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«ABSTRACT Title of Dissertation: TYRANT! TIPU SULTAN AND THE RECONCEPTION OF BRITISH IMPERIAL IDENTITY, 1780-1800 Michael Soracoe, Doctor of ...»

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Wellesley suggested that it was pointless to bother negotiating with a deceitful tyrant like Tipu at all, arguing to the Directors: "My opinion had long been decided, that no Negotiations with Tippoo Saheb could be successful unless accompanied by such a disposition of our Force."75 Military might was the only thing that an Oriental despot like Tipu would be able to understand. Beatson's narrative of the campaign concurred, arguing that the mere presence of Tipu created "baneful effects" throughout southern India, leading to a decay of agriculture and industry due to constant fear of invasion.76 Ibid, 48-49 Ibid, 17 Ibid, 32 Alexander Beatson. A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun (1800): 2 Beatson admitted that Tipu had not actually received any aid from France, but this did not matter as his demands of military assistance were unlimited, and it was impossible to foresee if those demands might once day by satisfied. He therefore agreed with Wellesley that an immediate attack on Tipu was demanded "by the soundest maxims both of justice and policy," using the very same phrase as the Governor General.77 The correspondence between Wellesley with the Court of Directors and with Tipu Sultan were therefore important for a number of reasons. They demonstratively prove that Wellesley's decision to invade Mysore had little connection with the French invasion of Egypt, and that the latter was never a factor in his decisions. They furthermore show that Wellesley had no real interest in diplomatic negotiations with Tipu, as he issued orders to prepare for war months ahead of time, and refused to conduct further mediation even when Tipu agreed to Wellesley's requests.78 In order to defend his reputation and justify his actions to the British public at home, Wellesley played up Tipu's connection to the French and relied upon the imagery of the Tipu Legend. Over and over again, Wellesley portrayed Tipu as a lying, scheming despot who could not be trusted under any circumstances. The Sultan was the one breaking treaties and driving the Company into war, not the other way around. This reversal of the situation allowed Wellesley to claim that he was fighting a defensive war, reluctantly being forced to protect the British subjects in India from the aggression of a cruel despot, even as Company forces were invading Mysore. Without the pre-existing "tyrannical" representations of Tipu for Ibid, 11 Older historical scholarship accepted Wellesley's claims about the start of the war, such as H.H. Dodwell.

The Cambridge History of India, Vol. 5: British India (1963, 1929): 339-40. Modern scholarship has revised this opinion, and concurs that the Fourth Mysore War was an opportunistic power play by the British Company; see for example Lawrence James. Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India (New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1997): 68-69. What has been less commented upon is the connection between Wellesley's actions in India and public opinion in Britain, the focus of the next section.

Wellesley to draw upon, he would have had far less success in convincing so many to accept his interpretation of the conflict. The Tipu Legend was therefore a major factor in British representations of the Fourth Mysore War, creating a stereotyped Asiatic villain full of vice and corruption for the heroic Company to fight against. This was an important factor in the reception of the conflict in the British metropole, which differed significantly from the previous wars against Tipu.

The British Reaction: The Storming of Seringapatam The Fourth Mysore War (1799) was received in a very different context by the British public at home. Unlike the two previous conflicts in the 1780s and early 1790s, popular understandings of the final war against Tipu Sultan were dominated by Tipu's supposed alliance with revolutionary France. In the wake of Tipu's defeat at the hands of Cornwallis in the Third Mysore War (1790-92), Tipu alone no longer inspired the same anxiety as he had represented in the past. Britons were far more confident about the Company's military strength overseas, and this was reflected in the disappearance of captive narratives and discussion of British prisoners during the Fourth Mysore War.

There was no more mention of the forced conversion of European prisoners to Islam, and the threat that this posed to masculinity and European identity.79 There was also relatively little mention of the Fourth Mysore War as a conflict designed to liberate the people of Mysore from the rule of an oppressive tyrant, and when these explanations did appear, they were justifications offered after the conclusion of the war for the Company's See Chapter 2 annexation of so much additional territory.80 Wellesley ignored Tipu's Mysorean subjects in his dispatches, and did not seem to care about their fate.

