«ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: TYRANT! TIPU SULTAN AND THE RECONCEPTION OF BRITISH IMPERIAL IDENTITY, 1780-1800 Michael Soracoe, Doctor of ...»
The more dangerous figure in his view was Governor Macartney of Madras, "who grasps at all Authority and the management of all business, and would willingly reduce every man in India to Cinders, to swell his important figure", and who would conclude peace on any terms purely for the credit it would provide to his own reputation.49 This sort of infighting between the three presidencies of the East India Company was quite common, as there was little agreement on how the war should be conducted, what sort of peace should be signed, and how Tipu Sultan should be perceived. The London newspapers picked up on these factional disputes from letters sent home from India, one noting that, "The greatest dissentions prevail betwixt the Supreme Council of Bengal and the Company’s servants here [Madras]." The same author gloomily predicted, "if some vigorous steps are not taken at home immediately to restrain the party spirit, the ambition, Madras Council to Governor-General and Bengal Council 11 August 1783 (p.1-33) IOR/H/180 p. 2-3 General Norman Macleod to Bombay Council 9 January 1784 (p.313-18) IOR/H/188 p.
the Second Mysore War and of the prisoners taken in battle:
With respect to General Mathews, the Madras Government were firmly persuaded that he was not murdered.... As to the other Officers, Government entertained suspicions respecting them, but were not in possession of any proof. The Bengal Government had censured the Government of Madras for the anxiety which they had manifested in their endeavors to procure Peace; alleging that Tippoo had no less cause to desire it than themselves. In reply to this insinuation the Letter Extract of a letter from an Officer at Madras to his friend in Edinburgh… Printed in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (London, England) 10 May 1784, Issue 17288 Governor General and Council to Madras 2 September 1784. IOR/H/570 p. 275 Lord Macartney to the Secret Committee of the Directors 19 September 1784 (p. 267-77) IOR/H/247 p.
observed that Tippoo's country had been but very little ravaged, and that the expenses of his Army had not impoverished him.53 While the main goal of these exchanges was defending the Madras Council against the charges of cowardice leveled against them, Macartney nonetheless also promoted an opposing characterization of Tipu Sultan, one in which he did not murder his prisoners and had equal cause to sign peace with the East India Company. Tipu's kingdom of Mysore was well-governed and flourishing, providing no support for the internal rebellions or war of liberation promoted by the Calcutta Presidency. These exchanges pointed to the existence of a more dovish "Madras" viewpoint which favored peaceful engagement with Tipu, opposed to a more hawkish "Bengal" viewpoint which saw the Indian prince only as a monstrous stain upon the national honor which had to be wiped out. Although these internal letters within the East India Company were not shared with the wider public, they were nonetheless significant at highlighting the divisions that existed within the Company itself. There was no clear consensus in the mid 1780s on how to represent Tipu, or how best to engage with him.
within the Company over how to react to the diplomatic crisis in Travancore.54 The same fault lines emerged within the Company's ranks, with a split between the Madras and Calcutta governments over how to regard Tipu Sultan, but with a very different final result due to the newly increased authority possessed by Cornwallis as Governor General.
The Madras Presidency, governed at this point by John Holland, favored a negotiated settlement of some kind with Tipu, one which would ensure the preservation of Travancore and maintain the status quo in southern India. The Calcutta government Madras Council to Governor General 29 October 1784. IOR/H/570 p. 276 See Chapter 1 for more details on the circumstances surrounding the beginning of the conflict.
headed by Cornwallis was much more hawkish in its outlook, seeing the conflict along the Travancore Lines as the pretext for a general engagement with the purpose of reducing or eliminating Tipu's power as an independent ruler. This continuing split between opposing Madras and Calcutta viewpoints indicated the divergent opinions within the Company itself about Tipu Sultan, although it is telling that in the Third Mysore War, the growing influence of the Governor General allowed Cornwallis' viewpoint to win out completely over that of Holland. This served as another example of the growing embrace of the Tipu Legend, in this case within the East India Company's own ranks.
According to papers presented in the House of Commons, Holland remonstrated against the purchase of the two forts in his letters to the Rajah of Travancore, and viewed their transfer as a violation of the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore. Holland was not at all pleased with a subsidiary client state taking independent action that could pull the Company into a major war. After Tipu attacked the Travancore lines, Holland "desired the Rajah to restore Jacottah and Cranganore to the Dutch, of whom he had purchased them; that after Tippoo’s attack on the lines of Travancore, he recommended settling the points in dispute by negotiation, to which Tippoo seemed willing to agree."55 Tipu appears to have had no desire for a larger war with the Company, writing to Holland that his attack was an unintended skirmish, and that he would accept a mediated solution to the conflict if the Company would send him a diplomatic representative.56 Holland agreed with this viewpoint; he made no preparations for war and wrote to Cornwallis that Tipu "had no intention to break with the Company, and would be prepared to enter into Whitehall Evening Post (London, England) 15 February 1791, Issue 6632 The newspaper was reporting on Parliamentary debates about the war, in which Holland's correspondences were introduced as evidence.
Notes on the War with Tipu Sultan (p. 1-170), author and date unlisted. IOR/H/569 p. 5-6 negotiation for the adjustment of the points in dispute."57 Tipu genuinely seemed to have believed that his conflict with Travancore was a private dispute, one in which the East India Company would not intervene despite the provisions of the subsidiary alliance. The Company almost certainly could have chosen to settle this dispute through diplomacy rather than warfare, and indeed the former was clearly the preference of Holland's Madras government.
