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Persia Conquest of it by Mahmûd the Afghân-Nâdir Shah-His Invasion of India-Massacre and Plunder of Delhi-Death of Bâjee Râo-Bâlajee Râo-The Rohillas -Invasion of India by Ahmed Dûranee-AHMED SHAHThe Marattas in Hindûstân-Ghâzi-ud-din-ALUMGîR II. -Plunder of Delhi by Ahmed Dûranee-Conquest of the Punjab by the Marattas-Power of the Marattas-Attempt to make themselves Masters of all India-Battle of Pânîpat, and Ruin of the Maratta Power.
THE Suffavee dynasty had now occupied the throne of Persia for more than two centuries; it had, consequently, like every other Oriental dynasty, sunk and lost all energy beneath the degrading influence of absolute power. In the reign of Hussun Khan (1722), the Ghiljys, a tribe of the Afghâns who inhabited the country about Candahâr, and who had some years before made themselves masters of that city, led by an enterprising chief named Mahmûd, resolved to attempt the overthrow of the Persian power, with which for some years they had been at war. At the head of only 25,000 hardy warriors, Mahmûd marched from Candahâr, and directed his course for Isfahân, the Persian capital. In the vicinity of that city he encountered the Persian army, of far superior number, splendidly equipped, and well supplied with artillery. But victory was on the side of the warriors of the mountains, and the wealthy and luxurious city with 200,000 inhabitants was invested. Though the Afghans were now only 20,000 in number, by their activity and vigilance they were enabled to repel all sallies, and cut off all supplies, and, after sustaining the horrors of famine for six months, the town was forced to surrender. The king came forth at the head of his nobles, and placed the crown on the head of the conqueror.
After a reign of little more than two years, Mahmûd died raging mad, and was succeeded by his nephew named Ashreff (1724). This able prince defended his dominions with success against the Ottoman Turks and the Russians; but he failed in his contest with the Persians led by the greatest man that modern Persia has produced.
A son of Shah Hussun, named Tamasp, had fled from Isfahân, and taken refuge with the tribe of Kajar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Here he was joined by a predatory chief named Nâdir, a native of Khorasan, whose daring exploits had rendered him famous in the country. Nâdir, attaching his fortunes to the royal cause, took the name of Tamasp Coolee, or servant of Tamasp, and, under his able guidance, the troops of Persia finally succeeded in driving the Ghiljyes out of the country (1729). Having carried on wars with success in various quarters, Nâdir finally felt himself sufficiently strong to depose Tamasp, and place the diadem on his own brows. This he did with great solemnity in a`general assembly of his ariny and of all the great officers of the realm on the plain of Môghân (1736).
Nadir now resolved to avenge on the Ghiljyes the evils they had inflicted on Persia, and to restore Candahâr to the empire. After sustaining a long siege, that city surrendered (1738), and his conquest of the Ghiljye territory brought him now into contact with the dominions of the empe
rors of India, who, as we may have observed, had always possessed the region through which the river Câbul flows. Aware of the distracted state of the Indian government, he took advantage of its tardy recognition of his title, and, making it and some other matters a cause of quarrel, he seized the city of Câbul, and marched for the Indus. Meeting with little or no opposition, he advanced toward the Jumna, and at length, within one hundred miles of Delhi, he encountered the army of Mohammed Shâh (1739).
The troops of India would have been in no case a match for the hardy warriors led by Nâdir; but the jealousy which prevailed between Asof Jâh and Sâdut Khân contributed still further to enfeeble them. They were therefore easily overcome in the engagement which ensued, and Mohammed was obliged to enter the camp of Nâdir, and accompany him to Delhi. In that city the Persian troops, whose discipline was high, conducted themselves with much propriety, until, upon a report of Nâdir's death, the inhabitants rose and killed about 700 of them. Nâdir then, after making fruitless efforts to appease the tumult, and having been himself assailed with missiles as he rode through the city for that purpose, gave orders for a general massacre. The butchery lasted from sunrise till late in the afternoon, when he issued orders for it to cease. The number of the slain is variously stated from 150,000 to 8000, but that of 30,000 seems nearer to, though perhaps under the truth.
