Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. V. - The History of British India, vol. 3
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CHAP. V. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 3 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 3.
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First Nabobship of Meer Jaffier—Expedition against the Northern Circars—Emperor’s eldest Son, and Nabobs of Oude and Allahabad, invade Bengal—Clive resigns the Government, and is succeeded by Mr. Vansittart—Jaffier dethroned, and Meer Causim set up—Disorders by the private Trade of Company’s Servants—War with Causim—He is dethroned, and Jaffier again set up—War with the Nabob of Oude—Death of Jaffier—His Son made nominal Nabob—Courts of Proprietors and Directors—Clive sent back to govern Bengal.
A Defective treasury is the grand and perennialbook iv.Chap. 5. 1757. source of the difficulties which beset the sovereigns of India. This evil pressed with peculiar weight upon Meer Jaffier. Before the battle of Plassy, which rendered him Subahdar, his own resources were scanty and precarious. The liberality of Aliverdi, the expense of his war with the Mahrattas, and the ravages of that destructive enemy, left in the treasury of the province a scanty inheritance to Suraja Dowla: The thoughtless profligacy of that prince, even had his reign been of adequate duration, was not likely to add to the riches of the state: To purchase the conspiracy of the English, Meer Jaffier, with the prodigality of Eastern profession, had promised sums which he was altogether unable to pay: The chiefs whom he had debauched by the hopes of book iv.Chap. 5. 1757. sharing in his fortunes, were impatient to reap the fruits of their rebellion: And the pay of the troops was deeply in arrear. In these circumstances it was almost impossible for any man to yield satisfaction. The character of Meer Jaffier was ill calculated for approaching to that point of perfection.
In making promises, with a view to the attainment of any great and attractive object, an Indian sovereign seldom intends to perform any more, than just as much as he may find it unavoidable to perform; and counts, in general, too, with a well-grounded certainty, upon evading a considerable part at least of that for which he had engaged. To Meer Jaffier the steadiness with which the English adhered to the original stipulations appeared, for a time, the artifice merely of cunning men, who protract an accommodation for the purpose of rendering it more advantageous. Private bribes to defeat public ends, in Oriental politics, an engine seldom worked in vain, were applied with some perseverance. When he found the rigid fulfilment of the vast engagements to the English, still peremptorily and urgently claimed, he was not only surprised but exasperated; and began to hope, that some favourable event would deliver him from such obstinate and troublesome associates.1
The English were not the parties against whom his animosities were first displayed. Aliverdi Khan, aware of the rebellious and turbulent spirit, which almost always reigned among those adventurers from Iran and Turan, who commonly rose to the chief command in the armies of the Mahomedan princes in Hindustan, had adopted the sagacious policy of bringing forward the gentle, the less enterprising, and less dangerous Hindus. And he had raised various individualsbook iv.Chap. 5. 1757. of that race to the principal places of power and emolument under his government. Of Ramnarain, whom he entrusted with the important government of Berar, the reader has already received information. Dooloob Ram, another Hindu, held the grand office of Duan, or Superintendant of the Finances. That celebrated family, the Seets of Moorshedabad, who by merchandize and banking had acquired the wealth of princes, and often aided him in his trials, were admitted largely to share in his counsels, and to influence the operations of his government. Aliverdi had recommended the same policy to Suraja Dowla; and that prince had met with no temptation to depart from it.1
Meer Jaffier was placed under the deepest obligations to Dooloob Ram. When he was convicted of malversation in his office, and stood in disgrace with his master, it was Dooloob Ram who had made his peace.2 In the late revolution, Dooloob Ram had espoused his interests, when the influence of that minister, and his command of treasure, might have conferred the prize upon another chief. Whether he dreaded the power of the Hindu connexion, or was stimulated with a desire of their wealth, Meer Jaffier resolved to crush them; and with Dooloob Ram, as the most powerful individual, it was prudent to begin. Before the departure of Clive, he had summoned Ramramsing, the Governor of Midnapore, and head of the Spy-office, to repair to the capital to answer for the arrears of his government; but the cautious Hindu, already alarmed, evaded the mandate by sending two of his relations. The Nabob, so by the English now was Jaffier styled, threw both into book iv.Chap. 5. 1757. prison; and easily reconciled Clive, by informing him, that Ramramsing was an enemy to the English, and had been the agent through whom the correspondence between Suraja Dowla and Bussy had been carried on. A close connexion had long subsisted between Ramramsing and Dooloob Ram; and the latter, to whose sagacity the designs of Jaffier were not a secret, regarded the present step as a preliminary part of the plan which was laid for his own destruction.
Meantime opposition began to display itself in various parts of the provinces. The Rajah of Midnapore took arms upon the news of the detention of his relatives: An insurrection in favour of a son of Sereffraz Khan, whom Aliverdi deposed, was raised at Dacca: In the province of Poorania, the duan of the late governor had raised a creature of his own to the chief command: And Jaffier had resolved on the removal of Ramnarain from the province of Berar. Colonel Clive found the means of reconciling Ramramsing; and, with the assistance of the English, the insurrection at Dacca was easily quelled. But when the troops were drawn out to proceed to Poorania, they refused to march, without payment of their arrears. Clive was preparing to join the Nabob; but his troops, with the prize money distributed among them in consequence of the battle of Plassy, had indulged in such intemperance, that many of the Europeans had died, a still greater proportion were sick, and the army was unable to leave Chandernagor before the 17th of November.
The Nabob’s troops were ordered to march on the 6th of October. Partial payments, and other means of overcoming their disobedience were employed till the 7th of November, when the Nabob repaired to the camp. No sooner had he left the city, than his son Meeran, who was to act as Governor, distributedbook iv.Chap. 5. 1757. intelligence, that a confederacy was formed, under the authority of the Emperor at Delhi, between Ramnarain, the Subahdar of Oude, and Dooloob Ram, to raise to the government of Bengal the son of a younger brother of Surajah Dowla.1 He then commissioned a band of ruffians to enter in the night the palace of the widow of Aliverdi, with whom the mother of Suraja Dowla, and grandmother of the prince, resided. They murdered the child, and sent the two princesses to Dacca. The Nabob, who denied all participation in the action, received from the English, says Mr. Orme, “no reproaches.”
Clive arrived at Moorshedabad, on the 25th of November, where Dooloob Ram, who, under pretence of sickness, had refused to accompany Jaffier, remained with his troops. On the 3d of December he joined the Nabob at Raje Mahl. Cuddum Hussun, who had long been an associate in the pleasures of Jaffier, was destined for the government of Poorania;2 and some days had elapsed since he crossed the river into that province, with a body of troops. The terror inspired by the Nabob’s army, the intrigues which Cuddum Hussun, by means of letters and spies, was able to raise in the enemy’s camp, together with the rawness of the insurgent troops, made them take flight and disperse, upon the very approach of Cuddum Hussun; who took quiet possession of the government, and began immediately to gratify his avarice by the severest exactions.
book iv.Chap. 5. 1758. The mind of the Nabob, now tranquil on account of other quarters, turned itself to the more arduous proceedings which it meditated in Bahar. Clive perceived his opportunity; and refused to proceed with him, unless all the sums, due upon the agreements with the English, were previously discharged. No payments could be made without Dooloob Ram. A reconcilement, therefore, was necessary; and, Clive undertaking for his security, Dooloob Ram joined the camp with 10,000 troops. Twenty-three lacks of rupees were now due: Orders were signed upon the treasury for one half; and tuncaws, that is, orders to the local receivers to make payment out of the revenues as they come in, were granted on certain districts for the remainder.
Clive, however, now stated, as objections to the removal of Ramnarain; the strength of his army; the probability that he would receive assistance from the Subahdar of Oude; the probability that the English would be recalled to the defence of their own settlements by the arrival of the French; and the danger lest Ramnarain should bring an army of Mahrattas to his aid. Jaffier was not willing to oppose directly an opinion of Clive; and offered to accept of his mediation; reserving in his mind the use of every clandestine effort to accomplish his own designs. The army began its march to Patna; and was joined by Ramnarain, after receipt of a letter from Clive, assuring him, that both his person and government should be safe. The intended delays and machinations of the Nabob were cut short, by intelligence that the Subahdar of Oude, with the French party under M. Law, and a great body of Mahratta horse, was about to invade the province; and by the actual arrival of a Mahratta chief, who came in the name of the principal Mahratta commanders to demand the arrears of chout, amounting to twenty-four lacks ofbook iv.Chap. 5. 1758. rupees, which were due from Bengal. These events produced a speedy accommodation with Ramnarain. The Nabob, indeed, used various efforts to remain behind the English, in order to defeat the securities which that Governor had obtained. But Clive penetrated, and disappointed his designs. He even extorted from him another grant, of no small importance to the English treasury. A leading article in the European traffic was the salt-petre produced in Bengal, the whole of which was made in the country on the other side of the Ganges above Patna. This manufacture had in general been farmed for the benefit of the Government; and Clive saw the advantage of obtaining the monopoly for the English. He offered the highest terms which the government had ever received, but the Nabob knew he could not demand from the English the regular presents which he would derive from a renter placed at his mercy; he was not, therefore, inclined to the arrangement; but, after a variety of objections, the necessity of his circumstances compelled him to comply.
Clive got back to Moorshedabad on the 15th of May; and, on the same day, received intelligence from the coast of Coromandel, of the arrival of the French fleet, and of the indecisive first engagement between it and the English. A friend to the use which governments commonly make of their intelligence of the events of war, “Clive spread,” says Orme, “the news he received, as a complete naval victory; two of the French ships sunk in the fight, instead of one stranded afterwards by a mischance; the rest put to flight, with no likelihood of being able to land the troops which they had brought from Pondicherry.”
On the 24th, Clive departed from Moorshedabad book iv.Chap. 5. 1758. without waiting for the Nabob. On the 20th of June, a ship arrived at Calcutta from England; and brought along with it a commission for new modelling the government. A council was nominated consisting of ten; and, instead of one Governor, as in preceding arrangements, four were appointed, not to preside collectively, but each during three months in rotation. The inconvenience of this scheme of government was easily perceived. “But there was another cause,” says Mr. Orme, “which operated on opinions more strongly. Colonel Clive had felt and expressed resentment at the neglect of himself in the Company’s orders, for no station was marked for him in the new establishment.” Convinced that he alone had sufficient authority to overawe the Nabob into the performance of his obligations, the council, including the four gentlemen who were appointed the governors, came to a resolution, highly expressive of their own disinterestedness and patriotism, but full of disregard and contempt for the judgment and authority of their superiors.1 This high legislative act of the Company they took upon them to set aside, and, with one accord, invited Clive to accept the undivided office of President. With this invitation he assures us, that “he hesitated not one moment to comply.”2
In the mean time considerable events were preparingbook iv.Chap. 5. 1758. at Moorshedabad. On the approach of Clive and Dooloob Ram, Meeran had thrown the city into violent agitation, by quitting it with demonstrations of fear, summoning all the troops and artillery of the government, and giving it out as his intention to march for the purpose of joining his father. Clive wrote with much sharpness to the Nabob; and Meeran apologised in the most submissive strain. Though inability to discharge the arrears due to the troops, who could with much difficulty be preserved from tumults, compelled the Nabob to delay his proceedings, he was impatient for the destruction of Dooloob Ram; the severity of his despotism increased; and he declared to one of his favourites, who betrayed him, “that if a French force would come into the province he would assist them, unless the English released him from all their claims of money, territory, and exemptions.”1 Among the Hindus, who had risen to high employment under the encouraging policy of the late Subahdars, was Nuncomar, who acted as Governor of Hoogley at the time of Suraja Dowla’s march against Calcutta. Nuncomar had followed the armies to Patna, and, as conversant book iv.Chap. 5. 1758. with the details of the revenue, was employed by Dooloob Ram. When the difficulties of obtaining payment upon the tuncaws granted to the English began to be felt, he proffered his assistance; and, if supported by the government of the Nabob, assured the English, that he would realize the sums. He was vested with such authority as the service appeared to require; but as he expected not to elude the knowledge of Dooloob Ram, in the practices which he meditated, for raising out of his employment a fortune to himself, he resolved to second the designs of the Nabob for the removal of that vigilant Duan. He persuaded the Seets to withdraw their protection from this troublesome inspector, by awakening their fears of being called upon for money, if Dooloob Ram withheld the revenues, and supplied not the exigencies of the state. He assured the Nabob and Meeran, that the English would cease to interfere in their government, if the money was regularly paid. Dooloob Ram took the alarm, and requested leave to retire to Calcutta, with his family and effects. Permission was refused, till he should find a sum of money sufficient to satisfy the troops. Under profession of a design to visit Colonel Clive at Calcutta, the Nabob quitted the capital; but, under pretence of hunting, remained in its neighbourhood. On the second day after his departure, Meeran incited a body of the troops to repair to the residence of Dooloob Ram, and to clamour tumultuously for their pay. The English agent interfered; but, as the troops were directed by Meeran to make sure of Dooloob Ram, the agent found great difficulty in preserving his life. Clive at last desired that he should be allowed, with his family, to repair to Calcutta; and the consent of the Nabob was no longer withheld.
Within a few days after the return of the Nabob from Calcutta, a tumult was excited in his capital bybook iv.Chap. 5. 1758. the soldiers of one of the chiefs, and assumed the appearance of being aimed at the Nabob’s life. A letter was produced, which bore the character of a letter from Dooloob Ram to the commander of the disorderly troops, inciting him to the enterprise, and assuring him that the concurrence of Clive, and other leading Englishmen, was obtained. Clive suspected that the letter was a forgery of Jaffier and Meeran, to ruin Dooloob Ram, in the opinion of the English, and procure his expulsion from Calcutta; when his person and wealth would remain in their power. All doubts might be resolved by the interrogation and confrontation of the commander, to whom the letter was said to be addressed. But he was ordered by the Nabob to quit his service, was way-laid on his departure, and assassinated.
In the mean time advices had arrived from the Presidency at Madras, that Fort St. David had yielded, that a second engagement had taken place between the fleets, that the French army was before Tanjore, that M. Bussy was on his march to join Lally: And the most earnest solicitations were subjoined, that as large a portion of the troops as possible might be sent to afford a chance of averting the ruin of the national affairs in Carnatic. “No one,” says Orme, “doubted that Madras would be besieged, as soon as the monsoon had sent the squadrons off the coast, if reinforcements should not arrive before.”1 Clive chose to remain in Bengal, where he was master, rather than go to Madras, where he would be under command; book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. and determined not to lessen his power by sending troops to Madras, which the Presidency, copying his example, might forget to send back. An enterprise, at the same time, presented itself, which, though its success would have been vain, had the French in Carnatic prevailed, bore the appearance of a co-operation in the struggle, and afforded a colour for detaining the troops.
One of the leading Polygars in the Northern Circars, fixing his eye upon the advantages which he might expect to derive from giving a new master to the provinces, communicated to the English in Bengal his desire to co-operate with them in driving out the French, while Bussy was involved in a struggle with the brothers of the Subahdar. The brilliancy of the exploit had no feeble attractions for the imagination of Clive; and after the recall of Bussy to Pondicherry, he imparted his intentions to the Council. The project met with unanimous condemnation.1 But Clive, disregarding all opposition, prepared his armament. It consisted of 500 Europeans, 2,000 Sepoys, and 100 Lascars, with six field-pieces, six battering cannon, one howitz, and one eight-inch mortar. This expedition, commanded by Colonel Forde, was destined to proceed by sea; but the altercations in the council, which the disapprobation of the measure produced, and the delays which occurred in the equipment of the ships, retarded its departure till the end of September.2
On the 20th of October Colonel Forde disembarked at Vizigapatam, and joined his troops withbook iv.Chap. 5. 1759. those of the Rajah Anunderauz; at whose instigation the exploit was undertaken. It was expected, that this chief would afford money for the maintenance of the troops; and hence but a small supply of that necessary article was brought from Bengal. The Rajah was in the usual state of Rajahs, Nabobs, Subahdars, and Emperors in India; he was reputed by the English immensely rich, while in reality he was miserably poor: He was, therefore, not very able to provide the sums expected from him; and still less willing. The delays by which he contrived to elude the importunities of the English were highly provoking; and, by retarding their movements, threatened to deprive them of all the great advantages of rapidity and surprise. A sort of treaty was at last concluded, by which it was agreed that, excepting the seaports, and towns at the mouths of the rivers, the conquered country should all be given up to Anunderauz, upon the condition of his advancing a certain monthly sum for the maintenance of the troops.
M. Conflans, who had been sent to command the French troops upon the recall of Bussy, had concentrated his forces about Rajamundri; towards which the English and the Rajah directed their march. The force, which remained under the command of Conflans, after the departure of the troops which were recalled with Bussy, was still considerably superior to that which had arrived with the English; but when the troops for other services were deducted, he took the field against the English with numbers nearly equal. A battle was brought on; and the French were completely defeated; they were not only stript of their camp, but fled from Rajamundri.
During the battle, the Rajah and his troops remained cowering in the hollow of a dry tank, which book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. protected them from shot. After the battle all his operations were tardy; what was worse, no money could be extracted from him; all the cash which had been brought from Bengal was expended; and during fifty days, when advantage might have been taken of the want of preparation on the part of the enemy, and of the dejection arising from their defeat, the English were unable to move. At last, by a new arrangement, a small sum was obtained from the Rajah; the troops were put in motion, and on the 6th of February arrived at Ellore or Yalore, where they were joined by the Zeminder or chief of the district.
