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James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 3 [1817]

Edition used:

James Mill, The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 3.

About this Title:

James Mill’s History is a work of Benthamite “philosophical history” from which the reader is supposed to draw lessons about human nature, reason and religion, and the deleterious impact of commercial monopolies like the East India Company.

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The text is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents:

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in six volumes.

Hoc autem pressè et distinctè excutiamus sermone quodam activo et masculo, nusquam digrediendo, nil amplificando.

Bacon, De Augm. Scient. Lib. ii.
printed for baldwin, cradock, and joy.
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  • BOOK IV. from the establishment, on legislative authority, of one exclusive company, in the year 1708, till the change in the constitution of the company, by the act of 13th geo. iii. in 1773.
    • CHAPTER I. The Constitution of the East India. Company, its practical Arrangements for the Conduct of Business, and Transactions till the Conclusion of the War with France by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle 1
    • CHAPTER II. Origin, Progress, and Suspension, of the Contest for establishing Mahomed Ali, Nabob of Carnatic ......................... 77
    • CHAPTER III. Suraja Dowla, Subahdar of Bengal—takes Calcutta—attacked by an Army from Madras—dethroned—Meer Jaffier set up in his stead 138
    • CHAPTER IV. Renewal of the War with the French in Carnatic—Arrival of Lally—French Power superior to the English—English Power superior to the French—Pondicherry taken—and the French driven out of Carnatic ............................................ 174
    • CHAPTER V. 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 the 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 ................................................... 237
    • CHAPTER VI. Political State of Carnatic—Views of the Nabob on Governor of Velore, King of Tanjore, and Marawars—Treaty with Tanjore—Company's Jaghire—War on Mahomed Issoof—Mound of the Cavery 334
    • CHAPTER VII. Second Administration of Clive—Company's Orders respecting the Private Trade disregarded—Arrangements with the Vizir—With the Emperor—Acquisition of the Duannee—Private Trade created a Monopoly for the Benefit of the superior Servants—Reduction of the Military Allowances—Its Effects—Clive resigns, and Verelst
    • Edition: current; Page: [iv] succeeds—Proceedings in England relative to the Rate of Dividend on Company's Stock—Financial Difficulties—Verelst resigns, and Cartier succeeds ........................................... 349
    • CHAPTER VIII. Subahdar of Deccan dethroned by his Brother—The English take Possession of the Northern Circars—Make a Treaty with the Subahdar of Deccan—Which embroils them with Hyder Ali—History of Hyder Ali—Hyder's first War with the English—New Treaty with the Subahdar—Peace with Hyder ............................ 399
    • CHAPTER IX. Public Opinion in England—Proceedings in the India House, and in Parliament—Plan of Supervisors—Plan of a King's Commissioner—Increase of pecuniary Difficulties—Dividend raised—Company unable to meet their Obligations—Parliamentary Inquiry—Ministerial Relief—An Act, which changes the Constitution of the Company—Tendency of the Change—Financial and Commercial State .................................................... 426
  • BOOK V. from the first great change in the constitution of the east india company and in the government of india, in 1773; till the second great change, by the act, commonly called mr. pitt's act, in 1784.
    • CHAPTER I. Administration of Hastings till the Time when the Parliamentary Members of the Council arrived and the Operations of the New Constitution commenced, including—Arrangements for collecting the Revenue and administering Justice ostensibly as Duan—Treatment of Mahomed Reza Khan and the Rajah Shitabroy—Elevation of Munny Begum—Destruction of the Rohillas—Sale of Corah and Allahabad to the Vizir—Payment refused of the Emperor's Revenue—Financial Results ........................................ 457
    • CHAPTER II. Commencement of the New Government—Supreme Council divided into two Parties, of which that of the Governor-General in the Minority—Presidency of Bombay espouse the Cause of Ragoba, an ejected Peshwa—Supreme Council condemn this Policy, and make Peace with his Opponents—Situation of the Powers in the Upper Country, Nabob of Oude, Emperor, and Nujeef Khan—Pecuniary Corruption, in which Governor-General seemed to be implicated, in the Cases of the Ranee of Burdwan, Phousdar of Hoogly, and Munny Begum—Governor-General resists Inquiry—Nuncomar the great Accuser—He is prosecuted by Governor-General—Accused of Forgery, found guilty, and hanged—Mahomed Reza Khan, and the Office of Naib Subah restored .............................. 518
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from the establishment, on legislative authority, of one exclusive company, in the year 1708, till the change in the constitution of the company, by the act of 13th geo. iii. in 1773.


The Constitution of the East India Company, its practical Arrangements for the Conduct of Business, and Transactions till the Conclusion of the War with France by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

When the competitors for Indian commerce werebook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. united into one corporate body, and the privilege of exclusive trade was founded on legislative authority, the business of the East India Company became regular and uniform. Their capital, composed of the shares of the subscribers, was a fixed and definite sum: Of the modes of dealing, adapted to the nature of the business, little information remained to be acquired: Their proceedings were reduced to an Edition: current; Page: [2] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. established routine, or a series of operations periodically recurring: A general description, therefore, of the plan upon which the Company conducted themselves, and a statement of its principal results, appear to comprehend every thing which falls within the design of a history of that commercial body, during a period of several years.

When a number of individuals unite themselves in any common interest, reason suggests, that they themselves should manage as much as it is convenient for them to manage; and that they should make choice of persons to execute for them such parts of the business as cannot be conveniently transacted by themselves.

It was upon this principle, that the adventurers in the trade to India originally framed the constitution of their Company. They met in assemblies, which were called Courts of Proprietors, and transacted certain parts of the common business: And they chose a certain number of persons belonging to their own body, and who were called Committees,1 to manage for them other parts of the business, which they could not so well perform themselves. The whole of the managing business, therefore, or the whole of the government, was in the hands of,

1st. The Proprietors, assembled in general court;

2dly. The Committees, called afterwards the Directors, assembled in their special courts.

At the time of the award of the Earl of Godolphin, power was distributed between these assemblies according to the following plan:

To have a vote in the Court of Proprietors, that is, any share in its power, it was necessary to be the Edition: current; Page: [3] owner of 500l. of the Company’s stock: and no additionalbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. share, contrary to a more early regulation, gave any advantage, or more to any proprietor than a single vote.

The directors were twenty-four in number: No person was competent to be chosen as a Director who possessed less than 2,000l. of the Company’s stock: And of these directors, one was Chairman, and another Deputy-Chairman, presiding in the Courts.

The Directors were chosen annually by the Proprietors in their General Court; and no Director could serve for more than a year, except by reelection.

Four Courts of Proprietors, or General Courts, were held regularly in each year, in the month of December, March, June, and September, respectively; the Directors might summon Courts at other times, as often as they saw cause, and were bound to summon Courts within ten days, upon a requisition signed by any nine of the Proprietors, qualified to vote.

The Courts of Directors, of whom thirteen were requisite to constitute a Court, were held by appointment of the Directors themselves, as often, and at such times and places, as they might deem expedient for the dispatch of affairs.1

According to this constitution, the supreme power was vested in the Court of Proprietors. In the first place they held the legislative power entire: All laws and regulations, all determinations of dividend, all grants of money, were made by the Court of Proprietors. To act under their ordinances, and manage the business of routine, was the department reserved for the Court of Directors. In the second place, the supreme power was secured to the Court of Proprietors, Edition: current; Page: [4] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. by the important power of displacing, annually, the persons whom they chose to act in their behalf.

In this constitution, if the Court of Proprietors be regarded as representing the general body of the people, the Court of Directors as representing an aristocratical senate, and the Chairman as representing the sovereign, we have an image of the British constitution; a system in which the forms of the different species of government, the monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical, are mixed and combined.

In the constitution however of the East India Company, the power allotted to the democratical part was so great, that a small portion may seem to have been reserved to the other two. Not only were the sovereignty, and the aristocracy, both elective, but they were elected from year to year; that is, were in a state of complete dependence upon the democratical part. This was not all: no decrees, but those of the democracy, were binding, at least in the last resort; the aristocracy, therefore, and monarchy, were subordinate, and subject. Under the common impression of democratic ambition, irregularity, and violence, it might be concluded, that the democratic assembly would grasp at the whole of the power; would constrain and disturb the proceedings of the Chairmen and Directors; would deliberate with violence and animosity; and exhibit all the confusion, precipitation, and imprudence, which are so commonly ascribed to the exercise of popular power.

The actual result is extremely different from what the common modes of reasoning incite common minds to infer. Notwithstanding the power which, by the theory of the constitution, was thus reserved to the popular part of the system, all power has centered in the court of directors; and the government of the Edition: current; Page: [5] Company has been an oligarchy, in fact. So far frombook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. meddling too much, the Court of Proprietors have not attended to the common affairs even sufficiently for the business of inspection: And the known principles of human nature abundantly secured that unfortunate result. To watch, to scrutinize, to inquire, is labour, and labour is pain. To confide, to take for granted that all is well, is easy, is exempt from labour, and, to the great mass of mankind, comparatively delightful. On all ordinary occasions, on all occasions which present not a powerful motive to action, the great mass of mankind are sure to be led by the soft and agreeable feeling. And if they who act have only sufficient prudence to avoid those occurrences which are calculated to rouse the people on account of whom they act, the people will allow them abundant scope to manage the common concerns in a way conformable to their own liking and advantage. It is thus that all constitutions, however democratically formed, have a tendency to become oligarchical in practice. By the numerous body who constitute the democracy, the objects of ambition are beheld at so great a distance, and the competition for them is shared with so great a number, that in general they make but a feeble impression upon their minds: The small number, on the other hand, entrusted with the management, feel so immediately the advantages, and their affections are so powerfully engaged by the presence, of their object, that they easily concentrate their views, and point their energies with perfect constancy in the selfish direction. The apathy and inattention of the people, on the one hand, and the interested activity of the rulers on the other, are two powers, the action of which may always be counted upon; nor has the art of government as yet exemplified, however the science may or may not have discovered, Edition: current; Page: [6] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. any certain means by which the unhappy effects of that action may be prevented.1

For conducting the affairs of the Company, the Directors divided themselves into parties called Committees; and the business into as many separate shares.2

The first was the Committee of Correspondence, of which the business was more confidential, as well as extensive, than that of any of the rest. Its duties were, to study the advices from India, and to prepare answers for the inspection of the Court of Directors: To report upon the number of ships expedient for the trade of the season, and the stations proper for each: To report upon the number of servants, civil and military, in the different stations abroad; on the demand for alterations, and the applications made for leave of absence, or leave to return: All complaints of grievances, and all pecuniary demands on the Company, were decided upon in the first instance by this Committee, which nominated to all places, in the treasury, and in the secretary’s, examiner’s, and auditor’s offices. It performed, in fact, the prime and governing business of the Company: The rest was secondary and subordinate.

The next Committee was that of Law-suits; of Edition: current; Page: [7] which the business was to deliberate and direct in allbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. cases of litigation; and to examine the bills of law charges. It is not a little remarkable that there should be work of this description sufficient to engross the time of a committee.

The third was the Committee of Treasury. Its business was, to provide, agreeably to the orders of the Court, for the payment of dividends and interest on bonds; to negociate the Company’s loans; to purchase gold and silver for exportation: to affix the Company’s seal to bonds and other deeds; to examine monthly, or oftener, the balance of cash; and to decide, in the first instance, on applications respecting the loss of bonds, on pecuniary questions in general, and the delivery of unregistered diamonds and bullion.

The Committee of Warehouses was the fourth. The business of importation was the principal part of its charge. It framed the orders for the species of goods of which the investment or importation was intended to consist: It had the superintendance of the servants employed in the inspection of the purchases; determined upon the modes of shipping and conveyance; superintended the landing and warehousing of the goods; arranged the order of sales; and deliberated generally upon the means of promoting and improving the trade.

The fifth was the Committee of Accounts; of whose duties the principal were, to examine bills of exchange, and money certificates; to compare advices with bills; to examine the estimates, and accounts of cash and stock; and to superintend the office of the accountant, and the office of transfer, in which are effected the transfers of the Company’s stock and annuities, and in which the foreign letters of attorney for that purpose are examined.

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book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. A committee, called the Committee of Buying, was the sixth. Its business was, to superintend the purchase and preparation of the standard articles of export, of which lead and woollens constituted the chief; to contract with the dyers and other tradesmen; to audit their accounts, and keep charge of the goods till deposited in the ships for exportation.

The Committee of the House was the seventh, and its business was mostly of an inferior and ministerial nature. The alterations and repairs of the buildings, regulations for the attendance of the several officers and clerks, the appointment of the inferior servants of the House, and the control of the secretary’s accounts for domestic disbursements, were included in its province.

The eighth Committee, that of Shipping, had the charge of purchasing stores, and all other articles of export, except the grand articles appropriated to the Committee of Buying; the business of hiring ships, and of ascertaining the qualifications of their commanders and officers; of distributing the outward cargoes; of fixing seamen’s wages; of issuing orders for building, repairing, and fitting out the ships, packets, &c. of which the Company were proprietors; and of regulating and determining the tonnage allowed for private trade, to the commanders and officers of the Company’s ships.

The ninth was the Committee of Private Trade; and its occupation was to adjust the accounts of freight, and other charges, payable on the goods exported for private account, in the chartered ships of the Company; to regulate the indulgences to private trade homeward; and, by examining the commanders of ships, and other inquiries, to ascertain how far the regulations of the Company had been violated or obeyed.

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The tenth Committee was of a characteristic iv. Chap. 1. 1708. It was the Committee for preventing the growth of Private Trade. Its business was to take cognizance of all instances in which the licence, granted by the Company for private trade, was exceeded; to decide upon the controversies to which the encroachments of the private traders gave birth; and to make application of the penalties which were provided for transgression. So closely, however, did the provinces of this and the preceding Committee border upon one another; and so little, in truth, were their boundaries defined, that the business of the one was not unfrequently transferred to the other.

Other transactions respecting the employment of troops and the government of territory, required additions to the system of Committees, when the Company afterwards became conquerors and rulers. But of these it will be time to speak when the events arrive which produced them.

The Chairmen, as the name imports, preside in the Courts, whether of Directors or Proprietors; they are the organs of official communication between the Company and other parties, and are by office members of all the Committees.

The articles in which the export branch of the Indian trade has all along consisted are bullion, lead, quicksilver, woollen cloths, and hardware, of which the proportions have varied at various times.

The official value of all the exports to India for the year 1708, the year in which the union of the two Companies was completed, exceeded not 60,915l. The following year it rose to 168,357l. But from this it descended gradually till, in the year 1715, it amounted to no more than 36,997l. It made a start, however, in the following year; and the medium exportation for the first twenty years, subsequent to Edition: current; Page: [10] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. 1708, was 92,288l. per annum.1 The average annual exportation of bullion during the same years was 442,350l.

The articles of which the import trade of the East India Company chiefly consisted, were calicoes and the other woven manufactures of India; raw silk, diamonds, tea, porcelain, pepper, drugs, and saltpetre. The official value of their imports in 1708 was 493,257l.; and their annual average importation for this and the nineteen following years was 758,042l. At that period the official value assigned to goods at the Custom House differed not greatly from the real value; and the statements which have been made by the East India Company of the actual value of their exports and imports for some of those years, though not according with the Custom House accounts from year to year, probably from their being made up to different periods in the year, yet on a sum of several years pretty nearly coincide.2 The business of sale is transacted by the East India Company in the way of auction. On stated days, the goods, according to the discretion of the Directors, are put up to sale at the India House; and transferred to the highest bidder.

At first the Company built and owned the ships employed in their trade. But in the progress and sub-division of commerce, ship-owning became a distinct branch of business; and the company preferred the hiring of ships, called chartering. It was in hired or chartered ships, accordingly, that from this time the trade of the Company was chiefly conveyed; and Edition: current; Page: [11] a few swift-sailing vessels, called packets, more forbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. the purpose of intelligence than of freight, formed, with some occasional exceptions, the only article of shipping which they properly called their own. This regulation set free a considerable portion of the funds or resources of the Company, for direct traffic, or the simple transactions of buying and selling.1

That part of the business of the Company which was situated in India, was distinguished by several features which the peculiar circumstances of the country forced it to assume. The sale indeed of the commodities imported from Europe, they transacted in the simplest and easiest of all possible ways; namely, by auction, the mode in which they disposed of Indian goods in England. At the beginning of this trade, the English, as well as other European adventurers, used to carry their commodities to the interior towns and markets, transporting them in the hackeries of the country, and established factories or warehouses, where the goods were exposed to sale. During the confusion, however, which prevailed, while the empire of the Moguls was in the progress of dissolution, the security which had formerly existed, imperfect as it was, became greatly impaired: and, shortly after the union of the two Companies, a rule was adopted, not to permit any of the persons in the Company’s service, or under their jurisdiction, to remove far into the inland country, without leave obtained from the Governor and Council of the place to which they belonged. According to this plan, the care of distributing the goods into the country, and of introducing them to the consumers, was left to the native and other independent dealers.

For the purchase, collection, and custody of the Edition: current; Page: [12] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. goods, which constituted the freight to England, a complicated system of operations was required. As the state of the country was too low in respect of civilization and of wealth, to possess manufacturers and merchants, on a large scale, capable of executing extensive orders, and delivering the goods contracted for on pre-appointed days, the Company were under the necessity of employing their own agents to collect throughout the country, in such quantities as presented themselves, the different articles of which the cargoes to Europe were composed. Places of reception were required, in which the goods might be collected, and ready upon the arrival of the ships, that the expense of demurrage might be reduced to its lowest terms. Warehouses were built; and these, with the counting-houses, and other apartments for the agents and business of the place, constituted what were called the factories of the Company. Under the disorderly and inefficient system of government which prevailed in India, deposits of property were always exposed, either to the rapacity of the government, or under the weakness of the government to the hands of depredators. It was always therefore an object of importance to build the factories strong, and to keep their inmates armed and disciplined for self-defence, as perfectly as circumstances would admit. At an early period the Company even fortified those stations of their trade, and maintained professional troops, as often as the negligence permitted, or the assent could be obtained, of the Kings and Governors of the countries in which they were placed.

Of the commodities collected for the European market, that part, the acquisition of which was attended with the greatest variety of operations, was the produce of the loom. The weavers, like the other laborious classes of India, are in the lowest stage of Edition: current; Page: [13] poverty, being always reduced to the bare means ofbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. the most scanty subsistence. They must at all times, therefore, be furnished with the materials of their work, or the means of purchasing them; and with subsistence while the piece is under their hands. To transact in this manner with each particular weaver, to watch him that he may not sell the fabric which his employer has enabled him to produce, and to provide a large supply, is a work of infinite detail, and gives employment to a multitude of agents. The European functionary, who, in each district, is the head of as much business as it is supposed that he can superintend, has first his banyan, or native secretary, through whom the whole of the business is conducted: The banyan hires a species of broker, called a gomastah, at so much a month: The gomastah repairs to the aurung, or manufacturing town, which is assigned as his station; and there fixes upon a habitation, which he calls his cutchery: He is provided with a sufficient number of peons, a sort of armed servants; and hircarahs, messengers or letter carriers, by his employer: These he immediately dispatches about the place, to summon to him the dallâls, pycârs and weavers: The dallâls and pycârs are two sets of brokers; of whom the pycârs are the lowest, transacting the business of detail with the weavers; the dallâls again transact with the pycârs; the gomastah transacts with the dallâls, the banyan with the gomastah, and the Company’s European servant with the banyan. The Company’s servant is thus five removes from the workman; and it may easily be supposed that much collusion and trick, that much of fraud towards the Company, and much of oppression towards the weaver, is the consequence of the obscurity which so much complication implies.1 Besides Edition: current; Page: [14] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. his banyan, there is attached to the European agent a mohurree, or clerk, and a cash-keeper, with a sufficient allowance of peons and hircarahs. Along with the gomastah is dispatched in the first instance as much money as suffices for the first advance to the weaver, that is, suffices to purchase the materials, and to afford him subsistence during part at least of the time in which he is engaged with the work. The cloth, when made, is collected in a warehouse, adapted for the purpose, and called a kattah. Each piece is marked with the weaver’s name; and when the whole is finished, or when it is convenient for the gomastah, he holds a kattah, as the business is called, when each piece is examined, the price fixed, and the money due upon it paid to the weaver. This last is the stage at which chiefly the injustice to the workman is said to take place; as he is then obliged to content himself with fifteen or twenty, and often thirty or forty per cent. less than his work would fetch in the market. This is a species of traffic which could not exist but where the rulers of the country were favourable to the dealer; as every thing, however, which increased the productive powers of the labourers added directly in India to the income of the rulers, their protection was but seldom denied.

The business of India was at this time under the government of three Presidencies, one at Bombay, another at Madras, and a third at Calcutta, of which Edition: current; Page: [15] the last had been created so lately as the year 1707,book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. the business at Calcutta having, till that time, been conducted under the government of the Presidency of Madras. These Presidencies had as yet no dependance upon one another; each was absolute within its own limits, and responsible only to the Company in England. A Presidency was composed of a President or Governor, and a Council; both appointed by commission of the Company. The council was not any fixed number, but determined by the views of the Directors; being sometimes nine, and sometimes twelve, according to the presumed importance or extent of the business to be performed. The Members of the Council were the superior servants in the civil or non-military class, promoted according to the rule of seniority, unless where directions from home prescribed aberration. All power was lodged in the President and Council jointly; nor could any thing be transacted, except by a majority of votes. When any man became a ruler, he was not however debarred from subordinate functions; and the members of council, by natural consequence, distributed all the most lucrative offices among themselves. Of the offices which any man held, that which was the chief source of his gain failed not to be the chief object of his attention; and the business of the Council, the duties of governing, did not, in general, engross the greatest part of the study and care of a Member of Council. It seldom, if ever, happened, that less or more of the Members of Council were not appointed as chiefs of the more important factories under the Presidency, and, by their absence, were not disqualified for assisting in the deliberations of the governing body. The irresistible motive, thus afforded to the persons entrusted with the government, to neglect the business of government, occupied a high rank among Edition: current; Page: [16] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. the causes to which the defects at that time in the management of the Company’s affairs in India may, doubtless, be ascribed. Notwithstanding the equality assigned to the votes of all the Members of the Council, the influence of the President was commonly sufficient to make the decisions agreeable to his inclination. The appointment of the Members to the gainful offices after which they aspired, was in a considerable degree subject to his determination; while he had it in his power to make the situation even of a member of the Council so uneasy to him, that his continuance in the service ceased to be an object of desire. Under the notion of supporting authority, the Company always lent an unwilling ear to complaints brought by a subordinate against his superior; and in the case of councilmen, disposed to complain, it seldom happened, that of the transactions in which they themselves had been concerned, a portion was not unfit to be revealed.

The powers exercised by the Governor or President and Council, were, in the first place, those of masters in regard to servants over all the persons who were in the employment of the Company; and as the Company were the sole master, without fellow or competitor, and those under them had adopted their service as the business of their lives, the power of the master, in reality, and in the majority of cases, extended to almost every thing valuable to man. With regard to such of their countrymen, as were not in their service, the Company were armed with powers to seize them, to keep them in confinement, and send them to England, an extent of authority which amounted to confiscation of goods, to imprisonment, and what to a European constitution is the natural effect of any long confinement under an Indian climate, actual death. At an early period of the Company’s history, it Edition: current; Page: [17] had been deemed necessary to intrust them with thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. powers of martial law, for the government of the troops which they maintained in defence of their factories and presidencies; and by a charter of Charles II., granted them in 1661, the Presidents and Councils in their factories were empowered to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction according to the laws of England. Under this sanction they had exercised judicial powers, during all the changes which their affairs had undergone; but at last it appeared desirable that so important an article of their authority should rest on a better foundation. In the year 1726 a charter was granted, by which the Company were permitted to establish a Mayor’s Court at each of their three presidencies, Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta; consisting of a mayor and nine aldermen, empowered to decide in civil cases of all descriptions. From this jurisdiction, the President and Council were erected into a Court of Appeal. They were also vested with the power of holding Courts of Quarter Sessions for the exercise of penal judicature, in all cases, excepting those of high treason. And a Court of Requests, or Court of Conscience, was instituted, for the decision, by summary procedure, of pecuniary questions of inconsiderable amount.

This reform in the judicature of India was not attended with all the beneficial effects which were probably expected from it. Negligence was left to corrupt the business of detail. The charter is said to have been procured by the influence of an individual, for the extension of his own authority; and when his ends were gained, his solicitude expired. The persons appointed to fill the judicial offices were the servants of the Company, bred to commerce, and nursed in its details: while a manuscript book of instructions comprised the whole of the assistance which the wisdom Edition: current; Page: [18] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. of the King and the Company provided to guide uninstructed men in the administration of justice.

Nor was the obscurity of the English law, and the inexperience of the judges, the only source of the many evils which the new arrangements continued, or produced. Jealousy arose between the Councils, and the Mayor’s Courts. The Councils complained that the Courts encroached upon their authority; and the Courts complained that they were oppressed by the Councils. The most violent dissensions often prevailed; and many of the members of the Mayor’s Courts quitted the service, and went home with their animosities and complaints.

Besides the above-mentioned tribunals established by the Company for the administration of the British laws to the British people in India, they erected, in the capacity of Zemindar of the district around Calcutta, the usual Zemindary Courts, for the administration of the Indian laws to the Indian people. The Phousdary Court for the trial of crimes; and the Cutcherry for civil causes; besides the Collector’s Court for matters of revenue. The judges, in these tribunals, were servants of the Company, appointed by the Governor and Council, and holding their offices during pleasure; the rule of judgment was the supposed usage of the country, and the discretion of the court; and the mode of procedure was summary. Punishments extended to fine; imprisonment; labour upon the roads in chains for a limited time, or for life; and flagellation, either to a limited degree, or death. The ideas of honour, prevalent among the natives, induced the Mogul government to forbid the European mode of capital punishment, by hanging, in the case of a Mussulman. In compensation, however, it had no objection to his being whipped to death; and the flagellants in India are said to be so Edition: current; Page: [19] dexterous, as to kill a man with a few strokes of thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. chawbuck.1

The executive and judicial functions were combined in the Councils, at the Indian presidencies; the powers even of justices of the peace being granted to the Members of Council, and to them alone. If complaints were not wanting of the oppression by these authorities upon their fellow-servants; it is abundantly evident that the Company were judge in their own cause in all cases in which the dispute existed between them and any other party.

The President was Commander-in-Chief of the Military Force maintained within his presidency. It consisted, partly of the recruits sent out in the ships of the Company; partly of deserters from the other European nations settled in India, French, Dutch, and Portuguese; and partly, at least at Bombay and Surat, of Topasses, or persons whom we may denominate Indo-Portuguese, either the mixed produce of Portuguese and Indian parents, or converts to the Portuguese, from the Indian, faith. These were troops disciplined and uniformed; besides whom, the natives were already, to a small extent, employed by the Company in military service, and called Sepoys, from the Indian term Sipahi, equivalent to soldier. They were made to use the musket, but remained chiefly armed in the fashion of the country, with sword and target; they wore the Indian dress, the turban, cabay or vest, and long drawers; and were provided with native officers according to the custom of the country; but ultimately all under English command. It had not as yet been attempted to train them to the European discipline, in which it was Edition: current; Page: [20] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708. possible to render them so expert and steady; but considerable service was derived from them; and under the conduct of European leaders they were found capable of facing danger with great constancy and firmness. What at this time was the average number at each presidency, is not particularly stated. It is mentioned, that at the time when the presidency was established at Calcutta in 1707, an effort was made to augment the garrison to 300 men.

The President was the organ of correspondence, by letter, or otherwise, with the country powers. It rested with him to communicate to the Council the account of what he thus transacted, at any time, and in any form, which he deemed expedient; and from this no slight accession to his power was derived.

The several denominations of the Company’s servants in India were, writers, factors, junior merchants, and senior merchants: the business of the writers, as the term, in some degree, imports, was that of clerking, with the inferior details of commerce; and when dominion succeeded, of government. In the capacity of writers they remained during five years. The first promotion was to the rank of factor; the next to that of junior merchant; in each of which the period of service was three years. After this extent of service, they became senior merchants. And out of the class of senior merchants were taken by seniority the members of the Council, and when no particular appointment interfered, even the presidents themselves.1

Shortly after the first great era, in the history of the British commerce with India, the nation was delivered from the destructive burthen of the long war with France which preceded the treaty of Utrecht: Edition: current; Page: [21] And though the accession of a new family to thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1708. throne, and the resentments which one party of statesmen had to gratify against another, kept the minds of men for a time in a feverish anxiety, not the most favourable to the persevering studies and pursuits on which the triumphs of industry depend, the commerce and wealth of the nation-made rapid advances. The town of Liverpool, which was not formed into a separate parish till 1699, so rapidly increased, that in 1715 a new parish, with a church, was erected; and it doubled its size between 1690 and 1726. The town of Manchester increased in a similar proportion; and was computed in 1727 to contain no less than 50,000 inhabitants: the manufactures of Birmingham, which thirty years before was little more than a village, are stated as giving maintenance at that time to upwards of 30,000 individuals.1 In 1719, a patent was granted to Sir Thomas Lombe, for his machine for throwing silk, one of the first of those noble efforts of invention and enterprise which have raised this country to unrivalled eminence in the useful arts. The novelty and powers of this machine, the model of which he is said to have stolen from the Piedmontese, into whose manufactories he introduced himself in the guise of a common workman, excited the highest admiration; and its parts and performances are described to us by the historians of the time with curious exactness; 26,586 wheels, 97,746 movements, which worked 73,726 yards of organzine silk by every revolution of the water-wheel, 318,504,960 yards in one day and a night; a single water-wheel giving motion to the whole machine, of which any separate movement might be stopped without obstructing the rest; and Edition: current; Page: [22] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. one fire communicating warmth by heated air to every part of the manufactory, not less than the eighth part of a mile in length.1 London was increased by several new parishes. And from the year 1708 to the year 1730, the imports of Great Britain, according to the valuation of the custom-house, had increased from 4,698,663l. to 7,780,019l.; the exports from 6,969,089l. to 11,974,135l.2

During this period of national prosperity, the imports of the East India Company rose from 493,257l., the importation of 1708, to 1,059,759l. the importation of 1730. But the other, and not the least important, the export branch of the Company’s trade, exhibited another result: As the exportation of the year 1708 was exceedingly small, compared with that of 1709 and the following years, it is fair to take an average of four years from 1706 to 1709 (two with a small, two an increased exportation), producing 105,773l.: The exportation of the year 1730 was 135,484l.; while that of 1709 was 168,357l.; that of 1710, 126,310l.; that of 1711, 151,874l.; and that of 1712, 142,329l.

With regard to the rate of profit, during this period, or the real advantage of the Indian trade, the Company, for part of the year 1708, divided at the rate of five per cent. per annum to the proprietors upon 3,163,200l. of capital; for the next year, eight per cent.; for the two following years, nine per cent.; and thence to the year 1716, ten per cent. per annum. In the year 1717, they paid dividends on a capital of 3,194,080l., at the same rate of ten per cent. per annum, and so on till the year 1723. That year the dividend was reduced to eight per cent. per Edition: current; Page: [23] annum, at which rate it continued till the yearbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. 1732.1

In the year 1712, on the petition of the Company, the period of their exclusive trade was extended by act of parliament, from the year 1726, to which by the last regulation it stood confined, to the year 1733, with the usual allowance of three years for notice, should their privileges be withdrawn.2

In the year 1716, they obtained a proclamation against interlopers. Their complaints, it seems, were occasioned by the enterprises of British subjects, trading to India under foreign commissions. As this proclamation answered not the wishes of the Company, nor deterred their countrymen from seeking the gains of Indian traffic, even through all the disadvantages which they incurred by entrusting their property to the protection of foreign laws and the fidelity of foreign agents; they were able, in 1718, to procure an act of parliament for the punishment of all such competitors. British subjects, trading from foreign countries, and under the commission of a foreign government, were declared amenable to the laws for the protection of the Company’s rights; the Company were authorized to seize merchants of this description when found within their limits, and to send them to England, subject to a penalty of 500l. for each offence.3

The Company’s present alarm for their monopoly arose from the establishment for trading with India, which, under the authority of the Emperor, was formed at his port of Ostend. After the peace of Edition: current; Page: [24] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. Utrecht, which bestowed the Netherlands upon the house of Austria, the people of those provinces began to breathe from the distractions, the tyranny, and the wars which had so long wasted their fruitful country. Among other projects of improvement, a trade to India was fondly embraced. Two ships, after long preparations, sailed from Ostend in the year 1717, under the passports of the Emperor; and several more soon followed their example. The India Companies of Holland and England were in the highest degree alarmed; and easily communicated their fears and agitations to their respective governments. These governments not only expostulated, and to the highest degree of importunity, with the Emperor himself; but, amid the important negotiations of that diplomatic period, hardly any interest was more earnestly contended for in the discussions at the courts both of Paris and Madrid.1 The Dutch captured some of the Ostend East India ships: The Emperor, who dreamed of an inundation of wealth from Indian trade, persevered in his purpose; and granted his commission of reprisal to the merchants of Ostend. In the beginning of 1720, they sent no fewer than six vessels to India, and as many the year that followed. The English East India Company pressed the Government with renewed terrors and complaints. They asserted that, not only the capital, with which the trade was carried on, was to a great degree furnished by British subjects, but the trade and navigation were conducted by men who had been bred up in the trade and navigation of the British Company: They procured, in 1721, another act of parliament, enforcing the penalties already enacted; Edition: current; Page: [25] and as this also failed in producing the intendedbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. effects, another act was passed in the spring of 1723; prohibiting foreign adventures to India, under the penalty of triple the sum embarked; declaring all British subjects found in India, and not in the service, or under the licence of the East India Company, guilty of a high misdemeanour; and empowering the Company to seize, and send them home for punishment.1 The Emperor had been importuned, by the adventurers of Ostend, for a charter to make them an exclusive company; but, under the notion of saving appearances in some little degree with England and Holland, or the maritime powers, as they were called in the diplomatic language of the day, he had induced them to trade under passports as individuals. In the month of August, however, of 1723, the charter was granted; in less than twenty-four hours the subscription books of the Company were filled up; and in less than a month the shares were sold at a premium of fifteen per cent. Notwithstanding the virulent opposition of all the other nations, already engaged in the Indian trade, the Ostend Company experienced the greatest success. At a meeting of Proprietors, in 1726, the remaining instalment on the subscriptions, equal to a dividend of thirty-three and one-third per cent., was paid up from the gains of the trade. But by this time political difficulties pressed upon the Emperor. He was abandoned by his only ally, the King of Spain, and opposed by a triple alliance of France, England, and Holland. To give satisfaction to this potent confederacy, and to obtain their support to the pragmatic sanction, or the guarantee of his dominions to his daughter and only child, he submitted to sacrifice the Edition: current; Page: [26] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. Ostend Company. To save appearances, and consult the imperial dignity, nothing was stipulated in words, except that the business of the Ostend Company should be suspended for seven years; but all men understood that, in this case, suspension and extinction were the same.

By the act of 7 Geo. I. c. 5, the Company were authorized to borrw money on their common seal, to the amount of the sums lent by them to government, if not beyond the sum of five millions sterling in the whole. They were permitted, however, to borrow solely for the purposes of their trade. They were expressly interdicted from receiving moneys in any of the capacities of a banker; and for that purpose several restrictive clauses were inserted in the act; they were not to borrow any sums payable on demand, or at a shorter date than six months; they were not to discount any bills; or to keep books or cash for any persons sole or corporate, or otherwise than for the real business of the Company.1

When the Company commenced operations in India, upon the new foundation on which their affairs were placed by the grand arrangements in 1708, Shah Aulum, successor of Aurungzebe, was Emperor of the Moguls. His second son Azeem Ooshaun had been appointed Viceroy of Bengal before the death of Aurungzebe, and having bent his chief attention to the amassing of a treasure, against the impending contest between the competitors for the throne, he accepted the bribes of the company, and granted them proportional privileges. Under his authority they had purchased, in 1698, the Zemindarship of the three towns of Sutanutty, Calcutta, and Govindpore, with their districts. When Azeem Edition: current; Page: [27] Ooshaun left Bengal to assist his father, in the warbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. which ensued upon the death of Aurungzebe, he left his son Feroksere his deputy. In 1712 Shah Aulum died; Azeem Ooshaun lost his life in the struggle for the succession; and Feroksere, by the help of two able chiefs, the Syed brothers, gained the throne. The government of Bengal now devolved upon Jaffier Khan, and the company experienced a change. This chief, of Tartar extraction, was born at Boorhanpore, in Deccan, and rose to eminence in the latter part of the reign of Aurungzebe, by whom he had been appointed duan (or controller of the revenues) of Bengal. It would appear that he was nominated, by Shah Aulum, to the viceroyalty of Bengal, shortly after his accession to the throne; but it is probable that, during the short reign of that prince, the appointment never took place; as, at the time of his death, Feroksere was in possession of the province. Upon the departure, however, of Feroksere to ascend the imperial throne, Jaffier Khan was invested with entire authority, as subahdar of Bengal; and the English Company, along with his other subjects, began speedily to feel the effects of his severe and oppressive administration.1

In 1713, the first year of the reign of Feroksere, the Presidency of Calcutta applied to the Company at home for leave to send an embassy, with a handsome present, to the Mogul durbar, in hopes of obtaining greater protection and privileges. Two of the Company’s factors, under the direction of an Armenian merchant, named Serhaud, set out for Delhi; and the Emperor, who had received the most magnificent account of the presents of which they were the Edition: current; Page: [28] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. bearers, ordered them to be escorted by the governors of the provinces through which they were to pass.

They arrived at the capital on the eighth of July, 1715, after a journey of three months; and, in pursuance of the advice which had been received at Calcutta, applied themselves to gain the protection of Khan Dowran,1 a nobleman in favour with the Emperor, and in the interest of Emir Jumla. Whatever was promoted by the interest of Emir Jumla was opposed by that of the vizir. The influence also of Jaffier Khan was exerted to defeat an application, which tended to abridge his authority, and impeach his government. The embassy and costly present of the Company were doomed to imperial neglect, had not an accident, over which they had no control, and the virtue of a public-spirited man, who preferred their interest to his own, opened an avenue to the grace of Feroksere. The intemperance of that prince had communicated to him a secret disease, from which the luxury of the harem does not always exempt: Under the unskilful treatment of Indian physicians the disorder lingered; and the Emperor’s impatience was augmented, by the delay which it imposed upon the celebration of his marriage with the daughter of the Rajah of Judpore. A medical gentleman of the name of Hamilton accompanied the embassy of the English Company: The Emperor was advised to make trial of his skill: A cure was the speedy consequence: The Emperor commanded his benefactor to name his own reward: And the generous Hamilton solicited privileges for the Company.2 The festival of the marriage, however, ensued; Edition: current; Page: [29] during which it would not have been decorousbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. to importune with business the imperial mind: and six months elapsed before the ambassadors could present their petition. It was delivered in January, 1716; and prayed, “that the cargoes of English ships, wrecked on the Mogul’s coast, should be protected from plunder; that a fixed sum should be received at Surat in lieu of all duties; that three villages, contiguous to Madras, which had been granted and again resumed by the government of Arcot, should be restored in perpetuity; that the island of Diu, near the port of Masulipatam, should be given to the Company, for an annual rent; that all persons in Bengal, who might be indebted to the Company, should be delivered up to the presidency on the first demand; that a passport (dustuck, in the language of the country), signed by the President of Calcutta, should exempt the goods which it specified from stop-page or examination by the officers of the Bengal government; and that the Company should be permitted to purchase the Zemindarship of thirty-seven towns, in the same manner as they had been authorised by Azeem Ooshaun to purchase Calcutta, Sutta-nutty, and Govindpore.” The power of the vizir could defeat the grants of the Emperor, himself; and he disputed the principal articles. Repeated applications were made to the Emperor, and at last the vizir gave way; when mandates were issued confirming all the privileges for which the petition had prayed. To the disappointment, however, and grief of the ambassadors, the mandates were not under the seals of the Emperor, but only those of the vizir, the Edition: current; Page: [30] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. authority of which the distant viceroys would be sure to dispute. It was resolved to remonstrate, how delicate soever the ground on which they must tread; and to solicit mandates to which the highest authority should be attached. It was now the month of April, 1716, when the Emperor, at the head of an expedition against the Seiks, began his march towards Lahore. No choice remained but to follow the camp. The campaign was tedious: It heightened the dissensions between the favourites of the Emperor and the vizir; the ambassadors found their difficulties increased; and contemplated a long, and probably a fruitless negotiation, when they were advised to bribe a favourite eunuch in the seraglio. No sooner was the money paid, than the vizir himself appeared eager to accomplish their designs, and the patents were issued under the highest authority. There was a secret, of which the eunuch had made his advantage. The factory at Surat, having lately been oppressed by the Mogul governor and officers, had been withdrawn by the Presidency of Bombay, as not worth maintaining. It was recollected by the Moguls, that in consequence of oppression the factory at Surat had once before been withdrawn; immediately after which an English fleet had appeared; had swept the sea of Mogul ships, and inflicted a deep wound upon the Mogul treasury. A similar visitation was now regarded as a certain consequence; and, as many valuable ships of the Moguls were at sea, the event was deprecated with proportional ardour. This intelligence was transmitted to the eunuch, by his friend the viceroy of Guzerat. The eunuch knew what effect it would produce upon the mind of the vizir; obtained his bribe from the English; and then communicated to the vizir the expectation prevalent in Guzerat of a hostile visit Edition: current; Page: [31] from an English fleet. The vizir hastened to preventbook iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. such a calamity, by granting satisfaction. The patents were dispatched; and the ambassadors took leave of the Emperor in the month of July, 1717, two years after their arrival.

The mandates in favour of the Company produced their full effect in Guzerat and Deccan; but in Bengal, where the most important privileges were conceded, the subahdar, or nabob as he was called by the English, had power to impede their operation. The thirty-seven towns which the Company had obtained leave to purchase, would have given them a district extending ten miles from Calcutta on each side of the river Hoogley; where a number of weavers, subject to their own jurisdiction, might have been established. The viceroy ventured not directly to oppose the operation of an imperial mandate, but his authority was sufficient to deter the holders of the land from disposing of it to the Company; and the most important of the advantages aimed at by the embassy was thus prevented. The nabob, however, disputed not the authority of the President’s dustucks; a species of passports which entitled the merchandise to pass free from duty, stoppage, or inspection; and this immunity, from which the other European traders were excluded, promoted the vent of the Company’s goods.1

The trade of the Company’s servants occasioned another dispute. Beside the business which the factors and agents of the Company were engaged to perform on the Company’s account, they had been allowed to carry on an independent traffic of their own, for their own profit. Every man had in this manner a double occupation and pursuit; one for the benefit Edition: current; Page: [32] book iv. Chap. 1. 1708–23. of the Company, and one for the benefit of himself. Either the inattention of the feebly interested Directors of a common concern had overlooked the premium for neglecting that concern which was thus bestowed upon the individuals entrusted with it in India: Or the shortness of their foresight made them count this neglect a smaller evil, than the additional salaries which their servants, if debarred from other sources of emolument, would probably require. The President of Calcutta granted his dustucks for protecting from the duties and taxes of the native government, not only the goods of the Company, but also the goods of the Company’s servants; and possibly the officers of that government were too little acquainted with the internal affairs of their English visitants to remark the distinction. The Company had appropriated to themselves, in all its branches, the trade between India and the mother country. Their servants were thus confined to what was called the country trade, or that from one part of India to another. This consisted of two branches, maritime, and inland; either that which was carried on by ships from one port of India to another, and from the ports of India to the other countries in the adjacent seas; or that which was carried on by land between one town or province and another. When the dustucks of the President, therefore, were granted to the Company’s servants, they were often granted to protect from duties, commodities, the produce of the kingdom itself, in their passage by land from one district or province to another. This, Jaffier Khan, the viceroy, declared it his determination to prevent; as a practice at once destructive of his revenue, and ruinous to the native traders, on whom heavy duties were opposed: And he commanded the dustucks of the President to receive no respect, except for goods, Edition: current; Page: [33] either imported by sea, or purchased for iv. Chap. 1. 1730. The Company remonstrated, but in vain. Nor were the pretensions of their servants exempt from unpleasant consequences; as the pretext of examining whether the goods were really imported by sea, or really meant for exportation, often produced those interferences of the officers of revenue, from which it was so great a privilege to be saved. Interrupted and disturbed in their endeavours to grasp the inland trade, the Company’s servants directed their ardour to the maritime branch; and their superior skill soon induced the merchants of the province, Moors, Armenians, and Hindus, to freight most of the goods, which they exported, on English bottoms. Within ten years, from the period of the embassy, the shipping of the port of Calcutta increased to 10,000 tons.

The year 1730 was distinguished by transactions of considerable moment in the history of the Company. In England, a new sovereign had but lately ascended the throne; an active and powerful Opposition made a greater use of the press, and more employed the public mind as a power in the state, than any party which had gone before them; success rendered the trading interest enterprising and highminded; intellect was becoming every day more enlightened, more penetrating, more independent; and experience testified the advantages of freedom in all the departments of trade.

Though the gains of the East India Company, had they been exactly known, would not have presented an object greatly calculated to inflame mercantile cupidity; yet the riches of India were celebrated as proverbially great; the boastings of the Company, in the representations they had made of the benefit derived to the nation from trading with Edition: current; Page: [34] book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. India, had confirmed the popular prejudice; and a general opinion seems to have prevailed, that the British subjects at large ought to be no longer debarred from enriching themselves in the trade which was invidiously, and, it seemed, imprudently, reserved for the East India Company.

Three years were still unexpired of the period of the Company’s exclusive charter: yet the plans of those who desired a total alteration in the scheme of the trade were moulded into form, and a petition, grounded upon them, was presented to the legislature so early as February, 1730.

As the payment of 3,200,000l. which the Company had advanced to government at an interest of five per cent. was a condition preliminary to the abolition of their exclusive privileges, the petitioners offered to lend to government an equal sum on far more favourable terms. They proposed to advance the money in five instalments, the last at Lady-day in 1733, the date of the expiration of the Company’s charter; requiring, till that period, interest on the money paid at the rate of four per cent., but offering to accept of two per cent. for the whole sum, from that time forward: Whence, they observed, a saving would accrue to the public of 92,000l. per annum, worth, at twenty-five years’ purchase, 2,500,000l.1

For the more profitable management of this branch of the national affairs, the following was the scheme which they proposed. They would constitute the subscribers to this original fund a company, for the purpose of opening the trade, in its most favourable shape, to the whole body of their countrymen. It Edition: current; Page: [35] was not intended that the Company should tradebook iv. Chap. 1. 1730. upon a joint stock, and in their corporate capacity; but that every man in the nation, who pleased, should trade in the way of private adventure. The Company were to have the charge of erecting and maintaining the forts and establishments abroad; and for this, and for other expenses, attending what was called “the enlargement and preservation of the trade,” it was proposed that they should receive a duty of one per cent. upon all exports to India, and of five per cent. on all imports from it. For ensuring obedience to this and other regulations, it should be made lawful to trade to India only under the licence of the Company. And it was proposed that thirtyone years, with three years’ notice, should be granted as the duration of the peculiar privileges.

It appears from this account, that the end which was proposed to be answered, by incorporating such a company, was the preservation and erection of the forts, buildings, and other fixed establishments, required for the trade in India. This was its only use, or intent; for the business of trading, resigned to private hands, was to be carried on by the individuals of the nation at large. And, if it were true, as it has been always maintained, that for the trade of India, forts and factories are requisite, of such a nature as no individual, or precarious combination of individuals, is competent to provide, this project offers peculiar claims to consideration and respect. It promised to supply that demand which has always been held forth, as peculiar to Indian trade, as the grand exigency which, distinguishing the traffic with India from all other branches of trade, rendered monopoly advantageous in that peculiar case, how much soever proved to be injurious in others. While it provided for this real or pretended want, it left the trade open Edition: current; Page: [36] book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. to all the advantages of private enterprise, private vigilance, private skill, and private economy; the virtues by which individuals thrive, and nations prosper: And it afforded an interest to the proposed Company in the careful discharge of its duty; as its profits were to increase in exact proportion with the increase of the trade, and of course, with the facilities and accommodation by which the trade was promoted.

As no trade was to be carried on by the Company, the source, whence dividends to the proprietors would arise, was the interest to be received from government, and the duties upon the exports and imports: And as the territorial and other duties belonging to the forts and establishments in India were deemed sufficient to defray the expense of those establishments, this source was described as competent to yield an annual return of five or six per cent. upon the capital advanced. Under absence of risk, and the low rate of interest at the time, this was deemed a sufficient inducement to subscribe. Had the pernicious example, of lending the stock of trading companies to government, been rejected, a very small capital would have sufficed to fulfil the engagements of such a company; and either the gains upon it would have been uncommonly high, or the rate of duties upon the trade might have been greatly reduced.

The friends of this proposition urged; that, as the change which had taken place in the African trade, from monopoly to freedom, was allowed to have produced great national advantages, it was not to be disputed, that a similar change in the Indian trade would be attended with benefits so much the greater, as the trade was more valuable; that it would produce a larger exportation of our own produce and manufactures to India, and create employment for a Edition: current; Page: [37] much greater number of ships and seamen; that itbook iv. Chap. 1. 1730. would greatly reduce the price of all Indian commodities to the people at home; that it would enable the nation to supply foreign markets with Indian commodities at a cheaper rate, and, by consequence, to a larger amount; that new channels of traffic would thence be opened, in Asia and America, as well as in Europe; that a free trade to India would increase the produce of the customs and excise, and “thereby lessen the national debt;” that it would introduce a much more extensive employment of British shipping from one part of India to another, from which great profit would arise; and that it would prevent the nation from being deprived of the resources of those who, for want of permission or opportunity at home, were driven to employ their skill and capital in the Indian trade of other countries.

The attention of the nation seems to have been highly excited. Three petitions were presented to the House of Commons, from the merchants, traders, &c. of the three chief places of foreign trade in England, London, Bristol, and Liverpool, in behalf of themselves and all other his Majesty’s subjects, praying, that the trade to India might be laid open to the nation at large, and that they might be heard by their counsel at the bar of the House. The press, too, yielded a variety of productions, which compared with one another the systems of monopoly and freedom, and showed, or pretended to show, the preference due to the last. Though competition might appear to reduce the gains of individuals, it would, by its exploring sagacity, its vigilance, address, and economy, even with an equal capital, undoubtedly increase the mass of business, in other words, the annual produce, that is to say, the riches and prosperity of the country: The superior economy, the superior Edition: current; Page: [38] book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. dispatch, the superior intelligence and skill of private adventure, while they enable the dealers to traffic on cheaper terms, were found by experience to yield a profit on the capital employed, not inferior to what was yielded by monopoly; by the business, for example, of the East India Company, whose dividends exceeded not eight per cent.: Whatever was gained by the monopolizing company, in the high prices at which it was enabled to sell, or the low prices at which it was enabled to buy, was all lost by its dilatory, negligent, and wasteful management: This was not production, but the reverse; it was not enriching a nation, but preventing its being enriched.1

The Company manifested their usual ardour in defence of the monopoly. They magnified the importance of the trade; and asked if it was wise to risk the loss of known advantages, of the greatest magnitude, in pursuit of others which were only supposed: they alledged that it was envy which stimulated the exertions of their opponents; coveting the gains of the Company, but unable to produce any instance of misconduct, without going forty years back for the materials of their interested accusations: The Company employed an immense stock in trade, their sales amounting to about three millions yearly: The customs, about 300,000l. per annum, for the service of government, ought not to be sacrificed for less than a certainty of an equal supply: And the maintenance of the forts and factories cost 300,000l. a year. Where, they asked, was the security that an open trade, subject to all the fluctuation of individual fancy, one year liable to be great, another to Edition: current; Page: [39] be small, would afford regularly an annual revenuebook iv. Chap. 1. 1730. of 600,000l. for customs and forts? By the competition of so many buyers in India, and of so many sellers in Europe, the goods would be so much enhanced in price in the one place, and so much reduced in the other, that all profit would be destroyed, and the competitors, as had happened in the case of the rival companies, would end with a scene of general ruin.

Under the increased experience of succeeding times, and the progress of the science of national wealth, the arguments of the Company’s opponents have gained, those of the Company have lost, a portion of strength. To exaggerate the importance of the Indian trade; and because it is important, assume that the monopoly ought to remain, is merely to say, that when a thing is important, it ought never to be improved; in things of no moment society may be allowed to make progress; in things of magnitude that progress ought ever to be strenuously and unbendingly opposed. This argument is, unhappily, not confined to the use of the East India Company. Whoever has attentively traced the progress of government, will find that it has been employed by the enemies of improvement, at every stage; and only in so far as it has been disregarded and contemned, has the condition of man ascended above the miseries of savage life. Instead of the maxim, A thing is important, therefore it ought not to be improved; reason would doubtless suggest, that the more any thing is important, the more its improvement should be studied and pursued. When a thing is of small importance, a small inconvenience may suffice to dissuade the pursuit of its improvement. When it is of great importance, a great inconvenience alone can be allowed to produce that unhappy Edition: current; Page: [40] book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. effect. If it be said, that where much is enjoyed, care should be taken to avoid its loss; this is merely to say that men ought to be prudent; which is very true, but surely authorizes no such inference, as that improvement, in matters of importance, should be always opposed.

The Company quitted the argument, to criminate the arguers: The objections to the monopoly were the impure and odious offspring of avaricious envy. But, if the monopoly, as the opponents said, was a bad thing, and free trade a good thing; from whatever motive they spoke, the good thing was to be adopted, the evil to be shunned. The question of their motives was one thing; the truth or falsehood of their positions another. When truth is spoken from a bad motive, it is no less truth; nor is it less entitled to its command over human action, than when it is spoken from the finest motive which can enter the human breast; if otherwise, an ill-designing man would enjoy the wonderful power, by recommending a good course of action, to render a bad one obligatory upon the human race.

If, as they argued, the East India Company had a large stock in trade, that was no reason why the monopoly should remain. The capital of the mercantile body of Great Britain was much greater than the capital of the East India Company, and of that capital, whatever proportion could find a more profitable employment in the Indian trade, than in any other branch of the national industry, the Indian trade would be sure to receive.

With regard to the annual expense of the forts and factories, it was asserted by the opponents of the Company; and, as far as appears, without contradiction, that they defrayed their own expense, and supported themselves.

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As to the customs paid by the East India Company;book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. all trade paid customs, and if the Indian trade increased under the system of freedom, it would pay a greater amount of customs than it paid before; if it decreased, the capital now employed in it would seek another destination, and pay customs and taxes in the second channel as well as the first. To lay stress upon the customs paid by the Company, unless to take advantage of the gross ignorance of a minister, or of a parliment, was absurd.

The argument, that the competition of free trade, would make the merchants buy so dear in India, and sell so cheap in England, as to ruin themselves, however depended upon, was contradicted by experience. What hindered this effect, in trading with France, in trading with Holland, or any other country? Or what hindered it in every branch of business within the kingdom itself? If the two East India Companies ruined themselves by competition, why reason from a case, which bore no analogy whatsoever to the one under contemplation; while the cases which exactly corresponded, those of free trade, and boundless competition, led to a conclusion directly the reverse? If two East India Companies ruined one another, it was only an additional proof, that they were ineligible instruments of commerce. The ruin proceeded, not from the nature of competition, but the circumstances of the competitors. Where two corporate bodies contended against one another, and the ruin of the one left the field vacant to the other, their contention might very well be ruinous; because each might hope, that, by exhausting its antagonist in a competition of loss, it would deliver itself from its only rival. Where every merchant had not one, but a multitude of competitors, the hope was clearly vain of wearing all of them out by a contest of loss. Every Edition: current; Page: [42] book iv. Chap. 1. 1730. merchant therefore would deal on such terms alone, as allowed him the usual, or more than the usual rate of profit; and he would find it his interest to observe an obliging, rather than an hostile deportment towards others, that they might do the same toward him. As it is this principle which produces the harmony and prosperity of trade in all other cases in which freedom prevails, it remained to be shown why it would not produce them in the Indian trade.

The subject was introduced into parliament, and discussed. But the advocates for the freedom of the trade were there overruled, and those of monopoly triumphed.

In order to aid the parliament in coming to such a decision as the Company desired, and to counteract in some degree the impression likely to be made by the proposal of their antagonists to accept of two per cent. for the whole of the loan to government, they offered to reduce the interest from five to four per cent., and, as a premium for the renewal of their charter, to contribute a sum of 200,000l. to the public service. On these conditions it was enacted that the exclusive privileges should be prolonged to Lady Day in the year 1766, with the usual addition of three years’ notice, and a proviso that nothing in this arrangement should be construed to limit their power of continuing a body corporate, and of trading to India on their joint stock with other of their fellow subjects, even after their exclusive privileges should expire.1

On the ground on which the affairs of the East Edition: current; Page: [43] India Company were now established, they remainedbook iv. Chap. 1. 1732. till the year 1744. From 1730 to that year, the trade of the Company underwent but little variation. Of goods exported, the amount indeed was considerably increased; but as in this stores were included, and as the demand for stores, by the extension of forts, and increase of military apparatus, was augmented, the greater part of the increase of exports may be justly set down to this account. The official value of the goods imported had kept rather below a million annually; sometimes indeed exceeding that sum, but commonly the reverse, and some years to a considerable amount; with little or no progressive improvement from the beginning of the period to the end. The exports had increased from 135,484l., the exportation of the first year, to 476,274l., that of the last; and they had been still greater in the preceding year. But the greater part of the increase had taken place after the prospect of wars and the necessity of military preparations; when a great addition was demanded in the article of stores.1

In the year 1732, the Company first began to make up annual accounts; and from that period we have regular statements of the actual purchase of their exports, and the actual sale of their imports. In the year 1732, the sales of the Company amounted to 1,940,996l. In 1744, they amounted to 1,997,506l.; and in all the intermediate years were less. The quantity of goods and stores paid for in the year 1732 amounted to 105,230l.; the quantity paid for in 1744, to 231,318l. The quantity of bullion exported in 1732 was 393,377l.; the quantity exported in 1744 was 458,544l. The quantity then of goods exported was increased, and in some degree, also, that of bullion, while the quantity of goods imported remained Edition: current; Page: [44] book iv. Chap. 1. 1732–44. nearly the same. It follows, that the additional exportation, not having been employed in the additional purchase of goods, must have been not merchandize, but stores. It is to be observed, also, that in the amount of sales, as exhibited in the Company’s accounts, were included at this time the duties paid to government, stated at thirty per cent.; a deduction which brings the amount of the sales to nearly the official valuation of the imports at the custom-house.1

In 1732, the Company were obliged to reduce their dividends from eight to seven per cent. per annum; and at this rate they continued till 1744, in which year they returned to eight per cent.2 The Dutch East India Company, from 1730 to 1736, divided twenty-five per cent. per annum upon the capital stock; in 1736, twenty per cent.; for the next three years, fifteen per cent. per annum; for the next four, twelve and a half per annum; and in 1744, as much as fifteen per cent.3 The grand advantage of the English East India Company, in the peculiar privilege of having their trade exempted from duties in Bengal and in the other concessions obtained by their embassy to the court of the Mogul, had thus produced no improvement in the final result, the ultimate profits of the trade.

The Company seem to have been extremely anxious to avoid a renewal of the discussion on the utility or fitness of the monopoly, and, for that purpose, to forestal the excitement of the public attention by the approach to the conclusion of the privileged term. Edition: current; Page: [45] At a moment accordingly when no one was preparedbook iv. Chap. 1. 1744. to oppose them; and in the middle of an expensive war, when the offer of any pecuniary facilities was a powerful bribe to the government, they made a proposal to lend to it the sum of one million, at an interest of three per cent. provided the period of their exclusive privileges should be prolonged to three years’ notice after Lady-day 1780. On these conditions, a new act was passed in 1744; and to enable the Company to make good their loan to government, they were authorized to borrow to the extent of a million on their bonds.1

On the death of the Emperor Charles VI. in the year 1740, a violent war, kindled by competition for the imperial throne, and for a share in the spoils of the house of Austria, had begun in Germany. In this contest, France and England, the latter involved by her Hanoverian interests, had both engaged as auxiliaries; and in the end had become nearly, or rather altogether principals. From 1739, England had been at war with Spain, a war intended to annul the right, claimed and exercised by the Spaniards, of searching English ships on the coast of America for contraband goods. England and France, though contending against one another, with no ordinary efforts, in a cause ostensibly not their own, abstained from hostilities directly on their own account, till 1744; when the two governments came to mutual declarations of war. And it was not long before the most distant settlements of the two nations felt the effects of their destructive contentions.

On the 14th2 of September, 1746, a French fleet Edition: current; Page: [46] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. anchored four leagues to the south of Madras; and landed five or six hundred men. On the 15th the fleet moved along the coast, while the troops marched by land; and about noon it arrived within cannon-shot of the town. Labourdonnais, who commanded the expedition, then landed, with the rest of the troops. The whole force destined for the siege, consisted of 1000 or 1100. Europeans, 400 Sepoys, and 400 Caffres, or blacks of Madagascar, brought from the island of Mauritius: 1700 or 1800 men, all sorts included, remained in the ships.1

Madras had, during the space of 100 years, been the principal settlement of the English on the Coromandel coast. The territory belonging to the Company extended five miles along the shore, and was about one mile in breadth. The town consisted of three divisions. The first, denominated the white town, in which resided none but the English, or Europeans under their protection, consisted of about fifty houses, together with the warehouses and other buildings of the Company, and two churches, one an English, the other a Roman Catholic church. This division was surrounded with a slender wall, defended with four bastions, and four batteries, but weak and badly constructed, decorated with the title of Fort St. George. Contiguous to it, on the north side, was the division in which resided the Armenian, and the richest of the Indian, merchants, larger, and still worse fortified than the former. And on the northern side of this division was a space, covered by the hovels of the country, in which the mass of the natives resided. These two divisions constituted what was called the black town. The English in this colony exceeded not 300 men, of whom 200 were the soldiers of the Edition: current; Page: [47] garrison. The Indian Christians, converts or descendantsbook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. of the Portuguese, amounted to three or four thousand; the rest were Armenians, Mahomedans, or Hindus, the last in by far the largest proportion; and the whole population of the Company’s territory amounted to about 250,000. With the exception of Goa and Batavia, Madras was, in point both of magnitude and riches, the most important of the European establishments in India.

The town sustained the bombardment for five days, when the inhabitants, expecting an assault, capitulated. They had endeavoured to save the place, by the offer of a ransom; but Labourdonnais coveted the glory of displaying French colours on the ramparts of fort St. George. He engaged however his honour to restore the settlement, and content himself with a moderate ransom; and on these terms he was received into the town. He had not lost so much as one man in the enterprise. Among the English four or five were killed by the explosion of the bombs, and two or three houses were destroyed. Labourdonnais protected the inhabitants, with the care of a man of virtue; but the magazines and warehouses of the Company, as public property, were taken possession of by the commissaries of the French.1

Labourdonnais, with the force under his command, had arrived in India in the month of June, 1746. At that time the settlements of France in the Indian seas were under two separate governments, analogous to the English Presidencies; one established at the Isle of France, the other at Pondicherry. Under the former of these governments were placed the two islands; the one called the isle of France, about sixty leagues in circumference; the other that of Bourbon, Edition: current; Page: [48] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. of nearly the same dimensions. These islands, lying on the eastern side of Madagascar, between the nineteenth and twentieth degrees of latitude, were discovered by the Portuguese, and by them called Cerne, and Mascarhenas. In 1660 seven or eight Frenchmen settled on the island of Mascarhenas; five years afterwards they were joined by twentytwo of their countrymen; the remains of the French colony which was destroyed in Madagascar sought refuge in this island; and when it became an object of some importance, the French changed its name to the island of Bourbon. The island of Cerne was, at an early date, taken possession of by the Dutch, and by them denominated the island of Mauritius, in honour of their leader Maurice, Prince of Orange; but, after the formation of their establishment at the Cape of Good Hope, was abandoned as useless. The French, who were subject to great inconvenience by want of a good harbour on the island of Bourbon, took possession of it in 1720, and changed its name from the isle of Mauritius, to the isle of France. Both islands are fruitful, and produce the corn of Europe, along with most of the tropical productions. Some plants of coffee, accidentally introduced from Arabia, succeeded so well on the island of Bourbon, as to render that commodity the staple of the island.1

Pondicherry was the seat of the other Indian government of the French. It had under its jurisdiction the town and territory of Pondicherry; and three factories, or Comptoirs, one at Mahé, not far south from Tellicherry on the Malabar coast, one at Karical on one of the branches of the Coleroon on Edition: current; Page: [49] the Coromandel coast, and one at Chandernagor onbook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. the river Hoogley in Bengal.1

The form of the government at both places was the same. It consisted, like the English, the form of which was borrowed from the Dutch, of a Governor, and a Council; the Governor being President of the Council, and allowed, according to the genius of the government in the mother country, to engross from the Council a greater share of power than in the colonies of the English and the Dutch. The peculiar business of the Governor and Council was, to direct, in conformity with instructions from home, all persons in the employment of the Company; to regulate the expenditure, and take care of the receipts; to administer justice, and in general to watch over the whole economy of the establishment. Each of the islands had a Council of its own; but one Governor sufficed for both.2

In 1745 Labourdonnais was appointed Governor of the islands. This was a remarkable man. He was born at St. Malo, in 1699; and was entered on board a ship bound for the South Sea at the age of ten. In 1713 he made a voyage to the East Indies, and the Philippine islands; and availed himself of the presence of a Jesuit, who was a passenger in the ship, to acquire a knowledge of the mathematics. After performing several voyages to other parts of the world, he entered for the first time, in 1719, into the service of the East India Company, as second lieutenant of a vessel bound to Surat. He sailed again to India, as first lieutenant in 1723; and a third time, as second captain in 1724. In every voyage he found opportunity to distinguish himself by some Edition: current; Page: [50] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. remarkable action; and during the last he acquired, from another passenger, an officer of engineers, a knowledge of the principles of fortification and tactics. He now resolved to remain in India, and to navigate a vessel on his own account. He is said to have been the first Frenchman who embarked in what is called the country trade; in which he conducted himself with so much skill, as to realize in a few years a considerable fortune. The force of his mind procured him an ascendancy wherever its influence was exerted: A violent quarrel was excited between some Arabian and Portuguese ships in the harbour of Mocca, and blood was about to be shed, when Labourdonnais interposed, and terminated the dispute to the satisfaction of the parties. So far did his services on this occasion recommend him to the Viceroy of Goa, that he invited him into the service of the King of Portugal, gave him the command of a King’s ship, the order of Christ, the rank of Fidalgo, and the title of agent of his Portuguese Majesty on the coast of Coromandel. In this situation he remained for two years, and perfected his knowledge of the traffic and navigation of India; after which, in 1733, he returned to France. Apprized of his knowledge and capacity, the French government turned its eyes upon him, as a man well qualified to aid in raising the colonies in the eastern seas from that state of depression in which they remained. In 1734 he was nominated Governor General of the isles of France and Bourbon; where he arrived in June 1735. So little had been done for the improvement of these islands, that the people, few in number, were living nearly in the state of nature. They were poor, without industry, and without the knowledge of almost any of the useful arts. They had neither magazine, nor hospital, neither fortification, Edition: current; Page: [51] nor defensive force, military or naval. They had nobook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. roads; they had no beasts of burden, and no vehicles. Every thing remained to be done by Labourdonnais; and he was capable of every thing. With the hand to execute, as well as the head to contrive, he could construct a ship from the keel; He performed the functions of engineer, of architect, of agriculturist: He broke bulls to the yoke, constructed vehicles, and made roads: He apprenticed blacks to the few handicrafts whom he carried out with him: He prevailed upon the inhabitants to cultivate the ground; and introduced the culture of the sugar-cane and indigo: He made industry and the useful arts to flourish; contending with the ignorance, the prejudices, and the inveterate habits of idleness, of those with whom he had to deal, and who opposed him at every step. To introduce any degree of order and vigilance into the management even of the hospital which he constructed for the sick, it was necessary for him to perform the office of superintendant himself, and for a whole twelvemonth he visited it regularly every morning. Justice had been administered by the Councils, to whom that function regularly belonged, in a manner which produced great dissatisfaction. During eleven years that Labourdonnais was Governor, there was but one law-suit in the isle of France, he himself having terminated all differences by arbitration.

