« PrécédentContinuer »
the particular benefit of the East India Company, I little thought that such transactions would have agitated the minds of my countrymen in proceedings like the present, tending to deprive me not only of my property and the fortune which I have fairly acquired, but that which I hold more dear to me my honour and reputation.” After entering most minutely into the nature of each charge, and every particular, he added, “I have served my country and the Company faithfully; and had it been my fortune to be employed by the Crown, I should not have been in the situation I am in at present ;
I should have been differently rewarded; no retrospect would have been had to sixteen years past, and I should not have been forced to plead for what is dearer than life—my reputation. My situation, Sir, has not been an easy one for these twelve months past ; and though my conscience never could accuse me, yet I felt for my friends, who were involved in the same censure as myself. Not a stone has been left unturned, where the least probability could arise of discovering something of a criminal nature against me. The two committees seem to have bent the whole of their enquiries to the conduct of their humble servant, the Baron of Plassy ; and I have been examined by the select committee more like a sheep-stealer than a member of this House.” After taking a rapid view of all his proceedings in India, the state of that country, the conduct of the Home Government, and his attack on the Dutch armament, he enumerated the honours he had received, and read the letters of approbation from the Company, and called upon Lord Chatham to come to the bar and give his opinion of his services and conduct, after which he sat down, making the following request to the House, “ that when they came to decide on his honour, they would not forget their own.”
On the 21st May, Clive again spoke in his strong masterly style, concluding with these words, “ Take my fortune, but save my honour,” and immediately afterwards left the House.
At this stage of the proceedings, a change took place in public opinion. “Doubts began to arise, whether a grand injustice was not about to be inflicted by England on one of the greatest and noblest of her sons." The different charges against him were negatived by large majorities, and the proceedings terminated by a motion which passed unanimously, “ That Robert Lord Clive did at the same time render great and meritorious services to his country.” Although during this harassing persecution, he displayed the greatest firmness and magnanimity, Lord Clive's mind never recovered its proper equilibrium. The fatigues of two anxious and exhausting sessions had besides not improved his health, so shattered before. He continued suffering from liver and other diseases, and expired on the 22nd of November in the forty-ninth year of his age, and was buried in his native parish of MoretonSay. In the words of Sir John Malcolm, “ India has produced many illustrious men, both in his time and since; but none of them has yet obscured or equalled the fame of Clive, as one of those extraordinary men who give a character to the period and country in which they live. His name cannot be erased from the history of India, nor from that of Britain. Born in the rank of a private gentleman, and launched out early in life into the wide sea of Indian adventure, he soon far outstript all his competitors in the race of fortune and fame. He was trained in the best of schools, a state of danger, of suffering, and activity.
Those who would lessen his fame by representing him as victorious over Indian armies only, forget his successes over the French and Dutch, at that time the bravest nations in Europe. But it was not at the head of armies alone that his talents were conspicuous : he was a remarkable man in all the circumstances of life.” In private life he was much beloved, and seldom lost a friend. His allowance to General Lawrence, and princely gift of 70,000l. for the support of invalids and widows of officers and soldiers in the East India Company's army, “must rank among the noblest of living benefactions.”
At the time of his death, Lord Clive, Baron Plassy, was Lord-Lieutenant of Montgomeryshire, Major-General in the East Indies, and representative in Parliament for the town of Shrewsbury.
By a general order, dated Choultry Plain, 20th of