But it was money, not blood, that Nâdir sought in India, and the work of pillage now began. Every thing of value belonging to the crown was seized, torture was employed to make the nobles and the inferior inhabitants discover their wealth; the governors of provinces were forced to yield contributions, and Nâdir at length, having obtained all the wealth that he thought India could bestow, quitted Delhi after a residence of fifty-eight days, taking with him a treasure estimated at upwards of thirty millions sterling. He formed a treaty with Mohammed, whom he replaced on the throne, by which all the provinces west of the Indus were ceded to Persia; and this treaty put a final end to the rule of the house of Timûr in Afghanistân.
The state of misery and distress in the capital and the empire may easily be conceived, and it might have been expected that the Marattas would have taken advantage of it to extend their power in Hindustan. But Bâjee Râo preferred resuming operations in the Deckan, where he engaged in hostilities with Nâsir Jung, the son and deputy of Asof Jâh. He met, however, with a more vigorous opposition than he had anticipated, and was glad to come to an accommodation with his opponent. He then set out on his return to Hindâstân, and had reached the Nerbudda when death surprised him (1740).
His successor in the office of pêshwa was his son Bâlajee Râo, who was also a man of considerable ability. But he had potent rivals and enemies to contend with, and it required all his address to overcome their intrigues. The most formidable of these rivals was Ragujee Bôsla, who had the charge of collecting the chout in Berâr and the forest-country to the east of it, which rendered him in fact nearly the sovereign of that region. He even attempted to collect the chout to the north of the Nerbudda, but Bâlajee marched in person into
that country; and while he was there, and was preparing to insist on the execution of the treaty concluded with his father by Asof Jâh, Ragujee invaded Bengal. The emperor, in his alarm, offered to Bâlajee the cession of Mâlwa, on condition of his aiding him against Ragujee. The offer was gladly accepted; the pêshwa forthwith marched through Bahar and reached Moorshedabâd, the capital of Bengal, in time to protect it against Ragujee, whom he routed and drove out of the province. He then returned to Sattâra (1743), against which he found Ragujee in full march; and so strong was the confederacy that had been formed against the pêshwa, that he deemed it advisable to detach Ragujee from it by conceding to him the right of levying tribute in Bahâr and Bengal. Ragujee's attempts on Bengal were finally concluded by the cession of Cuttac, the southern part of Orissa, and the annual payment of twelve lacs of rupees as the chout of Bengal (1751).
The deaths of Asof Jâh and of Rajah Sâho occurred during this period. The former returned to the Deckan to suppress the rebellion of his son, Nâsir Jung, and he died there in the year 17487; Saho's death occurred in the following year. A series of intrigues for the succession followed; but the pêshwa succeeded in placing a prince, named Rajah Râm, on the throne. He was then engaged in hostilities with the successor of Asof Jah, who was aided by the French; but we shall defer our account of these transactions.
The most remarkable event in Hindûstân at this time was the rise of the Rohillas, a people destined to act a conspicuous part in the future history. Numbers of the Afghans of the district of Roh (whence they were called Rohillas) had been in the imperial service. There was among them a inan named Ally Mohammed, who was said to have been a Hindoo, and who had been adopted by a Rohilla soldier. He entered the army as a common soldier, and, being a man of talent and energy, he rose, like so many men of the same character, to some rank and influence. He obtained the management of some jagheers; he gradually increased his possessions and took more and more of the Afghans into his pay and service, and at length he felt himself strong enough to refuse remitting the income of the lands he held to Delhi. He defeated the troops sent against him, and eventually became master of the country between the Ganges and Oude, henceforth named Rohilcund. The emperor at length took the field against him in person, and he was then obliged to submit and content himself with the government of Sirhind (1745).
The north-west frontier was destined to send more plunderers in on India. Nâdir Shâh having become abhorred for his tyranny by the Persians, a conspiracy was formed against him, and he was assassinated in his tent near Meshîd (1747). Ahmed Khân, the chief of the Afghâns of the Abdalee tribe, who were in his service, having made a fruit
7 When he was first made viceroy of the Deckan (above, p. 43), the title of Nizâm-ul-Mulk, i. e. Regulator of the State, had been conferred on him; and this has been the title of his descendants down to the present day.
