The expedition, however, exhausted itself in this small triumph. Whether from mistrust of the Rajputs, or from fear of Sindhia, who was just then hovering about Bhartpur, the Emperor was induced to turn back on the 15th April, and reached the capital by a forced march of twenty-four hours, accompanied by Himmat Bahadur. The Begam retired to Sirdhana, and Gholam Kadir and Ismail Beg parted, as we have already seen, after the indecisive action of Chaksana, a few days later. Though disappointed in their hopes of aid from Dehli, the Rajput chiefs fought on, and the tide of Sindhia's fortunes seemed to ebb apace. After the last-named fight he had fallen back upon Alwar, but only, to be encountered by Partab Singh, the Kachwaha prince, of Jaipur, who drove him back once more upon Agra. Here Ismail Beg met him again and chased him across the Chambal. Meanwhile Ambaji Inglia was prevented from rendering aid to his master by the persistence of the Rathors of Jodhpur, who put him to flight after an obstinate engagement. Thus cut off, Sindhia remained under the friendly protection of the Chambal until the month of June, when Rana Khan joined him with a fresh body of troops that he had received from the Deccan. Thus reinforced Sindhia once more marched to the relief of his gallant follower Lakwa Dada, who still held out in the Fort of Agra. The attack was made on this occasion from the eastward, near the famous ruins of Fatihpur-Sikri, and was met by Ismail Beg with one of his furious cavalry charges. De Boigne's infantry and artillery however repulsed him, before Gholam Kadir, who was returning to the Moghul's aid, had been able to cross his forces over the Jamna, or effect a junction. Ismail Beg, who was severely wounded, did not hesitate to plunge his horse into the stream, swollen and widened as it was by the melting of the Himalayan snows. The Mahrattas, satisfied with having raised the siege, did not pursue him, and the two Mohammadan chiefs once more united their forces at Firozabad. Francklin (who very seldom gives a date) says that this final battle took place on the 22nd August. He also states that Gholam Kadir had already joined Ismail Beg, but drew off on the approach of the Mahratta army. The former statement is easily seen to be erroneous, as both the noblemen in question were in a very different scene in August of that year. The latter is possible, but the weight of authorities, Mahratta and Musalman, is in favour of the account given above. Francklin carelessly adds: "Agra surrendered," the fact being that the gallant governor Lakwa Dada was a brother officer of Rana Khan's, and his relief had been the object of the battle. About this time de Boigne retired from Sindhia's employ and went to Lucknow, where he entered into a business partnership with the famous Claude Martine, or Martin. Whether this step was caused by weariness, by doubts of ultimate success, or by hopes of more material advantage, is not known. But the immediate consequence that followed was, that the Patel went into cantonments at Mathra, and remained there watching events throughout the whole of that eventful autumn.
There is reason to believe that Gholam Kadir whether from avarice, from ambition, from a desire to avenge some personal injury, or from a combination of any two or of the whole of these motives had by this time formed a project, vague perhaps at first, of repeating the career of crime with which Ghazi-ud-din had startled Asia nearly thirty years before. Meantime he spoke Ismail fair, seeing in him a chief, worsted indeed for the moment, but a rallying-point for the Moghuls, on account as much of his proved valour as his high birth; one who would be alike useful as a friend, and dangerous as a foe. He accordingly explained, as best he could, his late defection, and persuaded the simple soldier to lose no time in collecting his scattered forces for an attack upon the capital. No sooner had the Beg left for this purpose, than Gholam Kadir also departed, and proceeding to Dehli renewed his hypocritical professions of loyalty through the instrumentality of Manzur Ali Khan.
He asserted that Ismail Beg, who had arrived before him, and who now joined forces with him, was like himself actuated by the sole desire to save the Empire from the usurpations of the Mahratta chief; and, as far as the Beg was concerned, these professions were possibly not without foundation. At present the conduct of both leaders was perfectly respectful. In the meantime a small force was sent to Dehli by Sindhia and entered the palace, upon which the confederates, whose strength was not yet fully recruited, retired to their former encamping ground at Shahdara the scene, it may be remembered, of Surajmal's fall in the days of Najib-ud-daulah. In this situation the confederates began to be straitened for provisions, for it was now the month of July, and the stock of winter crops, exhausted as were the agriculturists by years of suffering and uncertainty, was running low, whilst the lawless character of the young Pathan and his Rohillas was not such as to encourage the presence of many grain-dealers in their camp. Desertions began to take place, and Gholam Kadir prepared for the worst by sending off his heavy baggage to Ghausgarh. He and his companions renewed to the Emperor their messages of encouragement in the project of throwing off the yoke of Sindhia; but the Emperor, situated as he was, naturally returned for answer, "That his inclinations did not lie that way." Shah Alam was sustained in this firm line of conduct by the presence of the Mahratta troops under Himmat Bahadur, and by the ostensible support of Gul Mohammad, Badal Beg Khan, Sulaiman Beg, and other Moghul courtiers whom he believed to be faithful; and it seemed for the moment as if the confederates' cause was lost.
Thus pressed, these desperate men at length dropped all disguise and opened fire on the palace with all their heavy guns. The Emperor on this invited the aid of his Mahratta minister, who was now at Mathra, only a week's hard marching from the capital. It was Madhoji Sindhia's undoubted duty to have hastened to the relief of him whom he professed to serve; but it must be admitted that the instances he had already witnessed of Shah Alam's want of resolution and of good faith may have furnished the minister with some excuse for wishing to read him a severe lesson. He had also had sufficient taste of the fighting powers of the Musalmans to lead him to avoid a general engagement as long as possible, since every day would increase the probability of their quarrelling if left to themselves, while external attacks would only drive them to cohere.
Sindhia accordingly pursued a middle path. He sent to the Begam Sumroo, and urged her to hasten to the Emperor's assistance; but the prudent lady was not willing to undertake a task from which, with his vastly superior resources, she saw him shrink. He likewise sent a confidential Brahmin, who arrived on 10th July, and five days after, appeared a force of 2,000 horse under Rayaji, a relation of Sindhia's. The Ballamgarh Jats likewise contributed a small contingent.
NOTE. The following account of de Boigne's early career is from Captain Duff, who knew him at Chamberi, about the year 1825:
After describing his adventures as a youthful soldier of fortune, first as an ensign in the French army, and then in the Russian service in the Levant, whence he reached Cairo, and finally got to India by what is now called the Overland Route, the writer proceeds to state that M. de Boigne was appointed an ensign in the 6th Native Battalion under the Presidency of Madras, from whence he, not long after, proceeded to Calcutta, bearing letters of recommendation to Mr. Hastings, the Governor-General. He was then permitted to join Major Browne's Embassy to Dehli (in 1784, vide sup.), when he took the opportunity of visiting Sindhia's camp, on the invitation of Mr. Anderson, the British resident. Gohad being at this time besieged by Sindhia (who had treated de Boigne very scurvily), the latter communicated a plan for its relief to a Mr. Sangster, who commanded 1,000 sepoys and a train of artillery in the service of the Gohad Rana. The scheme broke down, because the Rana could not or would not advance the required sum of money.
De Boigne next made overtures to the Raja of Jaipur, and was commissioned by him to raise two battalions; but Mr. Hastings having meanwhile recalled him to Calcutta, the Raja was induced to alter his intentions. De Boigne finally entered the service of his original enemy, Madhoji Sindhia, on an allowance of Rs. 1,000 a month for himself, and eight all round for each of his men. To the privates he gave five and a half, and paid the officers proportionately from the balance. M. de Boigne gradually got European officers of all nations into his corps. Mr. Sangster, from the service of the Rana of Gohad, joined him, and became superintendent of his cannon foundry.
Some account of the further proceedings of General de Boigne will appear in the succeeding pages: and some notes regarding the close of his life will be found in the Appendix. Though moving in an obscure scene he was one of the great personages of the World's Drama; and much of the small amount of the civil and military organization upon which the British administration in Hindustan was ultimately founded is due to his industry, skill, and valour.
Defection of Moghuls - Confederates obtain possession of Palace Emperor deposed Palace plundered Gholam Kadir in the Palace Emperor blinded Approach of Mahrattas Apprehensions of Spoiler The Moharram Explosion in Palace Flight to Meerut - Probable Intentions Capture of Gholam Kadir His Punishment Excuse for his Deeds Sindhia's Measures Future nature of Narrative Poetical Lament Col. Francklin.
ALARMED by these various portents, Gholam Kadir lost no time in summoning all his adherents from Ghausgarh, stimulating their zeal with the promise of plunder. At the same time he deputed Ismail Beg across the river to practice upon the fidelity of the garrison; and such was the Beg's influence that the Moghul portion of the Imperial troops joined him immediately, and left the unfortunate Emperor to be protected exclusively by unbelievers, under the general direction of the Gosain leader, Himmat Bahadur. This mercenary, not perhaps having his heart in the cause, terrified by the threats of the Pathan, and (it is possible) tampered with by traitors about the emperor's person, soon withdrew; and the confederate chiefs at once crossed the river, and took possession of the city.
