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 23 of 33)
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against him.

2 Rleer Jaffier and Meer Cossim have become such current names in the
Government records as well as in the Parliamentary debates, that it would
be inexpedient to change them into modern spelling; othei'wise they
ehould be styled Jafir Mir aud Mir Kuziui, or Amir Jafiir and Amir Kazim.



compensation to tlic inhabitants of Calcutta, native
and European ; also presents to Clive and members
of Government. Half the money was paid down
at once, and the remainder was promised at an
early date. Boats went down the river from Mur-
shedabad to Calcutta laden with treasure to the
value of eight hunch-ed thousand pounds sterling.

Few events in liistory have created a Erreater J^y and triumph

'' "at Calcutta.

revulsion of feeling than the victory at Plassey.
The people of Calcutta had been depressed, not
only by the caj)ture of the Pactory, but by the
utter loss of all their worldly goods. But now the
disgrace was forgotten in the triumph ; the poverty
was forgotten at the sight of the treasiu'e. Orme says
that the whole settlement was intoxicated with
joy; quarrels were forgotten and enemies became

CKve received a vast money reward from Meer weaithofcuvo.
Jailier. Large as it was, the time came when he
expressd his sm'prise that he had not taken more.
He had placed Meer Jafficr on the throne of the
three provinces at a time when the trembling
grandee might have expected death and destruction
for his inaction at Plassey. Por the moment, the
grandees at Murshedabad regarded Clive as the
symbol of power, the arbiter of fate, the type of
omnipotence who could protect or destroy at will.
One and all were eager to propitiate CHve with
presents; such has been the instinct of orientals
from the remotest antiquity. They are ever ready
to propitiate men in power with flatteries and


presents, just as they seek to avert the wrath or
implore the protection of deity hy praises and
sacrifices. Clive refused to accept any present,
saving what came from the hands of Meer Jaffier.
ivreerJaffier In duc coursc Clivc returned to Calcutta. He

drives the Ilin-

ji,,s into rebel- g^^^^ ^md causc for anxiety. The new Nawal)
began to enter ujion a dangerous course of policy.
Hitherto the Nawabs of Bengal, and of every other
province under Mogliul rule, had employed Hindu
ministers and renters in preference to Muham-
raadans. The Hindus were a check upon the kins-
men and retainers of the Nawab. They were more
subservient and amenal^le to the Nawab. ]\Ieer
Jaffier reversed this state of things; he sought
to remove the Hindu prime minister, and some
of the more powerful of the Hindu governors,
and replace them by his own kinsmen. The
result was that four different rebellions broke out
at the same time. To make matters worse the
Nawab of Oude was threatening to invade Behar
and take possession of the three provinces of Ben-
gal, Behar, and Orissa.

Nawabofoude Tlio Nawab of Oude played an important -p^xri

tlireatens , , ^

Bengal. jj^ ^\^q subscqucut history of British India. His

name was Shuja-u-daula. His territories extended
from Behar to the neighbourhood of Delhi ; from
the banks of the Jumna to the mountains of Nepal.

riivp averts the Clivc was oucc uiorc driven on by the force of cir-

uauper. "

cumstances. He had set up a new Nawab, who
was equally incapable of keeping the peace in
Bengal, or of keeping invaders out of the 2:)rovince.


Unless he interfered in the administration of
affairs, Bengal would go to rack and ruin, and the
Company's settlements be swamped in the general
anarchy. He suppressed the rebellions within the
three provinces by guaranteeing the safety of the
Hindu officials. The prime minister escaped to
Calcutta and was taken under English protection. ,
Clive especially guaranteed the Hindu governor of I
Behar, named Bam Narain. This man ruled the
country between Bengal proper and the dominions
of the Nawab of Oude. By giving him a guarantee,
he was kept from deserting Meer Jaffier and going
over to the Nawab of Oude. The fear of an inva-
sion, however, was soon over ; the Nawab of Oude
was called away by troubles in the North-West.

Meer Jaffier was forced to respect tlie guarantees DiffiruuposHiou

of clive.

of Clive, but he was very jealous of the inter-
ference. Chve, however, could not help his position.
He already saw that he had no alternative but to
exercise a paramount power or abandon the coun-
try. If Behar was invaded from -without, the
Nawab had no one to look to but Clive. Mean-
while, had the rebelKons of the Hindu governors
continued in the provinces, they would have laid the
country open to invasion.

