secret; it was therefore given out that he was unwell, and during a march of seven days to Patna the army never suspected the truth. When it was made known, the troops became clamorous for their arrears of pay; they reviled the Nabob in the most opprobrious terms, and even menaced him with death. They were only appeased by the efforts of his son-in-law, Meer Cossim, who advanced three lacs of rupees, and became security for the remainder.

Violent and unprincipled as Meerum was, and though the Nabob lived in constant apprehension of meeting death at his hands, his removal now led to the overthrow of his father's power. Meer Cossim, an able, ambitious, and unscrupulous man, had, when he advanced the money, insisted on being put into Meerum's place; and though the Nabob had two other sons and Meerum left one, he was obliged to consent. This, however, did not content Meer Cossim; he was in correspondence with Mr. Holwell, who hated Meer Jaffier, and the dethronement of that prince was meditated.

Meantime Mr. Holwell was superseded by Mr. Vansittart, from Madras, who, on Clive's strong recommendation, had been appointed his successor in Bengal. Mr. Vansittart was a man of many good qualities, and by no means devoid of talent; but he wanted that which is of vital importance to a man placed as he was-he wanted firmness of purpose and energy of character, and he therefore soon ceased to be master at his own council-board. The expenses of the Company at this time in Bengal were very great, and their resources were becoming every day more limited; the unthrifty Nabob was of course in arrear, and Mr. Holwell therefore found little difficulty in persuading the governor to adopt his views, and to enter into the plan for the dethronement of that prince.

As Mr. Holwell had laid the plan, the task of conducting it was committed to him. Meer Cossim obtained permission to come to Calcutta, where he conferred with Mr. Holwell, who agreed to every thing he proposed, except the assassination of the Nabob. At this the former expressed his fears that the latter was not so much his friend as he had supposed. As, however, he could not go on without the English, he consented to waive that point; and it was arranged that the title of Nabob should be left to Meer Jaffier, while all the executive power, along with the office of Dewan, or treasurer, should be transferred to Meer Cossim. The Company, to defray their expenses, were to have the districts of Burdwar, Midnapore, and Chittagong. These terms were approved of by the Select Committee, and a treaty to this effect was signed by them and Meer Cossim.

All that now remained was, to inform Meer Jaffier that he had ceased to reign. Mr. Holwell was expected to undertake this task also; but he declined, for various reasons, and quitted the Company's service. Mr. Vansittart then resolved to undertake the office himself, and, on the 14th October, he arrived at Moorshedabâd. Next day he was visited by the Nabob. He dwelt on the evils of the government, and Meer Jaffier expressed his

willingness to be guided by his advice for its improvement. Other visits and notes succeeded, in which the Nabob was urged to choose from among "his children" some capable person to manage the affairs of the state. By dint of importunity he was drawn to confess his own incapacity and the superior fitness of Meer Cossim; but as he did not seem inclined to act as was wished, it was resolved to recur to force. The preparations having been made with due secrecy, Col. Calliaud joined his troops with Meer Cossim, and entered the outer court of the palace, where he drew up his men, and sent in to Meer Jaffier a letter from the governor, complaining of his silence during the day, denouncing his evil counsellors, and informing him that he had sent Col. Calliaud with a military force "to wait on him" and expel his evil advisers, and he was exhorted to look on the governor as his best friend, and "to remain satisfied." But his satisfaction was evinced by a transport of rage, in which he vowed he would resist to the last. Calliaud remained quiet, to give him time to reflect; and it ended in his submission, stipulating only for his life, honour, and a suitable maintenance. Mr. Vansittart now appeared, and assured him that not only his person, but his government was safe, if he pleased; but when he found that he was only to have the title, he declined the empty honour, and having obtained permission to settle at Calcutta, he set out for it that very evening. Meer Cossim was forthwith seated on the musnud, and English and natives joined in offering him their congratulations.

