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Meer Jaffier could be upheld on the throne only by the hand which had placed him on it. He was not, indeed, a mere boy; nor had he been so unfortunate as to be born in the purple. He was not therefore quite so imbecile or quite as depraved as his predecessor had been. But he had none of the talent or virtues which his post required; and his son and heir, Meeran, was another Surajah Dowlah. The recent revolution had unsettled the minds of men. Many chiefs were in open insurrection against the new Nabob. The viceroy of the rich and powerful province of Oude, who, like other viceroys of the Mogul, was now in truth an independent sovereign, menaced Bengal with invasion. Nothing but the talents and authority of Clive could support the tottering government. While things were in this state a ship arrived with despatches, which had been written at the India-House before the news of the battle of Plassey had reached London. The Directors had determined to place the English settlements in Bengal under a government constituted in the most cumbrous and absurd manner; and, to make the matter worse, no place in the arrangement was assigned to Clive. The persons who were selected to form this new government, greatly to their honour, took on themselves the responsibility of disobeying these preposterous orders, and invited Clive to exercise the supreme authority. He consented; and it soon appeared that the servants of the Company had only anticipated the wish of their employers. The Directors, on receiving news of Clive's brilliant success, instantly appointed him governor of their possessions in Bengal, with the highest marks of gratitude and esteem. His power was now boundless, and far surpassed even that which Dupleix had attained in the south of India. Meer Jaffier regarded him with slavish awe. On one occasion, the Nabob spoke with severity to a native chief of high rank, whose followers had been engaged in a brawl with some of the Company's sepoys. "Are you yet to learn," he said, "who that Colonel Clive is, and in what station God has placed him?" The chief, who, as a famous jester and an old friend of Meer Jaffier, could venture to take liberties, answered, "I affront the Colonel-I, who never get up in the morning without making three low bows to his jackass!" This was hardly an exaggeration. Europeans and natives were alike at Clive's feet. The English regarded him as the only man who could force Meer Jather to keep his engagements with them. Meer Jaffier regarded him as the only man who could protect the new dynasty against turbulent subjects and encroaching neighbours.
It is but justice to say that Clive used his power ably and vigorously for the advantage of his country. He sent forth an expedition against the tract lying to the north of the Carnatic. In this tract the French still had the ascendency; and it was important to dislodge them. The conduct of the enterprise was intrusted to an officer of the name of Forde, who was then little known, but in whom the keen eye of the governor had detected military talents of a high order. The success of the expedition was rapid and splendid.
While a considerable part of tiny of Bengal was thus engaged at a distance, a new and formidable danger menaced the western frontier. The Great Mogul was a prisoner at Delhi, in the hands of a subject. His eldest son, named Shah Alum, destined to be the sport, during many years, of adverse fortune, and to be a tool in the hands, first of the Mahrattas, and then of the English, had fled from the palace of his father. His birth was still revered in India. Some powerful princes, the Nabob of Oude in particular, were inclined to favour him. He found it easy to draw to his standard great numbers of the military adventurers with whom every part of the country swarmed. An army of forty thousand men, of various races and religions, Mahrattas, Rohillas, Jauts, and Afghans, was speedily assem bled round him; and he formed the design of overthrowing the upstart whom the English had elevated to a throne, and of establishing his own authority throughout Bengal, Orissa, and Bahar.
Jaffier's terror was extreme; and the only expedient which occurred to him was to purchase, by the payment of a large sum of money, an accommodation with Shah Alum. This expedient had been repeatedly employed by those who, before him, had ruled the rich and unwarlike provinces near the mouth of the Ganges. But Clive treated the suggestion with a scorn worthy of his strong sense and dauntless courage. "If you do this," he wrote, "you will have the Nabob of Oude, the Mahrattas, and many more, come from all parts of the confines of your country, who will bully you out of money till you have none left in your treasury. I beg your excellency will rely on the fidelity of the English, and of those troops which are attached to you." He wrote in a similar strain to the Governor of Patna, a brave native soldier, whom he highly esteemed. "Come to no terms; defend your city to the last. Rest assured that the English are stanch and firm friends, and that they never desert a cause in which they have once taken a part."
