Imatges de pàgina

sion. There was considerable slaughter; the camp and commissariat depôt were abandoned to the enemy, and a retreat was effected with difficulty by the remains of the British force. With the same alert promptitude, the Ghoorkahs attacked and overwhelmed a small British force stationed at Persa-ghurrie, and, after an hour's hard fighting, carried the post, and took a British gun, with all the stores and baggage.

Sir David Ochterlony himself had a specimen of the intelligence and gallantry of the enemy, at the time when these successful attacks were made on his detachments. The British general had determined to attack the fortified position of Ameer Sing Thappy. The Ghoorkah chief 1814. foiled the attack, by evaDec. 29. cuating two of the points

against which it was directed, and concentrating on the third, which was almost inaccessible, such a force as rendered an attempt to storm it highly imprudent. While the British attacking columns were thus occupied, the Ghoorkahs made a sudden and desperate attack, with sword in hand, upon the position of Lieutenant-colonel Thompson, who commanded the reserve; and, although warmly received, and at length beat off with loss, evinced such courage and steadiness, as were entirely new features in Indian warfare.

Notwithstanding the complicated difficulties offered by the quality of the country, the fortifications with which its natural strength was increased and protected, and the resistance of an enemy, at once skilful, obstinate, and venturous, General Ochterlony, reinforced by troops dispatched by the Governor-General, persevered in opposing bis military skill and talent to the circumstances of perplexity in which he was placed. A variety of combined and skilful movements gradually

carried stockade after stockade, and fort after fort; successes which straitened the army of Ameer Sing Thappy in his strong position, and cut off in various directions his com- 1815. munication with the rest of Feb. 15. the Nepaulese territory. The first important advantage was the capture of a fort called Rhamgur, where the garrison, terrified by the fire of two eighteen-pounders, and a breach which they speedily made in the wall, capitulated to the British, a fortunate circumstance, as it was strong, both from the impracticable nature of the mountain which it crowned, and the massive thickness of the walls. After this success, the neighbouring Rajahs of Bellaspore set the example of submission, and Ameer Sing Thappy was so much narrowed in his position, that he sent his females and treasures from his fortified station at Kaloure, aware that he must soon either fight or retreat. A body of irregulars, under Lieutenant Young, attempted to intercept this party and the troops who escorted them, but the Ghoorkahs, being reinforced from the neighbouring garrison of Jytuk, repulsed the assailants.

Other British detachments had now obtained footing in Nepaul, and the chief Rajah, anxious for the result, sent to Ameer Sing Thappy, his general and minister, his directions to open a negociation with the British. The answer of the general was (very fortunately) intercepted by the British, and served to shew the political skill, as well as patriotism, of the writer. He insisted on the disgrace which the monarch of Nepaul, a country hitherto unconquered, would incur by submission. He represented his case as by no means so desperate as the Rajah seemed to suppose, and pointed out various resources by which he still hoped to protract the war, and perhaps to end it successfully and ho

nourably. But if the Rajah, he proceeded, was determined to sacrifice his own independence and that of his country, he recommended to him, rather than treat with the British, to invoke the protection of the Emperor of China, and acknowledge himself tributary to that monarch. The emperor, he observed, would send them supplies of treasure, which was what they chiefly wanted to carry on the war. He had also, he shrewdly observed, the means of checking the English without opposing them in battle, merely by stopping their trade to his dominions. The yoke of China, he said, would be merely nominal; the distance of the countries, the unwarlike disposition of the Chinese, and the recollection of the defeat of Khatmandu, where an immense army was formerly cut off by the Ghoorkahs, would prevent the emperor from enforcing any actual claim of tribute or dominion over Nepaul, and would enable the Rajah, at the first opportunity, to shake off even the name of vassal. But a treaty with Britain, whose arms had subjected all the princes in India, while she affected to receive them into her alliance, would be an inevitable deaths wound to the independence of Nepaul.

Fortunately, as we have already noticed, the letter which contained this sagacious advice never reached its destination, and the perusal of its contents rendered it doubly necessary to use every exertion to bring the Nepaulese war to an end. All the Ghoorkah chiefs were not actuated by the valour and patriotism of Ameer Sing. Colonel Nicolls, with a separate British division, had penetrated into the province of Kemaoon, and besieged the strong fort of Almora. A chief, called Hustee Dhul, at the head of a considerable body of regar and irregular troops, was de