However, Cornwallis' government in Calcutta viewed the situation in a very different light. Cornwallis took the view that by attacking the Travancore Lines, Tipu had entered into a state of war with the Company, and therefore was guilty of breaking the previous Treaty of Mangalore. Despite Tipu's letters to Cornwallis, in which he stated that he had no plans for war with the Company, and requested the sending of an envoy to negotiate the situation, Cornwallis insisted that the war was entirely the fault of the Sultan, quipping at one point: "That mad barbarian has forced us into war with him."58 The rest of the Governor General's council in Calcutta supported this interpretation of events, and began preparations for a large-scale conflict in southern India. As for Holland's Madras government, they were roundly castigated for their inaction by the rest of the Company. A common line of argumentation was that Holland had been tricked by Tipu's untrustworthy nature, with one later analysis stating that Holland and the rest of the Madras Council "suffered themselves to be so far deceived by these professions, and explanations, as not to make the preparations they ought to have done" with regards to orders from Bengal, which had commanded them to assume a state of war with Tipu.59 Quoted in Sir Penderel Moon. The British Conquest and Dominion of India (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989): 250 Quoted in Sir Penderal Moon. The British Conquest and Dominion of India (1989): 250 Notes on the War with Tipu Sultan (p. 1-170), author and date unlisted IOR/H/569 p. 5-6 This was one way to provide an excuse for the inaction of Madras, through heaping blame on the faithless character of Tipu, a view that was commonplace in British circles at the time of the Third Mysore War.60 Cornwallis himself was more direct, criticizing the lack of military preparations in his letter to the Madras Council and asking why they seemed to have acted in "Disregard or Contradiction of our repeated Instructions" to regard Tipu as at war with the Company if he committed any hostilities against Travancore. Cornwallis chastised Holland's administration for its late public conduct, which "appeared to us in a disadvantageous Light ", and demanded the reason for the lack of military buildup.61 Cornwallis took it for granted at an early date that the Company would be returning to war with Tipu. In this respect, Cornwallis and the rest of the Calcutta administration were acting in accordance with Anglo-Indian public opinion, which was strongly in favor of another conflict with Mysore out of a desire for revenge due to the captured prisoners in the previous war. The possibility of a peaceful rapprochement to the incident at Travancore, the policy favored by Holland's Madras government, does not appear to have been considered in the other Presidencies of Calcutta and Bombay.
With disagreement between Calcutta and Madras over how to approach the situation, the reaction of the Directors in London would prove to be crucial. Upon reaching news of the diplomatic crisis months later, Leadenhall Street chose to support the aggressive pro-war policy of the Governor General, and chastised the Madras government for its lack of preparations. Their instructions to Holland mirrored those of
See Chapter 3 Governor General and Council to Madras 8 February 1790 (p. 435-36) IOR/H/248 p. 436 But the Instant you were acquainted, on the 8th [January 1790], that Tippoo had actually made a Breach in the Lines of Travancore, not a Moment ought to have been lost in preparing for the most vigorous Exertions, most especially with the Letter before you of the 8th December, from the Governor-General and Council, wherein they declared, that if Tippoo should invade the former Territories of the Rajah of Travancore, such an Invasion was to be deemed an Act of Hostilty, and the Commencement of a War, which you was to prosecute with all possible Vigour and Decision. Under these Circumstances, we must express our Astonishment, that any Ideas of an injudicious and misapplied Economy should have induced you to refuse Compliance with Colonel Musgrave's Recommendation, in ordering the necessary Establishment of Draft and Carriage Bullocks for the several Corps that were to take the Field.62 The Directors repeated the same criticisms made by the Governor General, chiding the failure to prepare a supply train for war and instructing Madras to regard any hostile action by Tipu as an immediate declaration of war. As for Holland, he was attacked on grounds of personal corruption, and in a strange reversal, blamed for the attack on Travancore due to his failure to take a hard line against Tipu: "The rupture now threatened, is perhaps, in part, chargeable on the indiscretion, venality, and corruption, of our own civil government in Madras. Mr. Holland is loudly condemned on that score; and perhaps a different conduct on his part might have healed the breach, or intercepted the violence of the India Powers, and intimidated Tippoo Saib from his late attack on the Rajah of Travencore."63 It was now the failure to prosecute a war against an Indian state that was inspiring charges of nabobery against Holland from the Directors, precisely the opposite of the charges leveled against Warren Hastings during his contemporary trial.
Holland himself paid the price for his divergent views with his dismissal, as he was replaced by Major General Medows as Governor of Madras. Medows immediately set about preparing the logistics for a long campaign against Mysore, which he would Letter to the President and Council at Fort St. George [Madras] 3 June 1790 IOR/H/248 p. 390-91 Whitehall Evening Post (London, England) 27 May 1790, Issue 6493. Several pro-Company histories have charged that Holland was bribed by Tipu into his inaction, although there does not appear to be any clear evidence to support this charge.
command under the direction of Cornwallis. The replacement of the civilian Holland with the military officer Medows served as an excellent symbol of the victory of the hawkish Calcutta viewpoint over the more peaceful Madras one. The older governance of the Company by commercial figures such as Hastings and Holland was increasingly dying out, to be replaced by soldiers such as Cornwallis and Wellesley. Military men from the traditional landed aristocracy were perceived to be far less susceptible to moral corruption and nabobery, making them perfect choices as the figureheads of the postHastings reformed Company. The removal of Holland from Madras was also a symbol of the growing centralization of the East India Company's overseas administration, with the primacy of the Governor General exerting itself over the other two Presidency towns.