|[2 -- Clive's background and early life]||*NOTES BY VINCENT A. SMITH,
|The Clives had been settled, ever since the twelfth century, on an estate of no great value, near *Market-Drayton*, in Shropshire. In the reign of *George the First* this moderate but ancient inheritance was possessed by Mr. Richard Clive, who seems to have been a plain man of no great tact or capacity. He had been bred to the law, and divided his time between professional business and the avocations of a small proprietor. He married a lady from Manchester, of the name of Gaskill, and became the father of a very numerous family. His eldest son, Robert, the founder of the British empire in India, was born at the old seat of his ancestors on the twenty-ninth of September, 1725.||.|
|Some lineaments of the character of the man were early discerned in the child. There remain letters written by his relations when he was in his seventh year; and from these letters it appears that, even at that early age, his strong will and his fiery passions, sustained by a constitutional intrepidity which sometimes seemed hardly compatible with soundness of mind, had begun to cause great uneasiness to his family. "Fighting," says one of his uncles, "to which he is out of measure addicted, gives his temper such a fierceness and imperiousness, that he flies out on every trifling occasion." The old people of the neighbourhood still remember to have heard from their parents how Bob Clive climbed to the top of the lofty steeple of Market-Drayton, and with what terror the inhabitants saw him seated on a stone spout near the summit. They also relate how he formed all the idle lads of the town into a kind of predatory army, and compelled the shopkeepers to submit to a tribute of apples and half-pence, in consideration of which he guaranteed the security of their windows. He was sent from school to school, making very little progress in his learning, and gaining for himself everywhere the character of an exceedingly naughty boy. One of his masters, it is said, was sagacious enough to prophesy that the idle lad would make a great figure in the world. But the general opinion seems to have been that poor Robert was a dunce, if not a reprobate. His family expected nothing good from such slender parts and such a headstrong temper. It is not strange therefore, that they gladly accepted for him, when he was in his eighteenth year, a writer-ship in the service of the East India Company, and shipped him off to make a fortune or to die of a fever at Madras.||
[Glossary: *East India Company*]
|Far different were the prospects of Clive from those of the youths whom the East India College now annually sends to the Presidencies of our Asiatic empire. The Company was then purely a trading corporation. Its territory consisted of few square miles, for which rent was paid to the native governments. Its troops were scarcely numerous enough to man the batteries of three or four ill-constructed forts, which had been erected for the protection of the warehouses. The natives, who composed a considerable part of these little garrisons, had not yet been trained in the discipline of Europe, and were armed, some with swords and shields, some with bows and arrows. The business of the servant of the Company was not, as now, to conduct the judicial, financial, and diplomatic business of a great country, but to take stock, to make advances to weavers, to ship cargoes, and above all to keep an eye on private traders who dared to infringe the monopoly. The younger clerks were so miserably paid that they could scarcely subsist without incurring debt; the elder enriched themselves by trading on their own account; and those who lived to rise to the top of the service often accumulated considerable fortunes.||
The East India College of Haileybury no longer exists. Since 1855 the Indian Civil Service has been recruited by open competition. Formerly the trading stations at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay were each under the rule of a President, and so became known as Presidencies.
A monopoly is a right of exclusive trading. The Company objected to Europeans not in its service trading in India, called them 'interlopers', and hunted them out as far as possible.
|Madras, to which Clive had been appointed, was, at this time, perhaps, the first in importance of the Company's settlements. In the preceding century Fort St. George had arisen on a barren spot beaten by a raging surf; and in the neighbourhood a town, inhabited by many thousands of natives, had sprung up, as towns spring up in the East, with the rapidity of the prophet's gourd. There were already in the suburbs many white villas, each surrounded by its garden, whither the wealthy agents of the Company retired, after the labours of the desk and the warehouse, to enjoy the cool breeze which springs up at sunset from the Bay of Bengal. The habits of these mercantile grandees appear to have been more profuse, luxurious, and ostentatious, than those of the high judicial and political functionaries who have succeeded them. But comfort was far less understood. Many devices which now mitigate the heat of the climate, preserve health, and prolong life, were unknown. There was far less intercourse with Europe than at present. The voyage by the Cape, which in our time has often been performed within three months, was then very seldom accomplished in six, and was sometimes protracted to more than a year. Consequently, the Anglo-Indian was then much more estranged from his country, much more addicted to Oriental usages, and much less fitted to mix in society after his return to Europe, than the Anglo-Indian of the present day.||
Fort St. George was the fort of Madras. In 1639 the site was granted by the Raja of Chandragiri to Mr. Day, the head of the English Agency at Masulipatam.
