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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 5

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Whilst these affairs were progressing, Clive in England was maintaining an arduous warfare in the India House against powerful enemies there. He had been received in England with the highest honours, as the founder of our real empire in India. He had accumulated a fortune of three hundred thousand pounds, independent of his jaghire, which produced thirty thousand pounds a-year. His wealth, and the reputation of immensely more than he possessed, gave him great eclat. He was created a baron in the peerage of Ireland, by the title of baron Clive, of Plassy, the scene of his greatest Indian victory, and was promised an early English peerage. He became a member of the house of commons. His support was sought by the contending parties of the time; but, with an instinctive feeling of one great spirit for another, he attached himself to Pitt, afterwards Chatham; and when Pitt was thrown out of office after the accession of George III., and the transfer of power to his favourite, lord Bute, Clive still adhered to the fortunes of Pitt, and rejected the overtures of Bute, though he did not neglect to warn him, on the approach of peace with France, against admitting that people again to their former possessions in India. Bute, finding that he could not gain Clive, united himself with Sullivan and the party in the India House which was hostile to Clive. Supported by the minister, this party now set about reducing the authority of Clive, and inflicting the vengeance of their animosity upon him. They accused him of having corruptly obtained his jaghire, though they had not expressed the slightest reproach at the time, and they proceeded to deprive him of it by a vote of the court of directors.

At that time, every share of five hundred pounds conferred a vote in the election of directors, and in the strife of parties the manufacture of fictitious votes was carried to an enormous extent. Clive confessed that, in endeavouring to defend himself and wrest the power from his opponents, he had spent one hundred thousand pounds in creating votes. It was not till 1765 that this practice was checked by an act of parliament, requiring every proprietor, before voting, to take an oath that the stock was really his own, and had been so for twelve months. In the course of the contest with Sullivan's party, Clive, in 1763, made a determined attempt to drive Sullivan and his friends from the direction; but, spite of his creation of votes, he found himself defeated. The loss of his jaghire was the immediate result. The directors confiscated it, and transferred the income to their own coffers.

Clive was not the man to put up quietly with this conduct towards him. He instantly filed a bill in chancery against the court of directors; and the most eminent lawyers whom they consulted, Yorke, the attorney-general, Sir Fletcher Norton, the solicitor-general, and other distinguished lawyers, gave them little hope of establishing this proceeding against him. Whilst things were in this position, and the India House was thus rewarding the man who had created an empire for them, the news of the massacre of the residents of the factory at Patna arrived; and it was yet all uncertain how the war with the nabob of Oude would terminate. To this was added the anxieties occasioned by the weakness of the governments in the different presidencies of India, and their jarrings one with another. In none of the three presidencies had the governor yet more than one voice in the council; and, as there was hitherto no supreme government, each of the three was jealous of the other's successes, and ready to thwart each other's movements. Still more, the example set by Clive and his colleagues, of levying such amazing sums on the princes they had had to deal with, had roused the most boundless rapacity throughout every branch of the service. Of this rapacity, we shall presently quote Clive's own description. It was felt now by all parties, that if India was to be saved, the India House must compromise its disputes, and send out again the only man who had vigour enough to repress in some degree the disorders of the officials, and to guide the public counsels.

At a meeting, therefore, of the proprietors, in the early spring, 1764, it was proposed that justice should at once be done to Clive by the restoration of his jaghire, and that he should be appointed both governor and commander-in-chief of Bengal. Clive immediately rose, and desired that this proposition should not be put to the vote; that he could not think of going to India with so considerable a property as the jaghire in dispute; that, to facilitate an easy adjustment of that question, he had resolved to offer terms of liberal compromise; but that even when that was settled, there was another point, of equal importance, to be determined before he could accept the proposed appointments. "It would be in vain for me" he said, " to exert myself as I ought in India, if my measures are to be thwarted and condemned at home, under the influence of a chairman who is known to be my personal and inveterate enemy. It is a matter of indifference to me who fills the chair, if Mr. Sullivan does not; but, if he does, I must decline to go."

