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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 14

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On the 22nd of June, 1781, lord Macartney arrived at Madras to take the place of Whitehill as governor. He brought the news of the war having broke out betwixt the English and the Dutch, and he determined to take advantage of it to seize the Dutch settlements on the coast of Coromandel and in Ceylon. But Sir Eyre Coote had lately had a stroke of palsy; his faculties were failing, and his temper growing morose. Finding he could obtain no assistance from the commander-in-chief, Macartney called out the militia of Madras, and at their head reduced the Dutch settlements of Sadras and Pulicat. Finding Sir Hector Munro waiting at Madras for a passage to England, in consequence of the insulting conduct of Sir Eyre Coote, he induced him to take the command of an expedition against Negapatam. Admiral Hughes landed the troops near Negapatam on the 21st of October, they then united with a force under colonel Braithwaite, and on the 12th of November Negapatam was taken, with large quantities of arms and military stores. Leaving Braithwaite to make an expedition into Tanjore, where, in February of the coming year, he was surrounded by Tippoo and Lally, the French general, and taken prisoner, admiral Hughes sailed across to Ceylon, a most desirable conquest, because of its secure harbour of Trincomalee, as well as the richness and beauty of the island, and on account of its position, lying only two days' sail from Madras. On the 11th of January, 1782, Trincomalee was won.

But in February the long-expected armament from France arrived on the Coromandel coast. It was this armament that admiral Johnstone had been ordered to intercept, but had failed to do so, and only captured some Dutch merchantmen in Saldanha Bay. Suffrein, the admiral, was one of the ablest sea-commanders of France. On his way he had secured the Cape of Good Hope against the English, and he now landed at Porto Novo two thousand French soldiers to join the army of Hyder Ali. Tippoo, flushed with the recent capture of colonel Braithwaite, invited the French to join him in an attack on Cuddalore, an important town betwixt Porto Novo and Pondicherry. This was done, and Cuddalore was wrested from the English in April.

Whilst these events were taking place on land, repeated engagements took place betwixt the English fleets on the coasts. That of admiral Hughes was reinforced by fresh ships from England, and betwixt February, 1782, and June, 1783, the English and French fleets fought five pitched battles with various success. In none of these was any man-of-war captured by either side, nor any great amount of men lost; but, eventually, Suffrein succeeded in retaking Trincomalee, in Ceylon, from the English.

From Cuddalore, Tippoo and Bussy, the French general, turned their forces against Wandewash; but they were met by Coote, though he was now sinking and failing fast. Still he advanced against them, with something of that spirit which had made him victor over Lally and Bussy, on the same spot, two-and-twenty years before. They retreated, and he attempted to make himself master of the strong fort of Arnee, where much of the booty of Hyder was deposited; but Hyder made show of fighting him whilst Tippoo carried off all the property. Tippoo was obliged to march thence towards Calicut, where the Hindoo chiefs, his tributaries, were joining the English under colonel Mackenzie. Hyder at this moment was confounded by the news of the peace made by Hastings with the Mahrattas, and expected that those marauders would speedily fall on Mysore. His health was fast declining, and yet he dared not introduce his allies, the French, into his own territory, lest he should not so readily get them out again. Besides his suspicions of the French, he had constant fears of assassination. One of his attendants hearing him speaking in his sleep, ventured to ask him when he awoke what had troubled his dreams. " My friend," he said, " the condition of beggars is more enviable than mine; they see no conspirators when awake, and dream of no assassins when asleep." Hyder died in December, 1782, whilst Tippoo, his heir, was absent on the expedition to Calicut, and Sir Eyre Coote, who, on the retreat of Tippoo and Hyder from Arnee, had contemplated an attack on Cuddalore, had found his health fail him so greatly that he gave up the command to colonel Stuart, and sailed for Calcutta. No sooner, however, did he hear of Hyder's death, than he fancied he had strength enough to try another turn with Tippoo, and once more sailed for Madras, but only landed there to expire in April, 1783.