He kept his word. Shah Alum had invested Patna, and was on the point of proceeding to storm, when he learned that the Colonel was advancing, by forced marches. The whole army which was approaching consisted of only four hundred and fifty Europeans and two thousand five hundred sepoys. But Clive and his Englishmen were now objects of dread over all the East. As soon as his advanced guard appeared, the besiegers ded before him. A few French adventurers who were about the person of the prince, advised him to try the chance of battle; but in vain. In a few days this great army, which had been regarded with so much uneasiness by the court of Moorshedabad, melted away before the mere terror of the British name.
The conqueror returned in triumph to Fort William. The joy of Meer Jaffier was as unbounded as his fears had been, and led him to bestow on his preserver a princely token of gratitude. The quit-rent which the East India Company was bound to pay to the Nabob for the extensive lands held by them to the south of Calcutta, amounted to near thirty thousand
pounds sterling a year. The whole of this splendid estate, sufficient to support with dignity the highest rank of the British peerage, was now conferred on Clive for life.
the European soldiers, who constituted the main strength of the invading army, were killed or taken. The conquerors sat down before Chinsura; and the chiefs of that settlement, now thoroughly humbled, consented to the terms which Clive dictated. They engaged to build no fortifications, and to raise no troops beyond a small force necessary for the police of their factories; and it was distinctly provided that any violation of these covenants should be punished with instant expulsion from Bengal.
This present we think Clive justified in accepting. It was a present which, from its very nature, could be no secret. In fact, the Company itself was his tenant, and, by its acquiescence, signified its approbation of Meer Jaffier's grant.
But the gratitude of Meer Jaffier did not last long. He had for some time felt that the powerful ally who had set him up might pull him Three months after this great victory, Clive down, and had been looking round for support sailed for England. At home, honours and against the formidable strength by which he rewards awaited him-not indeed equal to his had himself been hitherto supported. He knew claims or to his ambition; but still such as, that it would be impossible to find among the when his age, his rank in the army, and his natives of India any force which would look original place in society are considered, must the Colonel's little army in the face. The be pronounced rare and splendid. He was French power in Bengal was extinct. But the raised to the Irish peerage, and encouraged to fame of the Dutch had anciently been great in expect an English title. George the Third, the Eastern seas; and it was not yet distinctly who had just ascended the throne, received known in Asia how much the power of Hol- him with great distinction. The ministers paid land had declined in Europe. Secret commu- him marked attention; and Pitt, whose innications passed between the court of Moorshe- fluence in the House of Commons and in the dabad and the Dutch factory at Chinsura; and country was unbounded, was eager to mark urgent letters were sent from Chinsura, exhort- his regard for one whose exploits had contriing the government of Batavia to fit out an ex-buted so much to the lustre of that memorable pedition which might balance the power of the period. The great orator had already in ParEnglish in Bengal. The authorities of Batavia, liament described Clive as a heaven-born ge eager to extend the influence of their country- neral,-a man who, bred to the labour of the still more eager to obtain for themselves a desk, had displayed a military genius which share of the wealth which had recently raised might excite the admiration of the King of so many English adventurers to opulence- Prussia. There were then no reporters in the equipped a powerful armament. Seven large gallery; but these words, emphatically spoken ships from Java arrived unexpectedly in the by the first statesman of the age, had passed Hoogley. The military force on board amount- from mouth to mouth, had been transmitted to ed to fifteen hundred men, of whom about one- Clive in Bengal, and had greatly delighted and half were Europeans. The enterprise was flattered him. Indeed, since