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corruption, of the sale of justice and mercy ; with narratives of torture, oppression, and crime, heightened by the indistinctness of the particulars related, and the remote position of the country which had witnessed their enactment, created in the public mind a deadly antipathy towards the Nabob class

, always exaggerated, and sometimes unjust. As one of the leading men connected with this body, Clive found himself naturally exposed to the prejudices against it, which then animated the majority of his countrymen. Liberal and even munificent in his gifts, his profusion was frequently excessive and ostentatious. He possessed large estates, princely mansions, and costly equipages; his dress and mode of living were alike extravagant. All these luxuries, rumour affirmed, had been wrung from the spoliation of defenceless princes, and oppressed provinces, if they had not been acquired by acts of positive crime. The peasants about Claremont, where he was erecting a large and spacious mansion, styled him “the great wicked Lord,” and surmised that “the walls of his mansion had been built so thick to prevent the devil from carrying him away bodily." Clive might have contemned alike the sarcasms of envy and the legends of superstition, but he possessed defects of manner which alienated men of education and intelligence. His reserve, his silence, and the fits of depression to which he was frequently subject, rendered him a gloomy companion, and gave rise to the supposition that he suffered acutely from the stings of remorse. These indeed might have been more charitably accounted for by remembering the constitutional melancholy which even in youth had thrown a gloom over his existence; but the world seldom cares to investigate fairly, and examine minutely, the accusations brought against those whom it dislikes or envies ; and thus infirmities, which if known should have excited sympathy, were perverted by his enemies into the tokens of conscious guilt.

1772.]

OPPOSITION TO CLIVE.

79

At length, during the session of 1772, the hostile parties met each other face to face in Parliament. On the 30th of March, Mr. Sullivan brought in a bill " for the better regulation of the affairs of the East India Company, and of their servants in India, and for the due administration of justice in Bengal." His speech upon the introduction of this measure conveyed a covert attack on Lord Clive, who felt that the hour was now come when he must stand at bay. The ostensible leader of the opposition in the House of Commons was not, however, Mr. Sullivan, but Colonel Burgoyne, who, on the 13th of April in the same year, moved for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the affairs of India. Summoned before this committee, Lord Clive found himself subjected to a strict and searching examination. Events long passed away were alleged against him : the deception of Omichund, the sums received from Meer Jaffier, the forgery of Admiral Watson's name. He replied boldly, not seeking for an instant to palliate or disguise any portion of his past conduct. With respect to the donation of Meer Jaffier, he gave reins to his fancy, and depicted in brief but impressive language, the position in which he found himself placed by the victory of Plassey. “A great prince,” he said, “was dependent on my pleasure ; an opulent city lay at my mercy; richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels ! Mr. Chairman," he concluded, “at this moment I stand amazed at my own moderation.”

The proceedings of the Committee were reported to the house on the 10th of May, prefaced by a speech from Colonel Burgoyne, in the course of which he drew a malignant and overcharged picture of Clive's career. The latter defended himself with his usual energy, and called forth the admiration both of the senate and of the country at large by the eloquence manifested in his

its

reply. At length a resolution was passed to the effect that “ Robert Lord Clive, Baron of Plassey, did possess himself of the sum of 234,0001. English money, and that Lord Clive did at the same time render great and meritorious services to his country.”

The hero of Plassey had triumphed over his malignant and ungenerous foes, but the excitement proved too powerful for a mind inordinately susceptible. In the November of the same year which witnessed his acquittal, he committed suicide, but whether fully conscious of the crime remains at least doubtful. On the day previous to the fatal deed, he suffered extremely from nervous debility, and the strong doses of opium which he was obliged to swallow may probably have clouded his reason, and in some measure diminished the moral turpitude of his crime. Such an end is indeed fearful to be contemplated; but to the Christian reader the moral of it is obvious, and the instruction conveyed thereby may convince even the worldly and profane that mere wealth is incapable of producing happiness, and that the highest and best deserved honours afford sometimes no security against the invasions of melancholy or the assaults of despair. ,

1767.]

RISE OF HYLER ALI.

81

CHAPTER VII.

HYDEP. ALI-WARREN HASTINGS-NUNCOMAR-SIR PIIILIP FRANCIS

TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF NUNCOMAR.

1767—1775. We must now return to the state of affairs in India after the departure of Lord Clive. A predatory raid of the Afghans into Delhi, and a rash attempt of the Calcutta Council to interfere with the internal government of Nepaul, were for some months the only events in Bengal worthy of notice. In the Carnatic, however, an adventurer had arisen, whose after prowess, and that of his son, will never be forgotten as long as English history endures.

The mountains commonly known as the Ghauts commence above Surat, to the south of the river Nerbuddah, and extend down the peninsula towards Cape Comorin. In the province of Aurungabad, however, a range branches off from the main or western Ghauts, encircling a large tract of table-land, which it again shuts in towards the south, near the towns of Caveripooram and Sattymanguttum. The lower division of these elevated regions forms the territory of Mysore, one of the most fertile portions of Southern India. To a prolific soil, which yields abundantly even the productions peculiar to the temperate zone, it adds a mild temperature and genial air, preserved by the vicinity of the Ghauts froin the fierce heats of the plains. The sacred river Cavery, celebrated in Hindoo legends, rolls its limpid waters beneath the walls of Seringapatam, and forms one of the southern boundaries of the province.

From the most remote antiquity, a succession of Hindoo rajahs, established at Mysore, governed the

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surrounding district, according to the regulations of their sacred books. Shut in by their mountains on all sides, they were but slightly affected by the changes and revolutions which distracted the eastern coast, or desolated the plain regions of the north. Unhappily for himself, however, the last rajah of this race was persuaded to receive into his service a Mussulman freebooter, named Hyder Ali. This personage possessed authority over a heterogeneous assemblage of banditti, composed chiefly of members of the wild mountain tribes towards the west. By degrees he augmented the numbers of his band, until, deeming himself sufficiently strong to aspire to independent authority, he overthrew his patron the rajah, and seized upon his dominions. The possession of Mysore, however, did not long satisfy his energetic and ambitious spirit. One petty chief after another fell before his victorious arms, until his northern forays brought him into the immediate vicinity of the Mahrattas, a predatory horde as unscrupulous and encroaching as his own. The Peishwa, or head of their confederacy, encountered Hyder, on the river Kistna, and after a sanguinary action, drove him back to his own territory. Thus repulsed from the north, the freebooter descended upon the Malabar coast, where he easily overcame the timid and unwarlike Hindoos.

The Peishwa of the Mahrattas now allied himself to Nizam Ali, brother and successor of Salibut Jung, Nabob of the Carnatic, for the purpose of subjugating Mysore. This alliance was also joined by the English, who sent Colonel Smith to assist the Peishwa in his military operations. The Mahrattas and the Nizam, however, proved utterly undeserving of trust, since they patched up a separate truce with Hyder, and abandoned Smith and his army to their fate. That officer escaped from the toils spread for him, but soon found it necessary to retreat in the direction of Madras. Tippoo Sahib, then a youth of seventeen, was intrusted with a large body

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