1902 Encyclopedia > Robert Clive (Clive of Plassey)

Robert Clive
(also known as: Clive of Plassey; Clive of India)
English soldier and administrator
(1725-74)




ROBERT CLIVE, (1725-1774), Baron Clive of Plassy, in the peerage of Ireland, was the statesman and general who founded the empire of British India before he was forty years of age, He is now represented by the Powis family, his son having been made earl of Powis in the peerage of the United Kingdom. Clive was born on the 29th September 1725 at Styche, the family estate in the parish of Moreton-Say, Market-Drayton, Shropshire. We learn from himself, in his second speech in the House of Commons in 1773, that as the estate yielded only £500 a year, his father followed the profession of the law also. The Clives, or Clyves, formed one of the oldest families in the county of Shropshire, having held the manor of that name in the reign of Henry II. One Clive was Irish Chancellor of the Exchequer under Henry VIII.; another was a member of the Long Parliament; Robert's father sat for many years for Montgomeryshire. His mother, to whom throughout life he was tenderly attached, and who had a powerful influence on his career, was a daughter, and with her sister Lady Sempill co-heir, of Nathaniel Gaskell of Manchester, Bobert was their eldest son. With his five sisters, all of whom were married in due time, he ever maintained the most affectionate relations. His only brother survived to 1825. Young Clive was the despair of his teachers. Sent from school to school, and for only a short time at the Merchant Taylors' school, which had then a high reputation, he neglected his books for boyish adventures, often of the most dangerous kind. But he was not so ignorant as it is the fashion of his biographers to represent. He could translate Horace in after life, at the opening of the book ; and he must have laid in his youth the foundation of that clear and vigorous English style which marked all his despatches, and made Lord Chatham declare of one of his speeches in the House of Commons that it was the most eloquent he had ever heard. From his earliest years, however, his ambition was to lead his fellows ; but he never sacrificed honour, as the word was then understood, even to the fear of death. At eighteen he was sent out to Madras as a " factor " or " writer " in the civil service of the East India Company. The deten-tion of the ship at Brazil for nine months enabled him to acquire the Portuguese language, which, at a time when few or none of the Company's servants learned the vernaculars of India, he often found of use during his service there. For the first two years of his residence he was miserable. He felt keenly the separation from home; he was always breaking through the restraints imposed on young " writers;" and he was rarely out of trouble with his fellows, with one of whom he fought a duel. Thus early, too, the effect of the climate on his health began to show itself in those fits of depression during one of which he afterwards pre-maturely ended his life. The story is told of him by his companions, though he himself never spoke of it, that he twice snapped a pistol at his head in vain. His one solace was found in the Governor's library, where he sought to make up for past carelessness, not only by much reading, but by a course of study. He was just of age, when in 1746 Madras was forced to capitulate to Labourdonnais, during the war of the Austrian Succession. The breach of that capitulation by Dupleix, then at the head of the French settlements in India, led Clive, with others, to escape from the town to the subordinate Fort St David, some twenty miles to the south. There, disgusted with the state of affairs and the purely commercial duties of an East Indian civilian, as they then were, Clive obtained an ensign's commission.