The prophet's gourd is an allusion to the Biblical story of the prophet Jonah (Yunas of the Koran): -- 'And the Lord God prepare a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief (Jonah iv.6). Plants of the gourd and cucumber kind actually grow very quickly.
The Cape of Good Hope is at the southern extremity of Africa. Prior to 1870 when the Suez Canal connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea was opened, all ships had to come round the Cape. Now nearly all vessels pass through the Canal. The Cape was first passed or 'rounded' in 1486 by a Portuguese captain named Bartholomeu Dias.
|Within the fort and its precinct, the English exercised, by permission of the native government, an extensive authority, such as every great Indian landowner exercised within his own domain. But they had never dreamed of claiming independent power. The surrounding country was ruled by the Nabob of the Carnatic, a deputy of the Viceroy of the Deccan, commonly called the Nizam, who was himself only a deputy of the mighty prince designated by our ancestors as the Great Mogul. Those names, once so august and formidable, still remain. There is still a Nabob of the Carnatic, who lives on a pension allowed to him by the English out of the revenues of the provinces which his ancestors ruled. There is still a Nizam, whose capital is overawed by a British cantonment, and to whom a British resident gives, under the name of advice, commands which are not to be disputed. There is still a Mogul, who is permitted to play at holding courts and receiving petitions, but who has less power to help or hurt than the youngest civil servant of the Company.||
The term Carnatic, properly meaning the Karnatika or Canarese country, is improperly applied by European writers to the 'Coromandel coast' (Chola mandala), lying between the Eastern Ghats and the sea from the southern boundary of the Guntur District to Cape Comorin. Nabob is a corruption of the Arabic title Nawab, which is now more generally used. Since 1856 there has been no 'Nabob of the Carnatic'. The capital of H. H. the Nizam is Hyderabad (Haidarabad). The large cantonment adjoining is Secunderabad (Sikandarabad).
The older European authors always spoke of the Padshah or Emperor of Delhi as the 'Mogul' or 'Great Mogul'. From 1803 the Emperors were merely pensioners of the E. I. Company. The last was Bahadur Shah II, deposed and exiled in 1857 as a penalty for his share in the Mutiny.
|Clive's voyage was unusually tedious even for that age. The ship remained some months at the Brazils, where the young adventurer picked up some knowledge of Portuguese, and spent all his pocket-money. He did not arrive in India till more than a year after he had left England. His situation at Madras was most painful. His funds were exhausted. His pay was small. He had contracted debts. He was wretchedly lodged, no small calamity in a climate which can be made tolerable to an European only by spacious and well-placed apartments. He had been furnished with letters of recommendation to a gentleman who might have assisted him; but when he landed at Fort St. George he found that this gentleman had sailed for England. The lad's shy and haughty disposition withheld him from introducing himself to strangers. He was several months in India before he became acquainted with a single family. The climate affected his health and spirits. His duties were of a kind ill suited to his ardent and daring character. He pined for his home, and in his letters to his relations expressed his feelings in language softer and more pensive than we should have expected either from the waywardness of his boyhood, or from the inflexible sternness of his later years. "I have not enjoyed," says he "one happy day since I left my native country"; and again, "I must confess, at intervals, when I think of my dear native England, it affects me in a very peculiar manner.... If I should be so far blest as to revisit again my own country, but more especially Manchester, the centre of all my wishes, all that I could hope or desire for would be presented before me in one view."||
The Brazils are now usually called Brazil, which is the largest state in South America. The country was colonized by the Portuguese. Since 1889 it has been an independent republic. The capital, Rio de Janeiro, has a fine harbour.
|One solace he found of the most respectable kind. The Governor possessed a good library, and permitted Clive to have access to it. The young man devoted much of his leisure to reading, and acquired at this time almost all the knowledge of books that he ever possessed. As a boy he had been too idle, as a man he soon became too busy, for literary pursuits.||
Malleson (p.14) quotes an official certificate of the Board at Fort St. David that young Clive was 'generally esteemed a very quiet person and no ways guilty of disturbances'.
|But neither climate nor poverty, neither study nor the sorrows of a home-sick exile, could tame the desperate audacity of his spirit. He behaved to his official superiors as he had behaved to his schoolmasters, and he was several times in danger of losing his situation. Twice, while residing in the Writers' Buildings, he attempted to destroy himself; and twice the pistol which he snapped at his own head failed to go off. This circumstance, it is said, affected him as a similar escape affected Wallenstein. After satisfying himself that the pistol was really well loaded, he burst forth into an exclamation that surely he was reserved for something great.||
Wallenstein (properly 'von Waldstein'), Duke of Friedland (1583-1634), was the chief general on the imperial side during the 'Thirty Years' War' which desolated Germany (1618-48).