Conflans had no longer confidence to meet the English in the field, but withdrew to defend himself in Masulipatam, the principal fort, and principal station of the French, on that part of the coast; while he urged the Subahdar of Deccan to march to the defence of his own territories, the French being occupants under his authority, and subject to his law, while the English intended to wrest the country wholly from his hands. The views of the courtiers of the Subahdar happened at the moment to coincide with his own wishes to preserve for himself the protection of the French, and he put his army in motion towards Masulipatam.
This prevented not the English commander from hastening to attack the place. He arrived on the 6th of March. The French treated his pretensions with ridicule. Masulipatam, for an Indian town, and against Indian means of attack, was of no inconsiderable strength: The defenders within were more numerous than the besiegers: A considerable army of observation was left in the field: The Subahdar, with the grand army of Deccan, was on the march: And a reinforcement of Europeans was expected from Pondicherry. A sum of money for the English had arrivedbook iv.Chap. 5. 1759. from Bengal; but the French army of observation rendered it dangerous, or rather impracticable, to send it to the camp. The English troops mutinied for want of pay; and it was with much difficulty, and by large promises, that they were induced to resume the discharge of their duty.
Three batteries continued a hot fire on three different parts of the town, without having effected any considerable damage, from the 25th of March to the 6th of April, when the situation of the English began to wear a very threatening aspect. Salabut Jung was approaching; the French army of observation had retaken Rajamundri, and might effect a junction with the Subahdar; it was impossible for the English now to retreat by the way which they had come, or even to embark at Masulipatam with their cannon and heavy stores; the monsoon had begun; the reinforcement from Pondicherry was expected; and to crown all, the engineers reported that no more than two days’ ammunition for the batteries remained unconsumed. In these circumstances, however apparently desperate, Colonel Forde resolved to try the chance of an assault. The batteries were directed to play with the utmost activity during the whole of the day; and the troops to be under arms at ten at night. The attack, in order to divide the attention of the enemy, and render uncertain the point of danger, was to be in three places at once; and the three divisions of the army were to be on their respective grounds exactly at midnight. The struggle was expected to be severe; from the superior numbers of the enemy, and the little damage which the works had sustained. A part of the army faultered considerably; nor did all the officers meet the danger with perfect composure. book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. They got, however, within the walls with comparative ease; where, being met by superior forces, they might have paid dear for their temerity, had not surprise aided their arms, and had not M. Conftans, confounded by uncertainty, and by various and exaggerated reports, after a short resistance, surrendered the place.
Within one week two ships appeared with a reinforcement of 300 troops from Pondicherry. The Subahdar, whose arrival had been anticipated but a very few days by the fall of Masulipatam, found himself in circumstances ill calculated to carry on by himself a war against the English. He was anxious on the other hand, being now deprived of the French, to cultivate a friendship with the English, and to obtain from them a body of troops, to protect him against the dangerous ambition of his brother Nizam Ali, who, since the departure of Bussy, had returned at the head of a considerable body of troops, and filled him with serious alarm. Colonel Forde repaired to his camp, where he was received with great distinction, and concluded a treaty, by which a considerable territory about Masulipatam was ceded to the English, and the Subahdar engaged to allow no French settlement for the future to exist in his dominions. The French army of observation, which, it was by the same treaty stipulated, should cross the Kistna in fifteen days, joined the army of Bassalut Jung, the elder brother of the Subahdar, who had accompanied him on the expedition to the Northern Circars, and now marched away to the south. The two ships which had brought the reinforcement from Pondicherry, upon discovering the loss of Masulipatam, sailed away to the north, and landed the troops at Ganjam. They made several efforts to render some useful service, but entirely fruitless; and after enduringbook iv.Chap. 5. 1759. a variety of privations, returned greatly reduced in numbers to Pondicherry.1
While the detachment from the army of Bengal was engaged in these operations, the solicitude of Clive was attracted by an enemy of high pretensions in a different quarter. Toward the close of the history of the Mogul Emperors, it appeared, that the eldest son of the Emperor Aulumgeer II., not daring to trust himself in the hands of the Vizir, the daring Umad al Mulk, by whom the emperor was held in a state of wretched servitude, had withdrawn into the district of Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla, who was an opponent of the Vizir, and a partizan of the Imperial family. At this time, the revolution effected by the English in Bengal, the unpopularity and disorders of Jaffier’s administration, and the presumed weakness of his government, excited hopes in the neighbouring chiefs, that an invasion of his territories might be turned to advantage. The imagination of Mahummud Koollee Khan, the Subahdar of Allahabad, was the most highly elevated by the prospect of sharing in the spoils of the English Nabob. He was instigated by two powerful Zemindars, the Rajahs, Sunder Sing, and Bulwant Sing. And the Nabob of Oude, his near kinsman, one of the most powerful chiefs in Hindustan, joined with apparent ardour in the design. The Nabob of Oude entertained a double purpose; that of obtaining, if any thing was to be seized, as great a share as possible of Bahar or Bengal; and that of watching his opportunity, while his ally and kinsman was intent upon his expected acquisitions, to seize by force or stratagem the fort of Allahabad. The influence of the imperial name appeared to them book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. of no small importance in the war with Jaffier; and as the prince, who had fled into Rohilcund, was soliciting them for protection, it was agreed to place him ostensibly at the head of the enterprise. Preparations were made; and the Prince, having obtained from the Emperor legal investiture, as Subahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, crossed the Carumnassa, a river which bounds the province of Bahar, towards the conclusion of the year 1758. From the exhaustion of the treasury when Jaffier was raised to the government, the great sums which he had paid to the English, the difficulty of extracting money from the people, his own negligent and wasteful administration, and the cruel and brutal character of his son Meeran, Jaffier was ill-prepared to meet a formidable invasion. From his own rabble of ill-paid and mutinous soldiers, he was obliged to turn, and place all his hopes of safety in the bravery and skill of the English, whom, before the news of this impending danger, he had been plotting to expel. The English appear to have had no foresight of such an event. By the absence of the troops in the Northern Circars, their force was so inconsiderable, and both they and Jaffier needed so much time to prepare, that had the invaders proceeded with tolerable expedition and skill, they might have gained, without difficulty, the whole province of Bahar. A blow like this, at so critical a period, would have shaken to such a degree the tottering government of Jaffier, that the incipient power of the English might have despaired of restoring it; and a momentary splendour might again have surrounded the throne of the Moguls.
The march of the Prince and his confederates towards Patna placed Ramnarain the Governor between two dreadful fires. To Jaffier he neither felt, nor owed attachment. But, joining the prince, he risked every thing, if Jaffier; adhering to Jaffier, he riskedbook iv.Chap. 5. 1759. as much, if the prince; should succeed. The situation was calculated to exercise Hindu duplicity and address. An application to Mr. Amyatt, the chief of the English factory, was the first of his steps; from whom as he could receive no protection, he expected such latitude of advice, as would afford a colour to any measures he might find it agreeable to pursue. It happened as he foresaw. Mr. Amyatt informing him that the English would remain at Patna, if assistance should arrive; if not, would retire from the danger; frankly and sincerely instructed him, to amuse the Prince as long as possible; but if all hopes of succour should fail, to provide for himself as events might direct. Ramnarain studied to conduct himself in such a manner as to be able to join with the greatest advantage the party for whom fortune should declare. He wrote to Bengal importuning for succour; and he at the same time privately sent a messenger to propitiate the Prince. He was even induced, when the English of the factory had retired down the river, to pay him a visit in his camp; and the troops of the Prince might have entered Patna along with him. The opportunity however was lost; and the observations which the Hindu made upon the Prince’s camp and upon the councils which guided him, induced him to shut the gates of the city when he returned, and to prepare for defence.
The hardihood of Clive was seldom overcome by scruples. Yet the Emperor Aulumgeer was legitimate sovereign of Bengal; and had undoubted right to appoint his eldest son to be his deputy in the government of that province: To oppose him, was undisguised rebellion.1 The English forces, a slender book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. band, marched to Moorshedabad, and, being joined by the best part of Jaffier’s troops, commanded by Meeran, they advanced towards Patna; where Ramnarain had amused the prince by messages and overtures as long as possible, and afterwards opposed him. Though the attack was miserably conducted, a breach was made, and the courage and resources of Ramnarain would have been soon exhausted; when intelligence reached the camp, that the Subahdar of Oude, who was on his march with an army under pretence of joining the prince, had treacherously seized the fortress of Allahabad. Mahummud Koollee Khan, by whom the prince’s affairs were conducted, and whose forces were his entire support, resolved to march immediately for the recovery or protection of his own dominions; and though he was joined at four miles’ distance from the city by M. Law, who had hastened from Chutterpore with his handful of Frenchmen, and importuned him to return to Patna, of which he engaged to put him in possession in two days, the infatuated Nabob continued his march, and being persuaded by the Subahdar of Oude to throw himself upon his generosity, was first made a prisoner, and afterwards put to death.
When Clive and Meeran approached, the enemy had already departed from Patna; and the unhappy prince, the descendant of so many illustrious sovereigns, the legal Subahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, and the undoubted heir of a throne, once among the loftiest on the globe, was so bereft of friends and resources, that he was induced to write a letter to Clive, requesting a sum of money for hisbook iv.Chap. 5. 1759. subsistence, and offering in requital to withdraw from the province. Upon these easy terms was Clive, by his good fortune, enabled to extricate himself from a situation of considerable difficulty. Ramnarain obtained, or it was convenient to grant him, credit for fidelity; the Zemindars who had joined the Prince hastened to make their peace; and Clive returned to Calcutta in the month of June.1
This was a fortunate expedition for Clive. So unbounded was the gratitude of Jaffier, that after obtaining for his defender the rank of an Omrah of the empire, he bestowed upon him, under the title of Jaghire, the whole of the revenue or rent, which the Company, in quality of Zemindar, were bound to pay, for the territory which they held round Calcutta. The grant amounted to the enormous sum of 30,000l. per annum. “Clive’s Jaghire” is an expression of frequent recurrence, and of considerable weight, in the History of India.
The Shazada (such was the title by which the eldest son of the Mogul was then distinguished in Bengal) was thus fortunately repulsed, and Colonel Forde with his troops was no less fortunately returned from the south, when the English were alarmed by the news of a great armament, fitted out by the Dutch at Batavia, and destined for Bengal. The Dutch were not then at war with England, and being excited to cupidity by the lofty reports of the rich harvest lately reaped by the English in Bengal, possibly aimed at no more than a share of the same advantages, or to balance before its irresistible ascendency the increasing power of their rivals. book iv.Chap. 5. 1759. They had received encouragement from Jaffier; but that ruler, since the invasion of the Mogul Prince, felt so powerfully his dependence on the English, that, when called upon by the English for the use of his authority and power, he durst not decline. In the month of August a Dutch ship arrived in the river, filled with troops; and this was speedily followed by six more, the whole having on board 700 Europeans and 800 Malays. To attack without provocation the ships or troops of a nation in friendship with this country, was not regarded by Clive as less than a hazardous step. The advantages, however, of standing without a rival in Bengal outweighed his apprehensions; he obtained an order of the Subahdar, commanding the Dutch to leave the river; and under pretence of seconding his authority resolved upon hostilities. The seven ships ascended the river as far as a few miles below Calcutta, and landed their troops, which were thence to march to the Dutch factory at Chinsura. Clive detached Colonel Forde, with a force, consisting of 300 Europeans, 800 Sepoys, and about 150 of Jaffier’s cavalry, to intercept them; and at the same time commanded three of the Company’s ships, fitted out and manned for the purpose, to attack the Dutch East Indiamen. Colonel Forde, by the dexterity and success of his exploit, converted it into one of the most brilliant incidents of the war; and of the 700 Europeans, not above fourteen were enabled to reach Chinsura, the rest being either taken prisoners or slain. The attack upon the ships was equally successful; after an engagement of two hours, six of them were taken, and the seventh was intercepted by two English ships which lay further down the river. After this heavy blow the Dutch, to prevent their total expulsion from Bengal, were contented to put themselves in the wrong, by paying the expenses of the war;book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. and the irregularity of his interference made Clive well pleased to close the dispute, by restoring to the Dutch their ships, with all the treasure and effects. The agreement with the Dutch was ratified on the 5th of December; and Clive, who for some months had been meditating return with his fortune to Europe, resigned the government early in February and sailed from Calcutta.1
He left not the country in peace. Meeran, before he departed from Patna, the preceding year, had sown the seeds of a future war. He treated with injustice some officers of considerable rank and influence; and no sooner was he gone than a confederacy was formed between them and some neighbouring Zemindars to support the Shazada in a fresh invasion. Intelligence of their designs had reached Calcutta before the contest with the Dutch was decided. And the Nabob of Poorania, whom Meeran had already endeavoured to cut off by treachery, had taken the field, and was expected to join the Mogul prince.
Colonel Calliaud had been called from Carnatic to take the command of the forces in Bengal, when Clive and Forde, who meditated simultaneous departure, should sail for Europe. He arrived with a reinforcement of troops toward the end of November; and it was necessary that he should proceed to stop the menaced invasion without a moment’s delay. He left Calcutta with a detachment of 300 Europeans, 1,000 Sepoys, and fifty artillery men, with six pieces book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. of cannon, and arrived at Moorshedabad on the 26th of December. He was joined by Clive on the 6th of January, who, having made his arrangements with the Subahdar, or Nabob, set out after a week for Calcutta. Calliaud, being joined by 15,000 horse and foot, and twenty-five pieces of cannon, of the Nabob, under command of Meeran, resumed his march on the 18th.
In the mean time, the Mahrattas, who had been incited by the Vizir, Umad al Mulk, to invade the provinces of Oude and Rohilcund, had been defeated and obliged to fly; while the powerful King of the Abdallees was again on his march for the invasion of Hindustan. Excited by the approach of formidable danger, the Vizir, in a fit of exasperation or despair, ordered the murder of the Emperor, the wretched Aulumgeer; and the news of this tragical event reached the Shazada, just as he had passed the Carumnassa into the province of Bahar. He was advised to assume immediately the state and title of Emperor; to confer the office of Vizir upon Suja Dowla, the Nabob of Oude, and to confirm Nujeeb ad Dowla in the office of Ameer ul Omrah. The majesty of the imperial throne, and his undoubted title, had an influence still upon the minds of men. It was now clear and immediate rebellion to resist him; and whatever guilt could be involved in making war upon their rightful sovereign, must be incurred by those who carried arms against him. The English had already familiarized themselves with the idea of rebellion in India; and the consideration of legitimate sovereignty, though the sovereign would have purchased their protection by unlimited grants, appears not to have excited a scruple in a single breast. The new dignity, however, of Vizir called upon the Nabob of Oude for some exertions in favour of his sovereign; and the fascination of the imperial title was still of force to collect around him a considerable army.1
The march of the English was retarded by the necessity of settling terms with the Nabob of Poorania, who had encamped on the left bank of the river between Moorshedabad and Patna, and professed a desire of remaining obedient to Jaffier, provided the English would engage for his security. This negotiation wasted seven days; and in the mean time the Emperor advanced towards Patna. Ramnarain, whom the sagacity of Aliverdi had selected to be deputy Governor of Bahar, on account of his skill in matters of finance, was destitute of military talents; and considering his situation, under the known hatred of Jaffier, as exceedingly precarious, he was unwilling to lay out any of the wealth he had acquired, in providing for the defence of the country. He was still enabled to draw forth a respectable army, reinforced by seventy Europeans and a battalion of English sepoys, commanded by Lieutenant Cochrane; and he encamped under the walls, with a view to cover the city. He had received by letter the strongest injunctions from Calliaud, on no account to hazard a battle till Meeran and he should arrive. An action however took place; the army of Ramnarain was attacked with impetuosity; some of his officers behaved with treachery; his troops were giving way on all sides; and he himself was dangerously pressed; when he sent an importunate request to the English for immediate assistance. The Lieutenant had advised him at the beginning of the action to place himself, for the security of his person, book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. near the English battalion; an advice with which his vanity did not permit him to comply. That officer marched to his relief without a moment’s delay; but he imprudently divided his handful of troops; they were unable to withstand the force of numbers; all the European officers of the Sepoys fell, when the Sepoys dispersed and were cut to pieces. The English who remained alive, resolved to fight their way to the city; and such was the awe and terror which the sight of their courage inspired, that the enemy, not daring to resist, opened instantly to the right and left, and allowed them to retire.1
Had the troops of the Emperor pushed on with vigour, immediately after this victory, when Ramnarain was severely wounded, his army panic-struck and dispersed, and the city without defenders, theybook iv.Chap. 5. 1760. might have taken Patna with the greatest ease. But they employed themselves in ravaging the open country, and in receiving messengers and overtures from Ramnarain till the 19th of February, when they learned that Meeran and the English were distant from them but twenty-eight miles. The resolution was taken to march and engage them; and next day the two armies approached. Colonel Calliaud urged immediate attack; but Meeran and his astrologers found that the stars would not be favourable before the 22d. Early on the morning of that day, Calliaud was in motion; but before he could reach the enemy the day was so far spent, “by the insufferable delays,” as he himself complains, “of Meeran’s march,” that, wishing to have time before him, he was unwilling to engage till the following morning. The enemy however advanced, and Calliaud drew up his men between two villages which covered both his flanks, advising Meeran to form a second line, the whole of which, except the two wings, would have been covered by the English and the villages. But though this was agreed upon, “he crowded his army upon the right, and, in spite of the most pressing and repeated solicitations, presented to battle a body of 15,000 men with a front of scarcely 200 yards in a tumultuous unformed heap.” With a feigned appearance of directing the main attack upon the English, the enemy advanced with the best part of their army against Meeran, who in about ten minutes began to give way. Colonel Calliaud, however, marched with a battallion of Sepoys to his aid, and immediately decided the fate of the day. The Sepoys drew up within forty yards upon the enemy’s flank, and having poured in a couple of fires, advanced with the bayonet, when the book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. enemy recoiled upon one another, fell into confusion, and, being charged by Meeran’s cavalry, dispersed and fled. Calliaud was eager to pursue, but Meeran, who had received a trifling wound in the battle, preferred an interval of ease and pleasure at Patna. He would not even permit the service to be performed without him; and though Calliaud offered to proceed with his own troops alone, if only a few horse, which he earnestly entreated, were granted him, he found all he could urge without avail.
