Page images


bound himself to pay a tribute of seventy-six lacs a year, and a further sum when the British force exceeded 13,000

He was not to be allowed intercourse with other sovereign states, or to permit any foreigner to dwell within his borders without leave from Calcutta. How far these humiliating conditions helped to worsen the state of affairs by weakening what remained of respect for the native Government, we cannot tell. But in 1801, the tribute was in arrear, the country was described as disorganised and wretched, and the unfortunate Nawab was driven to desperation by the sense of his weakness and the difficulties wherein he was entangled. Lord Wellesley's gaze was steadily fixed upon him. He indited a series of epistles, which are models of composition in their way, to persuade him to relinquish the cares of State, and to be content solely with its pomps and vanities. The Company would do all the rest. Or, if he would not, the cession of Allahabad and nine other districts might suffice to provide for the support of the garrison. The Vizier chose the latter, and by this partition territories were acquired worth more than a million and a quarter sterling.

Lord Wellesley's purpose in persuading the native Governments to maintain within their confines bodies of British troops, organised on our model instead of native corps officered by Frenchmen, was too obvious to be misconceived. It was a substantial pledge exacted from jealous neighbours, that they finally renounced the hope of any other European alliance, and all privity in designs which led that way. It was obviously meant and felt, if not in public words declared, to be a guarantee against the development of schemes hostile to English interests, and the growth of English ascendency. Under the direction of an

intelligent Resident at the native Court, a compact force, well-armed, well-paid, and well-in-hand, would render sudden tumult abortive, and cause secret intrigue to waver continually, and to look back ere committing itself too far ; and in the last event of open secession (or, as it soon came to be termed, revolt), it would form a rallying point for any friends it had, and an outpost capable of defence till succour should arrive. There was about the subsidiary force, at the same time, a specious affectation of regard for the severalty and nominal independence of the State to which it belonged, which soothed the outward vanity, if it stung the inward pride of the durbar and the bazaar. Scrupulous care was taken to keep up the distinction between native service and the service of the Company. A subsidiary force in time of peace was never moved out of the State to which it belonged, and even in time of war only with the assent of the Prince at whose expense it was equipped and maintained. It was the glove of mail courteously but undisguisedly laid upon the shoulder of native rule, with an irresistible but patronising air, felt to be a little heavy and a little hard at first, but soon destined to become habitual. Slowly but steadily it begot that sense of security and irresponsibility in the Prince and his advisers which has ever proved to be the gangrene of authority, for which there is no cure.

Its financial scope and tendency were conceived and executed with the same pitiless and inexorable purpose. The permanent appropriation of revenue for the maintenance of the subsidiary force was calculated mainly with reference to the inability of the State to bear it. Large or small, it was a tree whose seed was in itself, and was therefore chosen, that it might bear fruit after its kind. The cases were rare in which the districts ceded for the maintenance of the subsidiary force yielded within the year the sum that was needed for their food and pay. This was exactly what was anticipated, the opening of a running account of deficiencies, arrears, balances cleared off from time to time by new concessions, and complaints of remissness, neglect, and evasion, all which, in the nature of things, became inevitable. Arriving at ultimate supremacy, the means taken were by the subject race called perfidiously wicked, by the conquering race profoundly wise.

The historian will probably compare them to the chronic injection of poison into the veins which allays fever and spasmodic pain, and produces a sensation of relief and quiet at the risk, and, when prolonged, with the certainty, of causing paralysis and death.

Lord Wellesley applied the power gained by the destruction of Tippoo, and the partition of Mysore, to lay the foundations of that edifice of empire which, in the space of sixty years, was so rapidly piled in Asia. Clive had made treaties for a subsidiary force at Moorshedabad and Delhi, Hastings at Benares and in the Deccan. But neither of them had ever been in a position to attempt the application of the system on a wider scale, still less to couple with it covenants and conditions which permanently bound the Company to protect, at any cost or sacrifice, their native allies from all enemies whatsoever, and virtually constituted the Company, in return, suzerain over them. In every case, the daring ambition of the Governor-General sought to obtain concessions of territory in lieu of money for the payment of the subsidiary force to be permanently kept by the protected State. He compelled the Vizier of Oude to subscribe a treaty ceding large portions of his dominions to pay for British troops to be maintained in those provinces he still governed. This was in 1801. He proceeded to carry the system further, and thereby to enthral those States of Central India which, since the days of Sivajî, had successfully defied their more civilised and luxurious neighbours.




“ From factories to forts, from forts to fortifications, from fortifications to garri

sons, from garrisons to armies, and from armies to conquests, the gradations were natural, and the result inevitable ; where we could not find a danger, we were determined to find a quarrel.”


T the beginning of 1802, Lord Wellesley tendered his

resignation. His services had not been estimated by the Directors as his staff at Fort William and the Cabinet of Mr Addington thought they deserved.

He aspired to the proconsular -fame, both of conqueror and reformer; and Leadenhall Street was in no humour to acknowledge or encourage him in either capacity. When the bills came in of the Mysore War, they took away the very breath of financial prudence, and the diplomatic engagements subsequently formed with a view to territorial aggrandisement in Tanjore, Surat, and Oude, only lengthened the perspective of indefinite liability, and deepened the jungle of costly entanglement in various directions. Nor did Lord Wellesley's exercise of patronage, or his projects of reconstituting the Civil Service on a high educational basis, commend him any

better to his frugal masters. Without consulting them, he had planned and published an elaborate and ex

1 Speech on Indian Affairs, 1787.


« PreviousContinue »