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a crusade against the freebooters, with a clear prevision of the more important consequences that might or might be made to ensue. Once engaged in hunting down predatory tribes on the border, who should say what constituted hindrance of pursuit, or help to escape? Every day and every movement would bring new cause of quarrel ; every mosstrooper sheltered would be an occasion of complaint; every presumed accessary would be the subject of altercation ; the multiplication of such sparks would be sure to generate flame, with mutual distrust, resentment, and aversion fostering and fanning it on every side. In pursuit of Pindharries a free passage through the territories of the Mahratta States might be demanded, and if refused, there would be at once a cause
“If Scindia, Holkar, and the Rajah of Berar, should neither co-operate nor remain neutral—if all or any of these Powers should oppose or obstruct our operations, we had no choice but to consider them as enemies, and attack them accordingly. Their territories would afford a recompense for the expenses of the war, and an increase of resources for the payment of additional force.” Here then we have avowed, in terms incapable of being mistaken, the anticipations with which a fresh campaign on a great scale was prepared, together with a frank confession of the objects of the war.
Events did not fall out precisely as was expected; but in the main the ends sought were accomplished in the wide region which is especially designated Hindustan. The formation of alliances with the minor States which lay on every side around the greater and more formidable ones, was at the same time pressed on the attention of Lord Moira by his confidential counsellors. These must be offered the guarantee of Imperial protection, in exchange
i Kaye's Life of Metcalfe, p. 437.
for tribute to be expended in the organisation and maintenance of additional corps. Scindia and Holkar would naturally object to be gradually encircled thus with dependencies; but if they did, so much the better : there would thus be another obvious cause of quarrel, and a manifestly good excuse for their destruction. “We ought to be strong enough,” wrote Metcalfe, “to conquer them all, and annex the whole of their territories to the British dominions : or they might reluctantly submit, and then they must either devour one another or waste away.” One voice, indeed, was eloquently raised against these
It was the voice of one who, as we have seen, had in earlier days entered eagerly into the spirit of conquest for conquest's sake; but who had learned wisdom, justice, and mercy, in the administrative school whence others had drawn the opposite lessons. The words of Munro at this memorable juncture are too pregnant with meaning to be forgotten. Writing to Lord Moira in 1817, he says, “When I consider the weakness of the Native States, and the character of the Chiefs under whose sway they are, I see little chance of war, and none of a protracted resistance. There is so little subordination in Native Governments, that much more energy is required under them than under the more regular Governments of Europe. Scindia was never formidable, even in the height of his power. The exertions of Holkar against Lord Lake were still weaker. The power of Scindia's as well as of Holkar's Government has so much declined since that period, that it is scarcely credible that either they or Ameer Khan would venture to oppose by force any measure for the suppression of the Pindharries. But there is sometimes a kind of infatuation about Indian Chiefs who have lost a part of their dominions, which tempts them to risk the rest in a contest
which they know to be hopeless. The situation of the British Government with regard to the Native Powers is entirely changed within the last twenty years. It formerly brought very small armies into the field, with hardly any cavalry. It now brings armies into the field superior to the enemy, not only in infantry, but also in cavalry, both in quality and number. The superiority is so great, that the event of any struggle is no longer doubtful. It has only to bring forward its armies, and dictate what terms it pleases, either without war, or after a short and fruitless resistance."1 He argues against extending the system of subsidiary forces, and recommends instead, “compelling Scindia to cede the districts restored to him in 1805-6." Whenever the subsidiary system is introduced, unless the reigning Prince be a man of great abilities, the country will soon bear the marks of it, in decaying villages and decreasing population. This has long been observed in the dominions of the Peishwa and the Nizam, and it is now beginning to be seen in Mysore. He states, however, that “its inevitable tendency is to bring every Native State, sooner or later, under the exclusive dominion of the British Government. It has already done this completely in the case of the Nawab of the Carnatic. It has made some progress in that of the Peishwa and the Nizam; and the whole of the territory of those Princes will unquestionably suffer the same fate as the Carnatic. The Peishwa will probably again commit a breach of the alliance. The Nizam will do the same. Even if the Prince himself were disposed to adhere rigidly to the alliance, there will always be some amongst his principal officers who will urge him to break it.
As long as there remains in the country any high-minded independence, which seeks to throw off the control of strangers,
· Life of Sir T. Munro, pp. 461, 462.
such counsellors will be found. I have a better opinion of the Natives of India than to think this spirit will ever be completely extinguished, and I can have no doubt that the subsidiary system must everywhere run its course, and destroy every Government which it undertakes to protect. Even if we could be secured against every internal convulsion, and could retain the country quietly in subjection, I doubt much if the condition of the people would be better than under their Native Princes. The consequence of the conquest of India by British arms would be, in place of raising, to debase the whole people. There is, perhaps, no
, example of any conquest in which the Natives have been so completely excluded from all share of the government of their country, as in British India. ... Among all the disorders of the Native States, the field is open for every man to raise himself; and hence among them there is a spirit of emulation, of restless enterprise and independence, far preferable to the servility of our Indian subjects. . of the British Government is now (1817) so great that it has nothing to fear from any combination, and it is perfectly able to take satisfaction for any insult without any extension of the subsidiary system.” 1 He concludes this letter to Lord Hastings, which was written on the eve of the war, by dissuading him from pushing the subsidiary system further. But his expostulations were disregarded, and the campaign began.
i Life of Sir T. Munro, p. 466.
CHAPTER X X.
The English join the most resolute courage to the most cautious prudence. If they
showed as much concern for the circumstances of the farmers and landowners, and exerted as much solicitude in relieving and easing the people of God as they do in whatever concerns their military affairs, no nation would be worthier of command. But such is the little regard they show to the inhabitants of these kingdoms, and such their indifference to their welfare, that the people under their dominion groan everywhere, and are reduced to poverty and distress.”
IT T needed little sagacity on the part of the Mahrattas to
divine what was contemplated, as we have seen, by the advisers of the Governor-General. So long as they submitted mutely or passively to be lectured for their indiscretions, and browbeaten whenever they betrayed any lingering pride or ambition, they might be suffered to escape further sacrifices. Under the fret and worry of incessant petty provocations, it was not in human nature that they should not sometimes forget the demeanour of prudence, and overstep the limits of deferential submission. In their camps and durbars, ill-educated and irritable men were ever ready to take umbrage at what they regarded, if it was not intended, as an overweening tone of dictation on the part of British Residents; and it would have been marvellous if the weak and irresolute Princes who overheard
A Native chronicler of the English invasion,