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CLIVE, LORD


manners and religion. But the devotion of the little band to its chief surpassed anything that is related of the Tenth Legion of Caesar, or the Old Guard of Napoleon. The sepoys came to Clive, not to complain of their scanty fare, but to propose that all the grain should be given to the Europeans, who required more nourishment than the natives of Asia. The thin gruel, they said, which was strained away from the rice would suffice for themselves. History contains no more touching instance of military fidelity, or of the influence of a commanding mind. An attempt made by the governor of Madras to relieve the place had failed; but there was hope from another quarter. A body of 3000 Mahrattas, half soldiers, half robbers, under the command of a chief named Murari Rao had been hired to assist Mahommed Ali; but thinking the French power irresistible, and the triumph of Chanda Sahib certain, they had hitherto remained inactive on the frontiers of the Carnatic. The fame of the defence of Arcot roused them from their torpor; Murari Rao declared that he had never before believed that Englishmen could fight, but that he would willingly help them since he saw that they had spirit to help themselves. Raja Sahib learned that the Mahrattas were in motion, and it was necessary for him to be expeditious. He first tried negotiations—he offered large bribes to Clive, which were rejected with scorn; he vowed that if his proposals were not accepted, he would instantly storm the fort, and put every man in it to the sword. Clive told him, in reply, with characteristic haughtiness, that his father was a usurper, that his army was a rabble, and that he would do well to think twice before he sent such poltroons into a breach defended by English soldiers. Raja Sahib determined to storm the fort. The day was well suited to a bold military enterprise. It was the great Mahommedan festival, the Muharram, which is sacred to the memory of Husain, the son of Ali. Clive had received secret intelligence of the design, had made his arrangements, and, exhausted by fatigue, had thrown himself on his bed. He was awakened by the alarm, and was instantly at his post. The enemy advanced, driving before them elephants whose foreheads were armed with iron plates. It was expected that the gates would yield to the shock of these living battering-rams. But the huge beasts no sooner felt the English musket balls than they turned round and rushed furiously away, trampling on the multitude which had urged them forward. A raft was launched on the water which filled one part of the ditch. Clive perceiving that his gunners at that post did not understand their business, took the management of a piece of artillery himself, and cleared the raft in a few minutes. Where the moat was dry, the assailants mounted with great boldness; but they were received with a fire so heavy and so well directed, that it soon quelled the courage even of fanaticism and of intoxication. The rear ranks of the English kept the front ranks supplied with a constant succession of loaded muskets, and every shot told on the living mass below. The struggle lasted about an hour; 400 of the assailants fell; the garrison lost only five or six men. The besieged passed an anxious night, looking for a renewal of the attack. But when day broke, the enemy were no more to be seen. They had retired, leaving to the English several guns and a large quantity of ammunition.”