8 The original seats of the Abdâlees were the mountains of Ghôr, but they were now settled principally about Herât. Ahmed, from some unexplained motive, changed their name to Dûranees, by which name they are known in Indian history.
less effort to avenge him, retired with his men into his own country; and his influence was such, that within a short time he was declared king at Candahâr, and his dominions extended from the Indus to the frontiers of Persia. Knowing the weakness and the wealth of India, where he had been with Nâdir, he resolved to attempt conquest in it, and, passing the Indus with only 12,000 men, he took Lahore and advanced to the Sutlej. Here an army under the vizîr and prince Ahmed was prepared to oppose him; but he crossed the river where there was no ford, got into their rear, and took the town of Sirhind, where their stores and baggage lay. He then assailed the entrenched camp of the Indians; but, being repulsed in several attacks, he repassed the river and marched homewards (1748).
Within a month after the battle of Sirhind the emperor Mohammed died, and was succeeded by his son Ahmed Shâh.
The late vizîr had been killed by a cannon-ball at Sirhind, and the office was now vacant. Ahmed offered it to Asof Jâh, and on his declining it he gave it to Sufder Jung, the son of Sâdut Khân the viceroy of Oude. As Ahmed Dûranee was at this time engaged in the western part of his dominions, the vizîr, Ally Mohammed being now dead, thought the occasion good for making an attempt to destroy his neighbours the Rohillas. He committed the charge of the war to the Afghân chief of Furrockabâd, but, this general happening to fall in battle, the vizîr endeavoured to derive advantage from that event, by depriving his widow of the greater part of her territory. The people, however, rose and called in the Rohillas; the vizîr was obliged to take the field against them; his numerous but ill-disciplined troops yielded an easy victory to the enemy, and the Rohillas soon appeared before the walls of both Lucknow and Allahabâd (1750).
The vizîr saw now no resource but to call in the Marattas. He applied to the two chiefs Holkar and Scindia, to whom the pêshwa had given settlements in Malwa, and the promise of a large subsidy induced them to lead their forces to his aid; he also was joined by the rajah of the Jâts. At the head of this combined force, he defeated the Rohillas, and drove them to the lower ranges of the Himalaya. As he permitted the Marattas to levy their subsidy from the conquered territory, it was many years before the country recovered from the effects of their ravages (1751).
When the vizir returned to Delhi, he found that Ahmed Dûranee had again invaded the Punjâb, which had been ceded to him by the emperor on his demand; he also found that his own influence with the emperor and his mother had been engrossed by a favourite eunuch. This difficulty he easily removed by inviting the favourite to a banquet, at which he caused him to be assassinated. But this only raised up to him a more formidable opponent in the person of Shuhab-ud-dîn 9, the grandson of Asof Jah, a young man of great energy and ability, whom he had himself patronised and raised to the rank of Ameer-ul-Ômrah, with the title of Ghâziud-dîn.. This young man readily joined the emperor against his benefactor. A civil war was carried on for six months in the streets of Delhi, when
9 His father, Ghâzi-ud-din (see p. 44), died in 1753, at Aurungobâd, by poison it was said, when on his march against his brother, Salabut Jung.
A. D. 1754-60.
the vizîr, learning that a body of Marattas was coming to the aid of his opponents, consented to make peace, and retire to Oude. Ghâzi-ud-din then turned his arms against the Jâts, and, while he was thus engaged, the emperor, who was grown quite weary of his arrogance and insolence, withdrew, under the pretence of hunting, with what troops he had about him, in order to try to effect his emancipation, but Ghâzi-ud-din soon sent the Marattas after him, who made him a prisoner. He forthwith repaired to the imperial camp, where he deposed the emperor, and put out the eyes of both himself and his mother. He then placed on the throne a prince of the blood royal, under the title of Alumgîr II. (1754.)
POWER OF THE MARATTAS.
