Images de page

A.D. 1765.

of Coverpauk, and he rose by his merit tili he came to be commander-in-chief of all the Sepoys in the service of the presidency. He was a cool resolute man, and eminently faithful to the Company. The chief scene of his exploits were Madura and Tinivelly, which countries, after the overthrow of the French, he offered to take as a renter. But from their wasted condition he was, it would seem, unable to raise any revenue; at least he had paid no rent. Accordingly, in August, 1763, the Nabob and Company sent a force to reduce him. But he was not a man to fall without a struggle; the month of October of the following year saw him still unsubdued, after causing his assailants great loss of men and treasure. Treachery, however, prevailed against him; a Frenchman named Marchand, who was in his service, betrayed him to the Nabob, who put him to death.


A dispute now arose between the Nabob and the rajah of Tanjore respecting the Mound of the Caveri. For the island of Seringham, as it is named, which is formed by the branches of the Caveri, runs very narrow toward its eastern extremity, and the long strip thus formed, and which is called the Mound, if not kept in constant repair, would be swept away, and the remaining waters of the Caveri be carried into the Coleroon or northern branch, and the lands of Tanjore thus be deprived of the waters necessary for their cultivation. The Nabob now asserted that the Mound belonged to him of right, as it really did, but the rajah insisted that he was bound to keep it in repair, and this it was not the Nabob's intention to do, as he plainly designed to let it be washed away. The English were obliged to interfere, and it was arranged that the Mound should be repaired by the rajah.


the rajah of Mysore, and he soon rose to command. Hyder, the younger son, spent his time till he was seven-and-twenty between hunting and voluptuous living. He then joined his brother's corps as a volunteer in 1749, and distinguished himself so much at the siege of a Polygar's fort near Bangalore, that he drew on himself the notice of Nunjeraj, the commander, by whom he was speedily promoted.

The kingdom of Mysore was one of those Hindoo states which rose on the fall of Bejâyanugur in the 17th century. Its rajahs had consequently by this time sunk into imbecility, and as in the parallel case of the Marattas, their power had passed into the hands of their ministers. The holders of this power, at the present time, were two brothers named Deoraj and Nunjeraj, the latter of whom we have seen aiding the French at Trichinopoly, and in whose service Hyder Ally was engaged.

In 1755, Hyder was made foujdar of Dindigul, a fortress built on a high rock in the middle of a plain half-way between Madura and Trichinopoly. He had before this time organised a regular band of freebooters, "brave and faithful thieves," as Wilks styles them, who were bound to deliver up to him one-half of all the plunder they acquired 7, and with the aid of a wily brahman named Koonde Râo, he devised such a system of checks as made it almost impossible for them to defraud him. Having occasion to act against some refractory Polygars, he sent to court a flaming account of his successes, and of the difficulties he had surmounted, adding a formidable list of killed and wounded. A messenger was despatched with rich presents for the officers, and with money to give to each of the wounded men fourteen rupees a month till he should be cured. The actual number of these was sixty-seven, but on the inspection which took place Hyder mingled with them 700 men whose limbs were well swathed and bandaged. These passed muster with the rest, and Hyder drew the money for the whole, and he allowed the wounded men each seven rupees a month. Another trick which he played the government was, making what a native, who witnessed it, terms a circular muster," that is, making 10,000 men be counted and passed as 18,000.


In 1765, Nizâm Ally, whom henceforth we shall call the Nizâm, invaded the Carnatic at the head of a large army, and committed great ravages; but he retired when he saw the forces of the English and the Nabob in the field. Clive, whose power over the emperor was absolute, easily procured a sunnud conferring the Carnatic on Mohammed Ally, independent of the Nizâm, and he also obtained a similar grant to the English of the four northern Circars. In March, 1766, General Calliaud was sent with a force to take possession of these provinces: but the Nizâm threatened to invade the Carnatic; and the government at Madras, who had an exaggerated idea of his power, agreed to pay him a large annual tribute, and as he had given one of the Circars as a jagheer to his brother Bazâlut Jung, not to claim it till after the death of that prince, and very unwisely, for it was well known that he was going to attack Mysore, they agreed to support him with their troops.

The person who now wielded the power of Mysore was one of those adventurers who, by dint of courage and capacity, joined with freedom from moral restraint, so frequently rise to empire in the East. His name was Hyder Ally Khân; he was the younger son of a man who, from the rank of a common peon, to which family misfortunes had reduced him, rose to that of a foujdar in the service of the Nabob of Sera. But misfortunes coming Nasir Jung, in 1750 (see p. 66), they contrived to carry off on his master, he lost his life in his defence, leaving a widow and two sons. Shabas, the elder of these sons, when he grew up, was recommended by his mother's brother to an officer in the service of

7 Thus, in the confusion which ensued on the death of

two camels laden with gold coin.