The vast improvements which he effected in the islands did not secure him from the disapprobation of his employers. The captains of ships, and other visitants of the islands, whom he checked in their unreasonable demands, and from whom he exacted the discharge of their duties, filled the ears of the Company’s Directors with complaints; and the Directors, with too little knowledge for accurate Edition: current; Page: [52] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. judgment, and too little interest for careful inquiry, inferred culpability, because there was accusation. He returned to France in 1740, disgusted with his treatment; and fully determined to resign the government: But the minister refused his consent. It is said that being asked by one of the Directors of the Company, how it was, that he had conducted his own affairs so prosperously, those of the Company so much the reverse; he replied that he had conducted his own affairs according to his own judgement: those of the Company according to that of the Directors.1

Perceiving, by the state of affairs in Europe, that a rupture was approaching between France and the maritime powers, his fertile mind conceived a project for striking a fatal blow at the English trade in the East. Imparting the design to some of his friends, he perceived that he should be aided with funds sufficient to equip, as ships of war, six vessels and two frigates; with which, being on the spot when war should be declared, he could sweep the seas of the English commerce, before a fleet could arrive for its protection. He communicated the scheme to the ministry, by whom it was embraced, but moulded into a different form. They proposed to send out a fleet, composed partly of the King’s and partly of the Company’s ships, with Labourdonnais in the command: And though he foresaw opposition from the Company, to whom neither he nor the scheme was agreeable, he refused not to lend himself to the ministerial scheme. He sailed from L’Orient on the 5th of April, 1741, with five ships of the Company: one carrying fifty-six; two carrying fifty; one, twentyeight; and one, sixteen guns; having on board about 1,200 sailors, and 500 soldiers. Two King’s ships Edition: current; Page: [53] had been intended to make part of his squadron; butbook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. they, to his great disappointment, received another destination. He also found that, of the ship’s crews, three-fourths had never before been at sea; and that of either soldiers or sailors hardly one had ever fired a cannon or a musket. His mind was formed to contend with, rather than yield to difficulties: and he began immediately to exercise his men with all his industry; or rather with as much industry as their love of ease, and the opposition it engendered, rendered practicable. He arrived at the Isle of France on the 14th of August, 1741; where he learned, that Pondicherry was menaced by the Mahrattas, and that the islands of France and Bourbon had sent their garrisons to its assistance. After a few necessary operations to put the islands in security, he sailed for Pondicherry on the 22d of August, where he arrived on the 30th of September. The danger there was blown over; but the settlement at Mahé had been eight months blockaded by the natives. He repaired to the place of danger; chastised the enemy; re-established the factory; and then returned to the islands to wait for the declaration of war between France and England. There he soon received the mortifying orders of the Company to send home all the vessels under his command. Upon this he again requested leave to resign, and again the minister refused his consent. His views were now confined to his islands, and he betook himself with his pristine ardour to their improvement. On the 14th of September, 1744, in the midst of these occupations, the intelligence arrived of the declaration of war between France and England; and filled his mind with the mortifying conception of the important things he now might have achieved, but which the mistaken policy or perversity of his employers had prevented.

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book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. Unable to do what he wished, he still resolved to do what he could. He retained whatever ships had arrived at the islands, namely, one of forty-four guns, one of forty, one of thirty, one of twenty-six, one of eighteen, and another of twenty-six, which was sent to him from Pondicherry with the most pressing solicitations to hasten to its protection. The islands, at which unusual scarcity prevailed, were destitute of almost every requisite for the equipment of the ships; and their captains, chagrined at the interruption of their voyages, seconded the efforts of the Governor with all the ill-will it was safe for them to show. He was obliged to make even a requisition of negrees to man the fleet. In want of hands trained to the different operations of the building and equipping of ships, he employed the various handicrafts whom he was able to muster; and by skilfully assigning to them such parts of the business as were most analogous to the operations of their respective trades, by furnishing them with models which he prepared himself, by giving the most precise directions, and with infinite diligence superintending every operation in person, he overcame in some measure the difficulties with which he was surrounded. In the mean time intelligence was brought by a frigate, that five of the Company’s ships which he was required to protect, and which he was authorized by the King to command, would arrive at the islands in October. They did not arrive till January, 1746. The delay had consumed a great part of the provisions of the former ships: those which arrived had remaining for themselves a supply of only four months; they were in bad order: and there was no time, nor materials, nor hands to repair them. Only one was armed. It was necessary they should all be armed; and the means for that purpose were totally wanting. The Edition: current; Page: [55] ships’ crews, incorporated with the negroes and thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. handicrafts, Labourdonnais formed into companies; he taught them the manual exercise, and military movements; showed them how to scale a wall, and apply petards; exercised them in firing at a mark; and employed the most dexterous among them in preparing themselves to use a machine, which he had invented, for throwing with mortars grappling-hooks for boarding to the distance of thirty toises.1

He forwarded the ships, as fast as they were prepared, to Madagascar, where they might add to their stock of provisions, or at any rate save the stock which was already on board; and he followed with the last on the 24th of March. Before sailing from Madagascar, a storm arose by which the ships were driven from their anchorage. One was lost; and the rest, greatly damaged, collected themselves in the bay of a desert island on the coast of Madagascar. Here the operations of repairing were to be renewed; and in still more unfavourable circumstances. To get the wood they required, a road was made across a marsh, a league in circumference; the rains were incessant; disease broke out among the people; and many of the officers showed a bad disposition; yet the work was prosecuted with so much efficiency, that in forty-eight days the fleet was ready for sea. Edition: current; Page: [56] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. It now consisted of nine sail, containing 3,342 men, among whom were 720 blacks, and from three to four hundred sick.

In passing the island of Ceylon, they received intelligence that the English fleet was at hand. Labourdonnais summoned his captains on board, many of whom had shown themselves ill-disposed in the operations of industry; but all of whom manifested an eagerness to fight. As Labourdonnais understood that he was superior to the English in number of men, but greatly inferior in weight of metal, he declared his intention to gain, if possible, the wind, and to board. On the 6th of July, on the coast of Coromandel, the English fleet appeared to windward, advancing with full sail toward the French.1

Immediately after the declaration of war between France and England, a fleet, consisting of two ships of sixty guns each, one of fifty, and a frigate of twenty, commanded by Commodore Barnet, had been dispatched to India. It cruized, at first, in two divisions; one in the straits of Sunda, the other in the straits of Malacca, the places best fitted for intercepting the French traders, of which it captured four. After rendezvousing at Batavia, the united fleet appeared on the coast of Coromandel, in the month of July, 1745. The Governor of Pondicherry, the garrison of which at that time consisted of only 436 Europeans, prevailed on the Mogul Governor of the province, to declare Pondicherry under his protection, and to threaten Madras, if the English fleet should commit hostilities on any part of his dominions. This intimidated the government of Madras, and they requested Commodore Barnet to confine his operations Edition: current; Page: [57] to the sea; who accordingly left the coast ofbook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. Coromandel, to avoid the stormy season, which he passed at Mergui, a port on the opposite coast; and returned in the beginning of 1746. His fleet was now reinforced by two fifty gun ships, and a frigate of twenty guns from England; but one of the sixty gun ships had become unfit for service, and, together with the twenty gun frigate, went back to England. Commodore Barnet died at Fort St. David in the month of April; and was succeeded by Mr. Peyton, the second in command; who was cruizing to the southward of Fort St. David, near Negapatnam, when he descried the enemy just arriving on the coast.1

Labourdonnais formed his line, and waited for the English, who kept the advantage of the wind, and frustrated his design of boarding. A distant fight began about four in the afternoon, and the fleets separated for want of light about seven. Next morning Mr. Peyton called a council of war, and it was resolved, because the sixty gun ship was leaky, to sail for Trincomalee. The enemy lay to, the whole day, expecting that the English, who had the wind, would return to the engagement. The French, however, were in no condition to pursue, and sailed for Pondicherry, at which they arrived on the eighth day of the month.2

Joseph Francis Dupleix was at that time Governor of Pondicherry; having succeeded to the supreme command of the French settlements in 1742. To Edition: current; Page: [58] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. this man are to be traced some of the most important of the modern revolutions in India. His father was a farmer-general of the revenues, and a Director of the East India Company. He had set his heart upon rearing his son to a life of commerce; and his education, which was liberal, was carefully directed to that end. As the study of mathematics, of fortification, and engineering, seemed to engross his attention too exclusively,1 his father in 1715 sent him to sea; and he made several voyages to the Indies and America. He soon imbibed the taste of his occupation, and, desiring to pursue the line of maritime commerce, his father recommended him to the East India Company, and had sufficient interest to send him out in 1720 as first Member of the Council at Pondicherry. Impatient for distinction, the young man devoted himself to the business of his office; and became in time minutely acquainted with the commerce of the country. He embarked in it, on his own account; a species of adventure from which the poverty of the servants of the French Company had in general debarred them. In this station he continued for ten years, when his knowledge and talents pointed him out as the fittest person to superintend the business of the Company at their settlement at Chandernagor in Bengal. Edition: current; Page: [59] Though Bengal was the richest part of India, thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. French factory in that province had, from want of funds and from bad management, remained in a low condition. The colony was still to be formed; and the activity and resources of the new manager soon produced the most favourable changes. The colonists multiplied; enterprise succeeded to languor; Dupleix on his own account entered with ardour into the country trade, in which he employed the inheritance he derived from his father, and had frequently not less than twelve vessels, belonging to himself and his partners, navigating to Surat, Mocca, Jedda, the Manillas, the Maldivias, Goa, Bussora, and the coast of Malabar. He realized a great fortune: During his administration more than 2,000 brick houses were built at Chandernagor: He formed a new establishment for the French Company at Patna; and rendered the French commerce in Bengal an object of envy to the most commercial of the European colonies.

The reputation which he acquired in this situation pointed him out as the fittest person to occupy the station of Governor at Pondicherry. Upon his appointment to this chief command, he found the Company in debt; and he was pressed by instructions from home, to effect immediately a great reduction of expense.

The reduction of expense, in India, raising up a host of enemies, is an arduous and a dangerous task to a European Governor. Dupleix was informed that war was impending between France and the maritime powers. Pondicherry was entirely open to the sea, and very imperfectly fortified even toward the land. He proceeded, with his usual industry, to inquire, to plan, and to execute. Though expressly forbidden, under the present circumstances of the Company, to incur Edition: current; Page: [60] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. any expense for fortifications, he, on the prospect of a war with the maritime powers, made the works at Pondicherry a primary object. He had been struggling with the difficulties of narrow resources, and the strong temptation of extended views, about four years, when Labourdonnais arrived in the roads.1

The mind of Dupleix, though ambitious, active, and ingenious, seems to have possessed but little elevation. His vanity was excessive, and even effeminate; and he was not exempt from the infirmities of jealousy and revenge. In the enterprizes in which the fleet was destined to be employed, Labourdonnais was to reap the glory; and from the very first he had reason to complain of the air of haughtiness and reserve which his rival assumed. As the English traders were warned out of the seas, and nothing was to be gained by cruizing, Labourdonnais directed his thoughts to Madras. The danger however was great, so long as his ships were liable to be attacked, with the greater part of their crews on shore. He, therefore, demanded sixty pieces of cannon from Dupleix, to place him on a level in point of metal with the English fleet, and resolved to proceed in quest of it. Dupleix alleged the danger of leaving Pondicherry deprived of its guns, and refused. With a very inferior reinforcement of guns,2 with a very inadequate supply of ammunition, and with water given him at Pondicherry, so bad, as to produce the dysentery in his fleet, Labourdonnais put to sea on the 4th of August. On the 17th he descried the English fleet off Negapatnam, and hoisted Dutch colours as a decoy. Edition: current; Page: [61] The English understood the stratagem; changedbook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. their course; and fled. Labourdonnais says he pursued them all that day and the next; when, having the wind, they escaped.1 He returned to Pondicherry on the 23d, much enfeebled by disease, and found all hearty co-operation on the part of the governor and council still more hopeless than before. After a series of unfriendly proceedings, under which he had behaved with a manly temperance; after Dupleix had even commanded him to re-land the Pondicherry troops, he resolved to send the fleet, which he was still too much indisposed to command, towards Madras, for the double purpose, of seizing the vessels by which the people of Madras were preparing to send away the most valuable of their effects, and of ascertaining whether his motions were watched by the English fleet. The cruise was unskilfully conducted, and yielded little in the way of prize; it afforded presumption, however, that the English fleet had abandoned the coast. Labourdonnais saw, therefore, a chance of executing his plan upon Madras. He left Pondicherry on the 12th of September, and on the 14th commenced the operations, which ended, as we have seen, in the surrender of the place.

It was in consequence of an express article in his orders from home that Labourdonnais agreed to the restoration of Madras.2 But nothing could be more adverse to the views of Duplex. He advised, he intreated, he menaced, he protested; Labourdonnais, Edition: current; Page: [62] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. however, proceeded with firmness to fulfil the conditions into which he had entered. Dupleix not only refused all assistance to expedite the removal of the goods, and enable the ships to leave Madras before the storms which accompany the change of monsoon; he raised up every obstruction in his power, and even endeavoured to excite sedition among Labourdonnais’ own people, that they might seize and send him to Pondicherry. On the night of the 13th of October a storm arose, which forced the ships out to sea. Two were lost, and only fourteen of the crew of one of them were saved. Another was carried so far to the southward, that she was unable to regain the coast; all lost their masts, and sustained great and formidable injury. Disregarding the most urgent entreaties for assistance, Dupleix maintained his opposition. At last, a suggestion was made, that the articles of the treaty of ransom should be so far altered, as to afford time to the French, for removal of the goods; and Labourdonnais and the English, though with some reluctance, agreed, that the period of evacuation should be changed from the 15th of October to the 15th of January. This was all that Dupleix desired. Upon the departure of Labourdonnais, which the state of the season rendered indispensable, the place would be delivered into the hands of Dupleix, and he was not to be embarrassed with the fetters of a treaty.1

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The remaining history of Labourdonnais may bebook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. shortly adduced. Upon his return to Pondicherry, the opposition, which he had formerly experienced, was changed into open hostility. All his proposals for a union of counsels and of resources were rejected with scorn. Three fresh ships had arrived from the islands; and, notwithstanding the loss occasioned by the storm, the force of the French was still sufficient to endanger, if not to destroy, the whole of the English settlements in India.1 Convinced, by the counteraction which he experienced, that he possessed not the means of carrying his designs into execution, Labourdonnais acceded to the proposition of Dupleix that he should proceed to Acheen with such of the ships as were able to keep the sea, and return to Pondicherry after they were repaired; resigning five of them to Dupleix to carry next year’s investment to Europe. At its departure, the squadron consisted of seven ships, of which four were in tolerable repair; the rest were in such a condition that it was doubted whether they could reach Acheen; if this was impracticable, they were to sail for the islands. In conformity with this plan, Labourdonnais divided them into two parts. The first, consisting of the sound vessels, was directed to make its way to Acheen, Edition: current; Page: [64] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. without waiting for the rest: he himself remained with the second, with intention to follow, if that were in his power. The first division outsailed, and soon lost sight of the other; with which Labourdonnais, finding it in vain to strive for Acheen, at last directed his course to the islands. Hastening to Europe, to make his defence, or answer the accusations of his enemies, he took his passage in a ship belonging to Holland. In consequence of the declaration of war she was forced into an English harbour. Labourdonnais was recognized, and made a prisoner; but the conduct which he had displayed at Madras was known and remembered. All ranks received him with favour and distinction. That he might not be detained, a Director of the East India Company offered to become security for him with his person and property. With a corresponding liberality, the government declined the offer, desiring no security but the word of Labourdonnais. His treatment in France was different. The representations of Dupleix had arrived: A brother of Dupleix was a Director of the East India Company; Dupleix had only violated a solemn treaty; Labourdonnais had only faithfully and gloriously served his country; and he was thrown into the Bastile. He remained in that prison three years; while the vindication which he published, and the authentic documents by which he supported it, fully established his innocence, and the ardour and ability of his services. He survived his liberation a short time, a memorable example of the manner in which a blind government encourages desert.1

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He had not taken his departure from Madras,book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. when the troops of the Nabob appeared. Dupleix had been able to dissuade that native ruler from yielding his protection to Madras, a service which the English, who had prevailed on Commodore Barnet to abstain from molesting Pondicherry, claimed as their due. Dupleix had gained him by the promise of Madras. The Moor (so at that time the Moslems in India were generally called) quickly however perceived, that the promise was a delusion; and he now proposed to take vengeance by driving the French from the place. As soon as Labourdonnais and his fleet disappeared, a numerous army of the Nabob, led by his son, invested Madras. From the disaster however which had befallen the fleet, Labourdonnais had been under the necessity of leaving behind him about 1200 Europeans, disciplined by himself; the French, therefore, encountered the Indians; astonished them beyond measure, by the rapidity of their artillery; with a numerical force which bore no proportion to the enemy, gained over them a decisive victory; and first broke the spell which held the Europenas in subjection to the native powers.1

The masters of mankind, how little soever disposed to share better things with the people, are abundantly willing to give them a share of their disgrace. Though, on other occasions, they may affect Edition: current; Page: [66] book iv. Chap. 1. 1746. a merit in despising the public will, they diligently put on the appearance of being constrained by it in any dishonourable action which they have a mind to perform. In violating the treaty with the English, Dupleix recognized his own baseness; means were therefore used to make the French inhabitants of Pondicherry assemble and draw up a remonstrance against it, and a prayer that it might be annulled. Moved by respect for the general voice of his countrymen, Dupleix sent his orders to declare the treaty of ransom annulled; to take the keys of all magazines; and to seize every article of property, except the clothes of the wearers, the moveables of their houses, and the jewels of the women; orders which were executed with avaricious exactness. The governor and principal inhabitants were carried prisoners to Pondicherry, and exhibited, by Dupleix, in a species of triumph.1

The English still possessed the settlement of Fort St. David, on the coast of Coromandel. It was situated twelve miles south from Pondicherry; with a territory still larger than that of Madras. Besides Fort St. David, at which were placed the houses of the Company, and other Europeans, it contained the town of Cuddalore, inhabited by the Indian merchants, and other natives; and two or three populous Edition: current; Page: [67] villages. The fort was small; but stronger than anybook iv. Chap. 1. 1746. of its size in India. Cuddalore was surrounded, on the three sides towards the land, by walls flanked with bastions. On the side towards the sea, it was open, but skirted by a river, which was separated from the sea by a mound of sand. A part of the inhabitants of Madras had, after the violation of the treaty of ransom, made their way to Fort St. David; and the agents of the Company at that place now took upon themselves the functions of the Presidency of Madras, and the general administration of the English affairs on the Coromandel coast.1

Dupleix lost no time in following up the retention of Madras with an enterprise against Fort St. David, the reduction of which would have left him without a European rival. In the night of the 19th of December, a force consisting of 1700 men, mostly Europeans, of which fifty were cavalry, with two companies of the Caffre slaves trained by Labourdonnais, set out from Pondicherry, and arrived next morning in the vicinity of the English fort. The garrison, including the men who had escaped from Madras, amounted to no more than about 200 Europeans, and 100 Topasses. At this time the English had not yet learned to train Sepoys in the European discipline, though the French had already set them the example, and had four or five disciplined companies at Pondicherry.2 They had hired, however, 2000 of the undisciplined soldiers of the country, who are armed promiscuously with swords and targets, bows and arrows, pikes, lances, matchlocks or muskets, and known among the Europeans by the Edition: current; Page: [68] book iv. Chap. 1. 1747. name of Peons; among these men they had distributed eight or nine hundred muskets, and destined them for the defence of Cuddalore. They had also applied for assistance to the Nabob; and he, exasperated against the French, by his defeat at Madras, engaged, upon the promise of the English to defray part of the expense, to send his army to assist Fort St. David. The French, having gained an advantageous post, and laid down their arms for a little rest, were exulting in the prospect of an easy prey, when an army of nearly 10,000 men advanced in sight. Not attempting resistance, the French made good their retreat, with twelve Europeans killed and 120 wounded. Dupleix immediately entered into a correspondence with the Moors to detach them from the English; and, at the same time, meditated the capture of Cuddalore by surprise. On the night of the 10th of January, 500 men were embarked in boats, with orders to enter the river and attack the open quarter of the town at daybreak. But, as the wind rose, and the surf was high, they were compelled to return.1

Dupleix was fertile in expedients, and indefatigable in their application. He sent a detachment from Madras into the Nabob’s territory, in hopes to withdraw him to its defence. The French troops disgraced themselves by the barbarity of their ravages; but the Indian army remained at Fort St. David, and the resentment of the Nabob was increased. On the 20th of January, the four ships of Labourdonnais’ squadron, which had sailed to Acheen to refit, arrived in the road of Pondicherry. Dupleix conveyed to the Nabob an exaggerated account of the vast accession of force which he had received; describing the English Edition: current; Page: [69] as a contemptible handful of men, devoted to iv. Chap. 1. 1747. “The governments of Indostan,” says Mr. Orme on this occasion, “have no idea of national honour in the conduct of their politics; and as soon as they think the party with whom they are engaged is reduced to great distress, they shift, without hesitation, their alliance to the opposite side, making immediate advantage the only rule of their action.” A peace was accordingly concluded; the Nabob’s troops abandoned the English; his son, who commanded the army, paid a visit to Pondicherry; was received, by Dupleix, with that display in which he delighted; and was gratified by a considerable present.1

Blocked up, as it would have been, from receiving supplies, by the British ships at sea, and by the Nabob’s army on land, Pondicherry, but for this treaty, would soon have been reduced to extremity.2 And now the favourable opportunity for accomplishing the destruction of Fort St. David was eagerly seized. On the morning of the 13th of March, a French army was seen approaching the town. After some resistance, it had crossed the river, which flows a little way north from the fort, and had taken possession of its former advantageous position; when an English fleet was seen approaching the road. The French crossed the river with precipitation, and returned to Pondicherry.3

The fleet under Captain Peyton, after it was lost sight of by Labourdonnais, on the 18th of August, off Negapatnam, had tantalized the inhabitants of Madras, who looked to it with eagerness for protection, by appearing off Pullicat, about thirty miles to Edition: current; Page: [70] book iv. Chap. 1. 1747. the northward on the 3d of September, and again sailing away. Peyton proceeded to Bengal: because the sixty gun ship was in such a condition as to be supposed incapable of bearing the shock of her own guns. The fleet was there reinforced by two ships, one of sixty and one of forty guns, sent from England with Admiral Griffin; who assumed the command, and proceeded with expedition to save Fort St. David, and menace Pondicherry. The garrison was reinforced by the arrival of 100 Europeans, 200 Topasses, and 100 Sepoys, from Bombay, beside 400 Sepoys from Tellichery: In the course of the year 150 soldiers were landed from the Company’s ships from England: And, in the month of January, 1748, Major Laurence arrived, with a commission to command the whole of the Company’s forces in India.1

The four ships which had arrived at Pondicherry from Acheen, and which Dupleix foresaw would be in imminent danger, when the English fleet should return to the coast, he had, as soon as he felt assured of concluding peace with the Nabob, ordered from Pondicherry to Goa. From Goa they proceeded to Mauritius, where they were joined by three other ships from France. About the middle of June, this fleet was descried off Fort St. David, making sail, as if it intended to bear down upon the English. Admiral Griffin waited for the land wind, and put to sea at night, expecting to find the enemy in the morning. But the French admiral, as soon as it was dark, crowded sail, and proceeded directly to Madras, where he landed 300 soldiers, and 200,000l. in silver, the object of his voyage; and then returned to Mauritius. Admiral Griffin sought for him in vain. But Dupleix, knowing that several days would be necessary to bring the English ships back to Fort St. David, Edition: current; Page: [71] against the monsoon, contrived another attack uponbook iv. Chap. 1. 1748. Cuddalore. Major Laurence, by a well executed feint, allowed the enemy at midnight to approach the very walls, and even to apply the scaling ladders, under an idea that the garrison was withdrawn, when a sudden discharge of artillery and musketry struck them with dismay, and threw them into precipitate retreat.1

The government of England, moved by the disasters of the nation in India, and jealous of the ascendancy assumed by the French, had now prepared a formidable armament for the East. Nine ships of the public navy, one of seventy-four, one of sixty-four, two of sixty, two of fifty, one of twenty guns, a sloop of fourteen, a bomb ketch with her tender, and a hospital-ship, commanded by Admiral Boscawen; and eleven ships of the Company, carrying stores and troops to the amount of 1,400 men, set sail from England toward the end of the year 1747. They had instructions to capture the island of Mauritius in their way; as a place of great importance to the enterprises of the French in India. But the leaders of the expedition, after examining the coast, and observing the means of defence, were deterred, by the loss of time which the enterprise would occasion. On the 9th of August they arrived at Fort St. David, when the squadron, joined to that under Griffin, formed the largest European force that any one power had yet possessed in India.2

Dupleix, who had received early intelligence from France of the preparations for this armament, had Edition: current; Page: [72] book iv. Chap. 1. 1748. been the more eager to obtain an interval of friendship with the Nabob, and to improve it to the utmost for laying in provisions and stores at Pondicherry and Madras; knowing well, as soon as the superior force of the English should appear, that the Nabob would change sides, and the French settlements, both by sea and land, would again be cut off from supplies.1

Preparations at Fort St. David had been made, to expedite the operations of Boscawen, and he was in a very short time ready for action; when all Englishmen exulted in the hope of seeing the loss of Madras revenged by the destruction of Pondicherry. Amid other points of preparation for attaining this desirable object, there was one, to wit, knowledge, which they had, unfortunately, overlooked. At a place called Ariancopang, about two miles to the southwest of Pondicherry, the French had built a small fort. When the English arrived at this place, not a man was found who could give a description of it. They resolved, however, to take it by assault; but were repulsed, and the repulse dejected the men. Time was precious; for the season of the rains, and the change of monsoon, were at hand: A small detachment, too, left at the fort, might have held the feeble garrison in check: But it was resolved to take Ariancopang at any expense: Batteries were opened; but the enemy defended themselves with spirit: Major Laurence was taken prisoner in the trenches: Several days were consumed, and more would have been added to them, had not a part of the enemy’s magazine of powder taken fire, which so terrified the garrison, that they blew up the walls and retreated to Pondicherry. As if sufficient time had not been lost, Edition: current; Page: [73] the English remained five days longer to repair thebook iv. Chap. 1. 1748. fort, in which they resolved to leave a garrison, lest the enemy should resume possession during the siege.

They advanced to Pondicherry, and opened the trenches on the northwest side of the town, at the distance of 1,500 yards from the wall, though it was even then customary to open them within 800 yards of the covered way. The cannon and mortars in the ships were found capable of little execution; and, from want of experience, the approaches, with much labour, went slowly on. At last they were carried within 800 yards of the wall; when it was found impossible to extend them any further, on account of a large morass; while, on the northern side of the town, they might have been carried to the foot of the glacis. Batteries, at the distance of 800 yards, were constructed on the edge of the morass; but the enemy’s fire proved double that of the besiegers; the rains came on; sickness prevailed in the camp; very little impression had been made on the defences of the town; a short time would make the roads impracticable; and hurricanes were apprehended, which would drive the ships from the coast. It was therefore determined, by a council of war, thirty-one days after the opening of the trenches, that the siege should be raised. Dupleix, as corresponded with the character of the man, made a great ostentation and parade on this unexpected event. He represented himself as having gained one of the most brilliant victories on record; he wrote letters in this strain, not only to France, but to the Indian princes, and even to the Great Mogul himself; he received in return the highest compliments on his own conduct and bravery, as well as on the prowess of his nation; and the Edition: current; Page: [74] book iv. Chap. 1. 1749. English were regarded in India as only a secondary and inferior people.1

In November news arrived that a suspension of arms had taken place between England and France: and this was shortly after followed by intelligence of the treaty of Aix la Chapelle, in which the French government had agreed to restore Madras. It was delivered up in August, with its fortifications much improved. At the distance of four miles south from Madras was the town of San Tomé, or St. Thomas, built by the Portuguese, and, in the time of their prosperity, a place of note. It had long however been reduced to obscurity, and though inhabited mostly by Christians, had hardly been regarded as a possession by any of the European powers. It had been found that the Roman Catholic priests, from the sympathy of religion, had conveyed useful information to the French in their designs upon Madras. To prevent the like inconvenience in future, it was now taken possession of by the English, and the obnoxious part of the inhabitants ordered to withdraw.2

No events of any importance had occurred at the other presidencies, during these years of war. The Viceroy of Bengal had prohibited the French and English from prosecuting their hostilities in his dominions. This governor exacted contributions from the European colonies, for the protection which he bestowed; that however which he imposed upon the Edition: current; Page: [75] English did not exceed 100,000l. A quantity of rawbook iv. Chap. 1. 1749. silk, amounting to 300 bales, belonging to the Company, was plundered by the Mahrattas; and the distress which the incursions of that people produced in the province, increased the difficulties of traffic.1

The trade of the Company exhibited the following results:—

Goods and Stores exported.Bullion ditto.Total.
1744.. £231,318.. £458,544.. £689,862
1745.. 91,364.. 476,853.. 568,217
1746.. 265,818.. 560,020.. 825,838
1747.. 107,979.. 779,256.. 887,235
1748.. 127,224.. 706,890.. 834,114

The bills of exchange for which the Company paid during those years were:

1744.. £103,349 1747.. £441,651
1745.. 98,213 1748.. 178,419
1746.. 417,647

The amount of sales for the same years (including thirty per cent. of duties, which remained to be deducted) was:

2 Third Report from the Committee of Secrecy, 1773, p. 75.
1744.. £1,997,506 1747.. £1,739,159
1745.. 2,480,966 1748.. 1,768,0412
1746… 1,602,388

The official value at the custom-house of the imports and exports of the Company, during that period, was as follows:

1744.... £743,508.... £476,274
1745.... 973,705.... 293,113
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book iv. Chap. 1. 1749.

1 Sir C. Whitworth’s tables, part ii. p. 9.
1746.... £646,697.... 893,540
1747.... 821,733.... 345,526
1748.... 1,098,712.... 306,3571

The dividend was eight per cent. per annum, during the whole of the time.2

During the same period, the trade of the nation, notwithstanding the war, had considerably increased. The imports had risen from 6,362,971l. official value, to 8,136,408l.; and the exports from 11,429,628l. to 12,351,433l.; and, in the two following years, to 14,099,366l. and 15,132,004l.3

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Origin, Progress, and Suspension, of the Contest for establishing Mahomed Ali, Nabob of Carnatic.

A new scene is now to open in the history of thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. East India Company. Before this period they had maintained the character of mere traders, and, by humility and submission, endeavoured to preserve a footing in that distant country, under the protection or oppression of the native powers. We shall now behold them entering the lists of war; and mixing with eagerness in the contests of the princes. Dupleix, whose views were larger than, at that time, those of any of the servants of the Company, had already planned, in his imagination, an empire for the French, and had entered pretty deeply into the intrigues of the country powers. The English were the first to draw the sword; and from no higher inducement than the promise of a trifling settlement on the Coromandel coast.

A prince who, amid the revolutions of that country, had, some years before, possessed and lost the throne of Tanjore, repaired to Fort St. David, and entreated the assistance of the English. He represented his countrymen as ready to co-operate for his restoration; and promised the fort and country of Devi-Cotah, with the payment of all expenses, if, with their assistance, he should recover his rights. The war between the French and English had brought to the settlements Edition: current; Page: [78] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. of both nations in that quarter of India, a greater quantity of troops than was necessary for their defence; and with the masters of troops it seems to be a law of nature, whenever they possess them in greater abundance than is necessary for defence, to employ them for the disturbance of others. The French and English rulers in India showed themselves extremely obedient to that law. The interests of the Tanjore fugitive were embraced at Fort St. David; and in the beginning of April, 1749, 430 Europeans and 1,000 Sepoys, with four field-pieces and four small mortars, marched with him for Tanjore.

Tanjore was one of those rajahships, or small kingdoms, into which the Mohamedans, at their first invasion of India, found the country in general divided. It occupied little more than the space enclosed and intersected by the numerous mouths of the river Cavery. The Coleroon, or most northern branch of that river, bounded it on the north, and it extended about seventy miles along the coast, and nearly as much inland from the sea. Like the rest of the neighbouring country, it appears to have become dependent upon the more powerful rajahship of Beejanuggur, before the establishment of the Mohamedan kingdoms in Deccan; and afterwards upon the kingdom of Beejapore, but subject still to its own laws and its own sovereign or rajah, who held it in the character of a Zemindar. In the time of Aurungzebe, it has been already seen, that a very remarkable personage, the father of Sevagee, who had obtained a footing in the Carnatic, had entered into a confederacy with the Rajah or Polygar of Mudkul or Madura, against the Rajah or Zemindar or Naig (for we find all these titles applied to him) of Tanjore, whom they defeated and slew; that afterwards quarrelling Edition: current; Page: [79] with the Rajah of Mudkul, about the divisionbook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. of the conquered territory, the Mahratta stripped him of his dominions, took possession both of Mudkul and Tanjore, and transmitted them to his posterity.1 His grandson Shawgee was attacked and taken prisoner by Zulfeccar Khan, who, to strengthen his party, restored him to his government or zemindary, upon the death of Aurungzebe. Shawgee had two brothers, Shurfagee and Tuckogee. They succeeded one another in the government, and all died without issue, excepting the last. Tuckogee had three sons Baba Saib, Nana, and Sahugee. Baba Saib succeeded his father, and died without issue. Nana died before him, but left an infant son, and his widow was raised to the government, by the influence of Seid the commander of the fort. This powerful servant soon deprived the Queen of all authority, threw her into prison, and set up as rajah a pretended son of Shurfagee. It suited the views of Seid to allow a very short existence to this prince and his power. He next placed Sahugee, the youngest of the sons of Tuckogee, in the seat of government. Sahugee also was soon driven from the throne. Seid now vested with the name of sovereign Pretaupa Sing, a son by one of the inferior wives of Tuckogee. This was in 1741. The first act of Pretaupa Sing’s government was to assassinate Seid. It was Sahugee who now craved the assistance of the English.2 And it was after having corresponded for years with Pretaupa Sing, as King of Tanjore; after having offered to him the friendship of the English nation; and after having courted his assistance against the Edition: current; Page: [80] French; that the English rulers now, without so much as a pretence of any provocation, and without the allegation of any other motive than the advantage of possessing Devi-Cotah, dispatched an army to dethrone him.1

The troops proceeded by land, while the battering-cannon and provisions were conveyed by sea. They had begun to proceed when the monsoon changed, with a violent hurricane. The army, having crossed the river Coleroon, without opposition, were on the point of turning into a road among the woods which they would have found inextricable. Some of the soldiers, however, discovered a passage along the river, into Edition: current; Page: [81] which they turned by blind but lucky chance; andbook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. this led them, after a march of about ten miles, to the neighbourhood of Devi-Cotah. They had been annoyed by the Tanjorines; no partisans appeared for Sahugee; it indeed appears not that so much as a notice had been conveyed to them of what was designed; and no intelligence could be procured of the ships, though they were at anchor only four miles off at the mouth of the river. The army threw at the fort what shells they had, and then retreated without delay.

The shame of a defeat was difficult to bear; and the rulers of Madras resolved upon a second attempt. They exaggerated the value of Devi-Cotah; situated in the most fertile spot on the coast of Coromandel; and standing on the river Coleroon, the channel of which, within the bar, was capable of receiving ships of the largest burden, while there was not a port from Masulipatam to Cape Comorin, which could receive one of 300 tons: it was true the mouth of the river was obstructed by sand; but if that could be removed, the possession would be invaluable. This time, the expedition, again commanded by Major Laurence, proceeded wholly by sea; and from the mouth of the river the troops and stores were conveyed up to Devi-Cotah in boats. The army was landed on the side of the river opposite to the fort, where it was proposed to erect the batteries, because the ground on the same side of the river with the fort, was marshy, covered with wood, and surrounded by the Tanjore army. After three days’ firing a breach was made; but no advantage could be taken of it till the river was crossed. This was dangerous, as well from the breadth and rapidity of the stream, as from the number of soldiers in the thickets which covered the opposite shore. To the ingenuity of a common ship’s carpenter, the army Edition: current; Page: [82] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. was indebted for the invention by which the danger was overcome. A raft was constructed sufficient to contain 400 men; but the difficulty was to move it across. John Moore, the man who suggested and constructed the raft, was again ready with his aid. He swam the river in the night; fastened to a tree on the opposite side a rope which he carefully concealed in the bushes and water; and returned without being perceived. Before the raft began to move, some pieces of artillery were made to fire briskly upon the spot where the rope was attached; and moved the Tanjorines to a distance too great to perceive it. The raft was moved across; it returned, and recrossed several times, till the whole of the troops were landed on the opposite bank. Major Laurence resolved to storm the breach without delay. Lieutenant Clive, who had given proofs of his ardent courage at the siege of Pondicherry, offered to lead the attack. He proceeded with a platoon of Europeans and 700 Sepoys; but rashly allowing himself, at the head of the platoon, to be separated from the Sepoys, he narrowly escaped with his life; and the platoon was almost wholly destroyed. Major Laurence advanced with the whole of his force, when the soldiers mounted the breach, and after a feeble resistance took possession of the place. An accommodation between the contending parties was effected soon after. The reigning king agreed to concede to the English the fort for which they contended, with a territory of the annual value of 9000 pagodas; and they, on their part. not only renounced the support of him for whom they had pretended to fight as the true and lawful king, but agreed to secure his person, in order that he might give no farther molestation to Pretaupa Sing, and demanded only 4000 rupees, about 400l., for his annual Edition: current; Page: [83] expenses.1 It may well be supposed, that tobook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. conquer Tanjore for him would have been a frantic attempt. But no such reflection was made when a zeal for the justice of his cause was held up as the impelling motive to the war; nor can it be denied that his interests were very coolly resigned. It is even asserted that, but for the humanity of Boscawen, he would have been delivered into the hands of Pretaupa Sing.2 He found means to make his escape from the English; who imprisoned his uncle, and kept him in confinement for nine years, till he was released by the French, when they took Fort St. David in 1758.3

While the English were occupied with the unimportant conquest of Devi-Cotah, the French had engaged in transactions of the highest moment; and a great revolution was accomplished in Carnatic. This revolution, on which a great part of the history of the English East India Company depends, it is now necessary to explain. Carnatic is the name given to a large district of country along the coast of Coromandel, extending from near the river Kistna, to the northern branch of the Cavery. In extending westward from the sea, it was distinguished into two parts, the first, including the level country between the sea and the first range of mountains, and entitled Carnatic below the Ghauts; the second, including the table land between the first and second range of mountains, and called Carnatic above the Ghauts. A corresponding track, extending from the northern Edition: current; Page: [84] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. branch of the Cavery to Cape Comorin, sometimes also receives the name of Carnatic; but in that case it is distinguished by the title of the Southern Carnatic.1 The district of Carnatic had fallen into dependence upon the great rajahships of Beejanuggur and Warankul; and after the reduction of these Hindu powers, had been united to the Mahomedan kingdoms of Beejapore and Golconda. Upon the annexation of these kingdoms to the Mogul empire, in the reign of Aurungzebe, Carnatic was included in the general subjugation, and formed part of the great Subah of Deccan. In the smaller provinces or viceroyalties, the districts or sub-divisions were proportionally small; and the sub-governors of these divisions were known by the titles of Zemindar, and Phouzdar or Fogedar. In the great Subahs, however, particularly that of Deccan, the primary divisions were very large, and the first rank of sub-governors proportionally high. They were known by the name of nabob or deputy; that is, deputy of the Subahdar, or Viceroy, governor of the Subah; and under these deputies or nabobs were the Zemindars and Fogedars Edition: current; Page: [85] of the districts. Carnatic was one of the nabobships,book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. or grand divisions of the great Subah of Deccan. During the vigour of the Mogul government, the grand deputies or nabobs, though immediately subject to the Subahdar, or Viceroy, were not always nominated by him. They were very often nominated immediately by the emperor; and not unfrequently as a check upon the dangerous power of the Subahdar. When the Subahdar however was powerful, and the emperor weak, the nabobs were nominated by the Subahdar.

When Nizam al Mulk was established Subahdar of Deccan, a chief, named Sadatullah, was nabob of Carnatic, and held that command under the Nizam till the year 1732, when he died. Sadatullah, who had no issue male, adopted the two sons of his brother; Doost Ali, and Bâkir Ali. Bâkir Ali he made governor of Velore: and he had influence to leave Doost Ali in possession of the nabobship at his death. Nizam al Mulk claimed a right to nominate his deputy in the government of Carnatic; and took displeasure that Doost Ali had been intruded into the office with so little deference to his authority; but he happened to be engaged at the time in disputes with the emperor, which rendered it inconvenient to resent the affront. Doost Ali had two sons and four daughters. Of these daughters one was married to Mortiz Ali, the son of his brother Bâkir Ali, governor of Velore; another to Chunda Saheb, a more distant relative, who became duan, or minister of the finances, under Doost Ali his father-in-law.

Trichinopoly was a little sovereignty bordering on the west upon Tanjore. Though subdued by the Mogul, it had been allowed, after the manner of Tanjore, to retain, as Zemindar, its own sovereign, accountable for the revenues and other services, Edition: current; Page: [86] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. required from it as a district of the Mogul empire. The rajahs of Tanjore and Trichinopoly were immediately accountable to the nabobs of Carnatic; and, like other Zemindars, frequently required the terror of an army to make them pay their arrears. In the year 1736 the Rajah of Trichinopoly died, and the sovereignty passed into the hands of his wife. The supposed weakness of female government pointed out the occasion as favourable for enforcing the payment of the arrears; or for seizing the immediate government of the country. By intrigue and perfidy, Chunda Saheb was admitted into the city; when, imprisoning the queen who soon died with grief, he was appointed by his father-in-law governor of the kingdom.

The Hindu Rajahs were alarmed by the ambitious proceedings of the Nabob of Carnatic and his son-in-law, and incited the Mahrattas,1 as people of the same origin and religion, to march to their assistance. The attention of Nizam al Mulk was too deeply engaged in watching the motions of Nadir Shaw, who at that very time was prosecuting his destructive war in Hindustan, to oppose a prompt resistance to the Mahrattas; it has indeed been asserted though without proof, and not with much probability, that, as he was but little pleased with the appointment or proceedings of Doost Ali, he instigated the Mahrattas to this incursion, for the sake of chastising the presumption of his deputy.

An army, commanded by Ragogee Bonslah, appeared on the confines of Carnatic, in the month of May, 1740. The passes of the mountains might have been successfully defended by a small number Edition: current; Page: [87] of men; but an officer of Doost Ali, a Hindu, tobook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. whom that important post was committed, betrayed his trust, and left a free passage to the Mahrattas. Doost Ali encountered the invaders; but lost his life in the battle. Subder Ali, the eldest son of the deceased, retired to the strong fort of Velore, and began to negotiate with the Mahrattas. A large sum of money was partly promised, and partly paid; and Trichinopoly, which rendered Chunda Saheb an object of jealousy to the new Nabob, was secretly offered to them, if they chose the trouble of making the conquest. They returned in a few months and laid siege to Trichinopoly. Chunda Saheb defended himself gallantly for several months, but was obliged to yield on the 26th of March, 1741; and was carried a prisoner to Satarah; while Morari Row, a Mahratta chief, was left Governor of Trichinopoly. Subder Ali, afraid to trust himself in the open city of Arcot, the capital of Carnatic, took up his residence in Velore. Bâkir Ali was dead, the late governor of Velore, and uncle of the Nabob; and Mortiz Ali, his son, was now governor in his place. By instigation of this man, whose disposition was perfidious and cruel, Subder Ali was assassinated; and an attempt was made by the murderer to establish himself in the government of the province; but, finding his efforts hopeless, he shut himself up in his fort of Velore; and the infant son of Subder Ali was proclaimed Nabob.1

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book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. Nizam al Mulk, however, had now left the court of Delhi, and returned to his government of Deccan. To arrange the troubled affairs of Carnatic, he arrived at Arcot in the month of March 1743. He treated the son of Subder Ali with respect; but appointed his general Cojah Abdoolla, to the government of Carnatic; and compelled Morari Row, and the Mahrattas, to evacuate Trichinopoly. Cojah Abdoolla died suddenly, apparently through poison, before he had taken possession of his government; and the Nizam appointed An’war ad dien Khan, to supply his place. An’war ad dien Khan, the son of a man noted for his learning and piety, had been promoted to a place of some distinction, by the father of Nizam al Mulk, and after his death attached himself to the fortunes of his son. When Nizam al Mulk became Subahdar of Deccan, he made An’war ad dien Nabob of Ellore and Rajamundry, where he governed from the year 1725 to 1741; and from that period till the death of Cojah Abdoolla, he served as Governor of Golconda. In ostent, Nizam al Mulk conferred the government of Carnatic upon An’war ad dien, only for a time, till Seid Mahomed, the young son of Subder Ali, should arrive at the years of manhood; but, in the mean while, he consigned him to the guardianship of An’war ad dien, and in a short time the young Nabob was murdered by a party of Patan soldiers, who clamoured for arrears of pay, due to them, or pretended to be due, by his father. An’war ad dien escaped not the imputation of being author of the crime, but he was supported by Nizam al Mulk, and appointed Nabob in form. It was An’war ad dien, who was the Governor of Carnatic when the French and English contended for Madras, and whom Dupleix treated alternately as a friend and a foe.

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Nizam al Mulk, whose abilities and power werebook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. calculated to confirm the arrangements which he had made in Deccan, died in 1748, after a whole life spent in the toils and agitations of oriental ambition, at the extraordinary age of 104. The government of Sadatullah and his family had been highly popular in Carnatic; that of An’war ad dien Khan was very much hated: A strong desire prevailed that the government of An’war ad dien should be subverted, and that of the family of Sadatullah restored: The death of Nizam al Mulk opened a channel through which the hope of change made its way: Chunda Saheb was the only member of the family of Sadatullah, who possessed talents likely to support him in the ascent to the proposed elevation: The keen eye of Dupleix had early fixed itself upon the prospect of the ascendancy of Chunda Saheb; and if that chief should, by the assistance of the French, acquire the government of Carnatic, the most important concessions might be expected from his gratitude and friendship. At the first irruption of the Mahrattas, the whole family of Doost Ali had been sent to Pondicherry, (so strongly had the Indians already learned to confide in the superiority of European power) as the place of greatest safety in the province. They received protection and respect; and the wife and family of Chunda Saheb, during the whole time of his captivity, had never been removed. Dupleix treated them with the attention calculated to make a favourable impression on the man whom he wished to gain. He even corresponded with Chunda Saheb in his captivity; and agreed to advance money to assist in raising the sum which the Mahrattas demanded for his ransom. He was liberated in the beginning of the year 1748, and even furnished, it is said, with 3,000 Mahratta troops. He entered Edition: current; Page: [90] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. immediately into the quarrels of some contending Rajahs, whose dominions lay inland between the coast of Malabar and Carnatic, with a view to increase his followers, and collect treasure; and he was already at the head of 6000 men, when the death of Nizam al Mulk occurred.

To maintain his authority, in his absence, both at court and in his province, Nizam al Mulk had procured the high office of Ameer al Omrah, for his eldest son, Ghazee ad dien Khan, who always attended the person of the Emperor. His second son, Nazir Jung, had resided for the most part in Deccan, and had officiated as his father’s deputy, as often as the wars of the empire, or the intrigues of the court, had called him away. Though the obedience of Nazir Jung had been so little perfect as to have been lately chastised even by imprisonment, he was present when his father died; the army was accustomed to obey him; he got possession of his father’s treasures; the Emperor was far too weak to assert his right of nomination; and Nazir Jung assumed the power and titles of Subahdar of Deccan.

There was, however, a favourite grandson of Nizam al Mulk, the son of a descendant of Sadoollah Khan, Vizir to Shaw Jehan, by a daughter of Nizam al Mulk. His name was Hedayet Mohy ad dien; to which he added the title of Mirzapha Jung. He had been Nabob of Beejapore, for several years, during the life of his grandfather; who, it was now given out and believed, had nominated him successor by his will.1 Such a competitor for the government of Deccan appeared to Chunda Saheb the very man on whom his hopes might repose. He offered his services, Edition: current; Page: [91] and they were greedily received. To attainbook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. the assistance of Dupleix was regarded by them both as an object of the highest importance; and in a Subahdar of Deccan, and a Nabob of Carnatic, whom he himself should be the chief instrument in raising to power, Dupleix contemplated the highest advantages, both for himself and for his country. Chunda Saheb persuaded Mirzapha Jung that they ought to commence their operations in Carnatic; where the interest of the family of Chunda Saheb would afford advantages. Their troops had increased to the number of 40,000 men, when they approached the confines of Carnatic. They were joined here by the French, who consisted of 400 Europeans, 100 Caffres, and 1800 Sepoys, commanded by M. d’Auteuil.1 They immediately advanced towards An’war ad dien, whom on the 3d of August, 1749, they found encamped under the fort of Amboor, fifty miles west from Arcot. The French offered to storm the entrenchment; and though twice beaten back, they advanced three times to the charge, and at last prevailed. An’war ad dien was slain in the engagement, at the uncommon age of 107 years; his eldest son was taken prisoner; and his second son Mahomed Ali, with the wreck of the army, escaped to Trichinopoly, of which he was Governor.2

Dupleix affirms, that had the victorious leaders, according to his advice, advanced without delay against Trichinopoly, while the consternation of defeat remained, they would have obtained immediate possession of the place, and the success of their enterprise would have been assured. They chose Edition: current; Page: [92] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. however to go first to Arcot, that they might play for a while the Subahdar and Nabob; they afterwards paid a visit at Pondicherry to M. Dupleix, who gratified himself by receiving them with oriental display; and was gifted with the sovereignty of eighty-one villages in the neighbourhood of the settlement.1

They marched not from Pondicherry till the very end of October; and instead of proceeding directly against Trichinopoly, as they had settled with Dupleix, they directed their march to the city of Tanjore. The urgency of their pecuniary wants, and the prospect of an ample supply from the hoards of Tanjore, made them undervalue the delay. The King was summoned to pay his arrears of tribute, and a large sum as a compensation for the expense of the war. By negotiation, by promises, and stratagems, he endeavoured; and the softness of his enemies enabled him, to occupy their time till the very end of December, when news arrived that Nazir Jung, the Subahdar, was on his march to attack them.2

Nazir Jung had been summoned, upon his accession, to the imperial presence; and had advanced with a considerable army as far as the Nerbudda, when a counter-order arrived. Informed of the ambitious designs of his nephew, he accelerated his return; and was arrived at Aurengabad, when he heard of the overthrow and death of the Nabob of Edition: current; Page: [93] Carnatic.1 The impolitic delays of his enemies affordedbook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. time for his preparations; and they were struck with consternation when they now heard of his approach. They broke up their camp with precipitation: and, harassed by a body of Mahrattas, in the service of Nazir Jung, returned to Pondicherry.2

Dupleix was admirably calculated for the tricks of Indian policy. Though he exerted himself with the utmost vigour to animate the spirits, and augment the force of his allies; lending them 50,000l., declaring that he would lend them still more, and increasing the French forces to the number of 2000 Europeans; yet contemplating now with some terror the chance of a defeat, he sought to be prepared for all events, and endeavoured secretly to open a negotiation with Nazir Jung. He addressed to him a memorial, in which he set forth the enmity which was borne by An’war ad dien to the French nation; and the necessity under which they were placed to avail themselves of any allies to secure themselves from its effects; that the death of that Nabob, however, had now freed them from such obligation, and they were ready to detach themselves from the enemies of Nazir Jung; that they had already manifested their friendly dispositions towards him, in sparing Tanjore, and suspending the siege of Trichinopoly, which the victorious army of them and their allies, there was no doubt, might have easily taken.3 It was only, says Dupleix, the arrival of an English force in the camp of Nazir Jung, that prevented the Subahdar from embracing the proposal.4

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book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. From the beginning of 1747, the English had been intriguing, both with Nizam al Mulk and with Nazir Jung, against the French. Besides a letter from the English Governor to the same effect, Commodore Griffin, in a letter to Nizam al Mulk, dated March 6, 1747, said, “I shall not enter into a particular detail of all the robberies, cruelties, and depredations, committed on shore upon the King my Master’s subjects, by that insolent, perfidious nation the French; connived at, and abetted by those under your Excellency (the Nabob of Arcot), whose duty it was to have preserved the peace of your country, instead of selling the interest of a nation, with whom you have had the strictest friendship time out of mind; a nation that has been the means not only of enriching this part of the country, but the whole dominions of the grand Mogul; and that to a people who are as remarkable all over the world for encroaching upon, and giving disturbances and disquiet to all near them; a people who are strangers in your country, in comparison of those who have been robbed by them of that most important fortress and factory, Madras; and now they are possessed of it, have neither money nor credit, to carry on the trade.———And now, excellent Sir, we have laid this before you, for your information and consideration; and must entreat you, in the name of the King of Great Britain, my Royal Master, to call the Nabob to an account for his past transactions, and interpose your power to restore, as near as possible in its original state, what has been so unjustly taken from us.” Application was at the same time made to Nazir Jung for his interest with his father, which that prince assures the English by letter he had effectually employed. A favourable answer was received from Nizam al Mulk, and a mandate was sent to An’war ad dien Khan, called at that time by Edition: current; Page: [95] the English Anaverdy Khan, in which were the followingbook iv. Chap. 2. 1749. words: “The English nation, from ancient times, are very obedient and serviceable to us; besides which they always proved to be a set of true people, and it is very hard that they met with these troubles, misfortunes, and destruction. I do therefore write you, to protect, aid, and assist them in all respects, and use your best endeavours in such a manner, that the French may be severely chastised and rooted off, that his Majesty’s sea-port town may be recovered, and that the English nation may be restored to their right, establish themselves in their former place, as before, and carry on their trade and commerce for the flourishment of the place.” An agent of the English, a native, named Hodgee Hodee, who dates his letter from Arcot, the 10th of March, 1747, presents them with the real state of the fact in regard to An’war ad dien, the Nabob: “I take the liberty to acquaint your worship, that as the Nabob is but a Renter, he does not much regard the distress of the people of this province, but in all shapes has respect to his own interest and benefit; therefore there is no trusting to his promises. The French are very generous in making presents of other people’s goods, both to the old and young.” He advises the English to be equally liberal with their gifts, and says, “Don’t regard the money, as Governor Morse did, but part with it for the safety of your settlement.” Another of their agents, Boundla Mootal, informed them that if they expected any cordial assistance from An’war ad dien, they must send him money for it. The second son of An’war ad dien, Mahomed Ali Khan, showed himself during this period of French ascendancy, rather favourable to the English: probably, from that spirit of discord which prevails in the ruling Edition: current; Page: [96] book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. families of the East, because his eldest brother displayed a partiality to the French.1

When, after the deaths of Nizam al Mulk and An’war ad dien Khan, and the captivity of the eldest son of An’war ad dien Khan, Nazir Jung marched into Carnatic against Chunda Saheb and Mirzapha Jung, he summoned Mahomed Ali to join him from Trichinopoly, and sent to Fort St. David to solicit assistance from the English. The arrival of Mirzapha Jung, the defeat of An’war ad dien, which happened when they were engaged in the attack of Tanjore, and the apprehended schemes of Dupleix, had struck the English with alarm. “They saw,” says Mr. Orme, “the dangers to which they were exposed, but were incapable of taking the vigorous resolutions which the necessity of their affairs demanded.” They allowed Mr. Boscawen, with the fleet and troops, to set sail for England, at the end of October, and sent only 120 Europeans to support Mahomed Ali at Trichinopoly.2 The presence, however, of Nazir Jung, at the head of a great army, encouraged them to command the detachment at Trichinopoly to accompany Mahomed Ali; and a few days after their arrival in the camp, Major Laurence, with 600 Europeans from Fort St. David, joined the army of the Subahdar.

The two armies were now sufficiently near to skirmish; when thirteen French officers, displeased that they had not shared in the spoils of Tanjore, resigned their commissions, and infused terror and alarm into the men they were destined to command. D’Auteuil, considering it no longer safe to venture into action with men thus affected, decamped the night before the expected battle, and retreated in the direction of Pondicherry; Edition: current; Page: [97] leaving Mirzapha Jung and Chunda Saheb,book iv. Chap. 2. 1749. in a state of despair. Mirzapha Jung thought it best to yield himself up to his uncle, by whom he was immediately put in fetters; Chunda Saheb, with his own troops, made his way to Pondicherry.1

The dangers were formidable and imminent which now stared Dupleix in the face; but he had confidence in the resources of his own genius, and the slippery footing of an oriental prince. He sent an embassy to the camp of the victorious Subahdar, offering terms of peace; and at the same time entered into correspondence with some disaffected chiefs in his army. These were leaders of the Patan troops, which Nizam al Mulk, as the principal instrument of his ambition, had maintained in his service; and of which he had made the principal captains Nabobs of different districts in his Subah. It was the standing policy of all the Mahomedan princes in India to compose a great part of their armies of men drawn from the more hardy people of the north, the Tartars and Afghauns. Of these people the men who arrived in India were mere soldiers of fortune, accustomed to seek for wealth and distinction through crimes. If the master whom they served were able to chastise their perfidy, and feed their hopes of plunder and aggrandizement by the prospect of his conquests, they were useful and important instruments. The moment they appeared to have more to gain by destroying than by serving him, they were the most alarming source of his danger.

Nazir Jung had the usual character of a man educated a prince. He devoted his time to pleasure, and Edition: current; Page: [98] book iv. Chap. 2. 1750. withdrew it from business; decided without consideration, hence unwisely; and was at once too indolent and too proud to correct his mistakes. Under such a master, the Patan lords expected, by selling their services to a competitor, to add both to their treasures, and to the territories of which the government was lodged in their hands.

The deputies of Dupleix had returned from the camp of Nazir Jung, when D’Auteuil, who continued to watch the motions of the army, observing the negligence with which the camp was guarded during the night, detached an officer with 300 men, who entered it unobserved; penetrated into it a mile; spread terror and alarm; killed upwards of a thousand of the enemy; and returned with the loss of only two or three men: another proof of the extraordinary weakness of an Indian army, when opposed to the force of the European mind.

The Subahdar, alarmed at the presence of so enterprising an enemy, hastened to Arcot; while the English, quarrelling with him about the performance of his promises, and the abandonment of their cause by withdrawing his army, left the camp in disgust, and removed the only important obstacle to the machinations of the conspirators and Dupleix.

While the Subahdar spent his time at Arcot in the pleasures of the harem and the chase, of both of which he was immoderately fond, the French exhibited new specimens of their activity and enterprise. A small body of troops sailed to Masulipatam, at the mouth of the river Kistna, once the principal mart of that region of India; attacked it by surprise in the night; and gained possession with a trifling loss: And another detachment seized the Pagoda of Trivadi, about fifteen miles west from Fort St. David. Mahomed Ali obtained permission to detach himself Edition: current; Page: [99] from the army of the Subahdar, for the purpose of dislodgingbook iv. Chap. 2. 1750. them from Trivadi; in this he obtained assistance from the English, who were deeply interested in preventing the French from gaining a position so near. Some attacks which Mahomed Ali and the English made upon the pagoda were unsuccessful; and these allies began to quarrel. Mahomed Ali would neither advance pay to the English, nor move his troops between the pagoda and Pondicherry; upon which they left him. The French, who expected this event, waited for its arrival; attacked Mahomed Ali; gained an easy victory, and made him fly to Arcot, with two or three attendants. The French still aiming at further acquisitions, advanced against the celebrated Fort of Gingee, situated on a vast insulated rock, and deemed the strongest fortress in Carnatic. They stormed the fortifications to the very summit of the mountain; and contemplating afterwards the natural strength of the place, felt astonished at their own success.

This last exploit disturbed the tranquillity and the amusements of the Subahdar; and he offered to enter upon negotiation. The demands of the French were lofty; Nazir Jung, therefore, began his march to Gingee. But it was now October, 1750, and the rains began. The Subahdar kept the field; but felt exceedingly weary of the contest; and at last appeared inclined to concede whatever was demanded by the French. Dupleix nith the Subahdar, when his commander at Gingee receives from the traitors the concerted call: He marches with his whole force; attacks the camp of the Subahdar, and is joined by the traitors; by one of whom Nazir Jung is shot through the heart. In his Memoir Dupleix affirms, that he wrote immediately Edition: current; Page: [100] book iv. Chap. 2. 1751. to inform the Commander at Gingee of the conclusion of the treaty, and to prevent further hostilities, but that his letter arrived not till after the revolution was performed.

Mirzapha Jung was now freed from his imprisonment, and vested with the authority of Subahdar. Immediately, however, the enormous demands of the Patan nobles, to whose perfidy he owed his power, began to oppress him; and he only parried their importunities by asserting the necessity of forming his arrangements in concert with Dupleix. Lofty were the hopes, in which that ambitious leader seemed now entitled to indulge himself. Mirzapha Jung advanced to Pondicherry, and lavished upon him every testimony of gratitude and friendship. Dupleix exerted himself to satisfy the Patan lords; who, seeing his determination to support their master, permitted him to retrench their demands, and treasured up their resentments for a future day. An adept in Indian policy, when he had men of their dangerous character within the walls of Pondicherry, would have taken care how they made their escape.

Dupleix was appointed Governor of the Mogul dominions on the coast of Coromandel from the river Kistna to Cape Comorin; and Chunda Saheb his Deputy at Arcot. Mahomed Ali, who had fled to Trichinopoly, upon the assassination of Nazir Jung, now offered to resign his pretensions to the nabobship of Carnatic, provided Dupleix, who listened to the overture, would obtain from the new Subahdar a command for him, in any other part of his dominions.

Mirzapha Jung left Pondicherry in the month of January, 1751, accompanied by a body of French troops, with M. Bussy, who had signalized himself in the late transactions, at their head. The army had marched about sixty leagues; when a disturbance, Edition: current; Page: [101] in appearance accidental, arose among a part ofbook iv. Chap. 2. 1751. the troops; presently it was discovered, that the Patan chiefs were in revolt; and that they had seized a pass in front through which it behoved the army to proceed. They were attacked with great spirit; the French artillery carried every thing before it; and a victory was gained, when the impetuosity of the Subahdar carried him too far in the pursuit, and he was shot dead with an arrow. M. Bussy was not a man who lost his presence of mind, upon an unexpected disaster. He represented to the principal commanders the necessity of agreeing immediately upon the choice of a master; and as the son of Mirzapha Jung was an infant, and the present state of affairs required the authority of a man of years, he recommended Salabut Jung, the eldest surviving son of Nizam al Mulk, who was present in the camp, and who without delay was raised to the vacant command. Salabut Jung promised the same concessions to the French which had been made by his predecessor, and the army continued its march towards Golconda.1

The Europeans in India, who hitherto had crouched at the feet of the meanest of the petty governors of a district, were astonished at the progress of the French, who now seemed to preside over the whole region of Deccan. A letter to Dupleix, from a friend in the camp of Salabut Jung, affirmed that in a little time the Mogul on his throne would tremble at the Edition: current; Page: [102] book iv. Chap. 2. 1751. name of Dupleix;1 and however presumptuous this prophecy might appear, little was wanting to secure its fulfilment.

The English, sunk in apathy or despair, were so far as yet from taking any vigorous measures to oppose a torrent by which they were likely to be overwhelmed, that Major Laurence, the commander of the troops, on whose military talents and authority their whole dependence was placed, took the extraordinary resolution, not opposed, it should seem, by the Council, of returning at this critical juncture to England. They used their influence indeed, to prevent Mahomed Ali from carrying into execution the proposal he had made to the French of surrendering Trichinopoly; but Mahomed Ali, and the English, in concert, made offer to acknowledge Chunda Saheb Nabob of all Carnatic, with the exception of Trichinopoly and its dependencies. This the French treated as a departure from the original proposal of Mahomed Ali, and replied with haughtiness and contempt. The English now engaged to support him, and he resolved to hold out. The Governor of Madura, however, a small adjacent province, formerly a Hindu rajahship, declared for Chunda Saheb, and an attempt, made by a party of the English, to reduce it, was repelled.

Toward the beginning of April, Chunda Saheb began his march from Arcot; and about the same time Captain Gingens, with the English, was dispatched from Fort St. David. Chunda Saheb was encamped near the fort of Volconda, on the great road between Trichinopoly and Arcot, when the English approached. A battle was brought on; but the English officers spent so much time in deliberation as to discourage Edition: current; Page: [103] the men; and the European soldiers fledbook iv. Chap. 2. 1751. shamefully from the field, even while the Caffres and the native troops maintained the contest. The army retreated; and though it posted itself, and encamped at two different places, Utatoor and Pitchonda; it quitted both upon the arrival of the enemy, and at last took shelter under the walls of Trichinopoly. Chunda Saheb and the French lost no time in following, and sat down on the opposite side of the town.

The city of Trichinopoly, at the distance of about ninety miles from the sea, is situated on the south side of the great river Cavery, about half a mile from its bank; and, for an Indian city, was fortified with extraordinary strength. About five miles higher up than Trichinopoly, the Cavery divides itself into two branches, which, after separating to the distance of about two miles, again approach, and being only prevented from uniting, about fifteen miles below Trichinopoly, by a narrow mound, they form a peninsula, which goes by the name of the island of Seringham; celebrated as containing one of the most remarkable edifices, and one of the most venerated pagodas, in India; and henceforward remarkable for the struggle, constituting an era in the history of India, of which it was now to be the scene.

