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the Dutch. From the universal opinion that this measure was necessary, Clive alone dissented; he derided the fears of his colleagues, and in answer to their representations that the Dutch were increasing their fleet in Batavia, he maintained that the destination of this armament was not the mouth of the Ganges, but the island of Ceylon. His calmness and confidence might have been feigned, but he gave the highest possible guarantee for the reality of his own convictions by transmitting the greater part of his private fortune to England, through the medium of the Dutch East India Company.
If indeed his credulity had been imposed upon, he was soon destined to be undeceived. Two or three Dutch vessels dropped quietly down the river, and made repeated attempts to land soldiers at Chinchura. These measures drew forth warm protests from Clive, who could now no longer afford credence to the excuses of the Dutch, or the plausible statements of Meer Jaffier. The latter had affected the greatest possible alarm at the intelligence that a Batavian fleet was coming to the mouth of the Hooghly, and complained at Calcutta, that the Dutch were allying themselves with the Nabob of Oude.
In October 1759 the much expected armament arrived. Eight hundred Europeans, with a strong subsidy of native troops and some artillery, had been embarked in five large vessels, three of which were fitted up as men of war. At this period, Clive's means of defence appeared unusually small
. The majority of the Bengal troops had been despatched in various directions, to Masulipatam, Patna, and the Coromandel coast. The allegiance of Meer Jaffier was more than suspicious; and emboldened, perhaps, by the prospect of immediate assistance, he permitted the Dutch to collect recruits on every side; while his son Meeran displayed the most zealous activity on their behalf. But the influence of Clive supplied the place of an army. With his wonted
DEFEAT OF THE DUTCH.
energy he compelled the vacillating Nabob to command the strangers to quit his territories, while he rigorously exercised the right of search upon every Dutch vessel ascending the Hooghly. Just as the crisis was becoming serious, Colonel Forde arrived from Masulipatam, having quitted the service in conseqence of some ill feeling on the part of the authorities. Urged by Clive's representations, however, he consented to assume the command of a party directed against the Dutch factory of Chinchura.
The expedition proved completely successful. Intercepting the Dutch forces on their way from the ships, Forde placed himself midway between them and the factory, thus preventing their obtaining any succours from thence. He then despatched a messenger to Clive for an order of Council authorizing him to attack the enemy.
The missive reached the Governor in the evening, and while he was unbending himself at an evening party, after the fatigues of the day. Without even rising from the table where he sat, Clive wrote on a slip of paper the following brief though characteristic sentence: “Dear Forde, fight them immediately, and I will send you an order of Council to-morrow.”
He had not miscalculated either the alacrity or the obedience of his subordinate. Forde engaged the Dutch forthwith at Bridona, routed them completely, and having made several important persons prisoners, laid close siege to Chinchura. Almost simultaneously, Clive fitted up three trading vessels, and sent them to attack the Dutch fleet. The result was a complete victory, and the factory, terrified at the consequences of their intrigues, strove by every means in their power to pacify the victors. They disavowed the proceedings of their officers, and gladly engaged to defray the expenses of the war. Another humiliation, not perhaps undeserved, awaited them a few days afterwards. The son of the Nabob, Meeran, hoping to share with the conquering party the plunder of the vanquished, had assembled an armed rabble in the
vicinity of Chinchura. According to the Indian fashion, his late allies were now fair game, the more especially since their disasters had left them without the means of resistance. They found themselves obliged therefore to supplicate the aid of Clive, who, sending a detachment to their succour, soon dispersed the Nabob's forces, and established tranquillity in the neighbourhood of the factory.
The daring of Clive had thus placed his countrymen in a position far above the jealousy of European rivals, or the intrigues of Indian princes. His personal risk and responsibility throughout this transaction was however of no ordinary kind. He himself said, “ A public man must sometimes act with a halter round his neck;" and doubtless the success of his proceedings may partially at least have procured them exemption from censure. Yet in his public conduct at this time we have the
germ of that policy which afterwards involved himself and Warren Hastings in so many disputes with the authorities at home. The necessity for prompt and vigorous action, unfettered perhaps by the constitutional ideas which restrict the ineasures of government in England, was gradually elevating the Chief of the Executive at Calcutta into an irresponsible Dictator.
[ The departure of Clive from India at the commencement of 1760, leaves us leisure to review the proceedings of the English in the south. Eyre Coote had assumed the chief command in those parts, and concentrating his forces at Conjeveram, lost no time in laying siege to the fort of Wandewash, then garrisoned by French troops. Foiled in his attempts to relieve this place, Lally seized upon Conjeveram by a coup de main; but not finding there the treasures he expected, endeavoured to regain Wandewash, which the English had taken by storm shortly before. This effort brought on a battle, contested for some time with obstinacy, but terminating at last in favour of the English. Lally lost in the action 600 men with 24 pieces of cannon, the brave Bussy being among the prisoners. His defeat on this occasion proved but the first link in a series of disasters under which the French finally sank. Arcot, Vellore, Chillumbarum, and Cuddalore, fell successively into the hands of the English, and after a vain attempt to procure the aid of Hyder Ali, who at that juncture was first becoming prominent in the affairs of the Deccan, the French commander found himself thoroughly hermed in by the English, and confined to the walls of Pondicherry. Coote commenced at once the siege of this place, and on the 4th of January, 1761, Lally was driven by famine to capitulate. The conquerors destroyed the town with its fortifications, and thus deprived their rivals of the last possession belonging to France upon the Indian continent, Lally and Bussy, being liberated on parole, returned to France to meet a fate strikingly diverse. Bussy, respected by his foes, and in the enjoyment of a splendid fortune, was courted and caressed, while the unfortunate Lally became the scape-goat of popular indignation. All the reverses and losses in India were laid to his charge; he was imprisoned in the Bastile, and finally dragged forth in a dung cart to perish on the Place de Grève by the hand of the executioner.
While the sister presidencies (if we may anticipate that title) of Madras and Calcutta were being raised into independent states, that of Bombay advanced with equal steps in the career of prosperity. During the decline of the Mogul power, the once flourishing town of Surat suffered severely from the intrigues and factions of the local Mohammedan authorities. The English factory in the place participated in the general depression consequent on these turbulent dissensions; and its members, unable any longer to bear the extortions and misgovernment of the Emperor's officers, applied for aid to their countrymen at Bombay.
The Hindoo merchants gladly welcomed the security of English protection, and readily undertook to pay to the Bombay authorities a certain annual tribute, while the court of Delhi viewed with no adverse or hostile feeling the abasement of its overgrown vassals. An expedition soon brought these chiefs to reason, and the Mogul, or rather his minister, conferred upon the English commanders the title of Admirals of the Imperial fleet.
The reception of Clive when he reached England was calculated to excite the liveliest emotions in the mind of one who was by no means insensible to the voice of public approbation. His princely wealth, amounting it is said to £60,000 per annum, enabled him to enjoy all the advantages of which affluence is productive, while his merits secured for him a large share of those honours, the value of which enhanced by the circumstance that