the death of Wolfe, well-timed. Clive was the only English general of whom Clive had sent such large detachments to his countrymen had much reason to be proud. oppose the French in the Carnatic, that his The Duke of Cumberland had been generally army was now inferior in number to that of unfortunate; and his single victory having the Dutch. He knew that Meer Jaffier secretly been gained over his countrymen, and used favoured the invaders. He knew that he took with merciless severity, had been more fatal to on himself a serious responsibility, if he attack- his popularity than his many defeats. Coned the forces of a friendly power; that the Eng-way, versed in the learning of his profession, lish ministers could not wish to see a war with and personally courageous, wanted vigour and Holland added to that in which they were capacity. Granby, honest, generous, and brave already engaged with France; that they might as a lion, had neither science nor genius. Sackdisavow his acts; that they might punish him. ville, inferior in knowledge and abilities to none He had recently remitted a great part of his for- of his contemporaries, had incurred, unjustly tune to Europe, through the Dutch East India as we believe, the imputation most fatal to the Company; and he had therefore a strong inte- character of a soldier. It was under the comrest in avoiding any quarrel. But he was mand of a foreign general that the British had satisfied, that if he suffered the Batavian triumphed at Minden and Warburg. The armament to pass up the river and join the gar- people, therefore, as was natural, greeted with rison at Chinsura, Meer Jaffier would throw pride and delight a captain of their own, whose himself into the arms of these new allies, and native courage and self-taught skill had placed that the English ascendency in Bengal would him on a level with the great tacticians of be exposed to most serious danger. He took Germany. his resolution with characteristic boldness, and was most ably seconded by his officers, parti-him to vie with the first grandees of England. cularly by Colonel Forde, to whom the most There remains proof that he had remitted more important part of the operations was intrusted. than a hundred and eighty thousand pounds The Dutch attempted to force a passage. The through the Dutch East India Company, and English encountered them both by land and more than forty thousand pounds through the water. On both elements the enemy had a great Engush Company. The amount which he sent superiority of force. On both they were sig- home, through private houses, was also con nally defeated. Their ships were taken. Their siderable. He invested great sums ir jewels roops were put to a total rout. Almost all then a very common mode of remittance from
The wealth of Clive was such as enabled
india. His purchases of diamonds, at Madras at present; for, then, every share of five hin alone, amounted to twenty-five thousand dred pounds conferred a vote. The meetings pounds. Besides a great mass of ready money, were large, stormy, even riotous, the debates he had his Indian estate, valued by himself at indecently virulent. All the turbulence of a twenty-seven thousand a year. His whole an- Westminster election, all the trickery and cor. nual income, in the opinion of Sir John Mal- ruption of a Grampound election, disgraced cclm, who is desirous to state it as low as pos- the proceeding of this assembly on questions sible, exceeded forty thousand pounds; and in- of the most solemn importance. Fictitious comes of forty thousand pounds at the time of the votes were manufactured on a gigantic scale. accession of George the Third, were at least as Clive himself laid out a hundred thousand rare as incomes of a hundred thousand pounds pounds in the purchase of stock, which he then now. We may safely affirm that no Englishman | divided among nominal proprietors on whom who started with nothing, has ever, in any line he could depend, and whom he brought down of life, created such a fortune, at the early age in his train to every discussion and every of thirty-four. It would be unjust not to add, ballot. Others did the same, though not to quite that he made a creditable use of his riches. As so enormous an extent. soon as the battle of Plassey had laid the foun- The interest taken by the public of England dation of his fortune, he sent ten thousand in Indian questions was then far greater than at pounds