The presidency of Fort St. David, somewhat roused by seeing the army of Mahomed Ali driven out of Carnatic, and obliged to take shelter beyond the Cavery, made several efforts to reinforce the troops they had sent him; whom, after all, they were able to augment to the number of only 600 men. There was another misfortune; for notwithstanding the urgency with which, in the depressed and alarming state of their affairs, the English were called upon for the utmost exertions of their virtue, “a fatal spirit of division,” says Major Laurence, “had unhappily crept in among our Edition: current; Page: [104] book iv. Chap. 2. 1751. officers, so that many opportunities and advantages were lost, which gave the country alliance but an in-different opinion of our conduct.”1 The French, however, made but feeble efforts for the reduction of the place; and the English were too much impressed with an opinion of their own weakness to hazard any enterprise to dislodge them.2

While the war thus lingered at Trichinopoly, Clive, who had been made a captain to supply some of the removals occasioned by the recent discontents, persuaded the Presidency to create a diversion, by sending him to attack Arcot, the capital of Chunda Saheb, left with a very slender defence. This young man was the son of a gentleman of small fortune in Shropshire. From the untractableness of his own disposition, or the unsteadiness of his father’s, he was moved when a boy, from one to another, through a great variety of schools; at which he was daring, impetuous, averse to application, and impatient of control. At Edition: current; Page: [105] the age of nineteen he was appointed a writer in thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1751. service of the East India Company, and sent to Madras. There his turbulence, though he was not ill-natured, engaged him in quarrels with his equals; his dislike of application and control prevented his acquiring the benevolence of his superiors.1 When the capitulation with Madras was violated, Clive made his escape in a Mahomedan dress, to Fort St. David, and when the siege of Pondicherry was undertaken, he was allowed to enter into the military service, with the rank of an ensign. At the siege of Pondicherry, and the enterprise against Devi-Cotah, he rendered himself conspicuous by courting posts of danger, and exhibiting in them a daring intrepidity. Discerning men, however, perceived, along with his rashness, a coolness and presence of mind, with a readiness of resource in the midst of danger, which made Laurence, at an early period, point him out as a man of promise. Upon the conclusion of the affair at Devi-Cotah, Clive returned to his civil occupation; but no sooner did his countrymen resume the sword, than his own disposition, and the scarcity of officers, again involved him in operations, far better suited to his restless, daring, and contentious mind. He had accompanied the troops sent for the defence of Trichinopoly, till after the affair at Volcondah, and had been employed by the Presidency in conducting the several reinforcements which they had attempted to forward. He was now furnished with 200 Europeans, and 300 Sepoys: and to spare even these, Fort St. David and Madras were left, for their defence, the one with 100, the other with fifty men. To command them he had eight officers, of whom six had never been in action, and four were young men in the Edition: current; Page: [106] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. mercantile service of the Company, whom his own example had inflamed. For artillery they had three field-pieces; and two eighteen pounders were sent after him. The enemy, who remained in garrison at Arcot, which was an open town, defended by a fort, abandoned the place, and gave him possession without resistance. Expecting a siege, he exerted his utmost diligence to supply the fort; and that he might prevent the fugitive garrison, who hovered around, from resuming their courage, he made frequent sallies; beat up their camp in the middle of the night; defended himself with vigour when assailed; and harassed them by incessant and daring attacks. In the mean time Chunda Saheb detached 4,000 men from his army at Trichinopoly, which were joined by his son with 150 Europeans from Pondicherry; and, together with the troops already collected in the neighbourhood, to the number of 3,000, entered the city. Clive immediately resolved upon a violent attempt to dislodge them. Going out with almost the whole of the garrison, he with his artillerty forced the enemy to leave the street in which they had posted themselves; but filling the houses they fired upon his men, and obliged him to withdraw to the fort. In warring against the people of Hindustan, a few men so often gain unaccountable victories over a host, that on a disproportion of numbers solely no enterprise can be safely condemned as rash; in this, however, Clive run the greatest risk, with but a feeble prospect of success. He lost fifteen of his Europeans, and among them a lieutenant; and his only artillery officer, with sixteen other men, was disabled.

Next day the enemy were reinforced with 2,000 men from Velore. The fort was more than a mile in circumference; the walls in many places ruinous; the towers inconvenient and decayed; and every Edition: current; Page: [107] thing unfavourable to defence: Yet Clive found thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1752. means of making an effectual resistance. When the enemy attempted to storm at two breaches, one of fifty and one of ninety feet, he repulsed them with but eighty Europeans and 120 Sepoys fit for duty; so effectually did he avail himself of his feeble resources, and to such a pitch of fortitude had he exalted the spirits of those under his command. During the following night the enemy abandoned the town with precipitation, after they had maintained the siege for fifty days. A reinforcement from Madras joined him on the following day; and, leaving a small garrison in Arcot, he set out to pursue the enemy. With the assistance of a small body of Mahrattas, who joined him in hopes of plunder, he gave the enemy, now greatly reduced by the dropping away of the auxiliaries, a defeat at Arni, and recovered Conjeveram, into which the French had thrown a garrison, and where they had behaved with barbarity to some English prisoners; among the rest, two wounded officers whom they seized returning from Arcot to Madras, and threatened to expose on the rampart, if the English attacked them. After these important transactions, Clive returned to Fort St. David about the end of December. The enemy no sooner found that he was out of the field than they re-assembled, and marched to ravage the Company’s territory. Reinforced by some troops which had arrived from Bengal, he went out to meet them in the end of February. They abandoned their camp upon his approach; but with intent to surprise Arcot, from which the principal part of the garrison had marched to the reinforcement of Clive. They expected the gates to be opened by two officers of the English Sepoys, whom they had corrupted; but the plot being discovered, and their signals not answered, they did not venture to Edition: current; Page: [108] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. make an attack, and suddenly withdrew. Though informed of their retreat, Clive was still hastening his march to Arcot, when at sun-set his van was unexpectedly fired upon by the enemy’s artillery; and a hot engagement ensued. The superior force of the enemy afforded them great advantages and seemed likely to decide the contest, unless by some expedient their cannon could be seized. At ten at night Clive detached a party, who, favoured by the darkness, came upon it unexpectedly in the rear; defeated the troops who were placed for its defence; and succeeded completely in that important enterprise. After this disaster, the enemy dispersed; and before Clive could undertake any new exploit, he was ordered to the presidency; where it was determined to send him with all the troops under his command, to Trichinopoly. It was fortunate that the enemy, dispirited by the last, in addition to so many former disappointments and defeats, disbanded themselves at the same moment; the country troops departing to their homes, and the French being recalled to Pondicherry.

While these active operations were performing in the province of Arcot, Mahomed Ali, though he appeared to have little to dread from the attacks of the French upon Trichinopoly, began to have every thing to dread from the deficiency of his funds. The English, whom he engaged to maintain out of his own treasury, were now obliged to be maintained at the cost of the Presidency. His own troops were without pay, and there was no prospect of keeping them long from mutiny or dispersion. He had applied for assistance to the government of Mysore, a considerable Hindu kingdom, which had risen out of the wreck of the empire of Beejanuggur, and viewed with dread the elevation of Chunda Saheb, who had Edition: current; Page: [109] formerly aimed at its subjugation. Mahomed Ali renewedbook iv. Chap. 2. 1752. his importunities; and, by promising to the Mysoreans whatever they chose to ask, prevailed upon them to march to his assistance. They arrived at Trichinopoly about the middle of February, 20,000 strong, including 6000 Mahrattas, who had entered into their pay, and of whom a part were the same with those who had assisted Clive after the siege of Arcot. Their arrival determined the King of Tanjore, who till then had remained neutral, to send 5000 men. A few days after Clive was recalled to Fort St. David, he was again prepared to take the field; but on the 26th of March Major Laurence returned from England, and put himself at the head of the reinforcement, which consisted of 400 Europeans and 1100 Sepoys, with eight field pieces, and a large quantity of military stores. Both parties had their eyes fixed upon the reinforcement, and Dupleix sent repeated orders that it might be intercepted at all events. The efforts, however, of the enemy, proved unavailing; and Laurence in safety joined the camp.1

It was now determined to attack the enemy in Edition: current; Page: [110] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. their camp. This attack the French had not the resolution, or the means, to withstand, and formed the determination of passing over to the island of Seringham. Chunda Saheb, it is said, remonstrated, but without avail. In the hurry of their retreat, the enemy were able to carry over only a part of their baggage, and burned what they were unable to remove of the provisions which they had collected in their magazines.1

As delay was dangerous to the English, from the circumstances of their allies, it was their policy to reduce the enemy to extremities within the shortest possible time. With this view Clive advised them to detach a part of the army to the other side of the Coleroon, for the purpose of intercepting the enemy’s supplies. Though there was hazard in this plan; for an enterprising enemy, by attacking one of the divisions, might gain a decisive advantage before the other could arrive, Laurence accepted the advice; and Clive was detached for the performance of the service. It was executed with his usual activity, spirit, and success. Dupleix made the strongest exertions to reinforce and supply his army; but was Edition: current; Page: [111] baffled in every attempt. D’Auteuil, at the head ofbook iv. Chap. 2. 1752. a large convoy, was first compelled to suspend his march; was afterwards attacked in the fort to which he had retired; and at last taken prisoner. The enemy were soon in distress for provisions; their camp was cannonaded by the English; the troops of Chunda Saheb left his service; and he himself, looking round for the means of personal safety, chose at last to trust to the generosity of the King of Tanjore, and delivered himself, under promise of protection, into the hands of the Tanjorine commander. The French soon after capitulated, and surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

The fate of Chunda Saheb was lamentable. He was immediately put in fetters by the faithless Tanjorine. A dispute, under the power of which of them he should remain, arose between the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs, the Tanjorine Generals, and Mahomed Ali. To compromise the dispute, Major Laurence proposed that he should be confined in one of the English forts. The parties separated without coming to an agreement; and the Tanjorine immediately ordered him to be assassinated. Dupleix affirms that he was murdered by the express command of Major Laurence, which it is difficult to suppose that Dupleix must not have known to be untrue. But it is true, that Laurence showed an indifference about his fate which is not very easy to be reconciled with either humanity or wisdom. He well knew that his murder was, in the hands of any of them, the probable; in those of some of them, the certain consequence, of their obtaining the charge of his person. He well knew, that if he demanded him with firmness, they would have all consented to his confinement in an English fort. And, if he did not Edition: current; Page: [112] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. know, it is not the less true, that in the hands of the English he might have become a powerful instrument with which to counterwork the machinations of Dupleix. At any rate Dupleix, of all men, on this ground, had the least title to raise an accusation against the English; since he had resolved to imprison for life his unfortunate ally, and to reign sole Nabob of Carnatic himself.1

The failure of the enemy at Trichinopoly, the possession of which both parties appear to have valued too high, produced in the breasts of the English hopes of undisputed superiority, and of that tide of riches, which unbounded sway in the affairs of Carnatic promised to their deluded imaginations. Major Laurence was in haste to march through the province, investing his triumphant Nabob; and saw no place, except Gingee, which he imagined would retard his progress.2

He was not a little surprised when the delays of the Nabob indicated much less impatience. The Nabob was, in fact, engaged in a troublesome dispute. Among the inducements which he had employed to Edition: current; Page: [113] gain the assistance of the Mysoreans, he had notbook iv. Chap. 2. 1752. scrupled to promise the possession of Trichinopoly and its dependencies. The Mysorean chief now insisted upon performance; and the Mahratta captain, who eagerly desired an opportunity of obtaining Trichinopoly for himself, encouraged his pretensions.

Intelligence of this dispute was a thunderstroke to Laurence. His country had paid dear for Trichinopoly; yet now it appeared that it could not be retained, by him for whom it was gained, without a flagrant violation of honour and faith. The violation of honour and faith the Nabob, in the Indian manner, treated as a matter of entire insignificance. The Mysorean could not but know, he said, that such a promise was never made to be fulfilled; and doubtless no Indian can believe of any man, that he will keep more of a promise, than it is his interest, or than he is compelled, to keep.1

After some time lost in altercation, the Nabob promised to fulfil his engagement, and deliver up the fort in two months; and with this the Mysorean, finding more could not be obtained, allowed himself for the present to appear satisfied. The English, leaving a garrison in the fort, set forward to establish their Nabob; but the auxiliary troops of Tanjore, and of Tondeman, had marched to their homes; and the Mysoreans and Mahrattas refused to depart from Trichinopoly.

Dupleix was not reduced to despondency, by the stroke which the English imagined had realized their fondest hopes. As it was the character of this man to form schemes, which from their magnitude appeared romantic, so was it his practice to adhere to Edition: current; Page: [114] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. them with constancy, even when the disasters which he encountered in their execution seemed to counsel nothing but despair. Nor did the resources of his mind fail to second its firmness. He still found means to oppose a nearly equal, in a little time a more than equal, force to his opponents.

It was resolved, and very unwisely, that the first operation of the English should be the reduction of Gingee; garrisoned by the French; and the only place in the province expected to yield a serious resistance. Major Laurence condemned this plan of operations; and recommended the previous recovery of the province, and the collection of the rents; but by the influence of Mr. Saunders, the President, his opinion was over-ruled.1 Dupleix dispatched a force for the purpose of seizing the passes of the mountains by which Gingee is surrounded, and of intercepting the English convoys. The detachment of the English army, which had arrived at Gingee, marched to dislodge them; but, instead of succeeding in their object, sustained a defeat.

The French, elevated by this advantage, reinforced their victorious party with as many troops as they found it possible to send into the field. This army, by way of triumph, marched close to the very bounds of Fort St. David. A company of Swiss, in the English service, were sent on this emergency from Madras to Fort St. David, in boats, contrary to the advice of Laurence, who entreated they might be sent in a ship of force; and Dupleix, unrestrained by the vain forms of a treaty of peace, subsisting between England and France, while both parties were violating the substance of it every day, took them prisoners of war by a ship from Pondicherry road. Edition: current; Page: [115] Laurence hastened toward the enemy. His forcebook iv. Chap. 2. 1752. consisted of 400 Europeans, 1700 Sepoys, 4000 troops belonging to the Nabob, and nine pieces of cannon. The French army consisted of 400 Europeans, 1500 Sepoys, and 500 horse; who declined a battle, till Laurence, by a feigned retreat, inspired them with confidence. The action, which took place near Bahoor, two miles from Fort St. David, was decidedly in favour of the English; but would have been far more destructive to the French, had the Nabob’s cavalry done their duty, who, instead of charging the routed foe, betook themselves to the more agreeable operation of plundering their camp. After this seasonable victory, Captain Clive was employed, with a small detachment, to reduce the two forts, called Covelong and Chingliput, which he executed with his usual vigour and address; and then returned to Europe for his health. About the same time the monsoon compelled the army to withdraw from the field.

During these transactions, Nunjeraj, the Mysorean General, was not idle before Trichinopoly. He made several attempts to get into the fort by surprise, as well as to corrupt the troops; and his efforts held Captain Dalton, commanding the English garrison, perpetually on the watch. The views of that chief were now, also, directed toward the French; and so much progress had been made in the adjustment of terms, that a body of 3000 Mahrattas were actually on their march to join the enemy, when the victory at Bahoor produced a revolution in their minds; and they joined the English, as if they had marched from Trichinopoly with that express design. During the interval of winter quarters, the negotiations with the French were completed, and the Mahrattas, at an early period, marched to Pondicherry; while the Edition: current; Page: [116] book iv. Chap. 2. 1752. Mysoreans, to give themselves all possible chances, remained before Trichonopoly, as still allies of the English; but they declared themselves, before the armies resumed their operations; and attacked an advanced post of Captain Dalton’s, defended by sixty Europeans and some Sepoys, whom they destroyed to a man.

Before these designs of the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs were brought to maturity, Major Laurence had given his advice to seize them, in one of their conferences with Captain Dalton.1 If there was any confidence, during negotiation, reposed in the English by the Indians, beyond what they reposed in one another, a confidence of which the loss would have been risked by such a blow, we are not informed; the danger, which might have been averted by securing the persons of those enemies, was of considerable amount.

Dupleix, though so eminently successful in adding to the number of combatants on his side, was reduced to the greatest extremity for pecuniary supplies. The French East India Company were much poorer than even the English; the resources which they furnished from Europe were proportionally feeble; and, though perfectly willing to share with Dupleix in the hopes of conquest, when enjoyment was speedily promised, their impatience for gain made them soon tired of the war; and they were now importunately urging Dupleix to find the means of concluding a peace. Under these difficulties Dupleix had employed his own fortune, and his own credit, in answering the demands of the war; and, as a last resource, he now turned his thoughts to Mortiz Ali, the Governor of Velore. He held up to him the Edition: current; Page: [117] prospect of even the Nabobship itself, in hopes ofbook iv. Chap. 2. 1753. drawing from him the riches which he was reputed to possess. Mortiz Ali repaired to Pondicherry; and even advanced a considerable sum; but finding that much more was expected, he broke off the negotiation, and retired to his fort.

The contending parties looked forward with altered prospects to the next campaign. By the co-operation of the Mysoreans, and the junction of the Mahrattas, the latter of whom, from the abilities of their leader, and their long experience of European warfare, were no contemptible allies, the French had greatly the advantage in numerical force. In the capacity, however, of their officers, and in the quality of their European troops, they soon felt a remarkable inferiority. Laurence, without being a man of talents, was an active and clearheaded soldier; and the troops, whom he commanded, both officers and men, appeared, by a happy contingency, to combine in their little body all the virtues of a British army. The European troops of the enemy, on the other hand, were the very refuse of the French population; and Laurence himself candidly confesses that their officers were frequently seen in the hour of action, making the greatest efforts, and without effect, to retain them in their ranks. Among their commanders, not a man showed any talents; and Dupleix with great bitterness complains, that, with the exception of Bussy, he never had an officer on whose ability he could place the smallest reliance.1

Edition: current; Page: [118]

book iv. Chap. 2. 1753. Early in January the two armies again took the field: The French, consisting of 500 European infantry and sixty horse, 2,000 Sepoys; and 4,000 Mahrattas, commanded by Morari Row. The English consisted of 700 European infantry, 2,000 Sepoys, and 1,500 horse belonging to the Nabob. The French, to avail themselves of their superiority in cavalry, avoided an action, and employed themselves in making war upon the English convoys. This they did, with so much effect, that Major Laurence was frequently obliged to escort his stores and provisions with his whole army from Fort St. David. In this manner the time was consumed till the 20th of April, when an express arrived from Captain Dalton, that he had only three weeks’ provisions remaining in the fort.

When the English, after the capitulation of the Edition: current; Page: [119] French at Seringham, marched from Trichinopoly,book iv. Chap. 2. 1753. and left Captain Dalton Commandant of the English garrison, a brother of the Nabob was at the same time appointed Governor of the town. By an unhappy oversight the magazines were left under direction of the Mohamedan Governor; and Captain Dalton satisfied himself with asking from time to time in what condition they remained. When the Mysoreans, however, had shut him up in his fort, and, scouring the adjacent country with their cavalry, had prevented for some time the arrival of supplies, it occurred to him, rather too late, that he had better see with his own eyes on what he had to depend. His ally, he found, had been selling the provisions at an enormous price to the people of the town; and he was left in that alarming condition, of which he hastened to make report to Major Laurence.

Only one resolution was left to the English commander, that of marching directly to the support of Trichinopoly. His army suffered greatly on the march, both by desertion and sickness; and, upon his arrival at the place, he found that all the force he could muster for offensive operations, after leaving the proportion necessary for the duties of the garrison, consisted of 500 Europeans, and 2,000 Sepoys. The Nabob had 3,000 horse; but they were badly paid; and executed their duty with proportional neglect and disobedience. The French followed with 200 Europeans and 500 Sepoys, to the support of the Mysoreans; and Trichinopoly became once more the seat of a tedious and harassing warfare.

It deserves remark, that Major Laurence, who had recommended the seizure of the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs, uniformly disapproved of the attempt to retain Trichinopoly after the promise to give Edition: current; Page: [120] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. it up.1 It is equally worthy of remark, that the delicacy of the Presidency witheld their hands from the persons of the hostile chiefs; but easily endured the violation of the engagement respecting Trichinopoly. Delicacy would have been less violated in the one instance by following the advice of Laurence, and prudence would have been more consulted by following it in both. The cession of Trichinopoly to the Mysoreans would have enabled the English to establish their nabob, with little opposition, in the sovereignty of Carnatic, and would have saved them from two years of expensive warfare.

It was on the 6th of May, 1753, that Major Laurence again arrived at Trichinopoly; and from that day to the 11th of October, 1754, the most active operations were carried on. Neither the French, with their allies, were sufficiently powerful to reduce Trichinopoly; nor had the English sufficient force to compel them to raise the siege. The two parties, therefore, bent their endeavours; the English, to supply the garrison with a sufficient quantity of food, to enable them to prosecute their objects in another quarter; the French, by cutting off the supplies, to compel the garrison to surrender. On both sides the greatest exertions were made; severe conflicts were frequently sustained, in some of which decisive advantages, at one time on one side, at another on the other, were on the point of being gained: and never did English troops display more gallantry and good conduct, than in defence of the unimportant city of Trichinopoly. More than a year had been spent; and neither of the contending parties seemed Edition: current; Page: [121] nearer their object, when a new scene was introduced.1book iv. Chap. 2. 1754.

The objects, which fired the ambition of the European Governors in India, were too distant to warm the imaginations of the Directors and Proprietors of the French and English Companies in Europe; and to them the burden of the war had become exceedingly hateful. Aware of the passion for peace which now animated his employers, and of the opinion disseminated in Europe of his ambitious and warlike views, Dupleix had opened a negociation with Saunders, the Governor of Madras, in January, 1754, The real point in dispute was whether or not Mahomed Ali should be acknowledged Nabob of Carnatic; the English contending that he should be recognized by the French, the French contending that he should be given up by the English. The parties were far from being disposed, on either side, to concede the point; and the state of circumstances was little calculated to facilitate a compromise: the negotiation turned, therefore, on matters of form; and never, surely, did negotiation find more ridiculous matters of form on which to employ itself. In a country in which all questions of dominion are determined by the sword; in a question which, without any consideration of right, they themselves had, during four years, been labouring to decide by the sword, they affected to sit down gravely to a comparison of pretended titles and grants. The authority to which both parties appealed was that of the Mogul, though the Mogul himself, in the district in question, was an usurper, and that of a very recent date; though the power too of the Mogul was such, that he had no more authority Edition: current; Page: [122] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. in Deccan than he had at Rome. The authority on which the government of Carnatic immediately depended was that of the Subahdar of Deccan; and the Subahdar of Deccan was Salabut Jung, the friend of the French: So far, in point of title, they had the undoubted advantage. The patents, however, which Dupleix had received from Salabut Jung, and which placed the nabobship of the Carnatic entirely at his disposal, he asserted to have been confirmed by the Mogul. The English, on their side, affirmed that they had a patent constituting Mahomed Ali Nabob of Carnatic; and they called upon the French to produce their documents. The French did exhibit some papers, which the English, and probably with truth, asserted to be forged. The English were called upon to produce their pretended patent, and had none to produce: Upon this with mutual crimination the proceedings broke off.1

The parties upon whom the decision depended in Europe came together with minds more disposed to accommodation. The English Company had, from an early period of the war, importuned the ministry with complaints, that during the existence of a treaty of peace between England and France, they were oppressed by the burden of a dangerous war, produced by the ambition of a French governor in India. The Edition: current; Page: [123] same subject had formed the matter of remonstrancebook iv. Chap. 2. 1754. between the English and French governments; and it was at last agreed that the dispute should be terminated by a distinct negotiation. M. Duvelaer arrived in London, vested with the powers of the French East India Company; Lord Holdernesse negotiated on the part of the English; while the Duke of Newcastle, as minister of England, and the Duc de Mirepoix, as embassador of France, shared, when necessary, in the conferences and decisions.

Dupleix, in stating afterwards the reasons of his conduct, asserted that, in the situation into which Deccan was thrown, upon the death of Nizam al Mulk, an interference in the affairs of the country was not a matter of choice. The chiefs who contended for power, supreme and subordinate, were all ready to tempt, and by the most important concessions, the European nations to grant them support. If one nation, from an extraordinary effort of self-denial, should decline such advantages, what was to be expected but that another would embrace them? and that, rising in power above its rivals, it should first oppress, and finally expel them from the country? Dupleix was the first to perceive these consequences; and, from the promptitude and decision of his character, the first to act upon his discovery. This priority, which naturally promised to be advantageous to him, was the reverse. It stamped his whole career with the character of aggression; though the English themselves drew the same conclusions, as soon as they were suggested to them by the proceedings of Dupleix; and guided their proceedings by the belief, that it was not safe for them to see their rival aggrandized by favour of the native powers. That to play a high game in India, was a wish dear to the heart of Dupleix, sufficiently appears; but that there Edition: current; Page: [124] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. were strong reasons for the part which he acted, no one acquainted with the affairs of India will attempt to dispute.

The French East India Company, however, and the French Ministers, were but little acquainted with the affairs of India; those who envied, and those who hated Dupleix, accused him of wasting the resources of the Company in ambitious wars; the English Company and the English Ministry accused him of embroiling the two nations in India; and there was a general prejudice against him and his proceedings, both in France and in England, at the time when the conferences in London were held. The English Ministry prudently dispatched a considerable fleet to India while the negotiation was still proceeding. The French Ministry had no fleet to spare; and dreaded the superiority which such a force might bestow. The French Company were at the same time extremely eager to taste the gains of commerce, which they promised themselves in peace; and, from all these causes, were disposed to make ample concessions. It ultimately appeared, that no definitive arrangement could be made except upon the spot. The English, however, exclaimed against any negotiation which was to be conducted by Dupleix, the object of which, they affirmed, his ambition and artifice would be sure to defeat. The French Ministry were not far from harbouring the same opinion; and easily enough assented to the proposition of sending commissioners from Europe to settle the differences of the two nations in India.

A point was thus gained in favour of the English, on which their fortune in India very probably hinged; for when, after the short interval of two years, war was renewed between the English and French; when the English were expelled from Bengal; and the Edition: current; Page: [125] influence of Bussy was paramount at the court of thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1754. Subahdar; had Dupleix remained at the head of French affairs in India, the scheme of that enterprising governor, to render himself master of Carnatic, and the Subahdar master of Bengal, would have stood a fair chance of complete accomplishment.

On the second of August, 1754, M. Godheu, appointed commissary to negotiate a peace with the English, and vested with authority to supersede Dupleix in the government of all the French possessions in India, arrived at Pondicherry. Dupleix affirms, that in the negotiations at London, for the sake of removing all local prejudices and views, it had been established that the governors in India on both sides should be removed; and commissioners, free from all bias, should be sent from England to terminate the costly disputes.1 If this was a condition really made, the French, it would appear, consented to a departure from it, as they raised no complaint against Mr. Saunders, who continued the President of Madras. The English in this manner obtained the important advantage of having the negotiation conducted on their side by a person conversant with the affairs and interests of the two nations in India, while it was conducted, on the part of their antagonists, by a man to whom they were in a great measure unknown.

Godheu lost no time in taking upon himself the exercise of his authority, and in commencing his negotiations with Saunders. The strong desire of his employers for peace appears to have been the Edition: current; Page: [126] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. predominating consideration in his mind; and he manifested, from the beginning, a disposition to concede, of which the English made ample advantage. On the 11th of October, a suspension of arms was established for three months; and on the 26th of December, a provisional treaty, to be confirmed or altered in Europe, was signed at Pondicherry. By this treaty, every thing for which they had been contending was gained by the English; every advantage of which they had come into possession was given up by the French. By the stipulation to withdraw effectually from interference in the affairs of the native princes, Mahomed Ali was left, by the fact, Nabob of Carnatic or Arcot. And by the stipulation to arrange the territorial possessions of the two nations on the principle of equality, the important acquisition of the four Circars was resigned.1 Till the decision of the two Companies in Europe should be given, the contracting parties were to abstain from hostilities, direct or indirect; and their possessions to remain as they were.

That the severe strictures which Dupleix made upon this treaty were in some degree overcharged, is not to be denied. There is no reason to believe him, when he asserts that Trichinopoly was on the point of surrendering for want of supplies; for, at the time Edition: current; Page: [127] of the suspension of arms, the relative advantages ofbook iv. Chap. 2. 1754. the contending parties appear to have been nearly the same as they had been twelve months before. It is equally impossible to believe, what the English writers affirm, that the advantages of the English were now so great as to make it politic on the part of the French to conclude the treaty, unfavourable as it was. Admiral Watson had indeed arrived with a fleet, consisting of three ships and a sloop; having on board a king’s regiment of 700 men, with forty artillery men, and 200 recruits. But 1500 European troops had arrived with Godheu on the part of the French;1 and Dupleix boasts, with some reason, that he could have added to these the Mahrattas, the Mysoreans, and, on certain conditions, the King of Tanjore.2 Bussy too had improved with so much ability his situation with Salabut Jung, that he ruled in a great measure the counsels of the Subahdar of Deccan.

After displaying, in the most brilliant manner, the extraordinary superiority of European soldiers, in the subjugation of the Patan rebels, he compelled Salabut Jung to raise the son of Mirzapha Jung, the late Subahdar, and friend of the French, to the government, originally enjoyed by that unfortunate prince, of the strong hold of Adoni and its territory, augmented by the possessions of two of the Patan nobles, by whose treachery the father was slain. “An example of generosity,” says Mr. Orme, “which, if true, could not fail to raise admiration in Edition: current; Page: [128] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. a country, where the merits of the father are so seldom of advantage to the distresses of the son.”1

The settlement of the dominions of Salabut Jung was formidably opposed by the Mahrattas, who, in the weakness which ensued upon the death of Nizam al Mulk, were actively employed in adding to their conquests as much as possible of the Subah of Deccan. A Mahratta general, named Balagee Row, had opposed himself, at the head of 25,000 horse, to the march of the Subahdar, between the Kistnah and Golconda, but, by negotiation and a suitable present, was induced to withdraw. Within a few months he appeared again, with a force which would have enabled him to gain important advantages, had not the talents of Bussy, and the execution of European firearms, which astonished the Indians, decided in a variety of engagements the fortune of the day. Danger came not from one quarter alone. Ghazee ad dien Khan, the eldest son of Nizam al Mulk, destined by his father to maintain the interests of his family at the court of the Mogul, had apparently acquiesced in the accession of his second brother to the government of Deccan, to which, as to a destined event, he had been accustomed to look. Upon the death however of Nazir Jung, as he had become very uneasy in his situation at court, he solicited, as the eldest son and successor of Nizam al Mulk, the appointment of Subahdar of Deccan. The assent of the Emperor, which was now a mere form without power, was easily obtained; and Ghazee ad dien arrived at Aurungabad in the beginning of October, 1752, at the head, it is said, of 150,000 men, of whom a large body were Mahrattas, commanded by Holkar Malhar. At the same time Balagee Row, Edition: current; Page: [129] and another Mahratta general, named Ragogeebook iv. Chap. 2. 1754. Bonsla, in concert, it is said, with Ghazee ad dien Khan, entered the province of Golconda with 100,000 horse. To meet these formidable armies, Salabut Jung and Bussy took the field with very unequal numbers; when Ghazee ad dien Khan suddenly died. He was an old man, worn out by the pleasures of the harem; and his sudden death was by no means a surprising event; but, as it was singularly opportune for Salabut Jung, it was ascribed to poison, said to be administered, at his instigation, by the mother of the deceased; and, as the event was favourable to the French, the story of its odious cause has been adopted, with patriotic credulity, by the English historians.1 The Mahratta generals still continued the war; but were in every encounter repulsed with so much slaughter by the French, that they soon became desirous of peace, and Salabut Jung was happy to purchase their retreat by the cession of some districts, to Balagee Row in the neighbourhood of Boorhanpore, and to Ragogee Bonsla, in the neighbourhood of Berar; where that Mahratta chief had acquired for himself an extensive dominion. By the services which, in all these dangers, Bussy had rendered to the cause of Salabut Jung,2 whom he alone preserved upon the throne, his Edition: current; Page: [130] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. influence with that prince had risen to the greatest height: And though the envy and jealousy of the Ministers, and the weak character of the Subahdar, exposed his power to perpetual jeopardy; and on one occasion, when he was absent for the recovery of his health, had almost destroyed it; the prudence and dexterity of that able leader enabled him to triumph over all opposition. In the latter end of 1753 he obtained for his country the four important provinces of Mustaphanagar, Ellore, Rajamundry, and Chicacole, called the Northern Circars; “which made the French,” says Mr. Orme, “masters of the sea-coast of Coromandel and Orixa, in an uninterrupted line of 600 miles from Medapilly to the Pagoda of Jagernaut;”1 and “which,” says Colonel Wilks, “not only afforded the requisite pecuniary resources, but furnished the convenient means of receiving reinforcements of men and military stores from Pondicherry and Mauritius; and thus enabled Bussy to extend his political views to the indirect or absolute empire of Deccan and the south.”2 All these brilliant advantages were now cordially resigned by M. Godheu; and it will certainly be allowed that few nations have ever made, to the love of peace, sacrifices relatively more important.

Dupleix, says Mr. Orme, whose concluding strictures upon his enemy are equally honourable to the writer and the subject, “departed on his voyage to Europe, on the 14th of October, having first delivered his accounts with the French Company to Mr. Godheu, by which it appeared that he had disbursed on their account near three millions of rupees more than he had received during the course of the war. A great part of this sum was furnished out of his Edition: current; Page: [131] own estate, and the rest from moneys which he borrowedbook iv. Chap. 2. 1754. at interest, from the French inhabitants at Pondicherry, upon bonds given in his own name. Mr. Godheu referred the discussion of these accounts to the Directors of the Company in France, who pretending that Mr. Dupleix had made these expenses without sufficient authority, refused to pay any part of the large balance he asserted to be due to him; upon which he commenced a law-suit against the Company; but the ministry interfered and put a stop to the proceedings by the King’s authority, without entering into any discussion of Mr. Dupleix’s claims, or taking any measures to satisfy them. However, they gave him letters of protection to secure him from being prosecuted by any of his creditors. So that his fortune was left much less than that which he was possessed of before he entered upon the government of Pondicherry, in 1742. His conduct certainly merited a very different requital from his nation, which never had a subject so desirous and capable of extending its reputation and power in the East Indies; had he been supplied with the forces he desired immediately after the death of Anwar-o-dean Khan, or had he afterwards been supported from France in the manner necessary to carry on the extensive projects he had formed, there is no doubt but that he would have placed Chunda Saheb in the nabobship of the Carnatic, given law to the Subah of the Deccan, and perhaps to the throne of Delhi itself, and have established a sovereignty over many of the most valuable provinces of the empire; armed with which power he would easily have reduced all the other European settlements to such restrictions as he might think proper to impose. When we consider that he formed this plan of conquest and dominion at a time when all other Europeans entertained the Edition: current; Page: [132] book iv. Chap. 2. 1754. highest opinion of the strength of the Mogul government, suffering tamely the insolence of its meanest officers, rather than venture to make resistance against a power which they chimerically imagined to be capable of overwhelming them in an instant, we cannot refrain from acknowledging and admiring the sagacity of his genius, which first discovered and despised this illusion.”1

In a short time after the conclusion of this treaty, both Saunders and Godheu took their departure for Europe; pleasing themselves with the consideration that, by means of their exertions, the blessings of peace between the two nations in India were now permanently bestowed. Never was expectation more completely deceived. Their treaty procured not so much as a moment’s repose. The English proceeded to reduce to the obedience of their Nabob the districts of Madura and Tinivelly. The French exclaimed against these transactions, as an infringement of the treaty with Godheu; but finding their remonstrances without avail, they followed the English example, and sent a body of troops to reduce to their obedience the petty sovereignty of Terriore.

Madura was a small kingdom, bordering on Trichinopoly towards the south; and Tinivelly was a kingdom of similar extent, reaching from the southern extremity of Madura to Cape Comorin. These countries had acknowledged the supremacy of the Mogul government of Deccan, and had paid tribute through the Nabob of Arcot. When Chunda Saheb was master of Trichinopoly, he had set up his own brother as Governor of Madura; but during the disturbances Edition: current; Page: [133] which followed, a soldier of fortune, namedbook iv. Chap. 2. 1755. Aulum Khan, obtained possession of the city and government. When Aulum Khan marched to the assistance of Chunda Saheb at Trichinopoly, where he lost his life, he left four Patan chiefs to conduct his government, who acted as independent princes, notwithstanding the pretensions of Mahomed Ali, as Nabob of Arcot. To compromise the dispute about Trichinopoly, Mahomed Ali had offered to resign Madura to the Mysoreans. And upon his liberation from the terror of the French arms, by the treaty of Godheu, he prevailed upon the English to afford him a body of troops to collect, as he hoped, and as the English believed, a large arrear of tribute from the southern dependencies of his nabobship.

The troops proceeded to the city of Madura, which they took. The Polygars, as they are called; the lords, or petty sovereigns of the several districts; overawed by the terror of European arms, offered their submissions, and promised to discharge the demanded arrears; but for the present had little or nothing which they were able to pay. Instead of the quantity of treasure which the Nabob and English expected to receive, the money collected sufficed not to defray the expense of the expedition. The disappointment and ill humour were consequently great. The conduct of the English officer who commanded became the subject of blame. He formed a connexion, which promised to be of considerable importance, with Marawar; a district, governed by two Polygars, which extended along the coast on the eastern side of Madura, from the kingdom of Tanjore till it joined Tinivelly; but this connexion gave umbrage to the Polygar Tondeman, and the Rajah of Tanjore, in satisfaction to whom it was renounced. With Maphuz Khan, the brother of the Nabob, who attended Edition: current; Page: [134] book iv. Chap. 2. 1755. the expedition, as future Governor of the country, the officer formed an agreement, at a rent which was afterwards condemned, as not one half of the requisite amount: And the English detachment, upon its return, was imprudently exposed in a narrow pass, where it suffered severely by the people of the country. From all these causes, the existing displeasure found an object and a victim, in the unlucky officer, who was tried, and dismissed from the Company’s service.1

About the same time with these transactions in Madura, Salabut Jung, accompanied by Bussy and the French troops, marched against the kingdom of Mysore, to extort arrears of tribute, said to be due from it, as a dependency of the Subah of Deccan. Upon this emergency, the Mysorean army before Trichinopoly (the Mysoreans had refused to abandon their pretensions upon Trichinopoly, when the treaty was concluded between the English and French), was recalled. As the Mysoreans were threatened at the same time by an army of Mahrattas under Balagee Row, they were happy to acquire the protection of Salabut Jung, by acknowledging his authority, and paying as large a sum as it was possible for them to raise.

By the departure of the Mysoreans from Trichinopoly, Mahomed Ali was left without an ostensible opponent in Carnatic: and he was vested, as pompously as circumstances would permit, with the ensigns of his office and dignity, at Arcot. It still remained to compel the Zemindars or Polygars, and other Governors of forts and districts, to yield him a revenue. The English, after stipulating to receive one half of all the moneys collected, sent with him a Edition: current; Page: [135] large detachment to enforce a tribute from thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1755. northern chiefs, who recognized the authority of the Nabob, and produced a portion of the demanded sums. The reputed riches of Mortiz Ali, the Governor of Velore, rendered his subjugation the main object of desire. The English detachment was strongly reinforced; and encamped with the Nabob within cannon-shot of the fort. Mortiz Ali applied to the French. M. Deleyrit, who was Governor of Pondicherry, informed the English presidency, that he regarded their proceedings at Velore as a violation of the treaty; and that he should commence hostilities, if their troops were not immediately withdrawn. The English rulers, soon aware that Velore could not be easily taken; and unwilling to put to proof the threat of Deleyrit, who had made 700 Europeans, and 2,000 Sepoys take the field; recalled the army to Madras. An attempt was made to obtain a contribution for the Company from Mortiz Ali; but the negotiation terminated without any effect.1

Meanwhile the Polygars of Madura and Tinivelly who had made an ostensible submission during the presence of the English troops, were affording dangerous employment to the Governor Maphuz Khan. A confederacy was formed, which it soon appeared that the Governor was altogether unable to withstand. The English sent a large body of Sepoys. But in spite of this support, the refractory chiefs continued unsubdued; the country was thrown into confusion by a petty warfare which extended itself into every corner of the provinces; and no tribute could be raised. Highly dissatisfied with the unproductive state of a country, which they had fondly believed to be the richest dependency of the Carnatic Nabob, the English determined to manage it themselves; and Edition: current; Page: [136] book iv. Chap. 2. 1755. Maphuz Khan was ordered to return to Trichinopoly. But that chief entered immediately into confederacy with the Polygars; set himself in opposition to the English; obtained possession of the town and fort of Madura by a stratagem: And, with much uneasiness to the English, the disturbances in Madura and Tinivelly were prolonged for several years.1

During these transactions of the English, not very consistent with their agreement not to interfere in the disputes of the native princes or add to their territory in India, the French were restrained from that active opposition which, otherwise, it is probable, they would have raised, by the dangerous situation of their affairs under the government of the Subahdar.

The enemies of Bussy, in the service and in the confidence of Salabut Jung, were both numerous and powerful; and exerted themselves in concert, and with eagerness, to change the confidence and attachment of their feeble-minded master into distrust and hatred. It was now about two years and a half since the grant of the northern Circars; when certain favourable circumstances enabled them to make so deep an impression on the mind of this prince, that the French troops were ordered to quit his territories without delay. Bussy, in expectation, probably, that the necessities of the Subahdar would speedily make him eager to retract his command, showed no hesitation in commencing his march. It was continued for eight days without interruption: but his enemies had a very different intention from that of allowing him to depart in safety. When he approached the city of Hyderabad, he found his progress impeded by large bodies of troops; and the road obstructed by all the chiefs of the neighbouring countries; who had orders to intercept his march. Upon this he resolved to occupy Edition: current; Page: [137] a post of considerable strength, adjoining thebook iv. Chap. 2. 1755. city of Hyderabad; to defend himself; and try the effect of his arms, and of his intrigues among the chiefs, whom he well knew, till the reinforcements which he expected from Pondicherry should arrive. Though surrounded by the whole of the army of the Subahdar, and so feeble in pecuniary means, that his Sepoys deserted for want of pay, and he durst not venture them in sallies, for fear of their joining the enemy, he found the means of supplying himself fully with provisions, and of resisting every attack, till his succours arrived; when the Subahdar sent to demand a reconciliation, and he was restored to a still higher degree of influence and authority than he had previously enjoyed.

Among the means which had been employed to reconcile the mind of Salabut Jung to the dismissal of the French, was the prospect held up to him of replacing them by the English. No sooner therefore were the measures against Bussy devised, than an application was made for a body of troops to the Presidency of Madras. To the Presidency of Madras, few things could have presented a more dazzling prospect of advantage; and in any ordinary situation of their affairs, the requisition of the Subahdar would have met with an eager acceptance. But events had before this time taken place in Bengal which demanded the utmost exertions of the English from every quarter; made them unable to comply with the proposal of the Subahdar; and thenceforward rendered Bengal the principal scene of the English adventures in India.1

Edition: current; Page: [138]


Suraja Dowla, Subahdar of Bengal—takes Calcutta—attacked by an army from Madras——dethroned—Meer Jaffier set up in his stead.

book iv. Chap. 3. 1755. During the latter part of the reign of Aurungzebe, the Subahs of Bengal and Orissa, together with those of Allahabad and Bahar, were governed by his grandson Azeem Ooshaun, the second son of Shah Aulum, who succeeded to the throne. Azeem Ooshaun appointed as his deputy, in the provinces of Bengal and Orissa, Jaffier Khan, who had been for some time the duan, or superintendant of the finances, in Bengal; a man of Tartar descent, but a native of Boorhanpore in Deccan, who had raised himself to eminence in the wars of Aurungzebe. Upon the death of Shah Aulum, and the confusions which ensued, Jaffier Khan remained in possession of his important government, till he was too powerful to be removed. While yet a resident in his native city, he had married his daughter and only child to a man of eminence in the same place, and of similar origin with himself, by name Sujah Khan. This relative had repaired with him to Bengal; and when Jaffier Khan was elevated to the Subahdarry of Bengal and Orissa, Orissa was placed under the government of Sujah Khan, as deputy or nawab of the Subahdar.1

Among the adventurers who had been in the service Edition: current; Page: [139] of Azeem Shah, the second son of Aurungzebe,book iv. Chap. 3. 1755. was a Tartar, named Mirza Mahommed. Upon the death of that prince, and the ruin of his party, Mirza Mahommed remained without employment; and was overtaken, after some years, with great poverty. His wife not only belonged to the same place from which the family of Sujah Khan was derived; but was actually of kin to that new ruler. By this wife he had two sons: the eldest named Hodgee Ahmed; the youngest, Mirza Mahommed Ali. Upon the news of the elevation of their kinsman, it was determined, in this destitute family, that Mirza Mahommed, with his wife, should repair to his capital in hopes of receiving his protection and bounty. The disposition of Sujah Khan was benevolent and generous. He received them with favour. The success of his father and mother induced Mirza Mahommed Ali, the youngest of the two sons, to hope for similar advantages. With great difficulty his poverty allowed him to find the means of performing the journey. He obtained employment, and distinction. His prospects being now favourable, he sent for his brother Hodgee Ahmed; and removed the whole of his family to Orissa. The talents of the two brothers were eminent. Hodgee Ahmed was insinuating, pliant, discerning; and in business equally skilful and assiduous. Mirza Mahomed Ali to all the address and intelligence of his brother added the highest talents for war. They soon acquired a complete ascendancy in the counsels of Sujah Khan; and by their abilities added greatly to the strength and splendour of his administration.

Jaffier Khan died in 1725; but destined Sereffraz Khan, his grandson, instead of Sujah Khan, the father of that prince, with whom he lived not on friendly terms, to the succession. By the address Edition: current; Page: [140] book iv. Chap. 3. 1755. and activity of the two brothers, the schemes of Jaffier were entirely defeated; patents were procured from Delhi; and Sujah Khan, with an army, was in possession of the capital and the government, before any time was given to think of opposition. The province of Bahar was added to the government of Sujah Khan in 1729; and the younger of the two brothers, on whom was bestowed the title of Aliverdi Khan, was entrusted with its administration. He exerted himself, with assiduity and skill, to give prosperity to the province, and to acquire strength in expectation of future events.1 In 1739, the same year in which Nadir Shah ravaged Delhi, Sujah Khan died, and was succeeded by Sereffraz Khan, his son. Sereffraz Khan had been educated a prince; and had the incapacity, and the servile subjection to pleasure, which that education usually implies. He hated the brothers; and began with disgusting and affronting, when he should have either exterminated, or reconciled. The resolution of Aliverdi was soon taken. He employed his influence, which was great, at Delhi, to obtain his nomination to the government of Bengal and the united provinces; and marched with an army to dethrone Sereffraz, who lost his life in the battle. With the exception of the Governor of Orissa, whom he soon reduced, the whole country submitted without opposition. He governed it with unusual humanity and justice; and defended it with splendid ability and unwearied perseverance.

The Mahrattas, who had spread themselves at this time over a great part of the continent of India, seemed resolved upon the conquest of Bengal, the Edition: current; Page: [141] richest portion of the Mogul empire.1 The dependencebook iv. Chap. 3. 1755. of the greatest events upon the slightest causes is often exemplified in Asiatic story. Had Sereffraz Khan remained Subahdar of Bengal, the Mahrattas might have added it, and all the adjoining provinces, to their extensive dominion: The English and other European factories might have been expelled: Nothing afterwards remained to check the Mahratta progress: The Mahomedans might have been exterminated: And the government of Brahmens and Cshatriyas might have extended once more from Caubul to Cape Comorin.

Aliverdi was on his return from the expedition against the Governor of Orissa, and had disbanded a great portion of his army, in contemplation of tranquillity and enjoyment, when he learned that a large army of Mahrattas had entered through the valleys in the mountains, at eight days’ journey west of his capital Moorshedabad. The Mahrattas, besides possessing themselves of Candeish and Malwa, had, before this period, overrun and subdued the whole province of Berar, where a general, named Ragogee Bonsla, of the family of Sevagee, had established himself in a widely-extended sovereignty which acknowledged but a nominal subjection to the primitive throne. The dominions of Ragogee Bonsla were separated from Bahar, Bengal, and Orissa, by only a chain of mountains, which it was easy for Mahrattas to penetrate in many parts. And now it was that the said chief, either urged by the hope of adding the richest part of Hindustan to his empire, or at the instigation, as was alleged, of Nizam al Mulk, sent an army under a Brahmen general to invade Bengal. Edition: current; Page: [142] book iv. Chap. 3. 1755. Aliverdi marched against them instantly with the small number of troops which he had about his person, and was hardy enough to venture a battle; but the Afghaun troops in his service were discontented with some recent treatment, and were inclined to make their advantage of his necessities. They acted coldly and feebly during the engagement. Aliverdi found it difficult to avoid a total defeat, and remained surrounded on all sides by a numerous and active enemy. He resolved to fight his way back; and though he suffered prodigiously from the sword, from fatigue, and from famine, he effected a glorious retreat; but reached not his capital till a detachment of the enemy had taken and plundered the suburbs.1

The Mahrattas, instead of returning to their own country, determined to remain during the period of the rains; and collected the revenue of almost the whole of the territory south of the Ganges. Aliverdi made the greatest exertions to collect an army; and marching out at the termination of the rains, surprised the Mahrattas in their camp, and put them to flight; pursued them from post to post; and at last compelled them to evacuate his dominions.2

If Aliverdi flattered himself that he was now delivered from a dangerous foe, he knew not the people with whom he had to contend. The Mahrattas appeared Edition: current; Page: [143] the very next year with Ragogee Bonsla himselfbook iv. Chap. 3. 1755. at their head. Another army of Mahrattas, belonging to the government of Satarah, entered the province; but whether with hostile or friendly intentions, is variously asserted. It is not doubtful that, at this time, Aliverdi delivered himself from his enemies, by a sum of money; upon receipt of which they retired.1

After a little time the general of Ragogee again entered by the province of Orissa, whence he advanced toward Bengal. By a train of artful and base negotiation, he was brought to trust himself at a conference in the tent of Aliverdi. He was there assassinated; and his death was the signal of dispersion to his troops.

The next invasion of the Mahrattas was encouraged by the rebellion of one of Aliverdi’s principal officers. The good fortune of that chief still seconded his vigour. The formidable rebel was killed in battle, and the Mahrattas were compelled to retire.

The Mahratta pressure, incessantly returning, though frequently repelled, seldom failed, in the long run, to make the opposing body recede. The subjects of Aliverdi were grievously harassed, and the produce of his dominions was greatly impaired, by these numerous invasions, and by the military exertions which were necessary to oppose them. Edition: current; Page: [144] book iv. Chap. 3. 1755. In a new incursion, headed by Janogee the son of Ragogee, the Mahrattas possessed themselves almost completely, of Orissa. The attention of the Subahdar was engaged in another quarter: Discontent again prevailed among his Afghaun and Tartar officers, which it required some address to allay: His youngest nephew, who was the most distinguished for ability of all his relations, and whom he had appointed Nabob or Deputy Governor of Bahar, had taken into his pay two Afghaun officers, who had retired in discontent from the service of Aliverdi: These leaders murdered their young master, the nephew of the Subahdar; and with a body of Mahrattas, who had entered the province on purpose to join them, and a considerable army of their own countrymen, whom the host of Ahmed Shah Abdallee, then covering the upper provinces of Hindustan, enabled them to collect, erected against Aliverdi the standard of revolt. Never was that governor, or rather king, for it was but a nominal obedience which he now paid to the throne of Delhi, in greater danger. He was obliged to meet the enemy, with a very inferior force: Yet he gained a complete victory; and the Afghaun lords were killed in the battle. The Mahrattas, however, only retired on the road towards Orissa, without crossing the mountains; and halted at Midnapore. He followed; pursued them into Orissa, with great slaughter; and even recovered the capital Cuttack; but was obliged to leave the province in so defenceless a condition, that the Mahrattas were not long deprived of their former acquisitions.

During the fifteen years of Aliverdi’s government or reign, scarcely a year passed free from the ruinous invasions of the Mahrattas; though during the infirmities of his latter years he had, by a tributary Edition: current; Page: [145] payment, endeavoured to procure some repose. Hebook iv. Chap. 3. 1756. died at the age of eighty on the 9th of April, 1756.1 Aliverdi never had a son. He had three daughters, and his brother had three sons.2 He married his three daughters to his three nephews; all of whom were men of considerable merit. The youngest was slain by the Afghaun lords, as already related; and the two elder both died a little before the decease of Aliverdi. The eldest son of his youngest nephew had from his birth been taken under the immediate care of Aliverdi himself; and was the object of extreme and even doting fondness. This youth, on whom had been bestowed the title of Suraja Dowla, was, upon the death of his uncles, regarded as the destined successor of Aliverdi;3 and took the reins of government without opposition upon his decease.

Suraja Dowla was educated a prince, and with more than even the usual share of princely consideration and indulgence. He had, accordingly, more than the usual share of the princely vices. He was ignorant; he was voluptuous; on his own pains and pleasures he set a value immense, on the pains and pleasures of other men no value at all; he was impatient, irascible, headstrong.

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book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. The first act of Suraja Dowla’s government was to plunder his aunt, the widow of his senior uncle, eldest daughter of Aliverdi, reputed immensely rich. To this uncle had belonged the government of the province of Dacca; and orders were dispatched to that place, to seize the receivers and treasurers of the family. His second uncle, who was Nabob of Poorania or Purneah, a province on the northern side of the Ganges, died during the last illness of Aliverdi, and left the government in the hands of his son, whose conduct was imprudent, and his mind vicious. Jealousy, or the desire of showing power by mischief, excited the young subahdar to resolve upon the destruction of his cousin, the nabob of Purneah. He had advanced as far as Raje Mahl, when he received intelligence that one of the principal officers of finance in the service of his late uncle at Dacca, had given the slip to his guards; and found an asylum at Calcutta.

Suraja Dowla had manifested aversion to the English, even during the life of his grandfather; the appearance of protection, therefore, shown to a man, who had disappointed his avarice, and was probably imagined to have escaped with a large treasure, kindled his rage; the army was that moment commanded to halt, and to march back towards the capital. A messenger was dispatched to Calcutta to remonstrate with the Governor; but as the messenger entered the town in a sort of disguise, the Governor thought proper to treat him as an impostor, and dismissed him from the Company’s territory. With a view to the war between France and England, the Presidency had begun to improve their fortifications. This too was matter of displeasure to the Subahdar; and the explanation offered by the Edition: current; Page: [147] English, which intimated that those strangers werebook iv. Chap. 3. 1756. audacious enough to bring their hostilities into his dominions, still more inflamed his resentment. The factory at Cossimbuzar, near Moorshedabad, was seized; and its chief, Mr. Watts, retained a prisoner. The Presidency were now very eager to appease the Subahdar; they offered to submit to any conditions which he pleased to impose; and, trusting to the success of their humility and prayers, neglected too long the means of defence. The Subahdar had a wish for a triumph, which he thought might be easily obtained; and he was greedy of riches, with which, in the imagination of the natives, Calcutta was filled.

The outposts of Calcutta were attacked on the 18th of June, 1756. There was but little of military skill in the place, and it was badly defended. After a short experiment of resistance, a general consultation decided upon the policy of retreat. It was agreed that the women and effects should be put on board the ships in the course of the next day; and that the persons employed in the work of defence should escape in the same manner the following night. There was hardly a chance of mishap, for the natives always close their operations with the close of the day; but by some strange inadvertence no orders were published respecting the mode in which the plan was to be carried into effect. It was generally known that retreat was intended: When the embarkation next morning began, every person imagined he was to shift for himself, and hurried on board by the readiest conveyance: During this confusion an apprehension arose in the ships respecting the security of their situation; and they began to move down the river: The danger of being left without the means of retreat now flashed on the minds of the Edition: current; Page: [148] book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. spectators on shore; and the boats were filled and gone in an instant. “Among those who left the factory in this unaccountable manner were, the Governor Mr. Drake, Mr. Macket, Captain Commandant Minchin, and Captain Grant.”1 Great was the indignation among the people in the fort, upon hearing that they were in this manner abandoned. Mr. Holwell, though not the senior servant, was by the general voice called to assume the command; and exerted himself with great vigour to preserve order, and maintain the defence. “Signals were now thrown out,” says Mr. Cooke, “from every part of the fort, for the ships to come up again to their stations, in hopes they would have reflected (after the first impulse of their panic was over) how cruel as well as shameful it was, to leave their countrymen to the mercy of a barbarous enemy; and for that reason we made no doubt they would have attempted to cover the retreat of those left behind, now they had secured their own; but we deceived ourselves; and there never was a single effort made, in the two days the fort held out after this desertion, to send a boat or vessel to bring off any part of the garrison.”2 “Never perhaps,” says Mr. Orme, “was such an opportunity of performing an heroic action so ignominiously neglected: for a single sloop with fifteen brave men on board, might, in spite of all the efforts of the enemy, have come up, and anchoring under the fort, have carried away all who suffered in the dungeon.”3 Edition: current; Page: [149] During these trying days Mr. Holwell made severalbook iv. Chap. 3. 1756. efforts, by throwing letters over the wall, to signify his wish to capitulate; and it was during a temporary pause in the fire of the garrison, while expecting an answer, that the enemy approached the walls in numbers too great to be resisted, and the place was carried by storm. The Subahdar, though humanity was no part of his character, appears not on the present occasion to have intended cruelty; for when Mr. Holwell was carried into his presence with his hands tied, he ordered them to be set loose, and assured him, upon the faith of a soldier, that of the heads of him and his companions not a hair should be touched. When evening however came, it was a question with the guards to whom they were entrusted, how they might be secured for the night. Some search was made for a convenient apartment; but none was found; upon which information was obtained of a place which the English themselves had employed as a prison. Into this, without further inquiry, they were impelled. It was unhappily a small, ill-aired, and unwholesome dungeon, called, the Black Hole; and the English had their own practice to thank for suggesting it to the officers of the Subahdar as a fit place of confinement.1 Out of 146 unfortunate individuals Edition: current; Page: [150] book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. thrust in, only twenty-three were taken out alive in the morning. The horror of the situation may be conceived, but it cannot be described. “Some of our company,” says Mr. Cooke, “expired very soon after being put in; others grew mad, and having lost their senses, died in a high delirium.” Applications were made to the guard, with the offer of great rewards; but it was out of their power to afford relief. The only chance consisted in conveying intelligence, by means of a bribe, to some officer of high authority; but to no one does it appear that this expedient occurred.1

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The news of the capture of Cossimbuzar arrivedbook iv. Chap. 3. 1756. at Madras on the 15th of July, of that of Calcutta on the 5th of August. It was fortunate that Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive were now both upon the coast. Admiral Watson was commander of the squadron which the English ministry had prudently sent to India during the progress of the negotiation in 1754. Soon after his arrival on the coast of Coromandel, the monsoon obliged him to sail to Bombay, from which he returned in the January following, by a very able navigation against a contrary monsoon; and was now joined by Mr. Pocock, who had arrived from England with two ships of superior force. He remained on the coast of Coromandel till the 10th of October, when he again sailed to Bombay, to escape the monsoon. At this place matters of great importance were already in agitation.

Captain Clive had arrived from England, where he had obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in his Majesty’s service, and the appointment of Deputy Governor of Fort St. David. He had landed at Bombay, with three companies of the King’s artillery, and between three and four hundred of the King’s troops, with a view to a project, concerted in England, of attacking Salabut Jung, in conjunction with the Mahrattas, and driving the French out of Deccan. The report which the directors in England had received of the brilliant exploits of Captain Clive in India had made them desirous of entrusting to him a service, highly delicate, of the greatest importance, and requiring the fullest acquaintance with the manners and circumstances of the country. “But from that dependance on the ministry,” says Mr. Orme, “to which their affairs will always be subject, whilst engaged in military operations, the Court of Directors, in compliance with very powerful recommendations, Edition: current; Page: [152] book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. appointed Lieutenant Colonel Scott to command the expedition.”1 This officer had sailed to India, in the capacity of Engineer-General, the preceding year. Clive was still directed to land at Bombay, in hopes that some accident might take the business out of the hands of Scott; which in reality happened, for that officer died before the other arrived. But in the mean time, the truce had been concluded between the English and French; and the Presidency of Bombay refused to engage in a measure by which it would be violated. There was another enterprise, however, in which they had already embarked, and in which, with the great force, military and naval, now happily assembled at Bombay, they had sanguine hopes of success.

The Mahrattas as early as the time of Sevagee, had raised something of a fleet, to protect them against the enterprise of the Siddees. In this service a common man distinguished himself; and rose from one post to another, till he became Admiral of the fleet. He was appointed Governor of a strong fort, called Severndroog, situated on a rocky island, within cannon shot of the continent, about eight miles north from Dabul. This adventurer quarrelled with the Mahratta government; and revolted with the greater part of the fleet. He not only set the Mahratta state at defiance; but was able to render himself master of the coast to an extent of sixty leagues, from Tanna to Rajapore; and the Mahrattas compounded their dispute with him, by receiving a small annual tribute as a mark of subjection. The name of the successful rebel was Conagee Angria; and he made piracy his trade. The nature of the Edition: current; Page: [153] coast is well adapted to that species of depredation;book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. because it is intersected by a great number of rivers, and the breezes compel ships to keep close to the land. The European nations had been harassed by this predatory community for nearly half a century; they had made several efforts to subdue them; but the power of Angria had always increased; and his fleets now struck terror into all commercial navigators on the western coast of India.

Several approaches towards the formation of a union for the extirpation of these corsairs had been made by the English and Mahrattas; but without effect, till 1755, when an English squadron, under Commodore James, and a land army of Mahrattas, attacked Severndroog, and took it, as well as the fort of Bancoote. It was toward the conclusion of the same year that Admiral Watson with his fleet, and Colonel Clive with his forces, arrived at Bombay: The final reduction of the piratical state was therefore decreed. On the 11th of February, 1756, the fleet, consisting of eight ships, besides a grab, and five bomb ketches, having on board 800 Europeans and 1,000 Sepoys, commanded by Colonel Clive, arrived at Gheriah; while a Mahratta army approached on the other side. Gheriah, the capital of Angria, stood on a rocky promontory, nearly surrounded by the sea, and had a fort of extraordinary strength. But the number of the assailants, and the violence of the cannonade, terrified both Angria and his people; and they made a feeble use of their advantages. Angria, with a view to effect an accommodation, placed himself in the hands of the Mahrattas; the fort surrendered; and the object of the expedition was completely attained. Watson arrived at Madras on the 16th of May, and Clive repaired to his government at Fort St. David, from which, in the month of August, he was summoned Edition: current; Page: [154] book iv. Chap. 3. 1756. to Madras, to assist in the deliberations for recovering Calcutta.1

It was resolved, after some debate, that the reestablishment of the Company’s affairs in Bengal should be pursued at the expense of every other enterprise. A dispute, however, of two months ensued, to determine in what manner prizes should be divided; who should command; and what should be the degree of power entrusted with the commander. The parties, of whom the pretensions were severally to be weighed, were Mr. Pigot, who had been Governor of Madras since the departure of Saunders, but was void of military experience; Colonel Aldercron, who claimed as senior officer of the King, but was unacquainted with the irregular warfare of the natives; Colonel Laurence, whose experience and merit were unquestionable, but to whose asthmatical complaints the close and sultry climate of Bengal were injurious; and Clive, to whom none of these exceptions applied. It was at last determined, that Clive should be sent. It was also determined, that he should be sent with powers independent of the Presidency of Calcutta. Among his instructions, one of the most peremptory was, that he should return, and be again at Madras with the whole of the troops, in the month of April; about which time it was expected that in consequence of the war between France and England, a French fleet would arrive upon the coast. It was principally, indeed, with a view to this return, that independence of the Calcutta rulers, who might be tempted to retain him, was bestowed upon Clive.

The force, which sailed from the road of Madras, on the 16th of October, consisted of five King’s ships Edition: current; Page: [155] with Admiral Watson as Commander, and five Company’sbook iv. Chap. 3. 1756. ships, serving as transports; having on board 900 European troops, and 1,500 Sepoys. All the ships, with the exception of two, arrived in the Ganges on the 20th of December, and found the fugitives from Calcutta at Fulta, a town at some distance down the river, to which the ships had descended, and where they had found it practicable to remain.

After forwarding letters, full of threats, to Suraja Dowla, which the Governor of Calcutta sent word that he dared not deliver, it was resolved to commence operations, by the capture of a fort, which stood, on the river, between Fulta and Calcutta. On the 27th of December, at the time when the fort was to be attacked by the ships, Clive marched out, with the greater part of the troops, to lay an ambush for intercepting the garrison, who were not expected to make a tedious defence. The troops, fatigued in gaining their position, were allowed to quit their arms to take a little repose; “and from a security,” says Mr. Orme, “which no superiority or appearances in war could justify, the common precaution of stationing centinels was neglected.” In a few minutes they were all asleep; and in this situation, surprised by a large body of the enemy. The presence of mind and steady courage, which never deserted Clive in sudden emergencies, enabled him, even in those unfavourable circumstances, to disperse a band of irregular troops, led by a cowardly commander. “But had the enemy’s cavalry,” says Orme, “advanced and charged at the same time that the infantry began to fire, it is not improbable that the war would have been concluded on the very first trial of hostilities.”1

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book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. The ships came up and cannonaded the fort; but the garrison frustrated the project of Clive; and, totally unperceived, made their escape in the night. The other forts on the river were deserted, as the English approached; and on the 2d of January, 1757, the armament arrived at Calcutta. The garrison withstood not the cannon of the ships for two hours; and evacuated the place. The merchandise belonging to the Company was found mostly untouched, because it had been reserved for the Subahdar; but the houses of individuals were totally plundered.

Intelligence was received from the natives, who began to enter the town, that Hoogley, a considerable city, about twenty-three miles up the river from Calcutta, was thrown into great consternation by these recent events. In this situation an attack upon it was expected to produce a very favourable result. One of the ships sent on this service struck on a sandbank, and five days retarded the progress of the detachment. On the 10th of January they reached the spot; made a breach in the wall before night; and the troops no sooner mounted the rampart, than the garrison fled and escaped.

During the expedition to Hoogley news arrived of the commencement of hostilities between England and France.1 The French in Bengal had a force of 300 Europeans, and a train of field artillery; which, if added to the army of the Subahdar, would render him an irresistible enemy. The English were now Edition: current; Page: [157] very desirous to make their peace with that formidablebook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. ruler; but the capture of Hoogly, undertaken solely with a view to plunder, had so augmented his rage, that he was not in a frame of mind to receive from them any proposition; and his army received its orders to march. Happily for the English, the same spirit by which Dupleix was reproached for not having negotiated a neutrality between the French and English Companies in India, though the nations were at war in Europe, prevailed in the Councils at Chandernagor. The rulers at that settlement refused to assist Suraja Dowla; and proposed that they and the English should engage by treaty, notwithstanding the war between their respective countries, to abstain from hostilities against one another in Bengal. Still the power of the Subahdar presented an appalling aspect to Clive; and no sooner had he received intimation of an abatement in the irritation of that enemy, than he renewed his application for peace. The Subahdar received his letter, and even proposed a conference; but continued his march, and on the 3d of February surrounded Calcutta with his camp. Clive resolved to surprise it before dawn of the following morning. The design was no less politic than bold; both as the audacity of it was likely to alarm a timorous enemy; and as the difficulty of procuring provisions, surrounded by a large body of cavalry, must soon have been great. The execution, however, was badly planned; and a thick mist augmented the causes of misfortune. The troops suffered considerably; and were several times exposed to the greatest dangers. Yet they marched through the camp; and produced on the minds of the Subahdar and his army the intended effect. Eager to be removed from an enemy capable of those daring attempts, Suraja Dowla was now in earnest to effect an accommodation. Edition: current; Page: [158] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. Overtures were received and returned; and on the 9th of February a treaty was concluded by which the Nabob, as he was styled by the English, agreed to restore to the Company their factories, and all the privileges they had formerly enjoyed; to permit them to fortify Calcutta; and to make compensation to them for such of the plundered effects as had been brought to account in the books of his government. So greatly was he pleased with this treaty, that two days after its conclusion, he proposed to conclude with the English an alliance offensive and defensive; a contract which the English eagerly formed, and which both parties ratified on that very day.