tached from the fortress to attempt a diversion to the north of the British army. They were closely pursued by a detachment from the camp under Major Patton, who came up with, defeated, and totally dispersed them, the attack of the British driving many of them over a precipice. The garrison of Almora being thus weakened, the fort was severely battered and bombarded. The various stockades and breastworks, strongly situated on a chain of heights called the Sittlolie ridge, being successively carried, and nothing left in possession of the enemy but the palace or castle, the Ghoorkah chiefs agreed to surrender the fortress, with the whole province of Kemaoon, within ten days, on condition of being permitted to retire with their troops across the Serdah. The cession of the various mountain forts and passes took place accordingly; the two British divisions were placed in communication and co-operation, and Ameer Sing, in his insulated position, cut off from supplies and reinforcements, was reduced almost to extremity. Two very strong forts, called Tarragurh and Chumber, were taken by the British. Jytuk, a small fort, situated on the very summit of a peaked mountain, which rises three thousand feet above the level of the plain, and covered by large and strong stockades, was now more closely invested. A battery was constructed about 1000 yards to the west of the plain, and two heavy guns were got up into it, by the incredible exertions of the soldiers, by a path, which, in many places, resembled a rent in the solid rock, sometimes rising almost perpendicularly, and leading, for a short way, along crags only a few feet wide, and overhanging immense precipices, and then interrupted by declivities as abrupt as the previous ascent. These difficulties, how

ever, were surmounted; and two battering guns and a mortar now played incessantly upon the fort.

The garrison of Malown, amounting to about eight thousand men on all points, were now much distressed for provisions, and obliged to eke out their scanty rations of food with the leaves and blossoms of trees. The stockaded posts of the British guarded every access by which any considerable supply could be obtained; and while the harvest waved ripe on the more distant grounds, the Ghoorkahs could only obtain such trifling supplies as the neighbouring peasants smuggled into the fort, tempted by the high price which necessity offer


Ameer Sing Thappy, however, continued his resistance; and even when General Ochterlony had, by a wellcombined and gallantly executed combination of movements, established his troops upon the range of the Malown mountains, and, defeating a body of Ghoorkahs, whose most distinguished leader fell in the action, took such a position on what was called the Peacock Mountain, as effectually confined the Cazy to his forts, he collected his forces for a desperate ef

fort. At the earliest dawn April 15. of day, Ameer Sing himself taking the field with a standard in his hand, the Ghoorkahs commenced a most impetuous and desperate attack upon the detachment of Colonel Thomson, which formed the reserve of those columns who had established themselves on the ridge of the hills, and served to support them. This bold attack he continued for two hours, and how nearly it was being successful, may be judged from the valour and conduct necessary to repulse it. Lieutenant Cartwright, of the artillery, was left with only one man unwounded, and

with that one man was able to secure the gun which he directed. At length, a Goorkah chief, who commanded the attack, having fallen, these brave mountaineers were repulsed and defeated with very severe loss. The British lost Captain Showers, an active and valuable officer, with other officers and men.

But the result of the action was decisive, and Ameer Sing immediately entered into a convention for evacuating the forts and the provinces which he had so long and bravely defended. In respect to his signal gallantry and conduct, the most honourable terms were granted, and the whole country, from Kemaoon to the river Sutledge, was reduced to British subjection. The merit of General Ochterlony, and of the officers and troops he commanded, will be best estimated by the difficulties which they had to encounter, and the qualities requisite to surmount them. It was well observed in the general order, issued by Lord May 3. Moira, that these successes, "under the complicated difficulties presented by the quality of the country, the fortifications by which its natural strength was assisted, and the obstinate resistance of a courageous enemy, should prove the superiority conferred by military service, and the certainty that a strenuous application of its principles must entail honourable distinction on a commander. Warfare in a mountainous region offers embarrassments which, when viewed at a distance, appear insurmountable, but which dwindle into comparative insignificance under the grasp of vigour and genius. It is only in unusual situations, demanding readiness of resource and animated efforts, that the difference between officer and officer can be displayed; and it ought to be always present to

the mind of every military man, that he who in circumstances of perplexity tries and fails, has to plead those chances from which no operation in war can be secured, his pretensions to the character of zeal and energy being in the mean time maintained; while he who contents himself with urging difficulties as an excuse for doing nothing, voluntary registers his own inefficiency."

Thus was the Nepaul war fortunately ended by complete success on all points, after having threatened a very different termination. It was said to have been the object of censure by some of the ruling members of the India Company. But in India, we have the difficult task of the hypocrite in the play, who wishes he had not gained so very good a character, when he experiences the trouble and risk necessary to sustain it. In India, where every man's strength, to use the words of Scripture, is the rule of his right, a pacific disposition, the abandonment of a just claim, the submission to aggression of any sort, is an acknowledgement of weakness; and an acknowledgement of weakness, on our part, would be a signal for a general combination against our power. How long all our exertions may be able to maintain our Indian empire, is a question hidden in the womb of fate. But it may be safely affirmed, that it will not long survive a flaw, real or imaginary, in our military reputation. We sincerely hope, that, as the Nepaulese appear to be a politic, as well as a brave people, their national pride will not again precipitate them into a war with the British government. And surely nothing short of aggression and insult, on their part, should lead us to engage in a conflict, where victory has less than its wonted triumph, and defeat far more than its usual loss and dishonour.