Thus, in violation of the treaty existing with him, and with a sacrifice of British honour, was Meer Jaffier dethroned. Various frivolous reasons, such as his countenancing the Dutch, his being in correspondence with the emperor, and such like, were assigned, to justify the deed; but the real reason was-money. The Company got five lacs; but on the night the treaty was signed, Meer Cossim had presented to Mr. Vansittart a paper, which proved to be a note for the payment of twenty lacs to the members of the Select Committee. One can hardly be much astray in supposing that this also had been arranged between him and Mr. Holwell, who, however, with the others, rejected it, and bade the president inform him that he mistook their motives. Still he pressed it on them, and at length, as he seemed distressed at their not allowing him to give proofs of his gratitude, the kindhearted president told him that, when affairs were settled and the country flourishing, they would accept such marks of his favour as he might be pleased to bestow. It is needless to add that, in due time, the money was offered and accepted". As it was only the members of the Select Committee that were thus considered, the other members of council were highly offended, and, in a letter to the Directors, they did not hesitate to hint that this was the real cause of the revolution. They also took great credit to themselves for having had the fortitude to resist the repeated

In the division of the spoil Mr. Vansittart had five lacs of rupees (58,3331.); Mr. Holwell, 2,70,000 (30,9377.); Mr. Sumner, 2,40,000 (28,000l.); Mr. M'Guire, 2,55,000 (29,3707.); Mr. Smyth, the Secretary, 1,34,000 (15,3547.); Major Yorke, who commanded the detachment attending on Meer Cossim, a like sum (15,3541); and finally, Col. Calliaud, two lacs (22,9167.); in all, 17,33,000 rupees (200,2697.).

QUARREL WITH MEER COSSIM.

A. D. 1761.

offers of Meer Cossim. As we shall see, however, they were in reality little more virtuous than those to whom they were in opposition.

To raise the necessary funds for the payments he had to make, the new Nabob began to squeeze the relations and friends of his predecessors, going back as far as the time of Aliverdi Khân. The emperor being still in the vicinity of Patna, the discontented sought refuge with him; and in order to get him out of the way, Major Carnac, who commanded there, gave him battle and defeated him (Jan. 15, 1761). M. Law and his French were made prisoners; negotiations were then opened, Major Carnac visited the emperor in his camp, and was accompanied by him back to Patna, whither also came Meer Cossim, who, on engaging to pay an annual tribute of twenty-four lacs of rupees, was acknowledged Sûbahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa.

Meer Cossim shared his predecessor's feelings toward Râm Narrain, who was supposed to be very wealthy. He called on him now to settle his accounts; but the Hindoo alleged that he owed nothing, the defence and other expenses of the province having consumed all its revenues. Mr. Vansittart supported the Nabob, Major Carnac upheld Râm Narrain; by which conduct, as he no doubt violated the principles of military subordination, he was removed, and Col. Coote, who was now in Bengal, was sent to command at Patna. But Coote also refused to be instrumental in the destruction of a man for whose safety the British faith had been pledged; and he too was recalled, and the command at Patna given to Capt. Carstairs, with directions to obey the chief of the factory. The result was, that Râm Narrain was seized and given up to the Nabob; and Mr. Vansittart was thus the instrument of placing another stain on the purity of the British faith and honour.

Mr. Vansittart's power, however, soon passed out of his hands. Before Clive left India, a very energetic letter, signed by himself and by Messrs. Holwell, Sumner, Pleydell, and M'Guire, the other members of the Secret Committee, and which told the directors some unpalatable truths, had been sent to the India House. It excited great wrath and indignation, and orders were sent out to Calcutta to dismiss those four civilians. Mr. Holwell had already resigned, and the dismissal of the remaining three left Mr. Vansittart in a minority in the council, so that the powers of government passed into the hands of his opponents, headed by Mr. Amyatt and Mr. Johnstone. One of their first acts was to appoint Mr. Ellis, a violent, intemperate man, resident at Patna, where he soon contrived to irritate the mind of the Nabob by various petty vexatious acts. In order to soothe him, the governor proposed sending Mr. Hastings to him on a special mission. The council consented, but insisted on adding a clause in his instructions, directing him to apply to the Nabob for payment, for the use of the Company, of the twenty lacs of rupees he had offered the members of the Secret Committee. This Mr. Vansittart very properly resisted; and in reply to Mr. Amyatt, he observed, that that gentleman had never thought of handing over to the Company his share of the money received from Meer Jaffier. But Mr. Amyatt maintained that there was an essential difference between what was received "in common

87

with the whole board, as well as with the army and navy," and what "was intended for five gentlemen only." The motion, which was purely factious, was carried of course, but they got nothing, perhaps expected nothing, by it; for the Nabob, in a very spirited reply, utterly denied their claim, as he had neither borrowed from them, nor engaged to pay them any thing. "I owe nobody a single rupee, nor will I pay your demand," is the conclusion of the reply he delivered to Mr. Hastings.