The ambitious and active Ghâzi-ud-dîn soon after tried to recover the Punjâb from the Dûranees; but he resolved to proceed by stratagem, not by force. The widow of the late governor ruled it in the name of her young son, and the vizîr, advancing to Lahore under the pretext of espousing her daughter, to whom he was betrothed, surprised the town, and made the regent a prisoner in her bed. Ahmed Shah, as soon as he heard of this treacherous deed, put himself at the head of his army, and speedily appeared within twenty miles of Delhi. Here Ghâzi-ud-dîn, by means of the late regent of the Punjab, with whom he had been reconciled, obtained his own pardon. But Ahmed required money, and Delhi became a scene of plunder and massacre, as in the time of Nadîr; for, though Ahmed was not ferocious like him, he was not so well able to restrain his troops, by whom a massacre still more wanton and barbarous was perpetrated on the Hindoo pilgrims at Muttra. The hot weather, which the Afghâns cannot endure, coming on, and causing mortality among them, Ahmed led his troops home. He espoused a princess of the house of Timûr, and at the request of the feeble emperor, as a protection to him against the vizîr, he made an able Rohilla chief, named Najeeb-ud-doula, commander of the forces at Delhi (1757).
Ghâzi-ud-dîn, who was then at Furrockabâd, set all the regulations of Ahmed Shâh at nought; but, not feeling himself alone sufficiently strong, he called in the never-failing aid of the Marattas. He was joined by a force under the pêshwa's brother, Ragoba, and taking possession of Delhi, he laid siege to the fortified palace. It held out for a month, at the end of which time the emperor (Najeeb-ud-doula having previously made his escape from it) opened the gates, and received Ghâzi-ud-din as his vizîr. Ragoba then was induced, by the intelligence he received of the state of the Punjab, to attempt the conquest of it. He met with no opposition, the Dûranees retiring over the Indus at his approach; and, leaving a Maratta governor, he returned to the Deckan (1758).
Indus to Pêshâwar, and then crossed it, and keeping to the mountains, as it was the rainy season, advanced till he reached the other side of the Jumna. He there fell on a body of the Marattas, commanded by Scindia, which he cut to pieces, their leader being among the slain. Another division, under Holkar, as it was making southwards was overtaken by the Dûranee troops sent in pursuit of it, and utterly destroyed (1759).
At this time Ghâzi-ud-dîn, fearing the vengeance of his royal master should Ahmed Shâh be victorious, issued his orders for the murder of that unhappy monarch, and placed another prince of the family on the throne; but his puppet was never acknowledged. Shah Alum, the heir, was at this time in Bengal, where we shall meet him in the progress of our narrative.
Shuja-ud-doula, son of Sufder Jung, of Oude, and the other Mohammedan princes of India, seeing the great increase of the Maratta power, now combined for their mutual protection. The Marattas immediately invaded and ravaged Rohilcund in their usual manner; but Shuja-ud-doula fell suddenly on them, and drove them with great loss over the Ganges, and, as they heard that Ahmed Shâh was on his march, they proposed a peace, to which the confederates agreed. The Dûranee Shâh, who had been engaged in reducing the Belooches in the southern part of his dominions, marched up the
The Maratta power was now at its height; nearly all India, from Himalaya to Cape Comorin, was either directly subject to it or paid it tribute. The pêshwa, who was its real head, had brought it to a degree of order such as it had never previously known. Its army, instead of consisting of mere marauding bands, now contained a large body of well-mounted and well-paid cavalry, and a force of 10,000 infantry, disciplined by those who had served with the Europeans on the coast of Coromandel. It also possessed, for the first time, a large train of artillery. The pride and self-confidence which this force produced was only stimulated to exertion by the account of the disasters of Scindia and Holkar, and it was resolved to make a strenuous effort for the complete empire of India.
The command of the Maratta army was given to Sedasheo Rão, the pêshwa's cousin, thence called the Bhâo, i. e. Brother. He was accompanied by Wiswas Râo, the pêshwa's son and heir, and by all the great Bramin and Maratta chiefs. He advanced to Delhi, which had a small Dûranee garrison; the Marattas entered by a neglected bastion, and the citadel yielded to the power of their artillery. The Bhâo plundered the palace and every public edifice of all their ornaments; he seized the splendid throne, and stripped off the silver ceiling from the hall of audience. He was going to proclaim Wiswas Râo emperor of India, but he was induced to delay it till he should have driven the Dûranees out of the land (1760).