Meer Jaffier was w^ell aware of his weakness. Authority ot

the Nawab

He knew that he was helpless without Clive. Still ^1?;^'"^'^ ^^
his mortification was none the less. Before the
capture of Calcutta, no Englishmen appeared at
Murshedabad, except as supplicants for trading
privileges. Since the battle of Plasscy, the English

French interest
in the Dekhau


were lords and masters. The Hindu grandees were
making tlieir court to Clive, just as tlie English
merchants during the previous century had been
accustomed to make theu^ com't to the Nawah and
his great men.
M:ihrattas and Tlic victorlcs of CHvc liad made him famous in

MD^'huls court

Clive. India, before he went to Bengal. Before the battle

of Plassey, the Mahrattas of Poona offered to help
him against the Nawab of Bengal. After the battle,
as will be seen hereafter, he received flattering
overtures from the Mos^hul court at Delhi.

Ruin of the Wliilst Clivc was tryincr to keep the peace in

French interest t/ u i X

Bengal, the Erench were making war in the South-
ern Peninsula. The declaration of war in 1756
between Great Britain and Prance had revived the
old struggle between the EngUsh and Erench in the
Carnatic. A large Erench force landed at Pon-
dicherry under the ill-fated Count Lally. Clive
sought to create a diversion, by sending an expe-
dition under Colonel Eorde to drive the Erench out
of the Dekhan. The story of the expedition has
lost its interest. It will suffice to say that Erench
influence in the Dekhan was ruined by Lally.
He recalled Bussy from the Dekhan. The conse-
quence was that Eorde succeeding in expelling the
Erench from the Dekhan. Subsequently Lally laid
siege to Madras, but was compelled to raise it. He
was next utterly defeated at Wandewash by Sir
Eyre Coote. Pondicherry was taken by Coote and
Lally returned to Erance, where he was condemned
to death, and most unjustly executed.


INIcantime the En^rlisli in Bensral had troubles of The shaiuada
their OA^^l. In the beginning of 1759 there was a ^'"»''^^-
storm from the north-west. At Delhi, the King, or
Padishah, was entirely in the hands of his Vizier, and
was in danger of his life. His eldest son, known
as the Shahzada, fled from Delhi to escape from
the A^zier. After many adventures and wander-
ings, the Shahzada appeared on the border of Behar.
He gave out that his father, the King, had given him
the government of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa. He
was soon at the head of a large army.

Clive marched to the frontier and soon disposed nefeated by

-•- Clive.

of the Shahzada. Meer Jaffier expressed much
gratitude for tliis service. The Vizier at Delhi was
equally pleased at the overthrow of the rebel prince.
He sent the letters or sunnuds of investitui'e to
Meer Jaffier, as Xawab of Bengal, Behar, and
Orissa. He also sent a title of honour to Clive;
subsequently the Xawab gave a jaghire to Clive for
the maintenance of the title. It was given out
that the grant of the jaghire was an act of grati-
tude on the part of the Nawab for the defeat of the

1 This title led to the celebrated acquisition known as Clive's jaghire. In
India under the Moghuls it was customary to give a giant of land with a
title ; the recipient fanned out the lands at a comparatively high annual
rate, and paid a smaller yearly quit-rent into the imperial treasury. After the
battle of Plassey, the Nawab had ceded a large territory on the bank of the
river Hughli to the English Company. The Company paid a quit-rent of thirty
thousand pounds to the Nawab, and farmed out the lands for a hundred
thousand pounds. The Nawab made over this quit-rent to Clive, which waa
henceforth known as Colonel Clive's jaghire.


wnr will, the 111 1759 Clive was involved in hostilities with the


Dutch. A Dutch armament suddenly arrived from
Batavia and sailed up the Hughli Ptiver. It turned
out that whilst Meer Jaffier had been flattering
Clive, he had been . intriguing with the Dutch at
Chinsura ; and the Dutch had arranged to help liim
with a fleet against the English. There was no war
between Great Britain and Holland, and consequent-
ly it was difficult for Clive to decide how to act ; yet
it was ol)vious that the Dutch armament at Batavia
threatened Calcutta ; that if the armanent effected
a junction with the Dutch force at Chinsura, the
two combined might overwhelm Calcutta. Clive
took upon himself all the responsibilities of a war ;
he fought against the Dutch, as it were with a
halter round his neck. He barred the advance of
the Dutch; he left them to begin the attack;
he then routed them utterly. He compelled the
Dutch to acknowledge themselves the aggressors
and to pay compensation for all losses and damages.
The Dutch government in Europe made loud com-
plaints, but they had no remedy. Clive had beaten
them both at diplomacy and at arms.
Moor .Tamer Thc complicitv of Mccr Jaffier in the Dutch

IrighteutU. . .

expedition was beyond all doul)t. Indeed it might
be conjectured that Clive got his jaghire, not because
he had defeated the Shahzada, but because Meer
Jaffier was in mortal terror lest Clive should punish
him for liis intrigues with the Dutch. It seems far
more likely that the jaghire was given as a peace-
offering than as an act of gratitude.