This declaration produced a violent uproar, amid which Mr. Sullivan endeavoured to make himself heard. So far as he succeeded, it was to represent the certain effect of lord Clive's appointment, in the jealousies and heartburnings amongst those now in command. But the tumult only grew the greater, and, when Sullivan saw that he could not be heard, he proposed to decide the matter by ballot; yet, by the bye-laws of the company, it required at least nine proprietors to demand it; and though upwards of three hundred were present, nine could not be found. The directors saw that they were completely in a minority, and consented to the appointment of Clive to both the offices of governor and commander-in-chief. Still, Clive would not announce his acceptance of the offices, till he saw how the direction would be determined at the annual election, which would take place on the 25th of April. On that day there was a vehement contest, but in the end Clive was triumphant. Sullivan had prepared a list of twenty-three directors, whom he supported with all his influence; but he only succeeded in carrying half his number, and was within one vote of being excluded himself. Bute was no longer minister, the affairs of India were urgent. In the contest for the chair, Clive was again triumphant; his two stout friends, Rous and Bolton, were elected chairman and deputy-chairman. Clive then made his proposal respecting the jaghire, which was so very reasonable, that it was at once accepted. It was that the rents of the jaghire should be guaranteed to him for ten years, provided the company still continued possessors of the lands round Calcutta charged with those rents.

These matters all satisfactorily settled, Clive lost no time in embarking for India for the third and last time. He went out with the firm determination to curb and crush the monster abuses that everywhere prevailed in our Indian territories. He had made a fortune of forty thousand pounds a-year, and he was, therefore, prepared to quash the system by which thousands of others were endeavouring to do the same. No man was sharper than Clive in perceiving, where his own interest was not concerned, the evils which were consuming the very vitals of our power, and making our name odious in Hindostan. On the voyage he wrote these virtuous sentiments in a letter: - See what an Augean stable is to be cleansed! The confusion that we behold, what does it arise from? Rapacity and luxury; the unwarrantable desire of so many to acquire in an instant what only a few can or ought to possess. Every man would be rich without the merit of long services; and from this competition undoubtedly springs that disorder to which we must apply a remedy, or be undone; for it is not only malignant, but contagious."

After a tedious voyage, Clive landed at Calcutta, in May, 1765, and found things still worse than he had anticipated. He thus wrote home to the directors; and his letter remains in the thud report of the parliamentary committee of 1772: - " Upon my arrival, I am sorry to say, I found your affairs in a condition so nearly desperate as would have alarmed any set of men whose sense of honour and duty to their employers had not been estranged by the too eager pursuit of their own immediate advantages. The sudden, and, among many, the unwarrantable acquisition of riches [who was so entitled to say this?], had introduced luxury in every shape, and in its most pernicious excess. These two enormous evils went hand in hand together through the whole presidency, infecting almost every member of every department. Every inferior seemed to have grasped at wealth, that he might be enabled to assume, that spirit of profusion which was now the only distinction between him and his superiors. Thus all distinction ceased, and every rank became, in a manner, upon an equality. Nor was this the end of the mischief; for a contest of such a nature amongst our servants necessarily destroyed all proportion between their wants, and the honest means of supplying them. In a country where money is plenty, where fear is the principle of government, and where your arms are ever victorious, it is no wonder that the lust of riches should readily embrace the proffered means of its gratification, or that the instruments of your power should avail themselves of their authority, and proceed even to extortion, in those cases where simple corruption could not keep pace with their rapacity. Examples of this sort, set by superiors [and who had set such more than Clive?], could not fail of being followed, in a proportionate degree, by inferiors. The evil was contagious, and spread among the civil and military, down to the writer, the ensign, and the free merchant."

Thus we have the causes frankly confessed by lord Clive of all the evils and oppressions which have disgraced our sway in India, and which no representations, on the part of the more conscientious, could arrest, till they resulted in the late terrible insurrection, and in all its horrors. That passage, followed by abundance of similar ones from the highest authorities, and from authorities in the India House itself, in all succeeding epochs, is a full answer to the glozing sophistry of those historians who have professed to find nothing in our Indian history but humanity and blessing. In vain has lord Macaulay, a writer essentially glittering in his rhetoric, but worldly and unsound in his moral sentiments, endeavoured to excuse the conduct of such men as Clive and Hastings; their real deeds are recorded by the faithful pen of Mill, the historian of our Indian empire, drawn from the archives of the East India Company itself.