The Emperor fled the same night to Bahar, a town about ten miles from the field of battle. Here a measure of great promise suggested itself: To leave Meeran and the English behind; and, marching with the utmost expedition to Bengal, surprise Moorshedabad, and take the Nabob prisoner. It was the 29th of the month before Meeran could be prevailed upon to abandon the indulgences of Patna; when he and the English marched towards Bahar, and were surprised to learn that the enemy had already performed two marches towards Bengal. The strongest motives pressed for dispatch: The English embarked in boats, and along with Meeran’s cavalry in three days overtook the foe; who adopted a bold and politic resolution. No longer able to proceed along the river, the Emperor directed his march across the mountains; and Calliaud still resolved to follow his steps. The route was long and difficult, and it was near the end of March before the Emperor emerged on the plains of Bengal, about thirty miles west from Moorshedabad. During this interval, intelligence was in sufficient time received by Jaffier to enable him to collect an army and obtain a body of 200 Europeans from Calcutta: but the Emperor was joined by a body of Mahrattas, who had lately broken into that part of the country; and had he rapidly attacked the Nabob, he still enjoyed, in the opinion of Calliaud,book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. the fairest prospect of success. But he lingered till Meeran and the English joined the Nabob on the 4th of April; and on the 7th, when they advanced to attack him, he set fire to his camp and fled. Calliaud again urged for cavalry to pursue, and again was absolutely refused.
One object of hope was even yet reserved to the Emperor. By the precipitation with which his pursuers had followed him, Patna was left in a miserable state of defence. Could he return with expedition, and anticipate the arrival of succour, it must fall into his hands. At this very time M. Law, with his small body of Frenchmen, passing that capital, to join the Emperor who had again invited him from Chitterpore, threw it into the greatest alarm. It was almost entirely destitute of the means of defence; but Law was ignorant of its situation; and proceeded to Bahar to wait for the Emperor. At this time the Naib of Poorania took off the mask, espousing openly the cause of the Emperor; and had he seized the present opportunity of marching to Patna, nothing could have prevented it from falling into his hands. The exertions however of Ramnarain, and of the gentlemen of the English factory, had collected, before the Emperor was able to arrive, a sufficient body of defenders to secure the city against the first impression; and Colonel Calliaud, who foresaw the danger, formed a detachment of 200 chosen Europeans, and a battalion of Sepoys, of which he gave the command to Captain Knox, and commanded them to march with the utmost expedition to Patna. The Emperor had lost no time in commencing the siege; and after several days of vigorous operation, during which Mr. Fullerton, the English Surgeon, and Raja Shitabroy, had distinguished themselves peculiarly within book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. the walls, Law attempted an assault. Though repulsed, he, in two days, renewed the attempt; and part of the wall being demolished, the rampart was scaled. The enemy were still compelled to retire; but the city was now thrown into the greatest alarm; a renewed assault was expected the following night; and scarcely a hope was entertained of its being withstood; when Captain Knox with a flying party was seen approaching the walls. He had performed the march from Moorshedabad to Patna, under the burning heat of a Bengal sun, in the extraordinary space of thirteen days, himself marching on foot, as an example and encouragement to the men. That very night the Captain reconnoitred the enemy’s camp in person; and next day, watching the hour of afternoon’s repose, surprised them when asleep, and drove them from their works, to which they never returned.
While the Emperor, conscious of his weakness, withdrew to the neighbourhood of Teekaury, waiting the result of his applications to the Abdallee Shah, who was now commanding from the ancient seat of the Mogul government the whole of the upper provinces of Hindustan, the Naib or Deputy Governor of Poorania had collected his army, and was on the march to join him. To counteract his designs, the English army under Calliaud, and that of Jaffier under Meeran, rendezvoused at Raje mahl, on the 23d of May. They moved upwards on the one side of the river, the Naib advancing on the other; and orders were forwarded to Captain Knox to cross over from Patna, and harass his march till the main army should arrive; while his boats, which were not able to ascend the river so fast as he marched, were overtaken and seized. Captain Knox amazed the inhabitants of Patna by declaring his resolution, as soon as the enemy appeared, of crossing the riverbook iv.Chap. 5. 1760. with his handful of men and giving them battle. Part of Ramnarain’s troops were placed under his command; but as the enterprise appeared to them an act of madness, they formed a determined resolution to have no share in it. Raja Shitabroy having between two and three hundred men in his pay, with whom he had performed important services in the defence of Patna, joined the Captain with a real disposition to act. Two hundred Europeans, one battalion of Sepoys, five field-pieces, and about 300 horse, marched to engage an army of 12,000 men, with thirty pieces of cannon. Arrived within a few miles of the enemy, Knox proceeded in the dark to the quarters of Shitabroy, to communicate his design of surprising the enemy’s camp during the night: he found that gallant associate fully prepared to second his ardour; the troops were allowed a few hours for repose; and a little after midnight they began to march. The guide having missed his way from the darkness of the night, they wandered till within two hours of day-break, and having lost the time for attacking the enemy by surprise, abandoned the design. They had laid down their arms, and prepared themselves for a little repose, when the vanguard of the enemy appeared. The gallantry of Knox allowed not a moment’s hesitation. He took his ground with skill; and though completely surrounded by the enemy, repulsed them at every point; sustained a conflict of six hours, in which Shitabroy fought with the greatest activity and resolution; and having compelled them at last to quit the field, pursued them till night.1
book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. In consequence of this defeat, the Naib postponed his resolution of joining the Emperor, and marched towards the north. In a few days Calliaud and Meeran crossed the Ganges to pursue him, and, as his army was encumbered with baggage and artillery, soon overtook him. He immediately formed his line, as if to engage; but unloading the treasure, and the most valuable part of the baggage, putting it upon camels and elephants; and skirmishing only till the English came up, he marched away with great expedition, leaving his heavy baggage and artillery behind.1 The rains were now set in with unusual violence, yet Calliaud, animated by the reports of the rich treasure (the English were credulous on the subjectbook iv.Chap. 5. 1760. of treasure) which the Naib carried in his train, resolved to make the utmost exertions to overtake him before he could reach the forests and mountains. The pursuit had been continued four days, when during the night of the 2d of July, which proved exceedingly tempestuous, the tent of Meeran was struck with lightning, and he, with all his attendants, were killed on the spot. The death of their leader is, to an Indian army, the signal to disband. The probability of this event, which would deliver the province of Bahar into the hands of the Emperor, struck the English commander with the utmost alarm. His whole attention was now occupied in keeping the army together, till reconducted to Patna, toward which he marched with all possible expedition; and distributed the troops in winter quarters in the 29th of July.1
The political affairs of the province were hastening to another crisis. The government of Jaffier was in a state approaching to dissolution. The English Presidency was distressed by want of pecuniary resources, and the seeds of violent discords were sown in the council.
When Jaffier got possession of the viceroyalty by the dethronement and death of his master Suraja Dowla, and when the English leaders were grasping the advantages which the revolution placed in their hands, both parties, dazzled with first appearances, overlooked the consequences which necessarily ensued. The cupidity natural to mankind, and the credulity with book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. which they believe what flatters their desires, made the English embrace, without deduction, the exaggerations of Oriental rhetoric on the riches of India; and believe that a country which they saw was one of the poorest, was nevertheless the most opulent upon the surface of the globe. The sums which had been obtained from Jaffier were now wholly expended. “The idea of provision for the future,” to use the words of a governor, “seemed to have been lost in the apparent immensity of the sum stipulated for compensation of the Company’s losses at Calcutta.” No rational foresight was applied, as the same observer remarks, to the increased expenditure which the new connection with the government of the country naturally produced; and soon it appeared that no adequate provision was made for it. “In less than two years it was found necessary to take up money at interest, although large sums had been received besides for bills upon the court of Directors.”1 The situation of Jaffier was deplorable from the first. With an exhausted treasury, an exhausted country, and vast engagements to discharge, he was urged to the severest exactions; while the profusion with which he wasted his treasure upon his own person, and some unworthy favourites, was ill calculated to soothe the wretched people, under the privations to which they were compelled. The cruelties of which he and Meeran were guilty, made them objects of general detestation: the negligence,book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. disorder, and weakness of their government, exposed them to contempt; and their troops, always mutinous from the length of their arrears, threatened them every moment with fatal extremities. When the news arrived at Moorshedabad of the death of Meeran, the troops surrounded the palace, scaled the walls, and threatened the Nabob with instant death; nor were they, in all probability, prevented from executing their menaces, otherwise than by the interference of Meer Causim, his son-in-law, who, on promise of succeeding to the place and prospects of Meeran, discharged a part of their arrears from his own treasury, and induced them to accept of Jaffier’s engagements to pay the whole within a limited time.
When Clive resigned the government of Bengal, instead of leaving the elevation to the chair in the established order of succession, his influence was successfully exerted to procure the nomination of Mr. Vansittart, who was called from Madras. Mr. Holwell, on whose pretensions there had been violent debates in the Court of Directors, was promoted to the office in virtue of his seniority, till July, when Mr. Vansittart arrived. The new governor found the treasury at Calcutta empty, the English troops at Patna, on the very brink of mutiny, and deserting in multitudes for want of pay; the Presidencies of Madras and Bombay totally dependant upon Bengal for pecuniary resources; the provision of an investment actually suspended; the income of the Company scarcely sufficient for the current expences of Calcutta; the allowance paid by the Nabob for the troops several months in arrear; and the attainment of that, as well as of a large balance upon his first agreements, totally hopeless. Some change, by which the revenue of the Company could be placed on a book iv.Chap. 5. 1760. level with their expenditure, was indispensable.1 They might retire from all concern with the government of the country, and content themselves with the protection of Calcutta, for which a small body of troops and a small expenditure would suffice. But not to speak of the golden hopes which had been so fondly cherished, fears suggested themselves (fears when they favour wishes are potent counsellors) that the place which the Company might resign in directing the government of the country would be occupied by the French or the Dutch. From the administration of Jaffier, resigned as he was to a set of unworthy favourites; old, indolent, voluptuous, estranged from the English, and without authority; no other consequences were to be expected, than those which had already been experienced. From a strong sense of the incurable vices of Jaffier and his family, Mr. Holwell, during the few months of his administration, had advised the council to abandon him; and, embracing the just cause of the Emperor, to avail themselves of the high offers which that deserted monarch was ready to make. An idea, however, of fidelity to the connexion which they had formed, though with a subject in rebellion to his king, prevailed in the breasts of the council; and a middle course was chosen. Of all the members of Jaffier’s family, whose remaining sons were young, Meer Causim, the husband of his daughter, who passed for a man of talents, appeared the only person endowed with qualities adapted to the present exigencies of the government. It was agreed that all the active powers of administration should be placed in his hands; Jaffier not being dethroned in name, but only in reality. A treaty wasbook iv.Chap. 5. 1760. concluded with Meer Causim on the 27th of September. He agreed, in return for the powers thus placed in his hands, to assign to the Company the revenues of the three districts of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong, to pay the balance due by Jaffier, and a present of five lacks for the war in Carnatic. On the 2d of October, Mr. Vansittart, accompanied by Colonel Calliaud and a detachment of troops, proceeded to Moorshedabad to persuade or to compel the Nabob to accede to the arrangements which had been formed. Jaffier discovered intense reluctance; and Mr. Vansittart wavered. Meer Causim, who could be safe no longer in the power of Jaffier, exclaimed against the perfidy of making and not fulfilling an engagement such as that which was contracted between them: and formed his resolution of joining the Emperor with all his treasure and troops. The resolution of Mr. Vansittart was at last confirmed; and a favourable moment was chosen for occupying the palace of Jaffier with the troops. When assured that no designs against his person or authority were entertained; that nothing was proposed beyond a reform of his government in the hands of his son-in-law, who would act as his deputy; he replied, with disdain, that he was no stranger to the meaning of such language; and too well acquainted with the characters of men, particularly that of his son-in-law, to be in doubt respecting the consequences. He peremptorily refused to remain a vain pageant of royalty, and desired permission to retire to Calcutta, to lead a private life under the English protection.1
When the pecuniary distresses of the Company’s government, and the enormous disorders in that of the Nabob, were under the deliberation of the board at Calcutta, there was but one opinion concerning the necessity of some important change. To vest Meer Causim with the power requisite for reforming the government of the Nabob, was the plan approved of unanimously in the Select Committee. The force which might be necessary to subdue his reluctance was provided; and though it was not anticipated that he would resign the government rather than comply, the step which that resolution made necessary was a natural consequence; and was without hesitation decreed. When Mr. Vansittart returned to Calcutta on the 7th of November, he found there were persons by whom those measures were by no means approved. Mr. Verelst and Mr. Smyth, two members of the Council, who were not of the Select Committee, entered a minute on the 8th, in which they complained that a measure of so much importance had not been submitted to the Council at large; and laying great stress upon the engagements which had been formed with Jaffier, insinuated their ignorance of the existence of any cause why those engagements should be abandoned and betrayed. When Clive made his plan for the government of Bengal, by the irregular elevation of Mr. Vansittart, he seems to have overlooked, or very imperfectly to have estimated, the passions which it was calculated to excite. Mr. Amyatt, who was a man of merit, and next to the chair, could not behold himself postponed or superseded without dissatisfaction; and those among the Bengal servants, who stood next to him in hopes, regarded their interests as involved in his. A party thus existed, with feelings averse to the Governor; and they soon becamebook iv.Chap. 5. 1760. a party, opposed to his measures. Other passions, of a still grosser nature, were at this time thrown into violent operation in Bengal. The vast sums, obtained by a few individuals, who had the principal management of the former revolution, when Meer Jaffier trode down Suraja Dowla his master, were held in vivid remembrance; and the persuasion that similar advantages, of which every man burned for a share, were now meditated by the Select Committee, excited the keenest emotions of jealousy and envy. Mr. Amyatt was joined by Mr. Ellis, a person of a violent temper, whom, in some of his pretensions, the Governor had opposed; and by Major Carnac, who had lately arrived in the province to succeed Calliaud, but whom the Governor had offended by proposing that he should not take the command till the affairs at Patna, in which Calliaud was already engaged, and with which he was well acquainted, should be conducted to a close. A minute, in which Mr. Ellis and Mr. Smyth coincided, and in which the deposition of Jaffier was formally condemned, was entered by Mr. Amyatt on the 8th of January. No attempt was made to deny the extreme difficulties in which the English government was placed, or the disorders and enormities of Jaffier’s administration; it was only denied that any of these evils would be removed by the revolution of which, in violation of the national faith, the English, by the Select Committee, had been rendered the instruments.
Meer Causim, aware that money was the pillar by which alone he could stand, made so great exertions that, notwithstanding the treasury of Meer Jaffier was found almost empty, he paid in the course of a few months the arrears of the English troops at Patna; so far satisfied the troops of the Subah, both at Moorshedabad book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. and Patna, that they were reduced to order and ready to take the field; and provided six or seven lacks in discharge of his engagements with the Company, insomuch that the Presidency were enabled in November to send two lacks and a half to Madras, whence a letter had been received declaring that without a supply the siege of Pondicherry must be raised.
In the month of January, Major Carnac arrived at Patna, and took the command of the troops. The province of Bahar had suffered so much from the repeated incursions of the Emperor; and the finances both of the Nabob and of the Company were so much exhausted by the expense of the army required to oppose him, that the importance was strongly felt of driving him finally from that part of the country. The rains were no sooner at an end, than the English commander, accompanied by the troops of Ramnarain, and those which had belonged to Meeran, advanced towards the Emperor, who was stationed at Gyah Maunpore. The unhappy Monarch made what exertions he could to increase his feeble army; but Carnac reached his camp by three days’ march; forced him to an engagement, and gained a victory. The only memorable incident of the battle was, that M. Law was taken prisoner: And the British officers exalted themselves in the eyes even of the rude natives, by treating him with the highest honour and distinction.1
At this time the Zemindars of Beerboom, and Burdwan,book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. two important districts of Bengal, not far from book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. Moorshedabad, took arms. It has been alleged that they acted in concert with the Emperor; with whom it had been arranged during his former campaign, that a body of Mahrattas should penetrate into Bengal immediately after the rains; that he himself should advance to Bahar, and, by as menacing an appearance as possible, engage the attention of the English and Nabob; that the Zemindars should hold themselves in readiness, till the Emperor, giving his enemies the slip, should penetrate into Bengal, as he had done the year before; when they should fall upon the province by one united and desperate effort. There seems in this too much of foresight and of plan for Oriental politicians, especially the weakminded Emperor and his friends: At any rate the movements of the Zemindars betrayed them: Meer Causim, attended by a detachment of English under Major Yorke, marched in haste to Beerboom, defeated the troops which were opposed to them, reduced both provinces to obedience, and drove the Mahrattas to the south.