In 1759-60 the Slializada again threatened Bchar, ciive rptums to
snpported by the Nawab of Oude. Clive sent a ""
force against the invaders under the command of
Major Calliaud. The first administration of Clive
was drawing to a close. He embarked for England
in February 17G0. He was in the zenith of his
fame at the early age of thirty- five.

The policy of Clive at this period mav be gathered Poney of cuve =

-•• "^ ■•- JO his letter to I'itt.

from a remarkable letter which he addressed to
William Pitt, dated the 7th of January 1759.' He
told Pitt that no trust or reliance could be placed
uj)on the Nawab, and still less upon the heir apparent
to the throne at Murshedabad. A strong European
force in Bengal was therefore indispensable, and
Clive thought that two thousand European soldiers
would put an end to all alarm. If the JSTawab or
his successor proved troublesome, such a force would
enable the English to assume the sovereignty of the
country. It would be easy to obtain letters of con-
firmation from the Court at Delhi by engaging to
send a yearly tribute to the King, as His Majesty's
share of the revenue of the province. The people of
the country would rejoice at the change of rulers."

1 See Malcolm's Life of Clive, volume II, page 119.

2 Clive estimuted the gross revenues of Beugnl, Behar, and Orissa at three
or four millions sterling. In the early years of the reign of Aurangzeb, the
iin[)eri:il share of the revenue of Bengal amounted to fifty-five lakhs, or more
than half a million sterling. In 1665-66 Tavernier saw this amount of money
being carried in hard cash from Bengal to Delhi. (See ante, page 154.)
Neither Tavernier, nor any one else, could estimate the gross revenue.
Forty years later, when Nawah Murshed Kuli Khan was trying to in-
gratiate himself with the Moghul Court at Delhi, he sent more than a million
sterling to the imperial treasury as the king's share of the revenue of


ciive onrered the ClivG f iii'tlier told Pitt that the Vizier at Delhi

post of Ut'Wiiu ,

by the Moghui \^^^\ ah'eacly sounded him on this point. The Vizier

Court : reasons «' J^

for refusing. ^^^^^ offered CUve the post of Dewan, or Collector of
the revenue of Bengal, Beliar, and Orissa. Origin-
ally the post of Dewan had been distinct from that
of Nawah or Nazim. The Dewan was the financial
minister who collected the revenue in the "name of
the Emperor; paid all the official salaries from
that of the Nawab Nazim down^vards ; and remitted
the surplus to the imperial treasury at Delhi. The
Nawab Nazim was the military commander of the
province, who was supposed to keep the peace, and
help the Dewan to collect the revenue. But the
two posts of Dewan and Nawab Nazim had become
united in one man ever since the days of Mui'shed
Kuli Khan. Clive declined the separate post of
ELing's Dewan. It would have excited the jealousy
of Meer Jaffier, and he had not a sufficient Euro-
pean force in Bengal to enable him to carry out the
measure in the teeth of the Nawab. ^

Previous seheme Straiic^c to sav, Olive's scheme for the sjovern-

of Culouel Mill. o 1/ ^ o

ment of Bengal resembles one which had been
drawn up twelve years previously by a Oolonel James
Mill. In all probability Olive never saw it.*^
Oolonel James Mill had lived twenty years in India.
He projected the conquest of the thi'ee provinces

1 It will be seen hereafter tliat the post of Kiug's Dewau was subsequently
accepted by Clive in behalf of the Euglish Company.

No historian, as far as 1 am aware, has referred to Mill's scheme. It lies
buried in an appendix to Bolt's Affairs in Bengal, The original is very diffuse,
like most English in the eighteenth century. The remarks in the text give
all the points in Mill's memorandum.


of Bengal, Behav, and Orissa, under the flag of the
Emperor of Germany. In 1710 he submitted his
sclieme to Francis of Lorraine, the husband of
Maria Theresa.

"Tlie jMoghul empire," says Colonel Mill, "is
overflowing with gold and silver. She has always
been feeble and defenceless. It is a miracle that
no European prince with a maritime power has
ever attempted the conquest of Bengal. By a
single stroke infinite wealth might be acquired,
wliich would counterbalance the mines of Brazil
and Peru.

" The policy of the Moghuls is bad ; their army
is worse ; they are without a navy. The empire is
exposed to perpetual revolts. Their ports and
rivers are open to foreigners. The country might
be conquered, or laid under contribution, as easily
as the Spaniards overwhelmed the naked Indians
of America.

