An English Letter by Swathi Thirunal   

English Letter of Swathi Thirunal dated 1843, to the Marquis of Tweedale, Governor of Madras,

General Cullen forced to install Krishna Row as Dewan of Travancore against the wishes of Swathi Thirunal. However, Krishna Row's resignation was soon brought about at the personal influence of Swati Thirunal. The letter of Swathi Thirunal dated 1843, to the Marquis of Tweedale, Governor of Madras, is given below. This communication elicited a tremendous minute from the Madras Government taking the Resident to task and intimating that His Highness was at liberty to dispense with the services of Krishna Row just as he deemed fit.

“My Lord,

“With due deference I beg to lay the following statement before Your Lorsdships, and hope you will kindly excuse the intrusion on your precious time, because my painful struggles against an unprecedented interference of the Resident at my Count in the allairs of my Government having harassed my mind to a degree expressible, have at last driven me to the necessity of thus seeking Your Lordship’s protection and support in the time of need.

“I beg to inform Your Lordship, that soon after the present Resident arrived here, he began to exercise a want of confidence in my Dewan Soobrow. Here I think a few words necessary concerning this individual against whom the Resident seemed entirely prejudiced. Soobrow is an old and devoted servant of mine, having served me more than twenty-two years, in the capacity of my tutor first, and in that of Dewan afterwards; he by his conduct not only gained at my Court. I t is against this old and respected servant of mine, that General Cullen began to show marks of his dislike and aversion, at the instigation and ill-persuasion, from self-interested motives apparently, of a person named Krishna Row, a young Gentoo Brahmin about thirty years of age who accompanied him form Madras.

“The Dewan Soorbrow, although a man of advanced age, found no difficulty in carrying on the public business with benefit to the State, when duly supported as usual by the Resident: but in consequence of the total withdrawal of this support, and knowing that without it no possible exertions of his would give satisfaction, he frequently besought me to relieve him from his fruitless fatigues in the public affairs: but fully aware as I was that the public interest would suffer by his retirement, I did not accede to his solicitations.

“The Resident at this time recommended to me and to the Dewan , his own servant Krishna Rao, to be employed as a Deputy Perishcar. The Dewan actuated by a wish to gain the good will of the Resident by a compliance with his request spoke to me on the subject; but I first decidedly objected to the appointment of Krishna Rao from an apprehension that the measure would soon produce a spirit of insubordination and affect the power of the Dewan, as was experienced here before on similar occasions, but at last however, hoping that my compliance with the wish of the Resident might dispose him to entertain a better feeling towards my Dewan, I consented to appoint Krishna Row as a third or extra Deputy Peishcar, there being already two others employed.

“As soon however as he was appointed, that I had anticipated came to pass, Krishna Row getting a party of intriguing persons both in the Sircar’s employ and otherwise, began to undermine the Dewan’s authority by encouraging false complaints & c., and were I to mention here all the anxieties and troubles which the Dewan suffered from Krishna Rao’s machination and the latter’s influence with the Resident, it would be a detail too long for a letter, suffice it, therefore, to say that the Dewan’s authority was completely usurped and set at defiance by various devices made use of by the party against him. At this crisis the Resident addressed me a memo in official form, but without signature, containing some frivolous and unfounded charges against the Dewan and urged me to relieve him from the office; but while I was about to send my reply to it in refutation of every unfounded allegation it contained, I received a letter from General Cullen stating that I need not take the trouble of answering it, as it was merely intended for my private information.

“The two-fold object of these two communications may now be easily perceived, via., first, if the Resident had received my reply in an official form, he must then have been obliged to communicate it to the Madras Government, which I have great reason to believe, is not at all General Cullen’s policy; but that he endeavours to keep the Government a copy of the memo he had the facility of intimating that my silence arose merely from my convenience, the deep design of gradually subverting and assuming my power is to me quite manifest.

“This explanation of the jinessc of the Resident did not occur to my mind at that time, or notwithstanding his second letter, I would have forwarded my reply to the said memo and requested him to bring the same to the notice of the Government. From a perusal of a copy of the Minutes of Consultation of he Madras Government which the Resident subsequently sent me, I learnt to my great astonishment, that he had informed the Government that I was determined to relieve the Dewan, both on account of his old age and inefficiency. Here, My Lord, I most positively assert that neither did such an idea enter into my head, nor in any conference with General Cullen, have I ever spoken anything ambiguous so as to have led him to construe my meaning to that effect. On the contrary I have repeatedly expressed my satisfaction at the Dewan’s conduct; but unluckily either my voice is too feeble to convey my sentiments, on account of his badness of hearing, to the Residing, or he thinks proper to misrepresent them to the Government.