It was the advice of the prudent old rajah of the Jâts, that the Marattas should leave their infantry and artillery in his country, and carry on the war in the usual Maratta fashion with their cavalry, and the climate would then, he said, soon force the Dûranees to retire. But the Bhâo spurned at this counsel, and resolved on regular warfare. Ahmed Shâh was at this time encamped on the frontiers of Oude, arranging matters with Shujaud-doula and his other allies; and as soon as the rains permitted he put his troops in motion, and advanced toward Delhi. A bold and rapid passage of the Jumna which he made inspired the Marattas with such respect for his prowess, that to be out of his reach they retired to Pânîpat, and there they formed an intrenched camp, defended by their numerous artillery. The Bhâo's force consisted of 55,000 regular and 15,000 irregular cavalry, with 15,000 disciplined infantry. He had 200 guns, and numerous wall-pieces, and a large supply of rockets, which were much used in Indian warfare. The whole number within his lines, in
clusive of the soldiers and their followers, is stated at 200,000 persons. The army of Ahmed Shah was composed of 40,000 Afghâns and Persians, 13,000 Indian horse, and 38,000 Indian infantry, of which the Rohillas were the only effective portion. He had about thirty pieces of cannon, and a good many wall-pieces.
The Shah encamped in the neighbourhood of the Marattas, whose lines he did not venture to attack. Meantime, a body of about 12,000 Maratta cavalry had advanced from the lower Jumna and was cutting off his supplies, and great distress began to be felt in his camp; but an active detachment came up with the freebooters and cut them to pieces, and the Maratta camp was now in its turn straitened for provisions, as the enemy had got the command of the open country. Constant skirmishes took place, and the Marattas made some fruitless attacks on the Dûranee lines. Ahmed's allies were urgent with him to bring matters to issue by a general action; but his reply was," This is a matter of war with which you are not acquainted. In other affairs do as you please, but leave this to me." He used also to say to them, "Do you sleep; I will take care that no harm befalls you." In effect, he was indefatigable; he omitted no precaution, and he was on horseback nearly the whole day.
At length the Bhâo, having endeavoured in vain to effect a peace through the mediation of Shujaud-doula, resolved to conquer or perish in the field, rather than see his whole army die of starvation; and ere daybreak on the morning of the 6th of January, 1761, the whole Maratta army, placing their artillery in front, advanced to assail the hostile lines. Ahmed Shâh, having had timely information, drew his troops up in front of his camp. The action began by the discharge of the Maratta cannon,
which however did no mischief, as the balls went over the enemies' heads. Their disciplined infantry then advanced with charged bayonets on the Rohillas who were on the right, and routed them with great slaughter, and then took the centre in flank, which was at the same time assailed in front by the Bhâo and Wiswas Râo with the flower of the Maratta cavalry. Ahmed, seeing the peril of his centre, brought up the reserve, but the advantage still was on the side of the Marattas. He then rallied all his men and made his whole line advance, and directed one division to wheel and take them in flank. This manoeuvre was successful. "All at once, as if by enchantment," says the writer who was present," the whole Maratta army turned their backs and fled at full speed, leaving the field of battle covered with heaps of dead." No quarter was given, the pursuit continued for fifteen or twenty miles, the peasantry cut off those that escaped the soldiers, and the whole number of the slain is said to have been 200,000. The Bhâo himself and Wiswat Râo were among the dead, and every chief of note was either slain or wounded. The pêshwa did not survive the shock which the tidings of this great defeat gave him. Dissensions broke out among the Maratta chiefs, and it was some time before the Maratta power became again formidable.
Ahmed Dûranee, after his victory, went on to Delhi, whence, after a short stay, he returned to his own country, and never again concerned himself with the affairs of India. These now began to assume a new character; for the people from the far West, into whose hands the empire was destined to come next, had just at this time begun to establish themselves in Bengal. To relate the formation of their empire is now our task.
A. D. 1418-97.
DISCOVERY OF THE ROUTE TO INDIA.
BRITISH EMPIRE IN INDIA.
Early trade to India-Discovery of the Monsoons--Portuguese Discoveries-Passage of Cape of Good Hope-Voyage of Vasco da Gama-Voyage of Cabral-Second Voyage of Gama-Of the Albuquerques-Soarez-Almeida-Albuquerque-Conquest of Goa-Of Malacca-Extent of Portuguese Empire in the East-Defence of Diu-Of GoaVoyages of the Dutch-Their Trade and SettlementsThe French.