The directors replied to this very letter, lamenting their conviction of its literal truth: - "We have the strongest sense of the deplorable state to which our affairs were on the point of being reduced, from the corruption and rapacity of our servants, and the universal depravity of manners throughout the settlement. The general relaxation of discipline and obedience, both military and civil, was hastily tending to a dissolution of all government. Our letters to the select committee express our sentiments of what has been obtained by way of donations, and to that we must add, that we think the vast fortunes acquired in the inland trade have teen obtained by a series of the most tyrannic and oppressive conduct that ever was known in any age or country! "

Clive set instantly about correcting this in others; how far he practised his own virtuous sentiments we shall see anon. The first and most glaring abuse of power which arrested his attention was as regarded his old puppet, Meer Jaffier. He had lately died, and his own court had proposed to set up his legitimate grandson, the son of Meeran, who had been killed by lightning in his tent, when out with Colonel Caillaud, in 1760, against Sujah Dowlah and Shah Allum; but the council preferred his natural son, Nujeem-ul-Dowlah, a poor spiritless youth, who agreed that the English should take the military defence of the country, and also appoint a naib-subah, or sub-nabob, to manage the revenue and other matters of government. The council agreed to this, and received a present from the new nabob of their creation of one hundred and forty thousand pounds, which they divided amongst themselves. This was directly in opposition to the recent order received from the court of directors, not to receive any presents from the native princes; but, as Clive states, he found them totally disregarding anything but their own avarice. Nujeem-ul-Dowlah, their new puppet, proposed to have one Nuncomar as his naib, but Nuncomar was too great a rogue even for them. He had alternately served and betrayed the English and his master, Meer Jaffier, and the council set him aside, and appointed to that office Mohammed Reza Khan, a Mussulman of far better character. Clive confirmed the appointment of Mohammed, but compelled Nujeem-ul-Dowlah to retire from the nominal office of nabob, on a pension of thirty-two lacs of rupees.

On showing his decisive authorities from the court of directors to the council, and announcing not only his great displeasure at the deposition of Meer Jaffier, the nabob of his own creation, and the measures following that act, but his firm determination to put an end to the system of presents, one of the most busy of the nabob - makers, a Mr. Johnstone, ventured to express some dissent. " Do you dare to dispute our authority? " demanded Clive, sternly, and the affrighted Johnstone replied, humbly, "I never had the least intention of doing such a thing!" "Upon this," writes Clive, " there was an appearance of very long and pale countenances, and not one of the council uttered another syllable."

The very name of Clive brought the war with Oude to a close. Sujah Dowlah was encamped on the borders of Bahar, strongly reinforced by bands of Mahrattas and Affghans, and anxious for another battle. But no sooner did he learn that Clive was returned, than he informed Cossim and Sombre that as he could no longer protect them, they had better shift for themselves. Accordingly, they escaped, and took shelter, one amongst the Rohillas, and the other among the Jauts. He then dismissed his followers, rode to the English camp, and announced that he was ready to accent such terms of peace as they thought reasonable. Clive proceeded to Benares to settle these terms. The council of Calcutta had determined to strip Sujah Dowlah of all his possessions, but Clive knew that it was far more politic to make friends of powerful princes. He therefore allowed Sujah Dowlah to retain the rank and title of vizier, and gave him back all the rest of Oude, except the districts of Allahabad and Corah, which had been promised to Shah Allum as an imperial domain. On Shah Allum, as Great Mogul, he also settled, on behalf of the Company, an annual payment of twenty-six lacs of rupees. Thus the heir of the great Aurungzebe became the tributary of the East India Company, and, so far from feeling the humiliation of his situation, he was delighted at the idea of possessing a clear income in future, which had not to pass through the hands of his rapacious ministers, and he exclaimed - "Thank God! I shall now have as many dancing-girls as I please!"

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