In return to the French for that neutrality of theirs which had saved the English, Clive, at the very moment of making peace with the Nabob, sounded him to know if he would permit the English to attack the settlement at Chandernagor, for which there still would be time before the setting in of the southern monsoon. The proposition was hateful to the Subahdar; but for the present he returned an evasive answer. As this was not a prohibition, Clive resolved to construe it as a permission; and he sent his army across the river. The Subahdar now interfered with efficacy; sent an express prohibition; and took measures for opposing the attempt.

The Council at Calcutta, no longer expecting the consent of the Subahdar, and alarmed at the thought of attempting the enterprise in defiance of his authority, entered into negotiation with the French. They had mutually agreed upon terms; and obtained the assent of the Subahdar to guarantee between them a treaty of neutrality and pacification. But the factory at Chandernagor was dependant on the government of Pondicherry, and could only ratify the treaty provisionally; the government of Calcutta signed with Edition: current; Page: [159] definitive powers. This difference started a scruplebook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. in the brain of Admiral Watson; and he refused to sign. In the opinion of Clive, there was but one alternative: that of embracing the neutrality, or instantly attacking Chandernagor. But Watson refused to attack without the Nabob’s consent; and Clive urged the necessity of accepting the neutrality. In a letter to the Select Committee he said, “If the neutrality be refused, do but reflect, Gentlemen, what will be the opinion of the world of these our late proceedings. Did we not, in consequence of a letter received from the Governor and Council of Chandernagor, making offers of a neutrality within the Ganges, in a manner accede to it, by desiring they would send deputies, and that we would gladly come into such neutrality with them? And have we not, since their arrival, drawn out articles that were satisfactory to both parties; and agreed that such articles should be reciprocally signed, sealed, and sworn to? What will the Nabob think, after the promises made him on our side, and after his consenting to guarantee this neutrality? He, and all the world, will certainly think, that we are men without principles, or that we are men of a trifling insignificant disposition.”1 While the altercations on this subject continued, news reached the Subahdar, that Ahmed Shah, the Abdallee, had taken Delhi; and meant to extend his conquests to the eastern provinces of the Mogul empire. This intelligence, which filled him with consternation, suggested the vast importance of securing the co-operation of the English; and he immediately sent a letter to Colonel Clive, the object of which was to pave the way for attaining it, on almost any terms. The very same day on which the letter of Edition: current; Page: [160] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. the Nabob reached Calcutta, the arrival was announced of three ships with troops from Bombay, and of one of the ships, also bearing troops, which sailed with Clive from Madras, but was compelled to return. “With such additions,” says Mr. Orme, “the English force was deemed capable of taking Chandernagor, although protected by the Nabob’s army: Colonel Clive therefore immediately dismissed the French deputies, who were then with him waiting to sign the treaty, which was even written out fair, and which they supposed had been entirely concluded.”1

The English force advanced; while the scruples of Admiral Watson, under the great accession of force, were vanquished by some supposed contradictions in the letters of the Subahdar; and the opposition of the Subahdar was suspended by his apprehension of the Afghauns. On the 14th of March, the detachment from Bombay having joined the English army, hostilities commenced. The French defended themselves with great gallantry: the Nabob, roused at last, and eager to prevent their fall, sent peremptory orders to Edition: current; Page: [161] the English to desist; and even put a part of hisbook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. army in motion: But the fire from the ships was irresistible, and the reduction of the fort anticipated the effects of his intended resistance. The resentment of the Nabob was checked by his remaining dread of the Abdallees; and he still courted the friendship of the invaders: He, however, eluded their request to give up all the other French factories and subjects in his dominions; and afforded protection to the troops who had escaped from the fort of Chandernagor.

The time was now arrived when, according to his instructions, Clive ought no longer to have deferred his return to Madras. He himself, in his letter to the select committee, dated the 4th of March, had said respecting Watson’s objection to the treaty of neutrality; “This leads me to consider seriously the situation of the Company’s affairs on the coast, and the positive orders I have received from the President and the Committee at Madras, to return at all events with as great a part of the forces under my command as could possibly be spared.”1 “The situation of the Company’s affairs on the coast,” that is, in Carnatic, was indeed in no small degree alarming, if they remained without the protection of their military force, sent for the restoration of the settlements in Bengal. The Presidency of Madras had not left themselves troops sufficient to make head against the French even then in the country; and it was known at Madras, before the departure of Clive, that, in consequence of the expected hostilities, a powerful armament was destined by the French government for India; and without doubt would make its first landing in Carnatic. On the other side Clive beheld an opening Edition: current; Page: [162] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. for exploits, both splendid and profitable, in Bengal; overlooked all other considerations; violated his instructions; and remained.

The French, who had collected themselves at Cossimbuzar, became the first subject of dispute. Instead of yielding them up, on the repeated solicitations of the English, the Nabob furnished M. Law, who was the head of the factory at Cossimbuzar, with money, arms, and ammunition, and sent them into Bahar; Clive, to the great displeasure of his new ally, threatening, and even preparing, to detach a part of his army to intercept them. By the author of the Seer Mutakhareen, we are told, that M. Law, before his departure, revealed to Suraja Dowla the disaffection of his principal officers; the connection which they would be sure to form with the English for his destruction; and the necessity of retaining the French about his person if he wished to preserve himself from that deplorable fate. The persons, however, who meditated his ruin, and who saw the importance of removing the French, pressed upon his mind the impolicy of quarrelling with the victorious English on account of the vanquished and fugitive French. He therefore dismissed M. Law, telling him, “that if there should happen any thing new, he would send for him again.”—“Send for me again?” answered Law, “Be assured, my lord nawab, that this is the last time we shall see each other; remember my words,—we shall never meet again; it is nearly impossible.”1

Lord Clive, in his statement to the House of Commons, said, “that after Chandernagor was resolved to be attacked, he repeatedly said to the committee, as well as to others, that they could not stop there, but Edition: current; Page: [163] must go further; that, having established themselvesbook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. by force, and not by consent of the Nabob, he would endeavour to drive them out again; that they had numberless proofs of his intentions, many upon record; and that he did suggest to Admiral Watson and Sir George Pococke, as well as to the Committee, the necessity of a revolution; that Mr. Watson and the gentlemen of the Committee agreed upon the necessity of it;1 and that the management of that revolution was, with consent of the committee, left to Mr. Watts, who was resident at the Nabob’s capital, and himself; that great dissatisfaction arising among Suraja Dowla’s troops, Meer Jaffier was pitched upon to be the person to place in the room of Suraja Dowla, in consequence of which a treaty was formed.”2

A complicated scene took place, which it would be little instructive to unfold,3 of plotting and intrigue. The first proposals were made by an officer named Yar Khan Latty; and they were greedily embraced; till intimation was received that Meer Jaffier Khan was inclined to enter into a confederacy for deposing the Subahdar. This was a personage of much greater power and distinction. He had been married at an early period to the sister of Aliverdi, and held a high rank in his army. Between him and Aliverdi had not been always the best understanding; and Meer Jaffier had at one time entered into a project of treason. But the interest of the two parties taught them to master their dissatisfaction; and at Edition: current; Page: [164] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. the death of Aliverdi, Meer Jaffier was paymaster general of the forces, one of the highest offices in an Indian government. Suraja Dowla hated Meer Jaffier, and was too ignorant and headstrong to use management with his dislikes. Shortly after his accession, Meer Jaffier was removed from his office, and remained exposed to all that might result from the violent disposition of the Subahdar. According to the constitution however of an Indian army, in which every General maintains his own troops, a considerable portion of the army belonged to Meer Jaffier; and this he exerted himself to increase, by enlisting as many as possible of the adventurers, with whom the nature of Indian warfare made the country abound.

In manufacturing the terms of the confederacy, the grand concern of the English appeared to be money. “The Committee really believed,” says Mr. Orme, “the wealth of Suraja Dowla much greater than it possibly could be, even if the whole life of the late Nabob Aliverdi had not been spent in defending his own dominions against the invasion of ruinous enemies; and even if Suraja Dowla himself had reigned many, instead of only one year.”1 They resolved accordingly not to be sparing in their demands; and the situation of Jaffier Khan, and the manners and customs of the country, made him ready to promise whatever they desired. In name of compensation for losses by the capture of Calcutta, 10,000,000 rupees were promised to the English Company, 5,000,000 rupees to English inhabitants, 2,000,000 to the Indians, and 700,000 to the Armenians. These sums were specified in the formal treaty. Over and beside this, it was resolved by the Committee Edition: current; Page: [165] of the Council, that is, the small number ofbook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. individuals by whom the business was performed, that a donation of 2,500,000 rupees should be asked for the squadron; and another of equal amount for the army. “When this was settled,” says Lord Clive,1 “Mr. Becher (a member) suggested to the Committee, that he thought that Committee, who managed the great machine of government, was entitled to some consideration, as well as the army and navy.” Such a proposition, in such an assembly, could not fail to appear eminently reasonable. It met with a suitable approbation. Mr. Becher informs us, that the sums received were 280,000 rupees by Mr. Drake the Governor; 280,000 by Colonel Clive; and 240,000 each, by himself, Mr. Watts, and Major Kilpatrick, the inferior members of the Committee.2 The terms obtained in favour of the Company were, that all the French factories and effects should be given up; that the French should be for ever excluded from Bengal; that the territory surrounding Calcutta to the distance of 600 yards beyond the Mahratta ditch, and all the land lying south of Calcutta as far as Culpee should be granted them on Zemindary tenure, the Company paying the rents in the same manner as other Zemindars.

For effecting the destruction of Suraja Dowla it was concerted, that the English should take the field; and that Meer Jaffier should join them at Cutwa, Edition: current; Page: [166] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. with his own troops, and those of as many of the other commanders as it should be in his power to debauch. When the English arrived at Cutwa, no allies, however, appeared: Letters were received from Moorshedabad by some of the natives in the camp, stating that the conspiracy was discovered, and that Meer Jaffier had obtained his pardon, on condition of aiding the Nabob with all his resources against the English. Instead of Meer Jaffier and his troops, a letter from Meer Jaffier arrived. In this it was stated, that the suspicions of the Nabob had been raised; that he had constrained Meer Jaffier to swear fidelity on the Koran; that it had thus become impossible for Meer Jaffier to join the English before the day of battle; but that it would be easy for him, in the action, to desert the Nabob, and decide the fortune of the day. The mind of the English commander was disturbed. The treachery of Meer Jaffier could not be regarded as improbable; and “he thought it extremely hazardous” (to use his own words) “to pass a river which is only fordable in one place, march 150 miles up the country, and risk a battle, when, if a defeat ensued, not one man would have returned to tell it.”1

In these difficulties he called a council of war. “It is very rare,” says Mr. Orme, “that a council of war decides for battle.”2 Clive himself says, “that this was the only council of war that ever he held, and if he had abided by that council, it would have been the ruin of the East India Company.”3 The singularity is, that in the council Clive himself was of the same opinion with the majority, and by delivering his opinion first, which was far from the Edition: current; Page: [167] usual practice, had no doubt considerable influence inbook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. determining others: yet that afterwards he disregarded that decision; and took upon himself to act in direct opposition to it. The army was ordered to cross the river the next morning; and at a little past midnight arrived at Plassy.1

At this place, a part of the army of the Subahdar had been intrenched for a considerable time; and the Subahdar himself had reached it with the remainder of his forces the evening before the arrival of the English. The army with which he was now to contend for his power and his life consisted of 50,000 foot, 18,000 horse, and fifty pieces of cannon. Of the English force, 900, including 100 artillery-men and fifty sailors, were Europeans; 100 were Topasses; and 2,100 Sepoys. The battle was nothing but a distant cannonade. This was maintained during the greatest part of the day, and sufficed to terrify the Subahdar, who, by the advice of those who desired his ruin, issued orders of preparation for retreat. Upon this, Jaffier Khan was observed moving off with his troops: Clive was then convinced of his intention to join him: He now, therefore, ordered the English to advance, and attack that part of the line which still maintained its position. The knowledge of these two events determined the mind of the Subahdar, who mounted a fleet camel and fled with 2,000 attendants. No further resistance was offered; and the English entered the camp at five o’clock, having, by the assistance of a weak and vicious sovereign, Edition: current; Page: [168] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. determined the fate of a great kingdom, and of 30,000,000 of people, with the loss of twenty Europeans killed and wounded, of sixteen Sepoys killed, and only thirty-six wounded.1

The army advanced, about nine miles, to Daudpore, the same evening, with little occasion to pursue the enemy, who had almost entirely dispersed. At this place, Meer Jaffier sent a message to the English commander; that he, with many more of the great officers, and a considerable part of the army, waited his commands. The next morning Clive sent to conduct him to his quarters; and he arrived, under some apprehensions, which the Colonel, thinking it no time for reproaches, hastened to dispel. It was arranged that Meer Jaffier should march to the capital immediately, to prevent the escape of Suraja Dowla, and the removal of his wealth.

That wretched prince had arrived at his palace the night after the battle, where, now apprized that he had not a friend on whom he could rely, and utterly uncertain what course to pursue, he remained till the evening of the following day, when Meer Jaffier entered the city. Then his fears dictated a resolution. He disguised himself in a mean dress, and about ten o’clock at night went secretly out of a window of the palace, with his favourite concubine and a single eunuch, intending to join M. Law, and escape into Bahar, where he counted upon the protection of the Governor. The rowers, however, of his boat, worn out before the morning with fatigue, stopped at Raje Edition: current; Page: [169] Mahl, where he endeavoured to conceal himself in abook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. garden. He was there, at break of day, discovered by a man, whom he had formerly treated with cruelty; and who now revealed him to the Governor. Covered with indignity, he was hurried back to Moorshedabad; and presented to Meer Jaffier, who placed him under the custody of his son. The son, a brutal, ferocious youth, the same night gave orders for his assassination. M. Law, who received a summons to join the Nabob as soon as war with the English appeared inevitable, immediately began his march; but had not passed Tacriagully when he received reports of the battle of Plassy; and halted for further information. “Had he immediately proceeded twenty miles further,” says Mr. Orme, “he would the next day have met and saved Suraja Dowla, and an order of events, very different from those which we have to relate, would, in all probability, have ensued.”1

The battle was fought on the 23d of June, and on the 25th Colonel Clive with his troops arrived at Moorshedabad. On the next day, a meeting was held to confer about the stipulated moneys; when the chief officer of finance declared that the whole of Suraja Dowla’s treasures was inadequate to the demand. “The restitution,” says Mr. Orme, “ with the donations to the squadron, the army, and the committee, amounted to 22,000,000 of sicca rupees, equal to 2,750,000l. But other donations were promised, which have since been the foundation of several fortunes.”2 The scantiness of the Bengal treasury was most unexpected, as well as most painful news, to the English; who had been accustomed to a fond and literal belief of Oriental exaggeration Edition: current; Page: [170] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. on the subject of Indian riches. With great difficulty were they brought to admit so hateful a truth. Finding at last that more could not be obtained, they consented to receive one half of the moneys immediately, and to accept of the rest by three equal payments, in three years. Even of the portion which was now to be received, it was necessary to take one third not in specie, which was all exhausted, but in jewels, plate, and other effects, at a valuation. Before the 9th of August, after a multitude of difficulties, the stipulated half, all but 584,905 rupees, was delivered and discharged.1

Edition: current; Page: [171]

Upon the news of the seizure and death of Surajabook iv. Chap. 3. 1757. Dowla, M. Law, with the French party, hastened Edition: current; Page: [172] book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. back, to join the Governor of Bahar, at Patna, the capital of the province. Upon the assassination of the father of Suraja Dowla, Aliverdi had nominated Suraja Dowla himself to the nabobship of that important province; but appointed Ramnarain, a Hindu, in whom he reposed great confidence, to be Deputy Governor in the absence of the Prince. Ramnarain had administered the affairs of the province during the life of Aliverdi, and had continued in the government since the accession of Suraja Dowla. From him Meer Jaffier expected no co-operation, and displayed anxiety that the French party should be pursued. He suspected, however, the fidelity of any part of his own army; and a large detachment of the English were sent under Major Coote. They were detained too long in preparation; they were poorly provided with the means of expedition; and the European part of the detachment, exasperated at the fatigue they had to endure, behaved mutinously on the way. Before they reached Patna, the French had arrived; and, to obviate disputes, had been sent forward by Ramnarain into the territory of the Subahdar of Oude, with whom he had begun to negotiate an alliance. Major Coote was at first instructed to endeavour by intrigue and by force to wrest the government from Ramnarain: but while he was meditating the execution of these orders, he received further instructions which led to an accommodation; and he returned to Moorshedabad on the 13th of September. The detachment which he had Edition: current; Page: [173] conducted was stationed at Cossimbuzar, near Moorshedabad;book iv. Chap. 3. 1757. the rest of the army was sent into quarters at Chandernagor as a more healthy situation than the seat of the Presidency; and on the day after the arrival of Major Coote, Colonel Clive left Moorshedabad and returned to Calcutta.1

Edition: current; Page: [174]


Renewal of the war with the French in Carnatic—Arrival of Lally.—French power superior to the English.—English power superior to the French.—Pondicherry taken—and the French driven out of Carnatic.

book iv. Chap. 4. 1756. When the English detachment for the recovery of Calcutta, and the French detachment for the relief of Bussy, left Carnatic, the contending parties were so far diminished in force, as to meditate quietness and forbearance: the English, till the troops which they had sent to Bengal should return; the French, till the armament should arrive, which they expected from Europe. In the mean time it was felt by the English as a grievous misfortune, that though their Nabob Mahomed Ali was now without a rival in Carnatic, its pecuniary produce was remarkably small. The governors of forts and districts, the zemindars, polygars, and renters, employed, as usual, all their means of artifice and force, to withhold their payments; and the rabble employed by Mahomed Ali, as soldiers, ill paid and weakly governed, were found altogether inadequate to the establishment of an efficient authority in the province. The notion which was early entertained of the great pecuniary supplies capable of being drawn from Madura and Tinivelly, appears still to have maintained a determining influence in the councils of Madras; and notwithstanding the general resolution to remain inactive, Captain Calliaud, the commanding officer at Trichinopoly, before the end of the year 1756, received instructions to renew his attempts for the reduction of those dependencies. Edition: current; Page: [175] In the hope of prevailing upon the Kingbook iv. Chap. 4. 1757. of Tanjore to afford some assistance; a hope which, as usual, he took care to disappoint; Captain Calliaud directed his march through Tanjore, and crossing Marawar, arrived in Tinivelly. The troops who accompanied him, joined to the body of Sepoys who had remained in the country, and the troops of the Polygars who had espoused the English interest, composed a formidable army. But it was unable to proceed to action for want of money; and the utmost exertions of Calliaud produced but an insignificant supply. Intelligence that the rebellious polygars were treating with the Mysoreans, who had a station at the fort of Dindigul, presented in strong colours the necessity of expedition; yet he was unable to leave Tinivelly before the 10th of April; when he marched to attack Madura with 180 Europeans, 2,500 Sepoys, six fieldpieces, and 500 horse. Upon arriving at the town, he found it a place of much greater strength then he had been led to suppose; and, without battering cannon, not easy, if possible, to be reduced. He planned an effort to take it by surprise. The first ladders were planted; and Calliaud himself, with twenty men, had got into the fausse-bray, when the guard within received the alarm, and they were obliged to retreat. Two companies of Sepoys were soon after dispatched to bring two pieces of battering artillery from Trichinopoly; and Calliaud had commenced an intrigue with some of the jematdars or captains of the enemy’s troops, when he received intelligence that the French had arrived at Trichinopoly.

During these efforts to obtain possession of the revenues of Madura and Tinivelly, similar efforts had been undertaken in other parts of the province. A brother of the Nabob, by name Nezeeb Oolla, Edition: current; Page: [176] book iv. Chap. 4. 1757. who was Governor of Nelore and its district, situated in the northern quarter of Carnatic, evaded or refused payment of the sums demanded of him; and the Nabob, who possessed not the means of coercion, was urgent with the English to perform it in his stead. The rupture between the two brothers took place towards the end of February, and it was the 1st of April before the English troops were ready to march. By the end of the month they had erected batteries against the fort; on the 2d of May a breach was effected, which they deemed practicable; and a storm was attempted the next morning. But the English were repulsed from the breach, nor was it deemed expedient to renew the attack till more battering-cannon should be received from Madras. In the mean time the detachment received orders to return to the Presidency with all expedition.

The Government of Pondicherry, notwithstanding the pacific policy inculcated by the recall of Dupleix, and the commands which they had received to abstain from all operations of hazard, till the arrival of the forces which they expected from Europe, determined, when they saw the English so largely at work, and their small force separated to such a distance as Tinivelly and Nelore, to avail themselves of an opportunity which good fortune seemed to present. They took the field on the 6th of April; but, to cover their designs, with only a small number of troops, and for an object of minor importance. By forced marches they appeared before Ellavanasore on the 10th, a fort possessed by a chief, who had hitherto refused to acknowledge either the English or the French Nabob. In a sally, in which he threw the French army into great jeopardy, he received a mortal wound, of which he died in a few days, and the garrison, during the night, evacuated the fort. Edition: current; Page: [177] The French, after this acquisition, marched in thebook iv. Chap. 4. 1757. direction leading to the territory of some polygars with whom they had disputes; and Captain Calliaud received a letter from the Madras Presidency, on the very day on which he attempted to surprise Madura, that from the late intelligence received of the motions of the French, no design on their part was apprehended against Trichinopoly.1 The season for the arrival of the English troops from Bengal was elapsed; and it was impossible now that any should return before September. The French, therefore, suddenly, barring their garrisons; leaving in Pondicherry itself none but invalids; and enrolling the European inhabitants to man the walls, dispatched every soldier to the field; and the army took post before Trichinopoly on the 14th of May. The garrison, deprived of the troops which had marched to Madura, were insufficient to guard the walls; and they had 500 French prisoners in the fort. Calliaud received intelligence before Madura of the imminent danger of Trichinopoly, at three o’clock in the afternoon of the 21st; at six he was on his march; on the 25th at day-break he halted nineteen miles from Trichinopoly. An army five times as great as his watched his approach, and guarded every avenue by which it was supposed he could enter the fort. On one side of the town was a large plain, about seven miles in extent, consisting of rice fields, covered with water, which the French deemed impassable. Calliaud continued his march, as if he intended to enter by one of the ordinary inlets, till night; when he suddenly took another direction; and arrived at the margin of the rice fields about ten o’clock. The fatigue of marching through the rice fields up to the knees in mud, Edition: current; Page: [178] book iv. Chap. 4. 1757. after forced marches of several days, was excessive. At day-break, however, the main body of the detachment reached the fort, and were received with that ardent welcome by its inmates which the greatness of the danger, and the exertions which the detachment had made to save it, naturally inspired. The French commander, astonished at the news of their entrance, and now despairing of success, marched away for Pondicherry the following day.1

Intelligence of the march of the French against Trichinopoly, and of the repulses sustained by their own troops, in the two assaults upon Madura and Nelore, reached the Presidency of Madras at nearly the same time. They recalled immediately the detachment from Nelore; sent as many troops as possible into the field; and were uncertain whether, to relieve Trichinopoly, they should recall the French to the defence of their own settlements, or march to attack them before the place; when the welcome news arrived of the fact and consequences of Calliaud’s return. To possess and garrison the forts which were scattered over the country, and which, by commanding the adjacent districts, afforded the only chance of revenue, was a principal object of desire to both contending parties. Several transactions took place about this time, relating to places of minor importance; but Wandewash was a fortress to the reduction of which peculiar value was attached. The Governor of Wandewash had paid no revenue since 1752; he had perpetually favoured the French; who from that station had been enabled to make incursions into every part of the province; it not only afforded a large revenue, it was also a barrier to the Edition: current; Page: [179] surrounding districts. In hopes that it might bebook iv. Chap. 4. 1757. taken before the French army could arrive from Trichinopoly to its relief, the English commander, sent to the attack, was ordered to push his operations with the greatest vigour. He got possession of the town, which was contiguous to the fort, after a slight resistance. The French, however, were now hastening to its relief; and Colonel Aldereron, whose march had not displayed any wonderful dispatch, thought it prudent to renounce the enterprise before they arrived. At his departure he set fire to the defenceless town though no peculiar circumstance is alleged to justify an act so cruel to the innocent inhabitants.

The English Presidency, to whom the nabobship of Arcot continued as yet but little productive, were straitened in their treasury. Anxious therefore to diminish expense, they gave directions, upon hearing that the army had retired from Wandewash, for its proceeding immediately to the Presidency. Unhappily the enemy were in the field, of which they were thus left entirely the masters; and they performed a successful incursion as far as Conjeveram, where they burned the town, to revenge the outrage committed upon Wandewash. The Presidency, now aware of their blunder, ordered back the army into the field. The two armies were nearly equal. The English offered battle; but the French kept within their entrenchments. The English, after remaining in their presence for some weeks, retired again at the end of July; and marched to the several stations from which they had been drawn. The French were no sooner masters of the field, than they renewed their incursions, collected the revenues, and levied contributions in several districts.

A pressure was now sustained of another description. The Mahratta general Balagee Row had paid a visit of exaction to the kingdom of Mysore the preceding Edition: current; Page: [180] book iv. Chap. 4. 1757. season; and, upon marching back to his own country, before the period of the rains, left an officer with a large detachment, who, after taking several intervening forts, made himself master of one of the passes into Carnatic, about sixty miles north-west from the city of Arcot, and sent a peremptory demand of the chout for the whole nabobship. The city of Arcot was thrown into the utmost alarm: the Nabob dreaded the incursion of Mahratta parties into the very town; and accepted the invitation of the English to send his family to Madras. The Mahrattas pretended that the chout had been settled by Nizam al Mulk, at 600,000 rupees a year; two thirds for Carnatic, and one for Trichinopoly and the southern dependencies. Of this they asserted that six years were due; and presented their demand, in the whole, at 4,000,000 of rupees. The Nabob, who knew the weakness of his physical, if not of his intellectual resources, was glad to negotiate. After much discussion, the Mahratta agent consented to accept of 200,000 rupees, in ready money, and the Nabob’s draughts upon the governors of forts and the polygars, for 250,000 more. To these terms the Nabob agreed; but he required that the money should be found by the English, and should be furnished out of the revenues which he had assigned to them for the expenses of the war. At this time the English might have obtained important assistance against the Mahrattas. Morari Row, and the Patan Nabobs of Savanore, Canoul, Candanore, and Cudapa, who, since the assassination of Nazir Jung, had maintained a sort of independence, offered their alliance. But the English could spare no troops; and were as much afraid to admit such allies into the province as the Mahrattas themselves. After as much delay and evasion as possible, they were induced, not Edition: current; Page: [181] withstanding the danger of the precedent, in fear ofbook iv. Chap. 4. 1757. greater evils, to comply with the demand.

During all this period the attention of the Presidency of Madras may be considered as chiefly divided between two objects; the French in Carnatic, and the Polygars of Madura and Tinivelly. When Calliaud was obliged to march from Madura for the defence of Trichinopoly, he left about sixty Europeans, and upwards of 1,000 Sepoys, who were not inactive; and, as soon as he was convinced that no further danger was to be apprehended from the French, he dispatched a reinforcement from Trichinopoly. In compliance with the recommendation of the Presidency, Calliaud himself, with as great a portion of the troops from Trichinopoly as it was safe to withdraw, marched on the 25th of June, and arrived at Madura on the 3d of July. Having effected a breach on the 10th, he resolved to storm. He was repulsed with great loss. For some days the operations of the besiegers were retarded by the sickness of their leader. The admission of supplies into the town was now, however, cut off; and the negotiations for its surrender were renewed. After some time was spent in bargaining about the price, Calliaud, on the 8th of August, on payment of 170,000 rupees, was received into the town.

On the 8th of September a French fleet of twelve ships anchored in Pondicherry road; but, after landing about a thousand men, it again set sail for Mauritius. This was not the grand armament which the government at Pondicherry expected; and, till the arrival of which, all operations of magnitude were to be deferred. The army, however, which had been scouring the country, was still in its camp at Wandewash. It was now strongly reinforced by the troops newly arrived; and marched against the fort Edition: current; Page: [182] book iv. Chap. 4. 1757. of Chittapet. The Nabob, Mahomed Ali, had a personal dislike to the Governor of Chittapet, and had infused into the English suspicions of his fidelity, which imprudently diminished the efforts necessary for his support. He fell, defending his fort to the last extremity; and thus another place of considerable importance was gained by the French. From Chittapet they marched to Trinomalee, which was abandoned by the Governor and garrison, upon their approach. After this they divided themselves into several detachments; and before the 6th of November, when they were recalled, they had reduced eight forts in the neighbourhood of Chittapet, Trinomalee, and Gingee; and established collectors in the dependent districts.

On the news of the arrival of the French fleet, Captain Calliaud returned to Trichinopoly, with all the Europeans, and was soon after followed by the Sepoys, who, however, went back, as soon as it appeared that Trichinopoly was not in danger. The Mysoreans, who had been long expected to the assistance of the confederate Polygars, arrived in the month of November, took the fort of Sholavenden, and plundered to the walls of Madura, under which they remained for several days. They allowed themselves, however, to be attacked in a narrow pass, by the commander of the British Sepoys, and suffered a severe defeat. In the mean time Captain Calliaud, under the safeguard of a passport from Pondicherry, repaired in person to the Presidency, to represent the state of the southern dependencies, for the reduction of which so many useless efforts had been made; and declared his opinion that the settlement of the country could not be achieved, or a revenue drawn from it, without a greater force, or the removal of Maphuz Khan. It was agreed with the Nabob that Edition: current; Page: [183] an annual income, adequate to his maintenance,book iv. Chap. 4. 1757. should be offered to this his elder brother, provided he would quit the province and disband his troops. Maphuz Khan, however, would listen to no terms importing less than the government of the whole country; and the confederates continued in formidable force.

Though, after the recall of the French troops in November, no army was in the field; the garrisons left in the several forts continued to make incursions upon one another, and mutually ravaged the unhappy country. As these operations, “being always levelled at defenceless villages, carried,” says Mr. Orme, “the reproach of robbery, more than the reputation of war;” each side, too, losing by them more than it gained; the French officer at Wandewash proposed a conference, for the purpose of ending this wretched species of warfare; and an English officer was authorized to conclude an agreement. The governments of Madras and Pondicherry were both now disposed to suspend their efforts—the French, till the arrival of the forces which they boasted were to render them irresistible in Carnatic—the English, that they might husband their resources for the danger with which they were threatened. In this situation they continued till the 28th of April, when a French squadron of twelve sail arrived in the road of Fort St. David.

Upon the breaking out of the war between France and England in 1756, the French ministry resolved to strike an important blow in India. The Count de Lally, a member of one of those Irish families, which had transported themselves into France along with James II., was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the French forces in India. He had distinguished himself in the battle of Fontenoy, where he took several English officers with his own hand, and received Edition: current; Page: [184] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. the rank of Colonel from the King, upon the field of battle: It was he who proposed the daring plan of landing in England with 10,000 men, while the Prince, Charles Edward, was trying his fortune for a crown in another part of the island: And his hatred of the English, and his reputation for courage, now pointed him out as the fittest person to crush the pretensions of that nation on the coast of Coromandel. He was accompanied with his own regiment of Irish, 1080 strong; with fifty of the royal artillery, and a great number of officers of distinction. They left the port of Brest on the 4th of May, 1757, when a malignant fever raged in the town, of which they carried the infection along with them. No fewer than 300 persons died in the fleet before they reached Rio Janeiro, where they remained for two months, and, after all, departed with a residue of the sickness on board. At Mauritius they were joined by a part of the ships which had landed the troops at Pondicherry in the preceding year; and, after a tedious voyage, made the coast of Coromandel on the 25th of April.

The court of Versailles anticipated nothing but triumphs from this splendid armament; and the presumption of Lally well assorted with that of his government. It was even laid down in the instructions of the ministers, that he should commence his operations with the siege of Fort St. David. For this purpose, before communicating with the land, he made the fleet anchor at the place of attack. He proceeded with two of the vessels to Pondicherry, where he arrived at five in the afternoon;1 and before the Edition: current; Page: [185] night closed he had 1,000 Europeans, and as manybook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. Sepoys, on their march to Fort St. David. In military operations, notwithstanding the importance of dispatch, something more than dispatch is necessary. The troops marched without provisions, and with unskilful guides, who led them astray, and brought them to Fort St. David at seven o’clock in the morning, worn out with hunger and fatigue.1 This gave them a motive and an apology for commencing a system of plunder and insubordination, from which they could not easily be recalled.

These troops had scarcely arrived at Fort St. David, when the ships in the road descried the English fleet making way from the south. Mr. Pococke, with the ships of war from Bengal, had arrived at Madras on the 24th of February; on the 24th of the following month a squadron of five ships from Bombay had arrived under Admiral Stevens; and on the 17th of April, the whole sailed to the southward, looking out for the French. Having in ten days worked as high to windward as the head of Ceylon, they stood in again for the coast, which they made, off Negapatnam, on the 28th, and, proceeding along shore, discovered the French fleet at nine the next morning, riding near Cuddalore. The French immediately weighed, and bore down towards Pondicherry throwing out signals to recall the two ships which had Edition: current; Page: [186] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. sailed with Lally; and the English Admiral gave the signal for chase. The summons for the two ships not being answered, the French fleet stood out to sea, and formed the line of battle. The French consisted of nine sail, the English only of seven. The battle was indecisive; the loss of a few men, with some damage to the ships, being the only result.1 Both fleets fell considerably to leeward during the engagement; and the French were six days in working up to the road of Pondicherry, where the troops were landed. Lally himself had some days before proceeded to Fort St. David with the whole force of Pondicherry, and the troops from the fleet were sent after him, as fast as they came on shore.

The English were thrown into the greatest alarm. So much was the power of the enemy now superior to their own, that they scarcely anticipated any other result, than their expulsion from the country; and had Dupleix been still the guide and conductor of the enemy’s affairs, it is more than probable, that their most gloomy apprehensions would have been realised.6 Not only had an overwhelming addition been made to a force, against which they had previously found it difficult to maintain themselves; but in the mean time, Bussy, in the northern parts of Deccan, had obtained the most important advantages, and brought upon the English the heaviest disasters. After the brilliant exploit of 1756, when he defended himself at Hyderabad against the whole power of the Subahdar, Edition: current; Page: [187] and imposed his own terms upon his enemies, he hadbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. proceeded to the Northern Circars, where his presence was necessary, to collect the revenues, and, by an adjustment of the government, to provide for the future regularity of their payment. He began his march on the 16th of November of that year, with 500 Europeans and 4,000 Sepoys; leaving only a small detachment to attend the person of the Subahdar.1 In accomplishing his progress through the country, he encountered no considerable resistance. The Polygar of Bobilee defended his fort to the last extremity; and exhibited the customary spectacle of Hindu desperation, the fortress in flames, and the people in garrison butchered by their own hands: But he was excited to this desperation by the command to exchange the government of his present for that of another district, on account of the annoyance he gave to a neighbouring Chief, from whom Bussy had received a train of important services. When Bussy had nearly completed the arrangement which he intended to make, he received about the 1st of April letters from Suraja Dowla, inviting him, by the largest offers, to assist him in expelling the English from Bengal. Bussy waited on his northern frontier, ready to march through Orissa into Bengal, as soon as he should receive satisfactory intelligence; but, learning the capture of Chandernagor, and the imbecility of the Subahdar, he changed his purpose, and proceeded to the attack of the English establishments within the Circars. There were three factories, on three different branches of the Godavery, in a district remarkable for the excellence and cheapness of its cloths. They Edition: current; Page: [188] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. were places of no strength, and surrendered on the first requisition. Vizigapatam, however, was one of the places of greatest importance belonging to the English in India. It was a fort, garrisoned by 150 Europeans, and 300 Sepoys; but so injudiciously constructed, that the attempt to defend it was unanimously determined to be vain. The van of Bussy’s army appeared before it on the 24th of June; and a capitulation was concluded; that all the Europeans, both military and civil, should be regarded as prisoners, and all the effects of the Company as prize of war. The Sepoys, and other natives, Bussy allowed to go where they pleased; he also promised to respect the property of individuals. “And he kept his word,” says Mr. Orme, “with the utmost liberality, resigning, without discussion, whatsoever property any one claimed as his own.”

During these transactions, however, a great revolution was preparing in the army of Salabut Jung. He had two younger brothers, whom Bussy, acquainted with the temper of Oriental governments, had advised the Subahdar to provide with establishments, and every indulgence suitable to their rank, but from whom he had exhorted him carefully to withhold those governments and places of power, which, in the hands of the near relations of the Prince, were the cause of so many revolutions in India. This prudent course was pursued till the period of the alienation from Bussy of the mind of the Subahdar; when that Prince was easily persuaded, by his designing courtiers, to reverse the policy which the sagacity of Bussy had established. The eldest of the two brothers, Bassalut Jung, was appointed Governor of the strong fort and country of Adoni; and Nizam Ali, the youngest and most dangerous, was made Governor of Berar, the most extensive province of Edition: current; Page: [189] Deccan, of which the Mahrattas now possessed thebook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. principal part.

Towards the end of the year 1757, while a body of Mahrattas insulted Aurengabad, which was then the residence of the Subahdar, a mutiny, under the usual shape of clamour for pay, was excited in his army. The utmost alarm was affected by the Duan, or minister, who took shelter in a strong fort: The Subahdar, without resources, was driven to dismay: Nizam Ali, who had acquired some reputation, and intrigued successfully with the troops, offered to interpose and allay the tumults, provided the requisite powers, and among other things the great seal of the Subah, were committed to his hands: the requisition was obeyed: and Nizam Ali, leaving only the name of Subahdar to his brother, grasped the wholepowers of the state. With an affectation of indifference he committed the seal to his brother Bassalut Jung, but under sufficient security that it would be used agreeably to his directions.

Bussy received intelligence of these events in the beginning of January; immediately began his march with the whole of his army; and by a road never travelled before by European troops, arrived in twenty-one days at Aurungabad, a distance by the perambulator of nearly 400 miles.1 Four separate armies were encamped about the city; that of Nizam Ali from Berar; that of the Subah, of which Nizam Ali had now the command; that of Bassalut Jung from Adoni; and that of the Mahrattas commanded by Balagce Row. The presence of Bussy, with his handful of Europeans, imposed respect upon them all; and every eye was fixed upon his movements. His first care was to restore the authority of the Subahdar, Edition: current; Page: [190] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. whom the presence alone of the French detachment, which had vigilantly guarded his person, had probably saved from the assassination which generally forms the main ingredient of Indian revolutions.

The two brothers at first assumed a high tone; and when obliged to part with the seal, exhibited unusual marks of rage and indignation. Bussy clearly saw that the safety of the Subahdar, and the existence of the present government, demanded the resumption of the power which had been entrusted to Nizam Ali; but when the proposition of a large pension was made to him in lieu of his government, he had the art to interest his troops in his behalf, and Bussy found it necessary to temporize. To remove still further the umbrage which he found was gaining ground at the uncontrolable authority with which a stranger disposed of the powers of Deccan, and of the sons of the great Nizam al Mulk, he re-committed the seal of state to Bassalut Jung, but under securities which precluded any improper use.

To provide a permanent security for his predominating influence in the government of the Subah, there was wanting, besides the distant provinces which yielded him the necessary revenue, a place of strength near the seat of government, to render him independent of the sudden machinations of his enemies. The celebrated fortress of Dowlatabad, both from locality and strength, was admirably adapted to his views. It was at present in possession of the prime minister, the mortal foe of Bussy, the chief actor in the late commotions, and the assured instrument of others in every hostile design. By a sum of money, Bussy gained the Deputy Governor to admit him secretly with his troops into the fort; and this invaluable instrument of power was gained without the loss of a man. As the utmost efforts, however, Edition: current; Page: [191] of the resentment of the minister were now assured,book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. Bussy secured the means of rendering him a prisoner in the midst of the camp of the Subahdar, at the very hour when he himself was received into the fort of Dowlatabad. These events alarmed Nizam Ali into submission; and an accommodation was effected, by which he agreed to divest himself of his government of Berar, and accept of Hyderabad in its stead. When holding his court, to receive the compliments of the principal persons, before his departure for his new government, he was waited upon, among others, by Hyder Jung, the Duan of Bussy. This personage was the son of a Governor of Masulipatam, who had been friendly to the French; and he had attached himself to Bussy, since his first arrival at Golconda. Bussy was soon aware of his talents, and soon discovered the great benefit he might derive from them. He became a grand and dexterous instrument for unravelling the plots and intrigues against which it was necessary for Bussy to be incessantly on his guard; and a no less consummate agent in laying the trains which led to the accomplishment of Bussy’s designs. To give him the greater weight with his countrymen, and more complete access to the persons and the minds of the people of consequence, he obtained for him titles of nobility, dignities, and riches; and enabled him to hold his Durbar, like the greatest chiefs. He was known to have been actively employed in the late masterly transactions of Bussy; and an occasion was chosen on which a blow might be struck, both at his life, and that of Salabut Jung. A day was appointed by the Subahdar for paying his devotions at the tomb of his father, distant about twenty miles from Aurungabad; and on the second day of his absence, Nizam Ali held his court. Hyder Jung was received with marked respect; but, on Edition: current; Page: [192] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. some pretext, detained behind the rest of the assembly, and assassinated. The first care of Bussy, upon this new emergency, was, to strengthen the slender escort of Salabut Jung. The next was, to secure the person of the late minister; of whose share in the present perfidy he had no doubt, and whom he had hitherto allowed to remain under a slight restraint in the camp. That veteran intriguer, concluding that his life was in danger, excited his attendants to resist, and was slain in the scuffle. Struck with dismay, upon the news of this unexpected result, Nizam Ali abandoned the camp in the night, taking with him his select cavalry alone; and pursued his flight towards Boorhanpore, about 150 miles north from Aurungabad, with all the speed which the horses could endure. Thus was Bussy delivered from his two most formidable enemies, by the very stroke which they had aimed against him; and in this state of uncontrolable power in the wide-extended government of Deccan, was he placed, when the arrival of Lally produced an extraordinary change in his views; and insured a new train of events in the Subah.

The character of that new Governor was ill adapted to the circumstances in which he was appointed to act. Ardent and impetuous, by the original structure of his mind, his early success and distinction had rendered him vain and presumptuous.

With natural talents of considerable force, his knowledge was scanty and superficial. Having never experienced difficulties, he never anticipated any: For him it was enough to will the end; the means obtained an inferior portion of his regard. Acquainted thoroughly with the technical part of the military profession, but acquainted with nothing else, he was totally unable to apply its principles in a new situation Edition: current; Page: [193] of things. Unacquainted with the character andbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. manners of the people among whom he was called upon to act; he was too ignorant of the theory of war, to know, that on the management of his intellectual and moral instruments, the success of the General mainly depends.

He began by what he conceived a very justifiable act of authority, but which was in reality a cruel violation of the customs, the religion, and, in truth, the legal rights of the natives. As there was not at Pondicherry, of the persons of the lower castes, who are employed in the servile occupations of the camp, a sufficient number to answer the impatience of M. Lally, in forwarding the troops to Fort St. David, he ordered the native inhabitants of the town to be pressed, and employed, without distinction of caste, in carrying burdens, and performing whatever labour might be required. The terror and consternation created by such an act was greater than if he had set fire to the town and butchered every man whom it contained. The consequence was, that the natives were afraid to trust themselves in his power; and he thus insured a deficiency of attendants.1

Edition: current; Page: [194]

book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. The feeble bullocks of the country, and the smallness of the number which the Governor and Council of Pondicherry were able to supply, but ill accorded with Lally’s ideas of a sufficiency of draught cattle. The very depressed state of the treasury precluded the possibility of affording other facilities, the want of which his impatience rendered a galling disappointment. He vented his uneasiness in reproaches and complaints. He had carried out in his mind one of those wide and sweeping conclusions, which men of little experience and discrimination are apt to form; that his countrymen in India were universally rogues: And to this sentiment, that ignorance and avidity, at home, which recalled Dupleix, were well calculated to conduct him. The Directors had told him in their instructions; “As the troubles in India have been the source of fortunes, rapid and vast, to a great number of individuals, the same system always reigns at Pondicherry, where those who have not yet made their fortune hope to make it by the same means; and those who have already dissipated it hope to make it a second time. The Sieur de Lally will have an arduous task to eradicate that spirit of cupidity; but it would be one of the most important services which he could render to the Company.”1 Every want, therefore, which he experienced; every delay which occurred, he ascribed to the dishonesty and misconduct of the persons employed;2 and had Edition: current; Page: [195] so little prudence as incessantly to declare thosebook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. opinions in the most pointed and offensive terms which his language could supply. These proceedings rendered him in a short time odious to every class of men in the colony; precluded all cordial co-operation, and insured him every species of ill-office which it was safe to render. The animosity at last between him and his countrymen became rancour and rage; and the possibility of a tolerable management of the common concerns was utterly destroyed.

On the 1st of May, Lally himself arrived at Fort St. David; and when joined by the troops from the ships, and those whom he had drawn from the forts in Carnatic, he had, according to Mr. Orme, 2,500 Europeans, exclusive of officers, and about the same number of Sepoys, assembled for the attack. The garrison consisted of 1,600 natives, and 619 Europeans, of whom eighty-three were sick or infirm, and 250 were seamen.1 The place held out till the 1st of June, when, having nearly expended its ammunition, Edition: current; Page: [196] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. it yielded on capitulation. It was expected to have made a better defence; and the English historians have not spared the conduct of the commanding officer. He had courage and spirit in sufficient abundance; but was not very rich in mental resources, or very accurate in ascertaining the conduciveness of his means. In consequence of instructions brought from France, Lally immediately issued orders for razing the fortifications to the ground: As soon as the fort capitulated, he sent a detachment against Devi-Cotah, which the garrison immediately abandoned; and on the 7th of June, he returned with the army, in triumph, and sung Te Deum at Pondicherry.

The English, in full expectation that the next operation of Lally would be the siege of Madras, had called in the troops from all the forts in the interior, except Trichinopoly; and had even debated whether they should not abandon that city itself. All the troops from Tinivelly and Madura were ordered to return to Trichinopoly, and, together with the garrison, to hold themselves in readiness for any emergency.

The great poverty, however, of the French exchequer; and the inability, created or greatly enhanced by the unpopular proceedings of Lally, of supplying its deficiencies by credit; cramped his operations, and sharpened the asperities of his temper. He had written from Fort St. David to the Governor of Pondicherry, in the following terms; “This letter shall be an eternal secret between you, Sir, and me, if you afford me the means of accomplishing my enterprise. I left you 100,000 livres of my own money to aid you in providing the funds which it requires. I found not, upon my arrival, in your purse, and in that of your whole council, the resource of 100 pence. Edition: current; Page: [197] You, as well as they, have refused me the support ofbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. your credit. Yet I imagine you are all of you more indebted to the Company than I am. If you continue to leave me in want of every thing, and exposed to contend with universal disaffection, not only shall I inform the King and the Company of the warm zeal which their servants here display for their interest, but I shall take effectual measures for not depending, during the short stay I wish to make in this country, on the party spirit and the personal views, with which I perceive that every member appears occupied, to the total hazard of the Company.”1

Despairing of funds from any other source, he resolved to devote to this object the next operations of the war.2 He at the same time recalled Bussy, against whose character he fostered the strongest prejudices, and the importance of whose transactions under the Subahdar he treated as interested pretence and imposture.

Two plans presented themselves for the supply of Edition: current; Page: [198] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. his wants. All the western and northern districts of the nabobship, evacuated by the English, lay open to his incursions, and in the rents which might be collected offered a certain resource. But the collection of rents was a tedious operation, and the expected produce a scanty supply. The King of Tanjore, when pressed in 1751 by Chunda Saheb and the French, had, among his other efforts to procrastinate and evade, given his bond, which still remained at Pondicherry, for 5,600,000 rupees. This sum, could it only be extorted from him, was a large and present resource; and in Fort St. David, as a prisoner, had been found the pretender to the throne of Tanjore, who might now be employed as an instrument to frighten the Rajah into compliance. The expedition against Tanjore was accordingly undertaken; and on the 18th of June Lally took the field.1

From the terror of the natives, the alienation of the Europeans, and the want of money, the equipment of the expedition, in attendants, draught cattle, and even provisions and ammunition, was in the highest degree defective. In seven days the army arrived at Carical, not without suffering, at this early stage, both from fatigue and from hunger.2 At this place Lally was met by a messenger from the King, who was desirous Edition: current; Page: [199] to treat. Lally understood, that some of hisbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. predecessors had been duped into impolitic delay, by the artful negotiations of the King of Tanjore. He resolved to display superior wisdom, by a conduct directly the reverse. He proceeded to Nagore, a town accounted rich, about four miles to the north of Negapatnam; but the merchants had time to remove their most valuable effects, and the acquisition yielded only a trifle. On the 28th he arrived at Kiveloor, the seat of a celebrated Pagoda, which eastern exaggeration represented as containing enormous riches, the accumulated offerings of the piety of ages: Had it been plundered by a Mahomedan conqueror, and the transaction recorded by a Persian historian, he would have described his hero as bearing away, in his fortunate chariots, a mountain of gold. Under the vulgar persuasion, Lally ransacked, and even dug the houses; dragged the tanks, and took away the idols; but no treasures were found, and the idols, instead of gold, were only of brass. Six unhappy Brahmens lingered about the camp, in hopes, it is probable, of recovering some of their beloved divinities. The suspicions of Lally took them for spies; his violence and precipitation took his suspicions for realities; and he ordered the six Brahmens to be treated as the Europeans are accustomed to treat the natives convicted as spies; that is, to be shot away from the muzzles of the guns. The King’s army took the field; but after a slight show of resistance retreated to the capital, near which Lally arrived on the 18th of July. Conferences ensued: The King offered a sum of money, but greatly inferior to what was required: Lally offered to abate in his pecuniary demand, provided he were furnished with 600 bullocks, and a supply of gunpowder. His agents were more prudent than himself, and suppressed the article of gunpowder, the deficiency of which, if known to the King, Edition: current; Page: [200] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. was not likely to improve his disposition to compliance: and the bullocks, the King observed, that his religion did not permit him to grant. The cannonade and bombardment began. After a few days the King renewed his efforts for an accommodation. The obliquities of Eastern negotiation wore out the temper of Lally; and he threatened to carry the King and all his family slaves to Mauritius. This outrage produced in the Hindu a final resolution to defend himself to the last extremity. He had early, among his applications for assistance, implored the co-operation of the English; and Captain Calliaud at Trichinopoly was commissioned to make all those efforts in his favour which his own security might appear to allow. That officer sent to him without delay a small detachment, which might feed his hopes of a more efficient support, and afford him no apology for making his peace with the French. But he was afraid to entrust with him any considerable portion of his troops, fully aware that the French might at any time make with him an accommodation, and receive his assistance to destroy the very men who had come to protect him. Upon this last occurrence Calliaud inferred that the time for accommodation was elapsed, and sent an additional detachment. Lally continued his operations, and on the 7th of August effected a breach.

At this time, however, only 150 charges of powder for the cannon, not twenty cartouches a man for the troops, and not provisions for two days, remained in the camp.1 The next morning intelligence was received, Edition: current; Page: [201] that the English fleet, after a fresh engagementbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. with the French, had anchored before Carical, from which alone the French army could derive its supplies. Lally summoned a council of war. Out of thirteen officers, two, the Count d’Estaign, and M. Saubinet, advised an immediate assault, considering the success as certain, and the landing of the English at Carical, while the French fleet kept the sea, as highly improbable. It was determined, in conformity with the opinion of the other eleven, to raise the siege.1 Intelligence of this resolution of the enemy, and of the negligence and security in which they encamped, encouraged the Tanjorines to attempt a surprise; which brought Lally and his army into imminent danger. After a disastrous march, in which they suffered severely, from the enemy, from fatigue, and from famine,2 they arrived on the 28th at Carical, and saw the English fleet at anchor off the mouth of the river.

After the first of the naval engagements, the English fleet, before they could anchor, were carried a league to the north of Sadras; the French, which had suffered less in the rigging, and sailed better, anchored fifteen miles to the windward. The English as soon as possible weighed again, and after a fruitless endeavour to reach Fort St. David, discovered the French fleet on the 28th of May in the road of Pondicherry. Edition: current; Page: [202] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. The next day, the French, at the remonstrance of Lally, who sent on board a considerable body of troops, got under sail; but instead of bearing down on the English, unable to advance against the wind, proceeded to Fort St. David, where they arrived on the evening after the surrender. The English sailing badly, fell to leeward as far as Alamparva, where intelligence was received of the loss of the fort. The admiral therefore, not having water on board for the consumption of five days, made sail, and anchored the next day in the road of Madras. The fleet had numerous wants; Madras had very scanty means of supply; and nearly eight weeks elapsed before it was again ready for sea. On the 3d of July three of the Company’s ships arrived from Bengal, with money, merchandize, and stores, but no troops. The monsoon had obliged them to make the outward passage towards Acheen, and they came in from the southward. The French Admiral, after touching at Fort St. David, had stood to the southward, to cruize off Ceylon; in opposition to the remonstrances of Lally, who desired the fleet to co-operate in the destined enterprise against Madras. Lally hastened from Fort St. David to Pondicherry, and summoned a council by whose authority he recalled the fleet. The injunction reached the Admiral at Carical on the 16th of June, and he anchored the next day in the road of Pondicherry. Had he continued his destined course to the southward, he could not have missed the three English East Indiamen from Bengal, and by their capture would have obtained that treasure, the want of which alone disconcerted the scheme of English destruction. On the 25th of July the English fleet were again under sail; and on the 27th appeared before Pondicherry, where the French lay at anchor. They put to sea without delay; but the difficulties of the Edition: current; Page: [203] navigation, and the aims of the commanders, madebook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. it the 2d of August before the fleets encountered off Carical. The French line consisted of eight sail; the English, as before, of seven. The fight lasted scarcely an hour; when three of the French ships being driven out of the line, the whole bore away, under all the sail they could carry. The English Admiral gave chase; but in less than ten minutes the enemy were beyond the distance of certain shot. Toward night the English gave over the pursuit, and came to anchor off Carical. The French steered for Pondicherry, when the Admiral declared his intention of returning to Mauritius. Lally sent forward the Count D’Estaign to remonstrate with him on the disgrace of quitting the sea before an inferior enemy, and to urge him to renewed operations. D’Estaign offered to accompany him on board, with any proportion of the troops. Lally himself moved with the army from Carical on the 24th of August, and, having passed the Coleroon, hurried on with a small detachment to Pondicherry, where he arrived on the 28th. He immediately summoned a mixed Council of the administration and the army, who joined in a fresh expostulation to the Admiral on the necessity of repairing to Madras, where the success of an attack must altogether depend upon the union of the naval and military operations. That commander, representing his ships as in a state of the greatest disablement, and his crews extremely enfeebled and diminished by disease, would yield to no persuasion, and set sail with his whole fleet for Mauritius on the 2d of September.1

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book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. If we trust to the declaration of Lally, his intention of besieging Madras, still more his hopes of taking it, were abandoned from that hour. Before the fleet departed, an expedition against Arcot, with a view to relieve the cruel pressure of those pecuniary wants which the disastrous result of the expedition to Tanjore had only augmented, was projected and prepared. Arcot, the capital of Carnatic, had been left under the government of one of the principal officers of Mahomed Ali, the English Nabob, with a small body of Sepoys and native cavalry. With this officer, Rajah Saheb, (the eldest son of the late Chunda Saheb,) now decorated by the French with the title of Nabob, had opened a correspondence; and a treaty was concluded, according to which the Governor was to deliver up the place, to receive as a reward 13,000 rupees, and to be taken, along with his troops, into the pay and service of Lally. As auxiliary measures, the previous possession of the secondary forts of Trivatore, Trinomalee, Carangoly, and Timery, was deemed expedient. Lally divided his army into four parts, to two of which the forts of Carangoly and Timery surrendered without resistance; Trivatore and Trinomalee were taken by assault. On the terms of a pretended capitulation, on the 4th of October, Lally, amid the thunder of cannon, made his entrance into Arcot.

The fort of Chingliput, the occupation of which, from want of funds, or ignorance of its importance, Lally had postponed to the acquisition of Arcot, covered the country whence chiefly, in a case of siege, Madras would find it necessary to draw its provisions. In the consternation under which the English Edition: current; Page: [205] had withdrawn their troops from the country forts,book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. upon the arrival of Lally, Chingliput among the rest had been left in a very defenceless condition; and when the French marched against Carangoly, they might have taken Chingliput by escalade in open day. The English, awakened to a sense of its importance, left Arcot to its fate, and made all their exertions to save Chingliput. A fleet had arrived from England in the middle of September, which brought 850 of the king’s troops, and with them Colonel Drapier and Major Brereton: Captain Calliaud, with the whole of the European troops, was recalled from Trichinopoly: And before Lally entered Arcot, Chingliput was supplied with a strong garrison. The applications of Lally to the government of Pondicherry for 10,000 rupees, which were necessary, after the acquisition of Arcot, to put the troops in motion for Chingliput, were answered only by representations of the complete exhaustion of their resources; and that General, obliged for want of funds to place the troops in cantonments, returned to Pondicherry full of mortification and chagrin.1

He had been joined by Bussy about the time at which he entered Arcot. That officer, who had conducted himself with such rare ability in the dominions of the Subahdar, and with his handful of French had raised himself to an elevated station among the princes of India, had left the Subahdar on a tottering throne, which nothing but his strong support could much longer uphold. The Subahdar, when informed of the intended departure of the French, was too much amazed to believe the dreadful intelligence; and, when too well assured of its ominous reality, took his leave of Bussy, in an Edition: current; Page: [206] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. agony of grief and despair. Bussy, it is possible, took his departure with the more alacrity, as he hoped, through the representations which in person he would be able to make, that he could prevail upon Lally to send him back, and with augmented force, to his important station. Having, on his march, been joined by Moracin, the Governor of Masulipatam, who with his troops was also recalled, he left the march to be conducted by Moracin, and under a safeguard granted him from Madras hastened to the meeting with Lally.

The head of that General was filled with the importance of his own project, the expulsion of the English from India; and with contempt for the schemes of Bussy, as of all other men who had different views from his own. In his letter to Bussy, upon the taking of Fort St. David, he had said, “It is the whole of British India which it now remains for us to attack. I do not conceal from you that, having taken Madras, it is my resolution to repair immediately, by land or by sea, to the banks of the Ganges, where your talents and experience will be of the greatest importance to me.” Bussy employed every effort to convince him of the importance of retaining the advantages which he had gained in the dominions of the Subahdar; and the most pressing and passionate letters arrived from the Subahdar himself.1 But Lally, who had already treated the representations of Bussy as the visions of a madman, and had told the Governor of Pondicherry that he thought himself too condescending in reading his Edition: current; Page: [207] letters, lent a deaf ear to remonstrances which inwardlybook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. he regarded as the fruit of delusion or imposture.1 Apprized of the money which Dupleix had raised on his personal credit, he was not without hopes that Bussy might be possessed of similar resources; and he states as a matter of great surprise, mixed with incredulity, the averment of Bussy, that in this way he was altogether incapable of aiding the general cause.

A high testimony from another quarter was yielded to the merits of Bussy. His rank as an officer was only that of Lieutenant-Colonel. Besides a Major-General, six Colonels had arrived with the army of Lally. The six Colonels, yielding to the nobler impulses of the human mind, signed a requisition that Bussy might supersede them. “Their names,” says Mr. Orme, “highly worthy of record on this occasion, were mostly of ancient and noble descent; D’Estaign, de Landivisiau, de la Faire, Breteuil, Verdiere, and Crillon.”

To whatever quarter Lally turned his eyes, he found himself beset with the greatest difficulties. The government at Pondicherry declared, as they had frequently declared before, that in their exhausted situation it was altogether impossible for them to find the means of subsisting the army at Pondicherry. When a council of war was called, the Count D’Estaign, and other officers, pronounced it better to die by a musket ball, under the ramparts of Madras, than by hunger, within those of Pondicherry. The idea of undertaking a siege, says Lally, the total want of funds excluded from the mind of every one. But it was deemed expedient to bombard the place, Edition: current; Page: [208] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. to shut up the English within the fort, to obtain the pillage of the black town, and to lay waste the surrounding country.1

The Governor of Pondicherry declared that he was destitute of every species of resource, either for the pay or the maintenance of the soldiers. Lally advanced 60,000 rupees of his own money, and prevailed upon some members of the council, and other individuals in Pondicherry, to follow, in some degree, his example. From this species of contribution or loan, he obtained 34,000 rupees, which, added to his own, made a sum of 94,000. This was the treasure with which at the head of 2,700 European troops, and 4,000 Indians, he marched against Madras.

The expedition was ready for its departure at the beginning of November, but the continuance of the rains retarded its arrival before Madras till the 12th of December, when Lally had not funds to ensure the subsistence of the army for a single week. The English had made active use of the intervening period for providing themselves with the means of defence. When Admiral Pococke quitted the coast in October to avoid the monsoon, he left behind him the marines of the squadron, and was expected back in January. A body of cavalry, under an adventurer of the country, was taken into pay; and so posted, along with the Sepoys from Trichinopoly, as to make war upon the line of the enemy’s convoys. The veteran Laurence, who was still in Madras, was put at the head of the troops; and took post with the greater part of the army on elevated ground at some distance from the town. It was not, however, his intention to run the risk of an action; and as the enemy advanced, he gradually yielded ground, till on the 12th he entered the fort with all his army. The command Edition: current; Page: [209] in the fort belonged to the Governor, Pigot. But hebook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. was an intelligent, and an active man; and the harmony of the defence experienced no interruption. The military within the walls now consisted of 1,758 Europeans, 2,220 Sepoys, and 200 horse of the Nabob, on whom by experience little dependance was placed. The other Europeans were 150 men, who were employed without distinction in serving out stores, and other auxiliary operations.

On the 13th the enemy remained on the plain, and reconnoitred the place. On the 14th, early in the morning, they took possession of the black town, where the soldiery, from want of skill, or authority, on the part of their commander, abandoned themselves to intemperance and disorder. In hopes of profiting by this opportunity, the English made a strong sally with 600 chosen men. They penetrated into the black town before the enemy were collected in sufficient numbers; but were at last opposed by a force which they could not withstand; and, had the division of the enemy, which was under the command of Bussy, advanced with sufficient promptitude to cut off their retreat, it is highly probable that few of them would have made their escape. Lally adduces the testimony of the officers, who commanded under Bussy, that they joined in urging him to intercept the English detachment; but that he, alleging the want of cannon, absolutely refused. Mr. Orme says that he justified himself by the delay of Lally’s orders, without which it was contrary to his duty to advance. To gain however a great advantage at a critical moment, a zealous officer will adventure somewhat, under some deficiency both of cannon and of orders. The loss on the part of the English was not less than 200 soldiers, and six officers. Edition: current; Page: [210] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. In mere numbers that of the enemy was nearly the same.

The capture of the black town had furnished to Lally for the demands of the service only 80,000 livres, lent to him by an Armenian merchant, whom he had saved from plunder; and to these were added 12,000 livres furnished by an Hindu partizan. With these funds he began to construct his batteries, in the intention, as he repeats, of only bombarding the place, when intelligence was brought, on the 24th of December, that a frigate from the islands had arrived at Pondicherry with a million of livres. It was this circumstance, he says, which now determined him to convert the bombardment into a siege.

With only two engineers, and three artillery officers, excepting the few who belonged to the Company, all deficient both in knowledge and enterprise; with officers in general dissatisfied and ill-disposed, with only the common men on whom he could depend, and of whose alacrity he never had reason to complain, he carried on the siege with a vigour and activity which commanded the respect even of the besieged, though they were little acquainted with the difficulties under which he toiled. By means of the supplies which had plentifully arrived from Bengal, and the time which the Presidency had enjoyed to make preparation for the siege, the English were supplied with an abundance both of money and of stores. The resolution to defend themselves to the utmost extremity, which has seldom been shared more universally and cordially by any body of men, inspired them with incessant vigilance and activity. The industry of the enemy was perpetually counteracted by a similar industry on the part of their opponents. No sooner had those without erected a work, Edition: current; Page: [211] than the most active, and enterprising, and oftenbook iv. Chap. 4. 1758. skilful exertions were made from within to destroy it. Whatever ingenuity the enemy employed in devising measures of attack was speedily discovered by the keen and watchful eyes of the defenders. A breach, in spite of all those exertions, was however effected; and the mind of Lally was intensely engaged with preparations for the assault; when he found the officers of his army altogether indisposed to second his ardour. Mr. Orme declares his opinion that their objections were founded on real and prudential considerations, and that an attempt to storm the place would have been attended with repulse and disaster. Lally, however, says that the most odious intrigues were carried on in the army, and groundless apprehensions were propagated, to shake the resolution of the soldiers, and prevent the execution of the plan: that the situation of the General was thus rendered critical in the highest degree, and the chance of success exceedingly diminished; yet he still adhered to his design, and only waited for the setting of the moon, which in India sheds a light not much feebler than that of a winter sun, on the very day on which an English fleet of six sail arrived at Madras.

The fleet under Admiral Pococke, which had left Madras on the 11th of October, had arrived at Bombay on the 10th of December, where they found six of the Company’s ships, and two ships of the line, with 600 of the King’s troops on board. On the 31st of December the Company’s ships, with all the troops, sailed from Bombay, under the convoy of two frigates, and arrived on the 16th of February, at a critical moment, at Madras. “Words,” says Lally, “are inadequate to express the effect which the appearance Edition: current; Page: [212] book iv. Chap. 4. 1758. of them produced. The officer who commanded in the trenches deemed it even inexpedient to wait for the landing of the enemy, and two hours before receiving orders retired from his post.”

