«ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: TYRANT! TIPU SULTAN AND THE RECONCEPTION OF BRITISH IMPERIAL IDENTITY, 1780-1800 Michael Soracoe, Doctor of ...»
Contained within the papers captured at Seringapatam and published by the Company after the war, five separate articles were listed detailing how the French would assist in removing the British from India. After two preliminary articles of friendship, Tipu asked in the third article for 10,000 French soldiers and 30,000 French sepoys, to be provisioned for and commanded by Tipu's officers. The fourth article detailed how the Company possessions were to be divided; Tipu wanted half of the British territories, taking Goa for himself and leaving Bombay and Madras to the French. The fifth article stipulated that both alliances partners would also declare war on any native princes that sided with the British Company.30 This unsigned treaty provided an indication of the H.H. Dodwell. The Cambridge History of India, Vol. 5: British India (1963, 1929) Chapter 19, “The Exclusion of the French” p. 323 Mir Hussain Ali Khan Kirmani. History of Tipu Sultan, Being a Continuation of the Neshani Hyduri 1958 [2nd ed.] (London: Printed for the Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, first translated 1842, written 1802): 119 East India Company.
Also included in the papers captured in Seringapatam were Tipu's instructions to his ambassadors - Mirza Bakir, Mir Yousuf Ali, Mir Ghulam Ali, Hussun Ali, and Mohummed Ibrahim - who were sent to Mauritius in 1797 to negotiate the terms of this alliance with France. Tipu made it clear that the ambassadors were to sound out the French and determine their level of interest, while making sure to avoid committing Tipu to anything unless the French were serious about providing substantial military aid. As Tipu put it, "Having communicated to them [the French] your arrival and heard what they have to say, you will tell them, that they must, by no means pay you the compliment of going themselves... nor shew open marks of friendship towards the Khoodadaud Sirkar [Mysore], nor outwardly shew you any attention, in order that your mission may not become public."31 The secrecy of the mission was therefore imperative, in order to avoid arousing the suspicions of the British Company.
However, Comte Malartic, the French governor of Mauritius, compromised the visit of the ambassadors by ignoring any attempt at their concealment. According to Hussun Ali, the ambassadors requested that Malartic send for them clandestinely, so that their mission would be known to no one; instead, Malartic insisted on sending half a Purposes Hostile to the British Nation. (Calcutta: Printed at the Honorable Company's Press, 1799) Observations […] with a rough draft of the propositions to be transmitted to the French, as prepared by the Sultaun himself. 2 April 1797 (19-21) Ibid, Copy of the Instructions addressed to Mirza Baukir, Meer Yousuf Alli, Meer Ghoolaum Alli, and Hussun Alli. 2 April 1797 (24-28): 25 dozen officials to their ship and receiving them with full pomp and circumstance.32 As Mohummed Ibrahim described, "Afterwards a boat highly ornamented came off with several Sirdars to receive us, and they having placed us in it and brought us on shore, 500 guns were fired off; and two lines of European troops being formed, and a compliment being paid with the colours, we were conducted with the greatest ceremony and respect to the house of General Malartic."33 So much for secrecy!
The ambassadors were further disappointed to realize that the promised French force of soldiers was nothing more than a mirage. Malartic informed Mohummed Ibrahim in person that Ripaud had brought them there on a false representation to the Sultan, and that at present they had no such forces. Not wanting to send the ambassadors away empty-handed, Malartic instead "caused proclamation to be made in the city, by beat of drum, and sent letters to the neighboring Island, inviting those to come forward, who were desirous of entering into the service of your Highness," essentially calling for volunteers who wanted to join the service of Tipu.34 At some point in the course of the negotiations, the purpose of the embassy had shifted from bringing back thousands of already-present French soldiers to raising untrained recruits from the tiny handful of Europeans present on the island. To continue the tragic-comic farce that the embassy had become, Ibrahim reported that the ambassadors couldn’t even afford to take on many of these individuals, because they had not been planning on raising recruits and had no instructions on what monthly pay to offer, or enlistment bonus money to give them.35 The Ibid, Translation of the Narrative of the Proceedings of the Ambassadors dispatched by Tippoo Sultaun to the French Islands, from their departure to their return: Written by Hussun Alli, one of the Ambassadors 23 May 1798 (38-45): 41 Ibid, Translation of the Narrative of Mohummed Ibrahim, one of the Ambassadors dispatched by Tippoo Sultaun to the Isle of France in 1797 (46-52): 47 Ibid, Translation of the Narrative of Mohummed Ibrahim,48 Ibid, Translation of the Narrative of Mohummed Ibrahim,48-49 envoys were at a loss on what course of action to take, finding the situation so far changed from what they had been led to believe before setting out.