“It is natural that the Government knowing only from the ex parte statements of the Resident, should furnish him with an extract of the Minutes of Consultation to the effect that the Government concurs with me in my determination of relieving the Dewan on account of infirmity and inefficiency. The Resident in forwarding a copy of this document for my information strongly urged me to relieve the Dewan from his office. When I saw the said extract the truth at once flashed upon my mind, that the Government was perfectly misinformed as to the state of my affairs, and I resolved immediately to address the Government on the subject. But the Dewan, dejected and weighed down by his ill-treatment, dissuaded me from doing so, stating as a reason that no aggravation of mutual bad feeling between me and the Resident, should take place on his account. He then again urged me to accept his resignation of office, which I at last did on the 14th June last granting him a suitable pension for his long and faithful services. I then at his suggestion put Krishna Rao in charge of the public affairs, as a temporary measure, and for reasons easily guessed, by way of trial to see whether has shown him to be totally unfit for any high responsible office. Even after the retirement of the late Dewan, the infliction of a fresh hardship upon him seemed to be premeditated, because another extract from the Minutes of Council was furnished both to him and myself by the Resident, to the purport that he ‘should leave Travancore as his predecessors have done on similar occasions.” The ex-Dewan in order not to exasperates the Resident by refusal, was already thinking of going from this country, entirely against his will and at the risk of his and his family’s health, and to their great inconvenience and loss; but I positively prevented him from doing so, and wrote officially to the Resident on the subject on the 29th July last to the following effects: that in the first place there is no parallel between this minister and his two immediate predecessors who have left the country immediately after their removal, at their own option, in as much as this Dewan has been my tutor which they were not, a distinction and relationship which I highly venerate: that the two former Dewans never thought of so settling in this country, which they might have done had suited their convenience, whereas this Dewan’s case is quite different from theirs, because upon my promise of protecting him and his family, he had not only disposed of his house at Tanjore, but also guilt a large and costly one purchased gardens at Trivandrum, for the express purpose of settling himself and spending the remainder of his days mere me, moreover I even pledged myself that Soobrow would never interfere in public business: this having return I requested the resident to communicate the contents of my letter to the Government ; but I still ignorant whether he has done so or not. I think our work he has not, because his expression in person to me on the subject are equivocal and evasive. I trust however my lord. That your Lordship will never permit any such injustice towards my old teacher and late Dewan , or any such infringements of my privilege and authority to be perpetrated.

“About a month after I had thus permitted Krishna Rao temporarily to preside over the public affairs, the resident importuned me to nominate him. Head Dewan Peishcar on a salary of Rs.800 a month, with this also I complied with a view to conciliation; but the evil consequence of this measure were soon apparent. Krishna Rao elated by his success, behind to consider me the most marked and public disrespect; and his dissolute conduct of, low vulgar manners and arbitrary disposition has made himself universally detested and to be considered a scourge to the country.

“The result is that petitions are frequently presented to me by many praying for redress from his unjust an oppressive acts, under an impression of the uselessness of addressing the resident whose blind partiality to him is well known.”

“I take this opportunity to state to your lordship that I consider the observations Madras Government, and the honorable court of directors regarding the state of the finances of the Sirkar to be most judicious; and that I shall not fail to take proper steps in this matter, as soon as agitation of my mind caused by the present untoward circumstances shall have subsided.”

“Having now laid the statement of my grievance before Your Lordship, I beg to assure Your Lordship tat as I consider I owe my country, honour, dignity and all privileges and earthly enjoyments, solely to the justice and protection of the British Government, I am fully aware of the great utility of being guided in all important matters by the advice of the Resident; and have always been so by that of amounts to an absolute annihilation of my authority, I beg Your Lordship to bestow a favourable attention to my case, and relieve me from my present state of anxiety, either by means of direct correspondence, or if practicable by sending to me one of your confidential officers, to who I will personally disclose many other particulars relative to the present posture of affairs, and propose to him such arrangements as I think conducive to the good Government of my country, so that he may by his explanation enable Your Lordship to form your judgment upon it, and to guide me by your judicious counsel.”

Copy Right 2003 , All Rights Reserved, Designed and Maintained by C-DIT ,