Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/198

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194 THE FOUNDATION OF BRITISH RULE IN INDIA. from whom he is thought to have derived his far-reaching political vision, and his antipathy to the French name. From the first he laid down as his guiding principle, that the English must be the one paramount power in the Indian peninsula, and that Native princes could only retain the insignia of sovereignty by surrendering their political independence. The history of India since his time has been but the gradual development of this policy, which received its finishing touch when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India on the ist of January 1877. French Influence in India, 1798-1800. — To frustrate the possibility of a French invasion of India, led by Napoleon in person, was the immediate governing idea of Wellesley's foreign policy. France at this time, and for many years later, filled the place afterwards occupied by Russia in the minds of Indian statesmen. Nor was the danger so remote as might now be thought. French regiments guarded and overawed the Nizam of Haidarabad. The soldiers of Sindhia, the military head of the Maratha Confederacy, was disciplined and led by French adventurers. Tipu Sultan of Mysore carried on a secret cor- respondence with the French Directory, allowed a tree of liberty to be planted in his dominions, and enrolled himself in a republican club as ' Citizen Tipu.' The islands of Mauritius and Bourbon afforded a convenient half-way rendezvous for French intrigue and for the assembling of a hostile expedition. Above all, Napoleon Buonaparte was then in Egypt, dreaming of the Indian conquests of Alexander the Great, and no man knew in what direction he might turn his hitherto unconquered legions. India before Lord Wellesley, 1798. — Wellesley conceived the scheme of crushing for ever the French hopes in Asia, by placing himself at the head of a great Indian confederacy. In Lower Bengal, the sword of Clive and the policy of Warren Hastings had made the English paramount. Before the end of the century, our power was consolidated from the seaboard to Benares, high up the Gangetic valley. Beyond our frontier, the Nawab Wazfr of Oudh had agreed to pay a subsidy for the aid of British troops. This sum in 1797 amounted to £760,000 a year; and the Naw&b, being always in arrears,