|[18 -- Clive's life ends in melancholy, sickness, opium, and suicide at the age of 49]||*NOTES BY VINCENT A. SMITH,
|The equitable and temperate proceedings of the British Parliament were set off to the greatest advantage by a foil. The wretched government of Lewis the Fifteenth had murdered, directly or indirectly, almost every Frenchman who had served his country with distinction in the East. Labourdonnais was flung into the Bastile, and, after years of suffering, left it only to die. Dupleix, stripped of his immense fortune, and broken-hearted by humiliating attendance in ante-chambers, sank into an obscure grave. Lally was dragged to the common place of execution with a gag between his lips. The Commons of England, on the other hand, treated their living captain with that discriminating justice which is seldom shown except to the dead. They laid down sound general principles; they delicately pointed out where he had deviated from those principles; and they tempered the gentle censure with liberal eulogy. The contrast struck Voltaire, always partial to England, and always eager to expose the abuses of the Parliaments of France. Indeed he seems, at this time, to have meditated a history of the conquest of Bengal. He mentioned his design to Dr. Moore, when that amusing writer visited him at Ferney. Wedderburne took great interest in the matter, and pressed Clive to furnish materials. Had the plan been carried into execution, we have no doubt that Voltaire would have produced a book containing much lively and picturesque narrative, many just and humane sentiments poignantly expressed, many grotesque blunders, many sneers at the Mosaic chronology, much scandal about the Catholic missionaries, and much sublime theo-philanthropy, stolen from the New Testament, and put into the mouths of virtuous and philosophical Brahmins.||
The varied and bulky writings of Voltaire, a famous French author, whose real name was Francois Arouet (1694-1778) include Fragments on the History of India. His works are now seldom read.
Dr. John Moore was the author of a forgotten novel, Zeluco, and other works.
|Clive was now secure in the enjoyment of his fortune and his honours. He was surrounded by attached friends and relations; and he had not yet passed the season of vigorous bodily and mental exertion. But clouds had long been gathering over his mind, and now settled on it in thick darkness. From early youth he had been subject to fits of that strange melancholy "which rejoiceth exceedingly and is glad when it can find the grave." While still a writer at Madras, he had twice attempted to destroy himself. Business and prosperity had produced a salutary effect on his spirits. In India, while he was occupied by great affairs, in England, while wealth and rank had still the charm of novelty, he had borne up against his constitutional misery. But he had now nothing to do, and nothing to wish for. His active spirit in an inactive situation drooped and withered like a plant in an uncongenial air. The malignity with which his enemies had pursued him, the indignity with which he had been treated by the committee, the censure, lenient as it was, which the House of Commons had pronounced, the knowledge that he was regarded by a large portion of his countrymen as a cruel and perfidious tyrant, all concurred to irritate and depress him. In the meantime, his temper was tried by acute physical suffering. During his long residence in tropical climates, he had contracted several painful distempers. In order to obtain ease he called in the help of opium; and he was gradually enslaved by this treacherous ally. To the last, however, his genius occasionally flashed through the gloom. It was said that he would sometimes, after sitting silent and torpid for hours, rouse himself to the discussion of some great question, would display in full vigour all the talents of the soldier and the statesman, and would then sink back into his melancholy repose.||
A quotation from the Authorized Version of the Bible: 'Wherefore is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; which long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures; which rejoice exceedingly, and are glad, when they can find the grave?' (Job iii.20-22).
|The disputes with America had now become so serious that an appeal to the sword seemed inevitable; and the Ministers were desirous to avail themselves of the services of Clive. Had he still been what he was when he raised the siege of Patna and annihilated the Dutch army and navy at the mouth of the Ganges, it is not improbable that the resistance of the colonists would have been put down, and that the inevitable separation would have been deferred for a few years. But it was too late. His strong mind was fast sinking under many kinds of suffering. On the twenty-second of November, 1774, he died by his own hand. He had just completed his forty-ninth year.||
The colonists protested against being taxed by the British Parliament, in which they had no members. War began in 1775 and ended in 1782, when the colonies became independent and quickly developed into the United States of America (see the *note on Burgoyne*).
