| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
 IN 1786, the year after Hastings came home, Lord
Cornwallis went out to India as Governor-General and
Commander-in-Chief. Unlike Hastings or the Governors
before him, Lord Cornwallis was not in the service of
the Company. He was the first Governor who had had
nothing to do with the Company, and he was the first
British peer to rule in India.
When Lord Cornwallis was first asked to go to India he
refused. "I have no wish," he said, "to forsake my
children and every comfort on this side of the grave to
quarrel with the Supreme Government of India whatever
it may be ; and finally to run the risk of being beaten
by some Nawab and disgraced to all eternity." But at
length, "with grief of heart," he consented to go.
Lord Cornwallis tried to keep the peace in India which
Hastings had left. But he soon found himself forced
into war with Tippoo Sultan the "tiger of Mysore," the
son of the fierce Hyder Ali. At first Tippoo got the
best of things, but in the end he was defeated. He was
made to pay a large sum of money, and to give his two
sons into the keeping of Lord Cornwallis as surety that
he would keep the peace.
Cornwallis improved what Hastings had begun both as to
the collecting of rents and the courts of justice. In
this he helped by Mr. John Shore, who, when Lord
 Cornwallis went home, became for a short time
Governor-General. He was made a baronet and later
became Lord Teignmouth.
He was the first British ruler to put down one of the
terrible Indian customs. This was called "sitting in
The life of a Brahmin was, as you remember, sacred,
and any man who killed a Brahmin, or even caused his
death without meaning it, was accursed. If a Brahmin
therefore hated a Hindu for any cause, he simply sat
down on his doorstep and refused to move, to eat, to
drink, or to sleep. This was sitting in dharna.
The poor Hindu dared not go out or in, for fear of
injuring the Brahmin. He dared not eat or drink, while
the Brahmin fasted. He was caught like an animal in a
trap. There was no escape, and he stayed there until
he died of hunger and fear.
Lord Teignmouth made sitting in dharna a crime, and so
one horrible custom was done away with.
The next Governor-General was Lord Wellesley, the elder
brother of Arthur Wellesley who was later the great
Duke of Wellington.
At this time Napoleon was conquering Egypt. To him was
merely the first step towards India. He meant to
conquer that too, and drive the British out. So the
French became very busy in India. Tippoo Sultan, who
had already been beaten by Lord Cornwallis, made a
secret treaty with the French against the British. And
both the Nizam of the Deccan and the Máráthas had large
armies which were officered by Frenchmen. He quite
expected any day to see French ships arrive to help to
help Tippoo, or the Nizam, or the Máráthas.
 Lord Wellesley, like nearly all the British of his day,
hated the French and doubly hated Napoleon. And he was
as full of dreams of driving the French out of India as
Napoleon was of driving the British out. Lord
Wellesley's thoughts were not at all turned to trade.
He thought only of Empire, so his first desire was to
get rid of the French officers and sepoys, and try to
persuade the native rulers to make friends with the
British, instead of with the French.
The Nizam was quite willing to be friends with the
British, for he thought that they would protect him
from the Máráthas, who were were now the strongest
native power in all India, and who were eager to be
still greater. So some British troops were sent to the
Nizam's capital, Hyderabad. Then the French Sepoys
were drawn up and told that they were no longer needed,
and might go. But the sepoys had not been paid for
months, and when they realised that they were being
sent away without being paid, murmurs and then yells of
discontent broke from the ranks. At the best of times
they were a wild undisciplined army. Now they turned
upon their French officers with such fury, that they
fled to the British camp for refuge.
When the British heard what the riot was about, they
paid the men. Greatly delighted at their unexpected
good fortune, the sepoys scattered to their homes, and
in a few hours the Nizam's French army had vanished.
The officers were sent home to France. Wellesley
promised to help the Nizam with British soldiers,
should he be attacked, and the Nizam, on his side,
promised not to go to war without first asking British
consent. Thus one enemy was got rid of, and soon all
fear of invasion by the French was over, for the news
that Nelson had shattered their fleet in the Nile was
brought to India.
 Lord Wellesley next tried to make peace with the
Máráthas. But the Máráthas were not at all anxious to
make friends with the British. They were great and
powerful, and feared no one. They were willing enough
to help the British in battle if they were paid. But
they were just as willing to help their enemies. They
would fight for those who paid most.
With Tippoo there was no making friends at all. He
hated the British too thoroughly, and in 1799 war with
him began. Among the British leaders in this war was
Colonel Arthur Wellesley.
Battles were fought in which Tippoo was beaten again
and again, and at last he was shut up in his capital,
Now Tippoo asked for peace. "Half your land and two
million pounds," were Lord Wellesley's terms.
Beaten though he was, these terms were too hard for
Tippoo. "Better," he cried, "to die like a soldier
than to live a pensioned Nawab."
"TIPPOO SULTAN'S BODY WAS FOUND BURIED BENEATH THOSE OF HIS FOLLOWERS."
For a month the siege of Seringapatam lasted. Food was
growing scarce in the British camp, when at last the
town was stormed and taken.
The defenders fought bravely. Among them might be seen
the short, stout figure of Tippoo clad in a dress of
white and crimson. But at last, wounded in four
places, he fell dead. Still his soldiers fought on,
and when at last Seringapatam was taken, and the
British flag floated upon the walls, his body was found
buried beneath those of his followers.
Tippoo, being dead, and his capital taken, the whole of
his land, called Mysore, fell into the hands of the
British. Lord Wellesley divided it into three. Part
he put under the rule of the Company, adding it to the
Madras Presidency. Part he gave to the Nizam, who had
 in the war, and part he formed into a new kingdom, and
upon the throne he placed a little boy, a descendant of
the king whom Hyder Ali had driven out. But this
kingdom was really under British rule also.
Tippoo had been such a cruel ruler, that all over India
there was rejoicing at his downfall, and the people
made songs about it which were remembered and sung for
Fill the wine-cup fast for the storm is past,
The tyrant Tippoo is slain at last,
And victory smiles
To reward the toils
Of Britons once again.
Let the trumpet sound, and the sound go round
Along the bound of Eastern ground;
Let the Cymbals clang
With a merry merry bang,
To the joys of the next campaign.
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