The ambassadors submitted six proposals to Malartic before leaving, with only the first two being of importance.36 The first proposal consisted of an agreement to send two of Tipu's envoys on to Paris to continue the negotiations, which was approved. The second proposition asked, "That we should enter into a treaty, that their standard [France] and that of the Khoodadaud Sirkar [Mysore] should be united." However, Malartic responded that he could not agree to this, as he could not approve such a deal without approval from the home government in France.37 Tipu and his ambassadors therefore believed that they did not have an alliance with the French, at least not until receiving a response of some kind from Paris. In fact, Tipu wrote to the Directory in France in July 1798 specifically requesting an alliance and 10,000 to 15,000 French soldiers, a sign that he also did not feel himself to be in league with the French.38 Tipu deputized one of his ambassadors in the same letter to travel to France and negotiate the terms of this alliance, another indication that he was still searching for the promised military assistance. In other words, there was no military alliance between France and Mysore, and Tipu continued to attempt to persuade the French government in Paris to enter into a formal agreement of some kind. However, the inconclusive proposal discussed by Tipu's ambassadors in Mauritius would be greatly misunderstood by the British Company.
The fourth proposal asked the French to send nutmeg and clove trees to Mysore, and the others are nearly as mundane.
Translation of the Narrative of Mohummed Ibrahim,48-49 East India Company. Neil Benjamin Edmonstone (trans.) Official Documents, Relative to the Negotiations Carried on by Tippoo Sultaun (1799). Tipu Sultan to the Executive Directory, 20 July 1798 (xlix-liii) Governor Malartic was the one most responsible for this confusion. Thinking to help in raising recruits, Malartic issued a public proclamation calling for the citizens of Mauritius to join Tipu's forces. As this was the crucial document responsible for
instigating the Fourth Mysore War, it is worth quoting in full below:
Having for several years known your zeal and your attachment to the interests and to the glory of our Republic, we are very anxious, and we feel it a duty to make you acquainted with all the propositions which have been made to us by Tippoo Sultaun, through two ambassadors which he has dispatched to us.
This prince has written particular letters to the Colonial Assembly; to all the generals employed under this government; and has addressed to us a packet for the Executive Directory.
1. He desires to form an offensive and defensive alliance with the French, and proposes to maintain at his charge, as long as the war shall last in India, the troops which may be sent to him.
2. He promises to furnish every necessary for carrying on the war, wine and brandy excepted, with which he is wholly unprovided.
3. He declares that he has made every preparation to receive the succors which may be sent to him, and on the arrival of the troops, the commanders and the officers will find every thing necessary for making a war, to which the Europeans are but little accustomed.
4. In a word he only waits the moment when the French shall come to his assistance, to declare war against the English, whom he ardently desires to expel from India.
As it is impossible for us to reduce the number of soldiers of the 107th and 108th regiments, and of the regular guard of Port Fraternite, on account of the succors which we have furnished to our allies the Dutch; we invite the citizens, who may be disposed to enter as volunteers, to enroll themselves in their respective municipalities, and to serve under the banner of Tippoo.
This prince desires also to be assisted by the free citizens of colour, we therefore invite all such who are willing to serve under his flag, to enroll themselves.