At the time that Tippoo heard of the death of his father, he was, assisted by the French, eagerly pressing on the most inferior force of colonel Humberstone Mackenzie, who had been laying siege to Palagathery, not very distant from Seringapatam. Mackenzie being obliged to retire, was suddenly set upon, before daylight, near Paniany, about thirty- five miles from Calicut, by the whole force; but he repulsed them with great slaughter. Tippoo then fell back and made the best of his way to Iiis capital to secure his throne and the treasures of Hyder Ali. He found himself at the age of thirty master of the throne, of an army of nearly one hundred thousand men, and of immense wealth. With these advantages, and the alliance of the French, Tippoo did not doubt of being able to drive the English out of all the south of India. Yet, with his vast army, accompanied by nine hundred French, two thousand sepoys, and nearly three hundred Caffirs, Tippoo retreated, or appeared to be retreating, before general Stuart, with a force of only fourteen thousand men, of whom three thousand alone were British. He was, in fact, however, hastening to defend the northwest districts of Mysore from another English force on the coast of Canara. This force was that of colonel Mackenzie, joined by another from Bombay, under general Matthews, who took the chief command in that quarter.

So long as Matthews had the able co-operation of Mackenzie, colonel Macleod, and other brave officers, all went prosperously. Bednore, the rich capital of the district, and the forts of Ananpore and Mangalore, fell one after another. But Matthews was so immeasurably rapacious, that he not only seized on everything possible from the natives, but refused to allow any share to the other officers in the army. They refused to submit to this, and Mackenzie, Macleod, and major Shaw repaired to Bombay to lay their complaints before the council. The case was so flagrant that the council at once removed Matthews, and appointed colonel Macleod to supersede him. Unfortunately, these officers, on their return, were attacked in a small boat, as they went along the coast, by a squadron of Mahratta pirates; Mackenzie and Shaw were murdered, and Macleod made prisoner. Matthews soon lost all that the army there had conquered; surrendered Bednore to Tippoo on promise of being allowed to march away to the coast, but was immediately seized and flung into prison with the troops. Tippoo defended this conduct on the plea that Matthews had purloined the public treasure, which he had engaged to leave in the fort. The charge was probable enough, for the cupidity of Matthews appears to have been insatiable, his own troops accusing him of scraping together from plunder eight hundred thousand pounds besides jewels. Matthews was murdered in prison, with several of his officers.

A fragment of his army had secured themselves in the strong fort of Mangalore, which was bravely defended by colonel Campbell against Tippoo and the French. Meantime, general Stuart was actively besieging Cuddalore, in which Bussy lay with a strong French and Mysorean force. During the siege, a young French officer, in a sally, was wounded and taken prisoner, who afterwards became marshal Bernadotte, and eventually king of Sweden. He remembered on his northern throne the kindness of Stuart and of the Hanoverian colonel Wangenheim, serving in the English army. News now arrived of peace concluded betwixt England and France. The French, to whom their possessions, Pondicherry, &c., were restored, at once ceased hostilities and went to occupy their reacquired settlements. But Tipoo continued the war, bent on taking Mangalore. Nothing could now have prevented the English from completely conquering but the stupidity of the council of Madras. They sent commissioners to treat with Tippoo, who, once getting them into his camp, made them really prisoners, kept all information from them, and induced them to issue orders to the English officers to cease hostilities. By these orders a junction was prevented betwixt Stuart and colonel Fullarton, and the immediate investment and seizure of Seringpatam, Tippoo's capital. Fullarton had overrun a great portion of the southern districts of Mysore, and had entered into close alliance with the zamorin of Calicut, the rajah of Travancore, and other rajahs, tributary to Tippoo all the way from Cochin to Goa. With full supplies of provisions and other aids from these chiefs, Fullarton was in full march to join Stuart, and laid siege to Seringapatam, when he received peremptory orders to give up the enterprise, as they were about concluding terms with Tippoo. Exceedingly disconcerted by these commands, which thus frustrated the results of this wonderful campaign, Fullarton, however, had no alternative but to obey, and Tippoo thus held on till he had starved out Campbell, and gained the fort of Mangalore. Then he concluded peace on condition of mutual restitution of all conquests since the war.