At this time India was ready to become the prize of the first conqueror who to the dash of the soldier added the skill of the administrator. For the forty years since the death of the Emperor Aurungzebe, the power of the Great Mogul had gradually fallen into the hands of his provincial viceroys or soubadars. The three greatest of these were the nawab of the Deccan, or South and Central India, who ruled from Hyderabad, the nawab of Bengal, whose capital was Moorshedabad, and the nawab or vizier of Oudh. The prize lay between Dupleix, who had the genius of an administrator, or rather intriguer, but was no soldier, and Clive, the first of a century's brilliant succession of those " soldier-politicals," as they are called in the East, to whom, ending with Sir Henry Lawrence, Great Britain owes the conquest and consolidation of its greatest dependency. Clive successively established British ascendency against French influence in the three great provinces under these nawabs. But his merit lies especially in the ability and foresight with which he secured for his country, and for the good of the natives, the richest of the three, Bengal. First, as to Madras and the Deccan, Clive had hardly been able to commend himself to Major Stringer Lawrence, the commander of the British troops, by his courage and skill in several small engagements, when the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle forced him to return to his civil duties for a short time. An attack of the malady which so severely affected his-spirits led him to visit Bengal, where he was soon to distinguish himself. On his return he found a contest going on between two sets of rival claimants for the position of viceroy of the Deccan, and for that of nawab of the Carnatic, the greatest of the subor-dinate states under the Deccan. Dupleix, who took the part of the pretenders to power in both places, was carry-ing all before him. The British had been weakened by the withdrawal of a large force under Admiral Boscawen, and by the return home, on leave, of Major Lawrence. But that officer had appointed Clive commissary for the supply of the troops with provisions, with the rank of captain. More than one disaster had taken place on a small scale, when Clive drew up a plan for dividing the enemy's forces, and offered to carry it out himself. The pretender, Chunda Sahib, had been made nawab of the Carnatic with Dupleix's assistance, while the British had taken hp the cause of the more legitimate successor, Mahomed Ali. Chunda Sahib had left Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, to reduce Trichinopoly, then held by a weak English battalion. Clive offered to attack Arcot that he might force Chunda Sahib to raise the siege of Trichinopoly. But Madras and Fort St David could supply him with only 2<"*0 Europeans and 300 sepoys. Of the eight officers who led them, four were civilians like Clive himself, and six had never been in action. His force had but three field-pieces. The cir-cumstance that Clive, at the head of this handful, had been eeen marching during a storm of thunder and lightning, led the enemy to evacuate the fort, which the British at once began to strengthen against a siege. Clive treated the great population of the city with so much considera-tion that they helped him, not only to fortify his position, but to make successful sallies against the enemy. As the days passed on, Chunda Sahib sent a large army under his son and his French supporters, who entered Arcot and closely besieged Clive in the citadel. An attempt to relieve him from Madras was defeated. Meanwhile the news of the marvellous defence of the English reached the Mahratta allies of Mahomed Ali, who advanced to dive's rescue. This led the enemy to redouble their exertions, but in vain. After for fifty days besieging the fort, and offering large sums to Clive to capitulate, they retired from Arcot. The brave garrison had been so reduced by the gradual failure of provisions that the sepoys offered to be content with the thin gruel which resulted from the boiling of the rice, leaving the grain to their European comrades. Of the 200 Europeans 45 had been killed, and of the 300 sepoys 30 had fallen, while few of the survivors had escaped wounds. In India, we might say in all history, there is no parallel to this exploit of 1751 till we come to the siege of Lucknow in 1857. Clive, now reinforced, followed up his advan-tage, and Major Lawrence returned in time to carry the war to a successful issue. In 1754 the first of our Carnatic treaties was made provisionally, between Mr T. Saunders, the Company's resident at Madras, and M. Godeheu, the French commander, in which the English protege, Mahomed Ali, was virtually recognized as nawab, and both nations agreed to equalize their possessions. When war again broke out in 1756, and the French, during Clive's absence in Bengal, obtained successes in the northern districts, his efforts helped to drive them from their settlements. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 formally confirmed Mahomed Ali in the position which Clive had won for him. Two years after, the Madras work of Clive was completed by a firmaun from the emperor of Delhi, recognizing the British posses-sions in Southern India.

The siege of Arcot at once gave Clive a European reputation. Pitt pronounced the youth of twenty-seven who had done such deeds a " heaven-born general," thus endorsing the generous appreciation of his early commander, Major Lawrence. When the Court of Directors voted him a sword worth ¿6700, he refused to receive it unless Lawrence was similarly honoured. He left Madras for home, after ten years absence, early in 1753, but not before marrying Miss Margaret Maskelyne, the sister of a friend, and of one who was afterwards well known as astronomer royal. All his correspondence proves him to have been a good husband and father, at a time when society was far from pure, and scandal made havoc of the highest reputations. In after days, when Clive's uprightness and stern reform of the Company's civil and military services made him many enemies, a biography of him appeared under the assumed name of Charles Carracioli, Gent. All the evidence is against the probability of its scandalous stories being true. Clive's early life seems occasionally to have led him to yield to one of the vices of his time, loose or free talk amou(! intimate friends, but beyond this nothing has been proved to his detriment. After he had been two years at home the state of affairs in India made the directors anxious for his return. He was sent out, in 1756, as governor of Fort St David, with the reversion of the government of Madras, and he received the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the king's army. He took Bombay on his way, and there commanded the land force which captured Gheriah, the stronghold of the Mahratta pirate, Angria. In the distribu-tion of prize money which followed this expedition he showed no little self-denial. He took his seat as governor of Fort St David on the day on which the nawab of Bengal captured Calcutta. Thither the Madras Government at once sent him, along with Admiral Watson. He entered on the second period of his career.