The Emperor now became seriously anxious, and, after a consultation with his attendants, resolved on deputing Manzur Ali to seek a personal explanation with Gholam Kadir and Ismail Beg. It has always been customary to tax this official with the responsibility of this measure, and of the appalling results which followed; but it does not appear absolutely necessary to impute his conduct to complicity with the more criminal part of Gholam Kadir's designs; and his subsequent fate is perhaps some sort of argument in his favour. But, be this as it may, he went to the chiefs by order of the Emperor, and demanded, "What were their intentions?" In the usual style of Eastern manners they replied, "These slaves are merely in attendance for the purpose of presenting their duty in person to his Majesty." "Be it so," said the Controller; and his acquiescence seems to have been unavoidable. "But," he added, "you surely need not bring your army into the palace: come with a small retinue, lest the Governor should shut the gates in your faces." Upon this advice the two noblemen acted, and entered the Am Khas on the forenoon of the following day (18th of July) with some half hundred men-at-arms. Each received a khilat of seven pieces, together with a sword and other presents; Gholam Kadir also receiving a richly-jewelled shield. They then returned to their respective residences in the town, where Ismail Beg spent the rest of the day in making arrangements in order to preserve the safety and confidence of the inhabitants. Next day, he removed his quarters permanently to the house formerly occupied by Mohammad Shah's Vazir, Kammar-ud-din Khan; and his men were quartered a couple of miles south of the city, in and about the celebrated monumental tomb of the ancient Saint, Shah Nizam-ud-din. Gholam Kadir's men were nearer the palace, where the present Native Infantry cantonment is, in Dariaoganj; while his officers occupied the vast premises formerly belonging successively to the Ministers Ghazi-ud-din and Mirza Najaf, outside of the Cabul Gate. The ostensible state of Dehli politics was now this; Gholam Kadir was Premier (an office he swore upon the Koran faithfully to discharge), vice Madhoji Sindhia, dismissed; and the combined armies were the troops of the Empire, commanded by Ismail Beg.
Under these circumstances Gholam Kadir did not want a pretext, and at seven in the morning of Friday, the 29th July, he returned to the palace, where he had an interview with the Emperor in the Diwan Khas. Francklin is at fault again here; making his second interview one with that which occurred more than a week before. Citing the authority of Ismail Beg, who stood by, he represented that the army was prepared to march on Mathra, and to chase the Mahrattas from Hindustan; but that they first demanded a settlement of their arrears, for which the Imperial treasury was alone responsible, and alone sufficient.
This harangue, at its conclusion, was warmly echoed by the Controller, by his Deputy, and by Ramrattan Modi. On the other side. Lalla Sital Das, the Treasurer, who was at once summoned, declared that, whatever might be the responsibility of the Treasury for an army in whose raising it had had no share, and by whose service it had not hitherto at all profited, at least that its chests contained no means for meeting the claims. He boldly urged that the claims should be resisted at all hazards.
Gholam Kadir replied by an assumed fit of ungoverned anger, and producing an intercepted letter from Shah Alam, calling upon Sindhia for help, ordered the Emperor to be disarmed, together with his personal guard, and removed into close arrest; and then, taking from the privacy of the Salim Garh a poor secluded son of the late Emperor Ahmad Shah, set him on his throne, hailed him Emperor, under the title of Bedar Bakht, and made all the courtiers and officials do him homage. It is but just to record, in favour of one whose memory has been much blackened, that Manzur Ali, the Controller, appears on this occasion to have acted with sense, if not spirit. When Bedar Bakht was first brought forward, Shah Alam was still upon the throne, and, when ordered to descend, began to make some show of resistance. Gholam Kadir was drawing his sword to cut him down, when the Controller interposed; advising the Emperor to bow to compulsion, and retire peacefully to his apartments. For three days and nights the Emperor and his family remained in close confinement, without food or comfort of any sort; while Gholam Kadir persuaded Ismail Beg to return to his camp, and devoted himself to wholesale plunder during the absence of his associate. The latter's suspicions were at length aroused, and he soon after sent an agent to remind Gholam Kadir that he and his men had received nothing of what it had been agreed to pay them. But the faithless Pathan repudiated every kind of agreement, and proceeded to defend the palace and apply all that it contained to his own use.
Ismail Beg, now sensible of his folly, lost no time in sending for the heads of the civic community, whom he exhorted to provide for their own protection; at the same time strictly charging his own lieutenants to exert themselves to the very utmost should the Pathans attempt to plunder. For the present, Gholam Kadir's attention was too much taken up with the pillage of the Imperial family to allow of his doing much in the way of a systematic sack of the town. Dissatisfied with the jewellery realised from the new Emperor, to whom the duty of despoiling the Begams was at first confided, he conceived the notion that Shah Alam, as the head of the family, was probably, nay, certainly, the possessor of an exclusive knowledge regarding the place of a vast secret hoard. All the crimes and horrors that ensued are attributable to the action of this monomania. On the 29th, he made the new Titular, Bedar Bakht, inflict corporal chastisement upon his venerable predecessor. On the 30th, a similar outrage was committed upon several of the ladies of Shah Alam's family, who filled the beautiful buildings with their shrieks of alarm and lamentation. On the 31st, the ruffian thought he had secured enough to justify his attempting to reconcile Ismail Beg and his men by sending them a donative of five lakhs of rupees. The result of this seems to have been that a combined, though tolerably humane and orderly attempt was made to levy contributions from the Hindu bankers of the city.
On the 1st of August a fresh attempt was made to wrest the supposed secret from the Shah, who once more denied all knowledge of it, employing the strongest figure of denial. "If," said the helpless old man, "you think I have any concealed treasures, they must be within me. Rip open my bowels, and satisfy yourself." The tormentor then tried cajolery and promises, but they were equally futile. "God protect you, who has laid me aside," said the fallen Monarch. "I am contented with my fate."
The aged widows of former Emperors were next exposed to insult and suffering. These ladies were at first treated kindly, their services being thought necessary in the plunder of the female inhabitants of the Imtiaz Mahal, whose privacy was at first respected. But on the failure of this attempt, the poor old women themselves were plundered and driven out of the palace. When other resources had been exhausted, the Controller fell under the displeasure of his former protege, and was made to disburse seven lakhs. On the 3rd August, Gholam Kadir gave proof of the degraded barbarity of which Hindustani Pathans can be guilty, by lounging on the throne on the Diwan Khas, side by side with the nominal Emperor, whom he covered with abuse and ridicule, as he smoked the hookah in his face. On the 6th, he destroyed the same throne for the sake of the plating which still adhered to it, which he threw into the melting-pot; and passed the next three days in digging up the floors, and taking every other conceivable measure in pursuit of his besetting chimera the hidden treasure. During this interval, however, he appears to have been at times undecided; for, on the 7th he visited the Emperor in his confinement, and offered to put on the throne Mirza Akbar, the Emperor's favourite son who did in fact ultimately succeed. The only answer to these overtures was a request by Shah Alam that he might be left alone, "for he was weary," he said, "of such state as he had lately known, and did not wish to be disturbed with public business."
At length arrived the memorable 10th of August, which, perhaps, as far as any one date deserves the distinction, was the last day of the legal existence of the famous Empire of the Moghuls. Followed by the Deputy Controller, Yakub Ali, and by four or five of his own most reckless Pathans, Gholam Kadir entered the Diwan Khas, and ordered Shah Alam to be brought before him. Once more the hidden treasure was spoken of, and the secret of its deposit imperiously demanded; and once more the poor old Emperor whom we not long ago saw melting his plate to keep together a few troops of horse with perfect truth replied that if there was any such secret he for one was in total ignorance of it. "Then," said the Rohilla, "you are of no further use in the world, and should be blinded." "Alas!" replied the poor old man, with native dignity, "do not so: you may spare these old eyes, that for sixty years have grown dim with the daily study of God's word." The spoiler then ordered his followers to torture the sons and grandsons of the Emperor, who had followed, and now surrounded their parent. This last outrage broke down the old man's patience. "Take my sight," he cried, "rather than force upon it scenes like these." Gholam Kadir at once leaped from the throne, felled the old man to the ground, threw himself upon the prostrate monarch's breast, and, so some historians relate, struck out one of his eyes with his own dagger. Then rising, he ordered a byestander apparently a member of the household, Yakub Ali himself to complete the work. On his refusing, he slew him with his own hand. He then ordered that the Princes should share the fate of their father and be deprived of eyesight, but desisted from this part of his brutality on the pressing, remonstrance of the Treasurer, Lalla Sital Das. The Emperor was, however, completely blinded by the Pathans, and removed to Salimgarh, amid the shrill lamentations of women, and the calmer, but not less passionate curses of men, who were not scourged into silence without some difficulty and delay. Francklin, following his usual authority, the MS. narrative of Saiyid Raza Khan, says that, under these accumulated misfortunes, the aged Emperor evinced a firmness and resignation highly honourable to his character. It is pitiable to think how much fortitude may be thrown away by an Asiatic for want of a little active enterprise. There were probably not less than half-a-dozen points in Shah Alam's life when a due vigour would have raised him to safety, if not to splendour; but his vigour was never ready at the right moment. There is a striking instance in Khair-ud-din's Ibratnama. Gholam Kadir asking the blind Emperor in mockery "If he saw anything?" was answered, "Nothing but the Koran between thee and me."
The anxious citizens were not at once aware of the particulars of this tragedy; but ere long rumours crept out to them of what crimes and sufferings had been going on all day in the Red Castle, behind those stern and silent walls that were not again to shield similar atrocities for nearly seventy years. Then another day of horror was to come, when one of the princes who were tortured on the 10th of August, 1788, was to see women and children brutally massacred in the same once splendid courts; and to find himself in the hands of adherents whose crimes would render him a puppet if they succeeded, and a felon if they failed.
But on the 12th more money was sent to Ismail Beg; and, as before, the citizens were offered as the victims of the reconciliation. They now began to leave the city in large numbers; but on the 14th flying parties of Mahrattas began to appear from the southward, and somewhat restored confidence. Ismail Beg, who had long ceased to have any real confidence in Gholam Kadir, and who (let us hope for the credit of human nature) felt nothing but disgust at his companion's later excesses, now opened negotiations with Rana Khan. On the 17th a convoy of provisions from Ghausgarh was cut off, and a number of the Pathans who escorted it put to the sword or drowned in attempting to cross the river. On the 18th the Mahrattas came up in considerable force on the left bank of the Jamna, where they blockaded the approach from all but the side of the Musalman camp. In the city the shops were shut, and supplies began totally to fail. Scarcity even began to prevail in the palace, and the troops within to murmur loudly for their share of the spoil. Next day the spoiler condescended to argue with some who remonstrated with him on his treatment of the Royal Family. Their condition was in truth becoming as bad as it could well be; many of the women dying daily of starvation. It is almost with relief that we find, that the increasing scarcity compelling fresh acts of spoliation, the Controller, who had so much helped in bringing about this deplorable state of affairs, became himself its victim, being deprived of everything that he possessed. Thus passed the month of August, 1788, in Dehli.