Instead, it was Tipu's supposed alliance with France which was emphasized repeatedly in 1798 and 1799, both in the East India Company's official correspondences and amongst the wider British public in the metropole. Although Tipu alone failed to inspire the same dread that he had held in the past, the possibility of an alliance between revolutionary France and "Citizen Tippoo" was terrifying to Britons, and represented a threat that had to be prevented at all costs. As such, Wellesley's flimsy justifications for preemptive war against Tipu in 1799 were embraced with enthusiasm by the British public, in the popular presses and in the halls of Parliament, preventing the emergence of any opposition of note. Unlike the past wars against Tipu, there was no dissenting political party that rose to challenge the Company's management of the war and question the legality of the invasion of Mysore. Fear of the potential alliance between Tipu and the French, along with Wellesley's careful manipulation of the diplomatic situation to paint the Sultan as a military aggressor, was enough to stifle potential criticism of the war's morality at home.





The Fourth Mysore War also had the great advantage of being a short and victorious war. Mere weeks passed between the arrival of news from India that the Company had invaded Mysore and the announcement that Seringapatam had been successfully captured, with Tipu himself among the slain. This was a marked contrast from the Second and Third Mysore Wars, both of which had lasted for years and underwent long stretches of military setbacks on the part of the Company. It was easy to See for example James Salmond. A Review of the Origin, Progress, and Result of the Decisive War with the Late Tippoo Sultaun, in Mysore (London: Printed by Luke Hansard, 1800) accept Wellesley's claims about Tipu and his connections to the French when the invasion of Mysore had been such an overwhelming success. In a marked contrast to the earlier skepticism of the Company and its servants, who had been viewed separate from the British nation and were commonly believed to be parasitic nabobs, now the soldiers and administrators of the Company were instead perceived as patriotic heroes, with the victory over Tipu celebrated as a nationalistic triumph.

This was best represented by the innumerable paintings, songs, plays, and other works of creative media portraying "The Storming of Seringapatam", the taking of Tipu's capital by the Company's military forces. These popular works demonstrated how public opinion about Tipu Sultan and the East India Company had shifted dramatically over the previous two decades. Instead of cartoons satirizing the nabobs as the plunderers of the East, paintings and plays of the Storming of Seringapatam had become cherished parts of the national identity, embraced by Britons on all parts of the political spectrum. With the passage of time, these images would pass into the British historical memory of the Mysore Wars, with the earlier fears, uncertainties, and debates about the subject matter eventually becoming forgotten.

In India, Wellesley had used the Malartic Proclamation as an immediate trigger to begin preparations for war against Tipu, using the imagery built up over the past two decades as justification for his decision. The reaction in Britain to the news of the Proclamation was rather different, inspiring not a burning desire for further war but instead confusion and uncertainty. Initial observers expressed disbelief, not understanding why Malartic would issue such a proclamation and wondering if the whole thing was some sort of ruse on the part of the French. The notion that this was a form of deception on the part of the French was more plausible in many ways than the truth of the situation.

An example of this disbelief was provided by an anonymous author in a letter from Mauritius dated 4 April 1798 and published in the Bombay Courier. The source described the visit of the ambassadors and the issuing of the Malartic Proclamation, while wondering "whether there was any truth in the Embassy" or if the whole thing was simply a farce created for misdirection.81 News of the Proclamation first appeared in the London newspapers in June 1798, where the text was translated from French and widely printed for mass circulation.82 General confusion was once again the response, as the public wondered what exactly to make of this strange news. Lloyd's Evening Post speculated that the French must have made preparations to aid Tipu, as they would hardly expose their old ally "to the just indignation of the English" by disclosing his intentions publicly.83 The Express and Evening Chronicle believed that this proclamation announced a new expedition by the French against the Company's holdings on the Coromandel Coast, while also acknowledging that neither the military forces nor the means of transporting them were enough to justify any serious alarm to the British settlements.84 Contradictory rumors further muddied the waters about what was taking place in India. One account stated that Tipu was making vigorous preparations for war, having been promised powerful assistance from France. At the same time, the most recent ships Bombay Courier (Bombay, India) 28 July 1798, Issue 305 See Whitehall Evening Post (London, England) 14 June 1798, Issue 8049 for one example.

Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 15 June 1798, Issue 6366 Express and Evening Chronicle (London, England) 16 June 1798, Issue 577 arriving from India in the summer of 1798 insisted that no war alarms had been raised.85 As late as February 1799, after Lord Wellesley had already ordered the invasion of Mysore, Lloyd's Evening Post still fell compelled to call the veracity of the Malartic Proclamation into question: "The authenticity of this document is extremely questionable.

Would a French Governor so rashly have announced publicly a fact of so much importance, and which it was so impolitic to disclose?"86 Mass confusion reigned over the Company's relationship with Tipu Sultan, as the news brought by ships indicated everything was peaceful while the Proclamation seemed to indicate a war was brewing.

No one in London was quite sure what was happening overseas.

When news of the departure of the French expeditionary force arrived, however, the confusion about Tipu rapidly turned to fear and anxiety for the safety of British India.

The London Chronicle pointed out the dangers of Napoleon's French force arriving in India to join up with Tipu, which would apprehend "a war more serious, if undertaken in the formidable manner threatened, than any with which that country [India] has ever been visited."87 Although the same newspaper stated that this was an extremely unlikely possibility, it did not stop public fears from running wild over the situation. Rumor magnified the size of the force Tipu's ambassadors had raised in Mauritius, with one newspaper reporting the number at 600 men instead of fewer than 100.88 A report from a French newspaper insisted that India was the clear destination for Napoleon's expedition, and that the enterprise was concerted with Tipu at the Sultan's own instigation. It suggested that Tipu would dissemble with the Company until his French allies could London Packet or New Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 9 July 1798, Issue 4505 Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 4 February 1799, Issue 6466 London Chronicle (London, England) 10 July 1798, Issue 6141 Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 1 August 1798, Issue 6386 arrive to support him.89 The Morning Chronicle further reported, "It is said that Buonaparte found Envoys from Tippoo Saib in Egypt, who had been long waiting for him there."90 Although all of this news was factually untrue, it fit very neatly into the portrayal of the war that Wellesley and the Company were trying to present.

Napoleon's own actions in Egypt fit neatly into this narrative as well. After landing in Egypt, Napoleon issued proclamations presenting himself as a liberator of the Egyptian populace from Ottoman oppression, praising the precepts of Islam and claiming friendship with Muslims. During a festival celebrating the birth of Muhammad, Napoleon garbed himself in Egyptian dress and proclaimed himself a worthy son of the Prophet and a favorite of Allah. These gestures proved to be ineffective, leading to a mass revolt of the people of Cairo against the French on 22 October 1798, but they lent credulity to the claims of a potential union between Napoleon and Tipu, particularly in the British metropole.91 In an opinion piece entitled "Buonaparte and His Expedition" from August 1798, Lloyd's Evening Post waxed poetically on the threat that the French posed to British India: "Thus they mean to wreck their vengeance upon us, the only people who have not bowed beneath their despotism. They will thus employ at a distance, and disengage themselves of the superfluity of troops which might become fatal to them in the hour of peace. They have, through all parts of the globe, auxiliaries in those dregs of nations, always disposed to shake off the restraint of the law…"92 According to this article, Tipu Sultan was being employed as a proxy of the French regime. This particular phrasing of Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 22 August 1798, Issue 6395 Morning Chronicle (London, England) 30 October 1798, Issue 9184 This summary is drawn from Christopher Herold. Bonaparte in Egypt (New York: Harper & Row, 1962) and Juan Cole. Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) Lloyd’s Evening Post (London, England) 3 August 1798, Issue 6387 the threat supported and reinforced the various "tyrannical" representations of Tipu which had been established earlier, now associating the tyranny of an Oriental monarch with the despotism of the French revolutionaries. Both of them were presented as threats to British liberty that had to be stopped.



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