Since, in August 1690, Job Charnock had landed at the village of Chuttanutti with a guard of one officer and 30 men, the infant capital of Calcutta had become a rich centre of trade. The successive nawabs or viceroys of Bengal had been friendly to it, till, in 1756, Suraj-ud-Dowlan succeeded his uncle at Moorshedabad. His predecessor's financial minister had fled to Calcutta to escape the extor-tion of the new nawab, and the English governor refused to deliver up the refugee. Enraged at this, Suraj-ud-Dowlah captured the old fort of Calcutta on the 5th August, and plundered it of more than two millions sterling. Many of the English fled to the ships and dropped down the river. The 146 who remained, were forced into " the Black Hole " in the stifling heat of the sultriest period of the year. Only 23 came out alive. The fleet was as strong, for those days, as the land force was weak. Disembarking his troops some miles below the city, Clive marched through the jungles, where he lost his way owing to the treachery of his guides, but soon invested Fort William, while the fire of the ships reduced it, on the 2d January 1757. On the 4th February he defeated the whole army of the nawab, which had taken up a strong position just beyond what is now the most northerly suburb of Calcutta. The nawab hastened to conclude a treaty, under which favourable terms were conceded to the Company's trade, the factories and plundered property were restored, and an English mint was established. In the accompanying agreement, offensive and defensive, Clive appears under the name by which he was always known to the natives of India, Sabut Jung, or the daring in war. The hero of Arcot had, at Angria's stronghold, and now again under the walls of Calcutta, established his reputa-tion as the first captain of the time. With 600 British soldiers, 800 sepoys, 7 field-pieces and 500 sailors to draw them, he had routed a force of 34,000 men with 40 pieces of heavy cannon, 50 elephants, and a camp that extended upwards of four miles in length. His own account, in a letter to the archbishop of Canterbury, gives a modest but vivid description of the battle, the importance of which has been overshadowed by Plassy. In spite of his double defeat and the treaty which followed it, the madness of the nawab burst forth again. As England and France were once more at war, Clive sent the fleet up the river against Chandernagore, while he besieged it by land. After consenting to the siege, the nawab sought to assist the French, but in vain. The capture of their principal settle-ment in India, next to Pondicherry, which had fallen in the previous war, gave the combined forces prize to the value of ¿£130,000. The rule of Suraj-ud-Dowlah became as intolerable to his own people as to the English. They formed a confederacy to depose him, at the head of which was Jaffier Ali Khan, his commander-in-chief. Associating with himself Admiral Watson, Governor Drake, and Mr Watts, Clive made a treaty in which it was agreed to give the office of souba, or viceroy of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, to Jaffier, who was to pay a million sterling to the Company for its losses in Calcutta and the cost of its troops, half a million to the English inhabitants of Calcutta, £200,000 to the native inhabitants, and £70,000 to its Armenian merchants. Up to this point all is clear. Suraj -ud-Dowlah was hopeless as a ruler. His relations alike to his master, the merely titular emperor of Delhi, and to the people left the province open to the strongest. After " the Black Hole," the battle of Calcutta, and the treachery at Chandernagore in spite of the treaty which followed that battle, the East India Company could treat the nawab only as an enemy. Clive, it is true, might have disregarded all native intrigue, marched on Moorshedabad, and at once held the delta of the Ganges in the Company's name. But the time was not ripe for this, and the consequences, with so small a force, might have been fatal. The idea of acting directly as rulers, or save under native charters and names, was not developed by events for half a century. The political morality of the time in Europe, as well as the comparative weakness of the Company in India, led Clive not only to meet the dishonesty of his native associate by equal dishonesty, but to justify his conduct by the declara-tion, years after, in Parliament, that he would do the same again. It became necessary to employ the richest Bengalee trader, Omichund, as an agent between Jaffier Ali and the English officials. Master of the secret of the confederacy against Suraj-ud-Dowlah, the Bengalee threatened to betray it unless he was guaranteed, in the treaty itself, £300,000. To dupe the villain, who was really paid by both sides, a second, or fictitious treaty, was shown him with a clause to this effect. This Admiral Watson refused to sign; but," Clive deponed to the House of Commons, " to the best of his remembrance, he gave the gentlemaD who carried it leave to sign his name upon it; his lordship never made any secret of it; he thinks it warrantable in such a case, and would do it again a hundred times ; he had no interested motive in doing it, and did it with a design of disappointing the expectations of a rapacious man." Such is Clive's own defence of the one act which, in a long career of abounding temptations, stains his public life.