We can assure all the citizens who shall enroll themselves, that Tippoo will allow them an advantageous rate of pay, the terms of which will be fixed with his ambassadors, who will further engage in the name of their sovereign, that all Frenchmen who shall enter into his armies, shall never be detained after they shall have expressed a wish to return to their own country.
The text of the Malartic Proclamation rather foolishly revealed all of the aims that Tipu's embassy intended to conceal. Tipu had sought to feel out the French and only take the fateful step of allying with them if Ripaud's promise of tens of thousands of soliders proved to be true. Instead, Tipu would receive only a tiny handful of raw recruits, only a few score in total, still without any concrete promises of assistance from France, while also simultaneously having the entire negotiations revealed publicly. Malartic's Proclamation was not factually incorrect, as it carefully stated that Tipu "desired to form an offensive and defensive alliance with the French," rather than stating that he actually had signed such an agreement. Most observers were not interested in engaging at that level of sophistry, however, and simply read the document as a statement of joint war against the British Company. As for stating openly the fourth point, that Tipu "only waits the moment when the French shall come to his assistance, to declare war against the English," it is difficult to understand what Malartic was hoping to achieve. He may have thought that this would help spur on the recruiting process and make Tipu's offer more appealing to patriotic Frenchmen, but it appears to have been a very poor decision of statecraft.
Fewer than one hundred French volunteers returned to Mysore with the ambassadors, a far cry from the thousands that had been promised.40 Tipu continued to Anne Joseph Hyppolite Malartic. Proclamation at the Isle of France. 30 January 1798.
correspond with the French colonial administrators at Mauritius, hoping that there had been some mistake and that more French soldiers would appear, but to no avail. Admiral Sercey, the commander of French naval forces in the Indian Sea, wrote several times to Tipu apologizing for his inability to do anything: "Prince Tippoo, your Ambassadors have exerted great zeal for your service, but unfortunately we were not at liberty to divert to any other object, the means confided to us for the protection of our own colony…”41 In his correspondences, Sercey appeared embarrassed at the lack of French soldiers available for use in India, especially in the wake of Malartic's grandiose proclamation.
With only a trivial number of French recruits arriving from Mauritius in 1798, Tipu was forced to continue to wait for word of a true alliance from the French government in Paris, and the Sultan made no plans for military action against the British.
Tipu even went so far as to adopt the ideological trappings of the French revolutionaries in a bid to win foreign support: planting a liberty tree, wearing a cap of equality, and in a bizarre spectacle, forming a Jacobin club in Seringapatam. Members were asked to swear the following oath: "Citizens, do you swear hatred to all Kings, except Tippoo Sultaun the Victorious, the Ally of the French Republic. War against Tyrants; and Love to our Country, and that of citizen Tippoo. All exclaimed unanimously, Yes, we swear to live free, or die."42 The strange spectacle of "Citizen Tippoo", an Islamic monarch pledged to the radicalism of the French Revolution, can only have aroused further anxiety and consternation on the part of the British Company. This Sir Penderel Moon. The British Conquest and Dominion of India (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989): 279 East India Company. Neil Benjamin Edmonstone (trans.) Official Documents, Relative to the Negotiations Carried on by Tippoo Sultaun (1799). Rear Admiral Sercey to the Nabob Tippoo Sultaun, 4 March 1798 (102-03) Ibid, Proceedings of a Jacobin Club formed at Seringapatam, by the French Soldiers in the Corps commanded by M. Dompard (173-95): 192 represented the great remaining fear of Tipu that still existed in the British imagination, a figure combining together the tyranny of Oriental despotism with the tyranny of Jacobin mob rule. Britons in the metropole were gripped with a terror of Tipu and his potential alliance with the French which was blown all out of proportion to the actual danger that Tipu posed to the British Company in India. These anxieties provided an opportunity for the new Governor General, Richard Wellesley (Lord Mornington), to take action.