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CHAPTER XI - Haidar ali and

CHAPTER XI




TIPU’S SECRET MACHINATIONS


IN 1793 Lord Cornwallis left India. He was succeeded by Sir John Shore, afterwards Lord Teignmouth, who, although possessing a profound and extensive acquaintance with all questions relating to revenue administration, had not the political capacity which was needed to keep in check so aggressive and self-sufficient a character as Tipu. In 1796, the Mysore Raja, Chamraj, died, leaving an infant son, to whom Tipu did not think it expedient to give even the titular status of Raja. It became apparent about this time that although the tiger’s claws had been clipped, he had not been deprived of the power to do mischief. There was a stipulation in the Seringapatam treaty that if Tipu should molest either of the contracting parties, the others should unite to punish him. But in 1795 he entered into a covert engagement with Ali Jah, son of the Nizam, then in rebellion against his father, to assist him on condition that, in case he succeeded in dethroning the Nizam, he should make over to Tipu Sultan all the territory lying south of the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers then held by the Nizam. This scheme was, however, foiled by the prompt action of M. Raymond, commanding a body of French troops in the Nizam’s service. Ali Jah was taken prisoner.

Tipu next deputed an embassy in 1796 to the court of Zaman Shah, the Afghan ruler, seeking his aid as a co-religionist, and making magnificent promises of co-operation, with a view to the subjugation of the Marathas and the expulsion of the English from India. Nor did he confine himself these overtures. He also used every means in his power to foment misunderstandings between the Peshwa, Sindhia, and the Nizam on the one hand, and the English on the other, so as to sever the connexion of the native chiefs with the British. The previous attempts of the Sultan to bring about a close alliance between the French and himself had hitherto proved abortive; but now that open way had broken out between the two great European states, which had so long been rivals in India, the time seemed to him propitious for renewing negotiations. Among the curious papers found subsequently in the palace of Seringapatam is a document relating the proceedings taken by a body of French citizens in the pay of citizen Tipu.’ Fired by enthusiasm for the recently constituted French Republic, the Frenchmen assembled to the number of fifty-nine at Seringapatam, and elected as their president citizen Francis Ripaud, who is styled a Lieutenant in the French navy. After passing several resolutions testifying their devotion to the republic and their hatred of royalty, they hoisted on May 14, 1797, the national flag. They next repaired to the parade in the city, where they were received by the Prince (the Sultan.), who, after firing a salute of 2,300 (sic) pieces-of cannon, assured them of his affection and support, To this they replied by declarations of unfailing devotion to his cause. Amidst a profound silence, the tree of Liberty was planted, surmounted by the cap of Equality. Ripaud then made a speech in which the following passage occurs:-

‘Je vois le comble de la barbarie et celui de 1’atrocite - Dieu ! j’en fremis d’horreur ! Quoi ! Je vois ces victimes de la ferocite anglaise qui ont ete scies entre deux blanches ! des femmes victimes de leur brutalite et assassinees au meme moment. Oh ! comble d’horreurs ! mes chevaux se redrssent ! Que vois-je ? Des enfants encore a la mamelle, je les vois teints au sang de leurs meres infortunees. Je vois ces malheureux enfants expirer de la meme mort que leurs malheureuses meres. Oh ! comble d’horreur et de sceleratesse, que d’indignation tu inspires ! Soyez persuadees, ames infortunees, que nous vous vengerons. Oh ! perfides et cruels Anglais, tremblez ! Il est un Dieu, vengeur du crime, qui nous inspire de laver dans ton sang let atrociies que tu as commises envers nos peres et leurs malheureuses compagnes. Apaisez-voss, ames plaintives de l’innocence, nous jurons de vous venger. Oui, je le jure !’

These ardent Jacobins seem to have inspired Tipu, not only with an idea of their ‘hault courage,’ as Kingsley would say, but also of their ability to he of material service to him. Although Monsieur F. Ripaud was in all probability a scamp of the first water, and his pretensions were ridiculed by the Sultan’s officers, that sovereign, who in his own eyes was wiser than all his court, determined to purchase his vessel and send ambassadors in it to the Isle of France (Mauritius), to solicit from the Governor the aid of a fleet and an army. From a note in Tipu’s own handwriting it appears that he was singularly ignorant both of geography and history. The following are entries in this document, which professes to be a catalogue raisonne of the heads of departments of the French administration:-

‘Names of the three islands belonging to the English - Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey.’ ‘On the English island there was once the Raja of a tribe called Coosea (Ecosse ?)-a hundred years ago, the English Raja put the Raja of the Cooseas to death, and took possession of his country.’

On April 2, 1797, Tipu addressed a letter to the authorities (Sardars) of Mauritius, professing his attachment to the French, dwelling upon the friendship which had long subsisted between them and the Mysore State from the time of his father, Haidar Ali. ‘The shameless, thieving, robbing English, of themselves incompetent,’ had, he said, leagued with the Marathas and the Mughal (Nizarn), and forcing him to make peace, had extorted from the ‘God-given State’ three crores and thirty lacs of rupees, besides wresting from him half his finest provinces. He therefore sought aid from the French to expel the iniquitous English from Hindustan, asking them to furnish both Europeans and Negro troop’ to assist his own in this desirable object. Ripaud’s deputy, who was to have sailed with the envoys, decamped however in a boat with the purchase money of the ship just before their embarkation, and the embassy was consequently delayed; nor did it leave till October, when Ripaud himself, by Tipu’s desire, accompanied it. The ambassadors reached the Isle of France in January, 1798, when the absurdity of Tipu’s proposals became apparent. He asked for 10,000 French troops, and 30,000 Habshis (Negroes), who, he asserted, with the co-operation of 60,000 men on his part, would be enabled to subdue both the Marathas and the Nizam, reduce Madras to ashes, and expel the English entirely from India. He even entered into minute details as to how that result was to be accomplished; but the envoys were not provided with funds, though they were profuse in promises, General Malartic, the Governor of the Isle of France, saw that Tipu had been gulled by Ripaud. He nevertheless received the ambassadors in state, and promised to at once transmit their master’s requisition to France. Knowing, however, that he could himself render no assistance, he contented himself with issuing a proclamation calling for volunteers. The result was that about one hundred French subjects accompanied Tipu’s envoys on their return to India, landing at Mangalore in April, 179868.
2014-07-19 18:44
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