The courage of Gholam Kadir did not at once yield to his growing perils and difficulties. He appropriated an apartment in the palace probably the Burj-i-Tilla or "Golden Bastion." Here he caroused with his officers, while the younger members of the royal family played and danced before them like the common performers of the streets. And they were rewarded by the assurance on the part of their tormentor that, however deficient they might be in princely virtues, their talents would preserve them from wanting bread. Khair-ud-din adds a strange account of Gholam Kadir going to sleep among them; and on waking, he is represented as reviling them for their lack of courage in not stabbing him while thus at their mercy! Many of the younger princesses were exposed to insult and outrage, according to this writer. Gholam Kadir at the same time partially suppressed the discontents of his men, though not without risk to his life. At length, on the 7th of September, finding the Mahrattas increasing in numbers and boldness, and fearing to be surrounded and cut off, Gholam Kadir moved his army back to its old encampment across the river, and despatched part of his plunder to Ghausgarh, conciliating his followers by the surrender of what was less portable, such as the rich tents and equipage which had been lately used by the Emperor on his expedition to Rewari. On the 14th he paid a further visit to his camp, being under apprehensions from Ismail Beg, but returned to the palace soon after, in order to make one more attempt to shake what he considered the obstinacy of Shah Alam about the hid treasure. Foiled in this, and hemmed in by difficulties, it may be hoped that he now began to perceive with horror the shadow of an advancing vengeance. His covering the retreat to the eastward of the palace and city favours the supposition.
Meanwhile the great ceremony of mourning for the sons of Ali drew on; the Moharram, celebrated in Hindustan alike by the Shias, who venerate their memory, and by the Sunnis, who uphold their murderers. The principal features of this celebration are processions of armed men, simulating the battle of Karbala; and the public funeral of the saints, represented, not by an effigy of their bodies, but by a model of their tombs. Loving spectacle and excitement, with the love of a rather idle and illiterate population whose daily life is dull and torpid, the people of India have very generally lost sight of the fasting and humiliation which are the real essence of the Moharram, and have turned it into a diversion and a show. But there was no show nor diversion for the citizens of Dehli that year, menaced by contending armies, and awed by the knowledge of a great crime. At length, on the 11th October, the last day of the fast, a sense of deliverance began to be vaguely felt. It began to be known that Ismail Beg was reconciled to Rana Khan, and that the latter was receiving reinforcements from the Deccan. Lestonneaux, with the formidable "Telinga" battalions of de Boigne, had already arrived; all was movement and din in the Pathan camp at Shahdara. Finally, as the short chill evening of the autumn day closed in, the high walls of the Red Castle blabbed part of their secret to those who had so long watched them. With a loud explosion, the powder magazine rose into the air, and flames presently spread above the crenellated parapets. The bystanders, running to the rampart of the town, facing the river, saw, by the lurid light, boats being rowed across; while a solitary elephant was moving down at his best pace over the heavy sands, bearing the rebel chief. Gholam Kadir had finally departed, leaving the Salimgarh by a sally-port, and sending before him the titular Emperor, the plundered controller of the household, and all the chief members of the royal family.
The exact events which had passed in the interior of the palace that day can never now be known. Whether, as is usually thought, Gholam Kadir tried to set fire to the palace, that his long crime might be consummated by the destruction of Shah Alam among the blazing ruins of his ancestral dwelling; or whether, as the author of the Mozafari supposes, he meant to hold out against the Mahrattas to the last, and was only put to flight by the explosion, which he attributed to a mine laid by them, can only be a matter for speculation. To myself, I confess, the popular story appears the more probable. If Gholam Kadir meant to stand a siege, why did he send his troops across the river? and why, when he was retiring at the appearance of a mine which he must have known was likely to be one of the siege operations did he remove the royal family, and only leave his chief victim? Lastly, why did he leave that victim alive? Possibly he was insane.
The Mahratta general immediately occupied the castle; and the exertions of his men succeeded in extinguishing the flames before much injury had occurred. Shah Alam and the remaining ladies of his family were set at liberty, provided with some present comforts, and consoled as to the future. Rana Khan then awaited further reinforcements from Sindhia, while the Pathans retired towards their own country.
The Court of Punah saw their advantage in strengthening the Patel, and sent him a strong body of troops, led by Takuji Holkar in person, on condition that both that chief and the Peshwa should participate in the fruits of the campaign. The arrival of these forces was welcomed alike by Rana Khan and by the long harassed citizens of Dehli; and after the safety of the palace had been secured, the rest of the army, commanded by Rana Khan, Appa Khandi Rao, and others, started in pursuit of Gholam Kadir, who found himself so hard pressed that he threw himself into the Fort of Meerut, three marches off, and about equi-distant from Dehli, from Ghausgarh, and from the frontiers of Rohilkand. Why he did not, on leaving Dehli, march due north to Ghausgarh cannot be now positively determined; but it is possible that, having his spoil collected in that fort, he preferred trying to divert the enemy by an expedition in a more easterly direction; and that he entertained some hopes of aid from his connection, Faizula Khan of Rampur, or from the Bangash of Farrukhabad.
Be this as it may, the fort of Meerut sheltered him for the time, but in that fort he was ere long surrounded. The investing army was large, and, as the chances of escape diminished, the Pathan's audacity at length began to fail, and he offered terms of the most entire and abject submission. These being sternly rejected, he prepared for the worst. On the 21st of December a general assault was delivered by the Mahratta army; against which Gholam Kadir and his men defended themselves with resolution throughout the short day. But his men in general were now weary, if not of his crimes at all events of his misfortunes, and he formed the resolution to separate from them without further delay. He accordingly stole out of the fort that night, mounted on a horse, into whose saddle-bags he had stuffed a large amount of the most valuable jewellery from the palace plunder, which he had ever since retained in his own keeping, in view of an emergency. He rode some twelve miles through the winter night, avoiding the haunts of men, and apparently hoping to cross the Jamna and find refuge with the Sikhs. At last, in the mists of the dawn, his weary horse, wandering over the fields, fell into a slope used for the descent of the oxen who draw up the bucket from the well, for the purposes of irrigation. The horse rose and galloped off by the incline made for the bullocks, but the rider was either stunned or disabled by his bruises, and remained where he fell. As the day dawned the Brahmin cultivator came to yoke his cattle and water the wheat, when he found the richly-dressed form of one whom he speedily recognized as having but lately refused him redress when plundered by the Pathan soldiery. "Salam, Nawab Sahib!" said the man, offering a mock obeisance, with clownish malice, to his late oppressor. The scared and famished caitiff sate up and looked about him. "Why do you call me Nawab?" he asked. "I am a poor soldier, wounded, and seeking my home. I have lost all I have, but put me in the road to Ghausgarh, and I will reward you hereafter." Necessarily, the mention of this fort would have put at rest any doubt in the Brahmin's mind; he at once shouted for assistance, and presently carried off his prize to Rana Khan's camp. Hence the prisoner was despatched to Sindhia, at Mathra, while the Pathans, left to themselves, abandoned the Fort of Meerut and dispersed to their respective homes. Bedar Bakht, the titular Emperor, was sent to Dehli, where he was confined and ultimately slain, and the unfortunate controller, Manzur Ali, who had played so prominent a part in the late events as to have incurred general suspicion of treacherous connivance, was tied to the foot of an elephant and thus dragged about the streets until he died.
For the Rohilla chief a still more horrible fate was prepared. On his arrival at Mathra, Sindhia inflicted upon him the punishment of Tashhir, sending him round the bazaar on a jackass, with his face to the tail, and a guard instructed to stop at every considerable shop and beg a cowree, in the name of the Nawab of the Bawani. The wretched man becoming abusive under the contemptuous treatment, his tongue was torn out of his mouth. Gradually he was mutilated further, being first blinded, as a retribution for his treatment of the Emperor, and subsequently deprived of his nose, ears, hands and feet, and sent to Dehli. Death came to his relief upon the road, it is believed by his being hanged upon a tree 3rd March, 1789, and the mangled trunk was sent to Dehli, where it was laid before the sightless monarch, the most ghastly Nazar that ever was presented in the Diwin Khas.
Perhaps, if we could hear Gholam Kadir's version of the revolution here described, we might find that public indignation had to some extent exaggerated his crimes. It is possible that the tradition which imputes his conduct to revenge for an alleged cruelty of Shah Alam may be a myth, founded upon a popular conception of probability, and only corroborated by the fact that he died childless. Perhaps he merely thought that he was performing a legitimate stroke of State, and imitating the vigorous policy of Ghazi-ud-din the younger; perhaps the plunder of the palace was necessary to conciliate his followers; perhaps the firing of the palace was an accident. But the result of the combination of untoward appearances has been to make his name a bye-word among the not over-sensitive inhabitants of Hindustan, familiar, by tradition and by personal experience, with almost every form of cruelty, and almost every degree of rebellion. It is said that during moments of reaction, after some of his debauches in the palace (v. p. 183), Gholam Kadir attempted to justify his conduct by representing himself as acting under supernatural inspiration. "As I was sleeping," he averred, "in a garden at Sikandra, an apparition stood over me and smote me on the face saying, Arise, go to Dehli, and possess thyself of the palace." It may be that at such times he experienced some feelings of remorse. At all events, his punishment was both immediate and terrible, and his crimes proved the ruin of his house. Ghausgarh was forthwith razed to the ground, so that as already mentioned no vestige but the mosque remains. The brother of the deceased fled to the Panjab.
