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44 WARREN HASTINGS.

conquerors. Half the provinces of the empire were turned into
Mahratta principalities. Freebooters, sprung from low castes, and
accustomed to menial employments, became mighty Rajahs. The
Bonslas, at the head of a band of plunderers, occupied the vast
region of Berar. The Gruicowar, which is, being interpreted, the
Herdsman, founded that dynasty which still reigns in Guzerat.
The houses of Scindia and Holkar waxed great in Malwa. One
adventurous captain made his nest on the impregnable rock of
Gooti. Another became the lord of the thousand villages which
are scattered among the green rice-fields of Tanjore.

That was the time, throughout India, of double government.
The form and the power were every where separated. The
Mussulman nabobs who had become sovereign princes, the Vizier
in Oude, and the Nizam at Hyderabad, still called themselves the
viceroys of the house of Tamerlane. In the same manner the
Mahratta states, though really independent of each other, pre-
tended to be members of oncempire. They all acknowledged, by
words and ceremonies, the supremacy of the heir of Sevajee, a 1-0:
fainéant who chewed bang and toyed with dancing girls in a state
prison at Sattara, and of his Peshwa or mayor of the palace, a
great hereditary magistrate, who kept a court with kingly state at
Poonah, and whose authority was obeyed in the spacious provinces
of Aurungabad and Bejapoor.

Some months before war was declared in Europe the govern-
ment of Bengal was alarmed by the news that a French adven-
turer, who passed for a man of quality, had arrived at Poonah.
It was said that he had been received there with great distinction,
that he had delivered to the Peshwa letters and presents from
Lewis the Sixteenth, and that a treaty, hostile to England, had
been concluded between France and the Mahrattas.

Hastings immediately resolved to strike the first blow. The
title of the Peshwa was not undisputed. A portion of the Mah-
ratta nation was favourable to a pretender. The Governor-
General determined to espouse this pretender’s interest, to move
an army across the peninsula of India, and to form a close alliance
with the chief of the house of Bonsla, who ruled Berar, and who,
in power and dignity, was inferior to none of the Mahratta princes.

The army had marched, and the negotiations with Berar were
in progress, when a letter from the English consul at Cairo brought
the news that war had been proclaimed both in London and Paris.

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