Immediately after the battle with the Emperor, Major Carnac sent to him the Raja Shitabroy, to make an overture of peace; and to ask permission to visit him in his camp. At first, by the instigation of one of the restless Zemindars who supported him, he declined the proposal; presently afterwards, having listened to other counsels, he became eager to make his terms. He was tired of his dependence upon the rude and insolent chiefs who hitherto had upheld his cause; and cherished hopes that the late revolutionbook iv.Chap. 5. 1761. at Delhi might produce some turn in his favour. The Abdallee Shah, after his great victory over the Mahrattas, had acknowledged him as sovereign of Hindustan; had appointed his son to act in the quality of his deputy at Delhi; and had recommended his cause to the Afghaun chiefs, and to his vizir the Nabob of Oude. Major Carnac paid his compliments to him as Emperor, in his own camp, and, after the usual ceremonies, conducted him to Patna.
Meer Causim was not easy upon the prospect of a connexion between the Emperor and the English; and hastened to Patna, to observe and to share in the present proceedings. Upon his arrival he declined waiting upon the Emperor in his own camp; either because he was afraid of treachery, of which there was no appearance; or because (so low was the house of Timur fallen) he was pleased to measure dignities with his King. After much negotiation the English invented a compromise; by planning the interview in the hall of the factory, where a musnud was formed of two dining tables covered with cloth. The usual ceremonies were performed; and Meer Causim, upon condition of receiving investiture as Subahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, engaged to pay annually twenty-four lacks of rupees to the Emperor, as the revenue of the provinces, with the government of which he was entrusted. After a short stay at Patna, where the intrigues of the Nabob had as yet prevented his being proclaimed as sovereign, Shah Aulum accepted the invitation of the Subahdar of Oude, of Nujeeb ad Dowla, and other Afghaun chiefs, to whom his cause was recommended by the Abdallee Shah, to place himself under their protection, and marched toward his capital. He was escorted book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. by Major Carnac to the boundaries of the province of Bahar; and made a tender to the English of the duanee of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, for which, and all their other privileges, he offered to grant phirmâns, whenever the petition for them should be presented in form. The intention was distinctly formed at Calcutta, to afford assistance for placing and confirming him on his paternal throne; but the want of money, and the disinclination of the Nabob, proved decisive obstructions.
Meer Causim, who had supplied his first necessities, by squeezing out of those persons, who were suspected of having made riches in the public service, all that terror or cruelty, under pretence of making them account for their balances, was calculated to extort, regarded the supposed treasures of Ramnarain, as well as the revenues of his government, with a craving appetite; and resolved to omit no effort or contrivance, to get both in his power. As Ramnarain, however, had been assured of protection by the English, it was necessary to proceed with caution and art. The pretence of calling upon him to account for the receipts of his government was the instrument employed. It was the purpose of the Nabob to accede to no accommodation which should not leave Ramnarain at his mercy: It was the purpose of Ramnarain to avoid, by every effort of chicanery, the rendering of a fair account. These endeavours, truly Oriental, of the Nabob on the one side, and Ramnarain on the other, operated to the ruin of both.
Mr. Vansittart, and the party who supported him, desirous of finding the conduct of Meer Causim, whom they had raised, of a nature to justify their choice, were disposed to interpret all appearances in his favour: The opposite party, who condemned the elevation of Meer Causim, were not less disposed tobook iv.Chap. 5. 1761. interpret all appearances to his disadvantage. Unfortunately for Ramnarain, and, in the end, not less unfortunately for the Nabob, the persons at Patna, in whose hands the military power of the English at this time was placed, belonged to the party by whom the Governor was opposed. Major Carnac was indeed superseded in the chief command by the arrival of Colonel Coote soon after the Emperor was received at Patna; but Coote fell so entirely into the views of his predecessor, that Carnac, though in a subordinate station, remained at Patna, to lend his countenance and aid to measures, the line of which he had contributed to draw.
So far was Mr. Vansittart from intending to permit any injustice towards Ramnarain, that Major Carnac, in his first instructions, was particularly informed of the engagements subsisting between the English government and Ramnarain; and of the necessity of supporting his life, fortune, and government against the Nabob, should any hostile design appear to be entertained. Mr. Vansittart, however, listened to the representations which the Nabob artfully sent him, of the artifices by which Ramnarain evaded the settlement of his accounts: The exigencies of the Calcutta government urgently required the payments due from the Nabob: The Nabob declared that the recovery of the balances from Ramnarain was the only fund from which those payments could be made: And Vansittart, with the usual credulity, believed the vulgar reports, of the great treasures, as well as the vast balances, in the hands of Ramnarain; though the accounts of only three years of his government were unexamined, and though in each of those years his country had been regularly over-run by hostile armies, and he had been book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. obliged for defence to keep on foot an army greater than he was able to pay.1
Major Carnac and Colonel Coote, on the other hand, allowed their minds to be entirely engrossed by the evidence which appeared of the resolution of the Nabob to destroy Ramnarain. The proof which they possessed was indeed but too conclusive, since they have both left their declarations upon record, that the Nabob tempted them with enormous bribes to leave Ramnarain in his power.2 Their opposition to the Nabob, which was often offensive and exceptionable in the mode, appeared to Vansittart to have no better aim than vexation to himself; it lessened the care of Ramnarain to save appearances in evading the extortion with which he was threatened; and it enabled the Nabob at last to persuade Vansittart, that he was a man requiring nothing but justice, which Ramnarain was labouring to defeat; and that his government was hastening to ruin from the obstinatebook iv.Chap. 5. 1761. dishonesty of one man supported by two English commanders.
So far did these altercations and animosities proceed, that on the 25th of June, Vansittart, who had a majority in the council, came to the unhappy resolution of recalling both Coote and Carnac from Patna, and of leaving Ramnarain at the mercy of the Nabob. He made that use of his power, which it was the height of weakness in Vansittart not to foresee. Ramnarain was immediately seized and thrown into prison; his very house was robbed; his friends were tortured to make confession of hidden treasures; his life was only for the moment spared, lest the indignation of the English should be too violently roused; and after all, the quantity of treasure which he was found to possess was insignificant, a sum barely sufficient for the daily expenses of his government.1
This was the fatal error of Mr. Vansittart’s administration; because it extinguished among the natives of rank all confidence in the English protection; and because the enormity to which, in this instance, he had lent his support, created an opinion of a weak or a corrupt partiality, and diminished the weight of his interference when the Nabob was really the party aggrieved. For now began the memorable disputes between the Nabob and the Company’s service about the internal trade; and, at the same time, such changes were produced in the Council at Calcutta, as impaired considerably the Governor’s book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. power. These changes constitute an incident in the history of the Company, the memory of which is of peculiar importance.
Just before Colonel Clive resigned the government in Bengal, the 147th paragraph of one of the last of the dispatches, to which he affixed his name, addressed the Court of Directors in the following terms. “Having fully spoken to every branch of your affairs at this Presidency, under their established heads, we cannot, consistent with the real anxiety we feel for the future welfare of that respectable body from whom you and we are in trust, close this address without expostulating with freedom on the unprovoked and general asperity of your letter per Prince Henry Packet. Our sentiments, on this head, will, we doubt not, acquire additional weight, from the consideration of their being subscribed by a majority of your Council, who are, at this very period, quitting your service, and consequently, independent and disinterested. Permit us to say, That the diction of your letter is most unworthy yourselves and us, in whatever relation considered, either as masters to servants, or gentlemen to gentlemen. Mere inadvertencies, and casual neglects, arising from an unavoidable and most complicated confusion in the state of your affairs, have been treated in such language and sentiments, as nothing but the most glaring and premeditated faults could warrant. Groundless informations have, without further scrutiny, borne with you the stamp of truth, though proceeding from those who had therein obviously their own purpose to serve, no matter at whose expense. These have received from you such countenance and encouragement, as must most assuredly tend to cool the warmest zeal of your servants here and every where else; as they will appear to have been only the source of general reflections, thrown out at random against your faithfulbook iv.Chap. 5. 1761. servants of this Presidency, in various parts of your letter now before us,—faithful to little purpose,—if the breath of scandal, joined to private pique or private or personal attachments, have power to blow away in one hour the merits of many years’ services, and deprive them of that rank, and those rising benefits, which are justly a spur to their integrity and application. The little attention shown to these considerations in the indiscriminate favours heaped on some individuals, and undeserved censures on others, will, we apprehend, lessen that spirit of zeal so very essential to the well-being of your affairs, and, consequently, in the end, if continued, prove the destruction of them. Private views may, it is much to be feared, take the lead here, from examples at home; and no gentlemen hold your service longer, nor exert themselves further in it, than their own exigencies require. This being the real present state of your service, it becomes strictly our duty to represent it in the strongest light, or we should with little truth, and less propriety, subscribe ourselves,
“May it please your Honours,
“Your most faithful servants,
The Company were even then no strangers to what they have become better acquainted with the longer they have acted; to that which, from the very nature of their authority, and from their local circumstances, it was evident they must experience; a disregard of their orders, when contrary to the interests or passions of their servants: but as they never before had a servant of such high pretensions, and so audacious book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. a character as Clive, they had never before been treated with so much contumely in words. They were moved accordingly to resent it highly. In the very first paragraph of their general letter to Bengal, dated the 21st of January, 1761, they said, “We have taken under our most serious consideration the general letter from our late President and council of Fort William, dated the 29th December, 1759, and many paragraphs therein containing gross insults upon and indignities offered to the Court of Directors; tending to the subversion of our authority over our servants, and a dissolution of all order and good government in the Company’s affairs: To put an immediate stop therefore to this evil, we do positively order and direct, that immediately upon the receipt of this letter, all those persons still remaining in the Company’s service, who signed the said letter, viz. Messieurs John Zephaniah Holwell, Charles Stafford Playdell, William Brightwell Sumner, and William M’Guire, be dismissed from the Company’s service; and you are to take care that they be not permitted, on any consideration, to continue in India, but that they are to be sent to England by the first ships which return home the same season you receive this letter.”
The dismissals of which this letter was the signal, not only gave a majority in the Council to the party by whom Vansittart was opposed; but sent Mr. Ellis, the most intemperate and arbitrary of all his opponents, to the chiefship of the factory at Patna. He treated the Nabob with the most insulting airs of authority; and broke through all respect for his government. So early as the month of January he gave his orders to the commander of the troops to seize and keep prisoner one of the Nabob’s collectors, who had raised some difficulties in permitting a quantity of opium, the private property of one of thebook iv.Chap. 5. 1761. Company’s servants, to pass duty free as the property of the Company. This outrage the discretion of the officer avoided, by suspending obedience to the order, and sending a letter to the Nabob, to redress by his own authority whatever might appear to be wrong. About the same time another servant of the Nabob, a man of high connexions and influence, purchased for the Nabob’s use a quantity of nitre. But the monopoly of the saltpetre trade had been conveyed to the Company. Though an exception in favour of the Nabob to the extent of his own consumption was, from standing usage, so much understood, that to express it had appeared altogether useless and vain, this purchase was converted by Mr. Ellis into such an invasion of the English rights, that the Nabob was not to be consulted in the punishment of his own servant. The unfortunate man was seized, put in irons, and sent down a prisoner to Calcutta to receive whatever chastisement the Council might direct. It required the utmost address and power of the President to get him sent back to be punished by his master. As to sending him back for the purpose of ascertaining whether he was guilty or innocent, that was a preliminary which it would have been absurd to propose. Some of the Council insisted that he should be publicly whipped at Calcutta; others, that he should have his ears cut off. Not many days after these violent proceedings, Mr. Ellis, having heard by vague report that two English deserters were concealed in the fort of Mongeer, dispatched a company of Sepoys, with orders to receive the deserters, or to search the fort. The Governor declared that no Europeans were there; and for ampler satisfaction carried two officers of the Company round the fort. From apprehension, however, book iv.Chap. 5. 1761. of some evil design, or from a very plain principle of military duty, he refused without orders to admit a body of armed men; shut the gates; and threatened to fire upon them if they approached the walls. This Mr. Ellis treated as the highest excess of insolence; and obstinately refused to withdraw the Sepoys till they had searched the fort. By these repeated invasions of his government, the pride of the Nabob was deeply wounded. He complained to the President in bitter terms; and with reason declared that the example, which was set by the servants of the Company, of trampling upon his authority, deprived him of all dignity in the eyes of his subjects, and rendered it vain to hope for their obedience. After a dispute of three months, during which Ellis was supported by the Council, the difference was compromised, by the Nabob’s consenting to admit any person to search the fort whom Mr. Vansittart should name; when Lieutenant Ironside, after the strictest investigation, was convinced, that no European whatsoever, except an old French invalid, whose freedom Mr. Hastings procured, had been in the fort.
Hitherto Meer Causim had conducted his government with no ordinary success. He had reduced to obedience all the rebellious Zemindars: What was of still greater importance, he had, as was declared by the President in his minute of the 22d of March, 1762, discharged the whole of his pecuniary obligations to the English; and satisfied both his own and his predecessor’s troops.1 He had extorted money with unsparing hands from the Zemindars and other functionaries: In the financial department of his government,book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. he was clear-sighted, vigilant, and severe: He had introduced a strict economy, without appearance of avarice, in his whole expenditure: And he had made considerable progress in new-modelling and improving his army; when the whole internal economy of his government became involved in disorder by the pretensions of the Company’s servants.
In India, as under most uncivilized governments, the transit of goods within the country was made subject to duties; and upon all the roads and navigable rivers, toll-houses, or custom-houses, (in the language of the country chokeys) were erected, which had power of stopping the goods, till the duties were levied. By the rude and oppressive nature of the government these custom-houses were exceedingly multiplied; and in long carriages the inconvenience of numerous stoppages and payments was very severe. As in all other departments of the government, so in this, there was nothing regular and fixed; the duties varied at different times and different places; and a wide avenue was always open for the extortion of the collectors. The internal trade of the country was by these causes subject to ruinous obstructions.
The English Company had at an early period availed themselves of a favourable opportunity to solicit exemption from such oppressive interruptions and expense; and the rulers of the country who felt in their revenues the benefits of foreign commerce granted a phirmaun by which the export and import trade of the Company was completely relieved, as both the goods which they imported were allowed to pass into the interior, and those which for exportation they purchased in the interior were allowed to book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. pass to the sea, without either stoppage or duties. A certificate, signed by the English President, or chiefs of factories, (in the language of the country a dustuck) shown at the toll-houses or chokeys, protected the property. The Company, however, engrossed to themselves the import and export trade between India and Europe, and limited the private trade of their servants to the business of the country. The benefit of this exemption therefore accrued to the Company alone; and though attempts had been sometimes made to extend the protection of the Company’s dustuck to the trade carried on by their servants in the interior, this had been always vigorously opposed by the Subahdars, both as defrauding the public revenue, and injuring the native merchants.
