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 30 of 33)
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them in the field, one of our principal officers is to command
the whole — a pre-eminence our own security and our superior
military skill will entitle us to/^
The Nizam not " We entirely disapprove the idea adopted, of supporting
as a balance of the Subah of the Deccan as a balance of power against the
the Maiirattas. Malirattas. It is for the contending parties to establish
a balance of power among themselves. Their divisions are
our security : and if the Malirattas molest us, you must con-
sider whether an attack from Bombay, when being near the
capital of their dominions, may not be preferable to any
defensive operations with the country powers on your side of

Failure of the Tlic f orciffn poHcv of Lord Chve and the Court

toreipn policy ox «/

of iBoiaiion. q£ Dlrcctors calls for no further remark. It was a
policy of isolation. The English were to lie snugly
ensconced in the three provinces of Bengal,


Bcliar, and Orissa. The frontier of Oude was to
form a permanent barrier against all further pro-
gress. Within a single decade this policy was
thrown to the winds.

The domestic policy of Lord Clive was in like r.iiiurcof tao

ddinostic policy

manner doomed to fall. The " double £:overnment," "^ "''""Wc „
as it was called, of the English and the Nawab shared
the fate of political shams. It was found useful,
but only as bridging over the interval between
Native administration and British administration.
Meantime a solemn farce was played every year at
Murshedabad. The annual Poona was held, when
every landholder made his agreement as regards his
payments of revenue for the coming year. The
Nawab Nazim was seated on the throne at Mur-
shedabad, as Subahdar of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa ;
and the English Governor stood on his right hand,
as representative of the Honorable Company in the
quality of King's Dewan.

There is a strange significance in Lord Olive's Pnppot
scheme of a puppet Nawab. The same political ^j'^'^f^^""*
sham was going on in every native court in India.
In the imperial system of the Moghuls, the Kino-
had become a puppet and the Vizier was sovereign
ruler. In the Mogliul provinces the King's name
w^as the symbol of authority, whilst Subahdars and
Nawabs were sovereign princes. In the imperial
system of the Mahrattas, the nominal King was
a State prince at Satara, whilst the Peishwa, a
hereditary minister, reigned in full sovereignty at


Poona.^ The double government of Lord Clive
was thus the outturn of political exigencies, which
were producing the same results elsewhere through-
out all India.

1 The Mahratta empire was a series of anomalies. Every Peishwa in
succession received investiture from tlie imprisoned Raja at Satara. All the
later Peislnvas affected to consider themselves as the servants of the Mogliul
Kin^s of Delhi. The Mahratta confederacy was a sham. The Peishwa was
regarded as the head ; but each of the confederate powers — Scindia, Hol-
kar, the Guikowar of Barodn, and the Ehousla of Berav — intrigued to get
the better of him and of each other.



A. D. 1767 TO 1770.

HE political system laid down by Lord Clive cuve-s system

" '' perfect in theory;

was warmly approved by the Dii-ectors. Indeed
it was perfect in theory. By retaining a native ad-
ministration it relieved the English of all the re-
sponsibihties of government. By the rigid adherence
to a poHcy of isolation it stopped all deahngs with
native states outside the frontier. By taking over
the surplus revenue, ample provision was made, not
only for the maintenance of an army, but for the
purchase of all commodities in India and China.

This poKtical system, so perfect in theory, was impossible in

p 1 J 1 • •! 1 • • practice.

soon lound to be impossible m practice. Before
Lord Clive left Calcutta, he modified the three
principles it involved. He appointed English
supei'visors, as noticed in his own memorandum,
to check the native collectors of revenue in the
districts.* He proposed to form an alhance with
the Nizam of Hyderabad against the Mahrat-
tas ; and although tliis stej) was forbidden by the
Court of Dii'ectors, yet even they admitted the
possible necessity of making war upon the Mahrattas
from the side of Bombay. Last of all, Lord Clive
■ ^ 1 —

' See ante, page 344.


discovered that tlie appropriation of tlie surjiUis
revenue to the trade with China was draining the
Bengal provinces of rupees, and creating a silver
Mr.vereist, Lord Clivc was succeeded by Mr. Verelst as

Bengal : Govcmor of Benoral. Verelst was forced by circum-

ndvanced policy. c ''

stances to depart still further from Lord Olive's ori-
ginal platform. The administration of Verelst has
been overlooked by historians ; yet it has an in-
terest for all time. Verelst was taught by expe-
rience to adopt views and recommend measures
which modified those originally expoimded by Lord
Clive, and led to still further modifications by his
successors. He saw that by api)ropriating the
revenue of the country, the Enghsh had become
responsible for the rightful government of the
peoi)le in every branch of the administration. He
saw that the Enghsh would soon be forced to hold
the balance of j)Ower between the native states
in Hindustan.
Character of Vcrclst was a different man from Lord Chve.


He was not a soldier-statesman, ruhng the Bengal
pro\inces by the force of will. He was a civilian,
mindful of the welfare of the native population.
Lord Olive's experiences were derived from hfe in
camp, or negotiation with native officials and
grandees. Verelst's experiences were derived direct-
ly from the masses. He knew the people well. He
had passed through the several grades of the Com-
pany's commercial service. He had gained great
credit as su2)crvisor of the collection of the revenues


in the three districts ceded by Meer Cossim/
Altogether he was nearly twenty years in India,
and seems to have been well versed in the thoughts
and ways of the people at large.

The rise of British power in Bengal is the story Revolutions of a

■^ . . ° '' decade, 1757-67.

of a single decade. It begins with the battle of
Plassey in 1757, and ends mth the departure of
Lord Clive in 1767. It is one of the revolutionary
episodes in the eighteenth century. It may not
dazzle the imagination like the later annals of
conquest which built up the British empire ; but
it is more startHng to the actors ; and it effected
far greater changes in the social and political re-
lations between Englishmen and natives.