to his sisters, bestowed as much more present, and the reason is obvious. At present on other poor friends and relations, ordered his the writer enters the service young; he climbs agent to pay eight hundred a year to his pa- slowly; he is rather fortunate, if, at forty-five, rents, and to insist that they should keep a car- he can return to his country, with an annuity riage, and settled five hundred a year on his of a thousand a year, and with savings amountold commander Lawrence, whose means were ing to thirty thousand pounds. A great quanvery slender. The whole sum which he ex-tity of wealth is made by English functionaries pended in this manner, may be calculated at in India; but no single functionary makes a fifty thousand pounds. very large fortune, and what is made is slowly, hardly, and honestly earned. Only four or five high political offices are reserved for public men from England. The residencies, the secretaryships, the seats in the boards of revenue and in the Sudder courts, are all filled by men who have given the best years of life to the service of the Company; nor can any talents however splendid, nor any connections however powerful, obtain those lucrative posts for any person who has not entered by the regular door, and mounted by the regular gradations. Seventy years ago, much less money was brought home from the East than in our own time. But it was divided among a very much smaller number of persons, and immense sums were often accumulated in a few months. Any Englishman, whatever his age might be, might hope to be one of the lucky emigrants. If he made a good speech in Leadenhall Street, or published a clever pamphlet in defence of the chairman, he might be sent out in the Company's service, and might return in three or four years as rich as Pigot or as Clive. Thus the India House was a lottery-office, which invited everybody to take a chance, and held out ducal fortunes as the prizes destined for the lucky few. As soon as it was known that there But in truth all Clive's views were directed was a part of the world where a lieutenanttowards the country in which he had so emi-colonel had one morning received, as a present, nently distinguished himself as a soldier and a an estate as large as that of the Earl of Bath statesman; and it was by considerations relat- or the Marquis of Rockingham, and where it ing to India that his conduct as a public man in seemed that such a trifle as ten or twenty thou England was regulated. The power of the Com-sand pounds was to be had by any British pany, though an anomaly, is, in our time, we are functionary for the asking, society began to firmly persuaded, a beneficial anomaly. In the exhibit all the symptoms of the South Sea time of Clive, it was not merely an anomaly, year-a feverish excitement, an ungovernable but a nuisance There was no Board of Con- impatience to be rich, a contempt for slow, trol. The Directors were for the most part sure, and moderate gains. mere traders, ignorant of general politics, ignorant of the peculiarities of the empire which had so strangely become subject to them. The Court of Proprietors, wherever it chose to interfere, was able to have its way. That court was more numerous as well as powerful than
He now set himself to cultivate parliamentary interest. His purchases of land seemed to have been made in a great measure with that view; and after the general election of 1761, he found himself in the House of Commons, at the head of a body of dependants whose support must have been important to any administration. In English politics, however, he did not take a prominent part. His first attachments, as we have seen, were to Mr. Fox; at a later period he was attracted by the genius and success of Mr. Pitt; but finally he connected himself in the closest manner with George Grenville. Early in the session of 1764, when the illegal and impolitic persecution of that worthless demagogue Wilkes had strongly excited the public mind, the town was amused by an anecdote, which we have seen in some unpublished memoirs of Horace Walpole. Old Mr. Richard Clive, who, since his son's elevation, had been introduced into society for which his former habits had not well fitted him, presented himself at the levee. The king asked him where Lord Clive was. "He will be in town very soon," said the old gentleman, loud enough to be heard by the whole circle, "and then your majesty will have another vote."