No sooner had the English acquired an ascendancy in the government by the dethronement of Suraja Dowla, and the elevation of Meer Jaffier, than the servants of the Company broke through the restraints which had been imposed upon them by former Subahdars, and engaged largely in the interior trade of the country. At first, however, they carried not their pretensions beyond certain bounds; and they paid the same duties which were levied on the subjects of the Nabob. It appears not that during the administration of Clive, any of the Company’s servants, unless clandestinely, attempted to trade on any other terms. According however as they acquired experience of their power over the government of the country; and especially after the fresh and signal instance of it, the elevation of a new sovereign in the person of Meer Causim, the Company’s dustuck or passport, which was only entitled to protect the goods of actual exportation and importation, was employed by the Company’s agents of all descriptions to protect their private trade in every part of the country. So great was now the ascendancy of the English name,book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. that the collectors or officers at the chokeys or tollhouses, who were fully aware of the dependance of their own government on the power and pleasure of the English, dared not in general to scrutinize the use which was made of the Company’s dustuck, or to stop the goods which it fraudulently screened. The Company’s servants, whose goods were thus conveyed entirely free from duty, while those of all other merchants were heavily burthened, were rapidly getting into their own hands the whole trade of the country, and thus drying up one of the sources of the public revenue. When the collectors of these tolls, or transit duties, questioned the power of the dustuck and stopped the goods, it was customary to send a party of Sepoys to seize the offender and carry him prisoner to the nearest factory. Meer Causim was hardly seated on the musnud, when grievous complaints of these enormities came up to him from all quarters, and he presented the strongest remonstrances to the President and Council. In his letter to the Governor, dated March 26th, 1762, he says, “From the factory of Calcutta to Cossimbuzar, Patna, and Dacca, all the English chiefs, with their gomastahs, officers and agents in every district of the government, act as collectors, renters, and magistrates, and, setting up the Company’s colours, allow no power to my officers. And besides this, the gomastahs and other servants in every district, in every market and village, carry on a trade in oil, fish, straw, bamboos, rice, paddy, beetel-nut, and other things; and every man with a Company’s dustuck in his hand regards himself as not less than the Company.” It is abundantly proved that the picture drawn by the Nabob was not overcharged. Mr. Hastings, in a letter to the President, dated Bauglepore, 25th April, 1762, book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. said, “I beg to lay before you a grievance, which loudly calls for redress, and will, unless duly attended to, render ineffectual any endeavours to create a firm and lasting harmony between the Nabob and the Company;—I mean, the oppressions committed under the sanction of the English name, and through the want of spirit to oppose them. This evil, I am well assured, is not confined to our dependants alone, but is practised all over the country, by people falsely assuming the habit of our Sepoys, or calling themselves our gomastahs. As on such occasions the great power of the English intimidates the people from making any resistance; so, on the other hand, the indolence of the Bengalees, or the difficulty of gaining access to those who might do them justice, prevents our having knowledge of the oppressions: I have been surprised to meet with several English flags flying in places which I have passed; and on the river I do not believe that I passed a boat without one. By whatever title they have been assumed, I am sure their frequency can bode no good to the Nabob’s revenues, the quiet of the country, or the honour of our nation.—A party of Sepoys, who were on the march before us, afforded sufficient proofs of the rapacious and insolent spirit of those people, where they are left to their own discretion. Many complaints against them were made me on the road; and most of the petty towns and serais were deserted at our approach, and the shops shut up from the apprehensions of the same treatment from us.”1
At first the Governor endeavoured to redress thesebook iv.Chap. 5. 1762. evils by gentle means; by cautioning the servants of the Company; by soothing the irritation of the Nabob, and lending his own authority to enable the native toll-gatherers to check the illegitimate traffic of the English. The mischief however increased: The efforts of the collectors were not only resisted, and the collectors themselves punished as heinous offenders on the spot; but these attempts of theirs excited the loudest complaints; they were represented as daring violations of the Company’s rights; and undoubted evidence of a design on the part of the Nabob to expel the English from the country. As usual, one species of enormity introduced another. When the officers of government submitted to oppression, it necessarily followed that the people must submit. At the present time it is difficult to believe, even after the most undeniable proof, that it became a common practice to force the unhappy natives, both to buy the goods of the Company’s servants and of all those who procured the use of their name, at a greater; and to sell to the Company’s servants the goods which they desired to purchase, at a less, than the market price. The native judges and magistrates were resisted in the discharge of their duties; and even their functions were usurped. The whole book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. frame of the government was relaxed: and in many places the Zemindars and other collectors refused to be answerable for the revenues.1
The President, aware of the prejudices which were fostered, by a majority of the board, against both the Nabob and himself, submitted not to their deliberation these disorders and disputes, till he found his own authority inadequate to redress them. The representations, presented to them, of the enormitiesbook iv.Chap. 5. 1762. to which the private trade of the Company’s servants gave birth in the country, were treated, by the majority of the Council, as the effect of a weak or interested subservience to the views of the Nabob; while they received the complaints of the servants and their agents against the native officers, more often in fault, according to Hastings and Vansittart, from laxity than tyranny, as proofs of injustice demanding immediate punishment, and of hostile designs against which effectual securities could not be too speedily taken. Of the Council a great proportion were deriving vast emoluments from the abuses, the existence of which they denied; and the President obtained support from Mr. Hastings alone, in his endeavours to check enormities, which, a few years afterwards, the Court of Directors, the President, the servants of the Company themselves, and the whole world, joined in reprobating, with every term of condemnation and abhorrence.
Observing the progress of these provocations and resentments, Vansittart anticipated nothing but the calamity of war, unless some effectual measures could be adopted to prevent them. Dependence upon the English, though it had been light, was a yoke which the Nabob would doubtless have been very willing to throw off. This presumed inclination the majority of the Council treated as a determined purpose; and every measure of his administration was, according to them, a proof of his hostile designs. The Nabob, aware of the strength of the party to whom his elevation was an object of aversion, naturally considered the friendship of the English as a tenure far from secure. The report was spread, that the views of his enemies would be adopted in England; and it is no wonder if, against a contingency so very probable, book iv.Chap. 5. 1762. he was anxious to be prepared. Vansittart, however, who was not mistaken as to the interest which the Nabob had in maintaining his connection with the English, and his want of power to contend with them, remained assured of his disposition to peace, unless urged by provocations too great for his temper to endure. He formed the plan, therefore, of a meeting with Meer Causim, in hopes that, by mutual explanations and concessions, there might be drawn, between the rights of the government on the one hand, and the pretensions of the Company’s servants on the other, such a line of demarcation as would preclude all future injuries and complaints. With Mr. Hastings, as a coadjutor, he arrived at Mongeer on the 30th of November, and was received with all the marks of cordiality and friendship. After some bitter complaints, the Nabob agreed that all preceding animosities should be consigned to oblivion, and that the present interview should be wholly employed in preventing the recurrence of such dangerous evils. For this purpose, he insisted that the interior trade, or that from place to place within the country, should be entirely renounced, as a trade to which the Company had no claim, and in which their servants had never been allowed to engage by any Subahdar preceding Meer Jaffier; a trade which introduced innumerable disorders into his government, and was not carried on for the benefit of the Company, but of individuals, who reaped the profit of their own offences. Mr. Vansittart, though fully aware, as he himself declares, that the interior trade, which had been grasped by the Company’s servants, was purely usurpation, was yet, he says, “unwilling to give up an advantage which had been enjoyed by them, in a greater or less degree, for five or six years.” A still stronger reason probably was, that book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. he knew himself unable to make them “give it up;” and therefore limited his endeavours to place it upon such a foundation as appeared the best calculated for the exclusion of abuse. He proposed that the interior trade should be open to the servants of the Company, but that they should pay the same duties as other merchants; and that, for the prevention of all disputes, a fixed and accurate rate of duties should be established. To this arrangement, the Nabob, who saw but little security against a repetition of the preceding evils in the assignment of duties which, as before, the servants of the Company might refuse to pay, manifested extreme aversion. At last, with great difficulty, he was induced to comply; but declared his resolution, if this experiment should fail, to abolish all duties on interior commerce, and in this way at least place his own subjects on a level with the strangers. To prevent the inconvenience of repeated stoppages, it was agreed that nine per cent., immensely below the rate exacted of other traders,1 should be paid upon the prime cost of the goods, at the place of purchase, and that no further duties should be imposed. Mr. Vansittart returned to Calcutta on the 16th of January.
The President believed that he had left Calcutta fully authorized, by the council, to settle with the Nabob the terms of an amicable arrangement; and he expected to find the Members of the Council pleased that the servants of the Company were now vested with a right to that plentiful source of gain, in book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. which they had hitherto participated only by usurpation. He was not as yet sufficiently acquainted with the boundless desires of his colleagues. Before his arrival, unlimited condemnation had passed on the whole of his proceedings; and the precipitation of the Nabob added to the disorder and combustion. The regulations which the President had formed were couched in a letter addressed to the Nabob. It was the plan of Vansittart, that, as soon as they were confirmed by the Council, instructions should be sent to the English factories and agents; and that correspondent instructions should at the same time be transmitted by the Nabob to his officers, informing them of the powers which they were authorized to exert. The Nabob, who was not sufficiently warned or sufficiently patient to observe this order of proceeding, immediately transmitted copies of Vansittart’s letter to his different officers, as the code of laws by which their conduct was to be guided. The officers, of course, began to act upon these laws immediately; and as the English had no commands to obey, they resisted. The native officers, who imagined they had now authority for retaliating some of the indignities to which they had been subject, were in various instances guilty of severity and oppression. It followed of course, that the dissatisfaction which the Members of the Council were prepared to display, was rendered more confident and loud by these transactions, and by the complaints which they failed not to produce. It was speedily resolved, that the President had no authority for forming those regulations to which he had assented; and instructions were sent to the factories and agents to trade upon the previous terms, and to seize and imprison any of the Nabob’s officers who should dare to offer any obstructions. In a solemn consultation, which was held on the 1st of March, it was determined,book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. with only two dissenting voices, those of the President and Mr. Hastings, that by the imperial phirmaun, under which the Company had traded so long, their servants had a right (which however all preceding Nabobs had disallowed) to the internal trade, and that it was out of compliment, not by obligation, that they had in any case consented to the payment of duties. It was decided, after many words, that, as an acknowledgment to the Nabob, and out of their own liberality and free choice, they would pay a duty of two and a half per cent. upon the article of salt alone, and no other; instead of the nine per cent. upon all articles for which Vansittart had agreed. It was, however, at the same time decreed, that all disputes between the gomastahs of the English, and the subjects of the native government, should be referred, not to the native tribunals, but to the heads of factories and residents: that is, should be referred to men, not only, in the great majority of cases, far too distant to receive the complaints; but, what was still more shameful, men reaping exorbitant profits from the abuses over which they were thus exclusively vested with the judicial power.
When Vansittart took leave of the Nabob, he was setting out upon an expedition against the kingdom of Nepaul, a small country, completely surrounded, after the manner of Cashmere, by the northern mountains. It was a country which the Mahomedan arms had never reached; and on the subject of its riches, oriental credulity, inflamed by the report of its yielding gold, had room for unlimited expansion. The conquest of a country, abounding with gold, held out irresistible temptations to the Nabob. He ascended the ridge of mountains by which it is separated book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. from Bengal; but he was met by the Nepaulians in a dangerous pass; and, after a contest, which appalled him, abandoned the enterprise. He was met, upon his return, by accounts of the reception which the regulations of Vansittart had experienced in the Council; of the resistance which had been opposed to his officers in their attempts to execute his orders; and of the seizure and imprisonment which in various instances they had undergone. He wrote, in terms of the highest indignation; and called upon the English to relieve him from the burden of the Subahdary, since they deprived him of the powers without which the government of the country could not be carried on. His patience was nearly exhausted; he now, therefore, executed his resolution of abandoning all duties on the transit of goods, and laid the interior trade of his country perfectly open.
The conduct of the Company’s servants, upon this occasion, furnishes one of the most remarkable instances upon record, of the power of interest to extinguish all sense of justice, and even of shame. They had hitherto insisted, contrary to all right and all precedent, that the government of the country should exempt their goods from duty: They now insisted that it should impose duties upon the goods of all other traders; and accused it as guilty of a breach of peace toward the English nation, because it proposed to remit them.1
To enforce these conditions, and yet to maintainbook iv.Chap. 5. 1763. the appearance of omitting no effort to obtain the consent of the Nabob, it was proposed in the Council to send to him a deputation. For this purpose Mr. Amyatt and Mr. Hay volunteered their services. They departed with their instructions on the 4th of April. In the mean time, in all parts of the country, the disputes between the officers of the government, and the Company’s servants, were carried to the greatest height. Many complaints arrived at Calcutta of the resistance which the gomastahs of the English experienced in the conduct of their business, and even of the outrages to which they were sometimes exposed. On the other hand a multitude of instances were produced, in which the English sepoys had been employed to seize and bind and beat the officers of the government, and to protect the agents of the Company’s servants in all the enormities and oppressions which they exercised upon the people. At Patna, from the animosities and violence of Mr. Ellis, the flames of discord were the most vehemently fanned; the Sepoys were employed under his directions in opposing the government in bodies of 500 at a time; and blood had been shed in the disputes which ensued. Before the 14th of April, the position of the Nabob and the Company had become so threatening, that in the consultation of that day measures of war were eventually planned. The Nabob, on his part, though well acquainted with his own weakness, (for the short duration and the difficulties book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. of his government had rendered the collection of more than a very small army impossible,) yet fully persuaded of the resolution of the Council to depose him, now applied for assistance to the Emperor and the Nabob of Oude; and prepared himself for a conclusion which he deemed inevitable.
On the 25th of May some boats, laden with arms for the troops at Patna, arrived at Mongeer. This circumstance tended to confirm the Nabob in his opinion that the English were arming for war. He had the resolution to order the arms to be stopped. The deputation from the Council had already arrived; but he treated their new propositions as unreasonable; and enumerating the outrages committed upon his servants, and the disorders introduced into his government, insisted, that the resolution of the Council to protect such proceedings imported nothing less than a design to deprive him of his authority. Though he offered to let the arms proceed to Patna, if either Mr. Amyatt, Mr. M’Guire, or Mr. Hastings, were placed over the factory, he refused to send them to Ellis, as a man determined to employ them against him. He even insisted that the troops which were stationed at Patna, and for whom he paid, under the pretence of their being employed for the protection of his government, should not remain at the disposal of his enemy, but should be sent either to Calcutta or Mongeer.
The Council were unanimous in treating the detention of the arms as a very serious offence; and the deputation were instructed to take their departure, unless the boats were allowed to proceed. The Nabob wavered; and on the 19th of June, the gentlemen of the deputation wrote to the Council, that he had consented to release the boats of arms immediately; to enter upon negotiation without persisting as before in his preliminary demand of removing thebook iv.Chap. 5. 1763. troops from Patna; and that they had accordingly agreed to wait upon him the following day. The hopes, which were drawn from this communication, by those Members of the Council to whom peace was really dear, were speedily destroyed. Mr. Ellis, at an early period of the disputes, had presented urgent expostulations to the Council upon the necessity of being entrusted with discretionary powers, not only to act upon the defensive if attacked by the Nabob, but even to anticipate any hostile attempt by the seizure of Patna. This demand the President had very earnestly opposed, from a strong conviction that the precipitation of Mr. Ellis would force the Company into war. By alarming representations, however, of the imminent dangers to which the factory was exposed, and of the impossibility of receiving instructions from Calcutta in time for the adoption of measures indispensable for its safety, the permission which Mr. Ellis solicited was at last conferred. After a variety of reports received by the Nabob of operations, openly carried on by this gentleman, which could have nothing in view but a state of war, a letter was brought to him from the Governor of Patna, on the 20th or 21st, informing him that Mr. Ellis had made preparations, and even constructed ladders, for attacking the fort. This seems to have put an end to the inclination, if any, which he had still retained for avoiding, by accommodation, the hazard of war. Commands were sent to stop the arms, which had already proceeded up the river: Mr. Amyatt was allowed to return to Calcutta: But Mr. Hay was detained, as a hostage for the Nabob’s aumils, imprisoned by the English. Intelligence of the departure of Amyatt reached Mr. Ellis on the 24th. On that very night, he surprised book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. and took the city of Patna. The news of this attack carried the resentment of the Nabob to that degree of violence, to which a long course of provocation, terminated by a deadly injury, was calculated to raise that passion in a half-civilized mind. He dispatched his orders to seize and make prisoners of the English wherever they were to be found; among the rest to stop Mr. Amyatt, and send him with his retinue to Mongheer. As Mr. Amyatt refused to stop his boats, and answered the command which he received for that purpose by firing upon the Nabob’s people, the boats were immediately boarded, and in the struggle he himself, with several others, was slain.
Both parties now hastened to take the field. The Nabob was speedily encouraged by tidings from Patna. After Captain Carstairs, the officer commanding the English troops, which were sent a little before day-break on the morning of the 25th to surprise Patna, had, without much difficulty, finding the guards for the most part off their duty, scaled the walls; and after the Governor of Patna, who suddenly collected a portion of the garrison, and made a very short resistance, had left the city and fled towards Mongheer; the English, masters of the whole place, except the citadel, and a strong palace, into which an officer had thrown himself, broke through the rules of prudence as much in the prosecution, as they had broken through those of caution in the commencement of their operations; The troops were allowed to disperse, and were plundering the houses of the inhabitants; when the Governor, who had only marched a few miles before he met a detachment which had been sent to reinforce him from Mongheer, receiving at the same time intelligence of the resistance made by the citadel and palace, returned. The English were ill prepared tobook iv.Chap. 5. 1763. receive him. After a slight resistance they spiked their cannon, and retired to their factory. It was soon surrounded; when, fear taking place of their recent temerity, they evacuated the place during the night, and taking to their boats which were stationed at their cantonments at Bankipore they fled up the river to Chopperah, and towards the frontiers of Oude, where being attacked by the Fojedar of Sirkaur Sarun, they laid down their arms. The factory at Cossimbuzar was plundered about the same time; and all the English who belonged to it, as well as those who had fled from Patna, were sent prisoners to Mongheer.
It had some time before been determined in the Council, the President and Mr. Hastings refusing to concur, that in case of a war with Meer Causim, the door should be closed against accommodation, by divesting him of the government, and elevating another person to his throne. When the melancholy death, therefore, of Mr. Amyatt became known, a negotiation was immediately commenced with Meer Jaffier, whose puerile passion to reign made him eager to promise compliance with any conditious which were proposed. Besides confirming the grant which had been obtained from Meer Causim of the revenues of the provinces of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong, for defraying the expense of the English troops employed in the defence of the country, the new Subahdar granted exemption to the trade of the Company’s servants from all duties, except the two and a half per cent. which these servants themselves, out of their own liberality, agreed to pay upon the single article of salt. He consented also to rescind the ordinance of Meer Causim for the general remission of commercial imposts, and to levy book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. the ancient duties upon all except the English dealers. He engaged to maintain 12,000 horse, and 12,000 foot; to pay to the Company thirty lacks of rupees, on account of their losses and the expense of the war; to reimburse the personal losses of individuals, and to permit no Europeans but English to erect fortifications in the country.