Though Hyder could neither read nor write, he had the power of making long arithmetical calculations in his mind, with great rapidity and correctness.

In this way Hyder went on augmenting his wealth, and increasing the number of his adherents. Meantime Deoraj retired from public cares, and left the whole burthen of them to Nunjeraj, Hyder's patron. In 1758, the troops, having mutinied for payment of their arrears, Hyder came to his aid, and by carefully going through the accounts (in which he was an adept), and thus reducing them, and by a partial payment he restored harmony. His rewards, in consequence, were ample; among others, Bangalore and its district were given to him as a jagheer. In the beginning of the following year the Marattas made an inroad, and when the army was ordered to march against them, most of the chiefs declared that they could not obey on account of the arrears due to the men. Hyder, who knew that the

and defeated. He was soon able to dictate terms to the rajah, one of which was, the surrender of Koonde Râo, whose life, however, he engaged to spare. Districts were then assigned for the support of the rajah and of Nunjeraj, and the fortunate Mussulman adventurer thus became in effect the sovereign of the Hindoo realm of Mysore. (1759.)

Gratitude, of course, was not one of Hyder's virtues, and a scheme was soon concerted for the overthrow of his patron. The troops, as was arranged, came to Hyder and demanded their arrears of pay. He told them that he paid his own men regularly, and that it was not to him that the others were to look. They then requested that he would obtain payment from Nunjeraj; and several applications were made, but to no purpose, as there was really no money. They finally required that Hyder should go at their head and sit in dhurna at the house of Nunjeraj. With affected reluctance he complied; and the result was, that Nunjeraj, unable to satisfy them, told them that the rajah had taken the direction of his own affairs, and that he was retiring from public life. Some of the soldiers, as directed, then called out to remove the dhurna to the residence of the In 1767 the Nizâm and the Marattas made war rajah. This was done, and the rajah having re- on Hyder Ally. The latter, with their usual celequired Koonde Râo to be sent in to him, the brah-brity, were the first to take the field. To impede min returned with a promise that the demands of their progress, Hyder laid waste the country in a the troops should be satisfied, provided Hyder fearful manner; but, unchecked by his measures, took an oath to renounce all connexion with the they still advanced, and reached Sera, where usurper Nunjeraj. With this hard condition, also, Hyder's brother-in-law surrendered to them the he was forced to comply, and he then was admitted fort and district, without even a show of fighting. to an audience. On coming out he tendered his Hyder, now alarmed, made proposals to the Mapersonal security to the troops for their arrears, rattas, and they retired on being well paid. and it was cheerfully accepted, and thus ended the drama. Large assignments of revenue were made to him for that purpose, and thus more than half the rajah's dominions came under his control.

In 1761 Bazâlut Jung, for the sum of three lacs of rupees, made Hyder Nabob of Sera; and it was reduced by their united forces. Hyder continued to extend his conquests, and in 1763 he made himself master of the realm of Bednore, in whose capital he obtained a treasure which, he owned, chiefly led to his subsequent greatness. An invasion of the Marattas occupied him during the next year, and he was obliged to purchase their departure by the payment of thirty-two lacs of rupees, and the cession of some territory. In 1766 he made a descent on the western coast, and conquered Malabar. While he was there the rajah died; and he immediately sent orders for that prince's eldest son to succeed, and he resumed the districts which had been assigned for the support of the royal family, giving instead of them an annual pension.

The troops of the Nizâm, with an English force under Col. Joseph Smith, entered the territories of Mysore. Ere long, however, Smith saw reason to believe that their ally was playing the English false, and that he was actually in treaty with Hyder. He therefore kept his corps separate. As Col. Wood was advancing from Trichinopoly, he put his troops in motion to join him, and on the way (Sept. 3) he was attacked by Hyder with a large force. The action commenced at two, and ended at dusk, in the total defeat of the Mysoreans. As the British troops were in great want of provisions, and feared another attack, they made a forced march of twenty-seven hours for Trinomalee, not halting for either refreshment or repose. Here they had hoped to find abundance of provisions, but they were miserably disappointed; and leaving the sick and wounded in the town, Smith had to move his troops about in quest of supplies, while the country was scoured by 40,000 of the enemy's cavalry. Hyder and the Nizâm (for they were now allies) deferred making an attack, until the want of food should have reduced the strength of the English, but Smith was fortunate enough to discover some large hoards of grain, and thus his men were kept in a state of efficiency. On the 22nd the enemy commenced a distant cannonade on his left; in order to turn their left, he made a movement from his right round a hill; the enemy did the same, in order to intercept the English,

arrears were very small, offered to discharge them. He thus got the chief command, and most of the other commanders, who were of ancient families, then resigned. He soon brought the Marattas to terms, and, on his return to court, he was received with extraordinary honours, Nunjeraj, a thing unprecedented, even rising at his approach and embracing him.

