To MAHOMMED GHYÂS; dated 22d BEHÂRY. (5th June.)

FIVE letters* from you, dated the 22d and 25th of Ahmedy [7th and 10th of May], and 1st and 4th of Behâry [15th and 18th May], have been received, and every particle of their contents is understood.

You observe, “that we have said in our letter to Râo Râsta (of “which a copy was sent to you, ‘that he, (Râo Râsta) having told “Mahommed Ghyâs and Noor Mahommed Khân, for our information, “that he was willing to engage that his government should make good “to us the Paishcush due to us by the Nergûnd man, as well as make “us compensation for the ravages committed in our country, we had, “in consequence, made known our sentiments to the aforesaid Khân, “who would accordingly communicate the same to him.’” You then add, “that this was not the purport of your letters to us; and request “us to refer to them again, when it will appear that what you stated “was, that Râo Râsta had proposed that eighty thousand rupees should “be paid to us by way of fine, and ten thousand rupees for Durbâr “charges; and that, for the future, the payment of the Paishcush “should be secured to us, in the same manner as when it used to be “paid through Apâjee Râm. Such being the case, you wish to know “what answer you are to give to Râo Râsta, if he should demand “of you at what time he had ever made the communication ascribed “to him.”

It is known. Whenever letters are received from you, the proper answers to them are deliberated on, and written accordingly. Thus, in the present case, our writing in the manner we have done [to Râo Râsta,] was the result of expediency; and sometime hereafter the utility of the proceeding will appear.

What you write of the death of Anund, Râo Râsta’s son, is known. You will deliver to the aforesaid Râo the dress of condolence, and the letter which we have sent for him on the occasion.

If your longer stay at Poonah should be marked with incivility [or be attended with any circumstances derogatory to our dignity,]* it can be productive of no advantage; and, in this case, you will demand your dismission, and repair hither, declaring yourself plainly at your departure [to the following effect.]

“Notwithstanding the favors you have received at the hands of my “master, you have afforded assistance to a Polygâr,* belonging [or “subject] to him: and forgetting the boundless kindness of the Sircar, “you have sent your army, and laid waste his country, to the amount “of [many] lacks of rupees; while [on the other hand] my master, in “conformity with the wishes of Râo Râsta, expressed, both verbally “and by writing, directed the siege of Nergûnd to be raised, and his “forces to withdraw to a distance from thence. The army of Purserâm “Bhow, nevertheless, attacked that of the Sircar; the issue of which “[act of aggression], however, was, that the Bhow was completely “worsted, and compelled to flee beyond the Kishna. In spite, however, “of all this, Râo Râsta continues to require of my master to relinquish “the siege of Nergûnd; and accepting a mulct of eighty thousand “rupees, and a farther sum of ten thousand rupees for Durbâr charges, “to agree, for the future, to receive the Paishcush in the manner it was “heretofore paid by Apâjee Râm. Now my master only wishes, that “you yourselves would fairly consider this matter, and bear in mind the “repeated declaration he has made to you [through us], regarding the “contributions levied on his subjects, to the amount of ten lacks of “pagodas, by the Nergûnd man, as well as the ravages committed by “him in the Sircar’s territories: [all which being duly weighed] he “leaves you to judge how far it is possible for him to consent to an “arrangement, so entirely inadequate to the losses he has sustained, “through the aggressions of this Polygâr.

You mention, “that Râo Râsta had represented to the minister,* “that having caused the latter’s sentiments to be repeatedly conveyed “to us, through our confidential servants (meaning yourselves), and “having moreover himself communicated them to us by letter, he could “not be justly blamed, because we had not sent a suitable answer to the “same.”

To which you say, the minister had replied, “that he had always “declared it to be his opinion, that as, notwithstanding his (Râsta’s) “constant importunity, no money had been sent from hence, it was “become perfectly clear, that we no longer wished to maintain the “relations of amity with them; seeing that, otherwise, such procras­tination and evasion in dispatching the money [due] could never have “taken place; and that, this being the case, he now thought proper “plainly to desire that we might be informed, through you, ‘that if “we had it in view duly to strengthen the foundations of harmony, “we would [immediately] send the arrears due for the three [last] “years, together with [the necessary sum on account of] Durbâr “charges: and that, with respect to the Nergûnd business, we must “consent to what was heretofore settled [on that point.’] He con­cluded, as you report, by saying, ‘that if we did not wish for the “preservation of their friendship, and were determined to persist in “withholding the money [due], he could see no use in your remaining “there.’”

