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the challenger was wounded. Such were the manners of a time not yet a century past.

The last efforts of Francis in India had been directed chiefly to limit the scope of aggressive hostilities against the Mahratta States, with whom he and his late colleagues had always advised that we should seek to live in amity. Clavering had placed on record his opinion on the subject. When the Government of Bombay had seized Salsette, invaded Broach, and rashly committed themselves in disputes as to the successor to the musnud of Poona, the General, who disapproved of these proceedings, would have had the Government at Calcutta exercise its overruling authority, and vindicate its character for good faith with its neighbours. He hoped “ that the Mahrattas thus seeing our justice and moderation, and that our intentions were finally to put a stop to that spirit of conquest, encroachment, and injustice, which seemed hitherto to have prevailed too much in India, would listen to the proposals we had made to conclude a firm and everlasting peace with them.” But these were not the intentions of Hastings ; and when Monson and Clavering were dead, he was no longer restrained from aiding and abetting the schemes of aggression which had been immaturely and improvidently commenced at Bombay. Expeditions under Popham, Goddart, and Carnac were launched against Scindia, Holkar, and Berar. Fresh feats of valour added greatly to the reputation of the English for enterprise and endurance; and so far contributed to create that belief in their invincibility which rendered subsequent conquests possible. After four sanguinary campaigns, peace was made in 1780, restoring all the acquisitions which had been made on either side. At the close of the year Francis returned to England, and thus

Thornton's History of British India, 3d edit. p. 145.


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expired the attempt, never again renewed, to temper by constitutional checks in Council viceregal despotism in the East. For the purposes of advice, and with powers of suggestion, what is termed a Supreme Council still remains. But it is a consultative body of précis writers, not a Cabinet.

Left once more to himself (for the new members of Council were not men of the sort that could have effectually curbed him), he entered upon various enterprises of expansion and expropriation. Among the chiefs of secondary rank friendly to the English, when friends were few and aid invaluable, was the Rajah of Benares. He was one of the wealthy feudatories from whom the Viziers of Oude hai been satisfied with fealty and a payment of certain contributions in peace and war. Bulwunt Singh was an excellent ruler; the local administration was never interfered with ; his people were happy, and the country prosperous. The description by Holwell of the condition of Burdwan applied equally to the holy city of Siva and the districts around it. Hindu pilgrims from far and near brought rich and varied gifts to the famous shrine; and the peasantry, fearless of unjust exaction or personal wrong, cultivated their fields like gardens, and throve on the fruits of their unwearied industry. Their numbers were estimated at more than half a million, and their chief had but one fault in the eyes of his neighbours—that of being suspected of opulence greater than their own. By the partition treaty of 1775, the Vizier had transferred his suzerainty over Benares to the Company, who issued sunnuds confirming Cheyte Singh in all the rights he had inherited from his father. On the outbreak of war with France, they called on him to raise and equip three battalions of sepoys, at a yearly charge of five lacs of rupees. After some parleying and grumbling, he submitted. But when, in the third

But when, in the third year, he was told he must likewise raise a body of cavalry, he ventured to refuse; whereupon the Governor-General undertook to overcome his reluctance, and intimated his intention to visit Benares with a numerous train. The Rajah met him at Buxar with all due honour, deprecated his anger respectfully, and by way of homage placed his turban on the Viceroy's knees. Resentment long concealed burned in the breast of Hastings, and though polite and imperturbable, he pursued his pitiless ends. Three years before, when his dispute with Clavering in the Council was at its height, Cheyte Singh, not knowing who had proved the stronger, had sent an agent to propitiate the General, on whose favour he might one day have to rely. Before his envoy reached Calcutta, the tidings spread that Clavering and his friends had been worsted in the struggle, and the message never was delivered. But Hastings learned the fact, and could not forget or forgive it. Arrived at Benares, he demanded satisfaction in peremptory terms for the alleged remissness shown in meeting the military requisitions, and the reply being deemed to savour of insubordiration, the Resident was ordered to proceed with two companies of sepoys to the palace and to take the Rajah into custody. The populace, indignant at such an outrage, fell upon the troops, who had been hastily summoned without ammunition, and who were speedily put to the sword. Another company was sent to avenge them, and a sanguinary conflict ensued. During the night the Prince was let down from a window of his palace by a rope formed of the turbans of his attendants, and crossing the Ganges, fled to Ramnaghur, a fort some miles distant on the opposite bank, which contained the chief portion of his treasure. Thither his wife and mother followed him. The place was forced to surrender, but not until its coveted contents had been

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removed, and the Rajah himself escaped to Bidgeghur,
whence he was finally driven to spend his days as a refugee
in Gwalior. Meanwhile the Viceroy proclaimed his deposi-
tion, and set up as Rajah a youth of nineteen, who was
not allowed to take on himself any of the more important
duties of his station. The tribute payable by the district
was raised to £200,000 a year, and its collection placed in
hands deemed hard enough to be depended on. Turbulence,
not always stifled, alternated with passive resistance among
the people, much incensed by what they had beheld. All
sense of security was at an end. Capital fed, and was
followed by labour of such descriptions as were not de-
pendent on the soil. Misery and distraction took the
place which had recently been occupied by comfort and
content. The new exactions, though rigorously pressed,
did not yield what was expected; and two years later, when
Hastings revisited the scene of his personal vengeance, he
found it one of desolation. The number of inhabitants
steadily declined, and in 1822 it was estimated at no more
than 200,000.
The want of money was still urgent, and what the spolia-

tion of Benares failed to meet, fresh exactions from Oude
must supply. Asaph-ul-Dowla pleaded poverty, and
named, with some truth, that amongst its causes was the
annual contribution he was obliged to pay for the main-
tenance of the subsidiary force. Dreading a visit from the
Viceroy, he went to meet him; and at the fortress of Chunar
the negotiations took place which resulted in the memorable
device for replenishing the exchequer of Caleutta without
exhausting that of Lucknow. "It was,” says Lord Macaulay,
“ simply this, that the Governor-General and the Nawab-
Vizier should join to rob a third party, and the third party

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1 Malte-Brun's Geography.


whom they determined to rob was the parent of one of the robbers." The mother and widow of the late Vizier were supposed to have derived, under his will, vast treasures. They dwelt with a numerous retinue at the favourite palace of Fyzabad, which he had bequeathed to them. Asaph-ulDowla shrank in shame from the villany suggested by his Right Honourable accomplice. But he was only a Mussulman, and his scruples were overborne.

The confederates, having ratified the bargain, parted, and each went his way to prepare the formalities of fraud.

the formalities of fraud. A conspiracy to aid Cheyte Singh in his resistance to intolerable exaction was to be imputed to the withered women who dwelt at Fyzabad. If such a breach of friendship could be proved, it would justify any penalty or forfeiture; therefore it must be proved, and proved in a regular respectable way. When it was known what was wanted, false witnesses rose up, as they are apt to do when they are wanted, and when there is an imperial treasury to pay them. But the worth of their testimony against the undefended Princesses of Oude, there was no tribunal to test, no advocate to tell. Still there was a difficulty: a silken cord of conventional decency had to be snapped before the palace gates of the Begums could be forced open by English troops.

The dying Vizier had placed these members of his family under the special protection of the British Government, and for reasons apparently good at the time, but good no longer, that Government had accepted the trust. It might be a quirm, a punctilio, what is sometimes called a sting of conscience, no matter what. But there it was, a thing to be silenced somehow : and the question was how ? Not for the first time Sir Elijah Impey proved himself to be a friend in need. There had been a grievous quarrel between

Historical and Critical Essays-Warren Hastings.

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