To MAHOMMED GHYÂS; dated 6th of BYÂZY. (21st February.)

YOUR letter of the 19th of Eezudy [5th of February] has been re­ceived, and the whole of its contents are comprehended. The fixed or regulated money is ready. Whenever the chiefs of that place [Poonah] demand it, bankers’ bills to the amount shall be forwarded.

Representations of the contumacious conduct of the Zemindâr of Ner­gûnd were frequently transmitted [by us], in the course of last year, to Noor Mahommed Khân, who, no doubt, communicated the same to all the chiefs there [Poonah]. If a petty Zemindâr, and a subject of our government, like this, may not be punished, how shall our authority be maintained? The justice of this argument was admitted, even by Râo Râsta.* Thus the chastisement of this Zemindâr became necessary. If he is brought to reason from thence [i. e. by the Mahrattah chiefs] it will be well; otherwise he will be exterminated.

Let the Gûmâshteh* of Apâjee Râo receive a monthly stipend of four pagodas.

You must not admit the Brahmens* to a participation in the conduct of any secret negotiation. You and Noor Mahommed Khân [alone] are jointly to transact [all such affairs].

If the chiefs of that place, forgetting our past favors, should dispatch an army to the assistance of the Zemindâr of Nergûnd, what will it signify? We have, under the divine blessing, sent a strong force to reduce Nergûnd, and are in no fear of its suffering any misfortune from their army.

N.B. A letter, to the same effect as the above, and of the same date, was written to Noor Mahommed Khân (the colleague of Mahommed Ghyâs) with an immaterial addition, respecting some bills of exchange.


Mahommed Ghyâs Khân and Noor Mahommed Khân were, at this time, the diplomatic agents of Tippoo Sultan, at Poonah. The former of them was, probably, at the head of the mission, since many of the letters are addressed singly to him, and in all of them his name stands first. Noor Mahommed Khân, however, would seem to have resided longest at the Mahrattah court, to which, there is reason to believe, he had been originally deputed by Hyder Ali.

The present correspondence commences just at the period when the war of 1785 broke out between the Sultan and the Mahrattahs; the latter of whom were, after some time, joined by Nizâm Ali Khân, who sent a considerable body of troops to act with their army.

The ostensible, or more immediate cause of the present rupture, is to be traced, on the one hand, to the right which the Sultan assumed of chastising a contu­macious tributary; and, on the other, to the protection which the Mahrattah Government thought, or affected to think, it incumbent on them to extend to this offender; who was, perhaps, a feudatory of the Mahrattah Empire, in like manner with many other Zemindârs and Polygârs, who depend, in various shapes, and at the same time, on different superiors; rendering to one Paishcush, or tribute, and to another military service.*

But it was not merely, or perhaps principally, for the purpose of supporting the Zemindâr of Nergûnd, that the Mahrattah Government took up arms against the Sultan. They had claims on him for considerable arrears of tribute, the discharge of which he had hitherto refused or evaded; and it was, probably, less with a view of befriending the obnoxious Zemindâr, than of enforcing these claims, that they appealed to the sword.

It will be seen in the sequel, that though the Sultan succeeded in inflicting a signal chastisement on his rebellious tributary, he was, nevertheless, obliged to pay the Mahrattahs a considerable sum of money; not less, according to some accounts, than forty lacks of rupees.* Whether this was the whole, or only part of the arrears of tribute claimed by them, is unknown to the translator, who has never met with the treaty concluded between the belligerent powers, about the beginning of the year 1787. The Nizâm, during this war, lost Adoni; which, however, was restored to him by the peace.

By the fixed, or regulated sum, spoken of by the Sultan in the present letter, he means the Paishcush, or tribute, which he was bound by former treaties to pay to the Government of Poonah; but which he does not think proper to recognize, or designate, by any term denotive of inferiority, which the word Paishcush certainly is. Those who negociated our first treaty with the court of Hyderabad were less nice, since they agreed to pay an annual Paishcush to the Nizâm: by which concession they virtually, but, no doubt, unconsciously, placed the East-India Company in the situation of a vassal to that chieftain; the term Paishcush, in its restrained sense, and as used in India, signifying tribute; and in no case being applied to presents, excepting to those of a subject to his lord, or from an inferior to a superior. It might be difficult now, and may be deemed needless, to obtain the suppression of this degrading appellation. The usurpers of this, and similar vain distinctions and marks of preeminence,* in proportion as they have lost, in the revolutions of time, the substance, may be more safely indulged in the possession of this shadow of power. There is, happily, no longer any danger of the abuse being extended: this is equally precluded by our increased political consideration throughout India, and by our improved knowledge of its languages and usages. The time is past, when the general ignorance that prevailed, in these respects, among the Company’s servants, placed the interests and the honor of their employers and of the nation, but too much at the mercy of native agents and interpreters.

There is only one more remark suggested by the preceding letter. If the Sultan be allowed credit for sincerity, when he declares himself ready to pay the arrears due by him to the Mahrattahs, immediately on demand, it will necessarily follow, that the question of tribute was not the principal one with that state, any more than with its ally the Nizâm, whom, indeed, it could only remotely concern. Both governments, possibly, thought to oppose some check to the rising power of the Sultan, whose ambitious views had begun to develope themselves, in a manner that might well awaken the jealousy, and excite the fears of his neighbours. In this case, it will be easy to account for the Mahrattahs not being satisfied with the Sultan’s professed readiness to discharge their pecuniary demands (however sincere they might think him in that respect), but insisting on his relinquishing his designs against Nergûnd. On the whole, it seems highly probable, that he would have avoided a war at this time, if he could have done so consistently with the “maintenance of his authority” (as he himself expresses it), or without submitting to the disgrace of being prescribed to by a foreign power. His favorite object, and most ardent desire, was to resume, at the earliest possible moment, hostilities against the English; and though he might think himself equal, without the help of the Mahrattahs and Nizâm, to the successful prosecution of that design, yet he would, at least, wish for the neutrality of those powers during its progress. With a view to the undertaking alluded to, he had already resolved upon reverting to his former alliance with the French; and he cherished the hope of being soon enabled, by the renewal of his connexion with that nation, to give vent to his always ill-concealed hatred of their rivals. To this ever-predominating bias of his mind, and to his eager anticipation of the period, when the successful termination of his negociations with France would put him in a condition to execute his projects against the English, may, perhaps, in a great measure, be ascribed the advantageous peace which he granted to the courts of Poonah and Hyderabad, at the end of a war, in which he certainly gave such proofs of military superiority, as made his enemies very willing to retire from the contest. The reader already knows, that his expectations from France, and his hopes of conciliating his neighbours, proved alike fallacious; and that, in the end, he was compelled, prematurely and single-handed, to commit his fortunes in an unequal struggle with the combined forces of all the powers of the Peninsula.