« PrécédentContinuer »
which they contended; the Nabob claiming it, as BOOK IV inherent in the sovereignty; and the Raja as inherent in the title which he possessed to the waters of the Cavery. Unhappily, in the right which, as sovereign, the Nabob claimed, of permitting no one but himself to repair the mound, he tacitly included the right of omitting all repairs whenever he pleased. The Raja, who dreaded the consequences, solicited an interview; and by making ample submission and protestations, effected a temporary compromise. It was not long, however, before he had again occasion to complain; and wrote the most pressing letters to Madras, beseeching the Presidency to lay their commands upon the Nabob for the repair of the mound. The Nabob hardly disguised his intention of allowing it to be washed away; alleging the wishes of his own people, who, on account of the overflowing of the low grounds to the eastward of Trichinopoly, desired the waters of the Cavery to be turned into the channel of the Coleroon. The English at last interfered, with a determination to prevail; and the Nabob, but not before the month of January, 1765, and with great reluctance, gave his consent, that the mound of the Cavery should be repaired by the King of Tanjore.
' Official Papers in Rous's Appendix, Nos. vi. x. xii. xiii.
Second Administration of Clive.—Company's Orders
respecting the Private Trade disregarded.- Arrangements with the Vizir.—With the Emperor. -Acquisition of the Dewannee.-- Private Trade created a Monopoly for the Benefit of the superior Servants.— Reduction of the Military Allowances.— Its effects.- Clive resigns, and Verelst succeeds. — Proceedings in England relative to the Rate of Dividend on Company's Stock.—Financial difficulties.—Verelst resigns, and Cartier succeeds.
LORD Clive, together with Mr. Sumner and Mr. Sykes, who had accompanied him from England, and were two of the persons empowered to form the Select Committee, arrived at Calcutta, on the 3d of May, 1765. The two other persons of whom that extraordinary machine of government was to be coma posed, were absent; General Carnac, beyond the confines of the province of Bahar, with the army ; and Mr. Verelst, at the distant settlement of Chittagong.
For as much as the disturbances, which guided the resolves of the Company, when they decreed that such a new organ of government should exist, were now removed ; and for as much as the Select Committee were empowered to exercise their extraordinary powers for so long a time only as those
disturbances should remain; it was a question, whether BOOK IV they were entitled to form themselves into a governing body; but a question of which they speedily disposed.' On the 7th of May, exactly four days after their arrival, Lord Clive, and the two gentlemen who accompanied him, assembled; and without waiting for communication with the rest of the destined members declared the Select Committee formed;' assumed the whole powers of government civil and military; and administered to themselves and their secretaries an oath of secrecy.
The great corruption which they represented as prevailing in the government, and tainting to a prodigious degree the conduct of the Company's servants, was the foundation on which they placed the necessity for the establishment of the Committee. The picture which they drew of these corruptions exhibited, it is true, the most hideous and the most disgusting features. But the impartial judge will probably find, that the interest of the Committee to make out the appearance of a strong necessity for investing themselves with extraordinary powers, after the original cause for them had ceased to exist, had some influence on their delineations. In the letter, addressed to the Committee, with which Lord Clive opened their proceedings, on the 7th of May, very few days,” he says, “are elapsed since our ar
I “Upon my arrival in Bengal,” said Clive (in his Speech in the House of Commons, ut supra, p. 3.), “ I found the powers given were so loosely and jesuitically worded, that they were immediately contested by the Council. I was determined, however, to put the most extensive construction upon them, because I was determined to do my duty to my country.”
? The rest were 'two,' and to one of these at least, General Carnac, Lord Clive wrote the moment of his arrival. There was no occasion to wait for his presence or that of Verelst. Life of Clive, ii. 318.-W.
BOOK IV rival; and yet, if we consider what has already come
to our knowledge, we cannot hesitate a moment upon 1765. the necessity of assuming the power that is in us of
conducting, as a Select Committee, the affairs both civil and military of this settlement. What do we hear of, what do we see, but anarchy, confusion, and, what is worse, an almost general corruption.Happy, I am sure, you would have been, as well as myself, had the late conduct of affairs been so irreproachable as to have permitted them still to continue in the hands of the Governor and Council.” Yet one would imagine that four days afforded not a very ample space for collecting a satisfactory body of evidence on so extensive a field,' especially if we must believe the noble declarer, that the determination to which it led was a disagreeable one.
“ Three paths,” observed his Lordship, when afterwards defending himself, “were before me. 1. One was strewed with abundance of fair advantages. I might have put myself at the head of the government as I found it. I might have
I might have encouraged the resolution which the gentlemen had taken not to execute the new covenants which prohibited the receipt of presents : and, although I had executed the covenants myself, I might have contrived to return to England with an immense fortune, infamously added to the one before honourably obtained.2. Finding my powers disputed, I might in despair have given up the commonwealth, and have left Bengal without making an effort to save it. Such
' Most of the Evidence was supplied in the minutes and proceedings of the Committee; much was furnished by the avowal of the parties themselves. Life, ii. 222.-W.:
a conduct would have been deemed the effect of BOOK IV
CHAP. 7. folly and cowardice.-3. The third path was intricate. Dangers and difficulties were on every side. But I resolved to pursue it. In short, I was determined to do my duty to the public, although I should incur the odium of the whole settlement. The welfare of the Company required a vigorous exertion, and I took the resolution of cleansing the Augean Stable.” 1
Another circumstance deserves to be mentioned, of which Lord Clive takes no notice in his speech, though on other occasions it is not forgotten ; that without the formation of the Select Committee, he would, as Governor, have enjoyed only a shadow, or at best a small fragment of power. In his letter to the Directors, dated the 30th of February, in which he describes the transactions of the first five months of his new administration, he says, “ The gentlemen in Council of late years at Bengal, seem to have been actuated, in every consultation, by a very obstinate and mischievous spirit. The office of Governor has been in a manner hunted down, stripped of its dignity, and then divided into sixteen shares,” -the number of persons of whom the board consisted." Two paths,” he observes, in nearly the same language as was afterwards used in his speech, “were evidently open to me: the one smooth, and strewed with abundance of rich advantages that might easily be picked up; the other untrodden, and every step opposed with obstacles. I might have taken charge of the government upon the same footing on which I found it; that is, I might have en
Speech, ut supra, p. 1.