Beside the Brahmin, his chief coadjutor in this affair, had been a lady of the royal family, and she and Koonde Râo (who was now dewan) seeing that the power of Nunjeraj had fallen into the hands of a far abler man, conspired to overthrow him. Taking advantage of the absence of the greater part of his troops, while he was encamped with a small force under the walls of Seringapatam, the capital, the Brahmin caused a cannonade from all the works to be opened upon him. Hyder was sending for his friend the Brahmin, when he learned the truth. He then retired with his cavalry, leaving his family and his infantry behind. He was now thrown on the world, and having been defeated by some troops led by the Brahmin, he went unarmed and as a suppliant to the abode of Nunjeraj. Being admitted, he threw himself at his feet, imploring forgiveness, and ascribing all his misfortunes to his ingratitude to his benefactor, whom he entreated to resume his place at the head of the state. Nunjeraj, though he knew him, was deceived. He gave him his forces and the influence of his name; by means of forged letters Hyder frightened Koonde Râo away from his army, which he then attacked

9 That is, without tasting food, from which the person against whom it is done, is also expected to abstain. It is usual for creditors, who cannot obtain payment, to get a Brahmin to sit in dhurna at the door of the debtor for the guilt contracted; if the Brahmin should expire, it is of the deepest die.

1 When the rajah and the ladies of the palace joined in entreaties for his life, Hyder replied, that he would not only spare it, but keep him like a parroquet. He kept his word, but not as they understood it, for he confined him in an iron cage.


A. D. 1767.

who they thought were retreating; and thus, to their mutual surprise, they encountered. The first struggle was for the hill, which Capt. Cooke secured for the English. The two armies were then drawn out in array of battle. The English had 1400 infantry and 30 cavalry, Europeans, 9000 Sepoys, and 1500 of Mohammed Ally's good-fornothing cavalry. The army of the allies is stated at 70,000, one half of which was cavalry. It was drawn up in a crescent, half-circling the British army. The English cannon having nearly silenced that of the enemy, was turned on the dense masses of their cavalry, who, having stood the fire for some minutes in the expectation of getting orders to charge, and receiving none, at length turned and fled. Hyder, who saw that all was lost, drew off his cannon, and advised the Nizâm to do the same; but he spurned at the idea, and declared that he would sooner perish. The approach of the English, however, abated his courage, and he soon was one of the most forward in flight. The victors captured 64 pieces of cannon; their loss was 150 men, that of the enemy was supposed to be 4000.

As the rains were approaching, the English went into cantonments. But the active Hyder continued his operations; and having reduced one or two small places, he proceeded to attack Amboor, which, seated on the summit of a granite mountain, was defended by Capt. Calvert, with a small garrison. Hyder having dismantled the lower fort, Calvert retired to the citadel. The Killidâr being discovered to be in correspondence with Hyder, he and his men were disarmed. Hyder, though disconcerted, continued to fire on the fort, and at length effected a breach, but in an inaccessible place. He made various attempts to surprise the fort, but in vain; and he offered Calvert a large sum of money and the command of half of his army, if he would surrender; but he was told to send no more such messages, if he respected the lives of his servants, as the bearers would be hanged in the breach. The siege had commenced on the 10th November; and on the 7th December, the troops of Col. Smith, marching to the relief of Amboor, were in sight. At their approach, Hyder retired, and ascending the Ghâts, quitted the Carnatic.

The Nizâm, weary of the war, had already entered into secret communication with Col. Smith. It came to the knowledge of Hyder, who affected not to be displeased regarding it, as being for their eventual advantage. The Nizâm, thus relieved from anxiety, speedily concluded a treaty, by which the revenues of the Carnatic Balagât, a country now held by Hyder, were transferred to the English, on their agreeing to pay the Nizâm seven lacs a year, and the Marattas their chout; and the tribute for the Circars was reduced from nine lacs perpetual to seven lacs a year for a term of six years.