Lally was now constrained to abandon the siege. The officers and soldiers had been on no more than half pay during the first six weeks of the expedition, and entirely destitute of pay during the remaining three. The expenses of the siege, and the half pay, had consumed, during the first month, the million of livres which had arrived from the islands. The officers were on the allowance of the soldiers. The subsistence of the army for the last fifteen days had depended almost entirely upon some rice and butter, captured in two small vessels from Bengal. A very small quantity of gunpowder remained in the camp; and not a larger at Pondicherry. The bombs were wholly consumed three weeks before. The Sepoys deserted for want of pay, and the European cavalry threatened every hour to go over to the enemy. The defence of Pondicherry rested upon 300 invalids; and, within twelve hours, the English, with their reinforcements, might land and take possession of the place. On the night of the 17th the French army decamped from Madras; and the English made no efforts to molest their retreat.1

We may judge of the feelings, towards one another, of Lally and his countrymen, when he tells us, that the retreat of the army from Madras produced Edition: current; Page: [213] at Pondicherry the strongest demonstrations of joy,book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. and was celebrated by his enemies as an occasion of triumph.

The Nabob, Mahomed Ali, who had retreated into Madras when the French regained the ascendancy in the province, had been removed during the siege to Trichinopoly; and of his two refractory brothers Abdul Wahab and Nejeeb Oolla, who had taken the side of the French, the former returned to the English connexion, before the siege of Madras, and was joined to the party of the English kept in the field to act upon the enemy’s communications; the latter, induced by the event of the siege to anticipate success to the party which he had renounced, murdered all the French in his service, except a single officer, and professed himself a partizan of the English.

The English now elevated their hopes to the recovery of the province, but found their operations cramped by the narrowness of their funds. It was the 6th of March before the army, consisting of 1156 Europeans, rank and file, 1570 Sepoys, 1120 collieries (irregular troops of the southern Polygars,) and 1956 horse, was in a condition to move. The countries of Madura and Tinivelly at the same time recalled the attention of the Presidency. No sooner had the troops been withdrawn for the defence of Madras, than the refractory chiefs began their encroachments. Only the towns of Madura and Palam-Cotah, preserved by the steadiness of the Sepoys in garrison, remained in obedience to the English. And Mahomed Issoof, who had commanded with reputation the Company’s native troops, in their former attempts in that country, was now sent back, in the quality of renter, with a body of Sepoys, for the recovery of the country.

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book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. The French army had marched from Madras in the direction of Conjeveram; and there the French and English armies remained in sight of one another, without any operation of importance, for two and twenty days. The English, at the end of this time, made a march upon Wandewash; took possession of the town, and began to open ground against the fort. This brought the French army to defend it; upon which the English decamped in the night; by a forced march of two days arrived at Conjeveram, and took it by assault. The two armies continued to watch one another till the 28th of May, when they both went into cantonments.

On the 28th of April, Admiral Pococke had arrived upon the coast from Bombay, but had continued to windward of Pondicherry, and principally at Negapatnam, with a view to intercept the French squadron, which was expected from the isles. And near the end of June, three of the usual ships arrived at Madras, with 100 recruits of the Company, and intelligence that Lieutenant Colonel Coote, with 1000 of the King’s troops, might be shortly expected on the coast. The satisfaction, however, which this good fortune was calculated to excite, was grievously damped by an attendant piece of advice; that the Court of Directors, “dazzled,” as Mr. Orme expresses it, “by representations of the great wealth acquired by the conquest of Bengal, and of its sufficiency to supply their other presidencies, had determined to send no more treasure to any of them till the year 1760.” From the first moment of Indian conquests to a late period in their history, were the Company led into blunders, and were but too successful in misleading the councils of the nation, by their absurd estimates of the pecuniary value of Indian dominion. Edition: current; Page: [215] This intelligence was so disastrous, andbook iv. Chap. 4. 1759. full of discouragement, “that for every reason,” says Mr. Orme, “it was kept within the Council.”

Towards the end of July five of the expected ships, with the first division of the troops, arrived at Negapatnam, and having given out the provisions and stores which they had brought for the use of the squadron, sailed for Madras. On the 20th of August the squadron left Negapatnam, and sailed for Trincomalee in the island of Ceylon, where the French fleet was descried, on the 2d of September. D’Aché had been reinforced by the arrival of three ships from France; but as the resources of the islands were inadequate to refit and supply the fleet, not only much time had been lost, but he had been compelled to return to sea, in a state of very imperfect equipment. It was the 10th of September before the state of the winds and the weather permitted the encounter of the fleets. The English having the wind, came down a-breast, while the French, who were farthest out at sea, lay-to in line of battle a-head. The English squadron consisted of nine ships of the line, a frigate, the Queensborough, two of the Company’s ships, and a fire ship. The French were eleven sail of the line, and three frigates; and their total battery exceeded that of the English by 174 guns, and consequently, by eighty-seven in action. The engagement lasted searcely two hours, when the greater part of the French ships having quitted the line, the whole fleet sailed away, and, in a few minutes were beyond the reach of the English shot. Such was the indecisive character of naval actions in general, at the period to which we now refer. The English, though they had clearly the victory, had also the principal share of the loss. In point of men the injury was supposed to be nearly equal on both sides; but all Edition: current; Page: [216] book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. the French ships, one only excepted, carried topsails when they retired from the fight; none of the English ships, after the engagement, could set half their sails, and two were obliged to be taken in tow. The English fleet anchored the next day in the road of Negapatnam, and the French in four days arrived at Pondicherry.

As nothing could exceed the distress of the French in respect to supplies; so their hopes were ardent of relief by the arrival of the ships. The fort of Covrepawk had surrendered upon summons, to a detachment of the English army, in the beginning of July. In the beginning of August, Lally’s own regiment mutinied for want of pay, and, by their example, subverted the discipline of the whole army. The confidence of the English had mounted so high, that Major Brereton, who commanded the troops, and who burned for an opportunity of performing some exploit before the arrival of Coote, persuaded the Presidency to sanction an attempt for the reduction of Wandewash. After waiting till the roads were passable, the whole army marched from Conjeveram on the 26th of September. The principal part of the French forces were concentrated at Wandewash; and the enterprize was unsuccessful. The English made a spirited attack on the night of the 29th, but were resisted with great gallantry, and finally repulsed with a loss of more than 200 men. In this action, a detachment of grenadiers were very expeditiously quitting the vicinity of danger; when their officer, instead of calling after them, an imprudence which would, in all probability, have converted their retreat into a flight, ran till he got before them, and then, turning suddenly round, said, “Halt,” as giving the ordinary word of command. The habit of discipline prevailed. The men stopped, formed according to Edition: current; Page: [217] orders, and marched back into the scene of iv. Chap. 4. 1759. But this success of the French, however brilliant, neither clothed the men, nor provided them with provisions. Neither the English nor the French had ever been able to draw from the districts which they held in the country sufficient funds to defray the expense of the troops, employed in conquering and defending them. A considerable portion of those districts, which the French had been able to seize upon the arrival of Lally, the English had again recovered. The Government of Pondicherry, left almost wholly destitute of supplies from Europe, was utterly exhausted, first, by the long and desperate struggle in which they had been engaged; and secondly, (for the truth must not be disguised, though the complaints of Lally have long been treated with ridicule) by the misapplication of the public funds: a calamity, of which the violent passion of individuals for private wealth was a copious and perennial fountain. Lally had, from his first arrival, been struggling on the borders of despair, with wants which it was altogether out of his power to supply. The English had received, or were about to receive, the most important accession to their power. And nothing but the fleet, which had now arrived, and the supplies which it might have brought, could enable him much longer to contend with the difficulties which environed him.

M. d’Aché had brought, for the use of the colony, 16,000l. in dollars, with a quantity of diamonds, valued at 17,000l., which had been taken in an English East Indiaman; and, having landed these effects, together with 180 men, he declared his resolution of sailing again immediately for the islands. Nothing could exceed the surprise and consternation of the colony upon this unexpected and alarming intelligence. Edition: current; Page: [218] book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. Even those who were the most indifferent to the success of affairs, when the reputation of Lally, and the interest of their country alone were at stake, now began to tremble, when the very existence of the colony, and their interests along with it, were threatened with inevitable destruction. All the principal inhabitants, civil and military, assembled at the Governor’s house, and formed themselves into a national council. A vehement protest was signed against the departure of the fleet. But the resolution of the Admiral was inflexible; and he could only be induced to leave 400 Caffres, who served in the fleet, and 500 Europeans, partly marines and partly sailors.

At the same time the departure of Bussy had been attended, in the dominions of the Subahdar, with a rapid succession of events, ruinous to the interests of the French. An expedition from Bengal, fitted out by the English against the Northern Circars, those important districts of which Bussy had obtained the dominion from Salabut Jung, had been attended with the most brilliant success; had not only driven the French entirely out of the country, but had compelled the Subahdar to solicit a connexion with the English. Nizam Ali, whose audacious and aspiring character rendered him extremely dangerous to the feeble resources and feeble mind of his brother, had returned from the flight, to which he had been urged by the spirit and address of Bussy, at the head of a considerable army; and compelled the Subahdar to replace him in that commanding situation, from which he had recently been driven. Bassalut Jung, the second of the three brothers, who anticipated the revolution which the victorious return of Nizam Ali portended, promised himself important advantages from the assistance of the French, in the changes Edition: current; Page: [219] which he expected to ensue; and dispatched a letterbook iv. Chap. 4. 1759. to Lally, in which he told him he was coming to throw himself into his arms.1 Bussy urged in strong terms the policy of declaring Bassalut Jung Nahob of Carnatic. This was opposed by the step which had been recently taken by Lally, of making this declaration, with much ceremony and pomp, in favour of the son of Chunda Saheb. It was, however, agreed that a body of troops, under the command of Bussy, should be sent to join Bassalut Jung, who hovered upon the borders of Carnatic. He had left Hyderabad, under pretence of regulating the affairs of his government of Adoni; but he soon directed his march toward the south-east, supporting his army by levying contributions as he proceeded, and approached Nelore in the month of July.

M. Bussy arrived at Wandewash the very day after the repulse of the English; and, having placed himself at the head of the detachment, which was destined to accompany him to the camp of Bassalut Jung, proceeded on his march. But the French army, which had long been enduring extraordinary privations, now broke out into the most alarming disorders. More than a year’s pay was due to them; they were destitute of clothing, and many times ill supplied with provisions. The opinion was disseminated, that a much larger sum than was pretended had been left by the fleet; and that the General was acquiring immense wealth by dilapidation. On the 16th of October the whole army was in mutiny, and the officers deprived of all authority. Intelligence of these disastrous events overtook Bussy at Arcot, and induced him to suspend his march. The troops were at last restored to obedience by the payment of six Edition: current; Page: [220] book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. months of their arrears, and a complete amnesty. But the delays which had intervened had exhausted the resources which enabled Bassalut Jung to remain on the borders of Carnatic: He was at the same time solicited, by a promised enlargement of his territory, to join with Nizam Ali, who dreaded the reappearance of M. Bussy in the territories of the Subahdar: His ardour for the French alliance was cooled by the intelligence of the disorders among their troops: He was alarmed by the presence of an English corps of observation, which had been sent to act upon his rear, if he should advance into the province: And on the 19th of October he struck off across the hills into the district of Kurpa; where Bussy, who followed him by a different route, arrived on the 10th of November. Bassalut Jung offered to accompany the French detachment to Arcot, provided he was recognized by the French as sovereign of Carnatic, and furnished with four lacks of rupees for the payment of his troops. The French were not without objections to the first of these conditions, and altogether incapable of fulfilling the last. The negotiation, therefore, proved fruitless; and Bussy returned; with an addition, however, of 400 good horse, whom he had found the means of attaching to his service.1

Urged by the necessity of making efforts for the supply, and even subsistence, of the army, Lally, shortly after the reconciliation of his troops, thought proper to divide his army into two parts; with the one of which he proposed to collect the rents of the southern; with the other, stationed at Wandewash Edition: current; Page: [221] and Arcot, to protect what belonged to the Frenchbook iv. Chap. 4. 1759. in the northern districts. De Leyrit and the Council of Pondicherry represented the danger, which could not be concealed from Lally himself, of dividing the army in the presence of a superior enemy; but they pointed out no means by which it was possible to preserve it together. On the 20th of November, the division which marched to the south took possession of the rich island of Seringham, which the garrison at Trichinopoly was too feeble to defend.

The English took the field. Colonel Coote, with the last division of his regiment, had arrived on the 27th of October; and on the 21st of November proceeded to Conjeveram, where the troops were cantoned for the rains. The first of his acts was to assemble a Council of the principal officers; that he might obtain from them a knowledge of facts, and profit by their observations. To divide the attention of the enemy, he began, with movements which indicated an attack upon Arcot; but his real intention was to gain possession of Wandewash; which was attacked and carried on the 29th. The inaction of the French army, at Chittapet, which, probably deeming itself too weak, made no effort for the protection of Wandewash, induced the English to march immediately to Carangoly, which made a feeble resistance, and surrendered on the 10th of December.

The loss of Arcot, and with it the command of all the northern districts of the province, now presented itself to the eyes of Lally as threatened to an alarming degree. The greater part of the troops was hastily recalled from Seringham; Bussy at the same time arrived from his expedition to the camp of Bassalut Jung; a Mahratta chief and his body of horse were taken into pay; and Lally Edition: current; Page: [222] book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. was eager to strike a blow for the recovery of Wandewash.

Bussy, on the other hand, was of opinion, as the French were superior in cavalry, which would render it dangerous for the English to hazard a battle, except in circumstances of advantage, that they should avail themselves of this superiority, by acting upon the communications of the English, which would soon compel them either to fight at a disadvantage, or retire for subsistence to Madras: whereas if they besieged Wandewash, the English would have two important advantages; one, that of fighting with only a part of the French army, while another part was engaged in the siege; the other, that of choosing the advantage of the ground, from the obligation of the French to cover the besiegers.

At the same time the motives of Lally were far from groundless. The mental state of the soldiers required some brilliant exploit to raise them to the temper of animated action. He was deprived of all means of keeping the army for any considerable time in the field. By seizing the English magazines, he counted upon retarding for several days their march to the relief of Wandewash; and as the English had breached the fort and taken it in forty-eight hours, he counted, and not unreasonably, upon rendering himself master of the place before the English could arrive.

Amusing the English, by some artful movements, he surprized and took Conjeveram, which he concluded was the place of the English magazines. The fact however was, that the English had no magazines, but were dependant on the purchases of the day, and already straitened for supplies by the extensive excursions of his Mahratta horse. Lally repaired to Wandewash; but several days elapsed before Edition: current; Page: [223] his battery was ready to play; and in the meanbook iv. Chap. 4. 1759. time the English approached. Lally throws the blame upon his engineer; whom he ordered to batter in breach with three cannon upon one of the towers of the fort, which was only protected by the fire of a single piece, and which, five weeks before, the English with inferior means had breached in forty-eight hours. But the engineers insisted upon erecting a battery in exact conformity with the rules of the schools; and the soldiers in derision asked if they were going to attack the fortifications of Luxemburgh.1

The project of Lally having in this manner failed, now was the time, at any rate, to have profited by the judicious advice of Bussy, and, abandoning the siege, to have made war upon the English means of supply. But Lally, who was aware that his character had fallen low with the army, could not brook the imputation of retreating before his enemy; he prepared, therefore, to meet the attack of the English army, and to continue his operations. It was the policy of the English commander to leave the enemy at work, till they were ready to assault the fort, when he was sure of attacking separately, at his choice, either the troops engaged in the siege, or those who covered them. His movements were judiciously made; and on the morning of the 22d, he was on the ground before the French camp, his army drawn up in two lines in a most advantageous position, where he had a free communication with the fort, and one of his flanks protected by its fire. The French occupied the ground in front of their line, where the field of Edition: current; Page: [224] book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. battle had previously been marked out. The English army consisted of 1900 Europeans, of whom eighty were cavalry, 2100 Sepoys, 1250 black horse, and twenty-six field-pieces. The French, including 300 marines and sailors from the squadron, consisted of 2,250 Europeans, and 1,300 Sepoys; for the Mahrattas kept aloof at the distance of some miles from the field of battle.1 Lally, and apparently with reason, complains that his troops did their duty ill in the action. While the English army were advancing, Lally, who imagined he perceived some wavering on their left, occasioned by the fire of his artillery, though Mr. Orme says they had not yet come within cannon shot, put himself at the head of the cavalry, to profit by the favourable moment. The cavalry refused to march. The General suspended the Commanding Officer, and ordered the second Captain to take the command. He, also, disobeyed. Lally addressed himself to the men; and a Cornet crying out that it was a shame to desert their General in the day of battle, the officer who commanded on the left offered to put the troop in motion. They had not advanced many paces, when a single cannon-shot, says Lally, the rapid firing of two pieces, says Mr. Orme, put them to flight, and they gallopped off, leaving him absolutely Edition: current; Page: [225] alone upon the plain.1 Lally returned to the infantry,book iv. Chap. 4. 1759. and brought up his line. The French fired rashly, and ineffectually, both with artillery and musketry; the English leader, who was cool, and perfectly obeyed, made his men reserve their fire, till sure of its execution. The regiment that occupied the enemy’s right, when the distance between them and the English was now inconsiderable, threw themselves into column, and rushed forward at a rapid pace. Coote, directing the opposite regiment to be firm, and preserve their fire, gave the command when the enemy were at fifty yards distance. The fire fell heavy, both on their front and flanks. Yet it stopped not the course of the column; and in an instant the two regiments were mingled at the push of the bayonet. The weight of the column bore down what was opposed to it; but as it had been left unprotected by the flight of the cavalry, posted on its right, its flanks were completely exposed, and in a few moments the ground was covered with the slain, when it broke, and fled in disorder to the camp. Almost at the same time a tumbril blew up in the redoubt in front of the enemy’s left; and during the confusion which this accident produced, the English took possession of the post. No part of the French line continued firm much longer. When ordered to advance, the sepoys absolutely refused. Bussy, who put himself at the head of one of the regiments, to lead them to the push of the bayonet, as the only chance of restoring the battle, had his horse wounded under him, was abandoned by the troops, and taken prisoner. Lally frankly acknowledges, that his cavalry, who had behaved so ill at the beginning of the action, protected Edition: current; Page: [226] book iv. Chap. 4. 1760. his retreat with great gallantry: He was thus enabled to wait for the junction of the detachment at Wandewash, and to carry off his light baggage and the wounded. The black cavalry of the English were too timid, and the European too feeble in numbers, to impede the retreat.

Lally retired to Chittapet, from which, without strengthening the garrison, he proceeded the following day towards Gingee. The enterprise next resolved on by Colonel Coote was the reduction of Arcot, toward which, the day after the battle, he sent forward a body of troops. Intelligence however of the defenceless state in which the enemy had left Chittapet, gave him hopes of making that a previous acquisition. In two days the English effected a breach, and the garrison surrendered. On the 1st of February, Coote arrived at Arcot. On the 5th three batteries opened on the town. On the night of the 6th the army began their approaches. Although operations were retarded for want of ammunition, on the morning of the 9th the sap was carried near the foot of the glacis; and by noon, two breaches, but far from practicable, were effected; when, to the great surprise of the English, a flag of truce appeared, and the place was surrendered. Not three men had been lost to the garrison, and they might have held out ten days longer, before the assault by storm could have been risked.

From Gingee Lally withdrew the French troops to Valdore, both to prevent the English from taking post between them and Pondicherry, and to protect the districts to the south, from which alone provisions could be obtained. The difficulties of Lally, which had so long been great, were now approaching to extremity. The army was absolutely without equipments, stores, and provisions, and he was destitute of Edition: current; Page: [227] resources to supply them. He repaired to Pondicherrybook iv. Chap. 4. 1760. to demand assistance, which he would not believe that the governor and council were unable to afford. He represented them as embezzlers and peculators; and there was no imputation of folly, of cowardice, or of dishonesty, which was spared against him in return.

To proceed with the reduction of the secondary forts which the enemy held in different parts of the province; to straiten Pondicherry, and, if sufficient force should not arrive from France for its relief, to undertake the reduction of that important place, was the plan of operations which the English embraced.1 The country between Alamparva and Pondicherry was plundered and burnt; Timery surrendered on the 1st of February; Devi-Cotah was evacuated about the same time: on the 29th of the same month Trinomalee surrendered; the fort of Permacoil was taken after some resistance in the beginning of March; and Alamparva on the 12th. Carical now remained the only station on the coast, except Pondicherry, in possession of the French; and of this it was important to deprive them, before the shortly expected return of the fleet. A large armament was sent from Madras, and the officer who commanded at Trichinopoly was ordered to march to Carical with all the force which could be spared from Edition: current; Page: [228] book iv. Chap. 4. 1760. the garrison. Lally endeavoured to send a strong detachment to its relief; but the place made a miserable defence, and yielded on the 5th of April before assistance could arrive. On the 15th of that month Valdore surrendered after a feeble resistance; as did Chillambaram on the 20th. Cuddalore was taken about the same time, and several strong attempts by the enemy to regain it were successfully resisted.

By the 1st of May the French army was confined to the bounds of Pondicherry, and the English encamped within four miles of the town; the English powerfully reinforced from England, and elated with remembrance of the past, as well as hope for the future; their antagonists abandoned, by neglect at home, to insuperable difficulties; and looking with eager eyes to the fleet, which never arrived. On the part of the English, Admiral Cornish had reached the coast with six ships of the line, before the end of February: On the 25th of April Admiral Stevens, who now commanded in room of Pococke, arrived with four ships of the line; and on the 23d of May came another ship of the line, with three companies of the royal artillery on board.

As the last remaining chance of prolonging the struggle for the preservation of the French colony, Lally turned his eyes towards the natives; and fixed upon the Mysoreans as the power most capable of rendering him the assistance which he required. The adventurer Hyder Ali was now at the head of a formidable army, and, though not as yet without powerful opponents, had nearly at his disposal the resources of Mysore. Negotiation was performed; and an agreement was concluded. On the one hand the Mysorean chief undertook to supply a certain quantity of bullocks for the provision of Pondicherry, and Edition: current; Page: [229] to join the French with 3,000 select horse, and 5,000book iv. Chap. 4. 1760. Sepoys. On the other hand the French consented to give the Mysoreans immediate possession of the fort of Thiagar, a most important station, near two of the principal passes into Carnatic, at an easy distance from Baramhal, and about fifty miles E. S. E. from Pondicherry. Even Madura and Tinivelly were said to be promised, if by aid of such valuable allies the war in Carnatic were brought to a favourable conclusion. This resource proved of little importance to the French. The Mysoreans (who routed however a detachment of the English army sent to interrupt their march) were soon discouraged by what they beheld of the condition of the French; and soon recalled by an emergency which deeply affected Hyder at home. They remained in the vicinity of Pondicherry about four weeks, during which time Lally had found it impossible to draw from them any material service; and departing in the night without his knowledge they marched back to Mysore. A few days before their departure six of the English Company’s ships arrived at Madras with king’s troops to the amount of 600 men: On the 2d of September, one month later, several other ships of the Company arrived, and along with them three ships of war, and a portion of a Highland regiment of the King, increasing the fleet in India to the amount of seventeen sail of the line.

Lally had now, and it is no ordinary praise, during almost eight months since the total discomfiture of his army at Wandewash, imposed upon the English so much respect, as deterred them from the siege of Pondicherry; and notwithstanding the desperate state of his resources, found means to supply the fort, which had been totally destitute of provisions, with a stock sufficient to maintain the garrison for Edition: current; Page: [230] book iv. Chap. 4. 1760. several months. And he still resolved to strike a blow which might impress them with an opinion that he was capable of offensive operations of no inconsiderable magnitude. He formed a plan, which has been allowed to indicate both judgment and sagacity, for attacking the English camp by surprise in four places on the night of the 4th of September. But one of the four divisions, into which his army was formed for the execution of the enterprise, fell behind its time, and disconcerted the operations of the remainder.

A circumstance now occurred in the English army, which affords another proof (we shall find abundance of them as we proceed) of the impossibility of governing any country well from the distance of half the circumference of the globe. No government, which had any regard to the maxims either of justice or of prudence, would deprive of his authority a commander, who, like Colonel Coote, had brought a great and arduous service to the verge of completion, at the very moment when, without a chance of failure, he was about to strike the decisive blow which would give to his preceding operations the principal part of their splendour and renown. Yet the East India Company, without intending so reprehensible a conduct, and from their unavoidable ignorance of what after many months was to be the state of affairs, had sent out a commission, with the fleet just arrived, for Major Monson the second in command, to supersede Coote who was destined for Bengal. Monson was indeed directed to make no use of his commission while Coote remained upon the coast; but the spirit of Coote would not permit him to make any advanvantage of this indulgence; and had he been less a man of sense and temper, had he been more governed by that boyish sensibility to injury, which among vulgar Edition: current; Page: [231] people passes for honour, this imprudent step of thebook iv. Chap. 4. 1760. Company would have been attended with the most serious consequences. When Coote was to proceed to Bengal it was the destination of his regiment to proceed along with him. The Council of Madras were thrown into the greatest alarm. Monson declared that if the regiment were removed he would not undertake the siege of Pondicherry. Coote consented that his regiment should remain, to encircle the brows of another with laurels which belonged to his own.

Around Pondicherry, like many other towns in India, ran a hedge of the strong prickly shrubs of the country, sufficiently strong to repel the sudden incursions of the irregular cavalry of the country. As the position of the French was contrived to give it whatsoever protection this rampart could yield, the first operation of Monson was intended to deprive them of that advantage. The attack was indeed successful; but through mismanagement on the part of some of the officers, the plan was badly executed; and considerable loss was incurred. Among the rest, Monson himself was wounded, and rendered incapable for a time of acting in the field. Colonel Coote had not yet sailed for Bengal; and Monson and the Council joined in requesting him to resume the command. He returned to the camp on the 20th of September, and actively proceeded with the reduction of the outposts. When the rains began, in the beginning of October, the camp was removed to an elevated ground at some distance from the town; and during the rains no efforts were made, except those on the part of the French, to introduce provisions, and those on the part of the English, to frustrate their attempts. About the beginning of December, the rains drawing to a close, preparations Edition: current; Page: [232] book iv. Chap. 4. 1761. were made for improving the blockade into more expeditious methods of reduction. Several batteries were prepared, which played on the town from the 8th to the 30th of December. On that day a dreadful storm arose, which stranded three of the English ships in the road, and seriously damaged the greater part of the fleet; while it tore up the tents of the soldiers, and threw the camp into the utmost confusion. Fortunately the inundation produced by the storm rendered it impracticable for the enemy to move their artillery, nor could the troops carry their own ammunition dry. The greatest diligence was exerted in restoring the works. An attempt failed, which was made on the 5th of January, to obtain possession of a redoubt still retained by the enemy. But on the 12th of January the trenches were opened. The enemy were now reduced to the last stage of privation. Lally himself was sick; worn out with vexation and fatigue. The dissensions which raged within the fort had deprived him of almost all authority: A very feeble resistance was therefore made to the progress of the English works. The provisions, which such arduous efforts had been required to introduce into the fort, had been managed without economy; the importunities of Lally to force away the black inhabitants, who consumed the stores of the place with so much rapidity, were resisted, till matters were approaching to the last extremity. While provisions for some days yet remained, Lally urged the Council, since a capitulation must regard the civil as well as the military affairs of the colony, to concert general measures for obtaining the most favourable terms; and procured nothing but chicanery in return. The device of the Council was to preserve to themselves, if possible, the appearance of having had no share in the unpopular transaction of Edition: current; Page: [233] surrender, and the advantage, dear to their resentments,book iv. Chap. 4. 1761. of throwing with all its weight the blame upon Lally. When at last not two days’ provisions remained in the magazines, Lally informed them that he was reduced to the necessity of delivering up the military possession of the place; for the civil affairs it rested with them to make what provision was in their power. Towards the close of day on the 14th, a commissioner from Lally, together with a deputation from the Council, approached the English camp. The enemy claimed the benefit of a cartel which had been concluded between the two crowns, and which they represented as precluding them from proposing any capitulation for the town of Pondicherry. As a dispute respecting that cartel remained still undecided, Coote refused to be guided by it, or to accept any other terms than those of an unconditional surrender. Their compliance, as he concluded with sufficient assurance, the necessity of their affairs rendered wholly indispensable.

On the fourth day after the surrender, there arose between the English civil and military authorities a dispute, which, had the military been as daring as the civil, might have been attended with the most serious consequences. Mr. Pigot, the Governor of Madras, made a formal demand, that Pondicherry should be given up to the Presidency, as the property of the East India Company. Coote assembled a council of war, consisting of the chief officers, both of the fleet and the army, who were of opinion that the place ought to be held for the disposal of the King. Pigot, with a hardihood which subdued them; though, in a man without arms in his hands, toward men on whose arms he totally depended, it might have been a hardihood attended with risk; declared that, unless Pondicherry were given up to Edition: current; Page: [234] book iv. Chap. 4. 1761. the Presidency, he would furnish no money for the subsistence of the King’s troops or the French prisoners. Upon this intimation the military authorities submitted.

Two places in Carnatic, Thiagar, and the strong fort of Gingee, still remained in possession of the French. The garrisons, however, who saw no hope of relief, made but a feeble resistance; and on the 5th of April Gingee surrendered, after which the French had not a single military post in India: for even Mahé and its dependencies, on the Malabar coast, had been attacked and reduced by a body of troops which the fleet landed in the month of January. The council of Madras lost no time in levelling the town and fortifications of Pondicherry with the ground.

Dreadful was the fate which awaited the unfortunate Lally, and important are the lessons which it reads. By the feeble measures of a weak and defective government, a series of disasters, during some preceding years, had fallen upon France; and a strong sentiment of disapprobation prevailed in the nation against the hands by which the machine of government was conducted. When the total loss of the boasted acquisitions of the nation in India was reported, the public discontent was fanned into a flame: and the ministry were far from easy with regard to the shock which it might communicate to the structure of their power. Any thing was to be done which might have the effect to avert the danger. Fortunately for them, a multitude of persons arrived from India, boiling with resentment against Lally, and pouring out the most bitter accusations. Fortunately for them, too, the public, swayed as usual by first appearances, and attaching the blame to the man who had the more immediate Edition: current; Page: [235] guidance of the affairs upon which ruin had come,book iv. Chap. 4. 1761. appeared abundantly disposed to overlook the ministry in their condemnation of Lally. The popular indignation was carefully cultivated; and by one of those acts of imposture and villany of which the history of ministries in all the countries of Europe affords no lack of instances, it was resolved to raise a screen between the ministry and popular hatred, by the cruel and disgraceful destruction of Lally. Upon his arrival in France, he was thrown into the Bastille; from the Bastille, as a place too honourable for him, he was removed to a common prison. An accusation, consisting of vague or frivolous imputations, was preferred against him. Nothing whatsoever was proved, except that his conduct did not come up to the very perfection of prudence and wisdom, and that it did display the greatest ardour in the service, the greatest disinterestedness, fidelity, and perseverance, with no common share of military talent, and of mental resources. The grand tribunal of the nation, the parliament of Paris, found no difficulty in seconding the wishes of the ministry, and the artificial cry of the day, by condemning him to an ignominious death. Lally, confident in his innocence, had never once anticipated the possibility of any other sentence than that of an honourable acquittal. When it was read to him in his dungeon, he was thrown into an agony of surprise and indignation; and taking up a pair of compasses, with which he had been sketching a chart of the Coromandel coast, he endeavoured to strike them to his heart; but his arm was held by a person that was near him. With indecent precipitation he was executed that very day. He was dragged through the streets of Paris in a dirty dung cart; and lest he should address the people, a gag was stuffed into his mouth, so large as to project beyond Edition: current; Page: [236] book iv. Chap. 4. 1761. his lips. Voltaire, who had already signalized his pen by some memorable interpositions in favour of justice and the oppressed, against French judges and their law, exerted himself to expose, in a clear light, the real circumstances of this horrid transaction; which Mr. Orme scruples not to call “a murder committed with the sword of justice.” It was the son of this very man, who under the name of Lally Tolendal, was a member of the Constituent Assembly, and by his eloquence and ardour in the cause of liberty, contributed to crumble into dust a monarchy, under which acts of this atrocious description were so liable to happen. Thus had the French East India Company, within a few years, destroyed three, the only eminent men who had ever been placed at the head of their affairs in India, Labourdonnais, Dupleix, and Lally. It did not long survive this last display of its imbecility and injustice.1

Edition: current; Page: [237]


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 Edition: current; Page: [238] 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 Edition: current; Page: [239] 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 Edition: current; Page: [240] 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 Edition: current; Page: [241] 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.

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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 Edition: current; Page: [243] 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 Edition: current; Page: [244] 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

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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 Edition: current; Page: [246] 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 Edition: current; Page: [247] 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; Edition: current; Page: [248] 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 Edition: current; Page: [249] 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 Edition: current; Page: [250] 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. Edition: current; Page: [251] 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. Edition: current; Page: [252] 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 Edition: current; Page: [253] 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 Edition: current; Page: [254] 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 Edition: current; Page: [255] 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 Edition: current; Page: [256] 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 Edition: current; Page: [257] 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. Edition: current; Page: [258] 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 Edition: current; Page: [259] 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 Edition: current; Page: [260] 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 Edition: current; Page: [261] 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, Edition: current; Page: [262] 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 Edition: current; Page: [263] 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 Edition: current; Page: [264] 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 Edition: current; Page: [265] 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 Edition: current; Page: [266] 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 Edition: current; Page: [267] 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

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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 Edition: current; Page: [269] 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 Edition: current; Page: [270] 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, Edition: current; Page: [271] 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 Edition: current; Page: [272] 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 Edition: current; Page: [273] 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

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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 Edition: current; Page: [275] 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 Edition: current; Page: [276] 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

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At this time the Zemindars of Beerboom, and Burdwan,book iv. Chap. 5. 1761. two important districts of Bengal, not far from Edition: current; Page: [278] 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 Edition: current; Page: [279] 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 Edition: current; Page: [280] 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 Edition: current; Page: [281] 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 Edition: current; Page: [282] 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 Edition: current; Page: [283] 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 Edition: current; Page: [284] 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 Edition: current; Page: [285] 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,
Robert Clive,
J. Z. Holwell,
Wm. B. Sumner,
W. M’Guire.”

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 Edition: current; Page: [286] 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 Edition: current; Page: [287] 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, Edition: current; Page: [288] 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 Edition: current; Page: [289] 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 Edition: current; Page: [290] 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 Edition: current; Page: [291] 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, Edition: current; Page: [292] 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

Edition: current; Page: [293]

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 Edition: current; Page: [294] 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 Edition: current; Page: [295] 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, Edition: current; Page: [296] 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 Edition: current; Page: [297] 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 Edition: current; Page: [298] 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, Edition: current; Page: [299] 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 Edition: current; Page: [300] 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

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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 Edition: current; Page: [302] 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 Edition: current; Page: [303] 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 Edition: current; Page: [304] 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 Edition: current; Page: [305] 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 Edition: current; Page: [306] 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 Edition: current; Page: [307] 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 Edition: current; Page: [308] 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 Edition: current; Page: [309] 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. Edition: current; Page: [310] 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 Edition: current; Page: [311] 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 Edition: current; Page: [312] 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 Edition: current; Page: [313] 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. Edition: current; Page: [314] 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 Edition: current; Page: [315] hospitality and honour towards his wretched 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 Edition: current; Page: [316] 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 Edition: current; Page: [317] 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 Edition: current; Page: [318] 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 Edition: current; Page: [319] 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 Edition: current; Page: [320] 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 Edition: current; Page: [321] 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, Edition: current; Page: [322] 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, Edition: current; Page: [323] 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 Edition: current; Page: [324] 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 Edition: current; Page: [325] 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.

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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.

Revolution in Favour of Meer Jaffier in 1757.
1 “It appears, by the Extract in the Appendix, No. 102, from the evidence given on the trial of Ram Churn before the Governor and Council in 1761, by Roy Dulip, who had the principal management in the distribution of the treasures of the deceased Nabob Serajah Dowla, upon the accession of Jaffier Ally Cawn—that Roy Dulip then received as a present from Colonel Clive one lack 25,000 rupees, being five per cent on 25 lacks. It does not appear that this evidence was taken on oath.”
Mr. Drake (Governor)280,00031,500
Colonel Clive as second in the Select Committee.......280,000
Ditto as Commander in Chief.........200,000
Ditto as a private donation............1600,0001
Mr. Watts as a Member of the Committee............240,000
Ditto as a private donation..............800,000
Major Kilpatrick...........240,00027,000
Ditto as a private donation............300,00033,750
Mr. Maningham............ 240,00027,000
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book iv. Chap. 5. 1765.

Mr. Becher........................240,00027,000
Six Members of Council one lack each........................600,00068,200
Mr. Walsh........................500,00056,250
Mr. Scrafton........................200,00022,500
Mr. Lushington........................50,0005,625
Captain Grant........................100,00011,250
Stipulation to the navy and army........................600,000
Memorandum, the sum of two lacks to Lord Clive, as Commander in Chief, must be deducted from this account, it being included in the donation to the army22,500
Lord Clive’s jaghire was likewise obtained at this period.
Revolution in Favour of Cossim, 1760.
Mr. Sumner........................28,000
Mr. Holwell........................270,00030,937
Mr. M’Gwire........................180,00020,625
Mr. Smyth........................134,00015,354
Major Yorke........................134,00015,354
General Caillaud........................200,00022,916
Mr. Vansittart, 1762, received seven lacks; but the two lacks to General Caillaud are included; so that only five lacks must be accounted for here........................500,00058,333
Mr. M’Gwire 5000 gold mohrs75,0008,750
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book iv. Chap. 5. 1765.

Revolution in Favour of Jaffier, 1763.
1 “It appears Colonel Mumo accepted a jaghire from the King, of 12,500l. a year, which he delivered to the Nabob Meer Jaffier, the circumstances of which are stated in the Journals of last year, 823.”
2 “These sums appear by evidence to have been received by the parties; but the Committee think proper to state, That Mahomed Reza Cawn intended a present of one lack of rupees to each of the four deputies sent to treat with Nudjum ul Dowla upon his father’s death; viz. Messieurs Johnstone, Leycester, Senior, and Middleton; but Mr. Middleton and Mr. Leycester affirm that they never accepted theirs, and Mr. Johnstone appears to have tendered his back to Mahomed Reza Cawn, who would not accept them. These bills (except Mr. Senior’s, for 50,000 rupees) appear to have been afterwards laid before the Select Committee, and no further evidence has been produced to your Committee concerning them. Mr. Senior received 50,000 rupees of his, and it is stated against him in this account.”
Stipulation to the army......2500,000291,666
Ditto to the navy...................1250,000145,833
Major Munro1 in 1764 received from Bulwan Sing........ 10,000
Ditto....... from the Nabob3,000
The officers belonging to Major Munro’s family from ditto..3,000
The army received from the merchants at Banaras......400,00046,666
Nudjum ul Dowla’s Accession, 1765.
Mr. Spencer.....................200,00023,333
Messieurs Playdell, Burdett, and Gray, one lack each.........300,00035,000
Mr. Johnstone....................237,00027,650
Mr. Leycester....................112,50013,125
Mr. Senior.......................172,50020,125
Mr. Middleton....................122,50014,291
Mr. Gideon Johnstone.............50,0005,833
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book iv. Chap. 5. 1765.

General Carnac received from Bulwansing in 1765.......80,0009,333
Ditto .......... from the King200,00023,333
Lord Clive received from the Begum in 1766..............500,00058,333
Restitution———Jaffier, 1757.
East India Company.................1,200,000
Cossim, 1760.
East India Company..................62,500
Jaffier, 1763.
East India Company...................375,000
Europeans, Natives, &c. ................600,000
Peace with Sujah Dowla.
East India Company..............5,000,000583,333
Total of Presents 2,169,665l.
Restitution, &c. 3,770,833l.
Total Amount, exclusive of Lord Clive’s jaghire...............5,940,498

Memorandum. The rupees are valued according to the rate of exchange of the Company’s bills at the different periods.”1

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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 Edition: current; Page: [331] 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 Edition: current; Page: [332] 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 Edition: current; Page: [333] 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.”

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Political State of Carnatic—Views of the Nabob on Governor of Velore, King of Tanjore, and Marawars—Treaty with Tanjore—Company’s Jaghire—War on Mahomed Issoof—Mound of the Cavery.

book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. By the final overthrow of the French in Carnatic, the British in that part of India had accomplished an object far greater than any to which, at the beginning of the contest, they had even elevated their hopes. To see Carnatic under the Government of a chief, who should have obligations to them for his elevation, and from whose gratitude they might expect privileges and favour, was the alluring prospect which had carried them into action. They not only now beheld the man, whose interest they had espoused, in possession of the government of the country, but they beheld him dependent upon themselves, and the whole kingdom of Carnatic subject to their absolute will.

It was the grand object of deliberation, and the grand practical difficulty, to settle in what proportion the powers and advantages should be divided between the nominal sovereign and the real one. Clear, complete, well-defined and unambiguous regulations, are naturally employed for the prevention of discordance, when the parties have wisdom, and are free from clandestine views. On the present occasion, according to the slovenly mode in which the business of government is usually transacted, few things were regulated Edition: current; Page: [335] by professed agreement; the final distributionbook iv. Chap. 6. 1763. was left to come out among the practical, that is, the fortuitous results of government; and of the two parties each inwardly resolved to appropriate as great a share of the good things as power and cunning would allow.

The English were not disposed to forget that upon them the whole burden of the war had devolved; that they alone had conquered and gained the country; that the assistance of Mahomed Ali had been of little or rather of no importance; and that even now he possessed not resources and talents sufficient to hold the government in his hands, unless they continued to support him.

On the other hand Mahomed Ali looked upon himself as invested with all the dignity and power of Nabob; and the absolute ruler of the country. During the whole progress of the dispute the English had represented themselves as contending only for him; had proclaimed that his rights were indisputable; and that their zeal for justice was the great motive which had engaged them so deeply in the war. The Nabob, therefore, hesitated not to consider himself the master; though a master owing great obligations to a servant who had meritoriously exerted himself in his cause.

The seeds of dissatisfaction between the rulers of Carnatic, abundantly sown in a fruitful soil, were multiplied by the penury of the country. The avidity, which made the English so long believe that every part of India abounded with riches, had filled them with hopes of a great stream of wealth, from the resources of Carnatic. And although they had already experienced how little was to be drawn, and with how great difficulty, from the districts which had come into their power; though they were also Edition: current; Page: [336] book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. aware how the country had been desolated by the ravages of war, they still expected it to yield a large supply to their treasury, and accused and complained of the Nabob when their expectations were not fulfilled.

The Nabob, who was the weakest party, and as such had the greatest occasion for the protection of well-defined regulations, had, before the surrender of the French in Pondicherry, presented a draught of the conditions to which it appeared to him expedient that the two parties should bind themselves. He offered to pay to the Company, in liquidation of the sums for which in the course of the war he had become responsible, twenty-eight lacs of rupees annually till the debts should be discharged; and three lacs of rupees annually to defray the expense of the garrison at Trichinopoly: Should Pondicherry be reduced, and the Company afford him an adequate force to extract from the renters and other tributaries of the country, the contributions which they owed, he would discharge his debt to the Company in one year: Should any of the districts between Nelore and Tinivelly, be taken or plundered by an enemy, a proportional deduction must take place, from the twenty-eight lacs which were assigned to the company: On the other side, the Nabob desired, that the Company would not countenance the disobedience of the local governors and administrators; that the English officers in the forts or garrisons should not interfere in the affairs of the country, or the disputes of the inhabitants; that the Nabob’s flag, instead of the Company’s, should be hoisted in the different forts; and that the Company should, when required, assist his officers in the collection of the revenue.

The President; whether he decided without reflection, Edition: current; Page: [337] or thought a promise which would keep thebook iv. Chap. 6. 1763. Nabob in good humour, and might be broken at any time, was an obligation of no importance, expressed by letter his assent to these conditions.1 In a short time however the President and Council presented to the Nabob a demand for fifty lacs of rupees. The Nabob, as this was a sum which he did not possess, endeavoured by all the means in his power to evade the contribution. Unable to resist the importunities of his allies, he was driven to his credit, which was very low; and under disadvantageous terms, which heaped upon him a load of debt, he raised by loan the money they exacted.

The expense of the war, the exhaustion of their own treasury, and their exaggerated conception of the riches of the country of which they had made him sovereign, rendered the President and Council by no means sparing in their requisitions upon the Nabob. It was stipulated that he should repay the whole expenses of the siege of Pondicherry. Even to this he agreed, upon condition of receiving all the stores which should be taken in the place. The servants of the Company, however, appropriated the stores to themselves; and they met the complaints of the Nabob, by promising to allow for them a certain sum in his account: in other words, they took for their own benefit what by their own contract belonged to the Nabob, and promised to make their masters pay him something, more or less, by way of compensation. Their masters, however, were on this occasion not less alive to their own interests than their servants had been to their’s; and no sooner heard of the sum which had been allowed to the Nabob in their books, than they ordered it to be Edition: current; Page: [338] book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. re-charged to his account; while their servants were left in undisturbed possession of the stores.1

From the mode in which the country was governed; by sub-division into local commands, with a military force and places of strength in the hands of every local commander, who withheld the revenue of his district, as often as he beheld a prospect of escaping punishment for his faults; it has frequently been seen what difficulties attended the realizing of revenue, whenever the government became disordered or weak. For a series of years, Carnatic had been subject to no regular government; the different antagonists had collected the revenues, and raised contributions, in those districts which had at any time fallen into their hands; and the commanders of districts and forts had eluded payment as often as it was in their power. From this wasted, and disordered country, with an insignificant army, and no resources for its augmentation, was Mahomed Ali required to find means for the support of his own government, for the gratification of his own taste and passions, and to satisfy the unbounded expectations of the English.

The hopes of the Nabob, who knew the poverty of the country, and with what severity every thing had been stripped from those among the district Governors who enjoyed not extraordinary means of defence, were chiefly fixed upon the supposed treasures of Mortiz Ali, Governor of Velore, the riches of Tanjore, and the two Marawars. The fort and district of Velore was an acknowledged portion of the Carnatic territory. Tanjore and the Marawars were separate principalities, which, as often as they were pressed by the strength of their neighbours, had, Edition: current; Page: [339] according to Indian practice, occasionally paid thembook iv. Chap. 6. 1763. tribute; as Bengal and Carnatic themselves had paid to the Mahrattas; but which had never been incorporated with the Mogul empire, nor regarded their dependence as more than casual, temporary, and unjust.

The strength, however, of the Nabob was altogether inadequate to the coercion of such powerful chiefs; and for the accomplishment of so important an object, he importuned the Presidency to join their forces to his. The state of the treasury at Madras, exhausted by the efforts of so tedious and expensive a war, rendered the English by no means desirous of engaging immediately in fresh adventures. And it was not without difficulty that in the summer of 1761 they were induced to lend their aid for the reduction of Velore. It resisted the exertions of the army for three months, and but ill repaid the conquerors by the treasure which it contained.

The conquest of Tanjore was an object of still greater promise. As it had not yet been ravaged by foreign armies, the ideas of Indian wealth, which so long had sparkled in the imaginations of men, were not altogether extinct. The country, though small, was undoubtedly fertile; the incompatibility between the existence of a rude government and people, and the production and accumulation of wealth, was not understood; and the expectations which had misled both the French and the English still maintained their sway in the mind of Mahomed Ali. Besides, as ruler of Carnatic, it was his interest to add a principality of some importance to his dominions, and to remove a neighbour who might on every emergency become a dangerous foe.

The English, however, either because they had descended in their estimate of the riches of the country, Edition: current; Page: [340] book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. or because they had ascended in their estimate of the difficulty of its subjugation, discovered an aversion, which the Nabob was unable to overcome, to embark in the conquest of Tanjore. The Governor recommended negotiation; and offered himself as mediator. To settle with the subordinate agents of his own government belonged, he said, to the Nabob himself: but the King of Tanjore was a sovereign Prince; and a tribunal, distinct from that of either party, namely, that of an independent mediator, was necessary to adjust the differences between them.1

The Nabob resisted this mode of adjustment, with great eagerness; and, rather than adopt it, would have postponed the enforcement of his claims, trusting to the chapter of accidents, and a time to come, at which the Rajah might yield at discretion. The Presidency, however, knew their power; they sent, therefore, an agent to Tanjore, to hear the allegations of both parties, and suggest the conditions of an agreement. The following were the terms which they resolved to confirm: That twenty-two lacs of rupees, at five instalments, should be paid by the Rajah to the Nabob, as arrears; four lacs as a present; and four annually as a tribute: That the districts, on the other hand, of Coiladdy and Elangad should be ceded to the Rajah; and that Arni should be restored to its former Governor or Killedar. The pecuniary exactions were greatly inferior to the claims of the Nabob; and so great reluctance did he show to the ratification of the treaty, that Mr. Pigot is said to have seized his chop or seal, and applied it to the paper with his own Edition: current; Page: [341] hand.1 Aware that the inflated conceptions diffused among their countrymen of the riches of India, and of Tanjore as a distinguished part of India, might lead the Court of Directors to regard the sum extracted from the Rajah as criminally small, the Presidency wrote, in their own defence; That, without their assistance, the Nabob was unable to extract a single rupee; that the reduction of Tanjore would have been a difficult enterprise; that they had not an army sufficient for the purpose; that the expedition would have occasioned an expense which they were unable to bear; and that a rupture with the Rajah would have tended to raise up other enemies. The inability of the country to sustain, without oppression, a heavier exaction, they were either not yet aware of, or did not care to allege. When the Directors afterwards transmitted their reflections, they said; “If four lacks were given as a present, it seems as if the Company ought to have it, for their interposition and guarantee of the treaty. We shall be glad to have this affair explained to us, that we may know the real state of the case, with respect to that donation.”2 The twenty-two lacs were directed to be paid to the Company, and credit was given for them in the Nabob’s account.

The war between the English and French, which had ceased in India with the fall of Pondicherry, was terminated in Europe by the treaty of Paris, definitively Edition: current; Page: [342] book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. signed on the 10th of February, 1763. Of this treaty the eleventh article, intended to define the rights of the two nations in India, or those advantages, in the enjoyment of which the relative strength of the two parties made them willing to engage not to molest one another, was in the following words: “That Great Britain shall restore to France, in the condition they now are, the different factories1 which that crown possessed, as well on the coast of Coromandel and Orissa, as on that of Malabar, as also in Bengal, at the beginning of the year 1749. And France renounces all pretensions to the acquisitions which she has made on the coast of Coromandel and Orissa.2 And his most Christian Majesty shall restore, on his part, all that he may have conquered from Great Britain in the East Indies during the present war, and will expressly cause Natal and Tapanouly,3 in the island of Sumatra, to be restored. And he further engages not to erect fortifications, or to keep troops, in any part of the dominions of the Subahdar of Bengal; and in order to preserve future peace on the coast of Coromandel and Orissa, the English and French shall acknowledge Mahomed Ally Khan, for lawful Nabob of the Carnatic, and Salabut Jung for lawful Subahdar of the Deccan, and both parties shall renounce all demands and pretensions of satisfaction, with which they might charge each other, or their Indian allies, for the depredation or pillage committed on either side during the war.”

In the distribution of the advantages of the Carnatic sovereignty; for such it now might truly be deemed, as scarcely even a nominal subjection was Edition: current; Page: [343] acknowledged either to the Subahdar of Deccan, orbook iv. Chap. 6. 1763. the Emperor himself; the English imagined they had as yet not appropriated to themselves the requisite share. They began accordingly to represent to the Nabob the necessity of bestowing upon the Company a jaghire; or a grant of lands, the rents and revenues of which, free from any deduction to the Nabob’s treasury, should accrue to themselves. The Nabob urged the narrowness of his own resources, the load of debt under which he laboured, the great proportion of his revenue already allowed to the Company, and the cession which he had made, not only of lands, but of the tribute which the Company owed for Madras itself.

The Company, in truth, had now placed themselves in a situation of considerable difficulty. The Presidency could not help observing, that under the weakness of both the mind and the resources of the Nabob, the defence of Carnatic must rest upon them; and that they must, therefore, maintain at all times an army sufficient to oppose its enemies. This, without the revenue of the country, was a burden which they knew they could not sustain: And yet to strip of all his revenue a sovereign Prince, of whose rights they had so often proclaimed themselves the champions, was a procedure which bore a most unfavourable appearance, and from which formidable accusations against them could hardly fail to be drawn.

The Company took the course which power, though less supported by reasons, will most commonly pursue: They adopted the alternative which was most agreeable to themselves; and the revenues of Carnatic gradually passed into their hands. The President, however, was anxious that, at this time, the donation should wear the appearance of a voluntary Edition: current; Page: [344] book iv. Chap. 6. 1763. act on the part of the Nabob; and amid his efforts of persuasion assured him, if we can believe the Nabob himself, “that if four districts were given, the Company would be extremely pleased and obliged to him, and would ever assist him and his children with a proper force of Europeans, without desiring any thing further; that till he had cleared off his debts to the Company, the revenues of those districts, after defraying the expenses of the soldiers, should be placed to the credit of his account.”1 When the President began to pass from the tone of suggestion to that of requisition; and the Nabob perceived that compliance could not be escaped, he endeavoured to obtain the security of at least a written promise for those terms which had been offered in order to gain his consent. But when he transmitted the draught of an agreement, in which those terms were specified, and which he requested the Governor and Council to sign, the temper of the President broke through his policy; and he pulled off the mask with which he had hitherto endeavoured, though it must be confessed but awkwardly, to cover from the Nabob and the world the view of his real situation. He sent back the agreement unsigned, with strong marks of his displeasure; and told the Nabob by letter, that it ill became the situation in which he stood, to make conditions with the Company; since “they,” said he, “do not take any thing from you; but they are the givers, and you are a receiver.”2

It was not till the summer of 1763 that the Nabob and Presidency were enabled to turn their attention Edition: current; Page: [345] to Madura and Tinivelly. Though Mahomedbook iv. Chap. 6. 1764. Issoof had been vigorously employed, from the raising of the siege of Madras till the fall of Pondicherry, in reducing the refractory Polygars and other local commanders, obedience and tranquillity were by no means established: And when that active and useful partisan proposed to take the country as renter, and to become responsible, though for a small revenue, from a region which hitherto had cost much and yielded nothing, the offer was not unwillingly embraced. Mahomed Issoof, like other renters of India, had no doubt an inclination to withhold if possible the sum which he engaged to pay out of the taxes which he was empowered to collect: and, like other Governors, contemplated, it is probable, from the very beginning, the chance of independence. It cannot, however, be denied, that the enemies with whom he had as yet been obliged to struggle, and who had heretofore rendered the country not only unproductive, but burdensome, left him no revenue to pay. It appears, accordingly, that none had ever been received. For this failure, the Nabob and the Company now proceeded to inflict chastisement, and in the month of August 1763, a combined army of natives and English marched to Madura. Mahomed Issoof endeavoured by negotiation, and the influence of those among the English whom he had rendered his friends, to ward off the blow. But when he found these efforts unavailing, he resolved to give himself the chance of a struggle in his own defence. He was not a man of whom the subjugation was to be expected at an easy price. He baffled all the efforts of the Nabob and the Company, till the month of October, 1764; when he had already forced them to expend a million sterling, and no ordinary quantity of English blood; and without a deed of treachery Edition: current; Page: [346] book iv. Chap. 6. 1764. which placed his person in their hands, it is uncertain how far he might have prolonged his resistance. Among a body of French troops whom he had received from the Raja of Tanjore was a person of the name of Marchand, by whom he was seized and delivered to his enemies.

The occasions on which the interests of the Nabob and of the Raja of Tanjore were liable to clash or to interfere became, through their jealousy and mutual hatred, a perpetual source of contention. The treaty which had been formed under the coercive authority of the English, had defined the terms of their pecuniary relation: with the usual want of foresight, every thing else was left vague and disputable. The river Cavery, about six miles to the north-west of Trichinopoly, is divided into two streams, of which the northern takes the name of Coleroon, and, by a course not far from direct, joins the sea at Devi-Cotah. The southern branch, which retains the name of Cavery, passes through the flat alluvial territory of Tanjore; and, dividing itself into a great number of smaller streams, overflows, and fructifies the country. But it so happens that the two branches of this great river, after flowing at some distance from one another, for a space of about twenty miles, again approach, forming what is called the island of Seringham, and are only prevented by a narrow neck of land, which requires continual repairs, from reuniting their streams, and falling down the channel of the Coleroon to the ocean. The kingdom of Tanjore was thus in the highest degree interested in the preservation of the mound of the Cavery, upon the waters of which its vegetative powers so greatly depended; and it must have anciently been a powerful instrument of coercion in the hands of the neighbouring kingdom of Trichinopoly, Edition: current; Page: [347] within the territories of which it appears to have beenbook iv. Chap. 6. 1764. always included.

The Nabob, as sovereign of Trichinopoly, now assumed authority over the mound of the Cavery; and the dispute between him and the Raja grew to importance. The Raja endeavoured to make the reparation of the mound the condition of paying the money which he owed by the treaty; and the President, after writing several letters to the Nabob, appointed a deputy to inquire into the subject and to make his reports. The rights in question were actually two. The first was the right of sovereignty in the mound; the second was the right of having the mound preserved and repaired. The first, as no one disputed, belonged to the Nabob. The second, if prescription and equity constituted any title, as undeniably belonged to the Rajah. Ignorantly and awkwardly, and not without English co-operation, they blended them together in one question; and the dispute became interminable. Who had the right of repairing the mound, was the subject about which they contended; the Nabob claiming it, as inherent in the sovereignty; and the Rajah as inherent in the title which he possessed to the waters of the Cavery. Unhappily, in the right which, as sovereign, the Nabob claimed, of permitting no one but himself to repair the mound, he tacitly included the right of omitting all repairs whenever he pleased. The Rajah, who dreaded the consequences, solicited an interview; and by making ample submission and protestations, effected a temporary compromise. It was not long, however, before he had again occasion to complain; and wrote the most pressing letters to Madras, beseeching the Presidency to lay their commands upon the Nabob for the repair of the mound. The Nabob hardly disguised his intention of allowing it to be Edition: current; Page: [348] book iv. Chap. 6. 1765. washed away; alleging the wishes of his own people, who, on account of the overflowing of the low grounds to the eastward of Trichinopoly, desired the waters of the Cavery to be turned into the channel of the Coleroon. The English at last interfered, with a determination to prevail; and the Nabob, but not before the month of January, 1765, and with great reluctance, gave his consent, that the mound of the Cavery should be repaired by the King of Tanjore.1

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Second Administration of Clive—Company’s Orders respecting the Private Trade disregarded—Arrangements with the Vizir—With the Emperor—Acquisition of the Duannee—Private Trade created a Monopoly for the Benefit of the superior Servants—Reduction of the Military Allowances—Its effects—Clive resigns, and Verelst succeeds—Proceedings in England relative to the Rate of Dividend on Company’s Stock—Financial difficulties—Verelst resigns, and Cartier succeeds.

Lord Clive, together with Mr. Sumner and iv. Chap. 7. 1765. Sykes, who had accompanied him from England, and were two of the persons empowered to form the Select Committee, arrived at Calcutta, on the 3d of May, 1765. The two other persons of whom that extraordinary machine of government was to be composed, were absent: General Carnac, beyond the confines of the province of Bahar, with the army; and Mr. Verelst, at the distant settlement of Chittagong. For as much as the disturbances, which guided the resolves of the Company, when they decreed that such a new organ of government should exist, were now removed; and for as much as the Select Committee were empowered to exercise their extraordinary powers for so long a time only as those disturbances should remain; it was a question, whether they were entitled to form themselves into a governing Edition: current; Page: [350] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. body; but a question of which they speedily disposed.1 On the 7th of May, exactly four days after their arrival, Lord Clive, and the two gentlemen who accompanied him, assembled; and without waiting for communication with the rest of the destined members declared the Select Committee formed; assumed the whole powers of government civil and military; and administered to themselves and their secretaries an oath of secrecy.

The great corruption which they represented as prevailing in the government, and tainting to a prodigious degree the conduct of the Company’s servants, was the foundation on which they placed the necessity for the establishment of the Committee. The picture which they drew of these corruptions exhibited, it is true, the most hideous and the most disgusting features. But the impartial judge will probably find, that the interest of the Committee to make out the appearance of a strong necessity for investing themselves with extraordinary powers, after the original cause for them had ceased to exist, had some influence on their delineations. In the letter, addressed to the Committee, with which Lord Clive opened their proceedings, on the 7th of May, “A very few days,” he says, “are elapsed since our arrival; and yet, if we consider what has already come to our knowledge, we cannot hesitate a moment upon the necessity of assuming the power that is in us of conducting, as a Select Committee, the affairs both civil and military of this settlement. What do we Edition: current; Page: [351] hear of, what do we see, but anarchy, confusion, and,book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. what is worse, an almost general corruption.—Happy, I am sure, you would have been, as well as myself, had the late conduct of affairs been so irreproachable as to have permitted them still to continue in the hands of the Governor and Council.” Yet one would imagine that four days afforded not a very ample space for collecting a satisfactory body of evidence on so extensive a field, especially if we must believe the noble declarer, that the determination to which it led was a disagreeable one.

“Three paths,” observed his Lordship, when afterwards defending himself, “were before me. 1. One was strewed with abundance of fair advantages. I might have put myself at the head of the government as I found it. I might have encouraged the resolution which the gentlemen had taken not to execute the new covenants which prohibited the receipt of presents: and although I had executed the covenants myself, I might have contrived to return to England with an immense fortune, infamously added to the one before honourably obtained.—2. Finding my powers disputed, I might in despair have given up the commonwealth, and have left Bengal without making an effort to save it. Such a conduct would have been deemed the effect of folly and cowardice.—3. The third path was intricate. Dangers and difficulties were on every side. But I resolved to pursue it. In short, I was determined to do my duty to the public, although I should incur the odium of the whole settlement. The welfare of the Company required a vigorous exertion, and I took the resolution of cleansing the Augean Stable.”1

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book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. Another circumstance deserves to be mentioned, of which Lord Clive takes no notice in his speech, though on other occasions it is not forgotten; that without the formation of the Select Committee, he would, as Governor, have enjoyed only a shadow, or at best a small fragment of power. In his letter to the Directors, dated the 30th of February, in which he describes the transactions of the first five months of his new administration, he says, “The gentlemen in Council of late years at Bengal, seem to have been actuated, in every consultation, by a very obstinate and mischievous spirit. The office of Governor has been in a manner hunted down, stripped of its dignity, and then divided into sixteen shares,”—the number of persons of whom the board consisted.—“Two paths,” he observes, in nearly the same language as was afterwards used in his speech, “were evidently open to me: The one smooth, and strewed with abundance of rich advantages that might easily be picked up; the other untrodden, and every step opposed with obstacles. I might have taken charge of the government upon the same footing on which I found it; that is, I might have enjoyed the name of Governor, and have suffered the honour, importance, and dignity of the post to continue in their state of annihilation. I might have contented myself as others had before me, with being a cypher, or, what is little better, the first among sixteen equals: And I might have allowed this passive conduct to be attended with the usual douceur of sharing largely with the rest of the gentlemen in all donations, perquisites, &c. arising from the absolute government and disposal of all places in the revenues of this opulent kingdom; by which means I might soon have acquired an immense addition to my fortune, notwithstanding the obligations Edition: current; Page: [353] in the new covenants; for the man who can so easily get over the bar of conscience as to receive presents after the execution of them, will not scruple to make use of any evasions that may protect him from the consequence. The settlement, in general, would thus have been my friends, and only the natives of the country my enemies.” It deserves to be remarked, as twice declared by this celebrated Governor, that the covenants against the receipt of presents afforded no effectual security, and might be violated, by the connivance and participation of the presiding individuals, to any amount. It follows, as a pretty necessary consequence, that independent of that connivance they might in many instances be violated to a considerable amount.

The language in which Clive describes the corruption of the Company’s government and the conduct of their servants, at this era, ought to be received with caution; and, doubtless, with considerable deductions; though it is an historical document, or rather a matter of fact, singularly curious and important. “Upon my arrival,” he tells the Directors, “I am sorry to say, I found your affairs in a condition so nearly desperate, as would have alarmed any set of men, whose sense of honour and duty to their employers had not been estranged by the too eager pursuit of their own immediate advantages. The sudden, and among many, the unwarrantable acquisition of riches, had introduced luxury in every shape, and in its most pernicious excess. These two enormous evils went hand in hand together through the whole presidency, infecting almost every member of each department. Every inferior seemed to have grasped at wealth, that he might be enabled to assume that spirit of profusion, which was now the only distinction between him and his superior. Thus Edition: current; Page: [354] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. all distinction ceased; and every rank became, in a manner, upon an equality. Nor was this the end of the mischief; for a contest of such a nature among our servants necessarily destroyed all proportion between their wants and the honest means of satisfying them. In a country where money is plenty, where fear is the principle of government, and where your arms are ever victorious, it is no wonder that the lust of riches should readily embrace the proffered means of its gratification, or that the instruments of your power should avail themselves of their authority, and proceed even to extortion in those cases where simple corruption could not keep pace with their rapacity. Examples of this sort, set by superiors, could not fail of being followed in a proportionable degree by inferiors. The evil was contagious, and spread among the civil and military, down to the writer, the ensign, and the free merchant.”1 The language of the Directors held pace with that of the Governor. In their answer to the letter from which this extract is taken, they say, “We have the strongest sense of the deplorable state to which our affairs were on the point of being reduced, from the corruption and rapacity of our servants, and the universal depravity of Edition: current; Page: [355] manners throughout the settlement. The generalbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. relaxation of all discipline and obedience, both military and civil, was hastily tending to a dissolution of all government. Our letter to the Select Committee expresses our sentiments of what has been obtained by way of donations; and to that we must add, that we think the vast fortunes acquired in the inland trade have been obtained by a scene of the most tyrannic and oppressive conduct that ever was known in any age or country.”1

The letters from the Court of Directors, commanding the immediate and total abandonment of the inland trade and the execution of the new covenants against the receipt of presents, had arrived on the 24th of January, 1765, previous to the formation of the treaty with Nujeem ad Dowla. Yet so far was the inland trade from being abandoned, that the unlimited exercise of it, free from all duties except two and a half per cent. upon the article of salt, and along with that unlimited exercise, the prohibition, or what amounted to the prohibition, of all other traders, the exaction of oppressive duties, from which the English were exempt, had been inserted, as leading articles, in the treaty. Again, as to what regarded the covenants, not only had presents upon the accession of Nujeem ad Dowla been received, with unabated alacrity, in defiance of them; but they remained unexecuted to that very hour. The Committee of the House of Commons could not discover from the records that the Governor had so much as brought them under the consultation of the Council Board; and it is certain that no notice whatsoever had been communicated to the other servants of the Company, that any such engagements were required.

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book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. The execution of the covenants, as a very easy and simple transaction, was one of the earliest of the measures of the Committee. They were signed, first by the Members of the Council, and the servants on the spot; and afterwards transmitted to the armies and factories, where they were immediately executed by every body; with one remarkable exception. General Carnac, when they arrived, distributed them to his officers, among whom the signature met with no evasion. But general Carnac himself, on the pretence that they were dated several months previous to the time at which intimation of them was conveyed to him, forbore privately to execute his own. A few weeks afterwards, upon his return to Calcutta, he signed it, indeed, without any scruple; but, in the interval, he had received a present of two lacs of rupees from the reduced and impoverished Emperor.