The whole hot season of 1757 was spent in these negotiations, till the middle of June, when Clive began his march from Chandernagore, the British in boats, and the sepoys along the right bank of the Hooghly. That river, above Calcutta is, during the rainy season, fed by the overflow of the Ganges to the north through three streams, which in the hot months are nearly dry. On the left bank of the Bhagarutti, the most westerly of these, 100 miles above Chandernagore, stands Moorshedabad, the capital of the Mogul viceroys of Bengal, and then so vast that Clive compared it to the London of his day. Some miles farther down is the field of Plassy, then an extensive grove of mango trees, of which enough yet remains, in spite of the changing course of the stream, to enable the visitor to realize the scene. On the 21st June Clive arrived on the bank opposite Plassy, in the midst of that outburst of rain which ushers in the south-west monsoon of India. His whole army amounted to 1100 Europeans and 2100 native troops, with 10 field-pieces. The nawab had drawn up 18,000 horse, 50,000 foot, and 53 pieces of heavy ordnance, served by French artillerymen. For once in his career Clive hesitated, and called a council of sixteen officers to decide, as he put it, " whether in our present situation, without assistance, and on our own bottom, it would be prudent to attack the nawab, or whether we should wait till joined by some country power 1 " Clive himself headed the nine who voted for delay; Major (afterwards Sir) Eyre Coote, led the seven who counselled immediate attack. But, either because his daring asserted itself, or because, also, of a letter that he received from Jaffier Ali, as has been said, Clive was the first to change his mind and to communicate with Major Eyre Coote. One tradition, followed by Macaulay, represents him as spending an hour in thought under the shade of some trees, while he resolved the issues of what was to prove one of the decisive battles of the world. Another, turned into verse by an Anglo-Indian poet, pictures his resolution as the result of a dream. However that may be, he did well as a soldier to trust to the dash and even rashness that had gained Arcot and triumphed at Calcutta, and as a states-man, since retreat, or even delay, would have put back the civilization of India for years. When, after the heavy rain, the sun rose brightly on the 22d, the 3200 men and the six guns crossed the river and took possession of the grove and its tanks of water, while Clive established his head-quarters in a hunting lodge. On the 23d the engagement took place and lasted the whole day. Except the 40 Frenchmen and the guns which they worked, the enemy did little to reply to the British cannonade which, with the 39th Begiment, scattered the host, inflicting on it a loss of 500 men. Clive restrained the ardour of Major Kirkpatrick, for he trusted to Jaffier Ali's abstinence, if not desertion to his ranks, and knew the importance of sparing his own small force. He lost hardly a white soldier; in all 22. sepoys were killed and 50 wounded. His own account, written a month after the battle to the secret committee of the court of directors, is not less unaffected than that in which he had announced the defeat of the nawab at Calcutta. Suraj-ud-Dowlah fled from the field on a camel, secured what wealth he could, and came to an untimely end. Clive entered Moorshedabad, and established Jaffier Ali in the position which his descendants have ever since enjoyed, as pensioners, but have not unfrequently abused. When taken through the treasury, amid a million and a half sterling's worth of rupees, gold and silver plate, jewels, and rich goods, and besought to ask what he would, Clive was content with £160,000, while half a million was dis-tributed among the army and navy, both in addition to gifts of £24,000 to each member of the Company's com-mittee, and besides the public compensation stipulated for in the treaty. It was to this occasion that he referred in his defence before the House of Commons, when he declared that he marvelled at his moderation. He sought rather to increase the shares of the fleet and the troops at his own expense, as he had done at Gheriah, and did more than once afterwards, with prize of war. What he did take from the grateful nawab for himself was less than the circumstances justified from an Oriental point of view, was far less than was pressed upon him, not only by Jaffier Ali, but by the hundreds of the native nobles whose gifts Clive steadily refused, and was openly acknowledged from the first. He followed a usage fully recognized by the Company, although the fruitful source of future evils which he himself was again sent out to correct. The Company itself acquired a revenue of £100,000 a year, and a contribution towards its losses and military expendi-ture of a million and a half sterling. Such was Jaffier Ali's gratitude to Clive that he afterwards presented him with the quit-rent of the Company's lands in and around Calcutta, amounting to an annuity of £27,000 for life, and left him by will the sum of £70,000, which Clive devoted to the army.