While Hyder was engaged in the Carnatic, some of the Malabar chiefs resolved to make an effort to recover their independence. A force was sent by sea from Bombay to their aid. Mangalôr and some other places were taken; but an attempt on

2 It is lamentable to read that this gallant officer was afterwards tried by court-martial, and convicted, of defrauding the Company by false returns.



Cananôr miscarried, with considerable loss. May, 1768, Hyder suddenly appeared before Mangalôr, with an overwhelming force; and the English were obliged to quit the place with such precipitation, that they left behind them all their artillery and stores, and even their sick and wounded, consisting of 80 Europeans and 180 Sepoys. Hyder, declaring to the Malabar chiefs that he had found their country a source more of expense than profit, offered to give it up if paid his expenses; and he thus was enabled to retire with a large sum of money for the war against the English.

The war this year was adverse to the English, very much in consequence of the Presidency having imitated the practice of the jealous republics of Venice and the United Provinces, in sending two members of council to the army as fielddeputies, without whose consent no operations could be carried on. One of the first acts of these civilians was to cause the loss of the fort of Mulwâgul, by insisting on the European garrison being withdrawn, and their place supplied by some of the troops of Mohammed Ally. Col. Wood, in an attempt to recover it with a small force, fell in with the entire army of Hyder, and he was on the eve of being totally routed, when a stratagem of Capt. Brooke, who commanded the baggage-guard, turned the event of the contest. This officer, who had with him only four companies and two guns, drew these last by a circuitous and concealed route up to the summit of a flat rock, where they were to be served by the wounded artillerymen, while all the rest of the sick and wounded, who were able to move, were to swell the ranks on the summit. When all was ready, the guns opened a fire of grape on the enemy's left flank, and all, both sick and well, raised a shout of, "Hurra! Smith ! Smith!" Both sides thought Smith was arrived; and Wood, taking advantage of the confusion it caused, drew up his men in such a manner that he was able to repel all Hyder's subsequent attacks, and force him to retire with loss 3.

Some time after, Col. Wood, by making an attempt to relieve Oosoor, which Hyder was besieging, left Bâglôr exposed to attack, of which the active enemy took advantage; and the consequence was, that two thousand persons lost their lives in the rush which they made to get into the fort when the Mysoreans entered the town. Wood, on his return from Oosoor, again fell in with Hyder's army, and would probably have been defeated, had not Major Fitzgerald, on hearing the firing, hastened to the spot with the other division of the English army; and Hyder retired at his approach. Wood, though brave even to temerity, was now in such a state of despondence that, on the representations of Fitzgerald, he was removed from the command, and ordered to proceed to Madras under arrest.

The forts held by the English were now falling everywhere into the hands of Hyder. In December he entered the district of Baramahâl; and, as he was advancing to the reduction of Eroad, he fell in with a party of 50 Europeans and 200 Sepoys, under Capt. Nixon. When the enemy advanced to the attack, the Europeans fired, and

3 The Romans defeated the Samnites by a similar stratagem. See our History of Rome, p. 157.


then rushed on with the bayonet. They perished, oppressed by numbers; the Sepoys were cut down in their ranks; and of the whole party no one escaped but Lieutenant Goreham, whose knowledge of the language enabled him to obtain quarter from one of Hyder's officers. Hyder then made Goreham translate into English a summons to Capt. Orton to surrender Eroad, inviting him at the same time to come in person to Hyder's tent, and assuring him of liberty to depart if a surrender could not be arranged. Strange to say, he came, and was of course detained; for, as Hyder alleged, and as we regret to say was the case, Capt. Robinson, the second in command, had been taken some time before, and was dismissed under parole not to serve again during the war. Hyder, however, offered Orton leave to depart, if he would write an order for the surrender of the place, the garrison having liberty to retire with their property to Trichinopoly. He at first refused, but finally consented; and Robinson actually obeyed the order! The garrison, as might have been expected, were marched prisoners to Seringapatam, and there Robinson ended his days in a dungeon. The same was the fate of the garrison of another fort, which surrendered on the condition of being allowed to depart on parole; Robinson's conduct, and that of the government who employed him, being in both cases Hyder's excuse.