At the head of the preponderating party it. the India House, had long stood a powerful, able, and ambitious director of the name of Sullivan. He had conceived a strong jealousy of Clive, and remembered with bitterness the audacity with which the late Governor of Ben
his fallen predecessor. The immense popula tion of his dominions was given up as a prey to those who had made him a sovereign, and who could unmake him. The servants of the Company obtained-not for their employers, but for themselves-a monopoly of almost the whole internal trade. They forced the natives to buy dear and sell cheap. They insulted with perfect impunity the tribunals, the police, and the fiscal authorities of the country. They covered with their protection a set of native dependants who ranged through the provinces spreading desolation and terror wherever they appeared. Every servant of a British factor was armed with all the power of his master, and his master was armed with all the power of the Company. Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, while thirty millions of human beings were reduced to the last extremity of wretchedness. They had been accustomed to live under tyranny, But a great and sudden turn in affairs was but never under tyranny like this. They at hand. Every ship from Bengal had for found the little finger of the Company thicker some time brought alarming tidings. The in- than the loins of Surajah Dowlah. Under their ternal misgovernment of the province had old masters they had at least one resource: reached such a point that it could go no further. when the evil became insupportable, they rose What, indeed, was to be expected from a body and pulled down the government. But the of public servants exposed to temptation such English government was not to be so shaken that, as Clive once said, flesh and blood could off. That government, oppressive as the most not bear it;-armed with irresistible power, oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was and responsible only to the corrupt, turbulent, strong with all the strength of civilization. It distracted, ill-informed Company, situated at resembled the government of evil genii, rasuch a distance, that the average interval be- ther than the government of human tyrants. tween the sending of a despatch and the receipt Even despair could not inspire the soft Benof an answer was above a year and a half! galee with courage to confront men of English Accordingly, during the five years which fol- breed-the hereditary nobility of mankind, lowed the departure of Clive from Bengal, the whose skill and valour had so often triumphed misgovernment of the English was carried to in spite of tenfold odds. The unhappy race a point, such as seems hardly compatible with never attempted resistance. Sometimes they the very existence of society. The Roman pro-submitted in patient misery. Sometimes they consul, who, in a year or two, squeezed out of fled from the white man, as their fathers had a province the means of rearing marble palaces been used to fly from the Mahratta; and the and baths on the shores of Campania, of drink-palanquin of the English traveller was often ing from amber, of feasting on singing-birds, carried through silent villages and towns, which of exhibiting armies of gladiators and flocks of the report of his approach had made desolate. camelopards-the Spanish viceroy, who, leav- The foreign lords of Bengal were naturally obing behind him the curses of Mexico or Lima,jects of hatred to all the neighbouring powers; entered Madrid with a long train of gilded and to all, the haughty race presented a dauntless coaches and of sumpter-horses, trapped and front. Their armies, every where outnumbered, shod with silver-were now outdone. Cruelty, were everywhere victorious. A succession of indeed, properly so called, was not among the commanders formed in the school of Clive, still vices of the servants of the Company. But maintained the fame of their country. "It must cruelty itself could hardly have produced great- be acknowledged," says the Mussulman histo er evils than were the effect of their unprinci- rian of those times, "that this nation's presence pled eagerness to be rich. They pulled down of mind, firmness of temper, and undaunted their creature, Meer Jaffier. They set up in bravery, are past all question. They join the his place another Nabob, Meer Cossim. But most resolute courage to the most cautious Meer Cossim had talents and a will; and, prudence: nor have they their equal in the art though sufficiently inclined to oppress his sub- of ranging themselves in battle array and jects himself, he could not bear to see them fighting in order. If to so many military quali. ground to the dust by oppressions which yield-fications they knew how to join the arts of go. ed him no profit-nay, which destroyed his vernment-if they exerted as much ingenuity revenue in its very source. The English ac- and solicitude in relieving the people of God, cordingly pulled down Meer Cossim, and set as they do in whatever concerns their military up Meer Jaffier again; and Meer Cossim, after affairs, no nation in the world would be preferrevenging himself, by a massacre surpassing able to them, or worthier of command; but the in atrocity that of the Black Hole, fled to the people under their dominion groan every. dominions of the Nabob of Oude. At every where, and are reduced to poverty and distress. one of these revolutions, the new prince di Oh God! come to the assistance of thine vided among his foreign masters whatever afflicted servants, and deliver them from the could be scraped together from the treasury of oppressions they suffer."
gal had repeatedly set at naught the authority of the distant Directors of the Company. An apparent reconciliation took place after Clive's arrival; but enmity remained deeply rooted in the hearts of both. The whole body of Directors was then chosen annually. At the election of 1763, Clive attempted to break down the power of the dominant faction. The contest was carried on with a violence which he describes as tremendous. Sullivan was victorious, and hastened to take his revenge. The grant of rent which Clive had received from Meer Jaffier was, in the opinion of the best English lawyers, valid. It had been made by exactly the same authority from which the Company had received their chief possessions in Bengal, and the Company had long acquiesced in it. The Directors, however, most unjustly determined to confiscate it, and Clive was compelled to file a bill in Chancery against
It was impossible, however, that even the military establishment should long continue exempt from the vices which pervaded every other part of the government. Rapacity, luxury, and the spirit of insubordination spread from the civil service to the officers of the army, and from the officers to the soldiers. The evil continued to grow till every messroom became the seat of conspiracy and cabal, and till the sepoys could be kept in order only by wholesale executions.