The first care of the Patel, after these summary vindications of justice, was to make provision for the administration of Hindustan, to which he probably foresaw that he should not be able to give constant personal attention, and in which he resolved to run no further risks of a Musalman revival. The fallen Emperor was restored to his throne, in spite of his own reluctance, "in spite of his blindness," as the native historian says, who knew that no blind man could be a Sultan; and at the enthronement, to which all possible pomp was lent, the agency of the Peshwa, with Sindhia for his deputy, was solemnly renewed and firmly established. We also learn from Francklin that an annual allowance of nine lakes of rupees was assigned for the support of the Emperor's family and Court, an adequate civil list if it had been regularly paid. But Shah Nizam-ud-din, who had been restored to office, was an unfit man to be entrusted with the uncontrolled management of such a sum; and during the Patel's frequent and protracted absences, the royal family were often reduced to absolute indigence. Sayid Raza Khan, on whose authority this shocking statement rests, was the resident representative of the British Minister at Lucknow, and was the channel through which the aged Emperor received from the British Government a monthly allowance of 2,000 rupees. This, together with the fees paid by persons desirous of being presented, was all that Shah Alam could count on in his old age for the support of his thirty children and numerous kinsfolk and retainers. Captain Francklin was an eye-witness of the semblance of State latterly maintained in the Red Castle, where he paid his respects in 1794. He found the Emperor represented by a crimson velvet chair under an awning in the Diwan Khas, but the Shah was actually in one of the private rooms with three of his sons. The British officers presented their alms under the disguise of a tributary offering, and received some nightgowns, of sprigged calico, by way of honorific dresses.
The so-called Emperor being now incapable of ruling, even according to the very lax political code of the East, and all real power being in the hands of a Hindu headborough supported by mercenary troops, the native records, to which I have had access, either cease altogether, or cease to concern themselves with the special story of Hindustan. And, indeed, as far as showing the fall of the empire, my task is also done. I do not agree with those who think that the empire fell with the death of Aurangzeb, or even with the events that immediately preceded the campaign of Panipat, in 1761. I consider the empire to have endured as long as "the king's name was a tower of strength"; as long as Nawabs paid large fines on succession, and contending parties intrigued for investiture; as long as Shujaa-ud-daulah could need its sanction to his occupation of Kattahir, or Najaf Khan led its armies to the conquest of the Jats. We have seen how that state of affairs originated, and how it came to an end; there is nothing now left but to trace briefly the concluding career of those who have played their parts in the narrative, and to introduce their successors upon the vast and vacant theatre. In so doing it must be borne in mind that, although we, from our present standpoint, can see that the Moghul Empire was ended, it did not altogether so appear to contemporaries. Whether federation or disintegration be the best ideal destiny, for a number of Provinces whose controlling centre has given way, is a question which may admit of more than one answer. But it is, in any case, certain that in the year 1789 the Provinces of which the Empire had been composed, were not ripe for independent and organic existence. There was still, therefore, a craving for a paramount power; and that craving was to be finally met by the British. In the meanwhile the almost effete machinery of the Empire, directed and administered by Sindhia, made the best available substitute; General de Boigne who had the most complete information on the subject bears unequivocal testimony on this subject. His words will be found at the beginning of the next chapter.
NOTE. It would be curious to know what became of Gholam Kadir's jewel-laden horse after the rider fell into the pit. In Skinner's life, it is conjectured that he came into the hands of M. Lestonneaux. It is certain that this officer abruptly abandoned Sindhia's service at this very time. Perhaps the crown jewels of the Great Mughal are now in France. The Emperor (who composed poetry with estimation under the name of "Aftab") solaced his temporary captivity by writing verses, which are still celebrated in Hindustan, and of which the following is a correct translation. The resemblance to the Psalms of David is noticeable:
"The storms of affliction have destroyed the Majesty of my Government: and scattered my State to the winds.
I was even as the Sun shining in the firmament of the Empire: but the sun is setting in the sorrowful West.
It is well for me that I have become blind; for so I am hindered from seeing another on my throne.
Even as the saints were afflicted by Yazid; so is the ruin that has fallen upon me, through the appointment of Destiny.
The wealth of this world was my sickness; but now the Lord hath healed me.
I have received the just reward of mine iniquities; but now He hath forgiven me my sins.
I gave milk to the young adder; and he became the cause of my destruction.
The Steward who served me thirty years compassed my ruin; but a swift recompense hath overtaken him.
The lords of my council who had covenanted to serve me; even they deserted me, and took whatsoever in thirty years I had put by for my children.
Moghuls and Afghans alike failed me; and became confederates in my imprisonment.
Even the base-born man of Hamadan, and Gul Mohammad, full of wickedness; Allah Yar also, and Solaiman and Badal Beg all met together for my trouble.
And now that this young Afghan hath destroyed the dignity of my empire; I see none but thee, O Most Holy! to have compassion upon me.
Yet peradventure Timur Shah my kinsman may come to my aid; and Madhoji Sindhia, who is even as a son unto me he also will surely avenge my cause.
Asaf-ud-daula and the chief of the English; they also may come to my relief.
Shame were it if Princes and People gathered not together; to the end that they might bring me help.
Of all the fair women of my chambers none is left to me but Mubarik Mahal.
O Aftab! verily thou hast been this day overthrown by Destiny; yet God shall bless thee and restore thy fallen brightness."
Francklin's Shah Alum has been constantly referred to. He was an officer of great diligence, who had large local opportunities, having been in Dehli, the Doab, and Rohilkand, from 1793 to 1796, on a survey ordered by the British Government. He had access to many native sources of information; but unfortunately never cites any in the margin but Sayid Raza's MS. I have not hesitated to combat his views on several points; but there are few English writers on the subject to whom we are more indebted. Besides this work, and one to be hereafter noticed, he was the author of books on Ancient Palibothra and on snake-worship. He died a lieutenant-colonel in the Bengal army.
Sindhia as Mayor of Palace British Policy Augmentation of Army under General de Boigne Ismail Beg joins the Rajput rising Battle of Patan Sindhia at Mathra Siege of Ajmir Jodhpur Rajah Battle of Mirta Rivals alarmed French Officers Progress to Puna Holkar advances Ismail Beg taken Battle of Lakhairi Sindhia rebuked Power of Sindhia Rise of George Thomas Thomas quits Begam Sindhia at Puna - Death and character of Madhoji Sindhia Koil in the last Century.
FROM the time of the revolution of 1788 each of the dismembered provinces has its separate history; and the present record naturally shrinks to the contracted limits of a local history of the capital, and of the districts more especially connected with it by proximity or by political ties. Still, since the country is one that has long been occupying our attention, and the persons who have made it do so are still upon the scene, it may be interesting to those who have followed the narrative thus far if a brief conclusion is presented to them. The story of the empire's fall will thus be completed, and the chasm between the Moghul rule and the English rule will be provisionally bridged. It must, moreover, be remembered that the visible centre of authority is a thing for which men will always look. And, even in the fallen state of the Dehli monarchy this was still in the palace of the descendant of Babar. To use de Boigne's words, written in 1790: "le respect .... envers la maison de Timour regnait a tel point que, quoique toute la peninsule se fut sucessivement soustraite a son autorite, aucun prince .... de l'Inde ne s'etait arroge le titre de souverain. Sindhia partageait le respect, et Shah Alam etait toujours assis sur le Trone Mogol, et tout se faisait en son nom."
It has been already shown how "Maharaja Patel," as Madhoji Sindhia is called by the native writers, assumed the actual government, whilst he secured for the youthful chief of the Mahratta confederacy the titular office of "Agent Plenipotentiary," which had been once or twice previously used to designate mighty Viceroys like the first Nizam.
In providing this distinction for his native superior, the usually shrewd old minister intended to blind his countrymen and his rivals; and by another still more clumsy coup de theatre, he assumed to himself the position of a servant, as harmonizing with the rural dignity of Beadle or Headborough, which, as we have seen, he persisted in affecting. Decorated however by the blind old Emperor with the more sonorous appellations of Madar-ul-Maham, Ali Jah, Bahadur ("Exalted and valorous Centre of Affairs"), he played the Mayor-of-the-Palace with far more effect at Dehli than it would have been possible for him to do at Punah. Circumstances, moreover, were now far more in his favour than they had been since 1785. During the three years that followed, the Rohillas of Ghausgarh were broken, Muhammad Beg was dead, the strength of the brave but indolent Rajputs was much paralyzed, and Najaf Kuli Khan who never had opposed him, but might have been formidable if he pleased had succumbed to a long attack of dropsy. Ismail Beg, it is true, was still in existence, and now more than ever a centre of influence among the Moghuls. But Ismail Beg was at present conciliated, having joined the Patel's party ever since his former associate, Gholam Kadir, had proceeded to such criminal excesses in the palace. As a further means of attaching to him this important, even if not very intelligent chief, the Patel about this time conferred upon him a portion of Najaf Kuli's fief in the Mewat country south of Dehli. By this he not only pleased the Moghul noble, but trusted to furnish him with occupation in the reduction and management of the wild mountaineers of that district. It was indeed idle to hope that Ismail Beg would remain faithful in the event of any future resurrection of the Musalman power; and it could not be denied that something of the kind might at any time occur, owing to the menacing attitude of the Afghans, who were still very powerful under the famous Ahmad Abdali's son, Timur Shah. Indeed, this was a ceaseless difficulty during the whole of Madhoji's remaining life; and one that would have been still more serious, but for the anxiously pacific policy which, for the most part, characterized the British administration during that period. Nor did the Minister at this time enjoy the advantage of being served by European commanders. Lestonneaux retired suddenly in the beginning of 1789; and de Boigne, as above-mentioned, had also left the army, and was engaged in commercial pursuits at Lucknow. But the army continued to comprise a certain proportion of regular troops; nor was it long before M. de Boigne, being earnestly solicited by Madhoji, and offered his own terms, resumed his command, augmented this portion of the force, and assumed a position of confidence and freedom which had not previously been allowed him. The skeletons of his two original battalions remained to form the nucleus of the new force. The battalion of Lestonneaux or whatever the name was deserted by its commandant, with eight months' arrears due to it, was disorganized and mutinous; and Sindhia meditated an attack upon it with an overwhelming body of horse. De Boigne however interceded, representing that the soldiers were not to blame for their colonel's defection and that their demand, though it might not be expressed with due respect, was after all founded on justice. Sindhia relented so far as to award a present payment of half the arrears, and a permission that the men should be absorbed in the brigade about to be formed; but the astute Savoyard took care first to make them pile their arms, so that their future entertainment should be as individuals only. The officers were at the same time cashiered; and thus the mutiny of a battalion was patiently and ingeniously suppressed without its precious material being lost to the service. The requisite new recruits were principally raised from Rohilkand and Audh the future nurseries of the famous Bengal army. The officers were the most respectable Europeans that the General could collect; and the non-commissioned posts were given to picked men of the old battalions.