The Nabob, Nujeem ad Dowla, hastened to Calcutta, upon the arrival of Clive; and being exceedingly displeased with the restraints imposed upon him, presented a letter of complaints. Mahomed Reza Khan, whose appointment to the office of Naib Subah was the most offensive to the Nabob of all the hard conditions to which he had been compelled to submit, had given presents on account of his elevation to the amount of nearly twenty lacs of rupees. There was nothing, in this, unusual or surprising; but the Nabob, who was eager to obtain the ground of an accusation against a man whose person and office were alike odious to him, complained of it as a dilapidation of his treasury. The servants of the Company, among whom the principal part of the money was distributed, were those who had the most strongly contested the authority of Clive’s Committee; and they seem to have excited, by that Edition: current; Page: [357] opposition, a very warm resentment. The accusationbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. was treated as a matter of great and serious importance. Some of the native officers engaged in the negotiation of the presents, though required only for the purpose of evidence, were put under arrest. A formal investigation was instituted. It was alleged that threats had been used to extort the gifts: And the Committee pronounced certain facts to be proved; but in their great forbearance reserved the decision to the Court of Directors. The servants, whose conduct was arraigned, solemnly denied the charge of using terror or force; and it is true that their declaration was opposed by only the testimony of a few natives, whose veracity is always questionable when they have the smallest interest to depart from the truth: who in the present case were not examined upon oath; were deeply interested in finding an apology for their own conduct, and had an exquisite feeling of the sentiments which prevailed towards the persons whom they accused in the breasts of those who now wielded the sceptre. There seems not, in reality, to have been any difference in the applications for presents on this and on former occasions, except perhaps in some little ceremoniousness of manner. A significant expression escapes from Verelst, who was an actor in the scene; “Mahomed Reza Khan,” he says, “affirms that these sums were not voluntarily given. This the English gentlemen deny. Perhaps the reader, who considers the increased power of the English, may regard this as a verbal dispute.”1

On the 25th of June Lord Clive departed from Calcutta, on a progress up the country, for the purpose Edition: current; Page: [358] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. of forming a new arrangement with the Nabob for the government of the provinces, and of concluding a treaty of peace with Suja Dowla the Vizir.

The first negotiation was of easy management. Whatever the Committee were pleased to command, Nujeem ad Dowla was constrained to obey. The whole of the power reserved to the Nabob, and lodged with the Naib Subah, was too great, they said, to be deposited in a single hand; they resolved, therefore, to associate the Rajah Dooloob Ram, and Juggut Seet, the Hindu banker, with Mahomed Reza Khan, in the superintendance of the Nabob’s affairs. To preserve concord among these colleagues, it was determined to employ the vigilant control of a servant of the Company, resident upon the spot. The Nabob was also now required to resign the whole of the revenues, and to make over the management of the Subahdaree, with every advantage arising from it, to the Company; by whom an annual pension of fifty lacs of rupees, subject to the management of their three nominees, were to be allowed to himself. The final arrangement of these terms was notified to the Committee on the 28th of July, by a letter dispatched from Moorshedabad, whence, a few days before, Clive had proceeded on his journey.

The army had prosecuted the advantages gained over the Vizir; and at this time had penetrated far into the territories of Oude. The arrangement, however, which had been concluded with the Emperor, and in conformity with which the English were to receive the Gauzeepore country for themselves, and to bestow the dominions of Suja Dowla on the Emperor, had been severely condemned by the Court of Directors. They denounced it, not only as a violation of their repeated instructions and commands not to Edition: current; Page: [359] extend the dominions of the Company; but as inbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. itself an impolitic engagement; full of burden, but destitute of profit.1 Lord Clive, and, what is the same thing, Lord Clive’s Committee, professed a deep conviction of the wisdom of that policy (the limitation of dominion) which the Directors prescribed;2 declaring, “that an influence maintained by force of arms was destructive of that commercial spirit which the servants of the Company ought to promote; oppressive to the country, and ruinous to the Company; whose military expenses had hitherto rendered fruitless their extraordinary success, and even the cession of rich provinces.”3

After the battle of Buxar, the Vizir, who no longer considered his own dominions secure, had sent his women and treasures to Bareily, the strong fort of a Rohilla chief; and, having gained as much time as possible by negotiations with the English, endeavoured to obtain assistance from Ghazee ad dien Khan, from the Rohilla chiefs, and a body of Mahrattas, who were at that time under Mulhar Row, in the vicinity of Gualior. The Mahrattas, and Ghazee ad dien Khan, with a handful of followers, the miserable remains of his former power, had, in reality, joined him. But the Rohillas had amused him with only deceitful promises: And he had been abandoned even by Sumroo; who, with a Edition: current; Page: [360] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. body of about 300 Europeans of various nations, and a few thousand Sepoys, was negotiating for service with the Jaats.

The English had detached two battalions of Sepoys, which took possession of Lucknow, the capital of Oude, and made an attempt upon the fortress of Chunar, the strength of which enabled the garrison to make a successful resistance; when the preparations of Suja Dowla induced Sir Robert Fletcher, on whom, till the arrival of Carnac, after the departure of Sir Hector Munro, the command of the troops had devolved, to endeavour to anticipate that Nabob by taking the important fortress of Allahabad. Nujeef Khan, as a partisan of the Emperor, had joined the English with his followers from Bundelcund, and being well acquainted with the fortress, pointed out the weakest part. It was speedily breached; and the garrison, too irresolute to brave a storm, immediately surrendered. Soon after this event General Carnac arrived, and took the command of the army. The situation of the enemy, which rendered their designs uncertain, puzzled, for a time, the General; who over-estimated their strength, and was afraid of leaving the frontiers exposed. Having received undoubted intelligence that the enemy had begun to march on the Corah road; and suspecting that an attack was designed upon Sir Robert Fletcher, who commanded a separate corps in the same direction; he made some forced marches to effect a junction with that commander; and, having joined him, advanced with united forces towards the enemy. On the 3d of May a battle was fought in the neighbourhood of Corah; or rather a skirmish, for, by the absence of the Rohillas, and the weakness of Ghazee ad dien Khan, the force of the Vizir was inconsiderable, and he was still intimidated by remembrance of Edition: current; Page: [361] Buxar. The Mahrattas, on whom he chiefly depended,book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. were soon dispersed by the English artillery. The Vizir separated from them; and they retired with precipitation towards the Jumna. Observing the English to remit the pursuit in order to watch the Vizir, who made no attempt to join his allies, they ventured a second effort to enter Corah. To stop their incursions the General resolved to drive them beyond the Jumna; crossed that river on the 22d; dislodged them from their post on the opposite side; and obliged them to retire to the hills.

The Vizir impelled, on the one side by the desperate state of his affairs, on the other by hopes of moderate treatment from the English, resolved to throw himself entirely upon their generosity, by placing his person in their hands. On the 19th of May, General Carnac received, written partly by the Nabob with his own hand, a letter, in which he informed that officer that he was on his way to meet him. The General received him with the highest marks of distinction; and all parties recommended a delicate and liberal treatment. The final settlement of the terms of pacification was reserved for the presence of Clive. As it was unanimously agreed, that it would cost the Company more to defend the country of the Vizir, than it would yield in revenue; that Suja Dowla was more capable of defending it than the Emperor, to whom it had been formerly promised, or than any other chief who could be set up; and that in the hands of the Vizir it might form a barrier against the Mahrattas and Afghauns; it was determined to restore to him the whole of his dominions, with the exception of Allahabad and Corah, which were to be reserved to the Emperor.

When the first conference was held with the Vizir on the 2d of August, he strongly expressed his Edition: current; Page: [362] gratitude for the extent of dominion which his conquerors were willing to restore; and readily agreed to the payment of fifty lacks of rupees demanded in compensation for the expences of the war: But, when it was proposed to him to permit the English to trade, free from duties, and erect factories in his dominions, he represented so earnestly the abuses which, under the name of trade, the Company’s servants and their agents had perpetrated in the provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa; and expressed with so much vehemence his apprehension of disputes, and the impossibility they would create of long preserving the blessings of peace, that Clive agreed, in the terms of the treaty, to omit the very names of trade and factories.

The Raja Bulwant Sing, who held, as dependencies of the Subah of Oude, the Zemindarees of Benares and Gauzeepore, had joined the English and rendered important service, in the late wars against the Vizir. It was, therefore, incumbent upon them to yield him protection against the resentment of a chief whose power he could not resist. The Vizir bound himself not to molest the Rajah, in the possession of his former dominions; and the Rajah was held bound to pay him the same tribute as before. The Vizir and the English engaged to afford assistance, each to the other, in case the territory of the other was invaded; and the Vizir engaged never to harbour or employ Meer Causim or Sumroo.

The business with the Emperor was the next subject of negotiation which claimed the exertions of Clive. Of the annual tribute to the Emperor, contracted for in the names of Meer Jaffier, Meer Causim, and Nujeem and Dowla, as the imperial revenue from Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, thirty lacks were unpaid. Of this debt, the indigent sovereign Edition: current; Page: [363] was frankly and definitively told, that not a singlebook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. rupee would ever be given him. The sum which had, under the English authority, been assigned as the share due to him of the revenue of these provinces, was twenty-six lacks of rupees in money, and jaghires or land to the annual amount of five lacks and a half. The jaghires, it was now made known to him, he must henceforth renounce. He expressed warmth, and even resentment, upon the hardness of these arbitrary conditions; but the necessities of the humbled monarch left him without means of relief. The twenty-six lacks of rupees were continued as his portion of the revenues; and he was put in possession of the countries of Corah and Allahabad. On his part was required the imperial grant of the duannee, or collection and receipt of the revenues, in Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa. The phirmaun of the duannee, which marks one of the most conspicuous eras in the history of the Company, constituting them masters of so great an empire, in name and in responsibility, as well as in power,1 was dated the 12th day of August, 1765. Along with the duannee was required of the Emperor his imperial confirmation of all the territory which the Company possessed throughout the nominal extent of the Mogul empire. Among these confirmations was not forgotten the jaghire of Lord Clive; a possession, the dispute about which that powerful servant had compromised before his departure from England, by yielding the reversion to the Company, after ten years’ payment, if so long he should live.

It was in the course of this summer that, in pursuance Edition: current; Page: [364] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. of the terms of the treaty concluded in Europe between the English and the French, the settlements of that nation at Chandernagor and other places in Bengal, were restored.

On the 7th of September, Lord Clive resumed his seat, in the Select Committee; in which the urgent questions respecting the inland trade now constituted the grand subject of consultation. The Company’s letter of the 8th of February, 1764, completely prohibiting the inland trade of their servants, was taken into consideration by the Board, on the 17th of October, in the same year. And it was resolved that all the branches of that trade, which it was worth while to carry on, should still be stedfastly retained; but that proper respect should be shown to the commands of their masters; and what was of no value to keep should be immediately and completely resigned. The grand articles of the interior trade of Bengal were salt, beetel-nut, and tobacco; of which salt was out of all proportion the most important: Tobacco in particular was so inconsiderable, that few, if any, of the Company’s servants had engaged in it. The determination was, to give up the tobacco, preserving and securing the beetel-nut and the salt. It must not, however, be forgotten that an order was now issued, prohibiting the practice of forcing the natives to buy and sell at any price which the Company’s servants thought proper to command.

On the 1st of June, 1764, a letter was written by the Court of Directors, in consequence of the resolution of the Court of Proprietors that the letter of the 8th of February should be reconsidered. In this, the Directors declared, that the terms imposed upon Meer Causim for the regulation of the private trade in the interior “appeared to them so injurious to the Nabob and the natives, that they could not, in the very Edition: current; Page: [365] nature of them, tend to any thing but the producingbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. general heart-burning and dissatisfactions: That the orders, therefore, in their letter of the 8th of February should remain in force until a more equitable and satisfactory plan could be formed and adopted; and, as it was impossible for them to frame such a plan at home, destitute as they were of the informations and lights necessary to guide them in settling such an important affair—the Committee were therefore ordered, as soon after the receipt of this letter as might be convenient, to consult the Nabob as to the manner of carrying on the inland trade, and thereupon to form a proper and equitable plan for that purpose, and transmit the same to the Directors; accompanied by such explanations, observations, and remarks, as might enable them to give their sentiments and directions thereupon in a full and explicit manner:—And in doing this, as before observed, they were to have a particular regard to the interest and entire satisfaction of the Nabob.” It was agreed, in general consultation at Fort William, on the 25th of January, 1765, to defer all proceedings on this order, till the arrival of Lord Clive; and in the mean time, in defiance of both letters, the course of the inland trade remained undisturbed.

One important circumstance in the letter of the 1st of June, the Directors themselves interpreted, one way; their servants in India chose to interpret, another. The servants inferred that the letter empowered them not only to contrive a plan, but also to put it in practice. It was maintained on the other hand, that the letter only authorized them to devise a plan, and transmit the account of it to the Directors. The letter, as usual, was vague and ambiguous; and those who had to act upon it, at so vast a distance, preferred, as might have been expected, Edition: current; Page: [366] the interpretation which best suited their own interests.

It is worthy of particular remark, that Lord Clive, as he declares to the Directors themselves,1 framed the plan, which was afterwards adopted, during his voyage to India. But, as he could not then have any lights which he had not in England, he might, unless he had determined not to be governed by the Directors, have opened to them his project, before he departed; and have allowed to his masters the privilege of deciding.

It is not less worthy of remark, that Clive and the other Members of the Select Committee; Carnac excepted, who had not left the army; formed a partnership before the beginning of June, for buying up large quantities of salt; that all the purchases were made during the month of June, and that in nine months the parties realized a profit, including interest, of about forty-five per cent. In apology for Clive, it was stated, that he brought out with him three gentlemen from England, Mr. Strachey, his secretary; Mr. Maskelyne, an old friend and fellow-servant of the Company; and Mr. Ingham, his surgeon; and that for the sake of making a fortune to them he engaged in that suspicious transaction. If a proceeding, however, is in its own nature shameful; there is but little saved, when the emolument is only made to go into the pocket of a connexion.

On the 10th of August, after these purchases had for some time been completed, and after certain inquiries had been made respecting the usual prices of salt in different places; it was resolved, in a Select Committee composed of only Mr. Sumner and Mr. Verelst, That a monopoly should be formed of the Edition: current; Page: [367] trade in salt, beetel-nut, and tobacco, to be carried onbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. exclusively for the benefit of the superior servants of the Company. After several consultations, the following rules were adopted: That, deducting a duty to the Company, computed to produce 100,000l. per annum, the profits should be divided among three classes of proprietors: That, in the first class, should be allowed; to the governor, five shares; to the second in council, three shares; to the general, three shares; ten gentlemen of council, each, two shares; two colonels, each, two shares—in all thirty-five: That, in the second class, consisting of one chaplain, fourteen senior merchants, and three lieutenant-colonels, in all eighteen persons, two-thirds of one share should be granted to each, or twelve shares to the whole: In the third class, consisting of thirteen factors, four majors, four first surgeons at the presidency, two first surgeons at the army, one secretary to the council, one sub-accountant, one Persian translator, and one sub-export-warehouse-keeper, in all twenty-seven persons, one-third of a share should be distributed to each, or nine shares to the whole: That a committee of four, empowered to make bye-laws, borrow money, and determine the amount of capital, should be appointed for the entire management of the concern: That the purchases should be made by contract: That the goods should be conveyed by the agents of the association to certain fixed places, and there sold to the native merchants and retailers at established and invariable prices: That the exclusive power of making those purchases should be insured to the association for one year: And that European agents should be allowed to conduct the business of the society in different parts of the country.

In defence of this scheme, it was urged, that by the prohibition of presents, and the growing share of Edition: current; Page: [368] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. the export and import trade engrossed by the Company’s investment, the pay of their servants was reduced to the means of a bare subsistence; that besides the hardship of this policy, the wisdom was very defective, since it was absurd to suppose that men deprived of the means of enriching themselves by legitimate, would abstain from illegitimate means, when placed to a boundless extent in their power; that a too rapid enriching of their servants, by enabling them to hurry to England, and leaving none but inexperienced youths to conduct their affairs, was ruinous to their interests; and that, by the admirable arrangements of the trade society, a proper fortune was secured to those who had attained a certain station in the service, without incurring the danger of sending them home enriched at too early a period.

Upon these arguments, one reflection cannot be withheld, because the occasions for its application are exceedingly numerous, and because it appears, unhappily, to be not frequently made. It is contrary to experience, that by deriving large emoluments from an office the person who holds it will be less eager to grasp at any unlawful gains which are within his reach. The avidity for more is not in general diminished by the amount of what is possessed. A trifling sum will doubtless lose something of its apparent magnitude in the eye of a man of wealth; but the vast sums are those alone which are of much importance; and they, we find, are as resistless a temptation to the rich as to the poor. The prevalence of the idea that satiating the servants of the public with wealth is a secret for rendering them honest, only proves how little the art of government has borrowed as yet from the science of human nature. If, with immense emoluments, a door is left open to misconduct, the misconduct is but the more ensured; because Edition: current; Page: [369] the power of the offender affords him a shieldbook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. against both popular contempt and legal chastisement. If the servants of the Company, as Clive and his Committee so positively affirmed, had it in their power, and in their inclination, to pillage and embezzle, when their incomes were small; the mere enlargement of their incomes would add to the power, and could not much detract from the inclination.

At the time of these proceedings, the Select Committee were deprived of the shelter even of an ambiguous expression; and knew that they were acting in express defiance of the wishes and commands of their superiors. Under date the 15th of February, 1765, the Directors had written in the following terms: “In our letters of the 8th February, and 1st June last, we gave our sentiments and directions very fully in respect to the inland trade of Bengal;—we now enforce the same in the strongest manner, and positively insist that you take no steps whatever towards renewing this trade, without our express leave; for which reason you must not fail to give us the fullest information upon the subject, agreeable to our abovementioned directions.”

Having thus established the private trade Society, the Committee proceeded to introduce other regulations which the state of affairs appeared to require. It had been a common practice with members of the Council, instead of remaining at the Board for the business of the Presidency, to receive nomination to the chiefship of factories, as often as additional means of accumulating money were there placed in their hands. To this practice the Committee, on very good grounds, resolved to put an end. “We are convinced,” they said, “by very late experience, that the most flagrant oppressions may be wantonly committed Edition: current; Page: [370] book iv. Chap. 7. 1765. in those employments, by members of the Board, which would not be tolerated in junior servants; and that the dread and awe annexed to their station, as counsellors, has too frequently screened them from complaints, which would be lodged without fear or scruple against inferior servants.” Yet, with this experience before them, they recommended great emoluments as a security against corruption. The Committee further remarked, that not only the business, which was thus engrossed by the Members of the Board, could be as well transacted by a junior servant, at much less expense; but that other inconveniences, still more pernicious, were incurred; that by the absence of so many members of the board, it had been necessary to increase their numbers from twelve to sixteen; that by the regular departure to the out-settlements of those Members of the Council who had the greatest influence to procure their own appointment, there was so rapid a change of counsellors at the board, where only the youngest and most inexperienced remained, that the business of the Presidency was obliged to be conducted by men deficient in the knowledge and experience necessary for carrying it on.

Another measure, productive of considerable irritation and disturbance, was promoted by Clive. The rapid acquisition of riches in Bengal had recently sent so many of the superior servants, along with their fortunes, to Europe, that few remained to fill up the vacancies in the Council, except either men very young and inexperienced, or those whom Clive described as tainted with the corruptions which had vitiated the administration. The Committee say, “It is with the utmost regret we think it incumbent on us to declare, that in the whole list of your junior merchants, there are not more than three or four Edition: current; Page: [371] gentlemen whom we could possibly recommend tobook iv. Chap. 7. 1765. higher stations at present.” They accordingly forbore to supply the vacancies which occurred in the Council, and resolved upon calling a certain number of servants at the other presidencies, to supersede those in Bengal. They paid to their employers the compliment of recommending the measure to their consideration; but waited not for their decision, for, in two months from the date of their letter, four gentlemen arrived from Madras, and soon after took their seats at the Board.1

Among the circumstances most strongly recommended to Lord Clive by the Company, was the reduction of the military expenses; which absorbed all their revenues, and rendered their ascendancy in the country a burden rather than advantage. As service Edition: current; Page: [372] in the field is, in India, attended with peculiar charges to the officers, the Company had at an early period of their wars, found it necessary to allow their officers, during the time of campaign, a certain addition to their daily pay, which, in the language of the country, was styled batta, or indemnity for field expenses.

When the English forces took the field with Meer Jaffier after the battle of Plassy, to cherish their good-will, on which he was so dependant, that Nabob afforded to the officers twice the ordinary sum, and this allowance was distinguished by the name of double batta. As long as the troops continued to be paid by Meer Causim, the Company felt no prevailing motive to lessen an expense, which pleased the officers, and oppressed only the Nabob. When they perceived upon the assignment of territorial revenues for the expense of the army, that what could be with held from the army would accrue to themselves, they issued repeated orders for the reduction of the batta. But the dangers of the country had rendered the exertions of the army so necessary; and they to whom the powers of government were entrusted had so little dared to venture their authority in a contest with the military, that double batta had hitherto been allowed to remain.

Upon the conclusion of the war with Suja Dowla, the troops were regimented, according to a plan proposed by Clive and sanctioned by the Company before his departure from England; divided into three brigades, each consisting of one regiment of European infantry, one company of artillery, six battalions of Sepoys, and one troop of black cavalry; and were stationed, one brigade at Mongheer, 300 miles from Calcutta; another at Bankipore, near Patna, 100 miles beyond Mongheer; and the third at Allahabad, 200 Edition: current; Page: [373] miles beyond Patna; whither it had been sent as abook iv. Chap. 7. 1766. security against the Mahrattas, whom the Emperor and Vizir were far too reduced to be able to oppose.

In this situation the Select Committee issued an order, that on the 1st of January, 1766, the double batta should cease; and that the officers in Bengal, with some exceptions in favour of the troops in the most distant and expensive stations, should be placed on the same footing with those on the coast of Coromandel; that is, receive single batta, when in the field; in garrison or cantonments, no batta at all.

The officers, who, along with the rest of their countrymen, had formed unbounded notions of the wealth of India, and whose imaginations naturally exaggerated the fortunes which were making in the civil branch of the service, had received every previous intimation of this reduction with the loudest complaints and remonstrances; and treated the peremptory decree which was now issued, as an act of the highest injustice; and as a most unworthy attempt to deprive them of a share of those rich advantages for which they had fought and bled, only that a larger stream of emolument might flow into the laps of those very men who were the instruments of their oppression.

At all times, and especially in situations in any degree resembling that of the British in India, it has been found a hazardous act to reduce the advantages of an army; and Clive appears to have greatly miscalculated either the weight of his own authority, or the delicacy of the operation. Without any endeavour to prepare the minds of the men, the order was issued and enforced; and without any care to watch its effects, the Governor remained in perfect security and ignorance, till the end of April, when he received Edition: current; Page: [374] book iv. Chap. 7. 1766. a letter informing him, that a most alarming conspiracy, embracing almost every officer in the army, was ripe for execution.

As early as the month of December a combination began. Private meetings and consultation were held, secret committees were formed, and correspondence carried on. The combustion first began in the brigade at Mongheer; but was soon, by letter, communicated to the rest, whose bosoms were perfectly prepared for inflammation. The plan concerted was, that the officers should resign their commissions in a body, and, by leaving the army totally ungoverned, make the constituted authorities submit to their terms. Nearly two hundred dommissions of captains and subalterns were in a short time collected. Besides a solemn oath of secrecy, they bound them selves by a similar obligation, to preserve at the hazard of their own lives, the life of any officer, whom a Court Martial might condemn to death. Each officer executed a penalty bond of 500l., not to accept his commission till double batta was restored. A subscription was raised among them to establish a fund for the indemnification of those who might suffer in the prosecution of the enterprise; and to this, it was understood, that the gentlemen in the civil service, and even those at the Presidency, largely contributed.

When the army was in this situation, a body of between fifty and sixty thousand Mahrattas appeared on the frontiers of Corah, about one hundred and fifty miles from Allahabad. To watch their motions, the brigade remaining in garrison at that city was ordered to encamp at Seragepore. Early in April Lord Clive, accompanied by General Carnac, had repaired to Moorshedabad, in order to regulate the collections of the revenue for the succeeding year, to receive Edition: current; Page: [375] from Sujah Dowla the balance of his payments, and tobook iv. Chap. 7. 1766. hold a congress of the native chiefs or princes, who were disposed to form an alliance for mutual defence against the Mahrattas. On the 19th was transmitted to him, from the Select Committee, a remonstrance received from the officers of the third brigade, expressed in very high language, which he directed to be answered with little respect. It was not till late in the evening of the 28th; when he received a letter from Sir Robert Fletcher, the commanding officer at Mongheer; that Clive had the slightest knowledge or suspicion of a conspiracy so extensive, and of which the complicated operations had been going on for several months.

At Bankipore, a considerable part of the cantonments had been burnt down; and a Court Martial was held upon one of the officers, accused of having been the voluntary cause. The act proceeded from a quarrel between him and another officer, who attempted to take away his commission by force: and, upon exploring the reason of this extraordinary operation, the existence of the combination was disclosed. The commanding officer immediately dispatched an account of the discovery to Sir Robert Fletcher at Mongheer; who was by no means unacquainted with the proceedings in his own brigade, but was only now induced to give intimation of them to his superiors. It was the plan of the officers to resign their commissions on the 1st of June; but this discovery determined them, with the exception of the brigade at Allahabad, to whom information could not be forwarded in time, to execute their purpose a month earlier.

Clive at first could not allow himself to believe that the combination was extensive; or that any considerable number of men, the whole of whose Edition: current; Page: [376] book iv. Chap. 7. 1766. prospects in life was founded upon the service, would have resolution to persevere in a scheme, by which the danger of exclusion from it, not to speak of other consequences, was unavoidably incurred. It was one of those scenes, however, in which he was admirably calculated to act with success. Resolute and daring, fear never turned him aside from his purposes; or deprived him of the most collected exertion of his mind in the greatest emergencies. To submit to the violent demands of a body of armed men, was to resign the government. He had a few officers in his suite upon whom he could depend; a few more, he concluded, might yet be found at Calcutta, and the factories; and some of the free merchants might accept of commissions. The grand object was to preserve the common soldiers in order and obedience, till a fresh supply of officers from the other Presidencies could be obtained.

He remained not long without sufficient evidence that almost all the officers of all the three brigades were involved in the combination, and that their resignations were tendered. Directions were immediately sent to the commanding officers, to find, if possible, the leaders in the conspiracy; to arrest those officers whose conduct appeared the most dangerous, and detain them prisoners; above all things to secure the obedience of the Sepoys and black commanders, if the European troops should appear to be infected with the disobedience of their officers. Letters were dispatched to the Council at Calcutta, and the Presidency at Fort St. George, to make the greatest exertions for a supply of officers; and Clive himself hastened towards Mongheer. On the road he received a letter from Colonel Smith, who commanded at Allahabad, informing him that the Mahrattas were in motion, and that Ballagee Row was at Calpee, Edition: current; Page: [377] with 60,000 men collecting boats. If reduced to extremity, but not before, Smith was instructed to promise the officers compliance with their demands.

Expecting their resignation to produce all the effects which they desired, the officers had concerted no ulterior measures. Their desperation had not led them to make any attempts to debauch the common soldiers. The Sepoys every where exhibited a steady obedience; and the commanding officers of all the brigades remained in perfect confidence of being able, in case of mutiny, to put every European soldier to death. Except, however, at Mongheer, where symptoms of mutiny, among the Europeans were quickly dispelled by the steady countenance of the Sepoys drawn out to attack them, no disturbance occurred. The officers at Mongheer submitted quietly to be sent down to Calcutta; the greater part of those belonging to the other brigades retracted: And this extraordinary combination, which, with a somewhat longer sight on the part of the officers, or less of vigour and of the awe of a high reputation on the part of the Governor, would have effected a revolution in India, produced, as ineffectual resistance generally does, a subjection more complete than what would have existed, if the disturbance had never been raised. Some of the officers, upon profession of repentance, were allowed to resume the service; others were tried and cashiered. The case of Sir Robert Fletcher was the most remarkable. He had been active in subduing the confederacy; but was found to have encouraged its formation. He apologized for himself on two grounds; that he wished, through the guilt of the conspiracy, to be able to dismiss a number of officers, whose bad conduct rendered them an injury to the service; and that he wished, through the appearance of favouring the views of the officers in some things, to have the Edition: current; Page: [378] book iv. Chap. 7. 1766. advantage of a complete knowledge of their proceedings: A Court Martial, notwithstanding, found him guilty of mutiny, of sedition, and concealment of mutiny; and he was punished by ejection from the service.

Upon the termination of this dangerous disaffection, Lord Clive proceeded to Chopprah, where he was met by Suja Dowla, by the Minister of the Emperor, and by deputies from the Mahratta Chiefs. Suja Dowla continued to express the highest satisfaction with the treaty which he had lately concluded with the Company; and cheerfully advanced the remainder of the sum which he had promised as the price of peace. The grand desire of the Emperor was to regain possession of the capital of his ancestors, and to mount the throne at Delhi. He had exhausted all his arts of negotiation and intrigue to obtain the assistance of the English; and had, without their concurrence, formed engagements with the Mahrattas, who, at his persuasion, it now appeared, and under assurances that the English would join them in escorting him to his capital, were assembled on the confines of Corah. This ambition of the Emperor was offensive to the English; who, as they had no intention to second his views, dreaded violently his connexion with the Mahrattas. The formation of a treaty for mutual defence, including the Emperor, the Company, the Jaat and Rohilla chiefs, was left to be conducted by Suja Dowla.

During these transactions died the Nabob of Bengal, Nujeem ul Dowla. He expired on the 8th of May, a few days after Clive had left him at Moorshedabad. He was an intemperate youth, of a gross habit of body; and his death had in it nothing surprising. Its suddenness, however, failed not, in a country habituated to deeds of darkness around a throne, to cover it with odious suspicions. His brother, Syeff ul Dowla, Edition: current; Page: [379] a youth of sixteen, was elevated to his nominal office;book iv. Chap. 7. 1766. a change of less importance now than that of the chief of a factory.

Upon the return of Clive to the Presidency, the private trade, so dear to individuals, demanded the attention of the Committee. The native merchants, to whom the salt had been disposed of, at the places of the society’s sales, had re-sold or retailed it at a profit which the Committee deemed extravagant. Instead of inquiring whether, if the trade, as alleged by the Committee, was monopolized and engrossed by a combination, the means could not be devised of yielding it the benefit of free competition; they contented themselves with the easy and despotical expedient of ordering the commodity to be retailed at an established price: and by an ex-post-facto law fined the native merchants to the amount of their additional gains.1

On the 3d of September the Select Committee proceeded to arrange the business of the inland trade society for another year. The Company in their letter of the 19th of February, already received, had declared that they considered the continuance of this trade “as an express breach and violation of their orders, and as a determined resolution to sacrifice the interests of the Company, and the peace of the country, to lucrative and selfish views.” Pronouncing, “that every servant concerned in that trade stood guilty of a breach of his covenants, and of their orders,” they added, “Whatever government may be established, or whatever unforeseen circumstances may arise, it is our resolution to prohibit, and we do absolutely forbid, this trade of salt, beetle-nut, and tobacco, and of all articles that are not for export Edition: current; Page: [380] book iv. Chap. 7. 1766. and import, according to the spirit of the phirmaund, which does not in the least give any latitude whatsoever for carrying on such an inland trade; and moreover, we shall deem every European concerned therein, directly or indirectly, guilty of a breach of his covenants; and direct that he be forthwith sent to England, that we may proceed against him accordingly.”

Notwithstanding these clear and forcible prohibitions, the Committee proceeded to a renewal of the monopoly, as if the orders of the Directors deserved not a moment’s regard. Clive, in his Minute, turned them carelessly aside, observing that when the Company sent them, “they could not have the least idea of that favourable change in the affairs of these provinces, whereby the interest of the Nabob, with regard to salt, is no longer immediately concerned.” As a reason against lodging the government of India in hands at the distance of half the circumference of the globe, the remark would merit attention: For the disobedience of servants to those who employed them, it is no justification at all; because, extended as far as it is applicable, it rendered the servants of the Company independent; and constituted them masters of India.

One change alone, of any importance, was introduced upon the regulations of the preceding year: The salt, instead of being conveyed to the interior, was to be sold at Calcutta, and the several places of manufacture. The transportation of the commodity to distant places, by the agents of the society, was attended with great trouble and expense: By selling it immediately at the places of manufacture, so much was saved: And by reserving the distribution to the merchants of the country, a pretended boon was granted to the natives. A maximum price was Edition: current; Page: [381] fixed; and on the 8th of September a Committee ofbook iv. Chap. 7. 1766. trade was formed with directions for carrying the plan into execution.

No sooner was this arrangement formed, than Clive brought forward a proposition for prohibiting all future Governors and Presidents from any concern whatsoever in trade. On the 19th of the very same month, in a Minute presented to the Select Committee, he represented, that, “Where such immense revenues are concerned, where power and authority are so enlarged, and where the eye of justice and equity should be ever watchful, a Governor ought not to be embarrassed with private business. He ought to be free from every occupation in which his judgment can possibly be biassed by his interest.” He therefore proposed, that the Governor should receive a commission of one and one-eighth per cent. upon the revenues; and in return should take a solemn and public oath, and bind himself in a penalty of 150,000l. to derive no emolument or advantage from his situation as Governor of Bengal, beyond this commission, with the usual salary and perquisites: And a covenant to this effect was formally executed by him. That good reasons existed for precluding the Governor from such oblique channels of gain, both as giving him sinister interests, and engrossing his time, it is not difficult to perceive: That the same reasons should not have been seen to be good, for precluding, also, the members of the Select Committee and the Council, might, though it need not, excite our surprise.

On the 8th of December, letters arrived from England, dated the 17th of May, addressed both to Clive and the Committee. In these documents the Directors pronounced the inland trade society to be a Edition: current; Page: [382] book iv. Chap. 7. 1767. violation of their repeated orders; declared that all those servants who had been engaged in that society should be held responsible for a breach of their covenants; and commanded that the trade should be abandoned, and should be reserved, free from European competition, to the natives. There was no longer any room for direct disobedience. The dissolution of the society was pronounced. But on the score of the contracts which had been formed and the advances made, the whole of the existing year was reserved; and the society was not abolished in fact till the 14th of September, 1768.1

Upon the 16th of January, 1767, Lord Clive declared his intention of returning immediately to Europe, on account of his health; and directed the attention of the Select Committee to the regulations which, previous to his departure, it might appear expedient to adopt. By recent instructions the Directors had empowered him, either to abolish, or continue the Select Committee, upon his departure, according as the state of affairs might to him appear to require. He felt no hesitation in deciding for its continuance; and named as members Mr. Verelst, who was to succeed him in the chair, Mr. Cartier, Colonel Smith, Mr. Sykes, and Mr. Beecher. He Edition: current; Page: [383] departed in the Britannia; and on the 17th of Februarybook iv. Chap. 7. 1767. Mr. Verelst took his oath as successor in the chair.1

It was the interest of the servants in India, diligently cultivated, perpetually to feast the Company with the most flattering accounts of the state of their affairs. The magnitude of the transactions, which had recently taken place; the vast riches with which the new acquisitions were said to abound; the general credulity on the subject of Indian opulence; and the great fortunes with which a few individuals had returned to Europe; inflamed the avarice of the proprietors of East India Stock; and rendered them impatient for a share of treasures, which the imaginations of their countrymen, as well as their own, represented as not only vast, but unlimited. This impulse carried them in 1766 to raise their dividend from six to ten per cent. The inflated conceptions of the nation at large multiplied the purchasers of India stock; and it rose so high as 263 per cent. The proprietors called with importunity for a higher return. It was in vain that the Directors represented the heavy debts of the Company; and pointed out the imprudence of taking an augmented dividend, when money at a heavy interest must be taken up to discharge it. In a general Court held on the 6th of May, 1767, a dividend of twelve and a half per cent. was voted for the year. The public attention was vehemently roused. Even the interference of the minister was commanded. He had condemned the rapacity of the proprietors in augmenting the dividend; and recommended a Committee of the House of Commons, Edition: current; Page: [384] book iv. Chap. 7. 1767. which was actually formed in November 1766, for the purpose of inquiring into the state of their affairs. The relation between the public, and the territory now held by the Company in India, called for definition. It was maintained on the one hand, as an indisputable maxim of law, supported by the strongest considerations of utility, that no subjects of the crown could acquire the sovereignty of any territory for themselves, but only for the nation. On the side of the Company, the abstract rights of property, and the endless train of evils which arise from their infringement, were vehemently enforced; while it was affirmed that the Company held not their territories in sovereignty, but only as a farm granted by the Mogul, to whom they actually paid an annual rent. An act was passed, which directed that after the 24th of June, 1767, dividends should be voted only by ballot, in general courts summoned expressly for that purpose; and that no dividend above ten per cent. for the year should be made before the next session of parliament. The resolution of the Court of Proprietors respecting a dividend of twelve and a half per cent. was thus rescinded; and the right of parliament to control and command the Company in the distribution of their own money asserted and established. The question of the sovereignty was not pushed at that time to a direct and express decision; though a decision was virtually involved in another act, by which the Company, in consideration of holding the territorial revenues for two years, were obliged to pay annually 400,000l. into the public exchequer.

The opinion which Lord Clive had artfully raised of the high prosperity of the Company’s affairs, and of his own extraordinary share in producing it, directed the overflowings of their gratitude towards Edition: current; Page: [385] himself; and a proposition was brought forward andbook iv. Chap. 7. 1767. carried, to grant him, for ten years certain, the produce of his jaghire.

Other acquisitions of Clive come subsequently to view. Notwithstanding the covenants executed by the servants of the Company, not to receive any presents from the natives, that Governor had accepted five lacks of rupees during his late residence in Bengal from the Nabob Nujeem ul Dowla. It was represented, indeed, as a legacy left to him by Meer Jaffier, though all indications pointed out a present, to which the name of legacy was artfully attached. At any rate, if any sums might be acquired under the name of legacies, the covenants against receiving presents were useless forms. Lord Clive represented; that upon the first intimation of this gift, his resolution was to refuse it; that he changed his mind, upon reflecting of what importance it would prove as a fund for the benefit of invalided officers and soldiers in the Company’s service; and that he afterwards prevailed upon Syeff ul Dowla, the successor of Nujeem ul Dowla, to bestow three lacks more for this excellent end. The Company sanctioned the appropriation; and to this ambiguous transaction the Institution at Poplar owes its foundation.

Upon this, as upon his former departure, the regulations which Clive left behind, calculated for present applause rather than permanent advantage, produced a brilliant appearance of immediate prosperity, but were fraught with the elements of future difficulty and distress. A double government, or an administration carried on in name by the Nabob, in reality by the Company, was the favourite policy of Clive;1 Edition: current; Page: [386] book iv. Chap. 7. 1767. to whose mind a certain degree of crooked artifice seems to have presented itself pretty congenially in the light of profound and skilful politics. The collection of the revenues was still made as for the exchequer of the Nabob; justice was still administered by his officers and in his name; and all transactions with foreign powers were covered with the mask of his authority. For the benefit of certain false pretexts which imposed upon nobody, the government of the country, as far as regarded the protection of the people, was dissolved. Neither the Nabob nor his officers dared to exert any authority against the English, of whatsoever injustice and oppression they might be guilty. The gomastahs, or Indian agents employed by the Company’s servants, not only practised unbounded tyranny, but overawing the Nabob and his highest officers, converted the Edition: current; Page: [387] tribunals of justice themselves into instruments ofbook iv. Chap. 7. 1767. cruelty, making them inflict punishment upon the very wretches whom they oppressed and whose only crime was their not submitting with sufficient willingness to the insolent rapacity of those subordinate tyrants. While the ancient administration of the country was rendered inefficient, this suspension of the powers of government was supplied by nothing in the regulations of the English. Beyond the ancient limits of the Presidency, the Company had no legal power over the natives: Beyond these limits the English themselves were not amenable to the British laws; and the Company had no power of coercion except by sending persons out of the country; a remedy always inconvenient, and, except for very heinous offences, operating too severely upon the individual to be willingly applied. The natural consequence was, that the crimes of the English and their agents were in a great measure secured from punishment, and the unhappy natives lay prostrate at their feet. As the revenue of the government depended upon the productive operations of the people; and as a people are productive only in proportion to the share of their own produce which they are permitted to enjoy; this wretched administration could not fail, in time, to make itself felt in the Company’s exchequer.1 Other sources were not wanting, whence a copious stream of evils was derived. Though the Governor and Council placed Edition: current; Page: [388] book iv. Chap. 7. 1767. the powers of the Nabob in a sort of commission, by compelling him to resign the entire management of business to one or more persons of their own choosing; and though they placed a confidential servant of the Company to watch them at the Nabob’s durbar; yet they possessed not over these depositaries of power, whom they could only punish by dismissal, sufficient means of control: Before detection, or much of suspicion, it was always possible for each of them to appropriate a treasure, and be gone; leaving his place to be filled by another who had both temptation and opportunity to repeat his crimes. With men whose interests were so little united with those of their employers, and whose situation was so very precarious, the Zemindars, Rajahs, and other agents of the revenue, might easily settle their own terms, and place the fallacy of their accounts beyond the reach of detection. The mischief was less in practice than reason would have anticipated, because in the choice of these native functionaries the English were both judicious and happy. Another, and that the most pernicious perhaps of all the errors into which Clive exerted himself to mislead the Company, was, the belief which he created, that India overflowed with riches, the expectations he raised, and on which the credulous Company so fondly relied, that a torrent of treasure was about to flow into their laps. As such expectations were adverse to the best use and improvement of their resources, they only hastened that disappointment and distress which their inconsistency with the matters of fact rendered a necessary consequence. In political affairs it is long before even experience teaches wisdom. Till the present moment incessant promises of treasure have never failed to deceive, without ceasing to delude. As often as the pain of disappointment has Edition: current; Page: [389] become exceedingly severe, we have condemned abook iv. Chap. 7. 1767. Governor, in whose conduct we believed that we had found the cause of our misery; and have begun immediately to pamper our fancy anew, with endless hopes and delusions.

Under the feebleness of Suja Dowla, and the quarrels which occupied the Mahrattas at home, the Company enjoyed profound tranquillity in Bengal for a considerable number of years; and during the administrations of Mr. Verelst and Mr. Cartier, who occupied the chair till the elevation of Mr. Hastings, and were calm, unambitious men, few events of historical importance occurred. It was during a period like this, if ever, that the Company ought to have replenished their exchequer, and to have attained financial prosperity. During this period, on the other hand, financial difficulties were continually increasing; and rose at last to a height which threatened them with immediate destruction. Doubtless, the anarchical state, in which, by the double government, the provinces were placed, contributed powerfully to impoverishment; but the surplus revenue, with which the people of England were taught to delude themselves, was hindered by more permanent causes. Though no body should believe it, India, like other countries, in which the industrious arts are in their infancy, and in which law is too imperfect to render property secure, has always been poor. It is only the last perfection of government, which enables a government to keep its own expense from absorbing every thing which it is possible to extract from the people: And the government of India, under the East India Company, by a delegation of servants at the distance of half the circumference of the globe from control, was most unhappily circumstanced for economy. On a subject like this, authority is useful. Edition: current; Page: [390] book iv. Chap. 7. 1767. “With regard to the increase of the expenses,” says Clive, “I take the case to stand thus. Before the Company became possessed of the duannee, their agents had other ways of making fortunes. Presents were open to them. They are now at an end. It was expedient for them to find some other channel: the channel of the civil and military charges. Every man now who is permitted to make a bill, makes a fortune.”1

During the year 1767, a march of the Abdalee Shah, towards Delhi, excited the attention, though not much the alarm, of the Presidency. After some contests with the Seiks, and over-running a few of the provinces, that powerful Chief returned to his own country. An expedition was undertaken for the restoration of the Rajah of Nepaul, who had been dispossessed by his neighbour of Ghurka. The motives were; that Nepaul had carried on a considerable traffic with the province of Berar; that its vicinity to the district of Bettea afforded great opportunities for the improvement of trade; that all intercourse was now destroyed; and that the accomplishment of the object was easy. On the last point, at least, the authors of the war were not very correctly informed; and found they had miscalculated the difficulties of subduing a country, surrounded by mountains, and accessible only by a few narrow and nearly impenetrable defiles. The officer sent to command the expedition was unable to proceed, and wrote for reinforcements. The Presidency were violently disappointed; and felt a strong inclination to wreak their vengeance upon the Commander. Being obliged to send assistance to Madras, they Edition: current; Page: [391] were unable to afford reinforcements, and recalled the detachment.1 The war with Hyder Ali had now broken out in Carnatic; and considerable supplies, both in men and money, were demanded from Bengal. This year, financial distress began to be experienced. Complaints were first emitted of the scarcity of money; ascribed, not to impoverishment of the country, but to a drain of specie, occasioned by the annual exportation of the precious metals, chiefly to China, on account of the Company’s investment, and also in other directions; while the usual supplies of bullion from Europe (the Company providing their investment from the revenues, the Dutch and French from the fortunes of the English consigned to them for transmission) were almost wholly cut off.2

Early in the year 1768, arrived the Company’s peremptory order for abolishing entirely the trade of their servants in salt, and other articles of inferior Edition: current; Page: [392] book iv. Chap. 7. 1768. traffic; for laying it open, and confining it to the natives; and for restricting their servants entirely to the maritime branches of commerce.1

The commission of one and one-eighth per cent. upon the duanee revenues, which by the Select Committee had been settled upon the Governor as a compensation for relinquishing his share in the salt trade, was also commanded to cease. For as much, however, as the income of their servants, if thus cut off from irregular sources of gain, was represented as not sufficiently opulent, the Company granted a commission of two and a half per cent. upon the net produce of the duanee revenues, to be divided into 100 equal shares, and distributed in the following proportions: to the Governor, thirty-one shares; to the second in Council, four and a half; to the rest of the Select Committee, not having a chiefship, each three and a half shares; to the Members of the Council not having a chiefship, each one and a half; to the Commander-in-Chief, seven and a half shares; to Colonels, each, two and a half; Lieutenant-Colonels, each, one and a half; and to Majors, three fourths. An additional pay was allotted, to Captains, of three shillings, Lieutenants two shillings, and Ensigns one shilling per day.

Some uneasiness still continued with respect to the designs of Suja Dowla; between whom and the Emperor considerable discordance prevailed. The Directors Edition: current; Page: [393] had forwarded the most positive orders for recallingbook iv. Chap. 7. 1769. the brigade from Allahabad; and for confining the operations of the Company’s army entirely within the limits of the Company’s territory. The Council thought it necessary to disobey; and in their letter went so far as to say that they “must express their great astonishment at such an absolute restriction, without permitting them upon the spot to judge how far, from time and circumstances, it might be detrimental to their affairs.”

The most important particular in the situation of the Company in Bengal was the growing scarcity of pecuniary means. In the letter from the Select Committee to the Court of Directors, dated 21st November, 1768, “You will perceive,” they say, “by the state of your treasury, a total inability to discharge many sums which you are indebted to individuals for deposits in your cash, as well as to issue any part of the considerable advances required for the service of every public department. And you will no longer deem us reprehensible, if a decrease in the amount of your future investments, and a debasement of their quality, should prove the consequence.”

By a correspondence between the Presidencies of Fort William and Fort St. George, in the beginning of March, 1769, the dangerous consequences to be apprehended from the exhausted state of their treasuries, and the necessity of establishing a fund against future emergencies, were mutually explained and acknowledged. In two separate consultations, held by the President and Council at Fort William, in the months of May and August, the utility, or rather the indispensable necessity of such a fund underwent a solemn discussion; and was pronounced to be without dispute. But as the expenses of the government left no resource for the creation of it, except the Edition: current; Page: [394] book iv. Chap. 7. 1769. diminution of the investment, or quantity of goods transmitted to the Company in England, they resolved upon that reduction, and limited to forty-five lacs the investment of the year.

Even this resource was in a very short time perceived to be insufficient. On the 23d of October a deficiency of 6,63,055 rupees appeared on the balance of receipts and disbursements; and the President and Council in their Minute declared, “That however the public might have been flattered, they could not flatter themselves, with any expectations from their revenue; and that the only expedient within their reach was to open their treasury doors for remittances.”1

These remittances consisted chiefly of the money or fortunes of the individuals who had grown rich in the Company’s service, and who were desirous of transmitting their acquisitions to Europe. Such persons were eager to pay their money to the Company’s government in India, upon receiving an obligation for repayment from the Company in England; in the language of commerce, for a bill upon the Company payable in England. The money thus received, in other words borrowed, was applied to the exigencies of the service; and by augmenting their resources was always highly agreeable to the servants in India. The payment however of these loans or bills in England was apt to become exceedingly inconvenient to the Directors. The sole fund out of which the payment could be made was the sale of the Edition: current; Page: [395] investment, or the goods transmitted to them frombook iv. Chap. 7. 1769. India and China. If the quantity of these goods was less in value than afforded a surplus equal to the amount of the bills which were drawn upon them, they remained so far deficient in the ability to pay. And if the goods were sent in too exorbitant a quantity, the market was insufficient to carry them off.

An opposition of interests was thus created between the governing part of the servants abroad, and the Courts of Directors and Proprietors at home. For the facility of their operations, and the success of their government, it was of great importance for the servants to preserve a full treasury in India, secured by a small investment, and the receipt of money for bills. It was the interest of the Directors to have an ample supply of money at home, which on the other hand could only be produced by a large investment, and a moderate transmission of bills. The Directors, accordingly, had given very explicit instructions on this subject; and in their letter of the 11th of November, 1768, after acknowledging the growing deficiency of the funds in India, had said; “Nevertheless, we cannot suffer ourselves to be drawn upon to an unlimited amount, the state of the Company’s affairs here not yet admitting us to answer large drafts upon us from India; but should the exigency of your affairs require your receiving money into your treasury, we prefer the mode of borrowing at interest to that of granting bills upon us: We therefore permit you to take up such sums on interest, for one year certain, as will answer your various demands, which are to be paid off at the expiration of that period, or as soon after as the state of your treasury will admit of. You are therefore to confine your drafts upon us, by the ships to be dispatched from your Presidency in the season of 1769, Edition: current; Page: [396] book iv. Chap. 7. 1769. to the same amount as we allowed last year, viz. 70,000l.”1

When the amount of the sums which it was the desire of individuals to send home exceeded the amount which it was permitted to the government in India to receive, in other words to draw bills for upon the Company at home, the parties who were deprived of this channel of remittance betook themselves to the French and Dutch factories, and paid the money into their treasuries for bills upon their respective companies, payable in Europe. This, from an early period of Mr. Verelst’s administration, had constituted a heavy subject of complaint; as making these subordinate settlers to abound with money, while the English were oppressed with want. As he ascribed the financial difficulties of the Company’s government merely to a defect of currency not of revenue, so he ascribed the defect of currency to the remittances which were forced into the Dutch and French channels; though neither of these nations carried any specie out of India, and were only saved to a certain extent the necessity of importing bullion. To him it appeared surprising that the Dutch and French Edition: current; Page: [397] Company should find it easy to pay the bills whichbook iv. Chap. 7. 1769. were drawn upon them for money received in India; but that the English Company should find it impossible; and he ascribed the restrictions which they imposed to a timid and narrow spirit.1 One circumstance, however, which constituted a most important difference, he was ill situated to perceive. The French and Dutch Companies were chiefly commercial; and whatever money was received in India was laid out in the purchase of goods; these goods were carried to Europe, and sold before the bills became due; the bills were paid out of the proceeds; and a great trade was thus carried on upon English capital. The English Company, on the other hand, was become a regal, as well as a commercial body; the money Edition: current; Page: [398] book iv. Chap. 7. 1769. which was paid for remittance into their treasury in India was absorbed in the expense of the government; and so much only as could be spared was employed in the purchase of investment. This was one cause undoubtedly of the comparative inability of the English Directors to pay the bills which were drawn upon them.

In the Consultation of the 23d of October, in consideration of great exigency, it was resolved, that the Board would receive all monies tendered to the Company’s treasury from that day to the 1st of November, 1770; and at the option of the lenders, grant, either interest notes payable in one year; or receipts bearing interest at eight per cent. for bills to be granted at the sailing of the first ship after the 22d of November, 1770, payable with three per cent. interest, in equal proportions on each tender, at one, two, and three years sight. And as a resource to the Directors, it was resolved to enlarge the investment by purchasing, not with ready money, but with bonds at eight per cent. and one year’s credit. This was the last considerable act in which the Governor was engaged. He resigned his office on the 24th of December, and was succeeded by Mr. Cartier. A new treaty had been concluded with Suja Dowla, which allayed whatever suspicions the ambiguous conduct of that Governor had raised, and Mr. Verelst left the three provinces in profound tranquillity.1

Edition: current; Page: [399]


Subahdar of Deccan dethroned by his brother—The English take possession of the Northern Circars—Make a Treaty with the Subahdar of Deccan—Which embroils them with Hyder Ali—History of Hyder Ali—Hyder’s first war with the English—New Treaty with the Subahdar—Peace with Hyder.

Carnatic remained but a short time free frombook iv. Chap. 8. 1765. the pressure of the neighbouring powers. In the superior government of Deccan, Nizam Ali, who had resumed, upon the departure of Bussy, the commanding station which he formerly occupied, made no delay in employing all his advantages to effect the dethronement of his feeble-minded brother. On the 18th of July, 1761, he committed the Subahdar to a prison; and invested himself with the full powers and insignia of the government.

The treaty, by the provisions of which the pretensions of England and France were at this time adjusted, affords a singular illustration of the obvious and neglected truth, that the knowledge requisite for good government in India cannot be possessed by rulers sitting and deliberating in Europe. By the treaty of Paris, concluded on the 10th of February, 1763, Salabut Jung was acknowledged as lawful Subahdar of Deccan, after he had been nearly two years dethroned, and another reigning in his stead. This instrument indeed, which recognised Salabut Edition: current; Page: [400] book iv. Chap. 8. 1765. Jung as a great sovereign, was the immediate cause of his death; for Nizam Ali, who had been withheld by dread of the restoration of the French power in India, no sooner received intelligence of the treaty of Paris, by which the French resigned Carnatic, and appeared to abandon the contest, than he felt himself delivered from all restraint, and ordered his brother to be murdered in September, 1763.

With little concern about Bassalut Jung, who nevertheless was elder brother of Nizam Ali, that usurper, at once a regicide and fratricide, now grasped, without a rival, the power of Subahdar of Deccan. The personal title or name of himself and his father have by the English been converted into the appellative of his sovereignty; and it is under the title of the Nizam, that the Subahdar of Deccan is commonly known.

In the beginning of the year 1765, the English and Mahomed Ali their Nabob were summoned to action, by the irruption of Nizam Ali into Carnatic. With a great army, which seemed to have no object in view but plunder and destruction, he laid waste the open country with a ferocity, even greater than the usual barbarity of Indian warfare. The troops of the English and Nabob were put in motion from Arcot, under the command of Colonel Campbell, and came in sight of the enemy at the Pagoda of Tripetti. The Nizam felt no desire to fight: His army was reduced to great distress for provisions and water: He decamped accordingly on a sudden, and marching forty miles in one day evacuated Carnatic by way of Colastria and Nelore.

It was at this time that Lord Clive, on his passage from Europe to Bengal, arrived at Madras. The ascendancy of the English over the Mogul, the unfortunate and nominal Emperor Shah Aulum, rendered Edition: current; Page: [401] it extremely easy to procure from him those imperialbook iv. Chap. 8. 1765. grants which, however little respected by the sword, still gave the appearance of legal right to territorial possession within the ancient limits of the Mogul empire. A phirmaun was solicited and obtained for the maritime districts, known by the title of the Northern Circars. Like the rest of India this tract was held by renters, responsible for a certain portion of revenue. Of these some were of recent appointment; others were the ancient Rajahs and Polygars of the country; a set of men who were often found to be the most convenient renters, and who, on the regular payment of the expected revenue, were seldom displaced. The country fell within the government of the Subahdar of Deccan, and was managed by a deputy or commissioner of his appointment. After the English, however, had expelled from it the French, the authority of the Subahdar had been rather nominal than real. The English held possession of their factories and forts; the Rajahs and Polygars assumed a species of independence; Salabut Jung had offered it to Mahomed Ali at the time of his quarrel with Bussy at Hyderabad; and Nizam Ali himself had proposed to surrender it to the English, on the condition of military assistance against Hyder Ali and the Mahrattas. The advantage of possessing the whole line of coast which joined the English territories in Carnatic to those in Bengal, suggested to Clive the importance of obtaining it on permanent terms. A phirmaun was accordingly received from the Emperor, by which, as far as the formality of his sanction could extend, the Northern Circars were freed from their dependance upon the Subahdar of Deccan, and bestowed upon the English. Nor was this the only diminution which the nominal empire of the Nizam sustained; for another phirmaun was Edition: current; Page: [402] book iv. Chap. 8. 1766. procured from the Emperor, by which Carnatic itself was rendered independent of his authority; and bestowed, holding immediately of the Emperor, upon the Nabob Mahomed Ali, together with the new titles of Wallau Jau, Ummir ul Hind, which he ever afterwards used.1

To take possession of the Circars, on its new and independent footing, General Calliaud marched with the troops of Carnatic, and on the part of the Rajahs and Polygars found little opposition to subdue. The Nizam, or Subahdar, was at that time engaged in the country of Barad, making head against the Mahrattas. But he no sooner heard of the operations of the English, than he proceeded with great expedition to Hyderabad; and to avenge himself for the usurpation, as it appeared to him, of an important part of his dominions, made preparations for the invasion of Carnatic. The Presidency, whom their pecuniary weakness rendered timid, were alarmed at the prospect of a war with the Subahdar; and sent orders to Edition: current; Page: [403] Calliaud to hasten to Hyderabad with full powers tobook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. negotiate a peace. A treaty was concluded on the 12th of November, 1766, by which the Company agreed to pay to the Nizam an annual tribute of five lacks of rupees for the three circars of Rajahmundry, Ellore, and Mustephanagur; and for those of Siccacole (Chicacolé) and Murtezanagur, two lacks each, as soon as they were definitively placed in their hands. Murtezanagur, commonly called Guntoor, had been assigned as a jaghire to Bassalut Jung; and the Company were pleased to suspend their occupation of it, so long as Bassalut Jung should live, or so long as he should remain a faithful subject to Nizam Ali. They further engaged to hold a body of troops in readiness, “to settle in every thing right and proper, the affairs of his Highness’s government.” And they gave him a present of five lacks of rupees, which the Nabob was ordered to find money to pay.1

This treaty has been severely condemned. But the Presidency were not mistaken in regard to their own pecuniary difficulties, though they probably overestimated the power of the Nizam, whose unpaid and mutinous troops the money which he received by the treaty scarcely enabled him for a short time to appease. The most imprudent article of the agreement was that which stipulated for the Nizam the assistance of English troops; because this had an evident tendency to embroil, and in the event did actually embroil them, with other powers. The exploit in which they were first to be employed, the reduction of the fort of Bangalore, was not, it is probable, disliked by the Presidency; because they were already upon hostile terms with Hyder Ali, to whom Edition: current; Page: [404] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. it belonged. The Nizam, however, after availing himself of the assistance of the British troops in collecting the tribute from the Polygars, on his march, listened to the overtures of Hyder, who was too eminent a master in the arts of intrigue to let slip an opportunity of dividing his enemies. The Nizam concluded with him a treaty of alliance, in consequence of which they united their forces at Bangalore: And, in August 1767, they began to make incursions into Carnatic.

Hyder Ali, who began to occupy the attention of the English, and who proved the most formidable enemy whom they had ever encountered in India, had now rendered himself entiré master of the kingdom of Mysore. The principality of Mysore, a region of considerable magnitude, had formed one of the dependencies of the great Hindu Government of Bijanuggur, which was broken up by the formation of the Mahomedan kingdoms in Deccan. When the declining power of the sovereigns of Bijanuggur enabled Mysore to throw off its dependence upon that ancient monarchy, its distance and other local circumstances saved it from subjection to any of the Mahomedan powers. It continued, therefore, till the period of Hyder’s usurpation, under a pure Hindu government, and afforded a satisfactory specimen of the political institutions of the native Hindus. The arts of government were less understood in that, than in the Mahomedan districts of India. Hardly ever have mankind been united in considerable societies under a form of polity more rude, than that which has every where been found in those parts of India which remained purely Hindu.1 At a period considerably Edition: current; Page: [405] prior to the rise of Hyder, the governmentbook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. of Mysore had assumed that state, which, if we may judge by its own example, and that of the Mahrattas, Hindu governments had a general tendency to assume. The Rajah, or Monarch, was stripped of all power, while a minister kept him a prisoner, and governed absolutely in his name. At the time when the wars of the English in Carnatic commenced, the powers of the Rajah of Mysore were usurped by two brothers, named Deoraj, and Nunjeraj. It was this same Nunjeraj, whom the French were enabled to bring to their assistance at Trichinopoly; and who there exhibited so many specimens of the rudeness of his people, and of his own ignorance and incapacity. And it was in the station of a subordinate officer in the service of this commander, that Hyder Ali began his career.

Mahomed Beloli, the great grandfather of Hyder, was a native of Punjab, who came into Deccan in the character of a fakir, and, settling in the district of Calburga, about 110 miles in a north-west direction from Hyderabad, acquired considerable property by the exercise of his religious talents. Mahomed Beloli had two sons, Mahomed Ali, and Mahomed Wéllee. They left their father’s house, and travelling southward became, at Sera, revenue peons, or armed men, employed, according to Indian practice, in the forced collection of the taxes. Mahomed Ali died at Colar, and Mahomed Wéllee, for the sake of his property, expelled his widow and son, and drove them from his doors. The name of the son was Futtee Mahomed, the father of Hyder. He obtained, along with his mother, protection from a petty officer, called a naik of peons, by whom he was brought up, and employed as a peon, or common foot soldier, in the party under his command. Futtee Edition: current; Page: [406] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. Mahomed found means to distinguish himself, and, in the service of the Nabob of Sera, became, first a naik of peons, and afterwards the fojedar, or military superintendant of a district. But misfortune overtook his master. The Nabob was dethroned, his family plundered; and Futtee Mahomed lost his life in their defence. He left two sons, the elder Shabas, the youngest Hyder, and a widow, who had a brother, the naik of a few peons, in the service of a Killedar of Bangalore. With this man, the mother of Hyder sought, and, together with her sons, obtained protection. When Shabas, the elder of the brothers, grew towards manhood, he was recommended by his uncle to an officer in the service of the Rajah of Mysore. The youth quickly rose to distinction; and obtained the command of 200 horse and 1,000 peons. Hyder, till the age of twenty-seven, could be confined to no serious pursuit, but spent his life between the labours of the chase, and the pleasures of voluptuous indolence and riot. He joined, however, the troops of Mysore, as a volunteer at the siege of Deonhully, the castle of a Polygar, about twenty-four miles north-east from Bangalore, which, in 1749, Nunjeraj undertook to reduce. On this occasion the ardour, the courage, and the mental resources of Hyder, drew upon him the attention of the General; and, at the termination of the siege, he was not only raised to the command of fifty horse, and 200 peons, or foot, but was entrusted with the charge of one of the gates of the fortress.

He continued to recommend himself with so much success to Nunjeraj, that, when the efforts of the English to establish their authority in Madura and Trinivelly, in 1755, rendered precarious the possession of the fort of Dindigul, Hyder was chosen as the man on whom its defence could, with greatest security, Edition: current; Page: [407] repose. It was situated on a high rock in thebook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. middle of a plain, at nearly an equal distance, of about fifty miles, from Madura and Trichinopoly; and amid the confusions of Carnatic had fallen into the hands of the Mysoreans about ten years before. This elevation added fuel to the ambition of Hyder; and from this period his exertions in its gratification became conspicuous and incessant.

The depredations upon which all Indian, and other barbarous warriors, are so much accustomed to subsist, he reduced to a system. There are in India, and in particular in that part of it to which he belonged, a species of troops, or of men bearing the title of soldiers, who are particularly skilled in all the arts of plunder and of theft; who receive, indeed, no pay in the armies of most of the Indian states, but are understood to provide for themselves by the devastations which they commit. A body of these men Hyder engaged in his service; and employed in the business of depredation. Hyder had never learned either to write or to read; but he valued himself upon the faculty of performing exactly by memory arithmetical calculations, with greater velocity than the most expert accountants. He agreed with his depredators to receive from them one half of the spoil; and so skilfully, we are told, were his checks contrived, that it was nearly impossible for any part of it to be concealed. It was of little importance to Hyder, or to his gang, when the convenience and safety were equal, whether the property which they acquired was taken from friends or from foes. Valuables of every description were their prey; “from convoys of grain,” says Mr. Wilks, “cattle and sheep, which were among the most profitable heads of plunder, down to the clothes, turbans, and earrings of travellers and villagers, men, Edition: current; Page: [408] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. women, and children.” Thus it was, that Hyder acquired the sinews of war; and before he left Trichinopoly, to which he had repaired in the army of Nunjeraj, he was a commander of 1,500 horse, 3,000 regular infantry, 2,000 peons, and four guns. Having enlisted the most select of the men discharged by Nunjeraj, he departed for Dindegul at the head of 2,500 horse, 5,000 regular infantry, and 2,000 peons, with six guns. He employed against the polygars of his district and its neighbourhood the arts of fraud and of force, with equal success. His vigilant eye discovered, and his activity drained, every source of revenue. He excelled in deceiving the government with false musters and accounts; and the treasures of Hyder were daily augmented. The distracted state of Madura, in 1757, encouraged him to make an effort to gain possession of that country; but Mahomed Issoof marched against him at the head of the English Sepoys, and gave him a severe defeat at the mouth of the narrow pass of Natam.

The weak and distracted state of the government of Mysore afforded opportunity to Hyder of ascending gradually to higher and higher situations and power. The Rajah, who was uneasy at the state of insignificance in which he was held, harassed the ministers with perpetual intrigues; and the brothers themselves were so little united, that Deoraj, who had most of years and of prudence, retired from the scene in disgust, and left Nunjeraj alone to sustain the weight of affairs. The treasury had been exhausted by repeated exactions of the Mahrattas; and in 1758 the troops of Nunjeraj mutinied for payment of arrears.

This was an occasion on which Hyder conceived that he might interpose his authority with advantage. Edition: current; Page: [409] He marched from Dindegul with thebook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. whole of his disposable troops; exerted himself with success in effecting a reconciliation between the brothers, and between the brothers and the Rajah; with his strict and experienced eye he examined and reduced the false accounts of the army; and, by effecting a partial payment of arrears, restored the troops to obedience. In this transaction he had sustained the character of a friend to all; and took care to be rewarded in proportion. An assignment was made to him of the revenues of a track of country for sums due by the government; and the fort and district of Bangalore were bestowed upon him in personal jaghire. The moment looked favourable for securing what he probably deemed a greater advantage. Herri Sing was one of the most powerful chiefs in the service of Mysore, and the declared enemy of Hyder. Under pretence of forwarding part of his troops to Dindegul, Hyder sent a large detachment to attack the camp of Herri Sing, who, reposing in careless security, was surprised, with a large portion of his troops, and massacred in the middle of the night.