Clive was on his voyage out. The English
The Council met, and Clive stated to them his full determination to effect a thorough reform, and to use for that purpose the whole of the ample authority, civil and military, which had been confided to him. Johnstone, one of the boldest and worst men in the assembly, made some show of opposition. Clive interrupted him, and haughtily demanded whether he meant to question the power of the new government. Johnstone was cowed, and disclaimed any such intention. All the faces round the board grew long and pale; and not another syllable of dissent was uttered.
This feeling manifested itself in the strongest manner at a very full General Court of Proprietors. Men of all parties, forgetting their feuds, and trembling for their dividends, exclaimed that Clive was the man whom the crisis required;—that the oppressive proceedings which had been adopted respecting his estate ought to be dropped, and that he ought to be entreated to return to India. Clive rose. As to his estate, he said, he would make such propositions to the Directors as would, he trusted, lead to an amicable settlement. But there was a still greater difficulty. It was proper to tell them that he never would undertake the government of Bengal while his enemy Sullivan was chairman of the Company. The tumult was violent. Sullivan could scarcely obtain a hearing. An over- Clive redeemed his pledge. He remained in whelming majority of the assembly was on India about a year and a half; and in that Clive's side. Sullivan wished to try the result short time effected one of the most extensive, of a ballot. But, by the by-laws of the Com- difficult, and salutary reforms that ever was pany, there can be no ballot except on a requi- accomplished by any statesman. This was sition signed by nine proprietors; and though the part of his life on which he afterwards hundreds were present, nine persons could not looked back with most pride. He had it in his be found to set their hands to such a requisi-power to triple his already splendid fortune, to tion connive at abuses while pretending to remove Go-them, to conciliate the good-will of all the English in Bengal, by giving up to their rapa city a helpless and timid race, who knew not where lay the island which sent forth their op pressors; and whose complaints had little chance of being heard across fifteen thousand miles of ocean. He knew that if he applied himself in earnest to the work of reformation, he should raise every bad passion in arms against him. He knew how unscrupulous, how implacable, would be the hatred of those ravenous adventurers, who, having counted on accumulating in a few months fortunes sufficient to support peerages, should find all their hopes
Clive was in consequence nominated vernor and Commander-in-Chief of the British possessions in Bengal. But he adhered to his declaration, and refused to enter on his office till the event of the next election of Directors should be known. The contest was obs nate, but Clive triumphed. Sullivan, lately absolute master of the India House, was within cne vote of losing his own seat; and both the chairman and deputy-chairman were friends of the new governor.
Such were the circumstances under which Lord Clive sailed for the third and last time to India. In May, 1765, he reached Calcutta, and he found the whole machine of government frustrated. But he had chosen the good part; more fearfully disorganized than he had anti-and he called up all the force of his mind for cipated. Meer Jather, who had some time be- a battle far harder than that of Plassey At fore lost his eldest son Meeran, had died while first success seemed hopeless; but very soon
At length the state of things in Benga! began to excite uneasiness at home. A succession of revolutions, a disorganized administration; the natives pillaged, yet the Company not enriched; every fleet bringing back individuals able to purchase manors and to build stately dwellings, yet bringing back also alarming accounts of the financial prospects of the government; war on the frontier, disaffection in the army, the national character disgraced by excesses resembling those of Verres and Pizarro-such was the spectacle which dismayed those who were conversant with Indian affairs. The general cry was, that Clive, and Clive alone, could save the empire which he had founded.