The augmented force gradually reached the strength of three brigades, each brigade consisting of eight battalions of sepoys, each 700 strong; with 500 cavalry and forty fieldpieces. The General was allowed 10,000 rupees per mensem for his own pay, and a liberal scale was fixed for the European officers, whose number was from time to time increased, and the whole force, forming a small army in itself, marched under the white cross of Savoy, the national colours of its honourable chief. A gratuity was secured to all who might be wounded in action, and it was guaranteed that their pay should go on while in hospital. Invalids were to have pensions in money and grants of land.
It soon had to take the field: for Ismail Beg's loyalty, already wavering in view of an Afghan invasion, gave way entirely in the beginning of 1790 before the solicitations of the Rajput chiefs. These high-spirited men, longing for an opportunity to strike another blow for national independence, fancied, and not without reason, that they could reckon upon the aid of the restless Ismail with whom they had already combined during the Lalsaut campaign in 1787.
The corps of de Boigne formed part of the army sent under the command of Sindhia's Mahratta generals, Lakwa Dada and Gopal Rao Bhao, to prevent if possible the junction of Ismail Beg with his Rajput allies. But the Moghul soldier of fortune was determined not to yield without a struggle. No sooner did he raise his standard than thousands of disbanded Afghan and Persian horsemen flocked to his headquarters. In March de Boigne left his employer at his favourite cantonment of Mathra, and sending before him a cloud of Mahratta horse, marched upon Ismail Beg with a complete brigade, including fifty pieces of artillery. On the morning of the 10th May they came upon him at a place called Patan, in the rocky country between Ajmir and Gwalior, not many miles from the scene of the former battle at Lalsaut. For three weeks or more nothing was effected, but on the 19th June Ismail announced his intention of attacking the Mahratta lines. De Boigne sent a messenger to say that he would spare him the fatigue of the journey, and advanced to the encounter with all his force on the following morning.
The Rajputs had come up; but there was no longer union between them; for the Patel, taking advantage of a temporary soreness felt by the Kachwahas of Jaipur on some trifling provocation, had contrived to secure their inaction before the battle began. Notwithstanding this defection, a large body of infantry still stood firm, but European skill and resolution conquered in the end. Ismail at the head of his Moghul cavaliers repeatedly charged de Boigne's artillery, sabring the gunners at their posts. Between the charges the infantry were thinned by well-directed volleys of grape, and the squares had to be formed with the greatest rapidity as the cavalry of the enemy once more attacked them. De Boigne's squares, however, resisted all attempts throughout the afternoon, and a general advance of the whole line at length took place, before which the enemy gradually broke. De Boigne placing himself at the head of one of his battalions, ordered the others to follow, and precipitated his foot upon the enemy's batteries. The first was carried with the shock; at eight in the evening he was master of the second; the third fell an hour later; the Moghuls' resistance was completely overpowered, and their leader was chased into the city of Jaipur. Ismail also lost in this engagement one hundred guns, fifty elephants, two hundred stand of colours and all his baggage; and on the following day a large portion of his army, amounting to seven battalions of foot and ten thousand irregular troops, went over to the victors. On this, as on many other occasions, the Mahratta cause was jeopardised by jealousies; Holkar holding aloof during the action, which would have begun earlier, and in all probability proved more decisive and with less loss, had he given due co-operation. There is a modest account of this action from de Boigne's pen in the Calcutta Gazette for 22nd July, 1790. The letter is dated 24th June four days after the battle and does not represent the exertions of the Mahrattas in anything like the serious light adopted in Captain Grant Duff's work, to which I have been principally indebted for my account of the action. The gallant writer estimates Ismail Beg's Moghul horse, however, at 5,000 sabres; and admits that the Mahrattas would have sustained severe loss but for the timely firmness of the regular battalions. The fact appears to be that the diminished Rajput infantry, deficient in discipline and zeal, and wanting the prestige and coolness inspired among Asiatics by the presence of European leaders, did not support the cavalry, and that the latter become exhausted by their vain assaults upon the well-trained squares. Seeing this, de Boigne marched up his men (10,000 strong, by his own account), under the protection of a steady cannonade from his own guns, and stormed the enemy's camp. He estimates his own loss at 120 killed and 472 wounded; the enemy's foot were not much cut up, because they were intrenched; "but they have lost a vast number of cavalry." He says of himself, "I was on horseback encouraging our men; thank God I have realized all the sanguine expectations of Sindhia; the officers in general have behaved well; to them I am a great deal indebted for the fortune of the day." This was the most important victory that Sindhia had ever gained, and fully justified the increased confidence that he had shown his Savoyard General. The memoir above cited, estimates the whole combined forces of the enemy at 25,000 foot and 20,000 horse, but it is probable that they were not all engaged. Patan, a fortress which has been compared to Gibraltar, was taken by storm after three days of open trenches, and Ismail Beg fled to the Panjab.
The Patel himself was not present with the army during this campaign, but remained at Mathra, which was a favourite residence of his, owing to its peculiar reputation for holiness among the Hindus. This ancient city, which is mentioned both by Arrian and by Pliny, is the centre of a small district which is to the worshippers of Vishnu what Palestine is to Christians, and the Western part of Arabia is to the people of the Prophet. Here was born the celebrated Krishna, reported to be an incarnation of the Deity; here was his infant life sought by the tyrant Kans; hence he fled to Gujrat; returning when he came to man's estate, and partially adopting it as his residence after having slain his enemy.
We have seen how the general of Ahmad the Abdali massacred the inhabitants, with a zeal partaking of the fanatic and the robber in equal proportions, in 1757. Since then the place, standing at the head of the Bhartpur basin, and midway between Dehli and the Rajput country, had recovered its importance, and now formed Madhoji's chief cantonment. Here it was that he received the news of the battle of Patan, and of the temporary disappearance of Ismail Beg; and hence he proceeded to Dehli, and there obtained a fresh confirmation of the office of Plenipotentiary for the Peshwa, together with two fresh firmans (or patents). One conferring upon himself the power to choose a successor in the Ministry from among his own family, and the other an edict forbidding the slaughter of horned cattle (so highly reverenced by the Hindus) throughout all the territory which still owned the sway, however nominal, of the Moghul sceptre.