Military operations on this frontier

of our empire ought to be rather avoided, as it excites the suspicion of the Chinese, a jealous people, already unfriendly to us, and indifferent about a trade which is of much consequence to our revenues. Many disputes had occurred in the course of this year betwixt the British and the Viceroy of Canton, chiefly concerning the behaviour of the ships of war which lay in the river to protect the Indian trade from the American privateers. The viceroy appears to have been gained entirely over to the American interest. A royal edict was received at Canton, exceedingly offensive both in its style and spirit. After again starting the subject of the operations of our men of war, it peremptorily ordered the dismissal of the younger Hong merchants, and the lodgement of the whole of the trade in the hands of three or four individuals, one of whom was a person, who, a few years ago, purchased his resignation at the price of three or four millions of dollars. The edict goes on further to express his sublime majesty's great displeasure against Sir George Staunton, the detention of whom it is understood to enjoin. After asserting, that to the clemency and kindness of his sublime majesty is entirely owing the privilege enjoyed by the English, of residing in the mansions of the celestial hemisphere, the letter declares that they are a litigious and ungrate fal race, delighting in broils, and insensible of the blessings showered on them. Further, that, as a return for the valuable products exported by them, they have introduced only arti cles of luxury, the effect of which has been to corrupt his imperial majesty's liege subjects. In conclusion, it tells the supercargoes, that if they are discontented with the mild and paternal protection of the Chinese government, the wisest step they can take is to withdraw themselves from it.


These and several other insulting in junctions had, we are informed, induced the committee of supercargoes to take into consideration the propriety of again putting a stop to the trade; a measure undoubtedly pregnant with serious evil, but believed to be absolutely necessary for the preservation of their own independence, and the future establishment of commercial intercourse upon more sure and permanent grounds." The interest of the British trade and revenue is so far concerned in our intercourse with this supercilious and arrogant people, that the government resolved to send a splendid embassy to Pekin, with Lord Amherst at its head, in order to obtain redress of these grievances at the fountain head. We cannot think that the nature of the remedy was happily imagined, considering the disgrace which the British nation received on a similar occasion in the person of Lord Macartney, nor have we much hopes of a favourable result from the present or any future mission, unless it were supported by a squadron of men of war, and an army of fifty thousand men.

In another quarter of India, the British arms, with little or no opposition, achieved an important and extensive conquest. The peculiar situation of the island of Ceylon is well known. Since the year 1766, the Dutch had held complete and absolute possession of the entire sea-coast, while the native sovereign, or King of Candy, possessed the interior, his dominions being on each side surrounded by those of the Europeans, as the kernel of a nut is by its shell. This state of seclusion, on the part of the native monarch, was originally voluntary, and the King of Candy conferred on the Dutch the title of guardians of his coasts. But it did not prevent, in the time of the Dutch possession of the colony, various ruptures, very fatal

to the interests of the settlement. The attempt to penetrate sword-inhand into a country unhealthy for Europeans, and encompassed on all hands by rivers, woods, defiles, and mountains, has been ever attended with a long train of expence and loss. The British experienced this twelve years before, when a considerable force advanced into the interior of Ceylon, and took possession of the capital; but their commander, unfortunately neither possessing the skill nor courage necessary for such an undertaking, laid down his arms by a most dishonourable capitulation; and having thus shewn that he preferred life to honour, lost both through the perfidy of the barbarians, who massacred almost the whole detachment. Since that misfortune, the tyrant of Candy had been suffered to range in his wilderness uncontrouled, as a tiger too powerful and dangerous to be disturbed by the hunters.


Raja Sri Wikreme Sinha, such was the name of the man, or more properly of the monster, who lately reigned in Candy, was one of the most cruel tyrants whose heart was ever corrupted and brain turned by the possession of despotic power. His wanton destruction of human life, and the horrid and complicated ingenuity by which he varied the mortal sufferings of his victims, exceeded all credibility. In one dreadful case out of many, an adikar, or provincial governor, called Eheylapola, baving incurred the royal displeasure, his family became the victims of the most extravagant cruelty. It will hardly be believed, that four infant children having been butchered in the presence of their mother, she was afterwards compelled to pound their heads in a mortar. It was a merciful consummation, though not intended as such by the tyrant, that the unfortunate woman, with several others, was afterwards put to

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