An invasion of the Mahrattas, which immediately followed, in the beginning of 1759, contributed more remarkably to the elevation of Hyder. Though several of the principal commanders disdained to serve under a man whom they had so lately seen in a very subordinate station, he was appointed to the chief command against this formidable enemy; and acquitted himself with so much vigour and success, that before the end of the campaign he reduced them to an inclination for peace; and concluded a treaty on what were deemed favourable terms.

Hyder was now advanced to the rank and power of commander-in-chief, and had only his friend Edition: current; Page: [410] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. and patron Nunjeraj, for Deoraj was dead, between him and the entire control of the resources of the state. Hyder’s impatience admitted little delay. To secure the countenance of the Rajah against a man who was at once his robber and his gaoler, was an easy intrigue; and the troops, whose arrears had not been fully paid, and had again increased, were artfully incited to mutiny against Nunjeraj, and to place Hyder, by compulsion, at their head. The Rajah now interposed, and offered to procure pay for the troops, as soon as Hyder should take an oath to be obedient, and to renounce his connexion with the usurping minister. Hyder failed not to exhibit reluctance; but at last allowed himself to be constrained; and Nunjeraj, who could not any longer misunderstand the game, and whose courage was not remarkable, consented to retire, upon the condition of receiving an honourable provision. The Rajah was complimented with the show of greater liberty; but Hyder, to be enabled to provide for the arrears, and the regular pay of the troops, took care to procure the assignment of the revenues of so many districts, that what was now in his direct possession exceeded half the territory of the state.

In March, 1759, Hyder received overtures from Lally, inviting him to his assistance against the English; and, amid the contentions of the rival strangers, looked forward to acquisitions in Carnatic. To pave the way for the share which he proposed to take in determining the fate of that important region, he resolved to obtain possession of the territory which separated Mysore from the confines of Carnatic, and which consisted first of the territory of Anicul, situated on the eastern verge of the tract of woody hills, between Savendy Droog and the Cavery, and next of the Baramahal, a province situated on Edition: current; Page: [411] the intermediate level between the first and secondbook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. ranges of hills. Immediately after the termination of the stratagem against Nunjeraj, a part of the troops, with a confidential general, were detached to occupy this intermediate territory, which opened a safe communication into the very centre of the province of Arcot. Anicul and Baramahal were secured; and the General proceeded to Pondicherry, under orders from Hyder, to settle the terms of co-operation with the French. These were speedily adjusted; and, on the 4th of June, 1760, a detachment of the Mysorean army arrived at Thiagar, which was surrendered to them by the treaty. The defeat which was sustained by a detachment of the English army, sent to intercept the Mysoreans on their march to Pondicherry, greatly elevated the spirits of Hyder; and inspired him with a resolution to exert his strength in the war of Carnatic. Several divisions of his troops were ordered to assemble in Baramahal, and the affairs of Carnatic might have undergone a revolution, had not a storm arisen in another quarter which it required all the address and power of Hyder to elude.

The distant employment of the troops of Hyder, and his own position, with a small detachment, under command of the guns of the palace, and surrounded by the river, which, being now full, it was impossible to pass, suggested to the queen-mother the possibility of cutting him off, and delivering her son from the thraldom in which it was the evident intention of Hyder to retain him. The assistance was secured of a Mahratta chief, who was at the head of an army in a neighbouring territory; and a cannonade began. Hyder soon discovered that his situation was desperate: but the main attack being deferred till the arrival of the Mahrattas, night came on, when Edition: current; Page: [412] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. Hyder, with the assistance of a few boats, crossed the river unperceived, with a small body of horse, leaving his family behind him; and having travelled ninety-eight miles in twenty hours, the first seventy-five on the same horse, he arrived at Bangalore. He was just in time to precede the orders of the Rajah, by which the gates of the fort would have been shut against him; and he now hastened to collect his forces, of which those serving with Lally constituted a principal part.

The fortunes of Hyder tottered on the verge of a precipice. The troops, which were hastening towards him from Carnatic and Baramahal, were intercepted by the Mahrattas, who had joined the Rajah; and besieged in their camp. The utmost efforts of Hyder were ineffectual to relieve them; and his power was ready to drop from his hands; when the Mahrattas agreed to march off, upon receiving the cession of Baramahal, and the payment of three lacks of rupees. They had engaged their services to Lally, now besieged in Pondicherry; but had afterwards accepted the promise of a large sum from the English Nabob, on condition of returning immediately to Poonah. It was in consequence of this stipulation, so fortunate for Hyder, that they accepted his additional bribe; and the man, who was destined to bring the English interests to the brink of ruin, was saved by a stroke of English politics.

Hyder took the field against the forces of the Rajah, but still perceiving himself to be inferior to his enemies, he took a resolution, which it required Oriental hypocrisy and impudence to form, and of which nothing less than Oriental credulity could have been the dupe. Unexpected, unarmed, and alone, he presented himself as a suppliant at the door of Nunjeraj, and, being admitted, prostrated himself at Edition: current; Page: [413] his feet. He acknowledged, in terms of bitter anguish,book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. the wrongs of which he was guilty toward the first and greatest of his friends; vowed to devote his future life to their reparation; and entreated a firm and sincere union, that he might establish Nunjeraj in the station of honour and power in which he had formerly beheld him. It requires a high degree of improbability to prevent the greater part of mankind from believing what they vehemently wish. Nunjeraj was gained; and lent his troops, his exertions, his name, and his influence, to give ascendancy to the cause of Hyder. Fraud was an operative instrument in the hands of this aspiring general. Finding himself intercepted with the small detachment which had accompanied him on his sudden journey to the retreat of Nunjeraj, and his junction with the main body of his army which he had left to hang during his absence upon the rear of the enemy, rendered difficult, and his situation dangerous, he forged letters, in the name of Nunjeraj, to the principal commanders in the hostile army, letters purporting to be the result of a conspiracy into which these commanders had already entered to betray their General to Nunjeraj. The bearer was seized of course; and the letters delivered into the hands of the General, who fulfilled the fondest wishes of Hyder, by taking the panic, and running away from the army. During its confusion it was assailed by the main body of Hyder’s forces in the rear, by the detachment with himself in front; and yielded an easy and decisive victory. The triumph of Hyder was now secured. He delayed, only till he augmented his army, and took possession of the lower country; when he ascended the Ghauts, and early in the month of May, 1761, arrived at the capital. He sent to the Rajah a message; “That large sums were due to Hyder by the State, and Edition: current; Page: [414] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. ought to be liquidated: After the payment of these arrears, if the Rajah should be pleased to continue him in his service, it was well; if not, Hyder would depart, and seek his fortune elsewhere.” The meaning of this humble communication no one misunderstood. It was arranged, that districts should be reserved to the amount of three lacks of rupees for the personal expenses of the Rajah, and one lack for those of Nunjeraj; and that of the remainder of the whole country the management should be taken by Hyder, with the charge of providing for the expenses, civil and military, of the government. From this period Hyder was undisputed master of the kingdom of Mysore.

Hyder was fortunately cast at one of those recurring periods in the history of Oriental nations; when, the springs of the ancient governments being worn out, and political dissolution impending, a proper union of audacity and intrigue has usually elevated some adventurer to the throne. The degraded situation of the Rajah, and the feeble and unskilful administration of the two brothers, opened an avenue to power, of which Hyder was well qualified to avail himself: The debilitated and distracted government of the Subahdar of Deccan; the dreadful blow which the Mahrattas had just received at the battle of Paniput; and the fierce and exhaustive contentions which the rival strangers in Carnatic were waging against one another, left all around a wide expanse, in which, without much resistance, he might expect to reap an opulent harvest: And had it not happened, by a singular train of circumstances, that he was opposed by the arms of a people, whose progress in knowledge and in the arts was far superior to his own, he, and his son, would probably have extended their sway over the greater part of India.

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In prosecution of the design which Bassalut Jungbook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. had formed to render himself independent of Nizam Ali, he proceeded, about the month of June in 1761, to the reduction of Sera. This was a province, formerly governed by a Nabob, or deputy, of the Subahdar of Deccan. It was now possessed by the Mahrattas. But the shock which the Mahratta power had sustained by the disaster of Paniput, inspired Bassalut Jung with the hope of making a conquest of Sera. By his approach to the territories of Hyder, that vigilant chief was quickly brought near to watch his operations. Bassalut Jung was, by a short experience, convinced that his resources were unequal to his enterprise; and as his elder brother was imprisoned by Nizam Ali, on the 18th of July, his presence at the seat of his own government was urgently required. That the expedition might not appear to have been undertaken in vain, he made an offer to Hyder of the Nabobship of Sera, though yet unconquered, for three lacks of rupees; and formally invested him with the office and title, under the name of Hyder Ali Khan Behauder, which he afterwards bore. The allied chiefs united their armies, and, having speedily reduced the country to the obedience of Hyder, took leave of each other about the beginning of the year 1762.

Hyder continued to extend his conquests over the two Balipoors; over Gooti, the territory of the Mahratta chieftain Morari Row; received the submission of the Polygars of Raidroog, Harponelly, and Chittledroog; and early in 1763 he marched under the invitation of an impostor, who pretended to be the young Rajah of Bednore, to the conquest of that kingdom. The territory of Bednore includes the summit of that part of the range of western hills, which, at a height of from four to five thousand feet Edition: current; Page: [416] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. above the level of the sea, and for nine months of the year involved in rain and moisture, which clothe them with the most enormous trees, and the most profuse vegetation, overlook the provinces of Canara and Malabar. The capital and fort of Bednore situated in a basin surrounded by hills, extended its sway over the maritime region of Canara, and on the eastern side of the mountains, as far as Santa Bednore and Hoolalkera, within twenty miles of Chittledroog. This country had suffered little from the calamities of recent war, and the riches of the capital, which was eight miles in circumference, are represented as having been immense. Hyder made the conquest with great ease, and confessed that the treasure which he acquired in Bednore was the grand instrument of his future greatness.1

Hyder devoted his mind with great intensity to the establishment of a vigorous and efficient administration in this country; which opened to him a new scene of conquest. He took possession of Soonda, a district on the northern frontier of Bednore: He reduced to submission and dependance the Nabob of Savanoor, a territory which formed a deep indentation between his recent acquisitions of Sera and Soonda: And he rapidly extended his northern frontier across the rivers Werda, Malpurba, and Gutpurba, almost to the banks of the Kistna.

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This daring progress, however, again brought thebook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. Mahrattas upon his hands. Since the battle of Paniput, they had, in this quarter of India, been pushed with some vigour by Nizam Ali, the new Subahdar, who, at the commencement of his reign, gave some signs of military ardour and talent. He had constrained them to restore the celebrated fortress of Dowlatabad, in 1762; and, in 1763, carried his arms to Poona, the capital; which he reduced to ashes. The accommodation which succeeded this event, and the occupation which the Nizam was now receiving by the war for the reduction of his brother Bassalut Jung, seemed to present an opportunity to the Mahrattas of chastising the encroachments of a neighbour, whom as yet they despised. Madoo Row, who, third in order of time, had, under the title of Peshwa, or Prime Minister, succeeded to the supreme authority among the Mahratta states, crossed the Kistna in May, 1764, with an army which greatly outnumbered that which Hyder was able to bring into the field.1 He sustained a tedious, unequal conflict, which greatly reduced and disheartened his army, till 1765; when the Mahrattas agreed to retire, upon condition that he should restore the districts wrested from Morari Row, relinquish all claims Edition: current; Page: [418] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. upon the territory of Savanoor, and pay thirty-two lacks of rupees.

He hastened to give order to his recent conquests in the east, which the late interruption of his prosperity had animated into rebellion. As his forts and garrisons had remained firm, these disturbances were speedily reduced, and he immediately turned his eye to new acquisitions. Having employed the greater part of the year 1765 in regulating the affairs of his government, and repairing his losses, he descended into Canara in the beginning of 1766, with the declared intention of making the conquest of Malabar. After an irregular war of some duration with the Nairs, the whole country submitted; and a few subsequent struggles only afforded an opportunity for cutting off the most refractory subjects, and establishing a more complete subjection. He had accomplished this important enterprise before the end of the year 1766, when he was recalled to Seringapatam, by intelligence of the utmost importance. Madoo Row had issued from Poona; Nizam Ali, with an English corps, was advancing from Hyderabad; the English had already sent to attack some of his districts which interfered with Carnatic; and all these powers were joined, according to report, in one grand confederacy for the conquest of Mysore. Nizam Ali, however, and the English, were the only enemies whom it was immediately necessary to oppose; and the Nizam, as we have already seen, he easily converted into an ally. In this state of his kingdom and fortunes, he began his first war with the English, in 1767.1

He was exasperated, not only by the readiness Edition: current; Page: [419] with which, in the late treaty with the Nizam, thebook iv. Chap. 8. 1767. English had agreed to join in hostilities against him, but by an actual invasion of his dominions. Under the pretence that it formerly belonged to Carnatic, but chiefly induced, we may suppose, by the consideration of the passage which it afforded an enemy into the heart of that country, the English had sent a Major, with some Europeans and two battalions of Sepoys, into Baramahl, who, unhappily, were just strong enough to overrun the open territory, and enrage its master; but were unable to make any impression upon the strong forts, much less to secure possession of the country.

It was by means of Maphuz Khan, the brother of the English Nabob, who had acted as an enemy of the English from the period of his recall as renter of Madura and Tinivelly, that Hyder effected his alliance with the Nizam. The English corps, under Colonel Smith, which had followed the Nizam into Hyder’s dominions, had separated from his army, upon intimation of the design which that faithless usurper was supposed to entertain. The Nabob Mahomed Ali, who had early intelligence of the views of the Nizam, urged the Presidency to attack his camp before the junction of the Mysorean. The advice, however, was neglected, and, in the month of September, Colonel Smith was attacked on his march, near Changamal, by the united forces of the new allies. He sustained the attack, which, for the space of an hour was vigorously maintained; and for that time repelled the enemy. He found himself, however, under the necessity of flight; and marching thirty-six hours, without refreshment, he arrived at Trinomalee. He here enclosed himself within the walls of the fort, from which he soon beheld the surrounding Edition: current; Page: [420] book iv. Chap. 8. 1767. country covered by the troops of the enemy, and desolated with fire and sword.

He remained not long an idle spectator, though his weakness compelled him to act with caution. He encamped for a few days under the walls of Trinomalee, and afterwards near a place called Calishy-Wâcum, about ten miles further to the north. While the army lay in this situation, Hyder planned an expedition, from which important consequences might have ensued. He detached into Carnatic 5000 horse, who marched without opposition to the very precincts of Madras. The place was completely taken by surprise. The President and Council were at their garden houses, without the town; and had not the Mysoreans been more eager to plunder, than to improve the advantages which their unexpected arrival had procured, the seizure of the English chiefs might have enabled them to dictate the terms of peace.

Before the rains compelled the English army to retire into cantonments at Wandewash, Colonel Smith attacked the enemy, with some advantage, before Trinomalee. In the mean time Nizam Ali, whose resources could ill endure a protracted contest, or the disordered state of his government a tedious absence, grew heartily sick of the war; and during the period of inactivity signified to the English his desire of negotiation. As a security against deception Colonel Smith insisted that he should first separate his troops from those of Hyder. But in the mean time the period of operations returned; and the English commander, now respectably reinforced, marched towards the enemy, who in the month of December had taken the field on the further side of Velore. The two armies met, and came to action, Edition: current; Page: [421] between Amboor and Wanumbaddy, when Hyderbook iv. Chap. 8. 1768. and his ally were defeated, and fled to Caverypatnam. This disaster quickened the decision of the Nizam, who now lost not any time in separating his troops from the Mysoreans; and commencing his negotiation with the English. A treaty was concluded between the Subahdar, the Nabob, and the English, in February 1768; by which the titles of the Nabob, and the grants which he had received were confirmed; the former conditions respecting the Northern Circars were renewed; the duanee, or revenues, in other words the government of Carnatic Balagaut, a country possessed by Hyder, was in name consigned to the English, subject to a payment of seven lacs per annum to the Nizam, and the tribute or chout to the Mahrattas; the English agreed to assist the Nizam with two battalions of Sepoys, and six pieces of cannon, as often as required; and the tribute due to the Nizam for the Circars was reduced from nine lacs perpetual, to seven lacs per annum, for the space of six years.1

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book iv. Chap. 8. 1768. The victory gained over the united forces of the allies, and their final separation by treaty, elevated the Madras government to a high tone of ambition. They resolved not only to carry their arms into Mysore, but to make the conquest and acquisition of the country. They pressed Mahomed Ali to join the army, that the war might as far as possible appear to be his. “They pompously” (as the Directors afterwards reproached them) “appointed him Phousdar of Mysore,” and afterwards accused him, for accepting that very title, “of an insatiable desire of extending his dominions.”1 To bring the conduct of the war still more under the control of the Presidency, they sent to the army two members of council, as field deputies, without whose concurrence no operations should be carried on. These members compelled the commander of the troops to renounce his own scheme of operations, that he might act offensively against Mysore. The English army, however, too feeble for the enterprise, acted without energy; and the summer of 1768 passed in unavailing movements and diminutive attempts. Hyder, the newness of whose government could not long dispense with his presence, was well inclined to postpone his struggle with the English, and made in September an overture towards Edition: current; Page: [423] peace. It was received, however, with greatbook iv. Chap. 8. 1769. haughtiness by the Presidency, whose persuasion of the weakness of their enemy, and hopes of a speedy conquest of his realm, it only tended to increase and inflame. In the mean time Hyder was by no means inattentive to the war. He took the considerable fort of Mulwaggle; and gained some advantages over Colonel Wood, who attempted in vain to recover the place. The Presidency, dissatisfied with the progress of the war, under Colonel Smith, who was highly exasperated by the control of the field deputies, recalled that respectable officer; and Mahomed Ali, whom they had in some measure forced to join the army, but who was now unwilling to leave it, they commanded, under pain of deprivation, to return. The army became weak and despondent, through sickness and desertion. Hyder displayed increasing vigour. He attacked Colonel Wood, who was unable to save his baggage. Before the end of the year he had recovered all the conquered districts; and in January, 1769, carried his usual ravages into Carnatic. He penetrated into the district of Trichinopoly; and detached one of his Generals into the provinces of Madura and Tinivelly, which he plundered and laid waste. The English army were unprovided with horse, and could neither overtake the march of Hyder, nor interrupt his devastations. No part of the southern division of Carnatic escaped his destructive ravages, except the dominions of the Rajah of Tanjore, who saved himself by a timely accommodation, and whose alliance Hyder was solicitous to gain. Colonel Smith was again placed at the head of the English forces, and by judicious movements straitened the operations of Hyder. He even interposed with dexterity a detachment between Hyder and his own country, which was of the less Edition: current; Page: [424] book iv. Chap. 8. 1769. importance, however, to that warrior, as he drew his resources from the country in which he fought.

Hyder now meditated a stroke, which he executed with great felicity and address. Sending all his heavy baggage and collected plunder home from Pondicherry, which during this incursion he had twice visited to confer with the French, he drew the English army, by a series of artful movements, to a considerable distance from Madras, when, putting himself at the head of 6000 cavalry, and performing a march of 120 miles in a space of three days, he appeared suddenly on the mount of San Thomé, in the immediate vicinity of the English capital. From this he dispatched a message to the Governor, requiring that a negotiation for peace should immediately be opened; and that in the mean time the approach of the army in the field should be forbidden. The Presidency were struck with consternation. The fort might undoubtedly have held out till the arrival of Smith; but the open town, with its riches, the adjacent country, and the garden houses of the President and Council, would have been ravaged and destroyed. The Presidency were now seriously inclined to peace; and notwithstanding the unfavourableness of their situation, they agreed to negotiate upon Hyder’s terms. A treaty was concluded on the 4th of April, 1769, consisting of two grand conditions; first, a mutual restitution of conquests, including the cession to Hyder of a small district, which had formerly been cut off from the Mysorean dominions; and secondly, mutual aid, and alliance in defensive wars.

The disasters of the war in Carnatic, with the disorders which pervaded the government of Bengal, excited the most violent apprehensions in the Company; and reduced sixty per cent. the price of East Edition: current; Page: [425] India Stock. The treaty with Hyder was the bedbook iv. Chap. 8. 1769. on which the resentments of the Directors sought to repose. It is very observable, however, that their letters on this subject abound much more with terms of vague and general reproach, than with any clear designation of mischief to which the conditions of the treaty were calculated to give birth. They accuse the Presidency of irresolution, and incapacity; and tell them that by the feebleness with which they had carried on the war, and the pusillanimity with which they had made peace at the dictation of an enemy, “they had laid a foundation for the natives of Hindustan to think they may insult the Company at pleasure with impunity.” Yet they pretended not, that a mutual renunciation of conquests was not better than a continuation of the war; or that the vain boast of driving Hyder’s light cavalry from the walls of Madras would not have been dearly purchased with the ravage of the city of Madras, and the surrounding country. The Presidency affirm that they “were compelled to make peace for want of money to wage war.”1 And the only imprudent article of the treaty, in which, however, there was nothing of humiliation or inconsistency with the train of the Company’s policy, was the reciprocation of military assistance; because of this the evident tendency (a circumstance however which seemed not ever to be greatly deprecated,) was, to embroil them with other powers.2

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Public opinion in England, Proceedings in the India House, and in Parliament—Plan of Supervisors—Plan of a King’s Commissioner—Increase of pecuniary Difficulties—Dividend raised—Company unable to meet their Obligations—Parliamentary Inquiry—Ministerial Relief—An Act, which changes the Constitution of the Company—Tendency of the Change—Financial and Commercial State

book iv. Chap. 9. 1769. The affairs of the Company excited various and conflicting passions in England; and gave rise to measures of more than ordinary importance. The act of parliament having expired which limited the amount of dividend in 1767, the Directors exclaimed against a renewal of the restriction, as transferring the powers of the Company to parliament, subverting the privileges of their charter, and rendering insecure the property of every commercial and corporate body in the kingdom. They even presented to parliament a petition, in which these arguments were vehemently enforced; and so well by this time were they represented in that assembly, that a sufficiency of orators was not wanting, who in both Houses supported their claims. Opposite views, notwithstanding, prevailed; and an act was passed to prevent the increase of the dividend beyond ten per cent. till the 1st day of February, 1769.

Before the expiration of this term, the Company, Edition: current; Page: [427] who were anxious to evade the question respectingbook iv. Chap. 9. 1769. the public claim to the sovereignty of the Indian territory, very assiduously negotiated with the minister a temporary arrangement. After a great deal of conference and correspondence, an act was passed, in April, 1769, to the following effect: That the territorial revenues in India should be held by the Company for five years to come; that in consideration of this benefit they should pay into the exchequer 400,000l. every year; that if the revenues allowed, they might increase the dividend, by augmentations not exceeding one per cent. in one year, to twelve and a half per cent.; that if, on the other hand, the dividend should fall below ten per cent., the payment into the exchequer should obtain a proportional reduction, and entirely cease if the dividend should decline to six per cent.; that the Company should, during each year of the term, export British merchandise, exclusive of naval and military stores, to the amount of 380,837l.; and that when they should have paid their simple contract debts bearing interest, and reduced their bonded debt to an equality with their loans to government, they should add to these loans the surplus of their receipts at an interest of two per cent.1 This agreement between the public and the Company, was made, it is obvious, upon the same supposition, that of a great surplus revenue, upon which succeeding agreements have been made, and with the same result.

In the mean time, the grievous failure in the annual treasures, which they had been so confidently promised; and which, with all the credulity of violent wishes, they had so fondly and confidently promised themselves; excited, both in the Company, Edition: current; Page: [428] book iv. Chap. 9. 1769. and in the nation, the most vehement complaints against the managers in India, to whose misconduct was ascribed the disappointment of hopes which no conduct could have realized.1 A grand investigation and reform were decreed. And for the performance, after great consultation, it was resolved; that three persons should be chosen, whose acquaintance with Indian affairs, and whose character for talents, diligence, and probity, should afford the best security for the right discharge of so important a trust; and that they should be sent out, in the name and with the character of Supervisors, and with powers adapted to the exigence of the case. Mr. Vansittart, the late Governor of Bengal, Mr. Scrafton, and Colonel Ford, were recommended as the three commissioners; and it was proposed to invest them with almost all the powers which the Company themselves, if present in India, would possess; a power of superseding the operations and suspending the authority of the Presidents and Councils, of investigating every department of the service, and establishing such regulations as the interests of the Company might seem to require. The scheme was indeed opposed with great vehemence, by all those who favoured the persons now invested with the governing powers in India; by all those who had any pique against the individuals proposed; and by all those who disliked the accumulation of exorbitant authority in a small number of hands. But though they formed no inconsiderable party, the disappointment Edition: current; Page: [429] of the golden dreams of the Proprietors prevailed, inbook iv. Chap. 9. 1769. the General Court; and supervisors with extraordinary powers, it was resolved, were the very remedy which the maladies of the Indian government required.

But the pretensions of the ministry again interfered. Not only was the legality disputed of the commission by which the supervisors were appointed; but a share was claimed in the government of India, which the Directors regarded with alarm and abhorrence. As an accession to their power and influence in India, which they imagined would be of the utmost importance, they had applied to government for two ships of the line, and some frigates. No aversion to this proposition was betrayed by the ministry; but when the Company were elated with the hopes which a compliance was calculated to inspire, they were suddenly informed that the naval officer whom the Crown should appoint to command in India, must be vested with full powers to adjust all maritime affairs; to transact with the native princes; and, in short, to act the principal part in the offensive and defensive policy of the country. The Directors represented this proposal as affecting the honour, and the very existence of the Company. The General Court was adjourned from time to time to afford sufficient space for the consideration of so important a subject; and the Proprietors were entreated to consider the present moment as the very crisis of their fate; and to devote to the question a proportional share of their attention. To vest the officers of the Crown in India with powers independent of the Company, was in reality, they said, to extrude the Company from the government; to lay the foundation of endless contests between the servants of the King and those of the Company; and to prepare the Edition: current; Page: [430] book iv. Chap. 9. 1769. ruin of the national interests in that part of the world; If the Company were incapable of maintaining their territorial acquisitions, to surrender them to the powers of the country, upon terms advantageous to their commerce, was better, it was averred, than to lie at the mercy of a minister: And the fatal effects of the interference of the servants of the Crown in the affairs of a Company, formed for upholding a beneficial intercourse with India, were illustrated by contrasting the ruin of the French East India Company, the affairs of which the ministers of the French King had so officiously controled, with the prosperity of the Dutch East India Company, the affairs of which had been left entirely to themselves. The grand argument, on the other side, was furnished by Clive and the Directors themselves; who had used so many and such emphatical terms to impress a belief that the unprosperous state of their government was wholly produced by the rapacity and misconduct of those who conducted it in India. In the first place, the authority of a King’s officer was held up as an indipensable security against the vices of the Company’s servants; and in the next place the dignity of the master whom he served was represented as necessary to give majesty to the negotiations which a company of merchants might be required to conduct with the potentates of India.1 After long and acrimonious debates, the Edition: current; Page: [431] powers demanded for an officer of the Crown werebook iv. Chap. 9. 1770. condemned in a Court of Proprietors; and the ministers were not disposed to enforce, by any violent procedure, the acceptance of their terms. The Company would agree to sanction the interference of the officer commanding the ships of the King only within the Gulf of Persia, where they were embroiled with some of the neighbouring chiefs; the demand of two ships of the line for the Bay of Bengal was suspended; and the legal objection to the commission of the supervisors was withdrawn. In this manner, at the present conjuncture, was the dispute between the Government and the Company compromised. Two frigates, beside the squadron for the Gulf of Persia, were ordered upon Indian service. In one of them the supervisors took their passage. Their fate was remarkable. The vessel which carried them never reached her port; nor was any intelligence of her or her passengers ever received.

Mr. Cartier assumed the government of Bengal at the beginning of the year 1770.

The first year of his administration was distinguished by one of those dreadful famines which so often afflict the provinces of India; a calamity by Edition: current; Page: [432] book iv. Chap. 9. 1770. which more than a third of the inhabitants of Bengal were computed to have been destroyed.1

On the 10th of March, 1770, the Nabob Syef al Dowla died of the small-pox; and his brother Mubarek al Dowla, a minor, was appointed to occupy his station. The President and Council made with him the same arrangements, and afforded the same allowance for the support of his family and dignity, as had been established in the time of his predecessor. But this agreement was condemned in very unceremonious terms by the Directors. “When we advert,” say they, “to the encomiums you have passed on your own abilities and prudence, and on your attention to the Company’s interest (in the expostulations you have thought proper to make on our appointment of commissioners to superintend our general affairs in India), we cannot but observe with astonishment, that an event of so much importance as the death of the Nabob Syef al Dowla, and the establishment of a successor in so great a degree of nonage, should not have been attended with those advantages for the Company, which such a circumstance offered to your view.—Convinced, as we are, that an allowance of sixteen lacks per annum will be sufficient for the support of the Nabob’s state and rank, while a minor, we must consider every addition thereto as so much to be wasted on a herd of parasites and sycophants, who will continually surround him; or at least be hoarded up, a consequence still more pernicious to the Company. You are therefore, during the non-age of the Nabob, to reduce his annual stipend to sixteen lacks of rupees.”2

By the last regulations of the Directors, the inland trade in salt, beetle-nut, and tobacco, was reserved to Edition: current; Page: [433] the natives, and Europeans were excluded from iv. Chap. 9. 1771. By a letter of theirs, however, dated the 23d of March, 1770, it was commanded to be laid open to all persons, Europeans as well as natives, but without any privileges to their countrymen or servants beyond what were enjoyed by natives and other subjects. These regulations were promulgated on the 12th of December.

In the mean time financial difficulties were every day becoming more heavy and oppressive. On the 1st of January, 1771, when the President and Council at Fort William had received into their treasury 95,43,855 current rupees, for which they had granted bills on the Court of Directors, the cash remaining in it was only 35,42,761 rupees. At the same period the amount of bond debts in Bengal was 612,628l. And at the beginning of the following year it had swelled to 1,039,478l.

Notwithstanding the intelligence which the Directors had received of the inadequacy of their revenues, and the accumulation of their debts in all parts of India; and notwithstanding their knowledge of the great amount of bills drawn upon them, for which they were altogether unable to provide, they signalized their rapacity on the 26th of September, 1770, by coming to a resolution for recommending it to the General Court, to avail themselves of the permission accorded in the late act, by making a dividend at the rate of twelve per cent. per annum. The approbation of the General Court was unanimous. On the 14th of March and 25th of September, 1771, it was resolved, by the Court of Directors, to recommend to the General Court an augmentation of the dividend to six and a quarter per cent. for the six months respectively ensuing: approved in the General Court, by ninety-four voices against five in the first Edition: current; Page: [434] book iv. Chap. 9. 1772. instance, and 374 against thirty in the second. On the 17th of March, 1772, the Directors again resolved to recommend a dividend of six and a quarter per cent. for the current half year, which the Court of Proprietors in a similar manner confirmed.

These desperate proceedings hurried the affairs of the Company to a crisis. On the 8th of July, on an estimate of cash for the next three months, that is, of the payments falling due, and the cash and receipts which were applicable to meet them, there appeared a deficiency of no less than 1,293,000l. On the 15th of July the Directors were reduced to the necessity of applying to the Bank for a loan of 400,000l. On the 29th of July they applied to it for an additional loan of 300,000l. of which the Bank was prevailed upon to advance only 200,000l. And on the 10th of August the Chairman and Deputy waited upon the Minister to represent to him the deplorable state of the Company, and the necessity of being supported by a loan of at least one million from the public.1

The glorious promises which had been so confidently made of unbounded riches from India, their total failure, the violent imputations of corrupt and erroneous conduct which the Directors and the agents of their government mutually cast upon one another, had, previous to this disclosure, raised a great ferment in the nation, the most violent suspicions of extreme misconduct on the part of the Company and their servants, and a desire for some effectual interference on the part of the legislature. In the King’s speech, on the 21st of January, at the opening of the preceding session, it had been intimated that one branch of the national concerns which, “as well from remoteness Edition: current; Page: [435] of place, as from other circumstances, was peculiarlybook iv. Chap. 9. 1772. liable to abuses, and exposed to danger, might stand in need of the interposition of the legislature, and require new laws either for supplying defects or remedying disorders.” On the 30th of March a motion was made by the Deputy Chairman for leave to bring in a bill for the better regulation of the Company’s servants, and for improving the administration of justice in India. The grand evil of which the Directors complained was the want of powers to inflict upon their servants adequate punishment either for disobedience of orders, or any other species of misconduct. The Charter of Justice, granted in 1753, empowered the Mayor’s Court of Calcutta, which it converted into a Court of Record, to try all civil suits arising between Europeans, within the town or factory of Calcutta, or the factories dependant upon it: it also constituted the President and Council a Court of Record, to receive and determine appeals from the Mayors; it further erected them into Justices of the Peace, with power to hold quarter sessions; and into Commissioners of oyer and terminer, and general gaol-delivery, for the trying and punishing of all offences, high treason excepted, committed within the limits of Calcutta and its dependant factories. This extent of jurisdiction, measured by the sphere of the Company’s possessions at the time when it was assigned, deprived them of all powers of juridical coercion with regard to Europeans over the wide extent of territory of which they now acted as the sovereigns. They possessed, indeed, the power of suing or prosecuting Englishmen in the Courts at Westminster; but under the necessity of bringing evidence from India, this was a privilege more nominal than real.

One object, therefore, of the present bill was to obtain authority for sending a chief justice with some Edition: current; Page: [436] book iv. Chap. 9. 1772. puisne judges, and an attorney-general, according to the model of the Courts of England, for the administration of justice throughout the territory of the Company.

The next object was, the regulation of the trade. The author of the motion, the Deputy Chairman of the Company, represented it as a solecism in politics, and monstrous in reason, “that the governors of any country should be merchants; and thus have a great temptation to become the only merchants, especially in those articles which were of most extensive and necessary consumption, and on which, with the powers of government, unlimited profits might be made.” It was, therefore, proposed that the Governors and Councils, and the rest of the Company’s servants, should be debarred from all concern in trade. But it neither occurred to the Deputy Chairman, nor was it pressed upon his notice by any other member of the legislative body, that the argument against the union of trade and government was equally conclusive, applied to the Company, as applied to their servants; to those who held the powers of government in the first instance, as to those who held them by delegation and at will.

It was in the debate upon this motion that Lord Clive made the celebrated speech, in which he vindicated his own conduct, against the charges to which, as well from authority as from individuals, it had been severely exposed. He spared not the character either of his fellow-servants, or of the Directors. “I attribute the present situation of our affairs,” he said, “to four causes; a relaxation of government in my successors; great neglect on the part of administration; notorious misconduct on the part of the Directors; and the violent and outrageous proceedings of general courts.” To hear his account, no one would believe that any Edition: current; Page: [437] creature who had ever had any thing to do with the governmentbook iv. Chap. 9. 1772. had ever behaved well but himself. It was much easier for him, however, to prove that his conduct was liable to no peculiar blame, than that it was entitled to extraordinary applause. With great audacity, both military and political, fortunately adapted to the scene in which he acted, and with considerable skill in the adaptation of temporary expedients to temporary exigencies, he had no capacity for a comprehensive scheme, including any moderate anticipation of the future; and it was the effects of his short-sighted regulations, and of the unfounded and extravagant hopes he had raised, with which the Company were now struggling on the verge of ruin, and on account of which the conduct both of them and of their servants was exposed to far more than its due share of obloquy and condemnation.

The suspicions of the nation were now sufficiently roused to produce a general demand for investigation; and on the 13th of April a motion was made and carried in the House of Commons for a select Committee to gratify the public desire. The bill which had been introduced by the Deputy Chairman was thrown out on the second reading, to afford time for the operations of the Committee, and parliament was prorogued on the 10th of June.

During the recess, took place the extraordinary disclosure of the deficiency of the Company’s funds, their solicitation of loans from the Bank, and their application for support to the Minister. He received their proposals with coldness; and referred them to parliament. That assembly was convened on the 26th of November, much earlier, as the King from the throne informed them, than had been otherwise intended, to afford them an opportunity of taking cognizance of the present condition of the East India Company. The Minister had already Edition: current; Page: [438] book iv. Chap. 9. 1772. come to the resolution of acceding to the request of the Directors; it therefore suited his purpose to affirm that how great soever the existing embarrassment, it was only temporary; and a Committee of Secrecy was appointed, as the most effectual and expeditious method for gaining that knowledge of the subject from which it was proper that the measures of parliament should originate.

Among the expedients which the urgency of their affairs had dictated to the Company, a new commission of supervision had been resolved upon during the recess; and six gentlemen were selected for that important service. The measure, however, was not approved by the ministry; and on the 7th of December the Committee of Secrecy presented a report, stating, that notwithstanding the financial difficulties of the Company, they were preparing to send out a commission of supervisors at a great expense, and that, in the opinion of the Committee, a bill ought to be passed to restrain them from the execution of that purpose for a limited time. The introduction of this bill excited the most vehement remonstrances on the part of the Company, and of those by whom their cause was supported in the two houses of parliament. It was asserted to be a violation of property, by curtailing the powers which the Company possessed by charter of managing their own affairs; and all the evils which can arise from shaking the security of property were held up in their most alarming colours to deter men from approbation of the threatened restraint. The Company’s claims of property, however, so frequently, during the whole course of their history, brought to oppose the interposition of parliament in their affairs, proved of as little force upon this as upon other occasions; and their privileges, they were told, to which the term property, in its unlimited sense, could not without sophistry be Edition: current; Page: [439] applied, were insufficient to set aside that for whichbook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. all property is created—the good of the community; now in one important article so formidably threatened in their mismanaging hands.

After this decisive act of control, the next ostensible proceeding was the petition for a loan, presented by the Company to parliament on the 9th day of March. The propositions urged by the Directors were: that they should receive a loan of 1,500,000l. for four years, at four per cent. interest; that they should make no dividend of more than six per cent. per annum until the loan should be reduced to 750,000l.; that the dividend in that event should rise to eight per cent.; that the surplus of receipts above disbursements in England should be applied to the reduction of the Company’s bond debts to 1,500,000l.; that after such reduction, the surplus should be divided equally between the public and the Company; and that the Company should be released from payment of the annual 400,000l. to the public, for the remainder of the five years specified in the former agreement, and from the payments to which they were bound in consequence of the late acts for the indemnity on teas. In lieu of these, the following were the propositions offered by the Minister: to lend the Company 1,400,000l. at an interest of four per cent.; to forego the claim of 400,000l. a-year from the territorial revenue till that debt is discharged; to restrict them from making any dividend above six per cent. till that discharge is accomplished, and from making any dividend above seven per cent. till their bond debt is reduced to 1,500,000l.; after that reduction to receive from them, in behalf of the public, three-fourths of the surplus receipts at home, the remaining fourth being appropriated either for the further reduction of the bond debt, or the Edition: current; Page: [440] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. formation of a fund to meet contingent exigencies; and, under these conditions, to permit the territorial acquisitions to remain in their possession for six years, the unexpired term of their charter.

The Company treated these conditions as harsh, arbitrary and illegal; petitioned against them in the strongest terms; and were supported with great vehemence of language by their own friends, and the enemies of the Minister, in both houses of parliament. The restriction of the dividend after payment of the debt, the exaction of so great a proportion of the surplus receipts, and in particular the appropriation even of that part which it was proposed to leave as their own, they arraigned as a violent disposal of their property without their own consent, equalling the most arbitrary acts of the most despotical governments, and setting a precedent which lessened the security of every right of a British subject. These considerations, however vehemently urged, produced but little effect: the ministerial influence was predominating; the Company were odious; and it was felt, perhaps, rather than distinctly seen, that the rules of individual property were not applicable, without great restrictions, to an artificial body, whose proceedings were of such a magnitude as deeply to affect the interests of the nation at large. Of all these pretensions, however, that which seemed most to alarm the Company was the claim now distinctly asserted by the government to the territorial acquisitions; and though a definitive discussion was still waved by the Minister, the Company expostulated against the limitation of their possession to six years, as involving in it a decision of the question at issue.

A more important exercise of power over their affairs was still meditated by the Minister; an entire Edition: current; Page: [441] change in the constitution of the Company. On thebook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. 3d of May he introduced a series of propositions, as the foundation for a law, which should raise the qualification to vote in the Court of Proprietors from 500l. to 1,000l., and give to every proprietor possessed of 3,000l. two votes, possessed of 6,000l. three votes, and of 10,000l. four votes; which should change the annual election of the whole number of Directors to that of six new ones, or one-fourth of the whole number each year; vest the government of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, in a governor-general, with a salary of 25,000l., and four counsellors of 8,000l. each; render the other Presidencies subordinate to that of Bengal: establish at Calcutta a supreme court of judicature, consisting of a chief justice with 8,000l. a-year, and three other judges, with each 6,000l. a-year, appointed by the Crown.

As subsidiary articles it was proposed; that the first governor-general, and counsellors, should be nominated by parliament in the act, and hold their office for five years, after which the patronage of those great offices should revert to the Directors, but still subject to the approbation of the Crown; that every thing in the Company’s correspondence from India, which related to the civil or military affairs, to the government of the country, or the administration of the revenues, should be laid before the ministry; that no person in the service, either of the King or of the Company, should be allowed to receive presents; and that the governor-general, the counsellors, and judges, should be excluded from all commercial profits and pursuits.

If the alarm and indignation of the Company, Directors and Proprietors, were excited before; that body were now struck with the highest terror and resentment. They exclaimed, that the very constitution Edition: current; Page: [442] book iv. Chap. 9. 1779. was threatened with subversion, and the rights conferred by charter treated as dust. They tendered a direct application to the city of London, to join them with its influence in resisting a measure; which destroyed the principle on which its own privileges and those of every chartered body in the nation depended; and threatened the very freedom of the people, both by setting a conspicuous and prolific example of the arbitrary violation of law, and by adding the whole of the revenue and government of India to the power and influence of the Crown. They represented, that by the clause which raised the qualification of the voters, above twelve hundred Proprietors were disfranchised; violently, and without compensation, robbed of an important right, and excluded from all share, direct or indirect, in the management of their own immediate property: That by destroying the annual election of Directors, those Trustees for the Company were placed above the control of their constituents, and vested with new powers to gratify their own ease or corruption, at the expense of those whose interests were lodged in their hands: That by reducing to a small number the votes of the Proprietors, the ministerial management of that body became more easy: That, by rendering the situation of Director permanent for so great a number of years, under the incapacitation of the Proprietors either to punish or reward, and under the great power of the Minister to do both, the subserviency of the Court of Directors to all ministerial purposes was perfectly secured; and that, from these sources combined, the power of the Minister over the Company was rendered hardly any thing inferior to absolute: That the whole government of the settlements in India was taken from the Company, and, in effect, transferred to the Crown, by establishing a Edition: current; Page: [443] general presidency over all their affairs, of which thebook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. agents were in the first instance named by parliament, and ever after, in reality, under the condition of its approbation, named by the Crown: And that, “notwithstanding the Company were thus deprived of their franchise in the choice of their servants, by an unparalleled strain of injustice and oppression they were compelled to pay such salaries, as ministers might think fit to direct, to persons in whose appointment, approbation, or removal, the Company were to have no share.”1

These considerations were frequently urged, with the utmost vehemence and asperity, in both assemblies of Parliament. Every question, every clause, was warmly debated, and pressed to a division. The city of London, the Company themselves, and those stockholders who were deprived of their votes, presented strong and earnest petitions. In behalf of the Company, and the disfranchised Proprietors, counsel, at their prayer, were heard. And two protests, couched in censorial language of extraordinary strength, obtained a numerous signature in the upper house.

All this opposition, however, and all this ferment were of little avail. The propositions of the ministry were all carried by great and decisive majorities, and being reduced into two acts, the one relating to the financial relief of the Company, the other to the establishment of their new constitution, received the royal assent on the 21st of June and the 1st of July. The arrangements which concerned the business at home were appointed to commence from the 1st of Edition: current; Page: [444] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. October, 1773; those which concerned the foreign administration not till the 1st of August, 1774.1

Practical statesmen, so apt to assume to themselves the monopoly of political wisdom, are commonly shortsighted legislators.

In one respect the present experiment fulfilled the purpose very completely for which it was intended. It followed the current of that policy, which for many reasons has run with perfect regularity and considerable strength, diminishing the influence of numbers in affairs of government, and reducing things as much as possible to the oligarchical state.

For the rest; it had not so much as a tendency to remove the principal evils to which it pretended to find a remedy; and it created some, of the greatest magnitude, which previously had no existence.

The evils in question were—I. Such as had their operation in India; and—II. Such as had their operation in England.

I. Those which had their operation in India might all be ranked under two heads; 1. The absorption of more than the revenues by expense; and 2. The plunder and oppression of the people.

The only parts of the new constitution which had a direct influence upon the government in India were—1. The new appointment and powers of the Governor-general and Council; and 2. The Supreme Court of Judicature.

1. The mode of appointing public functionaries, and the extent of their power, distinct from the motives to good or evil conduct which operate upon them in the discharge of their functions, are evidently of no avail. Upon the Governor and Council in India the motives to evil conduct, and the scope for Edition: current; Page: [445] its exercise, were, if not augmented by the new regulations,book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. at any rate not impaired.1 As ingenuity may be challenged to refute this proposition, it follows, that from this branch of the arrangement no good was derived.2

2. The Supreme Court of Judicature was intended to supply the limited powers of criminal jurisdiction, which, in their ancient commercial capacity, had been committed to the Company. The terrors of law, brought nearer home to the inferior servants of the Company, and those who enjoyed their protection, might have restrained in some degree their subordinate oppressions. But it was easy to see that the operations of the supreme functionaries in India must remain exempt from the control of the Supreme Court; otherwise, that court became itself the government. This consequence was not sufficiently foreseen; and the vague and indefinite powers assigned to the judicatory, introduced immediately, between the Governor General and the Judges, those struggles which threatened the existence of English authority.

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book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. So long, on the other hand, as the Governor General and Council remained exempt from the control of law, the great oppressors were safe; and, from the community of interests, and the necessity of mutual compliance and mutual concealment, between the high offenders and the low, impunity was pretty well secured to the class.

The grand source, however, of mischief to the natives, in the jurisprudential plan, was the unfortunate inattention of its authors to the general principles of law, detached from its accidental and national forms. As the vulgar of every nation think their language the natural one, and all others arbitrary and artificial; so, a large mass of Englishmen consider English law as the pure extract of reason, adapted to the exigencies of human nature itself; and are wholly ignorant that, for the greater part, it is arbitrary, technical, and ill-adapted to the general ends which it is intended to serve; that it has more of singularity, and less capacity of adaptation to the state of other nations, than any scheme of law, to be found in any other civilized country. The English law, which in general has neither definition nor words, to guide the discretion or circumscribe the license of the Judge, presented neither rule nor analogy in cases totally altered by diversity of ideas, manners, and pre-existing rights; and the violent efforts which were made to bend the rights of the natives to a conformity with the English laws, for the purpose of extending jurisdiction, and gratifying a pedantic and mechanical attachment to the arbitrary forms of the Westminster courts, produced more injustice and oppression and excited more alarm, than probably was experienced, through the whole of its duration, from the previous imperfection of law and judicature.1

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II. If, towards the amelioration of the governmentbook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. in India, the new effort in legislation performed no more than this; it injured, rather than improved, the condition of both the Company and the natives. Against the government at home, the only objection, of any real moment, was, its inefficiency, as the ruling power, to produce, by means of its servants, a good government in India, or, what in this case was meant by good government, a large surplus of revenue or treasure to England, without oppression to the natives. The total change which was effected in the Constitution of the Company pretended to have for its End the improvement and perfection of the Company in that respect: And it employed as its whole and only Means, dependance upon the Minister.

If the Minister had more knowledge of the affairs of India, more leisure to devote to their management, and more interest in their being well managed, this was an improvement. If he had less knowledge; less leisure; and, far above all, if his interest was likely to be most promoted by that system of patronage which creates dependance, and which is at irreconcilable enmity with the very principle of good government, the change was wholly the reverse. Edition: current; Page: [448] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. How dependance upon the Minister was to render the agents of government more faithful and economical stewards of the revenues in India, or less disposed to accumulate wealth at the expense of the prostrate natives, it is not easy to make appear: In regard to responsibility, or eventual punishment, the only caution was, to act in concert with the minister; and then they were out of all comparison more assured of impunity than before.

From dependance upon the Court of Proprietors, by annual elections, to render the Directors in a great degree independent of their constituents by elections in four years, gave them greater powers, and hence motives, to pursue their own interests at the expense of the Proprietors; but that it should increase their interest in the good government of India, and hence their motives for exertion to procure it, is impossible.

To diminish the number of votes in the Court of Proprietors, and confine the power to the rich, was contrived, it was said, to render that assembly less tumultuous. But tumultuousness, in itself, is not an evil. It is evil only when it has a tendency to produce evil effects. What is more tumultuous than a public market, a theatre, or a church? To know the merit then of a reform of tumultuousness, we ought to know the specific evils which the tumultuousness in question produced. In the case of the East India Company, the authors of the measure failed in exhibiting any mischievous effects; though by their reform they unquestionably created a field for other effects of a very pernicious description. “If tumult and disorder,” as was well remarked by an illustrious Committee of the Commons House, “were lessened by reducing the number of Proprietors, private cabal and intrigue were facilitated at least in an equal degree; Edition: current; Page: [449] and it is cabal and corruption, rather than disorderbook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. and confusion, that are most to be dreaded in transacting the affairs of India;”1 that are most to be dreaded in transacting the affairs of every country under the sun.

The virtues of a Court of Proprietors, as of every political body, are intelligence and probity. The owner of 500l. stock was just as likely to be intelligent as the owner of 1000l. But a small number of men are much more easily corrupted than a large; and, where the matter of corruption operates, much more sure of being corrupt.2

To the grand complaint against the Court of Proprietors, that, being filled by the servants of the Company who had returned loaded to Europe with illgotten wealth, it proved a barrier against exposure and punishment, the amount of the qualification provided no sort of remedy, but rather facilitated and confirmed the abuse.

As soon as the management of the East India Company’s affairs became a source of great patronage and power, it necessarily followed that stock was generally held for the promotion of interests of much greater value than the dividend. It was distributed mostly among three great classes of Proprietors; 1. Those who aspired to a share in the Direction, and who were careful to possess themselves of whatever share of stock was calculated to strengthen their influence; 2. The large class of those who were competitors for the Company’s favours and employment, Edition: current; Page: [450] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. all those concerned in the immense supply of their shipping and goods, constituting a considerable proportion of the ship-owners and tradesmen in London, who strengthened their influence with the great customer, by the number of votes which they could assure to the Directors in the General Court; 3. Those who aspired to contracts with the Treasury, Admiralty, and Ordnance, and clerks in public offices, who discovered that one ground of influence with the Minister was, to have votes at his disposal in the East India Proprietary Court.1

By every thing which tended to lessen the number of voting Proprietors, the force of all these sinister interests was increased. The only expedient which had a tendency to counteract them was, to render such Proprietors as numerous as possible. This would have promoted the interests of the public, but not those of the minister; the interests of the many, but not those of the few.2

One part of the ancient constitution, for the preservation of which the authors of the present reform Edition: current; Page: [451] were condemned by the Select Committee of 1783,book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. was the ballot; “by means of which, acts,” they said, “of the highest concern to the Company and to the state, might be done by individuals with perfect impunity.” There are occasions on which the use of the ballot is advantageous. There are occasions on which it is hurtful. If we look steadily to the end, to which all institutions profess to be directed, we shall not find it very difficult to draw the line of demarcation.

A voter may be considered as subject to the operation of two sets of interests: the one, interests rising out of the good or evil for which he is dependent upon the will of other men: the other, interests in respect to which he cannot be considered as dependent upon any determinate man or men.

There are cases in which the interests for which he is not dependent upon other men impel him in the right direction. If not acted upon by other interests, he will, in such cases, vote in that direction. If, however, he is acted upon, by interests dependent upon other men, interests more powerful than the former, and impelling in the opposite direction, he will vote in the opposite direction. What is necessary, therefore, is, to save him from the operation of those interests. This is accomplished by enabling him to vote in secret; for in that case, the man, who could otherwise compel his vote, is ignorant in what direction it has been given. In all cases, therefore, in which the independent interests of the voter, those which in propriety of language may be called his own interests, would dictate the good and useful vote; but in which cases, at the same time, he is liable to be acted upon in the way either of good or of evil, by men whose interests would dictate a base and mischievous vote, the ballot is a great and invaluable security. In this set of cases is Edition: current; Page: [452] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. included, the important instance of the votes of the people for representatives in the legislative assembly of a nation. Those interests of each of the individuals composing the great mass of the people, for which he is not dependent upon other men, compose the interests of the nation. But it is very possible for a majority out of any number of voters to be acted upon by the will of other men, whose interests are opposite to those of the nation. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that they should be protected from that influence.

There is, however, another set of cases, in which those interests of the voter, which have their origin primarily in himself, and not in other men, draw in the hurtful direction; and in which he is not liable to be operated upon by any other interests of other men than those which each possesses in common with the rest of the community. If allowed, in this set of cases, to vote in secret, he will be sure to vote as the sinister interest impells. If forced to vote in public, he will be subject to all the restraint, which the eye of the community, fixed upon his virtue or knavery, is calculated to produce: and in such cases, the ballot is only an encouragement to evil. If it cannot be affirmed that the interests of the individuals, composing the court of proprietors of the East India Company, are incapable of being promoted at the cost of the British and Indian communities, it cannot be denied that the case of these proprietors belongs to this latter description.

At the very time when the discussions upon the new regulations were taking place, the Chairman of the Select Committee of the House of Commons came forward with a motion for enquiry into the circumstances of the deposition and death of Suraja Dowla; into the imposture, by a fictitious treaty, Edition: current; Page: [453] practised upon Omichund; the elevation of Meerbook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. Jaffier; and the sums of money, in the shape of presents, obtained at the time of that revolution. Crimes of the blackest dye, rapacity, treachery, cruelty, were charged upon the principal actors in that suspicious scene; and the punishment, even of Clive, as the first and principal delinquent, was represented as a necessary act of justice and policy. On the 10th of May, the following resolutions were moved; 1. “That all acquisitions, made under the influence of a military force, or by treaty with foreign Princes, do of right belong to the state; 2. That to appropriate acquisitions so made, to the private emolument of persons entrusted with any civil or military power of the state, is illegal; 3. That very great sums of money, and other valuable property, have been acquired in Bengal, from Princes and others of that country, by persons entrusted with the military and civil powers of the state, by means of such powers; which sums of money and valuable property have been appropriated to the private use of such persons.” These resolutions were warmly adopted by the house. But when the application of them came to be made to individuals; and especially when the ruin was contemplated which that application would draw down upon Clive; compassion for the man, and the consideration of his services, blotted by offences, yet splendid and great, operated with effect in the breasts of the assembly, and put an end to the enquiry. According to the style, which the spirit of English laws renders predominant in English councils, inquiry was rejected ostensibly upon a subterfuge, of the nature of a legal shuffle; incompetence, to wit, in the reports of the Select Committee to be received as evidence. As if that were true! As if no other evidence had been to be found! On the other hand, the considerations which fairly recommended Edition: current; Page: [454] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. the rejection, or at least a very great modification of the penal proceeding, were not so much as mentioned; That the punishment threatened was more grievous than the offence; that it was punishment by an ex-post-facto law, because, however contrary to the principles of right government the presents received from Meer Jaffier, and however odious to the moral sense the deception practised upon Omichund, there was no law at the time which forbid them; that the presents, how contrary soever to European morals and ideas, were perfectly correspondent to those of the country in which they were received, and to the expectations of the parties by whom they were bestowed; that the treachery to Omichund was countenanced and palliated by some of the principles and many of the admired incidents of European diplomacy; that Clive, though never inattentive to his own interests, was actuated by a sincere desire to promote the prosperity of the Company, and appears not in any instance to have sacrificed what he regarded as their interests to his own; and that it would have required an extraordinary man, which no one ought to be punished for not being, to have acted, in that most trying situation in which he was placed, with greater disinterestedness than he displayed.

The inquiry into the financial and commercial state of the Company exhibited the following results. The whole of their effects and credits in England, estimated on the 1st day of March, 1773, amounted to 7,784,689l. 12s. 10d.; and the whole of their debts to 9,219,114l. 12s. 6d.; leaving a balance against the Company of 1,434,424l. 19s. 8d. The whole of their effects and credits in India, China, and St. Helena, and afloat on the sea, amounted to 6,397,299l. 10s.6d. The whole of their debts abroad amounted Edition: current; Page: [455] to 2,032,306l.; producing a balance in their favourbook iv. Chap. 9. 1773. of 4,364,993l. 10s. 6d. Deducting from this sum the balance against the Company in England, we find the whole amount of their available property no more than 2,930,568l. 10s. 10d.; so that of their capital stock of 4,200,000l., 1,269,431l. 9s. 2d. was expended and gone.1

From the year 1744, the period to which in a former passage2 is brought down the account of the dividend paid annually to the Proprietors on the capital stock, that payment continued at eight per cent. to the year 1756, in which it was reduced to six per cent. It continued at that low rate till Christmas, 1766, when it was raised by the General Court, repugnant to the sense of the Court of Directors, to five per cent. for the next half year. On the 7th of May, 1767, it was resolved in the General Court, that for the following half year the dividend should be six and a quarter per cent. But this resolution was rescinded by act of parliament, and the dividend limited, till further permission, to ten per cent. per annum. It was continued at ten per cent. till the year commencing at Christmas, 1769, when, in pursuance of the new regulations, it was advanced to eleven per cent. The next year it rose to twelve per cent. The following year it was carried to its prescribed limits, Edition: current; Page: [456] book iv. Chap. 9. 1773. twelve and a half per cent.; at which it continued for eighteen months, when the funds of the Company being totally exhausted, it was suddenly reduced to six per cent. per annum, by a resolution passed on the 3d of December, 1772.1

In the interval between 1774 and 1772, the sales at the India House had increased from about 2,000,000l. to 3,000,000l. annually; their annual exports, including both goods and stores, had fully doubled. In the year 1751, the total amount of shipping in the service of the Company was 38,441 tons, in the year 1772 it was 61,860.2

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from the first great change in the constitution of the east india company and in the government of india, in 1773; till the second great change by the act commonly called mr. pitt’s act, in 1784.


Administration of Hastings till the Time when the Parliamentary Members of the Council arrived and the Operations of the New Constitution commenced, including—arrangements for collecting the Revenue and administering Justice ostensibly as Duan—treatment of Mahomed Reza Khan and the Rajah Shitabroy—elevation of Munny Begum—destruction of the Rohillas—sale of Corah and Allahabad to the Vizir—payment refused of the Emperor’s Revenue—Financial results.

By the new parliamentary authority, Mr. Hastingsbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. was appointed Governor General, and General Clavering, Colonel Monson, Mr. Barwel, and Mr. Francis, the members of Council; not removable, except by the King, upon representation made by the Court of Directors, during the period assigned in the act. Mr. Hastings had ascended with reputation through the several stages of the Company’s service; possessed the rank of a member of council at the time of Mr. Vansittart’s administration, and generally concurred Edition: current; Page: [458] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. in the measures which the party opposed to that Governor so vehemently condemned. After a visit to his native country, to which he proceeded at the same time with Vansittart, he returned to India, in 1769, to fill the station of second in council at Madras; and in the beginning of 1772 was raised to the highest situation in the service of the Company, being appointed to succeed Mr. Cartier in the government of Bengal.

The sense which the Directors entertained of the vices which up to this time had stained their administration in India, is recorded thus: “We wish (the words of their letter to the President and Council at Fort William, dated the 7th of April, 1773,) “we could refute the observation, that almost every attempt made by us and our administrations at your Presidency, for the reforming of abuses, has rather increased them—and added to the miseries of the country we are anxious to protect and cherish. The truth of this observation appears fully in the late appointment of supervisors and chiefs—instituted, as they were, to give relief to the industrious tenants, to improve and enlarge our investments, to destroy monopolies, and retrench expenses, the end has, by no means, been answerable to the institution. Are not the tenants, more than ever, oppressed and wretched? Are our investments improved? Has not the raw silk and cocoons been raised upon us fifty per cent. in price? We can hardly say what has not been made a monopoly. And as to the expenses of your Presidency, they are at length settled to a degree we are no longer able to support. These facts (for such they are) should have been stated to us as capital reasons, why neither our orders of 1771, nor indeed any regulations whatever, could be carried into execution. But, perhaps, as this would Edition: current; Page: [459] have proved too much, it was not suggested to us;book v. Chap. 1. 1772. for nothing could more plainly indicate a state of anarchy, and that there was no government existing, in our servants in Bengal….When oppression pervades the whole country; when youths have been suffered with impunity to exercise sovereign jurisdiction over the natives; and to acquire rapid fortunes by monopolizing of commerce, it cannot be a wonder to us, or yourselves, that native merchants do not come forward to contract with the Company; that the manufactures find their way through foreign channels; or that our investments are at once enormously dear, and of a debased quality.—It is evident then, that the evils which have been so destructive to us, lie too deep for any partial plans to reach or correct. It is, therefore, our resolution to aim at the root of those evils.” Their expectation of assistance from Mr. Hastings in these reforms, was expressed in the following terms: “Our President, Mr. Hastings, we trust, will set the example of temperance, economy, and application; and upon this we are sensible, much will depend. And here we take occasion to indulge the pleasure we have in acknowledging Mr. Hastings’s services upon the coast of Coromandel, in constructing with equal labour and ability, the plan which has so much improved our investments there; and as we are persuaded he will persevere, in the same laudable pursuit, through every branch of our affairs in Bengal, he, in return, may depend on the steady support and favour of his employers.”1

The double, or ambiguous administration; in name, and in ostent by the Nabob, in reality by the Company; which had been recommended as ingenious policy by Clive, and admired as such by his employers Edition: current; Page: [460] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. and successors; had contributed greatly to enhance the difficulties in which, by the assumption of the government, the English were involved. All the vices of the ancient polity were saved from reform: and all the evils of a divided authority were superinduced. The revenues were under a complicated, wasteful, and oppressive economy; the lands being partly managed by the native agents of the collectors, partly farmed from year to year, partly held by Zemindars, and Talookdars, responsible for a certain revenue. The administration of justice, of which, under the military and fiscal Governors of the Mogul provinces, the criminal part belonged to the Nazim, or military Governor, the civil to the Duan, or fiscal Governor, was, as a heavy and unproductive burthen, left in the hands of the Nabob; who, being totally without power, was totally unable to maintain the authority of his tribunals against the masters of the country; and the people were given up to oppression.1

The Company and their servants were little satisfied, from the beginning, with the produce of the duannee; and soon began to be little satisfied with the expedients adopted by Clive for ensuring a faithful collection. In the month of August, 1769, before the close of Mr. Verelst’s administration, a supplementary security was devised: It was held expedient, that servants of the Company should be stationed in appropriate districts, throughout the whole country, for the purpose of superintending the native officers; both in the collection of the revenue, and, what was very much blended with it, the administration of justice. These functionaries received the title of Edition: current; Page: [461] Supervisors: And, in the next year, was added abook v. Chap. 1. 1772. second supplementary security; two councils, with authority over the supervisors, one at Moorshedabad, and another at Patna.

Among the duties recommended to the supervisors, one was to collect a body of information, with respect to the amount of the revenues; with respect to the state, produce, and capabilities of the great source of the revenue, the lands; with respect to the cesses or arbitrary taxes; the whole catalogue of imposts laid upon the cultivator; the manner of collecting them, and the origin and progress of all the modern exactions; with respect to the regulations of commerce; and the administration of justice. The reports of the supervisors, intended to convey the information which they collected under those heads, represent the government as having attained the last stage of oppressiveness and barbarism. “The Nazims exacted what they could from the Zemindars, and great farmers of the revenue; whom they left at liberty to plunder all below; reserving to themselves the prerogative of plundering them in their turn, when they were supposed to have enriched themselves with the spoils of the country.” The Select Committee of the House of Commons, in 1810, quoting this passage, remark, “The whole system thus resolved itself, on the part of the public officers, into habitual extortion and injustice; which produced, on that of the cultivator the natural consequences—concealment and evasion, by which government was defrauded of a considerable part of its just demands.” With respect to the administration of justice, the supervisors reported, “That the regular course was every where suspended: But every man exercised it, who had the power of compelling others to submit to his decisions.” The Committee of the House of Commons, Edition: current; Page: [462] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. whose remark on the state of the fiscal collections has just been adduced, subjoin to this quotation that which fills up the picture; “Seven years had elapsed, from the acquisition of the duannee, without the government deeming itself competent to remedy these defects.”1

Grievously disappointed in their expectations of treasure, the Directors resolved to break through the scheme of ambiguity; so far at least as to take into their own hands the collection as well as the disbursement of the revenues. In their letter to the President and Council of Fort William, dated the 28th of August, 1771, they declared their resolution, “To stand forth as Duan” (so they were pleased to express it), “and by the agency of the Company’s servants to take upon themselves the entire care and management of the revenues.” The change was enormous, which it was the nature of this decree to produce. It was a revolution, much greater, probably, than any previous conjuncture, than even the change from Hindu to Mahomedan masters, had been able to create. The transition from Hindu to Mahomedan masters had only changed the hands by which the sword was wielded, and favours were dispensed; the machine of government, still more the texture of society, underwent feeble alterations; and the civil part of the administration was, from conveniency, left almost wholly in the hands of Hindus. A total change in the management of the revenues more deeply affected the condition, individually and collectively, of the people of India, than it is easy for the European reader to conceive: It was an innovation by which the whole property of the country, and along with it the administration of justice, were placed upon a new foundation.