Soon after he ordered his army, commanded as before, to return to Rajputana, and punish Bijai Singh, the Rathor leader of Jodhpur, for abetting the resistance of Ismail Beg. On the 21st of August the General arrived at Ajmir, and took the town on the following day. He then sat down to form the regular siege of the citadel, called Taragarh (a fastness strong by nature, and strengthened still more by art, and situated on an eminence some 3,000 feet above sea-level). Bijai Singh, in Rajput fashion, was ready to try negotiation, and thought that he might succeed in practicing upon one whom he would naturally regard in the light of a mercenary leader. He accordingly sent a message to de Boigne offering him the fort, with the territory for fifty miles round Ajmir if he would desert his employer. But the General sent him for answer that "Sindhia had already given him both Jodhpur and Jaipur, and that the Rajah could not be so unreasonable as to expect him to exchange the whole of those territories for the portion offered." After delivering himself of this grim piece of humour, and leaving a force to blockade the citadel, General de Boigne marched west to encounter the Rajah. Burning to retrieve the disgrace of Patan, Bijai Singh was marching up from Jodhpur to the relief of Taragarh when de Boigne met him at Mirta, a walled town about two marches distant from Ajmir and 76 miles N.E. of Jodhpur. It stands on high ground, the western wall being of mud, the eastern of masonry. On the 9th September the armies approached, and Gopal Rao was for attacking at once, but the General, with his accustomed coolness, pointed out that, not only were the men fatigued with marching and in need of repose, but that the day was too far advanced to allow of due pursuit being made should they as was to be hoped gain the action. It was therefore determined to try the effect of a surprise after the men had had a meal and a few hours repose. The forces on either side were not unequal. The Rajputs had the better in point of cavalry, their strength in this arm has been computed at 30,000 sabres. The Mahrattas had the advantage in artillery and in disciplined foot. The lines of the Rajputs were partially covered in rear by the walls of the town. But the spot was of evil omen. Bijai Singh had sustained a severe defeat on this very ground near forty years before. Nevertheless, years had not taught the Rathors wisdom, nor misfortune schooled them to prudence. De Boigne came up in the grey of the morning, when the indolent Hindus were completely off their guard. And when the Rajah and his companions were roused from the drunken dreams of Madhu, they already found the camp deserted, and the army in confusion. Fifty field pieces were piercing the lines with an incessant discharge of grape-shot, and Colonel Rohan who commanded de Boigne's right wing had, with unauthorised audacity, thrown himself into the midst of the camp at the head of three battalions. Rallying a strong body of horse and the Rajput cavaliers were brave to a fault the Rajah fell furiously upon the advanced corps of infantry, which he hoped to annihilate before they could be supported from the main army. But European discipline was too much. for Eastern chivalry. Hastily forming hollow square the battalions of de Boigne awaited the storm; the infantry of Waterloo before the gendarmerie of Agincourt. The ground shook beneath the impetuous advance of the dust-cloud sparkling with the flashes of quivering steel. But when the cloud cleared off, there were still the hollow squares of infantry, like living bastions, dealing out lightnings far more terrible than any that they had encountered. The baffled horsemen wheeled furiously round on the Mahratta cavalry, and scattered them to the four corners of the field. They then attempted to gallop back, but it was through a Valley of Death. The whole of the regular troops of the enemy lined the way; the guns of de Boigne, rapidly served, pelted them with grape at point-blank distance; the squares maintained their incessant volleys; by nine in the morning nearly every man of the 4,000 who had charged with their prince lay dead upon the ground. Unfatigued and almost uninjured, the well-trained infantry of de Boigne now became assailants. The battalions rapidly deployed, and advancing with the support of their own artillery, made a general attack upon the Rajput line. By three in the afternoon all attempt at resistance had ceased. The whole camp, with vast plunder and munitions of war, fell into the hands of the victors. The middle-ages were over in India; and the prediction of Bernier was vindicated by the superiority of scientific warfare over headlong valour. The town was easily taken, and the fall of Taragarh, the lofty and almost impregnable-looking citadel that frowns above Ajmir, followed soon after. The echo of this blow resounded throughout native India. The Nana Farnavis heard it at Punah, and redoubled his Brahmin intrigues against his successful countryman. He likewise stimulated the rivalry of Takuji Holkar, who, with more of practical sagacity, resolved to profit by Sindhia's example, and lost no time in raising a force similarly organised to that which had won this great victory. De Boigne, almost worn out himself, allowed his victorious troops no time to cool, but marched on Jodhpur, and arrived at Kuarpur in the vicinity of the capital on the 18th of November. But his presence was enough. The Rajas of Udaipur and Jodhpur hastened to offer their submission to the chief who combined the prestige of the house of Timur with the glamour of the fire-eating Feringhee. Sindhia (to borrow a phrase from the gambling table) backed his luck. He gave de Boigne an increased assignment of territory; and authority to raise two more brigades, on which by express permission of the blind old Shah was conferred the title of Army of the Empire. The territory assigned to the General extended from Mathra to Dehli, and over the whole Upper Doab, yielding a total revenue of about twenty-two lakhs of rupees, a large sum for those days. After liquidating the pay of the troops it was estimated that this left a balance in his favour of about 40,000 rupees a year besides his pay, and very large perquisites. He also exercised unlimited civil and military jurisdiction. His headquarters were at Aligarh, where he exercised quasi-royal sway over the whole surrounding country. Some further work, however, awaited de Boigne before he finally retired into purely civil administration. Among the last to hold out against the good fortune and genius of Sindhia was the founder of the present state of Indore, Jeswant Rao Holkar, who resolved to try the effect upon his rival of a blow struck with his own weapons. The Duke of Wellington in 1803 took much the same view of this fondness on the part of the Mahrattas for European discipline and fashions in war as that vainly urged on Sheodasheo Rao by Malhar Rao Holkar in 1760. "Sindhia's armies had actually," so wrote General Wellesley in 1803, "been brought to a very favourable state of discipline, and his power had become formidable by the exertions of European officers in his service; but, I think, it is much to be doubted whether his power or rather that of the whole Mahratta nation would not have been more formidable if they had never had a European or an infantry soldier in their service, and had carried on their operations in the manner of the original Mahrattas, only by means of cavalry." Malhar Rao and Wellesley were two great authorities; but, in any case, when once any State had introduced the new system, all its rivals were compelled to do likewise, and the State which did it with the most energy prevailed. The citation above given is from Owen's Selections, p. 336.
This was the hey-day of European adventure in the East. France, still under the influence of feudal institutions, continued to send out brave young men who longed, while providing for themselves, to restore the influence of their country in India, shaken as it had been by the ill success of Dupleix, Lally, and Law. The native princes, on the other side, were not backward in availing themselves of this new species of wardog. A Frenchman was worth his weight in gold; even an Anglo-Indian the race is now relegated to the office-stool fetched, we may say, his weight in silver. But men of the latter class, though not deficient in valour, and not without special advantages from their knowledge of the people and their language, were not so fully trusted. Doubtless the French officers would be more serviceable in a war with England; and that contingency was probably never long absent from the thoughts of the native chiefs. With the exception of the Musalman Viceroys of Audh and the Deccan, every native power dreaded the advance of the English, and desired their destruction. In fact, now that the Empire was fallen, a general Hindu revival had taken its place, the end of which was not seen till the Sikhs were finally subdued in 1849.
Holkar's new army was commanded by a French officer, whose name variously spelt, was perhaps du Drenec. He was the son of an officer in the Royal navy of France, and is described as an accomplished and courteous gentleman. He usually receives from contemporary writers the title of Chevalier, and his conduct sustained the character of a well-born soldier.
1792. The Patel lost no time in pushing his success in the only quarter where he now had anything to fear. The combination of the Nana in the cabinet and Holkar with an Europeanized army in the field, was a serious menace to his power; and with enterprising versatility he resolved at once to counteract it. With this view he obtained khillats of investiture, for the Peshwa and for himself, from the Emperor, and departed for Puna, where he arrived after a slow triumphal progress, on the 11th of June, 1792. On the 20th of the same month the ceremony took place with circumstances of great magnificence; the successful deputy endeavouring to propitiate the hostility of the Nana by appearing in his favourite character of the Beadle, and carrying the Peshwa's slippers, while the latter sate splendidly attired upon a counterfeit of the peacock throne. All men have their foibles, and Sindhia's was histrionism, which imposed on no one. The thin assumption of humility by a dictator was despised, and the splendid caparisons of the nominal chief were ridiculed by the Mahrattas and Brahmans of the old school.
Meanwhile Holkar saw his opportunity and struck his blow. Profiting by the absence of his rival, he for the first time since 1773, advanced on Hindustan; and summoning Ismail Beg like an evil spirit from his temporary obscurity, he hurled him upon the country round the capital, while he himself lost no time in forcing a rupture with Sindhia's civil deputy in Rajputana.
In the northern part of the Rewari country is a place called Kanaund; about equidistant from Dehli and Hansi, to the south of both cities. Here Najaf Kuli Khan had breathed his last in a stronghold of earth faced with stone, on the borders of the great Bikanir desert, among sand-hills and low growths of tamarisk; and here his widow a sister of the deceased Gholam Kadir continued to reside. A call to surrender the fort to Sindhia's officers being refused by the high-spirited Pathan lady, gave Ismail Beg occasion to reappear upon the scene. He hastened to her aid, but found the place surrounded by a force under the command of M. Perron, a French officer whose name will often recur hereafter. The Beg, as usual, attacked furiously, and, as usual, was defeated. He took refuge in the fort which he contrived to enter, and the defence of which he conducted for some time. But the lady being killed by a shell, the garrison lost heart, and began to talk of throwing overboard the Moghul Jonah. The latter, obtaining from Perron a promise of his life being spared, and having that strong faith in the truth of his promise which is the real homage that Asiatics pay to Europeans, lost no time in coming into camp, and was sent into confinement at Agra, where he remained till his death a few years later. Francklin, writing about 1794, says that he had no chance of deliverance so long as Mahratta sway endured at Dehli; but that he might, otherwise, still live to play a conspicuous part. But I believe he died about four years later. His residence was in the quarters near the Dehli Gate of the Fort, popularly known as Dan Sah Jat's house, still standing.
De Boigne meantime took the field in person against Holkar, who brought against him not only the usual host of Mahratta horsemen, but, what was far more formidable, four battalions of sepoys under Colonel du Drenec. The forces of the Empire, of somewhat inferior strength, brought Holkar to action at Lakhairi, not far from Kanaund, and on the road to Ajmir. The battle which ensued, which was fought in the month of September, 1792, was considered by M. de Boigne as the most obstinate that he ever witnessed. The ground had been skilfully chosen by du Drenec; he held the crest of a pass, his rear being partly protected by a wood; a marsh covered his front, while the sides were flanked by forests. The regular infantry was supported by a strong artillery, and guarded by 30,000 cavalry. Having reconnoitred this position from a rising ground, de Boigne advanced under a discouraging fire from Holkar's batteries; and as his own guns whose advance had been unexpectedly impeded came into action he hoped to silence those of the enemy. But his artillery officer was unlucky that day. A tumbril being struck in de Boigne's batteries, led to the explosion of ten or twelve others; and Holkar observing the confusion, endeavoured to extricate his cavalry from the trees, and charge, while du Drenec engaged the enemy's infantry. But the charge of Holkar's horse was confused and feeble (here Ismail Beg's absence must have been felt), and de Boigne sheltering his men in another wood, soon repulsed the cavalry with a well-directed and well-sustained discharge from 9,000 muskets. As they retreated, he launched his own cavalry upon them, and drove them off the field. It was now his turn once more to advance. Re-forming his infantry and guns in the shelter of the thick tree-growth, he fell upon the left of the enemy where the regulars still maintained themselves. Raw levies as they were, they fought bravely but unskilfully till they were annihilated; their European officers were nearly all slain, and their guns taken, to the number of thirty-eight. The battle was lost without retrieval, mainly owing to the inefficiency of Holkar's horse; thus vindicating the wise, if premature, confidence of Ibrahim Gardi at Panipat more than thirty years before. Holkar, with the remnant of: his army, crossed the Chambal, and fell back on Malwa, where he revenged himself by sacking Ujain, one of Sindhia's chief cities.