On the 2d of July the English army was ordered to march from Gherettee. It consisted of 650 Europeans, and 1,200 Sepoys, exclusive of the black cavalry, commanded by Major Adams, of the King’s Eighty-fourth regiment; and was afterwards joined by 100 Europeans and a battalion of Sepoys from Midnapore. After concluding the treaty on the 11th, the new Nabob proceeded to the army, which he joined at Agurdeep on the 17th.
The first defensive movement of Meer Causim was to send three of his generals, with their respective troops, to post themselves, for the protection of Moorshedabad, between that city and the English army. That army encountered them on the 19th; and gave them a total defeat. They retreated from the battle towards Geriah, where they received command to post themselves, and where they were reinforced by the principal part of Meer Causim’s army, among the rest by the German Sumroo,1 who commanded the Sepoys, or the troops disciplined in the European manner, in the service of that Nabob. On the 23d the English army advanced to Chuna Collee, and on the 24th in the morning stormed the lines at Mootejil, which gave them possession of Moorshedabad. On the 2d of August they reached the plain of Geriah, near Sootee, where the enemy waited and gave them battle. It was the severest conflict which the English had yet sustained with anbook iv.Chap. 5. 1763. Indian army. Meer Causim had been very ambitious to introduce the European order among his troops; and he was now defended by a body of men better appointed and better disciplined than those which any native commander had ever brought into the field. The battle lasted four hours, during which the enemy once broke a part of the English line, took possession of two guns, and attacked the Eighty-fourth regiment in front and rear. The steadiness, however, of the English exhausted the impetuosity of their assailants, and in the end bestowed upon them a complete and brilliant victory. The enemy abandoned all their cannon, with 150 boats laden with provisions, and fled to a strong post on a small stream, called the Oodwa, where Meer Causim had formed a very strong entrenchment. On every reverse of fortune, the fears and the rage of that unhappy man appear to have inflamed him to a renewed act of cruelty; and Ramnarain, who hitherto had been retained a prisoner, with several chiefs and persons of distinction, was, upon the present disaster, ordered for execution. It was at this time only that Meer Causim, among whose qualities contempt of personal danger had no share, having first conveyed his family and treasures to the strong hold of Rotas, left Mongheer. He marched towards Oodwa, but halting at a distance, contented himself with forwarding some bodies of troops. The English approached the entrenchment on the 11th. It occupied the whole of a narrow space which extended between the river and the foot of the hills. The ditch, which was deep, was fifty or sixty feet broad, and full of water. The ground in front was swampy, and admitted no approach, except for a space of about 100 yards on the bank of the river. At this place book iv.Chap. 5. 1763. the English, harassed daily by numerous bodies of cavalry both in front and rear, were detained for nearly a month. On the 5th of September, while a feigned attack at the bank of the river engaged the attention of the enemy, a grand effort was made at the foot of the hills, and, in spite of an obstinate resistance, was crowned with success. Meer Causim, upon intelligence of this new misfortune, left his camp privately the succeeding night, and hastened to Mongheer, whither he was followed by the army in great disorder. He remained, however, only a few days, to secure some of his effects, and refresh his troops; and then proceeded towards Patna. He carried with him the English prisoners; and killed by the way the two celebrated Seets, the great Hindu bankers, whom, in the progress of his disputes with the English, he had seized and brought from Moorshedabad.
Mean time the English army advanced towards Mongheer, which they were obliged to attack regularly; but early in October they made a practicable breach, when the garrison, consisting of 2,000 Sepoys, capitulated. The loss of this place, which he had made his capital, threw Meer Causim into a paroxysm of rage; during which he ordered the English prisoners to be massacred; and Sumroo, the German, executed with alacrity the horrid command. Mr. Fullerton, the Surgeon, who, in the exercise of his profession, had gained a place in the affections of Meer Causim, was the only individual whom he spared. As the English were advancing towards Patna, Meer Causim departed to some distance from the city. The garrison defended it with spirit; even took one of the English batteries, and blew up their magazine. But the ruinous fortifications were not calculated for a prolonged resistance, and Patna was taken by storm on the 6th of November. After thebook iv.Chap. 5. 1764. loss of this place Meer Causim made no further resistance. He formed his resolution to throw himself upon the protection of the Nabob of Oude the Vizir, and made haste to take refuge in his dominions. The English army followed him to the banks of the Carumnassa, which they reached early in December.
A treaty, in which the Vizir had bound himself by his oath on the Coran to support the ejected Nabob, had been concluded, before that unfortunate chief crossed the boundary of his own dominions. At that time the Emperor and Sujah Dowla were encamped at Allahabad, preparing an expedition against Bundelcund, the predatory inhabitants of which had refused to pay their revenues. Meer Causim was received by them with all the distinction due to the greatest viceroy of the Mogul empire. As the enterprise against the Bundelas threatened to retard the assistance which he was impatient to receive against the English, he offered to reduce them with his own battalions, crossed the Jumna, took one of their fortresses, and so alarmed them, by his artillery, and his Sepoys, dressed and disciplined in the European manner, that they hastened to make their submission; and Sujah Dowla who, under pretence of assisting Meer Causim, already grasped in his expectation the three provinces of the East, marched with his allies to Benares, to make preparations for his selfish enterprise.
In the mean time the English, who were ignorant of his designs, and not without hopes that he would either deliver Meer Causim into their hands, or at least deprive him of his treasures and troops, directed that the army should be cantoned on the frontiers for the purpose of watching his motions. In this situation an alarming disaffection broke out among the troops. book iv.Chap. 5. 1764. The importance and difficulties of the service which they had rendered in recovering the provinces from Meer Causim, had raised a high expectation of some proportional reward: Nor had the opportunity of acting upon them been neglected by the emissaries of the enemy. On the 11th of February, the European battalion stood to their arms, and, after loading their pieces and fixing their bayonets, took possession of the artillery parks, and marched towards the Carumnassa. The Sepoys were also in motion; but, of them, by the exertions of their officers, a great proportion were induced to return. Of the Europeans, the English, with few exceptions, desisted and came back; the rest, in number about 300, of whom some were Germans, and the greater part were French, proceeded towards Benares. At the beginning of the month of March, when Major Carnac arrived to take the command, a mutinous disposition still prevailed among the troops; provisions were in great scarcity, and the preparations making for the invasion of the province by the Nabob of Oude were no longer a secret. Though urged by the Governor and Council to act upon the offensive, and to push the war into Suja Dowla’s dominions, he agreed with all his officers in opinion, that without a greater certainty of provisions, especially in the present temper of the troops, the hazard ought not to be incurred. At the beginning of April, when the enemy crossed the Ganges, and began to advance, the English, straitened for provisions, and afraid lest by a circuitous rout a detachment of the hostile army should get between them and Patna, retreated to that city and encamped under the walls. Early in the morning of the 3d of May the enemy approached in order of battle, and began a cannonade, which before noon was converted into a general and vigorous attack. Sumroo, with the choice of the infantry, supported by a large bodybook iv.Chap. 5. 1764. of cavalry, assailed the English in front; while the main body of the army made an onset in the rear. The English army, and particularly the Sepoys, who bore the principal weight of the attack, behaved with great steadiness and gallantry. It was sun-set before the enemy were completely repulsed. At that time the English were too much worn-out with fatigue to be able to pursue. Their loss, at least in Europeans, was inconsiderable: the slaughter of the assailants great. From this day till the 30th the enemy hovered about Patna, continually shifting their position, and keeping the English in perpetual expectation of a renewed attack, without allowing them an opportunity, such at least as Carnac thought it prudent to seize, of acting on the offensive. During this time Suja Dowla opened a correspondence with Meer Jaffier, the new Nabob: But as the English would listen to no proposal without the preliminary condition of surrendering Meer Causim, Sumroo, and the deserters; and as the pretensions of Suja Dowla extended to nothing less than the province of Bahar, it led to no agreement. The rains being now at hand, and the treasury of the Vizir severely feeling the burden of so great an army in the field, he marched away on the 30th, with great expedition. At this time the Emperor, uneasy under the treatment which he received from the greedy and unprincipled Vizir, sent a private message, offering to form a separate connexion with the English; but Major Carnac refused to open a correspondence. Without venturing to pursue the enemy, he sent a strong detachment across the Ganges, to threaten Suja Dowla’s frontier; which had the effect of making him hasten to his own dominions.
In the month of May, Major, afterwards Sir book iv.Chap. 5. 1764. Hector Munro, arrived from Bombay with a body of troops, partly King’s and partly Company’s; and hastened with them to Patna, to take the command of the army. He found the troops, Europeans as well as Sepoys, extremely mutinous, deserting to the enemy, threatening to carry off their officers, demanding higher pay, and a large donation, promised, as they affirmed, by the Nabob.1 The Major resolved to subdue this spirit by the severest measures. He had hardly arrived when a whole battalion of Sepoys, with their arms and accoutrements, went off to join the enemy. He immediately detached a body of troops on whom he thought he could depend, to pursue them and bring them back. They overtook them in the night, when asleep, and made them prisoners. The Major, ready to receive them with the troops under arms, ordered their officers to select fifty, whom they deemed the most depraved and mischievous, and of this fifty to select again twenty-four of the worst. He then ordered a field court-martial, composed of their own black officers, to be immediately held; and addressed the Court, impressing them with a sense of the destruction which impended over an army in which crimes like these were not effectually repressed. The prisoners were found guilty of mutiny and desertion, and sentenced to suffer death in any manner which the commander should direct. He ordered four of them to be immediately tied to the guns, and blown away; when four grenadiers presented themselves, and begged, as they had always had the post of honour, that they should first be allowed to suffer. After the death of these four men, the European officers of the battalions of Sepoys who were then in the field camebook iv.Chap. 5. 1764. to inform the Major that the Sepoys would not suffer the execution of any more. He ordered the artillery officers to load the field pieces with grape; and drew up the Europeans, with the guns in their intervals. He then desired the officers to return to the heads of their battalions; after which he commanded the battalions to ground their arms, and assured them if a man attempted to move that he would give orders to fire. Sixteen more of the twenty-four men were then blown away; the remaining four were sent to another place of cantonment, and executed in the same manner. Nothing is more singular, than that the same men, in whom it is endeavoured to raise to the highest pitch the contempt of death; and who may be depended upon for meeting it, without hesitation, at the hand of the enemy; should yet tremble, and be subdued, when threatened with it by their own officers.
The rains drawing to a close, Munro appointed the 15th of September as the day of rendezvous from the several places of cantonment. He then advanced towards the Soane, to which the enemy had forwarded several bodies of horse; and where they had thrown up some breast-works, to impede the passage of their assailants. Having sent a detachment to cross the river at some distance below, for the purpose of attacking the enemy at a concerted moment, and covering the passage of the troops, he gained the opposite side without molestation; and advanced toward Buxar, where the hostile armies were encamped. For the last two or three days the line of march was harassed by the enemy’s cavalry; and the Major encamped on the 22d of October within shot of the enemy’s camp, entrenched with the Ganges on its left, and the village and fort of Buxar in the rear. book iv.Chap. 5. 1764. An attack was intended the same night, but the spies not coming in till towards morning, it could not take place. About eight o’clock in the morning the enemy were seen advancing; and as the troops were encamped in order of battle, they were in a few minutes ready for action. The battle began about nine, and lasted till twelve; when the enemy gave way, and retired slowly, blowing up some tumbrils and magazines of powder as they withdrew. The Major ordered the line to break into columns and follow: but the enemy, by destroying a bridge of boats upon a stream of water two miles from the field of battle, effectually impeded the pursuit. This was one of the most critical and important victories in the history of the British wars in that part of the globe. It broke completely the force of Suja Dowla, the only Mogul chief who retained till this period any considerable strength; it placed the Emperor himself under the protection of the English; and left them without dispute the greatest power in India.
The very day after the battle, the Emperor sent his application to the English commander; who immediately wrote to the Presidency for directions; and received authority to conclude an agreement. The Emperor complained that he had been the state prisoner of Suja Dowla; and before the answer from Calcutta arrived, marched along with the English, and encamped with his guards close to them every night. When the army arrived at Benares, Suja Dowla sent his minister with overtures of peace; promising twenty-five lacks of rupees to reimburse the Company for the expenses of the war; twenty-five lacks to the army: and eight lacks to the Commander himself. The preliminary surrender of Meer Causim and Sumroo was still however demanded. The perfidious Vizir had already violated the laws of hospitality and honour towards his wretched guest.book iv.Chap. 5. 1764. A quarrel was picked, on account of the non-payment of the monthly subsidy which the Ex-Nabob had promised for the troops employed in attempting his restoration; the unhappy fugitive was arrested in his tent; and his treasures were seized. Still the Nabob dreaded the infamy of delivering him up; but, if that would satisfy the English, he offered to let him escape. With regard to Sumroo, his proposal was, to invite him to an entertainment, and have him dispatched in presence of any English gentleman who might be sent to witness the scene. As this mode of disposing of their enemies was not agreeable to English morality, the negotiation ceased: but Meer Causim, who dreaded the conclusion to which it might lead, contrived to escape with his family and a few friends into the Rohilla country, whither he had providently, before the plunder of his treasures, dispatched a dependant with some of his jewels.
The negotiation with the Emperor proceeded with less obstruction. It was proposed, and as far as mutual approbation extended, agreed and contracted; that the English, by virtue of the imperial grant, should obtain possession of Gauzeepore, and the rest of the territory of Bulwant Sing, the Zemindar of Benares; that on the other hand they should establish the Emperor in the possession of Allahabad, and the rest of the dominions of Suja Dowla; and the Emperor engaged to reimburse them afterwards, out of the royal revenues, for the whole of the expense which this service might oblige them to incur.
In the mean time, affairs of no trivial importance were transacting in the Council. They had been extremely urgent with Meer Jaffier to leave the army, and come down to Calcutta, before Major Carnac quitted the command. The treasury of the Company book iv.Chap. 5. 1764. was in a most exhausted state; and every effort was to be used to make Jaffier yield it a more abundant supply. In addition to the sums for which he had contracted in the recent treaty, a promise was drawn from him to pay five lacks per month toward the expense of the war so long as it should last. But his former engagements to the Company were not yet discharged. The payments also to individuals, stipulated under the title of compensation for losses, were swelled to an oppressive amount. When this article was first inserted in the treaty, the Nabob was informed, that the demand at the utmost would extend to a sum about ten lacks. That demand, however, was soon after stated at twenty, then at thirty, afterwards at forty, and at last was fixed at fifty-three lacks of rupees. We are assured by a Director of the Company, “That all delicacy was laid aside in the manner in which payment was obtained for this sum, of which seven-eighths was for losses sustained, or said to be sustained, in an illicit monopoly of the necessaries of life, carried on against the orders of the Company, and to the utter ruin of many thousands of the India merchants; that of the whole one half was soon extorted from him, though part of the payments to the Company was still undischarged, and though the Company was sinking under the burden of the war, and obliged to borrow great sums of money of their servants at eight per cent interest, and even with that assistance unable to carry on the war and their investment, but obliged to send their ships half loaded to Europe.”1 By the revenues of the three ceded districts, added to the monthly payment for the war, “the Company,” we are informed by Clive, “became possessed of one half of the Nabob’s revenues. He was allowed, says that greatbook iv.Chap. 5. 1764. informant, “to collect the other half for himself; but in fact he was no more than a banker for the Company’s servants, who could draw upon him” (meaning for presents) “as often, and to as great an amount as they pleased.”1 “To all other causes of embarrassment in the finances of Jaffier were added the abuses perpetrated in conducting the private trade of the Company’s servants, which not only disturbed the collection of the taxes, but impeded the industry of the whole country.2 In such circumstances it was to no purpose to harass the Nabob for larger payments. The importunities to which he was subjected3 only conspired, with the infirmities of age and of a body worn out with pleasure, to hurry him to his grave. After languishing several weeks book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. at Calcutta, he returned to Moorshedabad, loaded with disease, and died in January, 1765.
The making of a new Nabob, the most distinguished of all occasions for presents, was never disagreeable to the Company’s servants. The choice lay between the next surviving son of Jaffier, Nujeem ad Dowla, a youth of about twenty years of age; and the son of Meeran his eldest, a child of about six. According to the laws and customs of the country, the title of both might be regarded as equal. In point of right, the office of Subahdar was not only not hereditary, it was, like any other office under the Mogul government, held at the will of the Emperor; and, during the vigorous days of the Mogul dynasty, no Subahdar had ever been permitted to enjoy it long. In the decline of that power, the Subahdars became frequently, during their lives, too formidable to be removed; and the Emperors contented themselves with resuming their power when the provincial chief expired. But it sometimes also happened, that a son, brother, or other relative, succeeded too rapidly and too completely to the power of the deceased, to render it convenient to attempt his removal. The Emperor contented himself with a nominal, when an efficient choice was out of his power; and on these terms had the Subahdaree of the eastern provinces been held for some generations. The right of choice belonged unquestionably to the Emperor; but to this right the servants of the Company never for a moment thought of paying any regard. That unhappy, dependant sovereign, now stript of all his dominions, while great kingdoms were still governed in his name, might have recovered the immediate sovereignty of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, at the word of the English; or, despairing of so generous and self-denying a policy, would gladly have bestowed the Subahdareebook iv.Chap. 5. 1765. upon them. The duanee; or collection, receipt and disbursement of the revenue, which in the present state of the country implied all the powers of government, he had repeatedly offered to them; and very recently, through Major Munro. But the modesty of the English, still alarmed at the thought of declaring themselves sovereigns of Bengal, grasped powerfully at the reality, though it desired to shun the appearance, of power. The long minority, which would have followed the choice of the infant son of Meeran, would have placed the government, even to the minutest details, in the hands of the Company; and the present rulers were blamed by their successors for not securing so great an advantage. But they looked for some assistance in the drudgery of governing from a Nabob of mature age, and had no difficulty in believing that the shadow of power with which he was to be invested would little interfere with either the pleasure or the profits of English domination. Another motive had doubtless some weight: Nujeeb ad Dowla could give presents; the infant son of Meeran, whose revenues must be accounted for to the Company, could not.
