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  3.22 Lord Cornwallis Receiving Tipu Sahib's Sons as Hostages at Seringapatam  

©National Army Museum, London
Lord Cornwallis Receiving Tipu Sahib's Sons as Hostages at Seringapatam, D/ Lord Cornwallis and the two sons; 1793-4

Oil on canvas
149.2 x 202.5 cm

ROBERT HOME (1752-1834)

ajor Dirom's 'A narrative of the Campaign in India in 1792' provided a vivid description of this scene:

'Lord Cornwallis, attended by his staff, and some of the principal officers of the army, met the Princes at the door of his large tent as they dismounted from the elephants; and, after embracing them, led them in, one in each hand, to the tent; the eldest, Abdul Kalick, was about ten, the youngest, Mooza-ud-Deen, about eight years of age. When they were seated on each side of Lord Cornwallis, Gullam Ally, the head vakeel, address his Lordship as follows. "These children were this morning the sons of the Sultan my master; their siutation is now changed, and they must look up to your Lordship as their father.'

Lord Cornwallis, who had received the boys as if they had been his own sons, anxiously assured the vakeel and the young Princes themselves, that every attention possible would be shewn to them, and the greatest care taken of their persons. Their little faces brightened up; the scene became highly interesting; and not only their attendants, but all the spectators were delighted to see that any fears they might have harboured were removed, and that they would soon be reconciled to their change of situation, and to their new friends.

The Princes were dressed in long white muslin gowns, and red turbans. They had several rows of large pearls round their necks, from which was suspended an ornament consisting of a ruby and an emerald of considerable size, surrounded by large brilliants; and in their turbans, each had a sprig of rich pearls. Bred up from their infancy with infinite care, and instructed in their manners to imitate the reserve and politeness of age, it astonished all present to see the correctness and propriety of their conduct.'

It is very probable that Dirom's Narrative was among the contemporary sources and anecdotes which Sir Walter Scott assembled before writing his three 'Indian' novels. 'The Surgeons's Daughter,' 'St. Ronan's Well,' and 'Guy Mannering' are all set against the backdrop of the Mysore Wars.

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