While busy with the civil administration, the conqueror of Plassy continued to follow up his military success. He sent Major Coote in pursuit of the French almost a3 far as Benares. He despatched Colonel Forde to Vizagapatam and the northern districts of Madras, where that officer gained the battle of Condore, pronounced by Broome " one of the most brilliant actions on military record." He came into direct contact, for the first time, with the Great Mogul himself, an event which resulted in the most important consequences during the third period of his career. Shah Aalum, when Shahzada, or heir-apparent, quarrelled with his father Aalum Geer II., the emperor, and united with the viceroys of Oudh and Allahabad for the conquest of Bengal. He advanced as far as Patna, which he besieged with 40,000 men. Jaffier Ali, in terror, sent his son to its relief, and implored the aid of Clive. Major Caillaud defeated the prince's army at the battle of Sirpore, and dis-persed it. Finally, at this period, Clive repelled the aggression of the Dutch, and avenged the massacre of Amboyna, on that occasion when he wrote his famous letter, " Dear Forde, fight them immediately ; I will send you the order of council to-morrow." Meanwhile he never ceased to improve the organization and drill of the sepoy army, after a European model, and enlisted into it many Mahometans of fine physique from Upper India. He re-fortified Calcutta. In 1760, after four years of labour so incessant and results so glorious, his health gave way and he returned to England. " It appeared," wrote a con-temporary on the spot, " as if the soul was departing from the government of Bengal." He had been formally made governor of Bengal by the court of directors at a time when his nominal superiors in Madras sought to recall him to their help there. But he had discerned the importance of the province even during his first visit to its rich delta, mighty rivers, and teeming population. It should be noticed, also, that he had the kingly gift of selecting the ablest subordinates, for even thus early he had discovered the ability of young Warren Hastings, destined to be his great successor, and, a year after Plassy, made him " resident " at the nawab's court.





In 1760, at thirty-five years of age, Clive returned to England with a fortune of at least £300,000 and the quit-rent of £27,000 a year, after caring for the comfort of his parents and sisters, and giving Major Lawrence, his old commanding officer, who had early encouraged his military genius, £500 a year. The money had been honourably and publicly acquired, with the approval of the Company. The amount might have been four times what it was, had Clive been either greedy after wealth or ungenerous to the colleagues and the troops whom he led to victory. In the five years of his conquests and administration in Bengal, the young man had crowded together a succession of exploits which led Lord Macaulay, in what that historian termed his "flashy" essay on the subject, to compare him to Napoleon Bonaparte. But there was this difference in Clive's favour, due not more to the circumstances of the time than to the object of his policy—he gave peace, security, prosperity, and such liberty as the case allowed of to a people now reckoned at 240 millions, who had for centuries been the prey of oppression, while Napoleon warred only for personal ambition, and the absolutism he established has left not a wreck behind. During the three years that Clive remained in England he sought a political position, chiefly that he might influence the course of events in India, which he had left full of promise. He had been well received at court, had been made Baron Clive of Plassy, in the peerage of Ireland, had bought estates, and had got not only himself but his friends returned to the House of Commons after the fashion of the time. Then it was that he set himself to reform the home system of the East India Company, and commenced a bitter warfare with Mr Sulivan, chairman of the court of directors, whom finally he defeated. In this he was aided by the news of reverses in Bengal. Vansittart, his successor, having no great influence over Jaffier Ali Khan, had put Kossim Ali Khan, the son-in-law, in his place in considera-tion of certain payments to the English officials. After a brief tenure Kossim Ali had fled, had ordered Summers, or Sumroo, a Swiss mercenary of his, to butcher the garrison of 150 English at Patna, and had disappeared under the protection of his brother viceroy of Oudh. The whole Company's service, civil and military, had become demoralized by such gifts, and by the monopoly of the inland as well as export trade, to such an extent that the natives were pauperized, and the Company was plundered of the revenues which Clive had acquired for them. The court of proprietors, accordingly, who elected the directors, forced them, in spite of Sulivan, to hurry out Lord Clive to Bengal with the double powers of governor and commander-in-chief.