Nearly all their previous acquisitions had now been wrested from the Company; and in the beginning of 1768, Hyder sent one of his generals to Madura and Tinnivelly, while he himself ravaged the country about the Caveri. The Presidency, partly to save the unfortunate peasantry from ruin, partly urged by want of money-for they had been obliged to suspend their investments for England, and even so they had not funds to carry on the war more than four months-made proposals for an accommodation. At Hyder's desire Capt. Brooke was sent to him, on whose report of his intentions, Mr. Andrews, a member of council, repaired to his camp, and returned with proposals to be submitted to the Council. These, however, being deemed inadmissible, hostilities were resumed. Col. Smith again took the command of the army; but no encounter of any moment occurred. In the latter end of March, when the two armies were about 140 miles south of Madras, Hyder, suddenly dismissing his infantry and the greater part of his cavalry, put himself at the head of 6000 horse, and, on the 29th, he appeared on Mount St. Thomas, near Madras, whence he despatched a letter to the governor, requesting that Mr. Dupré, a member of council, might be sent to him. As it was in Hy. der's power to plunder the town, ravage the country, and pillage and destroy the garden-houses of the president and council, before Smith's troops could arrive, his demand was complied with at once, and a treaty was concluded, of which the two principal articles were, a mutual restitution of conquests and ́mutual aid in defensive wars.

Thus was terminated, and with more advantage to the English than they had any reasonable right to expect, a war imprudently, if not unjustly commenced, and feebly and unskilfully conducted by the president and council of Madras. The Di

4 The President was Mr. Palk, a clergyman, and a relaive of Gen. Lawrence.

rectors threw much vague blame on them, especially for the very wisest part of their conduct, the conclusion of peace, which they said would tend to lower them in the eyes of the natives. The reply of the presidency was, that "they were compelled to make peace for want of money to wage war."

While such was the state of affairs in the Carnatic, Bengal was enjoying tranquillity. Clive had been succeeded by Mr. Verelst as chief governor; and at the close of the year 1769 this gentleman resigned, and was succeeded by Mr. Cartier.

In 1767, the Dûranee Shah made the last of those expeditions with which India has been so often afflicted, from the mountains of Afghanistân. His march was directed for Delhi, in which case he would probably have encountered the troops of the English. But he did not come beyond the Punjâb, where he had some contests with the Sikhs. An expedition was soon after sent by the government of Calcutta to restore the rajah of Nepal who had been expelled; but from the nature of the country it was unable to effect its purpose.

In 1768 came out a peremptory order to end the trade of the Company's servants in salt and the other articles, and to leave it entirely to the natives; the governor's one and one-eighth on the revenue was also to cease. To replace these, a commission of two and a half per cent. on the net produce of the dewannee revenues was granted, to be divided into one hundred equal shares, of which the governor was to have thirty-five, and others in proportion.


Revenues of Bengal-Proceedings in England-Appointment of Supervisors-Distress of the Company - Bills regulating it-New Government of Bengal.

WHEN Clive obtained the dewannee of Bengal for the Company, he expressed a decided opinion that, after paying all the expenses of government, it would leave a considerable annual surplus revenue. Had Clive remained in India, and had his plans and suggestions been acted on by the Directors at home, such might have been the result. But this, as we have seen, was not done; adequate salaries were not secured to the servants of the Company; the restrictions on private trade were withdrawn, and, moreover, a new mode of diverting to individuals a large share of the revenue sprang up. This was the civil and military charges for buildings, &c. "Every man now," says Clive," who is permitted to make a bill, makes a fortune."

The division of the powers of government between the Nabob and the Company was productive of mischief, and had its effect in diminishing the revenue, which was further reduced by the evasion of the payment of duties by the servants of the Company. Capital was continually going out of the country, for the investments to England and China, which now, instead of being purchased by goods and bullion sent from home, were to be furnished from the revenues of the province; and as these revenues were every day more absorbed in the expenses of government, and checked or intercepted in the ways we have mentioned, the diffi


A. D. 1768-70.

culty of obtaining the necessary sums continually increased. Add to this, that the war with Hyder was a great drain on the exchequer of Bengal,

Toward the end of 1769 it appeared that there was an excess of disbursements over receipts, and the remedy proposed was, "to open their treasury door for remittances;" that is, to receive the large sums which the servants of the Company were annually sending home, and to give bills for them on the Company in England. This was, no doubt, a very agreeable mode to all parties in Bengal, but it threw the Company at home into great difficulties when the amount of these bills happened to exceed that of the sale of the investments out of which they were to be paid. To prevent this evil, the Directors limited the amount for which they permitted the government of Bengal to draw bills on them, and their wealth-amassing servants then paid their surplus cash into the French and Dutch factories, getting in return bills on Europe, and thus these Companies were enabled, in a great measure, to trade on British capital.