It is known. No doubt, our bad faith, and our disinclination to cultivate their friendship, are manifest, in the same manner as their performance of their strong and solemn engagements is as clear as the light of the sun. What pleasure can there be in reiterating these things? It is a common saying, “that if any body be at home, one word is “sufficient.” But, notwithstanding all this, we wrote, desiring Noor Mahommed Khân to be sent to us, in order that we might the better ascertain the views of the rulers there, and obtain the necessary expla­nations on the subject of their engagements, preparatory to our setting about the transmission of the stipulated money.* If the aforesaid Khân had accordingly been sent hither, this would have been carried into effect. It is still our desire, that he should be dispatched to us, and that you [Mahommed Ghyâs] should remain there; but if your departure also should appear to be desired by that government, or if they should [openly] insist upon it, then you, as well as Noor Mahom­med, taking leave of them, will immediately repair hither.

Instead of denoting the name of the friend of the Sircar, as you propose doing, by the number 20; and the name of the well-wisher of the Sircar, by the number 60 (these being the numerical powers of the initial letters of their respective names), you must, in future, call the former, whose name begins with a Gawf, Gûlâb Khân; and the latter, whose name begins with a Seen, Surdâr Khân; this last cypher being neat and clean; and the names to be employed not at all leading to a knowledge of the real ones. What more?


This is a very curious and interesting document; as, besides exposing the chicanery, and even downright falshood, to which the Sultan never scrupled to resort in his diplomatic transactions, when he thought he could thereby advance his purposes, it throws considerable light on the grounds of the quarrel subsisting between him and the government of Poonah; and discloses, in particular, the opinion entertained of the conduct and views of Tippoo by Nana Furnaveese, who, at this period, presided over the affairs of theMahrattah empire.

It is not the least remarkable circumstance in the foregoing letter, that to the natural question of the ambassadors, “what answer they were to give to Râo “Râsta, if he should demand of them at what time he had made the communi­cation ascribed to him,” the Sultan makes no reply, but leaves it to the ingenuity of his agents to extricate themselves from the difficulty in which he had placed them, in the best manner they could.

The cypher which appears to have been proposed by Mahommed Ghyâs is a very common one in Hindostan, being founded on the numerical powers assigned to the letters of the alphabet by the Ubjud scheme, as explained in the Intro­duction; and, according to which, 20 stands for <Arabic> (gawf or kawf); and 60 for <Arabic> (Seen). Now, while to this cypher it is justly objectionable, that it expressly declares the initial letters of the names intended to be disguised, and so far furnishes a clue to the latter, it must be admitted, that the one substituted by the Sultan was not quite so liable to detection; since it conveyed no clear or absolute indication of the initials of the concealed names. Thus Surdar Khân would not so easily suggest the idea of Saindiah, as would the saying “he whose “name begins with 60, or S;” since no positive or necessary reason existed, for supposing that the initial letters of the feigned and concealed names were the same.

Still, however, the Sultan’s cypher did not possess any great advantage over that of Mahommed Ghyâs; and still less did it merit the praise of being “neat “and clean;” because, like the latter, it is so much in use, that the generality of readers would be very apt to suspect the principle of its construction. At a subsequent period, the Sultan appears to have improved somewhat in the art of cyphering; for the Vakeels, who accompanied the hostage princes to Madras, in 1792, were in possession of a figure-cypher, in which a descriptive account of the works of Fort St. George, written throughout in cypher, was discovered among the papers found at Seringapatam on the capture of that place. Even this, however, was but an indifferent contrivance, and, in consequence, was not difficult of detection.

It is not possible, at this time, to say, who were meant by Gûlâb Khân and Surdâr Khân; but it is sufficiently evident, from the epithets by which each is distinguished, that the former was a person of consideration, and the latter some one of inferior rank.