What he had done for Madras, what he had accomplished for Bengal proper, and what he had effected in reforming the Company itself, he was now to complete in less than two years, in this the third period of his career, by putting his country politically in the place of the emperor of Delhi, and preventing for ever the possibility of the corrup-tion to which the English in India had been driven by an evil system. On the 3d May 1765, he landed at Calcutta to learn that Jaffier Ali Khan had died, leaving him personally £70,000, and had been succeeded by his son, though not before the Government had been further demoralized by taking £100,000 as a gift from the new nawab ; while Kossim Ali had induced not only the viceroy of Oudh, but the emperor of Delhi himself, to invade Behar. After the first mutiny in the Bengal army, which was suppressed by blowing the sepoy ringleader from the guns, Major Munro, " the Napier of those times," scattered the united armies on the hard-fought field of Buxar. The emperor, Shah Aalum, detached himself from the league, while the Oudh viceroy threw himself on the mercy of the English. Clive had now an opportunity of repeating in Hindustan, or Upper India, what he had accomplished for the good of Bengal. He might have secured what are now called the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, and have rendered unnecessary the campaigns of Wellesley and Lake. But he had other work in the consolidation of rich Bengal itself, making it a base from which the mighty fabric of British India could afterwards steadily and proportionally grow. Hence he returned to the Oudh viceroy all his territory save the provinces of Allahabad and Corah, which he made over to the weak emperor. But from that emperor he secured the most important document in the whole of our Indian history up to that time, which appears in the records as " firmaund from the King Shah Aalum, granting the dewany of Bengal, Behar, and Orissa to the Company, 1765." The date was the 12th August, the place Benares, the throne an English dining-table covered with embroidered cloth and surmounted by a chair in Clive's tent. It is all pictured by a Mahometan contemporary, who indignantly exclaims that so great a " transaction was done and finished in less time than would have been taken up in the sale of a jackass." By this deed the Company became the real sovereign rulers of thirty millions of people, yielding a revenue of four millions sterling. All this had been accomplished by Clive in the few brief years since he had avenged "the Black Hole" of Calcutta. This would be a small matter, or might even be a cause of reproach, were it not that the Company's, now the Queen's, undisputed sovereignty proved, after a sore period of transition, the salvation of these millions. The lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, with some additions since Clive's time, now contains sixty millions of people, and yields an annual revenue of twelve millions sterling, of which eight goes every year to assist in the good government of the rest of India. But Clive, though thus moderate and even generous to an extent which called forth the astonishment of the natives, had all a statesman's foresight. On the same date, he obtained not only an imperial charter for the Company's possessions in the Carnatic also, thus completing the work he began at Arcot, but a third firmaun for the highest of all the lieutenancies or soubaships of the empire, that of the Deccan itself. The fact has only recently been discovered, by distinct allusion to it in a letter from the secret committee of the court of directors to the Madras Government, dated 27th April 1768. Still so disproportionate seemed the British force, not only to the number and strength of the princes and people of India, but to the claims and ambition of French, Dutch, and Danish rivals, that Clive's last advice to the directors, as he finally left India in 17.77, was this, given in a remark-able state paper but little known : " We are sensible that, since the acquisition of the dewany, the power formerly belonging to the soubah of those provinces is totally, in fact, vested in the East India Company. Nothing remains to him but the name and shadow of authority. This name, however, this shadow, it is indispensably necessary we should seem to venerate." On a wider arena, even that of the Great Mogul himself, the shadow was kept up till it obliterated itself in the massacre of English people in the Delhi palace in 1857 ; and the Queen was proclaimed, first, direct ruler on the 1st November 1858, and then empress of India on the 1st January 1877.

Having thus founded the empire of British India, Clive's painful duty was to create a pure and strong administration, such as alone would justify its possession by foreigners. The civil service was de-orientalized by raising the miserable salaries which had tempted its members to be corrupt, by forbidding the acceptance of gifts from natives, and by exacting covenants under which participation in the inland trade was stopped. Not less important were his military reforms. With his usual tact and nerve he put down a mutiny of the English officers, who chose to resent the veto against receiving presents and the reduction of batta at a time when two Mahratta armies were marching on Bengal. His reorganization of the army, on the lines of that which he had begun after Plassy, and which was neglected during his second visit to England, has since attracted the admiration of the ablest Indian officers. He divided the whole into three brigades, so as to make each a complete force, in itself equal to any single native army that could be brought against it. His one fault was that of his age and his position, with so small a number of men.