In fact, they had completely mistaken their man, when they substituted Meer Cossim for Meer Jaffier on the musnud. The latter was weak, and could be bullied or cajoled; the former had both energy and capacity. He had reduced his subjects to obedience, and he had, by his financial skill and attention to the collection of his revenues, been able to discharge the whole of his obligations to the Company and its servants. We have already mentioned the subject of the governor's dustucks or certificates, and their power of exempting the Company's goods from duties. By these goods were meant those brought from England, and those purchased in India for exportation, and none others. This was a fair regulation, merely exempting foreign traders from the onerous and capricious tolls and duties levied on the internal trade of the country at the numerous chokeys or toll-houses by which they passed. As the servants of the Company were allowed to engage in private trade, various attempts were made, as we have seen, to have this trade also covered by the Company's dustuck, but in vain as long as there was vigour in the native governments. As soon, however, as, by the dethronement of Shujah-ud-dowlah, the power and influence of the English became paramount in Bengal, the Company's servants prepared to take advantage of the altered circumstances. While Clive remained in India, their cupidity was held in check, but as soon as he was gone, they rushed with avidity into the internal trade; salt, betel, tobacco, every thing, in short, became objects of their traffic; the Company's flag was held to cover every thing; the gomastahs, or native agents of the Company's servants, acted with the greatest insolence and oppression; the Nabob's officers in general feared to perform their duty, and his revenue, deprived of one of its principal sources, began rapidly to decline. Wealthy natives paid even the young writers largely for the use of their name, and thus mere boys were enabled to live at the rate of 1500l. or 2000l. a year. Many natives even had the audacity to assume the habit of English Sepoys or gomastahs, or to raise the English flag, and thus plunder and insult the people with impunity.

Meer Cossim made repeated complaints on this subject to Mr. Vansittart, who, on his side, was anxious to remedy the disorder; and when we recollect the horror of bribes, and the high spirit of disinterestedness lately exhibited by Mr. Johnstone and the rest of the majority, we might naturally suppose him to have had their most strenuous support. But not so, his only supporter was Mr. Hastings; for these gentlemen were all deeply engaged in the private trade themselves, and they affected to regard any attempt to interfere with it as the very height of tyranny and injustice. The weak Vansittart himself seemed even to think that their enjoyment of it for five or six years, had

given them a kind of prescriptive right to it. In one interview with the Nabob, however, he made a tolerably fair arrangement; which was, that the Company's servants might engage in the internal trade on paying a duty of nine per cent. once for all on the first moving of the goods. This arrangement was not to be published until after the governor's return to Calcutta ; but the Nabob, in his eagerness to derive advantage from it, sent copies of it in all quarters, ordering his officers to act on it, and they began to do so forthwith in a most offensive manner. The council met to take the matter into consideration. There were twelve members present; including two military men, whose right to vote on any but a professional question was dubious, and all, except the governor and Hastings, declared that the Company and its servants had a right to carry on the inland trade duty free. Some, indeed, were inclined to allow a trifling duty to be levied on certain articles; but it was finally determined that nothing should pay duty but salt, and that only two and a half per cent. The Nabob complained in various letters to the governor, who could give no redress; collisions took place between his troops and the Sepoys protecting the English private trades; and finally, seeing his revenue in a fair way of disappearing, he issued orders for the cessation of all transit duties in his dominions.

On the receipt of this intelligence the council were stricken with dismay; they saw all their fair visions of enormous wealth rudely dissipated at one stroke. For, we may observe, the levying of duties, from which they were exempt, on the native traders, gave them a virtual monopoly of the whole trade of the country; while now, when all were put on an equality, the advantage would naturally be on the side of the natives. Their impudence now passed all limits. They maintained, that the conduct of the Nabob was prejudicial to the trade of the Company, and involved a violation of its recognized rights; and they resolved to insist on his laying on the duties again, their own trade, however, excepted. A deputation, composed of Messrs. Amyatt and Hay, was sent to make this demand (April 4). They met with no success, and the council, determined not to give up their profits, met, and resolved on a recourse to arms (14th). The Nabob, though weakened by a check he had lately received, in an attempt on Nepaul, resolved not to fall without a struggle, and he applied to the emperor and the Vizîr of Oude for aid.