In India, we might say in all history, there is no parallel to this exploit of 1751 till we come to the siege of Lucknow in 1857. Clive, now reinforced, followed up his advantage, and Major Lawrence returned in time to carry the war to a successful issue. In 1754 the first of the Carnatic treaties was made provisionally, between T. Saunders, the Company’s resident at Madras, and M. Godeheu, the French commander, in which the English protégé, Mahommed Ali, was virtually recognized as nawab, and both nations agreed to equalize their possessions. When war again broke out in 1756, and the French, during Clive’s absence in Bengal, obtained successes in the northern districts, his efforts helped to drive them from their settlements. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 formally confirmed Mahommed Ali in the position which Clive had won for him. Two years after, the Madras work of Clive was completed by a firman from the emperor of Delhi, recognizing the British possessions in southern India. The siege of Arcot at once gave Clive a European reputation. Pitt pronounced the youth of twenty-seven who had done such deeds a “heaven-born general,” thus endorsing the generous appreciation of his early commander, Major Lawrence. When the court of directors voted him a sword worth £700, he refused to receive it unless Lawrence was similarly honoured. He left Madras for home, after ten years’ absence, early in 1753, but not before marrying Miss Margaret Maskelyne, the sister of a friend, and of one who was afterwards well known as astronomer royal. All his correspondence proves him to have been a good husband and father, at a time when society was far from pure, and scandal made havoc of the highest reputations. In after days, when Clive’s uprightness and stern reform of the Company’s civil and military services made him many enemies, a biography of him appeared under the assumed name of Charles Carracioli, Gent. All the evidence is against the probability of its scandalous stories being true. Clive as a young man occasionally indulged in loose or free talk among intimate friends, but beyond this nothing has been proved to his detriment. After he had been two years at home the state of affairs in India made the directors anxious for his return. He was sent out, in 1756, as governor of Fort St David, with the reversion of the government of Madras, and he received the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the king’s army. He took Bombay on his way, and there commanded the land force which captured Gheria, the stronghold of the Mahratta pirate, Angria. In the distribution of prize money which followed this expedition he showed no little self-denial. He took his seat as governor of Fort St David on the day on which the nawab of Bengal captured Calcutta, and thither the Madras government at once sent him, with admiral Watson. He entered on the second period of his career. Since, in August 1690, Job Charnock had landed at the village of Sutanati with a guard of one officer and 30 men, the infant capital of Calcutta had become a rich centre of trade. The successive nawabs or viceroys of Bengal had been friendly to it, till, in 1756, Suraj-ud-Dowlah succeeded his uncle at Murshidabad. His predecessor’s financial minister had fled to Calcutta to escape the extortion of the new nawab, and the English governor refused to deliver up the refugee. Enraged at this, Suraj-ud-Dowlah captured the old fort of Calcutta on the 20th of June, and plundered it of more than two millions sterling. Many of the English fled to ships and dropped down the river. The 146 who remained were forced into “the Black Hole” in the stifling heat of the sultriest period of the year. Only 23 came out alive. The fleet was as strong, for those days, as the land force was weak. Disembarking his troops some miles below the city, Clive marched through the jungles, where he lost his way owing to the treachery of his guides, but soon invested Fort William, while the fire of the ships reduced it, on the 2nd of January 1757. On the 4th of February he defeated the whole army of the nawab, which had taken up a strong position just beyond what is now the most northerly suburb of Calcutta. The nawab hastened to conclude a treaty, under which favourable terms were conceded to the Company’s trade, the factories and plundered property were restored, and an English mint was established. In the accompanying agreement, offensive and defensive, Clive appears under the name by which he was always known to the natives of India, Sabut Jung, or “the daring in war.” The hero of Arcot had, at Angria’s stronghold, and now again under the walls of Calcutta, established his reputation as the first captain of the time. With 600 British soldiers, 800 sepoys, 7 field-pieces and 500 sailors to draw them, he had routed a force of 34,000 men with 40 pieces of heavy cannon, 50 elephants, and a camp that extended upwards of four miles in length. His own account, in a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, gives a modest but vivid description of the battle, the importance of which has been overshadowed by Plassey. In spite of his double defeat and the treaty which followed it, the madness of the nawab burst forth again. As England and France were once more at war, Clive sent the fleet up the river against Chandernagore, while he besieged it by land. After consenting to the siege, the nawab sought to assist the French, but in vain. The capture of their principal settlement in India, next to Pondicherry, which had fallen in the previous war, gave the combined forces prize to the value of £130,000. The rule of Suraj-ud-Dowlah became as intolerable to his own people as to the British. They formed a confederacy to depose him, at the head of which was Jafar Ali Khan, his commander-in-chief. Associating with himself Admiral Watson, Governor Drake and Mr Watts, Clive made a treaty in which it was agreed to give the office of viceroy of Bengal, Behar and Orissa to Jafar, who was to pay a million sterling to the Company for its losses in Calcutta and the cost of its troops, half a million to the British inhabitants of Calcutta, £200,000 to the native inhabitants, and £70,000 to its Armenian merchants. Up to this point all is clear. Suraj-ud-Dowlah was