|In the awful close of so much prosperity and glory, the vulgar saw only a confirmation of all their prejudices; and some men of real piety and genius so far forgot the maxims both of religion and of philosophy as confidently to ascribe the mournful event to the just vengeance of God, and to the horrors of an evil conscience. It is with very different feelings that we contemplate the spectacle of a great mind ruined by the weariness of satiety, by the pangs of wounded honour, by fatal diseases, and more fatal remedies.||.|
|Clive committed great faults; and we have not attempted to disguise them. But his faults, when weighed against his merits, and viewed in connection with his temptations, do not appear to us to deprive him of his right to an honourable place in the estimation of posterity.||.|
|From his first visit to India dates the renown of the English arms in the East. Till he appeared, his countrymen were despised as mere pedlars, while the French were revered as a people formed for victory and command. His courage and capacity dissolved the charm. With the defence of Arcot commences that long series of Oriental triumphs which closes with the fall of Ghizni. Nor must we forget that he was only twenty-five years old when he approved [=proved] himself ripe for military command. This is a rare if not a singular distinction. It is true that Alexander, Condé, and Charles the Twelfth, won great battles at a still earlier age -- but those princes were surrounded by veteran generals of distinguished skill, to whose suggestions must be attributed the victories of the Granicus, of Rocroi and of Narva. Clive, an inexperienced youth, had yet more experience than any of those who served under him. He had to form himself, to form his officers, and to form his army. The only man, as far as we recollect, who at an equally early age ever gave equal proof of talents for war, was Napoleon Bonaparte.||
Ghizni, or more accurately Ghazni, was taken by Sir John Keane during the First Afghan War in 1839, a year before the publication of this Essay. The fortress was gallantly captured by storm.
Alexander the Great of Macedon died in 323 B.C., at the age of 31. His conquests extended from Greece to India. The Prince of Condé was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the French armies in 1643 at the age of 22. Charles XII, King of Sweden, who was only fifteen when he ascended the throne, had to defend his country against the Danes, Poles, and Russians. He was killed at a siege in 1718.
Alexander defeated the Persians at the river Granicus in Asia Minor in 334 B.C. Condé defeated the Spaniards at Rocroi in Northern France (1643). Charles XII was only 18 years of age when he routed a greatly superior Russian force at Narva in Western Russia (1700).
Napoleon was only 26 when he took command of the army of Italy as General Bonaparte, Feb. 23, 1796.
|From Clive's second visit to India dates the political ascendency of the English in that country. His dexterity and resolution realised, in the course of a few months, more than the gorgeous visions which had floated before the imagination of Dupleix. Such an extent of cultivated territory, such an amount of revenue, such a multitude of subjects, was never added to the dominion of Rome by the most successful proconsul. Nor were such wealthy spoils ever borne under arches of triumph, down the Sacred Way, and through the crowded Forum, to the threshold of Tarpeian Jove. The fame of those who subdued Antiochus and Tigranes grows dim when compared with the splendour of the exploits which the young English adventurer achieved at the head of an army not equal in numbers to one half of a Roman legion.||
A series of allusions to Roman history. The Sacred Way in Rome led from the Forum -- the market-place and space for public meetings -- to the Capitol, a hill crowned by the temple of Jupiter (Jove). The Tarpeian rock was a cliff on the same hill.
Pompey (65 B.C.) subdued Antiochus (xiii), King of Syria, and annexed his kingdom. Tigranes, King of Armenia, was subdued by Lucullus (69 B.C.). Clive's army at Plassey numbered about 3,300 men, rather more than half a legion.
|From Clive's third visit to India dates the purity of the administration of our Eastern empire. When he landed in Calcutta in 1765, Bengal was regarded as a place to which Englishmen were sent only to get rich, by any means, in the shortest possible time. He first made dauntless and unsparing war on that gigantic system of oppression, extortion, and corruption. In that war he manfully put to hazard his ease, his fame, and his splendid fortune. The same sense of justice which forbids us to conceal or extenuate the faults of his earlier days compels us to admit that those faults were nobly repaired. If the reproach of the Company and of its servants has been taken away, if in India the yoke of foreign masters, elsewhere the heaviest of all yokes, has been found lighter than that of any native dynasty, if to that gang of public robbers, which formerly spread terror through the whole plain of Bengal, has succeeded a body of functionaries not more highly distinguished by ability and diligence than by integrity, disinterestedness, and public spirit, if we now see such men as Munro, Elphinstone, and Metcalfe, after leading victorious armies, after making and deposing kings, return, proud of their honourable poverty, from a land which once held out to every greedy factor the hope of boundless wealth, the praise is in no small measure due to Clive. His name stands high on the roll of conquerors. But it is found in a better list, in the list of those who have done and suffered much for the happiness of mankind. To the warrior, history will assign a place in the same rank with Lucullus and Trajan. Nor will she deny to the reformer a share of that veneration with which France cherishes the memory of Turgot, and with which the latest generations of Hindoos will contemplate the statue of Lord William Bentinck.||
Sir Thomas Munro, a great authority on revenue matters, was Governor of Madras from 1819 to 1827. The Honourable Mountstuart Elphinstone, author of the well-known History of India, was Governor of Bombay at the same time (1819-27). Sir Charles (afterwards Lord) Metcalfe was Governor-General of India (1835-36), and later of Canada.
For Lucullus see *the note on Antiochus*. Trajan was one of the best of the Roman Emperors (A.D.98-117). Turgot, Finance Minister for a short time under Louis XVI of France before the Revolution, attempted reforms which were blocked by opposition. Lord William Bentinck, Governor-General of India (1828-35), was a friend of Macaulay, who was Legal Member in his Council, and who wrote in the inscription on the statue of Lord William that he had 'ruled India with eminent prudence, integrity, and benevolence'.
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