In the treaty with the new Nabob, dated in February, 1765, it was resolved by the English, to take the military defence of the country entirely into their own hands; and to allow the Nabob to keep only so many troops as should be necessary for the parade of government, the distribution of justice, and the business of the collections. They had two motives; one was to preclude the possibility of inconvenience from the power of the Nabob; the second was to make provision for the defence of the country, which they found, by experience under Meer Jaffier, would depend almost entirely upon themselves. And we book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. may suppose that another consideration was not without its influence; that a still greater share of the revenues might pass through their hands. The civil government of the country was no less effectually transferred from the Nabob to his faithful allies. He bound himself to choose, by the advice of the Governor and Council, a Deputy, who, under the appellation of Naib Subah, should have the entire management of all the affairs of government, and not be removable without their consent. The Nabob suffered more in submitting to this condition than to all the rest; and showed extreme solicitude about the choice of the person who was to fill that important office. Mahomed Reza Khan was appointed by the Governor and Council; and appears to have been one of the best men, whom, under Indian morality, it was easy to find. The Nabob was eager for the nomination of Nuncomar, who, beyond dispute, was one of the worst. This man, who was governor of Hoogley, at the time when Suraja Dowla took Calcutta, had rendered himself conspicuous by a restless ambition, and unbounded avarice, which he sought to gratify by the vilest arts of intrigue, by dissimulation, and perfidy. He had at an early period, become odious to the English, as a deceitful and dangerous character, and was a prisoner at Calcutta for having corresponded with their enemies, while Meer Jaffier resided there, during the Nabobship of Meer Causim. During this time, he paid his court so very successfully to the dethroned Nabob, that upon his restoration, he solicited, as an object of the first importance, to be allowed to employ Nuncomar as his minister. Though Vansittart, and even some of those who in general concurred not in his views, objected to this arrangement, on account of the exceptionable character of the man, the Council, as the last triumph, according to Vansittart, of a factiousbook iv.Chap. 5. 1765. party, decided, that the Nabob might enjoy his choice. Nuncomar redeemed not his character with the English, while he governed the Nabob. The want of corn, under which the operations of the army were impeded at Patna, the disappointments in the receipt of monies from the Nabob, were all principally laid to the charge of Nuncomar; who was also vehemently suspected of having carried on a traitorous correspondence with the Nabob of Oude. Mr. Vansittart had, a little before this time, returned to Europe; and was succeeded in the chair by Mr. Spencer, as the oldest member of the board. As opposition to the Governor, therefore, no longer actuated the Council, the general opinion of the bad character of Nuncomar produced its proper effect; and he was peremptorily excluded from the government of the country. The other conditions of the treaty were nearly the same as those of the treaty with the old Nabob. Beside the revenues of Burdwan, Midnapore, and Chittagong, the five lacks per month were to be continued during the war, and as much of them after the war as the state of the country might, to the English, seem to require. And the grand privilege to the Company’s servants of trading free from the duties which other merchants paid within the country, and of paying only two and a half per cent. upon the single article of salt, was carefully preserved. The government of the country was now so completely in the hands of the English, that the accountants of the revenue were not to be appointed except with their approbation.
During the military and political transactions which so intensely engaged their servants in India, the Courts of Directors and Proprietors remained for several years rather quiet spectators and warm expectants, book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. than keen and troublesome controulers. When they had been agitated for a while, however, by the reports of mismanagement which were mutually transmitted to them by Vansittart and his opponents; and, at last, when they were alarmed by the news, of a war actually kindled with the Nabob, of the massacre of so many of their servants, and the extensive spirit of mutiny among the troops, their sense of danger roused them to some acts of authority. Though Clive had quitted India with an act of insult towards his employers, which they had highly resented; though the Directors had disputed and withheld payment of the proceeds of his jaghire, for which he had commenced a suit against them in the court of Chancery; he was now proposed for Governor as the only man capable of retrieving their disordered and desperate affairs. Only thirteen Directors, however, were found, after a violent contest, to vote for his appointment; while it was still opposed by eleven. Yet the high powers which he demanded, as indispensable for the arduous services necessary to be performed, though strongly opposed, were also finally conferred. He was invested with the powers of Commander in Chief, President, and Governor in Bengal; and, together with four gentlemen, named by the Directors, was to form a Select Committee, empowered to act by their own authority, as often as they deemed it expedient, without consulting the Council, or being subject to its controul.
The Directors, at the same time, condemned, in the severest terms, the rapacious and unwarranted proceedings of their servants. In their letter to the Governor and Council of Bengal, dated the 8th of February, 1764, “One grand source,” they said, “of the disputes, misunderstandings, and difficulties, which have occurred with the country government,book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. appears evidently to have taken its rise from the unwarrantable and licentious manner of carrying on the private trade by the Company’s servants, their gomastahs, agents, and others, to the prejudice of the Subah, both with respect to his authority and the revenues justly due to him; the diverting and taking from his natural subjects the trade in the inland parts of the country, to which neither we, or any persons whatsoever dependent upon us, or under our protection, have any manner of right. In order, therefore, to remedy all these disorders, we do hereby positively order and direct,—That from the receipt of this letter, a final and effectual end be forthwith put to the inland trade in salt, beetle-nut, tobacco, and all other articles whatsoever, produced and consumed in the country.”1 In his correspondence book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. with the Court of Directors, on the subject of his return to Bengal, Clive expressed himself in the following manner: “The trading in salt, beetle-nut, and tobacco, having been one cause of the present disputes, I hope these articles will be restored to the Nabob, and your servants absolutely forbid to trade in them. This will be striking at the root of the evil.”1 At a general meeting, however, of proprietors, held on the 18th of May, 1764, it was urged by several active members, and urged to the conviction of the majority, that the servants of the Company in India ought not to be deprived of such precious advantages; which enabled them to revisit their native countries with such independent fortunes as they were entitled to expect. The Court therefore RESOLVED, “That it be recommended to the Court of Directors to reconsider the orders sent to Bengal relative to the trade of the Company’s servants in salt, beetel-nut, and tobacco, and to regulate this important point, either by restrictions framed at home, or by referring it to the Governor and Council of Fort William.” In consequence of this recommendation, the Court of Directors, by letter dated 1st of June, 1764, and sent by the same ship which carried out Lord Clive, instruct the Governor and Council, after “consulting the Nabob, to form a proper and equitable plan for carrying on the inland trade.”
The presents which, since their acquiring an ascendency in the government, their servants had been in the habit of receiving, sometimes to a very large amount, from the Nabobs and other chiefs of the country, were another subject which now engagedbook iv.Chap. 5. 1765. the serious attention of the Company. The practice which prevails in all rude governments of accompanying any application to a man in power with a gratification to some of his ruling passions, most frequently to the steadiest of all his passions, his avarice or rapacity, has always remarkably distinguished the governments in the East, and hardly any to so extraordinary a degree as the governments of the very rude people of India. When the English suddenly acquired their extraordinary power in Bengal, the current of presents, so well accustomed to take its course in the channel drawn by hope and fear, flowed very naturally, and very copiously, into the lap of the strangers. A person in India, who had favours to ask, or evil to deprecate, could not easily believe, till acceptance of his present, that the great man to whom he addressed himself was not his foe. Besides the sums, which we may suppose it to have been in the power of the receivers to conceal, and of the amount of which it is not easy to form a conjecture, the following were detected and disclosed by the Committee of the House of Commons, in 1773.
book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. “Account of such Sums as have been proved or acknowledged before the Committee to have been distributed by the Princes and other Natives of Bengal, from the Year 1757 to the Year 1766, both inclusive; distinguishing the principal Times of the said Distributions, and specifying the Sums received by each Person respectively.
book iv.Chap. 5. 1765.
book iv.Chap. 5. 1765.
book iv.Chap. 5. 1765.
Memorandum. The rupees are valued according to the rate of exchange of the Company’s bills at the different periods.”1
book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. That this was a practice, presenting the strongest demand for effectual regulation, its obvious consequences render manifest and indisputable. In the first place, it laid the nabobs, rulers, and other leading men of the country, under endless and unlimited oppression; because, so long as they on whom their whole power and influence depended were pleased to desire presents, nothing could be withheld which they either possessed, or had it in their power to ravage and extort. That the temptations under which the servants of the Company were placed carried them to those heights of exaction which were within their reach, is far from true. They showed, on the contrary, a reserve and forbearance, which the education received in no other country, probably in the world, except their own, could have enabled men, in their extraordinary circumstances, to maintain. Besides the oppression upon the people of the country, to which the receiving of presents prepared the way, this dangerous practice laid the foundation of perpetual perfidy in the servants of the Company to the interests of their employers. Not those plans of policy which were calculated to produce the happiest results to the Company, but those which were calculated to multiply the occasions for presents, and render them most effectual, were the plans recommended by the strongest motives of interest to the agents and representatives of the Company in India. It is still less true, in the case of perfidy to the Company, than in the case of oppression to the natives, that the interest of the Company’s servants were to the greatest practicable extent pursued. There seems not upon the most jealous scrutiny, any reason to believe that any one of the greatest transactions, or revolutions, in which the English, up to this period, were instrumental, was not sincerely regarded at the time, by the men on whom the decision depended,book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. as required by the interests of their employers and country; nor has it yet been certainly made appear, that in any of the instances in question, the circumstances of the moment admitted of a better decision.
The Company now resolved that the benefit of presents should at any rate change masters: And they ordained and commanded, that new covenants, dated May, 1764, should be executed by all their servants, both civil and military, binding them to pay to the Company the amount of all presents and gratuities in whatsoever shape, received from the natives in case the amount exceeded four thousand rupees; and not to accept any present or gratuity, though not exceeding four thousand rupees, if amounting to so much as one thousand, without the consent of the President and Council. An unbounded power was still reserved by the Honourable Company for receiving or extorting presents in benefit to themselves. But as their servants were in no danger of being so rapacious for their masters’ emolument, as their own, any effects which this regulation was calculated to produce were all naturally good.
With these powers and regulations Lord Clive (such was now the rank and title of this Anglo-Indian chief) sailed from England on the 4th of June 1764, and arrived at Madras on the 10th of April, 1765; where he received intelligence that the dangers of which the alarm had sent him to India were entirely removed; that the troops were obedient; that not only Meer Causim was expelled, but all his supporters subdued; that the Emperor had cast himself upon the protection of the English; and that the Nabob Meer Jaffier was dead. His sentiments upon book iv.Chap. 5. 1765. this intelligence were communicated in a private letter to Mr. Rous, dated seven days exactly after his arrival; “We have at last,” said he, “arrived at that critical period, which I have long foreseen; I mean that period which renders it necessary for us to determine, whether we can or shall take the whole to ourselves. Jaffier Ally Khan is dead, and his natural son is a minor; but I know not whether he is yet declared successor. Sujah Dowla is beat from his dominion; we are in possession of it, and it is scarcely hyperbole to say, To-morrow the whole Mogul empire is in our power. The inhabitants of the country, we know by long experience, have no attachment to any obligation. Their forces are neither disciplined, commanded, nor paid as ours are. Can it then be doubted that a large army of Europeans will effectually preserve us sovereigns; not only holding in awe the attempts of any country Prince, but by rendering us so truly formidable that no French, Dutch, or other enemy will presume to molest us.—You will, I am sure, imagine with me, that after the length we have run, the Princes of Indostan must conclude our views to be boundless; they have such instances of our ambition, that they cannot suppose us capable of moderation. The very Nabobs whom we might support would be either covetous of our possessions, or jealous of our power. Ambition, fear, avarice, would be daily watching to destroy us: a victory would be but a temporary relief to us; for the dethroning of the first Nabob would be followed by setting up another, who, from the same principles, would, when his treasure admitted of his keeping up an army, pursue the very path of his predecessor. We must indeed become Nabobs ourselves, in fact, if not in name;—perhaps totally so without disguise, but on this subject I cannot be certain until my arrival in Bengal.” Withbook iv.Chap. 5. 1765. these views of the bold and splendid measures which it was now the time to pursue; and anticipating the important effects which those dazzling transactions would have on the price of the Company’s Stock, this great man forgot not to deliberate how they might be directed to bear upon his own pecuniary interests. He wrote on the very same day to his private agent in London, as follows: “I have desired Mr. Rous to furnish you with a copy of my letter to him of this day’s date, likewise with the cypher, that you may be enabled to understand what follows: ’The contents are of great importance, that I would not have them transpire. Whatever money I have in the public Funds, or any where else, and as much as can be borrowed in my name, I desire may be, without loss of a minute, invested in East India Stock. You will speak to my Attorneys on this point. Let them know I am anxious to have my money so disposed of; and press them to hasten the affair as much as possible.’”1 The letter to Mr. Rous, and the shortness of the period which intervened between the arrival of Lord Clive in Bengal and his assuming the duanee or revenues, would leave no doubt that he commanded all the money which he possessed, or which he could borrow, to be invested in India Stock, in contemplation of the rise of price which that measure was calculated to produce; had he not, when examined on the subject of this letter by the Committee of the House of Commons, declared absolutely, “that he had not while at Madras formed the resolution to seize the duanee.”
Clive’s Letter to the Proprietors of E. I. Stock, in 1764, p. 30.
Orme, ii. 53.
Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 8.
Orme, ii. 272. Clive, however, (Report, ut supra); and the author of the Seer Mutakhareen (ii. 8), both say that the murdered prince was a brother of Suraja Dowla.
Orme calls him Jaffier’s relation; but the author of the Seer Mutakhareen (ii. 9), who had better opportunities of knowing, says he was only the son, by a concubine, of a man who had married Jaffier’s sister.
Mr. Scrafton (Reflections on the Government, &c. of Indostan, p. 115) says, “At this crisis, when military virtue and unanimity were more immediately necessary, the Directors, divided by violent contests among themselves, which certainly did them no honour, were so unfortunate in their judgment, as to appoint four Governors of Bengal, to govern each four months, and left Colonel Clive entirely out of this list. The absurdity of such a system was too apparent to take place,” &c.
Report, ut supra. The influence of the Colonel is depicted by the following anecdote. There was an officer of rank, to whom Jaffier had been often indebted before his elevation, remarkable for his wit. This, from their former intimacy, and a jealousy of present neglect, he did not spare on the Nabob himself. While the armies of the Nabob and of Clive were at Patna, he was one day accused to the Nabob of having permitted a fray between some of his own soldiers and some of Clive’s. “It chanced,” says the author of the Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 19, “that Mirza Shemseddin himself made his appearance at that very moment: it was in full durbar and in the hall of audience. The Nawab fixed his eyes upon him, and spoke a few words that seemed to border upon reprimand: ’Sir;’ said he, ’your people have had a fray with the Colonel’s people: Is your honour to learn who is that Colonel Clive, and in what station heaven has seated him?’ ’My Lord Nawab,’ answered the Mirza, getting up instantly, and standing bolt-upright before him: ’Me, to quarrel with the Colonel! me! who never get up in the morning, without making three profound bows to his very jack ass! How then could I be daring enough, after that, to fall out with the rider himself!’”
Orme, ii. 356.
Orme says, (ii. 363,) “Clive did not entertain a surmise that it would be taken whilst it had provisions.” But Clive himself says, (Report, ut supra,) Nothing saved Madras from sharing the fate of Fort St. David, but their [the French] want of money, which gave time for strengthening and reinforcing the place.”
Orme only says, (ii. 364,) “The measure was too vigorous to be acceptable to all the members of the council.” But Clive himself says (Report, ut supra), that he undertook it, “contrary to the inclinations of his whole council.”
Orme, ii. 269–287, and 352–363; Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 4–24.
Orme, ii. 375–380, 472–491, 554; Wilks, p. 401.
The Prince, Holwell assures us, (Memorial, p. 2) repeatedly offered to grant the English their own terms, if they would assist him in recovering his rights. On what side justice lay, is evident enough. On what side policy, whether on that which Clive rejected, or that which he chose, is a more subtle inquiry.
Scott’s History of Bengal, p. 379–391; Seer Mutakhareen, vol. ii. part ii. p. 42–89; Francklin’s Shah Auluin, p. 8–11; First Report of the Select Committee in 1772; Holwell’s Memorial, p. 2.
First Report from the Select Committee in 1772; Holwell’s Memorial; Calliaud’s Narrative. The author of the Seer Mutakhareen wonders greatly what could be the reason of Clive’s quitting the government; a sentiment very natural to him, who well understood the pleasure of governing; but could not so easily conceive the passion of an Englishman to see lodged a princely fortune in his own country.
It is stated at 60,000 men by Calliaud (Narrative of what happened in Bengal in 1760, p. 7); but this we conceive is an exaggerated conjecture.
The remarks of the Mogul nobleman, who was in Patna at the moment of the action, are amusing at least. “What remained of their people,” he says, “was rallied by Doctor William Fullerton, a friend of mine, and possibly by some English officers whose names I know not, who ranged them in order again; and as one of their guns was to be left on the field of battle, they found means to render it useless and of no avail, by thrusting a large needle of iron into its eye. The other being in good condition, they took it with them, together with its ammunition; and that handful of men had the courage to retire in the face of a victorious enemy without once shrinking from their ranks. During their journey, the cart of ammunition chanced to receive some damage; the Doctor stopped unconcernedly, and after having put it in order, he bravely pursued his route again; and it must be acknowledged, that this nation’s presence of mind, firmness of temper, and undaunted bravery, are past all question. They join the most resolute courage to the most cautions prudence; nor have they their equals in the art of ranging themselves in battle array, and fighting in order. If to so many military qualifications they knew how to join the arts of government; if they showed a concern for the circumstances of the husbandman and the gentleman, and exerted as much ingenuity and solicitude in relieving and easing the people of God, as they do in whatever concerns their military affairs, no nation in the world would be preferable to them, or prove worthier of command. But such is the little regard which they show to the people of these kingdoms, and such their apathy and indifference for their welfare, that the people under their dominion groan every where, and are reduced to poverty and distress. Oh God! come to the assistance of thine afflicted servants, and deliver them from the oppressions they suffer.” Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 101.
The author of the Seer Mutakhareen, who had a distant view of the battle from the walls of Patna, describes, with much effect, the alternation of hopes and fears which agitated the inhabitants, as the various reports of the battle reached the city, or the tokens which came to their eyes and their ears were variously interpreted. At last, he says, “when the day was far spent, a note came to Mr. Amyatt from Captain Knox, which mentioned that the enemy was defeated and flying. This intelligence was sent to all the principal men of the city, and caused a deal of joy. I went to the factory to compliment the gentlemen, when in the dusk of the evening Captain Knox himself crossed over, and came with Shitabroy in his company. They were both covered with dust and sweat. The Captain then gave some detail of the battle, and paid the greatest encomiums on Shitabroy’s zeal, activity, and valour. He exclaimed several times, ’This is a real Nawab; I never saw such a Nawab in my life.’ A few moments after, Ramnarain was introduced. He had in his company both Mustapha Coollee Khan, and the Cutwal of the city, with some other men of consequence, who, on hearing of the arrival of these two men, had flocked to the factory; and on seeing them alone could not help believing that they had escaped from the slaughter; so far were they from conceiving that a few hundreds of men could defeat a whole army. Nor could they be made to believe (impressed as they were with Hindian notions) that a commander could quit his army so unconcernedly, unless he had indeed run away from it; nor would listen to what Mr. Amyatt repeatedly said to convince Ramnarain and others of their mistake.” Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 123.
Calliaud, on this occasion too, complains heavily of Meeran: “The young Nabob and his troops behaved in this skirmish in their usual manner, halting above a mile in the rear, nor ever once made a motion to sustain the English. Had he but acted on this occasion with the least appearance of spirit, and made even a semblance of fighting, the affair must have proved decisive; nor could Cuddum Houssein Khan or his treasure have escaped.” Calliaud’s Narrative, p. 34.
On the history of this second invasion of the Mogul Prince, see Scott’s Hist. of Bengal, p. 392–397; Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 91–139; Calliaud’s Narrative of what happened in Bengal in 1760, p. 1–36; Calliaud’s Evidence before the Committee of 1772; Calliaud’s Letters to Holwell’s Tracts, p. 27; Francklin’s Shah Aulum, p. 12.
Vansittart’s Narrative, i. 19, 22. The distress at home created by these bills was not inferior to what was endured in India. “The funds of the Company in Europe,” says the same unquestionable authority, “were not sufficient to pay the bills when they became due: and it is a fact well known upon the Royal Exchange, that in the year 1758, the Directors prevailed not without difficulty, upon the bill-holders, to grant a further time for the payment of their bills; if this accommodation had failed, the consequence would have been what I need not name.” A Letter to the Proprietors of the East India Stock from Mr. Henry Vansittart, p. 13.
The necessity of an increased expenditure, and the total want of funds for defraying it, under the arrangements of Clive, is satisfactorily defended against objectors by Mr. Vansittart, in his Letter to the Proprietors, p. 17–22.
First Report of the Committee in 1772; Vansittart’s Narrative, i. 19–123; Holwell’s Memorial; Scrafton’s Observations on Vansittart’s Narrative; Vansittart’s Letter to the Proprietors of East India Stock in answer to Scrafton; Verelst’s View of the English Government in Bengal; Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 130–160; Scott’s Hist. of Bengal, p. 399–401.
It is interesting and delightful to hear the account of the native historian. “When the Emperor left the field of battle, the handful of troops that followed M. Law, discouraged by this flight, and tired of the wandering life which they had hitherto led in his service, turned about likewise and followed the Emperor. M. Law, finding himself abandoned and alone, resolved not to turn his back; he bestrode one of his guns, and remained firm in that posture, waiting for the moment of his death. This being reported to Major Carnac, he detached himself from his main, with Captain Knox and some other officers, and he advanced to the man on the gun, without taking with him either a guard or any Talingas (Sepoys) at all. Being arrived near, this troop alighted from their horses, and pulling their caps from their heads, they swept the air with them, as if to make him a salam: and this salute being returned by M. Law in the same manner, some parley in their language ensued. The Major, after paying high encomiums to M. Law for his perseverance, conduct, and bravery, added these words: ’You have done every thing which could be expected from a brave man; and your name shall be undoubtedly transmitted to posterity by the pen of history: now loosen your sword from your loins, come amongst us, and abandon all thoughts of contending with the English.’ The other answered, ’That if they would accept of his surrendering himself just as he was, he had no objection; but that as to surrendering himself with the disgrace of being without his sword, it was a shame he would never submit to; and that they might take his life if they were not satisfied with that condition.’ The English commanders, admiring his firmness, consented to his surrendering himself in the manner he wished; after which the Major with his officers shook hands with him, in their European manner, and every sentiment of enmity was instantly dismissed on both sides. At the same time the Major sent for his own palaukeen, made him sit in it, and he was sent to camp. M. Law, unwilling to see or to be seen, shut up the curtains of the palaukeen for fear of being recognised by any of his friends at camp; but yet some of his acquaintances, hearing of his being arrived, went to him. The Major, who had excused him from appearing in public, informed them that they could not see him for some days, as he was too much vexed to receive any company. Ahmed Khan Koteishee, who was an impertinent talker, having come to look at him, thought to pay his court to the English by joking on the man’s defeat; a behaviour that has nothing strange, if we consider the times in which we live, and the company he was accustomed to frequent; and it was in that notion of his, doubtless, that with much pertness of voice and air, he asked him this question; ’And Biby (Lady) Law, where is she?’ The Major and the officers present, shocked at the impropriety of the question, reprimanded him with a severe look, and very severe expressions: ’This man,’ they said, ’has fought bravely, and deserves the attention of all brave men; the impertinences which you have been offering him may be customary amongst your friends and your nation, but cannot be suffered in ours, which has it for a standing rule, never to offer an injury to a vanquished foe.’ Ahmed Khan, checked by this reprimand, held his tongue, and did not answer a word. He tarried about one hour more in his visit, and then went away much abashed; and, although he was a commander of importance, and one to whom much honour had been always paid, no one did speak to him any more, or made a show of standing up at his departure. This reprimand did much honour to the English; and, it must be acknowledged, to the honour of those strangers, that as their conduct in war and in battle is worthy of admiration, so, on the other hand, nothing is more modest and more becoming than their behaviour to an enemy, whether in the heat of action, or in the pride of success and victory; these people seem to act entirely according to the rules observed by our ancient commanders, and our men of genius.” Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 165, 166.
Major Carnac (see his Evidence in the Third Report of the Committee of 1772) beheved that he owed nothing at all.
Both insisted upon the fact, that Ramnarain was ready to account fairly. In a letter of Major Carnac’s to the Select Committee, dated 13th April, 1761, he says, “I have long had reason to suspect the Nabob had ill designs against Ramnarain, and have now found my suspicions to be too true. His Excellency (the Nabob) made a heavy complaint to me yesterday, in the presence of Mr. M’Guire, Major Yorke, Messrs. Lushington and Swinton, that there was a considerable balance due on the revenues of this province. Ramnarain has declared to me, that he was ready to lay the accounts before him; however, as the two parties differ widely in their statements, Mr. M’Guire and I proposed, that they should each make out their accounts, and refer them to your board, who would fairly decide between them. This, which I thought was a reasonable proposal, was so far from being satisfactory to the Nabob, that he plainly declared, nothing less could satisfy him than the Mahraje’s being removed from the Naibut of this province before be returned to Moorshedabad. “First Report of the Committee in 1772, App. No. 13. In his evidence before the Committee, Carnac says, “The plea of his being in arrear was the pretext always made use of for oppressing him, but without foundation; for in the frequent conversations I had with Ramnarain on the subject, he always seemed ready to come to a fair and equitable account.”
Vansittart’s Narrative, i. 141–271; The Evidence of Carnac and Coote in the First Report, and that of Clive, M’Guire, and Carnac, in the Third Report of the Committee, 1722; Scott’s Hist. of Bengal, p. 404–409; Seer Mutakhareen, ii. 160–181; Verelst’s View of the English Government in Bengal, p. 47.
His payments to the Company consisted of twenty-six lacs of sicca rupees, of 2s. 8 1/2d., together with fifty-three lacs of current rupees, of 2s. 4d., derived from the ceded districts. See Vansittart’s Minute, Narrative, ii. 33.
Mr. Verelst says, (View of Bengal, p. 8 and 46) “The reader must here be informed, that a trade, free from duties, had been claimed by the Company’s servants, supported by their forces, and established by the last treaty with Meer Jaffier; and that this article, though condemned by the Directors, was afterwards transcribed into the treaty with his son Nudjum al Dowlah. The contention during two years with Meer Cossim, in support of this trade, greatly weakened the country government, which his subsequent overthrow quite annihilated. At this time many black merchants found it expedient to purchase the name of any young writer in the Company’s service, by loans of money, and under this sanction harassed and oppressed the natives. So plentiful a supply was derived from this source, that many young writers were enabled to spend 1,500l. and 2000l. per annum, were clothed in fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.”—“A trade was carried on without payment of duties, in the prosecution of which infinite oppressions were committed. English agents or gomastahs, not contented with injuring the people, trampled on the authority of government, binding and punishing the Nabob’s officers, whenever they presumed to interfere. This was the immediate cause of the war with Meer Cossim.”
The following letter to the Nabob from one of his officers affords a specimen of the complaints; it is dated Backergunge, May 25, 1762: “The situation of affairs at this place obliges me to apply to your honour for instructions for my further proceedings.—My instructions which I brought here were, that in case any Europeans or their servants committed any disorders, they were to be sent to Calcutta, notwithstanding any pretence they shall make for so doing.—Notwithstanding the rigour of these orders, I have ever made it my business (when any thing trifling happened) to endeavour, by gentle means, to persuade the gentlemen’s gomastahs here to act in a peaceable manner; which, although repeated several times, has had no effect; but, on the contrary, has occasioned their writing complaints of me to their respective masters, that I obstructed them in their business, and ill-used them; and in return I have received menacing letters from several gentlemen, threatening, if I interfere with their servants, to use such measures as I may repent; nor have the gentlemen only done this, their very gomastahs have made it public here, that in case I stop them in any proceeding, they will use the same methods; for the truth of which I have good proofs. Now, Sir, I am to inform you what I have obstructed them in; this place was of great trade formerly, but now brought to nothing by the following practices.—A gentleman sends a gomastah here to buy or sell. He immediately looks upon himself as sufficient to force every inhabitant, either to buy his goods or sell him theirs; and on refusal (in case of non-capacity), a flogging or confinement immediately ensues. This is not sufficient even when willing, but a second force is made use of, which is to engross the different branches of trade to themselves, and not to suffer any persons to buy or sell the articles they trade in; and if the country people do it, then a repetition of their authority is put in practice; and again, what things they purchase, they think the least they can do is, to take them for a considerable deal less than another merchant, and often times refuse paying that, and my interfering occasions an immediate complaint.—These, and many other oppressions which are daily practised, is the reason that this place is growing destitute of inhabitants, &c.—Before, justice was given in the public cutcheree, but now every gomastah is become a judge; they even pass sentences on the Zemindars themselves, and draw money from them by pretended injuries.” Vansittart’s Narrative, ii. 112.
Clive, in his speech, March 30, 1772, afterwards published by himself, said, “The natives paid infinitely more—and that this was no remedy to the grievance of which the Nabob complained.” See Almon’s Debates, from April 1772 to July 1773, where the speech is reprinted, p. 9. The Company afterwards rated the duties at forty per cent., and called this “a treaty exacted by force to obtain to their servants a sanction for a trade to enrich themselves.”
In the Council, the President and Mr. Hastings were, as before, the only dissentients, and said (see their minute, Consultation, March 24), “We cannot think the Nabob to blame (in abolishing the duties); nor do we see how he could do otherwise. For although it may be for our interest to determine, that we will have all the trade in our hands, take every article of the produce of the country off the ground at the first hand, and afterward send it where we please free of customs, yet it is not to be expected that the Nabob will join with us in endeavouring to deprive every merchant of the country of the means of carrying on their business, which must undoubtedly soon be the case, if they are obliged to pay heavy duties, and we trade in every article on the footing before-mentioned.—Neither in our opinion could the Nabob in such circumstances collect enough to pay the expense of the chokeys, collectors, &c. As to the Nabob’s rights to lay trade open, it is our opinion, that the Nazim of every province has a right to any thing for the relief of the merchants trading under his protection.” Vansittart, iii. 74.
This adventurer came to India as a serjeant in the French army.
It appears by Munro’s evidence (First Report, Committee, 1772) that such a promise was made to them, and through Major Adams.
Scrafton’s Observations on Vansittart’s Narrative, p. 48, 49.
Clive’s Speech, March 30th, 1772, in Almon’s Debates, x. 14.
Mr. Gray, resident at Maulda, of date January, 1764, wrote to the President, “Since my arrival here, I have had an opportunity of seeing the villanous practices used by the Calcutta gomastahs in carrying on their business. The government have certainly too much reason to complain of their want of influence in their country, which is torn to pieces by a set of rascals, who in Calcutta walk in rags, but when they are set out on gomastahships, lord it over the country, imprisoning the ryots and merchants, and writing and talking in the most insolent, domineering manner to the fouzdars and officers.” In like manner, Mr. Senior, Chief at Cossimbuzar, wrote, in March, 1764, “It would amaze you, the number of complaints that daily come before me of the extravagances committed by our agents and gomastahs all over the country.” See Verelst, p. 49.
“Your Committee then examined Archibald Swinton, Esq. who was Captain in the army in Bengal in 1765, and also Persian interpreter and Aid-de-Camp to General Carnac: And he informed your Committee, That he had frequent conversations with Meer Jaffier about the five lacks of rupees per month, stipulated to be paid by Meer Jaffier in October, 1764, and the other demands made on him by the Board; of which he frequently heard Meer Jaffier complain bitterly; and of all the demands made upon him at that time, which had not been stipulated in the treaty with the Company on his restoration—particularly the increased demand for restitution of losses, and the donation to the navy.” Third Report, Committee, 1772.
See the Extract at length in the Second Report, Select Committee, 1772. In another letter to the Governor and Council of Bengal, dated 24th December, 1765, the Directors say, “Your deliberations on the inland trade have laid open to us a scene of most cruel oppression, which is indeed exhibited at one view of the 13th article of the Nabob’s complaints, mentioned thus in your Consultation of the 17th October, 1764: ’The poor of the country, who used always to deal in salt, beetelnut, and tobacco, are now deprived of their daily bread by the trade of the Europeans, whereby no kind of advantage accrues to the Company, and the Government’s revenues are greatly injured.’ We shall for the present observe to you, that every one of our servants concerned in this trade has been guilty of a breach of his covenants, and a disobedience to our orders. In your Consultations of the 3d of May, we find among the various extortionate practices, the most extraordinary one of buijaut, or forcing the natives to buy goods beyond the market price, which you there acknowledged to have been frequently practised. In your resolution to prevent this practice you determine to lorbid it, ’but with such care and discretion as not to affect the Company’s investment, as you do not mean to invalidate the right derived to the Company from the phirmaund, which they have always held over the weavers:’ As the Company are known to purchase their investment by ready money only, we require a full explanation how this can affect them, or how it ever could have been practised in the purchase of their investment, (which the latter part of Mr. Johnstone’s minute, entered on Consultation the 21st July, 1764, insinuates); for it would almost justify a suspicion, that the goods of our servants have been put off to the weavers, in part payment of the Company’s investment.”
Letter to Directors, dated 27th April, 1764. Fourth Report, App. No. 2.
Third Report on the Nature, State, and Condition of E. 1. Company, 1772, p. 20–23.
Extracts of both Letters are given in the Appendix, No. lxxxii. and lxxxiii. of the Third Report of the Committee, 1772.