FROM the most distant ages, as we have seen, the products of India were conveyed to the West; but the course was chiefly a land one, from the coast of Arabia Felix, or the head of the Persian Gulf, and the trade was almost entirely in the hands of the Phoenicians. At length, when Alexander the Great had built the city named from himself in Egypt, and that country formed an independent kingdom, under the Ptolemies, the Indian trade began to take a new direction, and vessels leaving the vicinity of the modern Suez proceeded down the Red Sea, along the coast of Arabia, whence they sometimes sailed across the mouth of the Persian Gulf to the Indus, and thence round Cutch and Gûzerât to the mouth of the Nerbudda, and then occasionally along the coast of Malabar. When they had obtained their cargoes, they returned by the same circuitous route, and the commodities, being conveyed by land to Alexandria, were thence distributed over the West. This, however, was not the common course, for the ships of Egypt in general went no further than the coast of Arabia, where they purchased the goods which Arabian or Indian vessels had brought thither by the route above described.
It seems strange that, in this long-continued intercourse with India, the phenomenon of the Monsoons, and their applicability to the purposes of trade, should never have engaged the thoughts of any of the navigators. It was not till about the middle of the first century of our era, that a mariner named Hippalus, observing the regularity with which the one blows for six months, from the south-west, and the other for an equal period, from the north-east, drew the natural conclusion, that if a vessel were to sail with the former, from the mouth of the Red Sea, she must be carried to some point on the coast of India, and that the other then would bring her back to the place from which she had started. He had the courage to put his theory into practice, and the event fully justified his anticipations. The Indian trade now took a new course; but Alexandria continued to be its great emporium. Political changes had no effect on it. The Roman empire was succeeded by that of the Khalifehs, and this by that of the Mamlooks; but still it was from Alexandria that the spices of the East were dispersed to the West, the great agents being the
Italian traders, especially the Venetians, of whose wealth and power it was the main support.
In the fifteenth century, the profits of the eastern trade being manifestly so great, other nations began to long for a share in it, and to meditate on the possibility of making a direct passage to India. The writings of the ancients, which were now becoming better known, informed men of the opinion which had prevailed of the possibility of circumnavigating Africa; and the knowledge of the globular form of the earth, joined with the notion of India being the most distant region of the East, led to the inference, that by steering boldly across the Atlantic one would be sure to reach the coast of India. This last, as is well known, was the idea of Columbus, and it led to the discovery of America. The former idea gradually unfolded itself to the Portuguese, whose situation at the western extremity of Europe, and their familiarity with the sea, and enmity with the Moors of Africa, led them to explore the western coast of that continent. Don Henry, one of the sons of John I. by an English princess, has the honour of being the originator of Portuguese discovery. While governor of Ceuta, he had learned much from the Moors respecting the African nations to the south. This confirmed him in the idea he had conceived of pushing discovery southwards, for he had already sent out vessels which had succeeded in doubling Cape Non, the previous limit of southern navigation, and coming in view of Cape Bojador. On his return from Ceuta, Don Henry fixed his abode at Sagrez, near Cape St. Vincent, where he would always have the ocean in view; and to the end of his life (in 1463) he kept his thoughts directed on the one object of African discovery. In 1418, he sent out a vessel which was to attempt to double Cape Bojador. The attempt proved a failure, in consequence of a storm; but the island of Porto Santo was discoverd, as that of Madeira was in a future voyage. It was not till 1433 that Cape Bojador was passed, and as the sea beyond that promontory, contrary to expectation, was found to be calm and tranquil, the progress of southern discovery was rapid. After the death of Don Henry it languished a little; but it had struck root too deeply ever to cease. It was speedily resumed, the river Congo and the Gold Coast were discovered, and in 1471 the Portuguese monarch, Don John II., assumed the title of Lord of Guinea. This prince, being now convinced that there must be a termination of the African continent, resolved to make every effort to reach it, and thus to open a route to India. In 1486, he sent out three vessels, under the command of Bartholomew Diaz, to make the attempt. Leaving the Congo, Diaz proceeded southwards along the coast, till a tempest came on which drove him out to sea in a southern direction. At the end of thirteen days the tempest ceased, and they then steered