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Of the nature of this change, the Directors appearbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. to have had no adequate conception. As if the measure which they proposed had been without consequences, they satisfied themselves with enjoining its execution; and consigned to their servants the task (of which, however, they did not much complain) of carrying into effect a change of government so momentous without one word of instruction.1 Those servants, though more acquainted with the practical difficulties which would be met in establishing the new system of finance, appear to have thought as little nearly as their honourable masters, of the great changes, with regard to the people, which it was calculated to produce. With great alacrity, they betook themselves to the undertaking. Mr. Hastings succeeded to the chair on the 13th of April 1772; and on the 16th the Council deemed themselves ripe for the following important resolution: That they would let the lands in farm, and for long leases; because it is the most simple mode, and best adapted to a government like that of the Company, which cannot enter into the minute details of the collections; because every mode of agency by which the rents could be received would be attended with perplexed and intricate accounts, with embezzlement of the revenue, and oppression of the people; and because any Edition: current; Page: [464] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. mode of collecting the revenues which would trench upon the time of the Governor and Council, would deprive them of a portion of what was already too little for the laborious duties which they had to perform.1

On the 14th of May the operations were planned. It was decreed, That the lands should be let for a period of five years: That a Committee of the Board, consisting of the President and four members, should perform the local operations, by circuit through the country: that the servants of the Company who superintended the business of collection in the several districts, and who had hitherto been distinguished by the title of supervisors, should henceforth be denominated collectors:2 That a native, under the title of duan, should in each district be joined with the collector, both to inform and to check: That no banyan, or servant of a collector, should be permitted to farm any portion of the revenue; because with the servant of a collector no man would dare to become a competitor: And, as presents to the collectors from the Zemindars and other middlemen had been abolished, so all acceptance of presents, by such middlemen, from the ryots, and all other modes of extortion, should be carefully prevented. Some precautions were taken against the accumulation of debt, which swelled at exorbitant interest, rarely less than three, Edition: current; Page: [465] often as much as fifteen per cent. per month, uponbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. the ryots, as well as the different orders of middlemen. The collectors were forbidden to lend, or to permit their banyans or servants to lend, to the middlemen; and the middlemen or agents to lend to the ryots: But the Governor and Council express their regret, that loans and exorbitant interest were an evil which it was not in their power wholly to repress.1

The objects which in these regulations the servants of the Company professed to have in view, were; to simplify accounts; to render uniform the mode of exaction; and to establish fixed and accurate rules. The Committee of Circuit, with whom, though a Member, Mr. Hastings did not proceed, first began to receive proposals at Kishenagur: But the terms whïch were offered were in general so unsatisfactory both in form and amount, that the Committee deemed them inadmissible; and came speedily to the resolution of putting up the lands to public auction. It was necessary to ascertain with as much exactness as possible the nature and amount of the different taxes which were to be offered to sale. For this purpose a new hustabood, or schedule of the taxes, was formed. The exactions consisted of two great parts; of which the first and principal was called assall, or the ground rents; the second aboabs, which consisted of a variety of additional, often arbitrary, and uncertain imposts, established at different times, by the government, the Zemindars, the farmers, and even the inferior collectors. Some of the most oppressive of these were abolished, and excluded from the present schedule. And new leases or titles were granted to the ryots: which enumerated all the claims to which they were to be subject; Edition: current; Page: [466] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. and forbid, under penalties, every additional exaction. When the Zemindars, and other middlemen of ancient standing, offered for the lands which they had been accustomed to govern, terms which were deemed reasonable, they were preferred; when their offers were considered as inadequate, they were allowed a pension for their subsistence, and the lands were put up to sale.

While the settlement, in other words the taxation of the country, was carrying into execution upon this plan, the principal office of revenue, or Khalsa, underwent a total revolution. So long as the veil of the native government had been held up, this office had been stationed at Moorshedabad, and was ostensibly under the direction of the sort of minister of revenue, whom with the title of Naib Duan, the President and Council had set up. It was now resolved to transfer this great office from Moorshedabad to Calcutta; and to place it under the immediate superintendance of the government. The whole Council were constituted a Board of Revenue, to sit two days in the week, or if necessary, more. The Members of the Council were appointed to act as auditors of accounts, each for a week in rotation. The office of Naib Duan, which had been held by Mahomed Reza Khan at Moorshedabad, and by Shitabroy at Patna, was abolished; but a native functionary, or assistant duan, under the title of roy royan, was appointed to act in the Khalsa, as superintendant of the district duans, to receive the accounts in the Bengal language, to answer interrogatories, and to make reports.1

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The fundamental change in that great andbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. leading branch of Indian administration which concerned the revenue, rendered indispensable a new provision for the administration of justice. The Zemindar, who was formerly the great fiscal officer of a district, commonly exercised both civil and criminal jurisdiction within the territory over which he was appointed to preside. In his Phousdary, or criminal court, he inflicted all sorts of penalties; chiefly fines for his own benefit; even capital punishments, under no further restraint, than that of reporting the case at Moorshedabad before execution. In his Adaulut, or civil court, he decided all questions relating to property; being entitled to a chout, or twenty-five per cent., upon the subject of litigation. His discretion was guided or restrained by no law, except the Koran, its commentaries, and the customs of the country, all in the highest degree loose and indeterminate. Though there was no formal and regular course of appeal from the Zemindary decisions, the government interfered in an arbitrary manner, as often as complaints were preferred, to which, from their own importance, or from the importance of those who advanced them, it conceived it proper to attend. To the mass of the people these courts afforded but little protection: The expense created by distance, excluded the greater number from so much as applying for justice; and every powerful oppressor treated a feeble tribunal with contempt. The judges were finally swayed by their hopes and their fears; by the inclinations of the men who could hurt or reward them. Their proceedings were not controuled by any written memorial or record. In cases relating to religion, the Cauzee and Brahmen were called to expound, the one the Moslem, the other the Brah-menical law; and their opinion was the standard of Edition: current; Page: [468] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. decision. Originally, questions of revenue as well as others belonged to the courts of the Zemindars; but a few years previous to the transfer of the revenues to the English, the decision of fiscal questions had been taken from the Zemindar, and given to an officer styled the Naib Duan, or fiscal Deputy, in each province.

Beside the tribunals of the districts; the capital was provided with two criminal courts; in one of which, called roy adaulut, the Nazim, as supreme magistrate, tried capital offences; in another, a magistrate called the Phousdar tried offences of a less penal description, and reported his proceedings to the Nazim. At the capital was also found the principal duanee or fiscal court; in which the Duan tried causes relating to the revenue, including all questions of title to land. All other civil causes were tried at the capital in the court of the Darogo adaulut al alea; except those of inheritance and succession, which were decided by the Cauzee and Muftee. An officer, with the title of Mohtesib, superintended the weights and measures, and other matters of police.

Generally speaking, the courts of justice in India were instruments by which the powerful performed oppression, at their pleasure, on the weak.

Under the ancient government, the English, as well as other European settlers, instead of demanding payment from a reluctant debtor through the courts of law, seized his person and confined it, till satisfaction was obtained. Nor was this so inconsistent with the spirit of the government, as often to excite its displeasure. It was indeed a remedy to which they were not often obliged to recur; because the profit of dealing with them generally constituted a sufficient motive to punctuality. After the power of the English became predominant, the native courts Edition: current; Page: [469] ceased to exert any authority over Englishmen andbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. their agents.1

The first attempt, which had been made by the English to remedy, in their new dominions, any of the defects in the administration of justice, was the appointment in 1769 of superintending commissioners to the several districts, with directions to inquire into the proceedings of the courts of justice, to restrain iniquitous proceedings, to abolish the chout, and, where a total change should appear desirable, to apply to government for the requisite powers. In 1770, the Naib Duan, and such of the servants of the Company as had their station of service at Moorshedabad, were formed into a Council of Control over the administration of justice. Its administration was still to conform to the ancient and established plan; but the Council of Control should interpose as they perceived occasion; every judicial proceeding which concerned the government should come under their review; the trials should be transmitted to them in all criminal cases, and execution suspended, till their opinion was known; all causes relative to the revenue and to property in land should in the first instance be tried in the native courts, but the Council should revise the proceedings of these courts, and have the power of final determination.

For supplying the place of the native courts, in a great measure superseded by the new system of revenue; and for providing a more perfect judicial establishment; the following scheme was invented and pursued. Two courts, a civil, and a penal, were appointed for each district. The criminal court, styled Phousdary Adaulut, consisted of the collector, as superintendant, with the cauzee and muftee of the Edition: current; Page: [470] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. district, and two Mohlavies, as interpreters of the law. The civil court, styled Mofussul Duanee Adaulut, consisted of the collector, as President, assisted by the provincial duan and the other officers of the native court. From the jurisdiction of this tribunal no cases were excepted, beside those of succession to Zemindaries and Talookdaries, reserved to the President and Council.

At the seat of government were also established two supreme courts of appeal. That to which the civil branch of this appellate jurisdiction was consigned received the name of Suddur Duanee Adaulut; and was composed of the President with two Members of the Council, attended by the duan of the Khalsa, and certain officers of the Cutchery, or native court of the city. That on which the penal branch was conferred, obtained the title of Nizamut Suddur Adaulut. It consisted of a chief judge, entitled Darogo Adaulut, assisted by the chief Cauzee, the chief Muftee, and three Mohlavies. This Judge was nominated by the President and Council, who in this case acted in the capacity of Nazim. All capital cases were reported to his tribunal; and, after review, were ultimately referred to the Governor General and Council. After a short experience, however, the superintendance of this court appeared to impose a labour, and to involve a responsibility, which the Governor and Council found it inconvenient to sustain; it was one of the first transactions therefore of the new government which succeeded in 1774 to restore this part of the nizamut to the nominal Nabob, and to carry back the tribunal to Moorshedabad.1

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For the district of Calcutta, two courts were established,book v. Chap. 1. 1772. on the plan of the other district courts; in each of which a Member of Council presided in rotation. In all these courts, it was ordained that records of proceedings should be made and preserved. The chout, or exaction of a fourth part of all litigated property, for the benefit of the Judge, was abolished. A prohibition was issued against exorbitant fines. The discretionary power, exercised by a creditor over the person of his debtor, was no longer tolerated. And all disputes of property, not exceeding ten rupees, were referred to the head farmer of the pergunna or village precinct, to which the parties belonged.1

In the introduction of these measures, a specimen is exhibited of the regard which was paid to the feelings or honour of the natives, how great soever their rank or deservings. Under the anxious search of the Directors for the cause of their intense disappointment in the receipt of treasure from the revenues of Bengal, they, after venting the first portion of their chagrin upon their European, seem to have turned it, with still greater want of consideration, upon their native agents. In a letter from the Secret Committee to Mr. Hastings, their President, dated 28th of August, 1771, they say, “By our general address you will be informed of the reasons we have to be dissatisfied with the administration of MahometReza Cawn, Edition: current; Page: [472] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. and will perceive the expediency of our divesting him of the rank and influence he holds as Naib Duan of the kingdom of Bengal.” Mr. Hastings is then directed, “to issue his private orders for the securing the person of Mahomet Reza Cawn, together with his whole family, and his known partizans and adherents,” and for bringing them prisoners to Calcutta. For this secrecy, precipitation, and severity, (arrest and imprisonment to a man of that rank in India is one of the most cruel of all punishments) the reason assigned was, that otherwise he might “render all inquiry into his conduct ineffectual, and ill-consequences might result from his resentment and revenge.” In the endeavour to discover delinquency, they say, “Your own judgment will direct you to all such means of information as may be likely to bring to light the most secret of his transactions. We cannot, however, forbear recommending to you, to avail yourself of the intelligence which Nundcomar may be able to give respecting the Naib’s administration; and while the envy which Nundcomar is supposed to bear this minister may prompt him to a ready communication of all proceedings which have come to his knowledge, we are persuaded that no scrutable part of the Naih’s conduct can have escaped the watchful eye of his jealous and penetrating rival.”1

The opinion which the Directors entertained of the man of whom they desired to make such an instrument, had, on a former occasion, been thus expressed: “From the whole of your proceedings with respect to Nundcomar, there seems to be no doubt of his endeavouring by forgery and false accusations to ruin Ram Churn; that he has been guilty of carrying Edition: current; Page: [473] on correspondence with the country powers,book v. Chap. 1. 1772. hurtful to the Company’s interests; and instrumental in conveying letters between the Shazada and the French Governor General of Pondicherry. In short, it appears, he is of that wicked and turbulent disposition, that no harmony can subsist in society where he has the opportunity of interfering. We therefore most readily concur with you, that Nundcomar is a person improper to be trusted with his liberty in our settlements; and capable of doing mischief, if he is permitted to go out of the province, either to the northward, or to the Deccan. We shall therefore depend upon your keeping such a watch over all his actions, as may he means of preventing his disturbing the quiet of the public, or injuring individuals for the future.”1

In a letter, dated 1st September, 1772, Mr. Hastings gave the Directors a history of the operations already performed, and of the views from which they had sprung. “As your commands were peremptory, and addressed to myself alone, I carefully concealed them from every person, except Mr. Middleton, whose assistance was necessary for their execution, until I was informed by him that Mahmud Rizza Cawn was actually in arrest, and on his way to Calcutta.” Beside these alleged commands of the Directors, “I will confess,” he says, “that there were other cogent reasons for this reserve;” and giving these reasons, he describes the importance of the office which was filled by Mahomed Reza Khan, and the susceptibility of corruption which marked the situation of his fellow-servants in India. “I was yet but a stranger to the character and disposition of the Members of your administration. I knew that Mahmud Rizza Cawn had enjoyed the sovereignty of Edition: current; Page: [474] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. this province for seven years past, had possessed an annual stipend of nine lacs of rupees, the uncontrouled disposal of thirty-two lacs entrusted to him for the use of the Nabob, the absolute command of every branch of the Nizamut, and the chief authority in the Dewannee. To speak more plainly; he was, in every thing but the name, the Nazim of the province, and in real authority more than the Nazim.—I could not suppose him so inattentive to his own security; nor so ill-versed in the maxims of Eastern policy, as to have neglected the due means of establishing an interest with such of the Company’s agents as, by actual authority, or by representation to the Honourable Company, might be able to promote or obstruct his views.”1

The office of Mahomed Reza Khan consisted of two parts; the one was the office of Naib Duan, in which he represented the Company, as Duan or Master of the Revenues; the other was the office of Naib Subah, as it was called by the President and Council, more properly the Naib Nazim, in which he represented the Nabob in his office of Nazim, that department of the Subahdaree, the name and ministerial functions of which were still reserved to the native Prince. The functions of the Naib Duan were indeed supplied by the new scheme for levying the revenue. But for those of the Naib Subah, as they called him, no provision as yet was made. The duties and importance of that office, are thus described by Mr. Hastings and Committee; “The office of Naib Subah, according to its original constitution, comprehends the superintendance of the Nabob’s education, the management of his household, the regulation of his expenses, the representation of his person, the chief administration of justice; the issuing of all Edition: current; Page: [475] orders, and direction of all measures which respect thebook v. Chap. 1. 1772. government and police of the provinces; the conduct of all public negotiations, and execution of treaties; in a word, every branch of executive government.”1

Nothing can afford a more vivid conception of what I may perhaps be allowed to call the style of government which then existed in Bengal, the temper with which the difference between some performance and no performance of the duties of government was regarded, than this; that the officer on whom “every branch of the executive government“ depended, was arrested some days before the 28th of April; and that it was not till the 11th of July, that a proposition was brought forward to determine what should be done with the office he had filled.2 A letter signed by the Company’s principal servants at Moorshedabad, and received at Fort William on the 21st of May, declared; “We must also observe to you the necessity there is for speedily appointing a Naib to the Nizamut, as the business of that department, particularly the courts of justice, is suspended for want of a person properly authorized to confirm the decrees of the several courts of justice, and to pass sentence on criminals, besides various other matters of business, wherein the interposition of the Subah [Subahdar] is immediately necessary.”3 Why was not some arrangement taken; or rather, is it necessary to ask, why some arrangement was not taken, to prevent the suspension of the judicial and every branch of the executive government, before the officer was arrested on whom all these great operations depended!

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book v. Chap. 1. 1772. The Rajah Shitabroy held the same office at Patna, for the province of Bahar, as was held by Mahomed Reza Khan at Moorshedabad, for that of Bengal. Because Mahomed Reza Khan was arrested, and sent to Calcutta for his trial, and because, as holding the same office, it seemed proper that they should both share the same fate, Shitabroy was in like fashion arrested, and sent to his trial.

Ahteram al Dowlah was a surviving brother of Jaffier Ali Khan the deceased Subahdar, the uncle of the young Nabob, the eldest existing male, and hence the natural guardian, of the family: On this ground he presented a petition to “the Gentlemen,” praying that he might be appointed to the vacant office of Neabut Nizamut; in other words be chosen Naib under the Nazim.

The Directors, though resolved not to be any longer Duan under a cloak; were yet eager to preserve the supposed benefit of clandestinity, in the other department of the Subahdaree, the Nizamut.1 The servants in India declared their full concurrence in the wisdom of that policy.2 But they conceived Edition: current; Page: [477] that for this purpose such an officer as the Naibbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. Subah (so they styled the Naib of the Nazim) was neither necessary nor desirable; first, on account of the expense, next the delegation of power, which could never be without a portion of danger. They resolved, therefore, that the office of Naib Subah should be abolished.1 That is to say, they resolved, that the main instrument of government; that on which the administration of justice, the whole business of police, and every branch of the executive government, depended; should be taken away: And what did they substitute, for answering the same ends? The Courts of Review established at Calcutta might be expected to supply the place of the Naib of the Nazim, in respect to the administration of justice: With respect to all the other branches of government, answerable for the happiness of between twenty and thirty millions of human beings, no substitution whatsoever was made: So profound, for I acquit them on the score of intention, was the ignorance which then distinguished the English rulers of India, of what they owed to the people, over whom they ruled, and the fruit of whose labour, under the pretence of rendering to them the services of government, they took from them, and disposed of as they pleased! No doubt the duties of government, thus left without an organ, were in part, and irregularly, when they pressed upon them, and could not be avoided, performed both by the President and Council, and by the servants distributed in the different parts of the country. But how imperfectly those Edition: current; Page: [478] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. services of government must have been rendered, for which no provision was made, and which, as often as they were rendered, were rendered as works of supererogation, by those who had other obligations to fulfil, it is unnecessary to observe.

Though so little was done for rendering to the people the services of government, there was another branch of the duties of the Naib Nizam, which met with a very different sort and style of attention. That was, in name, the superintendance of the education and household of the Nabob; in reality, the disbursement of the money, allotted for his state and support. This was a matter of prime importance; and was met with a proportional intensity of consideration and care. It would be unjust, however, to impute to the individuals the defect in point of virtue which this contrast seems to hold forth. The blame is due to their education, the sort of education which their country bestows. They had been taught to consider the disbursement of a very large sum of money, as a matter of prodigious importance; they had never been taught to consider the rendering of the services of government to the people, provided the people would be quiet, as a matter of any importance at all. They must, therefore, have been superior to ordinary men; they must have belonged to that small number who rise above the mental level which their country and its institutions are calculated to form, had they displayed a higher measure, than they did, of wisdom and virtue.

This high-prized department of the functions of the Naib Nazim was even divided into two portions; the latter subject to the control of the former. One portion was made to consist, in “the guardianship of the Nabob, and the care and rule of his family;” the other in “regulating and paying the salaries of the Edition: current; Page: [479] Nabob’s servants, and keeping the account of hisbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. expenses, to be monthly transmitted to the Board, according to the orders of the Honourable Court of Directors.”1

To execute the first of these portions (the pretensions of Ahteram ul Dowla, and if a woman was to be chosen, those of the mother of the Nabob, the wife of Meer Jaffier, being set aside) Munny Begum, a second wife, or rather concubine of Meer Jaffier, a person who had been originally a dancing girl, was preferred and appointed. The reasons are thus assigned by the majority of the council, in their minute of the 11th of July, 1772: “We know no person so fit for the trust of guardian to the Nabob, as the widow of the late Nabob Jaffier Ally Cawn, Minnee Begum; her rank may give her a claim to this pre-eminence, without hazard to our own policy; nor will it be found incompatible with the rules prescribed to her sex by the laws and manners of her country, as her authority will be confined to the walls of the Nabob’s palace, and the Dewan” (meaning the person who should hold the secondary office, the paymaster, and accountant) “will act of course in all cases in which she cannot personally appear. Great abilities are not to be expected in a Zennana, but in these she is very far from being deficient, nor is any extraordinary reach of understanding requisite for so limited an employ. She is said to have acquired a great ascendant over the spirit of the Nabob, being the only person of whom he stands in any kind of awe; a circumstance highly necessary for fulfilling the chief part of her duty, in directing his education and conduct, which appear to have been hitherto much neglected.”2

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book v. Chap. 1. 1772. With regard to the second of the above-described portions, a minute, in the Consultation, 11th July, 1772, signed Warren Hastings, says, “The President proposes Rajah Goordass, the son of Maha Rajah Nundcomar, for the office of Dewan to the Nabob’s household. The inveterate and rooted enmity which has long subsisted between Mahomet Reza Cawn and Nundcomar, and the necessity of employing the vigilance and activity of so penetrating a rival to counteract the designs of Mahomet Reza Cawn, and to eradicate that influence which he still retains in the Edition: current; Page: [481] government of this province, and more especially inbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. the family of the Nabob, are the sole motives for this recommendation.”1

The revenue allowed to the use of the Nabob had hitherto been so great a sum as thirty-two lacs of rupees. Of this the Directors had already complained; and agreeably to their directions, in January, 1772, on the allegation of the non-age of the Nabob, it was reduced to one half.

Mahomed Reza Khan and Shitabroy were brought prisoners to Calcutta in the month of April. In his letter of the 1st of September, to the Court of Directors, Mr. Hastings says: “It may at first sight appear extraordinary, that Mahmud Rizza Cawn and Rajah Shitab Roy have been so long detained in confinement Edition: current; Page: [482] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. without any proofs having been obtained of their guilt, or measures taken to bring them to a trial.” Among the causes of this, he first specifies the great load of business with which the time of the counsel had been consumed. He then says, “Neither Mahmud Rizza Cawn nor Rajah Shitab Roy complain of the delay as a hardship. Perhaps all parties, as is usual in most cases of a public concern, had their secret views, which, on this occasion, though opposite in their direction, fortunately concurred in the same points. These had conceived hopes of a relaxation of the Company’s orders; Mahmud Rizza Cawn had even buoyed himself up with the hopes of a restoration to his former authority by the interests of his friends and a change in the Direction. I pretend not to enter into the views of others; my own were these: Mahmud Rizza Cawn’s influence still prevailed generally throughout the country; in the Nabob’s household, and at the capital, it was scarce affected by his present disgrace; his favour was still courted, and his anger dreaded: Who, under such discouragements, would give information or evidence against him? His agents and creatures filled every office of the Nizamut and Dewannee; how was the truth of his conduct to be investigated by these? It would be superfluous to add other arguments to show the necessity of pressing the inquiry by breaking his influence, removing his dependants, and putting the directions of all the affairs which had been committed to his care, into the hands of the most powerful or active of his enemies. With this view, too, the institution of the new Dewannee obviously coincided. These were my real motives for postponing the inquiry.”1

With respect to the further progress of that inquiry, Edition: current; Page: [483] for facilitating which such extraordinary proceedingsbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. had been described as necessary, proceedings sufficient to procure the destruction, when required, of the most innocent of men; it was nevertheless, after two years’ confinement, degradation, and anxiety, judicially declared, that in Mahomed Reza Khan, and Rajah Shitabroy, no guilt had been proved. There is no proof that their destruction was at any time an object with Mr. Hastings; and their acquittal proves that certainly it was not so to the end. Of Mahomed Reza Khan, as connected with subsequent facts of great importance, we shall afterwards have to speak. But the mind of Shitabroy, who was a man of a high spirit, was too deeply wounded for his health to escape; and he died of a broken heart, a short time after his return to Patna. As some compensation for the ill-usage of Shitabroy, Mr. Hastings, on his visit to Patna, when travelling to meet the Vizir at Benares, in 1773, appointed his son Roy-royan, or chief native agent of finance, in the province of Bahar; “from an entire conviction,” as he declared, “of the merits and faithful services, and in consideration of the late sufferings, of his deceased father.”1

During the time in which this great revolution was effecting in the government of Bengal, the situation of the neighbouring powers was preparing another field of action for the ambition and enterprise of the Company’s servants. The loss which the Mahrattas had sustained in their late contest with the Abdalees, and the dissensions which prevailed among their chiefs, had for several years preserved the northern provinces from their alarming incursions. Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla, in whom, as imperial deputy, the Edition: current; Page: [484] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. chief power, at Delhi, had been vested, upon the departure of the Abdalee Shah, had, by his wisdom and vigour, preserved order and tranquillity in that part of Hindustan. The Emperor, Shah Aulum, who resided at Allahabad, in the enjoyment of the districts of Allahabad and Corah, allotted as his dominion in the treaty lately concluded with him by the English and Vizir, where his state was in some measure supported by the payment or expectation of the share which was due to him, and which the English rulers had bound themselves to pay, of the revenues of Bengal; had manifested great impatience, even before the conclusion of Mr. Verelst’s government, to march to Delhi, and to mount the throne of his ancestors. Respect for the English, who laboured to repress this fond desire, and for the power of Nujeeb ad Dowla, who might not willingly retire from his command, delayed the execution of the Emperor’s designs. Nujeeb ad Dowla died in the year 1770, about the very time when the ambition of Shah Aulum had stimulated him to the hazardous project of courting the Mahrattas to assist him in returning to Delhi.

With or without the concert of the Emperor, three powerful chiefs, Tookagee, Sindia, and Besagee, had taken a position to the northward of the river Chumbul, and hovered over the adjoining provinces with 30,000 horse. The Emperor, in the beginning of the year 1771, had dispatched his minister to Calcutta to obtain, if not the assistance, at least the approbation of the English, to his projected expedition; and was not restrained by their dissuasions. By the exertion of the Mogul nobles, and the assistance of the Vizir, who is said to have acted with more than his usual liberality,1 he was enabled, in the month of Edition: current; Page: [485] May, 1771, to march from Allahabad at the head ofbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. an army of 16,000 men. At the town of Nabbee Gunge, about thirty miles beyond the city of Furuckabad, on the high road to Delhi, where he was constrained, by the commencement of the rains, to canton his army, a Mahratta vakeel, or ambassador, waited his arrival, and presented the demands of his masters. Whatever balance of chout was due from the time of Mahomed Shah, must be discharged: Whatever plunder should be taken, must be divided equally between the Mogul and Mahratta troops: The Mahratta leaders must be confirmed in their jaghires: And five lacs of rupees,1 toward the expense of the war, must be immediately advanced to the Mahrattas from the imperial treasury. With whatever indignation these imperious terms might be heard, no reluctance was to be shown. When the season for marching returned, the Mahratta chiefs and the nobles of Delhi joined the retinue of the Emperor; and on the 25th of December he made his entrance into the capital, with all the display which his circumstances placed within the compass of his power.

The Mahrattas afforded the Emperor but a few days to enjoy the dignity and pleasures of his capital; when they hurried him into the field. The country of the Rohillas was the object of cupidity to both; to the Emperor, as an increase of his limited territory; to the Mahrattas, as a field of plunder, if not a permanent possession. Seharunpore, the jaghire of the late minister Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla chief, who Edition: current; Page: [486] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. had served the royal family with so much fidelity and talent, and, in the absence of the Emperor, had governed the city and province of Delhi for a number of years, lay most accessible. It was not, as the other possessions of the Rohillas, on the further side of the Ganges, but commenced under the Sewalic hills, at a distance of seventy miles from Delhi, and was terminated by the strong fortress of Ghose Ghur on the north, and by Sakertal on the east. The resumption of the government of Delhi, which had been possessed by Nujeeb ad Dowla, and transmitted to his son Zabita Khan, and the idea of the resentment which that chief must have conceived upon this retrenchment of his power, rendered him an object of apprehension to the Emperor, and recommended to his approbation the project of commencing operations with the reduction of Seharunpore. The Mogul forces, which the Emperor accompanied in person, were commanded by Mirza Nujeef Khan, a native of Persia, who accompanied to Delhi Mirza Mhosan, the brother of Suffder Jung, the Nabob of Oude, when he returned from the embassy on which he had been sent to Nadir Shah, after his invasion of Hindustan. Mirza Nujeef was of a family said to be related to the Sophi sovereigns of Persia, and was held in confinement by the jealousy of Nadir. He and his sister were released at the intercession of the Hindustan ambassador; when the sister became the wife of her deliverer; and the brother accompanied them on their departure to Hindustan. After the death of his benefactor, Mirza Nujeef adhered to the fortunes of his son, Mahomed Coollee Khan, Governor of Allahabad; and when that unfortunate Prince was treacherously put to death by his cousin Sujah Dowla, the son and successor of Suffder Jung, Nujeef Khan retired with a few followers into Bengal, and offered his services to Edition: current; Page: [487] Meer Causim. When that Nabob fled for protectionbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. to the Nabob of Oude, whom Nujeef Khan, as the friend of Mahomed Coollee Khan, was afraid to trust, he departed into Bundelcund, and was received into employment by one of the chiefs of that country. Upon the flight of Sujah Dowla, after the battle of Buxar, Mirza Nujeef offered his services to the English; advanced claims to the government of Allahabad; was favourably received; and put in possession of a part of the country. But when the transfer of that district to the Emperor came to be regarded as a politic arrangement, the pretensions of Nujeef Khan were set aside; and, in the way of compensation, he was allowed a pension of two lacs of rupees from the English revenues, and recommended warmly to the Emperor. His talents and address raised him to a high station in the service of that enfeebled Sovereign, whom he accompanied, as commander of the forces, on his ill-fated expedition to Delhi.

The united power of the Emperor and Mahrattas, Zabita Khan, though he made a spirited defence, was unable to withstand. He was overcome in battle; and fled across the Ganges, in hopes to defend what territories he possessed on the opposite side. He stationed parties of troops at the different fords; but this weakened his main body; Nujeef Khan gallantly braved the stream; and was followed by the Mahrattas; when Zabita Khan, despairing of success, fled to Pattirgur, where he had deposited his women and treasures. The closeness with which he was pursued allowed not time sufficient to remove them, and they fell into the hands of the enemy; while Zabita Khan himself, with a few attendants, escaped to the camp of Sujah Dowla. His country, one of the most fertile districts in India, which had flourished under the vigorous and equitable administration of Nujeeb ad Dowla, Edition: current; Page: [488] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. afforded a rich booty; which the Mahrattas wholly seized, and set at nought the outcries of the Emperor.

The Rohillas were now placed in the most alarming situation. We have already seen1 that among those soldiers of fortune from the hardy regions of the North, who constantly composed the principal part of the Mogul armies, and, according to their talents and influence, procured themselves lands and governments in India, the Afghauns had latterly occupied a conspicuous place; that a portion of this people, who took the name of Rohillas, had given several chiefs, with large bands of followers, to the imperial armies; that these chiefs had in some instances been rewarded with jaghires in that fertile district of country which lies principally between the Ganges and the mountains, on the western boundary of the Subah of Oude; that amid the disturbances which attended the dissolution of the Mogul government, those leaders had endeavoured to secure themselves in their possessions, which they had filled with great numbers of their countrymen. It is completely proved, that their territory was by far the best governed part of India; that the people were protected; that their industry was encouraged; and that the country flourished beyond all parallel. It was by these cares, and by cultivating diligently the arts of neutrality; that is, by pretending, according to the necessity of Indian customs, to favour all parties, not by conquering a larger territory from their neighbours, that the Rohilla chiefs had endeavoured to provide for their independance. After the death of Nujeeb ad Dowla, no one among them was remarkably distinguished for talents.2 Hafez Rhamet Khan, Edition: current; Page: [489] whose territories lay nearest to thosebook v. Chap. 1. 1772. of Sujah Dowla, was looked upon as the chief of the tribe; but his character had in it more of caution than of enterprise, and his prudence had stamped upon him the reputation of avarice. The united force of all these leaders was estimated at 80,000 horse and foot. But though a sense of common danger might with difficulty combine them in operations of defence, they were too independent, and their minds too little capable of a steady pursuit of their own interests, to offer, through an aggressive confederacy, any prospect of danger to the surrounding powers.1

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book v. Chap. 1. 1772. The Rohillas, on their part, however, stood exposed to alarming designs, on almost every quarter. Their nearest, and for a long time their most dangerous enemy, was the Subahdar of Oude, to whom, from its first acquisition, their territory had been a constant object of envy and desire. A predecessor of Sujah Dowla, nearly thirty years before, had invited the Mahrattas to assist him in wresting it from their hands; and had given the first temptation to that dangerous people to claim a settlement in that part of Hindustan. From the character of the present Subahdar of Oude, the danger of the Rohillas on that side was increased rather than diminished; and at the same time the superior power of the Mahrattas pressed upon them with alarming violence from the south. With their own strength, they were a match for neither party; and clearly saw, that their safety could only be found in obtaining protection against both. They temporised; and endeavoured to evade the hostile designs of each, by shielding themselves with the terror which one set of their enemies kept alive in the breasts of the other.

The Rohillas were vehemently roused by intelligence of the attack upon Zabita Khan, which they regarded as the first step of a general plan of aggression. They proposed an union of counsels and of arms with the Subahdar of Oude, to whom the establishment of the Mahrattas upon his frontier was, they knew, an object equally of danger and alarm. He was thrown into great consternation and embarrassment. Early in January, 1772, he pressed for an Edition: current; Page: [491] interview with the English General, Sir Robertbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. Barker, who was then on his route to Allahabad, and met him on the 20th of the same month at Fyzabad. He remarked that “either, to prevent a total extirpation, the Rohillas would be necessitated to give up a part of their country, and to join their arms with the Mahrattas; when the whole confederacy would fall upon him; or that the Mahrattas, refusing all terms to the Rohillas, would establish themselves in the Rohilla country, and expose him to still greater danger.” To extricate himself from these difficulties, the following is the plan which he had devised. He would march with his army to his own Rohilla frontier: He would there, partly by the terror of his arms, partly by desire of his aid, obtain from the Rohillas, first, the cession of a portion of their territory for the Emperor’s support, leaving to them such a part as was best adapted to serve as a barrier to the province of Oude; and, secondly, a sum of money, with part of which he would purchase the departure of the Mahrattas, and part of which he would keep to his own use: He would thus effect an accommodation with both the Emperor and the Mahrattas, at the expense of the Rohillas; and put something in his own pocket besides. But for the accomplishment of these desirable ends, the presence of the English was absolutely necessary, without the guarantee of whom, he plainly declared that the Rohillas, who knew him, would yield him no trust. To the letter of the General, making known this proposal, the Presidency on the 3d of February wrote in reply, approving highly of the project of Sujah Dowla, and authorizing the General to lend the support which was desired.

The proposals of the Subahdar, in regard especially to the division of their territory, were odious to the Rohillas; and time was spent in negotiation, while Edition: current; Page: [492] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. 30,000 Mahrattas ravaged the country beyond the Ganges, and their main body subdued the territory of Zabita Khan. The English General, Sir Robert Barker, strongly urged upon Sujah Dowla, the necessity of protecting the Rohillas, the weakness of whom became the strength of the Mahrattas, and enabled them, if their departure were purchased, to return to the seizure of the country whenever they pleased. In the mean time the Subahdar was eager to conclude a treaty with the Mahrattas; the prospect of which alarmed the English General, and called forth his exertions to prevent so dangerous a confederacy. The Mahrattas, however, treated the overtures of the Subahdar with so little respect, that they varied their terms at every conference; and forced him at last to break off the negotiation. In their instructions to the General, on the 30th of April, the Select Committee declare: “We are confirmed in the opinion we have for some time past entertained, that the Mahrattas will not make any stay in the Rohilla country; but that they will be obliged to quit it even before the rains set in; and every day’s intelligence renders the probability of this event the more apparent.” Their opinion was grounded upon the knowledge which they possessed of the revolution which had taken place in the Mahratta government, and which could not, as they supposed, and as the event turned out, fail to recall their armies. The Committee add, “We therefore so far concur in opinion with you, that any concessions made to the Mahrattas to promote their departure would be superfluous and highly improper.”

The defeat of the negotiation with the Mahrattas, and the knowledge with which the Subahdar was already furnished of the events which summoned home the Mahrattas, brought about that alliance between Edition: current; Page: [493] him and the Rohillas, which Sir Robert hadbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. laboured so eagerly to effect. The Subahdar was very keen for an arrangement, from which he expected to derive money, now when he hoped by the voluntary departure of the Mahrattas to have nothing to do in return for it. The Rohillas, on the other hand, it is observable, entered into the engagement with the utmost reluctance: in compliance solely, as it would appear, with the importunities of the English. Sir Robert Barker had sent Captain Harper to the camp of the Rohillas to negotiate; and on the 25th of May, from the Nabob’s camp at Shawabad, he writes to the Presidency, in the following remarkable terms. “Gentlemen, on the 21st instant, Captain Harper, returned from the Rohilla Sirdars [commanders] having at length prevailed on Hafez Rhamet Khan to proceed with him to Shawabad the second day’s march. The jealousy of Hindustaners has been very particularly evinced in this visit; for notwithstanding Hafez Rhamet has been encamped within three coss since the 23d of the month, until this morning, he could not prevail on himself to perform the meeting.—I hope, in a few days, to have the satisfaction of communicating to you the final conclusion of this agreement with the Rohilla Sirdars.”

It was not, however, before the 17th day of the following month, that all difficulties were borne down, or removed, and a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, was signed by the respective parties. Of the articles, that which was attended with the most memorable consequences, that to which the Rohillas, it is probable, assented only from that rashness and negligence in forming pecuniary obligations which is universal in Indian governments and which their universal practice of fulfilling none which they can violate or evade unavoidably engenders, was the promise to Edition: current; Page: [494] book v. Chap. 1. 1772. pay to the Vizir forty lacs of rupees, on condition that he should expel the Mahrattas from the Rohilla territories; ten of these lacs to be furnished on the performance of the service, the rest in the space of three years.1

No effort whatsoever, in consequence of this agreement, was made by the Subahdar for the expulsion of the Mahrattas; in a little time he returned to his capital; and the Mahrattas, after ravaging the country, crossed the Ganges of their own accord, at the commencement of the rains. They encamped, however, between the Ganges and the Jumna, with too evident an intention of renewing their operations as soon as the favourable season should return. During the period of inaction, the Rohillas importuned the Vizir to make such arrangements with the Emperor and Mahrattas, as might prevent them from crossing the Ganges any more. But no such arrangements were attempted. As soon as the termination of the rains approached, the Mahrattas drew near to the river, and, again threatening the Rohillas, demanded a sum of money, of which, after temporising, a portion was, by Hafez Rhamet, most reluctantly paid.

Upon the accomplishment of the enterprise against Zabita Khan, the Emperor returned to Delhi, disgusted with his new allies, and eagerly desirous of an opportunity to dissolve the connexion. The Mahrattas on their part, who disdained the restraint of obligation, whenever it might be violated with profit, had entered into correspondence with Zabita Khan, and had engaged for a sum of money to compel the Emperor, not only to restore his territory, but to Edition: current; Page: [495] bestow upon him the office of Ameer al Omra, whichbook v. Chap. 1. 1772. his father had enjoyed. To these commands the Emperor could not prevail upon himself quietly to yield; and the Mahrattas thought proper to march towards Delhi, to enforce submission. The Emperor prepared himself for resistance; and, by the vigour and foresight of Nujeef Khan, was enabled to make a respectable defence. Incapable, however, of long supporting the weight of the Mahratta host, he opened the gates of Delhi, on the 22d of December, exactly one year, wanting three days, from the period of his inaugural entry. From this time, he was no better than an instrument in the hands of the Mahrattas. Of their power the first use was to extort from their prisoner a grant of the provinces of Corah and Allahabad, in which he had been established by the English. Having accomplished these events, they returned to the banks of the Ganges, which they made preparations to cross.

The Subahdar was now thrown into a state of the most violent alarm; and wrote repeated letters to the Bengal government to send a military force to his protection. He had neglected, or had been unable, to take any measures for placing the country of the Rohillas in a state of security. That people were now laid at the mercy of the Mahrattas; and would, he foresaw, be compelled to join them, to avoid destruction. Zabita Khan had already thrown himself upon their mercy; and he violently feared that the other chiefs would speedily follow his example. The Mahrattas, indeed, made great offers to the Rohillas. They would remit the greater part of the sums of which they had extorted the promise. They engaged to pass through the country without committing any depredations or molesting the ryots, and to grant all sorts of advantages; provided the Rohillas would Edition: current; Page: [496] book v. Chap. 1. 1773. yield a free passage through their dominions into the territory of the Vizir.1 The Subahdar of Oude exerted himself to prevent that union of the Mahrattas and Rohillas; the effects of which he contemplated with so much alarm. He moved with his army into that part of his country which was nearest to that of the Rohillas; and held out to them whatever inducements he conceived most likely to confirm their opposition to the Mahrattas. He engaged to make effectual provision both for their present and future security; and to remit, as Hafez Rhamet affirms, the forty lacs of rupees. Difficult as was the choice, the Rohillas thought it still less dangerous to rely upon the faith of the Subahdar, than upon that of the Mahrattas; and gaining what they could, by temporizing with that formidable people, they, however, declined all engagements with them, and actually joined their troops to those of the English and Subahdar.2

On the 7th of January, 1773, the Secret Committee at Calcutta entered into consultation on intelligence of these events; and thus recorded their sentiments. “Notwithstanding the alarms of the Vizir, expressed in the foregoing letters, it does not clearly appear that the Mahrattas have acquired any accession of power, since, whatever advantage they derived from the sanction of the King’s name, when he was independent, must now be either lost, or very much diminished, by their late rupture with him, by their having violently possessed themselves of his person, and their usurpation of his dominions.” On the Edition: current; Page: [497] subject of the Rohillas, whom the Vizir, to increasebook v. Chap. 1. 1773. the ardour of the English to send an army to his support, represented as actually connected with the Mahrattas, though he only dreaded that event, they remark, that instead of joining with the Mahrattas in an invasion of the territories of the Vizir, “It is still more probable that the Rohilla chiefs, who have sought their present safety in a treacherous alliance, to which necessity compelled them, with the Mahrattas, will, from the same principle, abandon their cause, or employ the confidence reposed in them to re-establish their own independence, rather than contribute to the aggrandizement of a power, which in the end must overwhelm them.” With regard to the unhappy Shah Aulum, the humiliated Emperor of the Moguls, they remark; “It is possible he may solicit our aid; and, in point of right, we should certainly be justified in affording it him, since no act of his could be deemed valid in his present situation, and while he continues a mere passive instrument in the hands of the Mahrattas: But whether it would be political to interfere, or whether, at this time especially, it would be expedient, must continue a doubt with us.”1 It is remarkable, that with regard to the most important of his acts, the surrender of Corah and Allahabad, so little did any one regard it as binding, that his deputy, in these provinces, instead of delivering them up to the Mahrattas, applied to the English for leave to place them under their protection, “as the King, his master, whilst a prisoner in the hands of the Mahrattas, had been compelled to grant sunnuds in their favour.”2 The English, in consequence, threw a garrison into Allahabad, and sent a member of council to take charge of the revenues.3

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book v. Chap. 1. 1773. The obligation under which the English were placed to aid the Vizir in the defence of his own territory, and their opinion of the advantage of supporting him against the Mahrattas, induced them to send Sir Robert Barker, with a part of the army. The importance of preventing the Mahrattas from establishing themselves on the northern side of the Ganges, and the facility which they would possess of invading Oude if masters of Rohilcund, disposed the English to include that district also within the line of their defensive operations. But, though the combined forces of the English and Vizir passed into the territories of the Rohillas, and encamped near the river, opposite to the main army of the Mahrattas, which threatened at once the territories of Oude and the province of Corah, a large body of Mahrattas, crossed the Ganges, over-ran a great part of Rohilcund, destroyed the cities of Moradabad and Sumbul, and continued to ravage the country till the end of March.

No operation of any importance ensued. The English General was restrained by peremptory orders from passing the river, to act on the offensive; the Mahrattas were afraid of crossing it in the face of so formidable an opponent. And in the month of May, the situation of their domestic affairs recalled that people wholly to their own country.

The departure of the Mahrattas opened a field to the ambition of the Subahdar, which he was eager to cultivate. A meeting was concerted between him and the Governor, which took place at Benares at the beginning of September. The terms are memorable in which the cause and object of this interview are mentioned by the English chief. In his Report to the Council at Calcutta, on the 4th of October, 1773, he says, “The Vizir was at first very desirous of the assistance of an English force to put him in Edition: current; Page: [499] possession of the Rohilla country, lying north of hisbook v. Chap. 1. 1773. dominions and east of the Ganges. This has long been a favourite object of his wishes; and you will recollect that the first occasion of my last visit was furnished by a proposal of this kind.”1 The Governor-General was so far from revolting at this proposition, or hesitating to close with it, that he stimulated the Vizir to its execution.2 Money was the motive to this eager passion for the ruin of the Rohillas. “As this had long,” says the English ruler, “been a favourite object of the Vizir, the Board judged with me that it might afford a fair occasion to urge the improvement of our alliance, by obtaining his assent to a more equitable compensation for the expense attending the aid which he occasionally received from our forces.”3 The situation of the Company he says, urged it upon them, “as a measure necessary to its interest and safety. All our advices,” he continues, “both public and private, represented the distresses of the Company at home, as extreme. The letters from the Court of Directors called upon us most loudly for ample remittances, and a reduction of our military expenses. At the same time, such was the state of affairs in this government, that for many years past the income of the year was found inadequate to its expense; to defray which, a heavy bond debt, amounting at one time to 125 lacs of rupees, had accumulated.”4 It was accordingly stipulated that Edition: current; Page: [500] book v. Chap. 1. 1773. forty lacs of rupees, upon the accomplishment of the enterprise, should be advanced to the English by the Vizir, and a monthly allowance, equivalent to the computed expense, be provided for the troops engaged in that service. By this, says the Governor, “a saving of near one third of our military expenses would be effected during the period of such a service; the stipulation of forty lacs would afford an ample supply to our treasury: the Vizir would be freed from a troublesome neighbourhood, and his dominions be much more defensible.”

In all this, we may allow, there was enough for convenience and profit, both to the President and the Vizir. But to bring ruin upon a large body of our fellow-creatures for our own convenience and profit, unless where the most cogent reasons of justice and necessity impel, is to perform the part of the most atrocious oppressors. In this case, the pleas of justice and necessity are, to an extraordinary degree, defective and weak. The unhappy Rohillas, it seems, procrastinated, and evaded, with respect to the demand which was now violently made upon them for payment of the formerly stipulated price of defence; a payment which had not been earned, since they had never been defended; which they were not able to pay, since their country had been repeatedly ravaged and stript; of which the exaction was in reality a fraud, since the return for it was never intended to be made; which it was no wonder they were reluctant to pay, to the man who was impatient to assail them, and whom the use of their money would only strengthen for their destruction. At the worst a failure in a pecuniary obligation can never justify a war of extermination; it even authorized hostilities, as the Directors, when they condemned this employment of their forces, remarked, so far only, as might be Edition: current; Page: [501] necessary to compel the fulfilment of the v. Chap. 1. 1773. It was also alleged, that the Rohillas assisted the Mahrattas. But this is by no means true. They temporized with the Mahrattas, as it was highly natural they should do; but the whole power of the nation was exerted to keep and to drive the Mahrattas from their own side of the Ganges.1 With regard to necessity for the extirpation of the Rohillas, there was not so much as prudence to justify the deed; Hastings himself confessing, “that the dependance of the Vizir upon the Company (in other words his weakness) would, by that extension of his possessions, be increased, as he himself was incapable of defending even his ancient possessions without the English support.”2

Another object of great importance was to be settled between the Governor and Vizir. The provinces of Corah and Allahabad, of which a forced surrender had been obtained by the Mahrattas, but which the deputy of the Emperor, declaring the act involuntary, had, to save them for his master, placed under the protection of the English, were to be disposed Edition: current; Page: [502] book v. Chap. 1. 1773. of. At first, if no resolution was taken to restore them to the Emperor, it appears, at least, that none was adopted to take them from him. As soon as the idea was begotten of making money out of the present situation of affairs, the provinces of Corah and Allahabad naturally fell into the crucible. It had long been a decided principle in the Company’s policy, not to retain those provinces under their own administration; because the expense of governing them, at so great a distance, would exceed the utmost revenue they could yield. The choice lay between preserving them for the Emperor and making them over to the Vizir. Generosity, had it any place in such arrangements, pleaded with almost unexampled strength in behalf of the forlorn Emperor, the nominal sovereign of so vast an empire, the representative of so illustrious a race, who now possessed hardly a roof to cover him. Justice, too, or something not easily distinguished from justice, spoke on the same side: considering that, in the first place, the Emperor had a right to the provinces, both by his quality of sovereign of India, and also by the peculiar concession and grant of the English Company, if not in express terms for, most certainly in consideration of, his not absolutely necessary but highly useful grant of the duanee of the three great and opulent provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa; And that, in the second place, he could not, by any fair construction, be deemed to have forfeited any right by the surrender of the provinces, an act which was in the highest degree involuntary, and therefore not his own. But these considerations were a feeble balance against the calls of want, and the heavy attractions of gold. To secure Allahabad and Corah against the possession of so dangerous a power as the Mahrattas was the acknowledged policy of the British Edition: current; Page: [503] government; and it was alleged, that the Emperorbook v. Chap. 1. 1773. was unable to protect them. But it is certainly true, that the Emperor was not less able at that time than he was at the time when they were first bestowed upon him; or than he was at any point of the time during which they had been left in his hands. It is equally true, that the inability of the Vizir to secure them was just as certain as that of the Emperor; since there is the confession of the Governor, that he was unable to protect even his own dominions, without the assistance of the English; and that every extension of his frontier rendered him more vulnerable and weak. There was, however, one difference; the Vizir could give money for them, the Emperor could not; and in this, it is probable, the whole advantage will be found to consist. That the English strengthened their barrier by giving to a crude native government a vast frontier to defend, instead of combining against the Mahrattas the forces of the Rohillas, the Emperor, and the Vizir, will hardly be affirmed by those who reflect how easily the balance among those powers might have been trimmed, or who know the consequences of the arrangement that was formed. For a sum of money, Corah and Allahabad were tendered to the Vizir. That he was delighted with the prospect of regaining a territory, for which, a few years before, we have seen him incurring the infamy and guilt of perfidy and murder, perpetrated against a near kinsman, we need not doubt. About terms there appears to have been no dispute. For the sum of fifty lacs of rupees, of which twenty lacs were to be paid in ready money, and the remainder in two years by payments of fifteen lacs at a time, the provinces in question were added to his dominions.

The acquisition of those provinces made an apparent Edition: current; Page: [504] book v. Chap. 1. 1773. change with regard to the Rohillas in the views of the Vizir. If we may believe the representation of the President; whose representations, however, upon this subject, are so full of management, and ambiguity, that they are all to be received with caution; the Nabob represented himself unable to meet the pecuniary obligations under which the acquisition of both territories would lay him to the English Company; and desired for that reason to suspend his attack upon the Rohillas. It was agreed, however, between him and the President, that whenever the time convenient for the extirpation of that people should arrive, the assistance of the English should not be wanting. The difficulty of fulfilling his pecuniary engagements with the Company, if they were ever alleged, did not detain him long.

From the meeting at Benares, the Vizir and President parted different ways; the former to the Dooab, and Delhi, to reduce, during the absence of the Mahrattas, some forts and districts which were still held for that people; the latter to lay before his colleagues, and to transmit to his employers, such an account of the transactions at this interview, as was most likely to answer his ends.

In his report to the Council at Fort William, the President confined himself to the agreement respecting Corah and Allahabad, and the allowance for such troops as might hereafter be employed in the service of the Vizir. The agreement respecting the Rohillas, which it had been settled between the President and Vizir might be conveniently kept out of the ostensible treaty, was wholly suppressed. With a view to the future, it was politic however to explain, that the Vizir showed at first a desire to obtain English assistance for the seizure of the Rohilla country; it was politic also to state the pretexts by which the Edition: current; Page: [505] expediency of that assistance might best appear to bebook v. Chap. 1. 1773. established. Adding, that for the present, however, the Vizir had laid aside this design, the President subjoined the following declaration: “I was pleased that he urged the scheme of this expedition no further, as it would have led our troops to a distance.”1 Yet we have it from his pen, that he “encouraged” the Vizir to the enterprise, as what promised to be of the greatest advantage to the Company.

In the letter of the President dispatched from Benares to the Directors, announcing the result of his arrangements with the Vizir, all intelligence of the project for exterminating the Rohillas is surpressed.

Upon the return of Mr. Hastings to Calcutta, he effected an object, of which, from the important consequences with which it was attended, it is necessary to give some account. The correspondence with the country powers had frequently been carried on through the military officers upon the spot. The power thus conveyed to the military, Mr. Hastings had represented as inconvenient, if not dangerous; and one object of his policy had been to render the head of the civil government the exclusive organ of communication with foreign powers. He now stated to the Council the concurrence in opinion of the Vizir and himself, that an agent, permanently residing with the Vizir for the communication and adjustment of many affairs to which the intercourse of letters could not conveniently apply, would be attended with important advantages: And he urged the propriety of granting to himself the sole nomination of such an agent, the sole power of removing him, and the power of receiving and answering his letters, without communication either to the Committee Edition: current; Page: [506] book v. Chap. 1. 1773. or Council. To all these conditions the Council gave their assent; and Mr. Nathaniel Middleton, with an extra salary, was sent as private agent to attend the residence of the Vizir, and to communicate secretly with Mr. Hastings.1

The Vizir in the mean time had made himself master of several places in the Dooab. He advanced towards Delhi with a show of great friendship to the Emperor; assisted him with money; sent a force to assist his army in wresting Agra from the Jaats; and having thus laid a foundation for confidence, began to intrigue for his sanction to the intended attack upon Rohilcund. A treaty was negociated, and at last solemnly concluded and signed, by which it was agreed that the Emperor should assist with his forces in the reduction of the Rohillas, and in return should receive a share of the plunder, and one half of the conquered country.2

On the 18th of November, about two months after their interview, the Vizir wrote to the President, demanding the promised assistance of the English for the destruction of the Rohillas. Mr. Hastings appears to have been thrown into some embarrassment. The suddenness and confidence of the call corresponded but indifferently with the terms on which he had given his colleagues to understand that the communication on this subject rested between him and the Vizir. His abilities in making out a case, though singularly great, were unable to produce unanimity; and it was not till after a long debate, that a decision in favour of the expedition was obtained. The assistance Edition: current; Page: [507] was promised, on the very terms concertedbook v. Chap. 1. 1774. and settled between him and the Vizir; and yet this President had the art to persuade his colleagues, and joined with them in a declaration to their common masters, that these terms were so favourable to the English, and so burdensome to the Vizir, as to render his acceptance of them improbable, and therefore to leave but little chance of their involving the English government in a measure which the principal conductors of that government were desirous to avoid.1

In the month of January, 1774, the second of the three brigades into which the Company’s army in Bengal was divided, received orders to join the Vizir; and Colonel Champion, now Commander-in-Chief, proceeded about the middle of February to assume the command. On the 24th of February the brigade arrived within the territory of the Vizir; and on the 17th of April the united forces entered the Rohilla dominions. On the 19th Col. Champion wrote to the Presidency, that the Rohilla leader “had by letter expressed earnest inclinations to come to an accommodation with the Vizir; but that the Nabob claimed no less than two crore of rupees.” After this extravagant demand, the Rohillas posted themselves on the side of Babul Nulla, with a resolution of standing their ground to the last extremity. And early on the morning of the 23d, the English advanced to the attack. “Hafez,” says the English General, with a generous esteem, “and his army, consisting of about 40,000 men, showed great bravery and resolution, annoying us with their artillery and rockets. They made repeated attempts to charge, but our guns, being so much better served than theirs, kept so constant and galling a fire, that Edition: current; Page: [508] book v. Chap. 1. 1774. they could not advance; and where they were closest, was the greatest slaughter. They gave proof of a good share of military knowledge, by showing inclinations to force both our flanks at the same time, and endeavouring to call off our attentions by a brisk fire on our centre. It is impossible to describe a more obstinate firmness of resolution than the enemy displayed. Numerous were their gallant men who advanced, and often pitched their colours between both armies, in order to encourage their men to follow them; and it was not till they saw our whole army advancing briskly to charge them, after a severe cannonade of two hours and twenty minutes, and a smart fire of musketry for some minutes on both flanks, that they fairly turned their backs. Of the enemy above 2,000 fell in the field and amongst them many Sirdars. But what renders the victory most decisive is the death of Hafez Rhamet, who was killed whilst bravely rallying his people to battle. One of his sons was also killed, one taken prisoner, and a third returned from flight to day, and is in the hands of Sujah Dowla.”

In passing to another character, the General changes his strain. “I wish,” says he, “I could pay the Vizir any compliment on this occasion, or that I were not under the indispensable necessity of expressing my highest indignation at his shameful pusillanimity; indispensably, I say, because it is necessary that administration should clearly know how little to be depended on is this their ally. The night before the battle, I applied to him for some particular pieces of cannon, which I thought might prove of great service in the action; but he declined giving the use of them. He promised solemnly to support me with all his force, and particularly engaged to be near at hand with a large body of cavalry, to be used as I Edition: current; Page: [509] should direct. But instead of being nigh me, hebook v. Chap. 1. 1774. remained beyond the Gurrah, on the ground which I had left in the morning, surrounded by his cavalry and a large train of artillery, and did not move thence till the news of the enemy’s defeat reached him.” Then, however, his troops began to be active, and effectually plundered the camp; “while the Company’s troops, in regular order in their ranks, most justly” (says their commander) “observed, We have the honour of the day, and these banditti the profit.”1

This action, in reality, terminated the war. Though Fyzoolla Khan, with his treasures and the remains of the army, had made good his flight toward the mountains, the whole country, without opposition, lay at the mercy of the Vizir; and never probably were the rights of conquest more savagely abused. Not only was the ferocity of Indian depredation let loose upon the wretched inhabitants, but as his intention, according to what he had previously and repeatedly declared to the English government, was to exterminate the Rohillas, every one who bore the name of Rohilla was either butchered or found his safety in flight and in exile.2

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book v. Chap. 1. 1774. Shortly after this decisive affair, the army marched to the city of Bissouly, which was near the centre of the Rohilla country, with the intention of passing in quarters the season of the rains. At this place had arrived before them Nujeef Khan, with the army of the Emperor. In obedience to the treaty between the Emperor and Vizir, they had marched from Delhi to assist in the reduction of the Rohillas; but before they reached the scene of action the rapidity and vigour of the English had terminated the war. Nujeef Khan demanded partition of the country and of the plunder, according to the conditions on which the Edition: current; Page: [511] countenance and co-operation of the Emperor hadbook v. Chap. 1. 1774. been procured. The Vizir did not dispute the treaty, a copy of which the Emperor had sent to Col. Champion; he alleged, however, that the counterpart, which was in his own possession, expressed a condition that his Majesty should take the field in person; and that the breach of that article annulled the contract. “But when the counterpart,” says Col. Champion, “which he put into the hands of my interpreter, came to be examined, it appeared there was no such stipulation, nor indeed did it ever exist even verbally.”1 The decision of the English government is the next incident in the scene. Instructing on this subject the commander of their troops, when he had as yet sent them only a surmise, and the treaty had not been produced, “our engagements (they say) with the Vizir are to aid him in the conquest of the Rohilla country; and if he is opposed by Nujeef Khan, or the King himself, you are to pay no regard to either. We cannot” (they add) “entertain so bad an opinion of the Vizir as to suppose him capable of acting in avowed breach of a treaty; but if any plea of that kind should be made for contesting our right to occupy any part of the Rohilla country yet unconquered, it will be proper to put to him the question, whether such treaty does exist or not? If he should acknowledge such a treaty, you must undoubtedly abstain from further hostilities in abetment of his breach of faith.” Yet after they were fully satisfied of the existence of such a treaty; and not only of the capability, but the resolution of the Vizir to act in avowed breach of it, they laid their commands upon the English general, to abet and support him, because “it is our intention,” say they, “to persevere in pursuit of the object which Edition: current; Page: [512] book v. Chap. 1. 1774. originally engaged us in the present enterprise, and to adhere strictly to our engagements with the Vizir, without suffering our attention to be diverted by foreign incidents or occurrences,”1 that is, by solemn treaties, or the breach of them.

From Fyzoolla Khan an early application arrived, offering to come to the camp upon the faith of the English, and to hold the district which had belonged to his family as a dependent or renter of the Vizir. His offers, variously modified, were frequently repeated, with great earnestness. But the Vizir persisted in his declaration, that he would allow no Rohilla chief to remain on the further side of the Ganges; and only offered him one of the districts in the Dooab, which had been recently conquered from the Mahrattas. Fyzoolla Khan, with justice, observed, that this the Mahrattas would take from him the first time they returned to the country.

Towards the end of July, the united forces of the English and Vizir marched towards Fyzoolla Khan, who occupied a strong post on the skirts of the mountains, near Pattir Gur. At the beginning of September they came near the enemy, and as the Vizir began to exhibit a strong desire of an accommodation with the Rohillas, an active intercourse of letters and messengers ensued. Whether his mind was operated upon by the approaching arrival of the new counsellors at Calcutta, or the dread which he pretended of assistance to Fyzoolla Khan from the Mahrattas and Afghauns, he now made offer of terms to which a little before he would not so much as listen. He proposed to make Fyzoolla collector of the revenues, or Zemindar, of the whole territory of Rohilcund, allowing six lacs of rupees per annum Edition: current; Page: [513] for his own expenses. But this offer, and even thatbook v. Chap. 1. 1774. of a jaghire of ten lacs of rupees in the Rohilcund country, were rejected. The Rohillas were so advantageously posted, with works thrown up in their front, that it was necessary to advance by regular approaches, and the army were so discontented, on account of hardship, arrears of pay, and ill-usage, either real or supposed, that the General was doubtful of their steadiness and order. After several days, in which the approaches were carried on, and the scouting parties of both armies were frequently engaged, it was at last agreed that, Fyzoolla Khan should receive a jaghire of fourteen lacs and seventy-five thousand rupees in the Rohilcund territory, and should surrender one half of all his effects to the Vizir. Thus terminated the first Rohilla war.1

Before closing the account of the events to which the visit of Mr. Hastings to Benares gave birth, it is necessary to mention its effects with regard to the deserted Emperor. Upon receiving from him the grant of the duannee, or the receipt and management of the revenues of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, it was agreed that, as the royal share of those revenues, twenty-six lacs of rupees should be annually paid to him by the Company. His having accepted of the assistance of the Mahrattas to place him on the throne of his ancestors was now made use of as a reason for telling him, that the tribute of these provinces should be paid to him no more. Of the honour or the discredit, however, of this transaction, the principal share belongs not to the Governor, but to the directors themselves; Edition: current; Page: [514] book v. Chap. 1. 1774. who, in their letter to Bengal of the 11th of November, 1768, had said, “If the Emperor flings himself into the hands of the Mahrattas, or any other power, we are disengaged from him, and it may open a fair opportunity of withholding the twenty-six lacs we now pay him.”1 Upon the whole, indeed, of the measure, dealt out to this unhappy sovereign; depriving him of the territories of Corah and Allahabad; depriving him of the tribute which was due to him from those provinces of his which they possessed; the Directors bestowed unqualified approbation. And though they condemned the use which had been made of their troops in subduing the country of the Rohillas; they declare frankly, “We, upon the maturest deliberation, confirm the treaty of Benares.”2

The circumstance upon which, in summing up the account of his administration to his honourable masters, Hastings advanced the strongest claim to applause, was the alleviation of the pecuniary difficulties of the Indian government, and the improvement of the revenues. In the letters from the Bengal administration to the Court of Directors, under date 22d August, and 17th October, 1774, after presenting the most flattering picture of the financial situation to which the government was happily exalted, they advance a confident prediction, that in the course of the ensuing season, the whole of the bond debt would be discharged.3 And in that representation of the state of Bengal, which was published by Mr. Hastings in 1786, he declares, “When I took charge of the government of Bengal in April 1772, I found it loaded with a debt at interest of nearly the same amount as the present; and in less than two years I saw that Edition: current; Page: [515] debt completely discharged, and a sum in ready cashbook v. Chap. 1. 1774. of the same amount actually accumulated in store in the public treasuries.”1 This boasting exhibits some remarkable features, when the facts are sufficiently ascertained. No improvement had been made in the productive powers of the country, which is the only permanent and satisfactory source of an improved revenue. The gross revenues of the year ending in April 1772 were 3,13,63,894 current rupees; the gross revenues of that ending in April 1774 were only 2,76,10,556. Hardly had any improvement been made in the nett receipt. That for the year ending in April 1772, was 2,16,88,538 rupees equal to 2,373,650l.; that for the year ending 1774, was 2,20,56,919 rupees, or 2,481,404l.2 In the next great department of financial administration, the expense of the civil and military services, instead of any retrenchment there had been an increase. In the year ending in 1772, the civil service is stated at 154,620l., the marine at 52,161l., the military at 1,164,348l., and the total expense, exclusive of buildings and fortifications, at 1,371,129l.3 In the year ending in 1774, the civil service is stated at 159,537l., the marine at 53,700l., the military at 1,304,883l., and the total at 1,518,120l.4 In the year 1772, the proportion of the military expense, defrayed by the Nabob of Oude, was 20,766l.5 In the year 1774, the proportion defrayed by him was 131,430l.6 In the following year, that ending in April 1775, there was a slight improvement in the collections, which may in part be ascribed to the measures of the preceding Edition: current; Page: [516] book v. Chap. 1. 1774. administration; and there was a total cessation of war which produced a reduction of the military expenditure, remarkable only for its minuteness. The gross collections amounted to 2,87,20,760 rupees, the nett receipt to 2,51,02,090, or 2,823,964l.; the civil service to 231,722l., the marine to 36,510l., and the military to 1,080,304l.; total, 1,349,836l.: and the proportion this year borne by the Nabob of Oude was 240,750l.1 It thus abundantly appears that nothing so important as to deserve the name of improvement had arisen in the financial administration of the Company. A pecuniary relief had indeed been procured, but from sources of a temporary and very doubtful description; partly from the produce of the bills drawn in such profusion upon the Company, by the predecessor of Hastings; partly from the reduction of the allowance to the Nabob of Bengal, from thirty-two to sixteen lacs; but chiefly from the plunder of the unhappy Emperor of the Moguls, whose tribute of twenty-six lacs per annum for the duannee of Bengal was with held, and whose two provinces Corah and Allahabad were sold for fifty lacs to the Vizir; from the sale of the Rohillas, the extirpation of whom was purchased at forty of the same eagerly coveted lacs; and from the pay and maintenance of a third part of the troops, which were employed in the wars and dominions of the Vizir. With regard even to the payment of the debt, an inspection of the accounts exhibits other results than those presented by the declarations of the President.

Year ending in AprilBalances in the Treasuries.Debts at interest.Other debts.
2 Ibid. p. 8, 36, 42.
1772......C. R. 65,09,041.....1,07,84,520...52,48,480.
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Upon this statement, if we compare the year in whichbook v. Chap. 1. 1774. Mr. Hastings began his administration, with that in which it ended, we see a prodigious deterioration. If we compare it even with that which follows, the total amount of debt in 1772 was 1,60,30,000 rupees; in 1775 it was 1,77,68,584, which is an increase of 17,41,455. The only improvement appears in the balance of cash, which in 1775 exceeded the balance in 1772 by 58,86,557 rupees. Deducting from this a sum equal to the increase of debt, there remains 41,45,102 rupees, by which alone the state of the exchequer, after all the calamity which had been produced to supply it, was better in 1775 than it had been in 1772.

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