On the 25th May, some boats, laden with arms for Patna, arrived at Mongheer. The Nabob, judging that they were to be employed against him, ordered the boats to be detained. The deputies applied for their release, which was refused, unless the British force was withdrawn from Patna, or Mr. Amyatt, Mr. M'Guire, or Mr. Hastings, was sent thither instead of Mr. Ellis. They then demanded their dismissal, and Mr. Amyatt was allowed to depart, but Mr. Hay was detained, as security for the safety of the Nabob's agents at Calcutta. Meantime, Mr. Ellis, who had been long urgent for discretionary powers, at length extorted them, and he immediately began to prepare for an attack on the fort at Patna. As soon as he heard of the departure of Mr. Amyatt, he surprised and took the town. The governor, after a brief resistance, fled toward Mongheer, and only the fort and

a strong palace held out. The troops were then allowed to disperse, and they were busily engaged in plundering the houses, when the governor, who had met a detachment coming from Mongheer, suddenly returned and fell on them. After a slight conflict, they spiked their cannon, and retired to the factory. It was surrounded, and in the night, yielding to their fears, they got into their boats, and made up the river toward Oude; but being attacked on their way, they surrendered, and were conducted to Mongheer, whither also were brought the residents of the factory at Cossimbazar, which was attacked and plundered. The Nabob, in the first burst of his indignation, had sent orders to stop Mr. Amyatt, but as he fired from his boats when hailed for that purpose, the boats were boarded, and himself and several of those with him were slain.

As soon as it became manifest that there must be hostilities with Meer Cossim (possibly even sooner), Mr. Johnstone and his friends had resolved to restore Meer Jaffier, and on the 7th July a proclamation to that effect was issued. He agreed to confirm the grants of Meer Cossim to the Company, and to pay them thirty lacs for their losses and expenses; he was also to make good the losses of private persons; the former duties were to be levied on the trade of the natives, while that of the English was to be free, with the exception of the 2 per cent. on salt. He was further to support a force of 12,000 horse, and 12,000 foot; receive a resident at his court, and make the coinage of Calcutta be current in his dominions, without batta, i. e. allowance.

Meantime the British troops, under Major Williams, of the king's service, had taken the field, and were advancing against Moorshedabâd. On the 19th they defeated the troops of Meer Cossim, and on the 24th they stormed the lines at Mootegil, and took Moorshedabâd; and on the 2nd August they encountered the army of the Nabob, on the plain of Geriah, near Sootee. These troops were of a superior description to any native troops that the English had yet encountered, for a part of them were armed and disciplined in the European manner, and commanded by a Swiss named Sumroo, who had been a serjeant in the French service. The battle was obstinate, and lasted for four hours. At one time the enemy broke a part of the British line, and took two pieces of cannon; but victory finally remained with the Europeans. The enemy fled to the fort of Outanulla, situated between hills and a river, and defended by an intrenchment on which were 100 pieces of cannon. The English approached, and while a feigned attack was made by the bank of the river, the real one was made at the foot of the hills, and after an obstinate contest, they made themselves masters of the fort and all it contained. The forces of Meer Cossim in this place were said to be 60,000 men, while that of the English, Europeans and Sepoys, did not exceed 3000 men.

The army now advanced to Mongheer, which Meer Cossim had made his capital, and strongly fortified. At their approach he fled to Patna, having previously put to death several persons of eminence, among whom was Râm Narrain. On his way he murdered the two Seits, the bankers, whom he had forced to accompany him, lest they should aid the English, and left their bodies ex

DEFEAT OF THE VIZIR.

A. D. 1764.

posed to birds and beasts of prey, under the guard of some Sepoys. At Patna, when he heard of the surrender of Mongheer, he put into execution a measure he had long threatened-the massacre of his English prisoners. This office was committed to Sumroo, who evinced no repugnance. The victims were fallen on, even their knives and forks having been previously removed, that they might have no means of resistance. Some were shot, others cut to pieces with swords; they defended themselves as well as they could by throwing bottles and stones. Among them were Mr. Ellis and Mr. Hay; the total number murdered there and elsewhere is said to have been two hundred. The only person spared was Mr. Fullarton, a surgeon.

At the approach of the English, Meer Cossim fled from Patna, and on 6th November that place was taken by storm. They pursued him to the banks of the Caramnassa, which he crossed, and took refuge in Oude. He then repaired to the emperor and vizîr who were at Allahabad. He was received with great respect, and the latter promised to enter Bahâr in his support. Major Carnac, who commanded the army, was therefore directed to march to the Caramnassa to oppose him, but unfortunately his troops were in a state of mutiny in consequence of being disappointed of the rewards they had expected. The mutinous spirit was in some degree appeased; but Carnac, not thinking it advisable to advance, encamped under the walls of Patna, where, on the morning of the 13th May, he was attacked by the united forces of the vizîr and Meer Cossim. The English Sepoys fought nobly, and at sunset the enemy was completely repulsed. Proposals for an accommodation were then made; but as the British authorities insisted on the surrender of Meer Cossim, Sumroo, and the English deserters, and the vizîr required that of Bahâr, nothing could be effected, and in June the enemy retired into Oude.

As the troops behaved so well at Patna, the council thought the mutinous spirit had disappeared; but Carnac knew better, and he acted with caution. The command was then transferred to Major Hector Munro, a king's officer who had just arrived with troops from Bombay. On coming to Patna, he found the Sepoys deserting, and even threatening to seize their officers and deliver them up to the enemy, if they did not get an increase of pay, and a donation promised them by Meer Jaffier. One battalion actually went off with their arms to join the enemy. Munro sent 100 Europeans, and a battalion of Sepoys who could be relied on, in pursuit of them, and they came on them when they were asleep in the night, made them prisoners, and brought them back. The major stood ready to receive them with the troops under arms. He ordered their officers to select fifty of the worst of them, and from these a further selection was made of twenty-four, who were tried on the spot by a court-martial of native officers, found guilty of mutiny and desertion, and sentenced to death. Munro then ordered them to be bound to the guns and blown away. When the first four men were called for, four grenadiers stepped forth and claimed it as a right which belonged to men who had always been first in the post of danger." Their desire was granted, and

66

89

the guns were fired. The officers of the Sepoys then informed the major that their men would not allow any more to suffer. He immediately ordered the four guns to be loaded with grape, and the Europeans to be drawn up with the guns in intervals between them. The Sepoys were then commanded to ground their arms on pain of being fired on if they disobeyed. Sixteen more of the mutineers were then blown away, and the remaining four were sent to suffer at another cantonment.

The spirit of mutiny being now at an end, Munro prepared to take the field. Toward the middle of September the army was in motion; the enemy attempted to defend the passage of the Sôn, but were repulsed, and on the 22nd October the army reached Buxar, where the troops of the vizîr were encamped. Munro proposed making an attack on them before daybreak next morning; but the report of his spies leading him to suspect that, as he wished, the enemy meditated being the assailants, he resolved to await them. At eight o'clock they were announced to be in motion; the troops were drawn out to receive them; at nine the action commenced, and at twelve the enemy gave way. They retreated, however, leisurely, and by breaking up a bridge of boats, and thus losing 2000 of his men, the vizîr saved the remainder of his army. His force was estimated at from 40,000 to 60,000 men. Munro had 857 Europeans, 5297 Sepoys, 1918 native cavalry. Of the enemy 2000 lay dead on the field, the British had 847 killed and wounded. The effect of this important battle, which broke the power of the vizîr of Oude, was to render the British paramount north of the Vindhya mountains.

The day after the battle, the emperor wrote to Major Munro congratulating him on his victory, and seeking his protection against the vizîr, who, he said, had treated him as a prisoner. When the British set out for Benâres, he marched in the same direction, and every night pitched his tents near their camp. In an interview with Munro, he offered the dominions of Shujah-ud-dowlah, or any thing else they might require for protection, which finally was accorded by the authorities at Calcutta, and the descendant of Timûr and Bâber thus sank into the condition of a dependant on the foreign traders who had humbly crouched before the throne of his ancestors.

The vizîr, meantime, to console himself for his losses and defeat, plundered his friend Meer Cossim of his remaining wealth, in the most shameless manner. Still he would not surrender him to the British; and he offered, if they would recede from that point, twenty-five lacs of rupees to the Company, as many to the army, and eight to Munro himself. When these terms were refused, he proposed to withdraw his protection from Meer Cossim, but to let him escape. As to Sumroo, he indicated a very simple course; which was to invite him to an entertainment, at which two or three English officers, who knew his person, should be present, and to put him to death before them. But even this was rejected. The British army then advanced toward Allahabâd, and on their way laid siege to the fort of Chunarghur. As Shujah-uddowlah was endeavouring to get into the rear of the army, and to seize the emperor, Munro converted the siege into a blockade, and led the rest of the

« PrécédentContinuer »