While these things were taking place, a new rebuff was being prepared for himself by the Emperor, from whom neither age nor misfortune had taken that levity of character which, partly inherited from his ancestors, partly constitutional to himself, formed at once his chief weakness and his greatest consolation. In his dependent condition, enjoying but the moderate stipend of ninety thousand pounds a year for his whole civil list and that not punctually paid the blind old man turned envious thoughts upon the prosperity of the provinces which he had formerly ceded to his old protectors, the British. Accordingly, in July 1792, the Court newsman of Dehli was directed to announce that despatches had been sent to Punah, instructing Sindhia to collect tribute from the administration of Bengal. A similar attempt had been made, it will be remembered, though without success, in 1785 (vide sup. Pt. II. c. iv. in fin. ) The present attempt fared no better. This hint was taken certainly, but not in a way that could have been pleasant to those who gave it; for it was taken extremely ill. In a state-paper of the 2nd of August, Lord Cornwallis, the then Governor General, gave orders that information should be conveyed to Madhoji Sindhia to the effect that in the present condition of the Dehli court he, Sindhia, would be held directly responsible for every writing issued in the name of the Emperor, and that any attempt to assert a claim to tribute from the British Government would be "warmly resented." Once more the disinclination of the British to interfere in the Empire was most emphatically asserted, but it was added significantly, that if any should be rash enough to insult them by an unjust demand or in any shape whatever, they felt themselves both able and resolved to exact ample satisfaction.
This spirited language, whether altogether in accordance with abstract right or not, was probably an essential element in the maintenance of that peaceful policy which prevailed in the diplomatic valley that occurred between Warren Hastings and the Marquess Wellesley. Sindhia (not unmindful of Popham's Gwalior performance just twelve years before) hastened to assure the British Government that he regarded them as supreme within their own territories; and that, for his part, his sole and whole object was to establish the Imperial authority in those territories that were still subject to the Emperor.
In this he had perfectly succeeded. The fame of his political sagacity, and the terror of General de Boigne's arms, were acknowledged from the Satlaj to the Ganges, and from the Himalayas to the Vindhyas. And for nearly ten years the history of Hindustan is the biography of a few foreign adventurers who owed their position to his successes. In the centre of the dominions swayed by the Dictator-Beadle were quartered two who had attained to almost royal state in the persons of General de Boigne and the Begam Sumroo: the one at Sardhana, the other at Aligarh. The Chevalier du Drenec, who had not been well used by Holkar, left (without the slightest blame) the service of that unprosperous chief, and joined his quasi-compatriot and former antagonist, the Savoyard de Boigne, as the commandant of a battalion. The "dignity of History" in the last century has not deigned to preserve any particulars of the private life of these gallant soldiers; but one can fancy them of an evening at a table furnished with clumsy magnificence, and drinking bad claret bought up from the English merchants of Calcutta at fabulous prices; not fighting over again the battle of Lakhairi, but rather discussing the relative merits of the slopes of the Alps and the cliffs of the Atlantic; admitting sorrowfully the merits of the intermediate vineyards, or trilling to the bewilderment of their country-born comrades, light little French songs of love and wine.
Among the officers of the Begam's army there would be few congenial companions for such men. The Brigadier, Colonel Levaissoult (or le Vasseur; it is impossible to be quite sure of these names as manipulated by the natives of India), seems to have been a young man of some merit. Her only other European officer who was at all distinguished was an Irishman named George Thomas, who had deserted from a man-of-war in Madras Roads about ten years before, and after some obscure wanderings in the Carnatic, had entered the Begam's service, and distinguished himself, as we have seen, in the rescue of Shah Alam before Gokalgarh, in 1788. The officers of the Begam's little army had never recovered the taint thrown over the service by its original founder, the miscreant Sumroo, and the merits of the gallant young Irishman, tall, handsome, intrepid, and full of the reckless generosity of his impulsive race, soon raised him to distinction. About his military genius, untaught as it must have been, there could be no doubt in the minds of those who had seen the originality of his movement at Golkalgarh; his administrative talents, one would suppose, must have given some indication by this time of what they were hereafter to appear in a more leading character, and upon a larger stage.
Some time in 1792 the partiality of the Begam for M. Levaissoult began to show itself; and Mr. Thomas who was not only conscious of his own merits, but had all the hatred of a Frenchman which characterized the British tar of those days, resolved to quit her service and attempt a more independent career. With this view he retired, in the first instance, to Anupshahar on the Ganges, so often noticed in these pages, and now, for some time, the cantonment of the frontier brigade of the English establishment in the Presidency of the Fort William. Here he found a hospitable welcome, and from this temporary asylum commenced a correspondence with Appa Khandi Rao, a chief whom he had formerly met in the Mahratta army, and whose service he presently entered with an assignment of land in Ismail Beg's former Jaigir of Mewat. In the Mewat country he remained for the next eighteen months, engaged in a long and arduous attempt to subjugate his nominal subjects; in which employment we must for the present leave him engaged.
In the meanwhile the Begam had been married to M. Levaissoult, according to the rites of the ancient Church to which both adhered. Unfortunately for the lady's present reputation and the gentleman's official influence, the marriage was private; the only witnesses of the ceremony being two of the bridegroom's friends, MM. Saleur and Bernier.
All this time Sindhia was at Punah endeavouring to raise his influence in the Mahratta country to something like a level with his power in Hindustan. But the situation was one of much greater difficulty in the former instance than in the latter. In the one case he had to deal with a blind old voluptuary, of whom he was sole and supreme master; in the other the sovereign Madhu Rao Peshwa was in the vigour of life, and had a confidential adviser in the Nana Farnavis, who was almost a match for the Patel in ability, and had an undoubted superiority in the much greater unity of his objects and the comparative narrowness of his field of action. It is no part of my task to trace the labyrinth of Mahratta politics in a work which merely professes to sketch the anarchy of Hindustan; it will be sufficient for our present purpose to state that the Tarikh-i-Muzafari, the Persian history to which we have heretofore been so largely indebted, notices an incident as occurring at this time which is not detailed in the usually complete record of Captain Grant Duff, though it is not at variance with the account that he gives of Punah politics in 1794. The Persian author briefly states that the Peshwa (whose mind was certainly at this time much embittered against Madhoji Sindhia) sent assassins to waylay him at a little distance from the city, against whose attack the Patel defended himself with success, but only escaped at the expense of some severe wounds. From the situation of the writer, who appears always to have lived in Bihar or Hindustan, as well as from the vagueness with which he tells the story, it is evidently a mere rumour deriving some strength from the fact that Madhoji died at Wanauli, in the neighbourhood of the Mahratta capital, on the 12th February of that year, in the midst of intrigues in which he was opposed, not only by the Nana, but by almost all the chiefs of the old Mahratta party.
An interesting and careful, though friendly analysis of the Patel's character will be found in the fifth chapter of Grant Duff's third volume. As evinced in his proceedings in Hindustan, we have found him a master of untutored statecraft, combining in an unusual manner the qualities of prudence in counsel and enterprise in action; tenacious of his purposes, but a little vulgar in his means of affecting opinion. He was possessed of the accomplishment of reading and writing; was a good accountant and versed in revenue administration; and thus able to act for himself, instead of being obliged, like most Mahratta leaders, to put himself into the hands of designing Brahmans. My valued friend Sir Dinkar Rao informs me that, among other traditions of high Mahratta society, he has been told by aged men that the Maharaja was never known to evince serious displeasure save with cowards and men who fled in battle. To all others his favour was equal, and solely apportioned to merit, no matter what might be their creed, caste, or colour. He showed discrimination and originality in the wholesale reform that he introduced into the organization of the army, and the extensive scale on which he employed the services of soldiers trained and commanded by men of a hardier race than themselves. Sic fortis Etruria crevit; and it is curious to find the same circumstances which in the Middle Ages of Europe caused the greatness of the Northern Italian States thus reproducing themselves in the Italy of the East.
NOTE. The following extract from the Dehli Gazette of June 5th, 1874, gives the existing tradition as to the domicile of the officers at Aligarh: "De Boigne lived in his famous mansion, called Sahib Bagh, between the fort and city, and on leaving for France he gave it to Perron, who considerably improved the building and garden, which was well laid out with all descriptions of fruit trees procured from distant climes. He so adorned the place that it was said by the French officers that the garden was next to that of Ram Bagh, on the Agra river, so beautiful was the scenery. Perron had a number of officers in his army, English, French, and Italian. Next to Perron was Colonel Pedron, who commanded the fortress of Allygurh; this officer had his mansion in an extensive garden, which at the British conquest was converted into the Judges' Court, and the site is the same where it now stands. There are still some old jamun trees of the said garden in the school compound. Chevalier Dudernaque was another officer of distinction in Perron's Brigade; his house was on the edge of the city, it still stands in the occupancy of Khooshwuk Allee, a respectable Mahomedan, who has an Illaqua in Sahnoul." History of Coel. Aligurhs, by an Old Resident.
Daulat Rao Sindhia Thomas adopted by Appa Khandi Rao Revolution at Sardhana Begam Sumroo attacked but delivered Begam Sumroo becomes a wiser Woman Movements of Afghans De Boigne retires General Perron Musalman intrigues Afghans checked Succession in Audh War of "The Bais" Afghans and British Rising of Shimbunath Thomas independent Revolt of Lakwa Dada Holkar's defeat at Indor Power of Perron.
1794. THE powers and dignities of the old Patel were peaceably assumed by Daulat Rao, the son of the deceased's youngest nephew, whom he had, shortly before his death made preparations to adopt as a son. This new minister was only in his fifteenth year, but the chiefs of the Deccan soon becoming involved in war with their Musalman neighbours, and Takuji Holkar shortly afterwards becoming imbecile both in mind and in body, the young man had leisure to consolidate his power. He retained eight battalions always about him, under the command of a Neapolitan named Filose, and continued to reside at Punah; the Begam Sumroo and her new husband were at Sardhana; de Boigne at Aligarh; and Thomas still engaged in conquering the country which had been nominally conferred upon him by a chieftain who had no right to it himself. Nothing can better show the anarchy that prevailed than such a state of things as this last mentioned.