This peace was signed on the 11th of March, 1784. It was infinitely short of what it might have been to the English, had the diplomatic ability of the council at Madras been equal to the valour of the troops and the genius of the military officers. It postponed to another day the entire annexation of those great territories; but this campaign had saved the presidency of Madras and the Carnatic. These must have been lost, but for the almost unexampled exertions of Warren Hastings in furnishing troops and funds, and the admirable conduct and bravery of the English officers and their men. Unfortunately, the Hindoo chiefs of the Malabar coast, who had risen to join the English, were left to the fierce vengeance of Tippoo. The English who had been his prisoners gave such accounts of his treatment of them as excited an intense indignation throughout British India; and the horrors which he inflicted in the disaffected districts can only be paralleled by other recitals of Eastern tyranny. He visited Calicut and the neighbouring states of Malabar, perpetrated, it is said, the most vindictive atrocities on the people, men, women, and children, destroyed their pagodas, and compelled some thousands to submit to circumcision and eat flesh, the most dreadful of impieties in a Hindoo.

Such are the accounts, derived, however, be it observed, from his enemies; and it is only due to this prince, who was eventually borne down by the English, and his kingdom divided amongst themselves and their allies, to quote the opinion of Mill, the historian of the India House itself. "That the accounts which we have received from our countrymen, who hated and feared him," he says, " are marked with exaggeration, is proved by this circumstance, that his servants adhered to him with a fidelity which those of few princes in any age or country have displayed. Of his cruelty we have heard the more, because our countrymen were amongst the victims of it. But it is to be observed that, unless in certain instances, the proof of which cannot be regarded as better than doubtful, their sufferings, however intense, were only the sufferings of a very rigorous imprisonment, of which, considering the manner in which it is lavished upon them by their own laws, the English ought not to be very forward to complain, At that very time, in the dungeons of Madras or Calcutta, it is probable that unhappy sufferers were enduring calamities for debts of one hundred pounds, not less atrocious than those which Tippoo, a prince, born and educated in a barbarous country, and ruling over a barbarous people, inflicted upon imprisoned enemies, part of a nation who, by the evils they had brought upon him, exasperated him almost to frenzy, and whom he regarded as the enemies of both God and man. Besides, there is among the papers relating to the intercourse of Tippoo with the French a remarkable proof of his humanity, which, when these papers are ransacked for matters to criminate him, ought not to be suppressed. In a draught of conditions, on which he desired to form a treaty with them, these are the words of a distinct article: - ' I demand that male and female prisoners, as well English as Portuguese, who shall be taken by the French troops, or by mine, shall be treated with humanity; and, with regard to their persons, that they shall (their property becoming the right of the allies) be transported, at our joint expense, out of India, to places far distant from the territory of the allies.'"

Another feature in the character of Tippoo was his: religion, with a sense of which his mind was deeply j impressed. He spent a considerable part of every day in j prayer. He gave to his kingdom particular religious title, j Cudadak, or " God-given," and he lived under a peculiarly j strong and operative conviction of the superintendence of a divine Providence. To one of his French advisers, who urged him zealously to obtain the support of the Mahrattas, he replied, " I rely solely on Providence, expecting that I shall be alone and unsupported; but God and my courage will accomplish everything."

" He had the discernment to perceive, what is so generally hid from the eyes of rulers in a more enlightened state of society, that it is the prosperity of those who labour with their hands which constitutes the principle and cause of the prosperity of states. He therefore made it his business to protect them against the intermediate orders of the community by whom it is so difficult to prevent their being oppressed. His country was, accordingly, at least during the first and better part of his reign, the best cultivated, and his population the most flourishing in India; while under the English and their pageants, the population of the Carnatic and Oude, degenerating into the state of deserts, was the most wretched upon the face of the earth; and even Bengal iteelf, under the operation of laws ill adapted to their circumstances, was suffering almost all the evils which the worst of governments could inflict. For an Eastern prince, he was full of knowledge. His mind was active, acute, and ingenious. But in the value which he set upon objects, whether as means or as an end, he was almost perpetually deceived. Besides, a conviction appears to have been rooted in his mind, that the English had formed a resolution to deprive him of his kingdom, and that it was useless to negotiate, because no submission to which he could reconcile his mind would restrain them in the gratification of their ambitious designs."

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