James Talboys Wheeler.

Early records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio online

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Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 22 of 33)
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me the rest, covering me from the sun with their shields. A
poor fellow, one of our Under- Gomastas of Santipore, seeing
me at the Cutcherry, knew me, and, with tears in his eyes,
presented me with a bunch of plantains, the half of which
my guard plundered by the way.



Beturn march.



» 50,000/.



CALCUTTA AND ITS CArTURE. 217

'' We departed from hence directly, in expectation of boats Rc-ombarkation.
following- us, but they never came; aud the next day (I
think the last of June) they pressed a small open fishing-
dingy, aud embarked us on that, with two of our guard only;
for in fact, any more would have sunk her. Here we had a
bed of bamboos, something softer, 1 think, than those of the
great boat; that is, they were something smoother, but we
were so distressed for room that we could not stir without
our fetters bruising our own, or each other's boils ; and were
in woeful distress indeed, not arriving at Murshedabad until
the 7th of July in the afternoon. We were all this while
.exposed to one regular succession of heavy rain, or intense
sun-shine, and nothing to defend us from either.

" But then do not let me forget our blessings ; for by smaii mercies.
the good-nature of one of our guard, we now and then lat-
terly got a few plantains, onions, parched rice, with jaggree,'
and the bitter green, called Curella : all which were to us lux-
urious indulgences, and make the rice go down deliciously.

"On the 7th of July, early in the morning-, we came in Humanity of
sight of the French factory. I had a letter prepared for of the French
Mr. Law the Chief, and prevailed on my guard to put simhazar.
to there. On the receipt of my letter, Mr. Law, with
much politeness and humanity, came down to the water-side,
and remained near an hour with us. He gave the guai-d a
geriteel present for his civilities, and offered him a consider-
able reward and security, if he would permit us to land for
an hour's refreshment : but he replied his head would pay
for ihe indulgence. After Mr. Law had given us a supply
of clothes, linen, provisions, liquors, and cash, we left his
factory with grateful hearts and compliments.

" We could not, as you may imagine, long resist touching over-iuduigence.
our stock of provisions ; but however temperate we thought
ourselves, we were all disordered more or less by this first
indulgence. A few hours after I was seized with a painful
inflammation in my right leg and thigh.

1 Molasses.



248 EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.

Arrival at " Passing by oui" fort and factory at Cossimbazar, raised

some melancholy reflections amongst us. About four in the
afternoon we landed at Murshedabad, and were conducted to,
and deposited in an open stable, not far from the Nawab^s
palace in the city.
March through " This march, I will freely confess to you, drew tears of
" " ^' disdain and ang-uish of heart from me ; thus to be led like a

felon, a spectacle to the inhabitants of this populous city ! My
soul could not support itself with any deg-ree of patience ; the
pain too arising from my boils, and inflammation of my leg,
added not a little, I believe, to the depression of my spirits.
More sufferiugs. " Here wc had a guard of Moors placed on one side of us,
and a guard of Hindus on the other ; and being destined to
remain in this place of purgatory, until the Nawab returned
to the city, I can give you no idea of our sufferings. The
immense crowd of spectators, who came from all quarters of
the city to satisfy their curiosity, so blocked us up from
morning till night, that I may truly say we narrowly escaped
a second suffocation, the weather proving exceeding sultry.
Fever and ffoiit. " The first night after our arrival in the stable, I was
attacked by a fever ; and that night and the next day, the
inflammation of my leg and thigh greatly increased ; but all
terminated the second night in a regular fit of the gout in
my right foot and ankle ; the first and last fit of this kind
I ever had. How my irons agreed with this new visitor I
leave you to judge : for I could not by any intreaty obtain
liberty for so much as that poor leg.
Humanity of the " During our residence here, wc experienced every act of
Dutch. humanity and friendship from Mons. Law and Mynheer Vernet,

the French and Dutch Chiefs of Cossimbazar, who left no
means unessayed to procure our release. Our provisions were
regularly sent us from the Dutch Tanksal ' and we were
daily visited by Messrs. Ross and Ekstone, the Chief and
Second there ; and indeed received such instances of commiser-
ation and affection from Mynheer Ross as will ever claim
my most grateful remembrance.

' The Dutch mint ueai Murshediibud.



CALCUTTA AND ITS CArTURE. 249

" The whole body of Armenian merchants too were most Mention of
kind and friendly to ns ; we were not a little indebted to Uustiags.
the oblig-ing g-ood-natured beliavionr of Messrs. Hastings and
Cliainbers, who gave us as much of their company as they
could. They had obtained their liberty by the French and
Dutch Chiefs becoming' bail for their appearance. This
security was often tendered for us, but without effect.

" The 11th of July the Nawab arrived in the city, and with Better ucws.
him Bundoo Sing, to whose house we were removed that
afternoon in a hackery ; for I was not able to put my foot
to the ground. Here we were confirmed in a report which
had before reached us that the Nawab, on his return to
Hughly, made inquiry for us when he released Messrs.
AVatts and Collet, &e., with intention to release us also ; and,
that he had expressed some resentment for having so hastily
sent us up to Murshedabad. This proved a very pleasing
piece of intelligence to us ; and gave us reason to hope the
issue would be more favourable to us than we expected.

"Though we were here lodged in an open bungalow only, Hope of release,
yet we found ourselves relieved from the crowd of people which
had stifled us at the stable, and once more breathed the fresh
air. We were treated with much kindness and respect by
Bundoo Sing, who generally passed some time or other of
the day with us, and feasted us with hopes of being soon
released.

