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ESTABLISHMENT OF BRITISH ASCENDANCY, 1798-1823
As a result of the Second Anglo-Maraths War, the English secured important advantages in various ways. “With all the sanguine temper of my mind,” confessed Wellesley, “I declare that I could not have hoped for a completion of my-plans at once. so rapid and so secure.” The British possessions in Madras and Bengal were linked up and were expanded also in other directions. The titular Mughul Emperor, Shah ‘Alam II. came under their protection and treaties of alliance were concluded with the States of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Madras, Bundi and the Jat kingdom of Bharatpur. The french-trained battalions in the service of the Marathas were removed. The Nizam and the Peshwa- fell more under their influence than before. Munro, a critical writer, asserted. “We are now complete masters of India, and nothing can shake our power, if we take proper measures to confirm it.” But Wellesley showed an “almost ” error of judgment in believing that the treaties afforded the “only possible security for the permanent tranquillity and prosperity of these valuable and important possessions”. The Ministry in England, as is clear from the contemporary despatches of Lord Castlereagh, thought otherwise. The situation in India was rightly diagnosed by Arthur Wellesley, who thought that his brother, the Governor-General, put “a too exacting interpretation on the Treaties of Peace”. He wrote on the 13th May, 1804: “Our enemies are much disgusted, and complain loudly of our conduct and want of faith; and in truth I consider the peace to be by no means secured.”
War With Holkar
In fact, the peace had already come to an end with the commencement of hostilities (April, 1804) between Holkar, who had so long kept himself aloof from the war, and the English. Holkar pursued the old tactics of the Maratbas and defeated Colonel Monson, who had in an ill-judged manner advanced too far into the plain& of Rajputana, at Mukundara Pass, thirty miles south of Kotah, and compelled him to retreat to Agra towards the end of August. Flushed with this success, Holkar marched northward and besieged Delhi from the 8th to the 14th October, but the city was successfully defended by the local British Resident, Lt.Colonel Ochterlony. A band of Holkar’s troops was defeated at Dig on the 13th November and another band, personally commanded by Holkar, was routed by General Lake on the 17th November. But the English soon suffered a serious reverse owing to Lake’s failure to take the fortress of Bharatpur early in 1805. The Raja, of Bharatpur, however, concluded a treaty with the English on the 10th April, 1805, and the war might have n an adverse turn for Holkar but for Wellesley’s sudden recall.
For some time past the Authorities in England had been rather dissatisfied with the aggressive policy of Wellesley, and his conquests, though brilliant and. of far-reaching consequence, “were becoming”, it was believed by many, “too large for profitable management” and raised the Company’s debts from seventeen millions in 1797 to thirty-one millions in 1806. Further, Wellesley’s manners were imperious and overbearing, and he dealt with the home Authorities in a rather masterful way, oft-en disregarding their orders and instructions and not informing them of his actions. So long as ,]]’s policy was crowned with success, the home Authorities did not interfere. But the news of the disastrous retreat of Monson and the failure of Lake before Bharatpur having reached England, his “war-loving” policy began to be severely condemned by a strong public opinion. Pitt is said to have declared that Wellesley “had acted most imprudently and illegally, and that he could not be suffered to remain in the government”. Lord Wellesley resigned his post and sailed for England.
Lord Cornwallis being appointed Governor-General for the second time at the age of sixty-seven reached Calcutta on the 30th July, 1805, with instructions from Castlereagh to stop aggrandisement and “to bring back things to the state which the legislature had prescribed” by the Acts of 1784 and 1793. But, before anything could be done to reverse the subsidiary treaties, Lord Cornwallis died at Ghazipur on the 5th October, 1805, and Sir George Barlow, the senior member of the Council became the acting Governor- General. Barlow carried out the policy of his predecessor. Peace was finally concluded with tile Sindhia on the 23rd November, 1805. Gwalior and Gohud were restored to him; he was to claim nothing north of the river Chambal and the Company nothing to the south of it; and the Company pledged itself not to enter into treaties with the chiefs of Rajputana. Meanwhile Lord Lake had hunted Holkar up to Amritsar, where the latter had appealed to the Sikhs for help, who, however, did not accept his proposals. He thereupon opened negotiations with Lord Lake for peace, which was signed on the 7th January, 1806. Holkar gave up all claims to Tonk, Rampuri, Bundi, Kooch, Bundelkhand and places north of the Chambal, but he got back the greater part of his lost territories. Further, in spite of strong protest from Lord Lake, Sir George Barlow published Declaratory Articles whereby Tonk and Rampura, were practically surrendered to Holkar and British protection was withdrawm from the other Rajput States. Thus the Rajput States were left tc, their fate, to be distracted by Maratha inroads into their- territories. As an envoy of the Raja of Jaipur observed, the Company now made “its faith ALL subservient to its convenience
The Third Anglo-Maratha War and the Fall of the Marathas
With the last quarter of the eighteenth century the Marathas had begun losing all those elements which are needed for the growth of a power, and so could not profit in the least by the British policy of neutrality in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The political and administrative conditions of all the Maraths States came to be hopelessly confused and gloomy, and their economic condition anything but satisfactory. Jaswant Rao Holkar secretly assassinated his brother, Kasi Rao, and his nephew, Khande Rao. The course of events, however, so affected his mind that he became insane, and died on the 20th October, 1811. The real ruler was now the de Holkar’s favourite mistress, Tulsa Bai, a clever and intelligent woman, who had the support of Balaram Both, Jaswant Rao’s minister, and of Amir Khan, the leader of the Central Indian Pathans. These unworthy men failed to administer the State properly.
So far as Dauulat Rao Sindhia was concerned, the financial resources of his State could not suffice to meet the cost of his army, and his soldiers were permitted to collect money on their own account from the districts. The morale of the army thereby deteriorated and Sindhia could not maintain a strong control over his generals.