" A rebel subject, named Aliverdi Khan, has torn
away the three provinces of Bengal, Beliar, and
Orissa from the Moghul empire. He has treasure
to the value of thirty millions sterling. His yearly
revenue must be at least two millions. The pro-
vinces are open to the sea. Three ships witli fifteen
hundred or two thousand regulars would suffice for
the undertaking. The British nation would co-
operate for the sake of the plunder and the promo-
tion of their trade. The East India Company
shoidd be left alone. No Company can kec}) a


secret. Moreover, the English Company is so dis-
tracted as to be incapable of any firm resolution."
ciive'8 ideas of It lias bccn said that Clive conquered Benj^al for

couquest, ^ '-'

the sake of the late Company. From his letter to
Pitt it would seem that he did nothing of the kind-
He mshed all conquests in India to be transferred
to the British nation ; and he suggested to Pitt that
the surplus revenue might be appropriated to the
payment of the national debt.
Pitt's objections. Pitt coucurrcd with Clive as regards the prac-
ticability of the scheme, but he saAV difficulties in
the way. The Company's charter would not expu'e
for twenty years. The Judges had been already
consulted, and decided that the conquests in India
belonged to the Company and not to the Crown.
Moreover, if the conquests were transferred to the
Crown, Pitt was of opinion that they might en-
danger the public liberties. It is a curious co-
incidence that a single century should have precisely
intervened between the day when Clive penned his
letter, and the day when the direct government of
India was assumed by the Crown.'

1 Only-ergbt weeks were wanting to complete the century. Clive wrote
on the 7th of January 1759. The proclamation of the Queen's assuming
the direct Government of India was made on the 5th of November 1858.




17G0 TO 17G3.

HE departure of Clive from Benf^al was followed critical state of

^ ^ Bengal.

bv what may be termed the revolutionary

period. Clive had foreseen that the existing status
could not last. He had propounded his scheme of
government to Pitt ; but the famous war minister had
raised objections. Some decided step was absolutely
necessary. Delay might be attended with serious
danger. Hindustan was swarming with adventurers,
Mahratta and Afghan. A helpless !N'awab with
a rabble army would never repel the warlike bands
from the north-west who were carving out princi-
pahties in India. An English force could hold
Bengal against all comers ; but there was no money
to pay for it. The revenues of the Xawab were
swallowed up by his rabble following ; and it was
impossible to expect that the Company should
provide for the defence of Bengal out of their
profits as merchants. Eortunately Mahrattas and
Afghans were at war against each other iii the
Upper Provinces, or Bengal might have been
overwhelmed at any moment, and all the advan-
tages gained by the battle of Plassey might have
been sacrificed at a simple blow.



Hoi well and


Kawab Jaffier

Clive was succeeded for a few months by Mr.
Holwell as Governor of Calcutta. Holwell was the
man who had written an account of his sufferings
in the Black Hole. He was naturally spiteful
against all Nawabs, and especially so against Nawab
Jaffier. He was succeeded by Mr. Vansittart, a
well-meaning man, who was soon called upon to take
serious action.

The Shahzada and Nawab of Oudh were turn-
ing up again under novel circumstances. The King
of Delhi had been murdered by the Vizier. The
Shahzada proclaimed himself King under the name
of Shah Alam, and appointed the Nawab of Oudh
to be his Vizier. They raised an army and began
to threaten Behar.

The dethronement of Nawab Jaffier was thus per-
haps a political necessity ; a stronger man was wanted
for the place. Meer Cossim was pitched upon ; he
had married a daughter of Nawab Jaffier, and was
known to be a soldier of capacity. There was no
difficulty as to terms. The Calcutta Council ex-
pected a donation of twenty lakhs of rupees to be
distributed amongst themselves. Meer Cossim was
ready to promise payment, but Vansittart refused
to take the money. Indeed so large a sum, equal
to more than two hundred thousand pounds ster-
ling, could scarcely have been forthcoming out of
an empty treasury, with a dangerous enemy on the

1 Mr. Mill, and every historian after him, says that Mr. Vansittart took
the money and distributed it. It will he seen herciifter that the charge was
H caluuiuy as far as Vausiltuit and Warien Hastings are conceiued

Nawab Cossiiu was placed upon the throne witli- installation c t

^ ■*- Nawab Cossiin.

out the slightest opposition. Meer Jaffier yielded
to his fate, and gave up the post to his son-in-law.
The people of Bengal cared nothing about the
change of Nawabs, and thus the English could
already depose and set up Xawabs at will.

The English and Nawab Cossim took the field invasion

^ ^ , ^ repelled.

against the King and Nawab Vizier. The details
of the military operations are of no moment. It
will suffice to say that the enemy was utterly routed.
The Nawab Vizier fled back to Oudh. Shah Alam
surrendered to the English, and took up his abode at
Patna, the capital of Behar.

The records in the Home Office at Calcutta becrin Records of ti.e

~ HoiuB Office :it

about this period. The letters which passed be- ^'"'

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 23 of 33)