''The 15th we were conducted in a hackery to the Killa, i Conducted to

*' the Nawab's

in order to have an audience of the Suba, and know our fate, palace.
We were kept above an hour in the sun opposite the gate ;
whilst here we saw several of his ministers, brought out dis-
graced, and dismissed from their employs, who but a few
minutes before we had seen enter the Killa in the utmost
pomp and magnificence.

"Receiving advice that we should have no audience or No audience.
admittance to the Nawab that day, we were deposited again
at our former lodgings, the stable, to be at hand, and had the
mortification of passing another night there.

* The seat of the Navviib or Suba's resideuce in the city of Murshedabad.



250



EARLY RKCORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.



Disnppoint-
uieuts.



Fears of the
worst.



Despair.



Release,



" The 16th in the morning an old female attendant on the
widow^ of the late Aliverdi Khan paid a visit to our g-uard and
discoursed half an hour with him. Overhearing- part of the
conversation to be favourable to us, I obtained the whole
from him ; and learned, that at a feast the preceding- night
the Begum had solicited our liberty, and that the Nawab had
promised he would release us on the morrow. This, you will
believe, gave us no small spirit ; but at noon all our hopes
were dashed by a piece of intelligence from the guard
implying that an order was prepared, and ready to pass the
seal, for returning us in irons to Raja Monikchund,
governor of AUyuagore, the name the Nawab had given to
Calcutta.

*' I need not tell you what a thunderclap this proved to us
in the very height of our flattering expectations ; for I was,
as to myself, well convinced I should never have got alive out
of the hands of that rapacious harpy, who is a genuine
Hindu, in the very worst acceptation of the vv^ord; there-
fore, from that moment, gave up every hope of liberty.

'* Men in this state of mind are generally pretty easy ; it
is hope which gives anxiety. We dined and laid ourselves
down to sleep; and for my own part, I never enjoyed a
sounder afternoon's nap.

'' Towards five the guard waked me with notice that the
Nawab would presently pass by to his palace of Mooteejeel.
We roused, and desired the guaid would keep the view clear
for us. When the Nawab came in sight, we made him the
usual salaam; and when he came abreast of us, he ordered his
litter to stop, and us to be called to him. We advanced ;
and I addressed him in a short speech, setting forth our
sufferings, and petitioned for our liberty. The wretched
spectacle we made must, I think, have made an impression on
a breast the most brutal ; and if he is capable of pity or con-
trition, his heart felt it then. I think it appeared in spite
of him in his countenance. He gave me no reply : but
ordered two of his officers to see our irons cut off, and to



' The dowager princess, graiuhnother of Surnj-u-daula.



CALCUTTA AND ITS CAPTURE. 251

conduct us wherever we chose to g-o, and to take care we
receive no trouble nor insult ; and having" repeated this order
distinctly, directed his retinue to go on. As soon as our legs
were free we took boat and proceedeil to the Dutch Tanksall,
where we were received and entertained with real joy and
humanity.

" Thus, my worthy friend, you see us restored to liberty, at Expiauations,
a time when we could entertain no probable hope of ever
obtaining it. Tlie foundation of the alarm at noon was this :
MoneloU, the Nawab's Dewan, and some others, had in the
morning taken no small pains to convince the Nawab that,
notwithstanding my losses at Allynagore, I was still possessed
of enough to pay a considerable sum for my freedom ; and
advised the sending me to Monikchund, who would be better
able to trace out the remainder of my effects. To this, I was
afterwards informed, the Nawab replied : ' It may be ; if he
has any thing left, let him keep it : his sufferings have been
great ; he shall have his liberty.' Whether this was the
result of his own sentiments, or the consequence of his pro-
mise the night before to the old Begum, I cannot say ; but
believe, we owe our freedom partly to both.

" Being myself once again at liberty, it is time I should conclusion,
release you. Sir, also from the unpleasing travel I have led you
in this narrative of our distresses, from our entrance into that
fatal Black Hole. And, shall it after all be said, or even
thought, that lean possibly have arraigned or commented too
severely on a conduct which alone plunged us into these un-
equalled sufferings? I hope not. ""^

The Black Hole was demolished in 1818. The Demolition of

. the Bltiek Hole

accompanying extracts trom a letter, signed " Asia- '° ^^^^•
ticus," which subsequently appeared in the Asiatic
Jom-nal of Bengal, will he read with interest.

"The formidable Black Hole is now no more. Early in Appearance of
the year 1812 I visited it. It was situated in the old fort inrnf "'*^"
of Calcutta, and was then on the eve of demolition. Since
that time the fort has come down, and on its site have been



252



EARLY RECORDS OF BRITISH INDIA.



Lis< of the
sufferers in the
Black Uole,



erected some extensive warehouses for the Company. I
recollect forminof one of a party in Calcutta^ for the purpose
of payin i

Presents an,i Jaffier OU thc throuc. The new Nawab was profuse

eomnensation. J-

with presents and promises. The treasures of Suraj-
u-daula had been estimated at forty millions
sterling. In reahty they only amounted to a million
and a half. Meer Jaffier engaged to pay a milhon
to the Company ; three-quarters of a milUon as

1 See ante, page 224. Omichund subsequently threatened to divulge the
whole plot to the Nawab, unless he was paid about three hundred thousand
sterling. Clive duped him with a sham copy of a treaty, purporting to
have been made between the Company and Meer JalRer, stipulating that
the money should be given to Omichund. The real treaty contained no such
clause. This trick, by which Clive personally profited nothing, has done
more harm to his reputation than any other charge that has been brought



Online LibraryJames Talboys WheelerEarly records of British India; a history of the English settlements in India, as told in the government records, the works of old travellers, and other contemporary documents, from the earliest perio → online text (page 22 of 33)