Such was the condition of the finances of Bengal when Mr. Cartier succeeded to the office of governor on the 24th December, 1769. In the following year, the annual rains were withheld by Providence, and India was visited by dearth and famine, which swept away one-third of the population of Bengal, and made a proportionate reduction in the revenue. In the same year the young rajah died, and was succeeded by his brother Mubarkud-dowlah. The president and council continued the allowance to him which had been arranged by Clive, but the Directors wrote out that, as he was a minor, they thought sixteen lacs of rupeees quite enough for his support, and ordered no more to be paid, and thus, how justly we need not say, they added thirty-four lacs a year to their revenues.

While such were the proceedings in India, the proprietors at home were not negligent of their own interests. Filled with vague notions of the inexhaustible wealth of the East, and having before their eyes the huge fortunes accumulated in a few years by the servants of the Company, and which were displayed in many cases with an Oriental pomp and magnificence, they panted for a share in the golden harvest. For some years past, the dividends on East India stock had been six per cent.; but, in 1766, a vote of the Court of Proprietors raised it at once to ten per cent. In vain did the Directors, who knew the real state of things, and that money must be taken up at a heavy rate of interest to pay this dividend, remonstrate; in a general court on the 6th May, 1767, a dividend of twelve and a half per cent. was voted 5. But their cupidity was destined to meet a check. The idea of the wealth of India and the desire to partake in it, had also seized the ministers of the crown ; & committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the state of the Company had been voted by parliament, which met early in November, 1766, chiefly for this purpose, and a few days after the proprietors had voted themselves twelve

5 The Directors had instituted legal proceedings against Johnstone, and the others who had taken presents at Nujum-ud-dowlah's accession. These men, who were now at home with plenty of money, and of course of influence, seized the present occasion of procuring a vote of the proprietors to drop the prosecutions. Life of Clive, iii. 185.


and a half per cent., a bill passed the house forbidding any increase of dividend for the present, and directing that dividends should only be voted by ballot, and in general courts summoned expressly for the purpose. It was insisted on the part of the ministry, that the territorial acquisitions of the Company, or those of any subjects, belonged to the crown. But they did not observe that the dewannee was of quite a different nature; and that the Company was merely a zemindâr to the emperor, to whom, or to the Nabob, the dewannee should of right revert, if the Company were required to resign it, or if their charter should expire; and the only question was, whether the crown or the Company should have the surplus revenue of Bengal, a thing which, in reality, had no existence at the very time they were disputing about it. After a vast deal of argument and contention, an act was passed in April, 1769, allowing the Company to retain the revenues of Bengal for a term of five years, on condition of paying every year 400,000l. into the exchequer ; they might, if the revenues allowed it, increase their dividends up to twelve and a half per cent., at the rate of one per cent. in each year; if the dividend fell below ten per cent., the payment into the exchequer should be reduced in proportion, and should cease altogether if it fell to six per cent. It was also provided that the Company should annually export a certain quantity of British goods, provide for the payment of their simple contract debts, the reduction of their bonded debt, &c. &c.

The whole blame of the disappointment of the golden dreams of India was thrown on those who had the management of the Company's affairs in that country, and it was resolved to institute a strict investigation on the spot. For this purpose, under the title of Supervisors, and vested with nearly the whole powers of the Company, Mr. Vansittart, Mr. Scrafton, and Col. Forde, all of whom had been high in office in India, were selected to proceed thither. They sailed in a frigate which was sent out at the desire of the Company; but the frigate and those on board of her were never heard of more. She probably foundered or went down in a hurricane.

The debt of the Company in India went on accumulating; they were utterly unable to provide for the bills drawn on them, and yet, with all their difficulties staring them in the face, the Directors had the temerity to propose to the proprietors, in 1770, to raise their dividend to 12, and in the two following years, to 12 per cent. These augmentations were cheerfully voted; but such a desperate course had its inevitable results. In July, 1772, the deficit in their accounts was 1,293,000l. They applied to the Bank for a loan of 400,000%., and when they had obtained this, for a further loan of 300,000l., but that body would only give 200,000l. ; and on the 10th August, the chairman and deputy waited on Lord North, the minister, and told him that nothing short of the loan of a million would save the Company from ruin.

The minister had the Company now completely in his power. There had been two committees sitting on the subject of Indian affairs; the one called the Secret, the other (which was open) the Select Committee; and thus some, though rather imperfect, knowledge of the subject had been eli

« PrécédentContinuer »