The news of Madhoji's death, and the short suspense that followed on the subject of the succession, caused some little confusion at Dehli, and led Appa Khandi Rao to visit the metropolis, on which occasion Thomas attended him. Here they received investiture to their several fiefs from Sindhia's local representative, Gopal Rao Bhao; but it was not long before this chief, stirred up, says Thomas's biographer, by the Begam and her husband, begam to tamper with the fidelity of Appa Khandi's men, who mutinied and confined their chief. Thomas retaliated by plundering the Begam's estates to the south of Dehli, and loyally escorted his master to Kanaund. On this occasion Appa (who seems not to have been destitute of good impulses) adopted him as his son, made him some handsome presents, and conferred upon him the management of several contiguous tracts, yielding in all an annual revenue of one lakh and a half of the money of those days.
One cannot wonder at the faith in the pagoda-tree which formed so prominent an article of the English social creed of those days, when we thus find a common sailor, at forty years of age, attended by a body-guard of chosen cavaliers, and managing districts as large and rich as many a minor kingdom. No doubt the price paid was high. Thomas's exertions were evidently prodigious and ceaseless; while his position nay, his very existence was extremely precarious. On the other hand, his prospect of realizing any part of his good fortune, and retiring to enjoy it in his native Tipperary - which must have sometimes presented itself to his mind was certainly not hopeful. To the degenerate Europeans of the present day, whose programme involves constant holidays in a mountain climate, occasional furloughs to England, and, when resident in India, a residence made endurable by imported luxuries, and by every possible precaution against heat, there is something almost incredible in this long life of exile, where the English language would not be heard for years, and where quilted curtains and wooden shutters would be all the protection of the most luxurious quarters, and an occasional carouse upon fiery bazaar spirits the chief excitement of the most peaceful intervals of repose. Such intervals, however, were very rare; and the sense of constant struggles in which one's success was entirely due to one's own merits, must have been the chief reward of such a life as Thomas was now leading.
Foremost among the difficulties with which he had to contend was the uncertain character of his chief: and he was at the time of which we are treating 1794 strongly tempted by Lakwa Dada to enter the service of Sindhia, in which he was offered the command of 2,000 horse. This temptation, however, he manfully resisted, and continued true to Appa, even though that chief was neither true to his follower nor to himself. Whilst thus engaged in a cause of but small promise, he was once more exposed to the machinations of the Begam, who, influenced by her husband, marched into Thomas's new district and encamped about three marches S.E. from Jhajar, at the head of a force of four battalions of infantry, twenty guns, and four squadrons of horse. Thomas made instant preparations to meet the invasion, when it was suddenly rolled away in a manner which presents one of the characteristic dissolving views of that extraordinary period.
The ruffianly character of most of the officers in the Sardhana service has been already mentioned. With the exception of one or two, they could not read or write, and they had all the debauched habits and insolent bearing which are the besetting sins of the uneducated European in India; especially when to the natural pride of race are added the temptations of a position of authority for which no preparation has been made in youth. Among these men (whom Le Vaissoult, not unnaturally, refused to admit to his dinner-table) was a German or Belgian, now only known to us by the nickname of Liegeois, probably derived from his native place. With this man it is supposed that Thomas now opened a correspondence by means of which he practiced on the disaffection of his former comrades. The secrecy which the Begam continued to preserve on the subject of her marriage naturally added to the unpopularity of Le Vaissoult's position; and the husband and wife hurried back to Sardhana on learning that the officers had commenced negotiations with Aloysius the son of the deceased Sumroo, who resided at Dehli with the title of Nawab Zafaryab Khan, and had carried over with them a portion of the troops. Finding the situation untenable, they soon resolved on quitting it and retiring into the territories of the British with their portable property, estimated at about two lakhs of rupees. With this view they wrote to Colonel McGowan, commanding the brigade at Anupshahar; and finding that officer scrupulous at participating at the desertion of an Imperial functionary, Le Vaissoult, in April, 1794, addressed the Governor General direct. The result was that Sindhia's permission was obtained to a secret flitting; and Le Vaissoult was to be treated as a prisoner of war, allowed to reside with his wife at Chandarnagar.
Towards the end of 1795, Zafaryab, at the head of the revolted soldiery set out from Dehli; determined, by what judicial stupidity I cannot tell, to cut off the escape of that enemy for whom, if he had been wise, he ought to have paved the road, had it been with silver. The intelligence of this movement precipitated Le Vaissoult's measures; and he set out with his wife the latter was in a palankeen, the former armed and on horseback with a mutual engagement between them that neither was to survive if certified of the death of the other. The troops who still remained at Sardhana, either corrupted by the mutineers, or willing to secure the plunder before the latter should arrive, immediately set out in pursuit. The sequel is thus told by Sleeman, who gathered his information from eye-witnesses on the spot: "They had got three miles on the road to Meerut, when they found the battalions gaining fast upon the palankeen. Le Vaissoult drew a pistol from his holster and urged on the bearers. He could have easily galloped off and saved himself, but he would not quit his wife's side. At last the soldiers came up close behind them. The female attendants of the Begam began to scream, and looking into the litter, Le Vaissoult observed the white cloth that covered the Begam's breast stained with blood. She had stabbed herself, but the dagger had struck against one of the bones of her chest, and she had not courage to repeat the blow. Her husband put the pistol to his temple and fired. The ball passed through his head, and he fell dead to the ground." This tragedy is somewhat differently detailed in the account furnished by Thomas to his biographer, which is made to favour the suspicion that the Begam intentionally deceived her husband in order to lead him to commit suicide. Thomas says that Le Vaissoult was riding at the head of the procession, and killed himself on receiving a message from the rear attested by the sight of a blood-stained garment borne by the messenger: but it is hard to see why a man in his position should have been absent from his wife's side at such a critical moment. Thomas was naturally disposed to take an unfavourable view of the Begam's conduct; but the immediate results of the scene were certainly not such as to support the theory of her having any understanding with the mutineers. She was carried back to the Fort, stripped of her property, and tied under a gun. In this situation she remained several days, and would have died of starvation but for the good offices of a faithful ayah, who continued to visit her mistress, and supply her more pressing necessities.
The new Nawab was a weak and dissolute young man; and the Begam had a friend among the officers, Saleur, whom the reader may recollect as one of the witnesses of her marriage. She was ere long released, and M. Saleur lost no time in communicating with Thomas, whose aid he earnestly invoked. The generous Irishman, forgetful of the past, at once wrote strongly to his friends in the service, pointing out that the disbandment of the force would be the only possible result of their persisting in disorderly conduct, so detrimental to the welfare of the Emperor and his minister. He followed up this peaceful measure by a rapid march on Sardhana, where he surprised the Nawab by dashing upon him at the head of the personal escort of horse, which formed part of the retinue of every leader of those days. The troops, partly corrupted, partly intimidated, tired of being their own masters, and disappointed in Zafaryab, made a prisoner of their new chief. He was plundered to the skin, and sent back to Dehli under arrest; while the Begam, by the chivalry of one she had ill-used for years, recovered her dominions, and retained them unmolested for the rest of her life. The secret of her behaviour is probably not very difficult of discovery. Desirous of giving to her passion for the gallant young Frenchman the sanction of her adopted religion, she was unwilling to compromise her position as Sumroo's heir by a publicly acknowledged re-marriage. She had large possessions and many enemies; so that, once determined to indulge her inclinations, she had to choose between incurring scandalous suspicions, and jeopardising a succession which would be contested, if she were known to have made a fresh and an unpopular marriage.
M. Saleur was now appointed to the command of the forces; but the astute woman never again allowed the weakness of her sex to imperil her sovereignty; and from the period of her restoration by Thomas (who spent two lakhs of rupees in the business), to the date of her death in 1836, her supremacy was never again menaced by any domestic danger. Having, as far as can be conjectured, now arrived at the ripe age of forty-two, it may be hoped that she had learned to conquer the impulse that sometimes leads a female sovereign to make one courtier her master, at the expense of making all the rest her enemies. The management of her extensive territories henceforward occupied her chief attention, and they were such as to require a very great amount of labour and time for their effective supervision: stretching from the Ganges to beyond the Jamna, and from the neighbourhood of Aligarh to the north of Mozafarnagar. There was also a Jaigir on the opposite side of the Jamna, which has formed the subject of litigation between her heirs and the Government in recent times. Her residence continued to be chiefly at Sardhana, where she gradually built the palace, convent, school, and cathedral, which are still in existence. Peace and order were well kept throughout her dominions; no lawless chiefs were allowed to harbour criminals and defraud the public revenue; and the soil was maintained in complete cultivation. This is considerable praise for an Asiatic ruler; the reverse of the medal will have to be looked at hereafter.
Death soon relieved her of all anxiety on the score of her undutiful stepson, who drank himself to death in his arrest at Dehli, leaving a daughter, who married a Mr. Dyce, and became the mother of Mr. D. O. Dyce-Sombre, whose melancholy story is fresh in the memory of the present generation. Zafaryab Khan was buried like his infamous father at Agra. But his monument is not in the cemetery, but in a small church since secularized.
Thomas was now, for the moment, completely successful. The intrigues of his Mahratta enemy Gopal Rao ended in that officer being superseded, and Thomas's friend Lakwa Dada became Lieutenant-General in Hindustan. Appa Khandi, it is true, commenced a course of frivolous treachery towards his faithful servant and adopted son, which can only be accounted for on the supposition of a disordered intellect; but Thomas remained in the field, everywhere putting down opposition, and suppressing all marauding, unless when his necessities tempted him to practise it on his own account.
About this time we begin, for the first time, to find mention of the threatening attitude of the Afghans, which was destined to exercise on the affairs of Hindustan an influence so important, yet so different from what the invaders themselves could have anticipated. Timur Shah, the kinsman to whom Shah Alam alludes in his poem, had died in June, 1793; and after a certain amount of domestic disturbance, one of his sons had succeeded under the title of Zaman Shah. The Calcutta Gazette of 28th May, 1795, thus notices the new ruler: