reat victories, crushing defeats, exotic India: Europe
was gripped by the excitement of the Mysore Wars.
The British perpetuated the image of Tipu as a monster
and tyrant, and sensational narratives were published
about his treatment of prisoners. More sobre evidence
is found in the memoirs of James and John Lindsay, and
in the little-known drawings of prison interiors. One
prisoner wrote to his father, Archibald Hope of Rankeillour,
in July 1782, 'I find my end approaching. I request
that you will never send a son of yours to this country
unless you wish to make him miserable.'
Incompetence, ignorance and bureauracy in India attracted
venemous political satire. Henry Dundas, Solicitor General
for Scotland, was a powerful political patron for commissions
in India, and thus a favourite target. In 1792, for example,
'Scotch Harry' published false news of a victory at Seringapatam
in order to improve credit at home. When this bubble burst,
Dundas was made a laughing stock.
After 1799, images of Tipu and Seringapatam proliferated.
Ker Porter's vast panorama was displayed in Edinburgh, and
J.M.W.Turner and J.S.Cotman painted related scenes before
the first photographers captured views of Seringapatam. Images
appeared on jig-saw puzzles and writing sheets, and melodramatic
spectacles exploded on stage. Returning heroes provided Sir
Walter Scott with anecdotes for his 'Indian' novels, and Tipu
objects were carefully preserved in castle and cottage. His
musical tiger, and the remnants of his throne were publicly
displayed in London.
Today, Tipu and his tigers continue to inspire artists, poets,
silversmiths and sculptors. In India, Tipu's second city,
Bangalore, is a centre of computer technology, while the Mysore
narratives of 18c Scots are being reprinted by the Asian Educational
press. The Tiger of Mysore is still very much a living legend.