Verelst served his apprenticeship in Bengal vereisfs

experiences of

during the old mercantile period. He was familiar [,'J,Jio'^^"'*""^^
with the times when the English in Bengal were
all traders, and nothing but traders. Stories were
told of fights with petty Bajas about tolls and
transit duties ; but the ambition of merchants was
to make good bargains and push their trading
interests in Bengal. They made municipal laws and
administered justice within their little zemindary ;
but they took no heed of what was going on out-
side the Company's bounds unless it affected trade.

After the battle of Plassev, the English rose to sudden accession

" of the Kuglish

wealth and poAver at a single bound. Successes ^"j^^;'''' ''"^
followed one after the other with suchbewilderiDg
rapidity that neither the English at Calcutta nor
the Directors in London coidd realise their real

' See ante, page 274.


position. Before one revolution was accomplislied
it was upset by another. One Nawab was deposed
because he was too weak ; his successor was deposed
because he was too strong. Then followed the
massacre at Patna, a disaster as terrible as that of
the Black Hole. Next came the victory at Buxar
as o^lorious and decisive as that of Plassev. The
battle of Plassey had made the Enghsh masters of
Bengal. The battle of Buxar and capture of Luck-
now had carried them into the heart of Hindustan.

Era of peace. Tlic sccoud administration of Lord Clive was an

era of peace. So far his foreign policy was a
success. By giving back Oude to the Nawab Vizier
he raised a barrier between Bengal and the Mah-
rattas, which remained undisturbed for years.

Experimental Tlic domcstlc pollcv of Lord Clive was neces-

political system J- »'

sarily an experiment. Neither he, nor any of the
merchants or military officers, knew anything or
cared anything for the native administration of the
country. Lord Clive thought it best to leave the
native administration alone ; at any rate until some
experience should be gained of its actual workings.
Political considerations compelled him to be cau-
tious. The East India Company would have
alarmed native princes and Eiu"opean powers by the
premature assumption of the sovereignty of Bengal.
The nominal sovereignty of the Moghul still over-
shadowed the land. The conservatism of the people
of India was satisfied by the preservation of Moghul
forms. No other European power could possibly
interfere, so long as the Company acted only as

of Lord Clive.


King's Dewan, and the native administration was
carried on in the name of tlie Nawal) Nazim. No
harm could accrue from governing Bengal in the
name of the Moghul, although the representative of
the Moghul was living in empty and idle state
at Allahahad. In like manner, no harm could
accrue from exercising suzerainty in the name of a
pageant Nawah, who wasted his days in the same
emj)ty and idle state at Murshedabad.

All this while the so-called Kins: was livinsr at The puppet

O ""^ xx,j..ij,

King at Allaha-

Allahabad under the supposed guardianship of the ''"'^•
Nawab Vizier. He had nothing whatever to do,
directly or indirectly, with the government of the
empire. The dream of his life was to go to Delhi,
and sit on the throne of his fathers; but Lord
Clive steadily refused to help him.

The Nawab Nazim of Bengal was treated with The pa?eant

Nawab Nazim.

outward respect, but only as a pageant. Proba1)ly
he exercised less power outside Murshedabad than
one of the Company's native servants. The Eng-
lish provided for the military defence of Bengal,
concluded treaties, and made ready for war without
the slighest reference to the King or Nawab Nazim.
The native administration was left alone ; it was
superintended by the Mussulman grandee, named
Muhammad Reza Khan. This grandee had been
appointed Deputy Nawab by Governor Spenser,
diuing the general scramble for money which
followed the death of Meer Jaffier. Muliammad
Beza Khan exercised real and undivided control
over the entire native administration of the three


provinces. Clive tried to introduce a check by
appointing two Hindu grandees with co-ordinate
powers; but, practically, the sole charge of the
administration of justice and collection of revenue
was left in the hands of Muhammad Eeza
Relations be- Thc sliam of a Nawab's s^overnment was called

tween the

NizLmur"'^*''^ the Nizamut. The English were the real sovereigns,
but everything was done in the name of the
Nizamut. The Court of Du^ectors sent out the
most stringent restrictions against any interference
with the Nizamut. The people of Bengal were left
entirely to the tender mercies of the Nizamut.
The sole political duty of the Company was to take
over the yearly revenue of the three provinces at
the annual Poena at Murshedabad. Out of this
revenue the Company paid the stipulated tribute
to the King; the stipulated allowances to the
Nizamut ; the salaries of their otvtl servants, civil
and military. The sm-plus was placed in the
coffers of the Company for the purposes of trade.

Experience of Wlicn Vcrclst succccded Lord Clive as Governor


administration. ^£ Bcugal, hc was already alive to the evils of the
existing system. He had been supervisor in turn of
the three districts ceded by Meer Cossim. He had
witnessed the oppression and corruption of native
administration. He discovered that his predeces-
sors had shared in the corrupt profits of the native
collectors. It was these discoveries that led the
Directors to make the remark already quoted, " that
an Englishman was unfit to conduct the collection


of revenue, and follow the subtle native through all
liis arts."

Verelst proved by his own conduct that the pians of vercist.
Directors were mistaken. lie largely increased the
revenues of the three districts ; he planned a way
for protecting the cultivators from the oppressions
of the zemindars. He induced the Directors to
sanction the system inaugurated during the second
administration of Lord Clive, under which English
supervisors in every district were to interfere more or
less directly in every branch of the administration.

The so-called Native administration of Bengal kviu of ti^e

Native adminis-

was about as bad as could be imagined. It was ""''"

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 30 of 33)