He lacked a sufficient number of British artillerymen, and would not commit the mistake of his successors, who trained natives to work the guns, which were turned against us with such effect in 1857. It is sufficient to say that Government has returned to his policy, for not a native gunner is now to be found save in a few unhealthy and isolated frontier posts.

Clive's final return to England, a poorer man than he went out, in spite of still more tremendous temptations, was the signal for an outburst of his personal enemies, exceeded only by that which the malice of Sir Philip Francis afterwards excited against Warren Hastings. Every civilian, whose illicit gains he had cut off, every officer whose conspiracy he had foiled, every proprietor or director, like Sulivan, whose selfish schemes he had thwarted, now sought their opportunity. He had, with consistent generosity, at once made over the legacy of £70,000 from the grateful Jaffier Ali, as the capital of what has since been known as " the Clive Fund," for the support of invalided European soldiers, as well as officers, and their widows, and the Company had allowed 8 per cent, on the sum for an object which it was otherwise bound to meet. Burgoyne, of Saratoga memory, did his best to induce the House of Commons, in which Lord Clive was now member for Shrewsbury, to impeach the man who gave his country an empire, and the people of that empire peace and justice, and that, as we have seen, without blot on the gift, save in the matter of Omichund. The result, after the brilliant and honourable defences of his career which will be found in Almon's Debates for 1773, was a compromise that saved England this time from the dishonour which, when Warren Hastings had to run the gauntlet, put it in the same category with France in the treatment of its public bene-factors abroad. On a division the House, by 155 to 95, carried the motion that Lord Clive" did obtain and possess himself" of £234,000 during his first administration of Bengal; but, refusing to express an opinion on the fact, it passed unanimously the second motion, at five in the morning, " that Robert, Lord Clive, did at the same time render great and meritorious services to his country." The one moral question, the one stain of all that brilliant and tempted life—the Omichund treaty—was not touched.

Only one who can personally understand what Clive's power and services were will rightly realize the effect on him, though in the prime of life, of the discussions through which he had been dragged. We have referred to Warren Hastings's impeachment, but there is a more recent parallel. The marquis of Dalhousie did almost as much to complete the territorial area and civilized administration of British India in his eight years' term of office as Lord Clive to found the empire in a similar period. As Clive's accusers sought a new weapon in the great famine of 1770, for which he was in no sense responsible, so there were critics who accused Dal-housie of having caused that mutiny which, in truth, he would have prevented had the British Government listened to his counsel not to reduce the small English army in the country. Clive tells us his own feelings in a passage of first importance when we seek to form an opinion on the fatal act by which he ended his life. In the greatest of his speeches, in reply to Lord North, he said,—" My situation, sir, has not been an easy one for these twelve months past, and though my conscience could never accuse me, yet I felt for my friends who were involved in the same censure as myself I have been examined by the select committee more like a sheep-stealer than a member of this House." Fully accepting that statement, and believing him to have been purer than his accusers in spite of temptations unknown to them, we see in Clive's end the result merely of physical suffering, of chronic disease which opium failed to abate, while the worry and chagrin caused by his enemies gave it full scope. This great man, who fell short only of the highest form of moral greatness on one supreme occasion, but who did more for his country than any soldier till Wellington, and more for the people and princes of India than any statesman in history, died by his own hand, November 22, 1774, in his fiftieth year.

The portrait of Clive, by Dance, in the Council Chamber of Government House, Calcutta, faithfully represents him. He was slightly above middle-size, with a countenance rendered heavy and almost sad by a natural fulness above the eyes. Reserved to the many, he was beloved by his own family and friends. His encouragement of scientific undertakings like Major Bennell's surveys, and of philological researches like Mr Gladwin's, was marked by the two honorary distinctions of F.R.S. and LL.D.

The best authorities for his life, which has yet to be worthily written, are—article "Clive," in the second or Kippis's edition of the BiograpMa Britannica, from materials supplied by his brother, Archdeacon Clive, by Henry Beaufoy, M.P. ; Broome's History of the Bengal Army; Aitchison's Treaties, second edition, 1876; Orme's History ; and Malcolm's Life. (G. SM.)




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