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descent from an ancient and respectable family, which had held the estate of Styche during many generations, but which never aspired to a station in society more elevated than that of the class of middling gentry; a rank now unhappily extinct. His father, who was originally a second son, and, as such, bred to the law, continued, after he succeeded to the property, to practise as an attorney at Market Drayton. His mother was Rebecca Gaskell, the daughter of Mr. Gaskell, of Manchester; of whom we know nothing further than that he acquired a moderate competency by fair dealing in trade.”
We admire a pedigree (absurd as it may appear to some resting upon so substantial and respectable a basis; and we feel a confidence in the youth, whose fortune is dependent upon his own energy, and who evinces a noble and undaunted character in childhood. There are a few anecdotes exemplifying the spirit and resolution of young Clive, all of which are strongly characteristic of enthusiasm and determination. We prefer giving one which we have gathered from the chronicles of a friend who had taken some part in the early adventure of the youthful hero. It appears that, at that roving age when one feels to have a common property, with the rest of God's creatures, in all the trees, hedges, and gate-posts of the adjoining neighbourhood, that young Clive and his companions had received some grievous insult from the landlord of the village alehouse, in the vicinity of his school in Shropshire, on whom, consequently, it became necessary to inflict a decided token of youthful indignation; and on one day, when the weather was deemed propitious for the event, a stream of water, which flowed by the side of the street, was turned off towards the grated cellar of the offending publican, and a dam, composed of mud and clay, formed a bar which conducted to the desired haven. The young engineers had nearly completed their labours, and the desired effect was about to be produced, when the quick eye of Clive saw the muddy mass about to yield to the power of the accumulated current, and, without a moment's consideration, he threw himself along the bank, and formed, in his own mischievous person, a support, until the ire of himself and companions had been avenged by the complete success of their manæuvre. We see, in our mind's eye, the expression of delight, the wild spirit of the youth beaming in his face, and his clothes all besmeared and wet by his roguish, yet resolute, behaviour. We rejoice to witness these tricks, for in them we flatter ourselves our English youth afford a slight crayon of the future man, depict
ing, by the address and determination, what may be, perhaps, the future history of life.
On the arrival of Mr. Clive in India, we are informed, in despite of his impatience under the restraints of office, that, from hour of his landing, he became a diligent student, and devoted his attention to the acquirement of languages; but, upon
the commencement of hostilities between England and France, a field more congenial to his enterprise and abilities was afforded; and afterwards, in 1747, he received a commission as ensign, with permission to retain his civil appointment. We are anxious to afford, within our limits, (of necessity contracted,) as correct an outline as possible of the talents and character of Mr. Clive, and we therefore subjoin another extract from the memoir,
part taken by Mr. Clive throughout this wretched campaign was necessarily very subordinate; but it is represented on all hands to have been highly to his honour. He was ever the foremost to offer his services where danger appeared to threaten. In the assault of Ariancopang he displayed an extraordinary degree of hardihood and coolness ; and the advanced trench at Pondicherry he defended against a party, by whom it was assailed, with singular obstinacy. Yet, even here, he escaped not the calumnious attacks of one who, as the event proved, though bold to commit a moral offence, was wanting even in the animal courage necessary to maintain it. It chanced, on one occasion, when his piquet was warmly engaged, that the ammunition of the men began to run short. Eager to avoid the hazard of failure, Clive, instead of trusting to a non-commissioned officer, hastened himself to a depôt in the rear, and brought up a fresh supply, ere his absence from the line was observed. Of this circumstance, a brother officer took advantage to cast a slur upon his character as a soldier; but the base attempt entirely failed. Clive called his slanderer to account; and the latter was fain, in the end, to resign his commission, in order to avoid a more conspicuous expulsion from a service which he had disgraced."
We are informed, in another paragraph, that about eighty years back our countrymen, as well as other Europeans, were scattered along the coast of India for the purposes only of trade; and that to M. Dupleix we are indebted for the idea of the establishment of a separate empire.
“ With this view, he began early to engage in the intrigues of the country powers, not, as had hitherto been the case, by supplying this or that nabob with troops and money, in the character of a vassal and tributary, but by throwing the weight of his influence into one or other of the scales, on the balance of which
the Carnatic itself depended. It so happened, however, that while the French were arranging plans, gigantic doubtless in themselves, and tending to a gigantic issue, circumstances led the English into an active commencement of that system by means of which their colossal sovereignty in the east has been established. Of these it will be necessary to give some account; partly because upon them the whole tale of Indian warfare may be said to turn, partly because, in the contest which ensued, Clive took that decided lead in military reputation which he ever afterwards maintained, as much to his country's glory as to his own.”
We refer our readers to the work itself for a very clear account of the division of the country, and of the forms of the native governments and the order of succession there then existing, and of the various intrigues by which we, who were once sojourners, have ultimately become possessors of the soil and sovereigns of the territory. Circumstances less favorable, or a leader less vigorous, might have wrested for ever from our possession the continent of India. The following extract refers to the Gallo-Indian army having sought shelter within the peninsula of Seringham.
“ It is not easy to conceive how an officer possessed of common experience, could, with an open and friendly country in his rear, commit the grievous error of placing himself in a situation where the means of egress were hazardous, and the opportunities of receiving supplies extremely difficult. Such, however, was the error which M. Law committed; nor did the consequence likely to arise out of it, provided a bold policy were pursued, escape for one moment the penetrating eye of Clive. He hastened to explain himself to Lawrence; his views were admitted to be just; and the brave and high-minded veteran, holding in contempt the paltry feelings to which men, circumstanced as he was, are apt sometimes to give way, adopted without scruple the suggestions of his inferior.
Nay, more; while he entered cordially into the plans of Clive, and acknowledged that to him would belong the principal merit of success, he determined to place his adviser in such a situation as that, even in the eyes of the unobservant, his genius might become as conspicuous as it already was to all who saw behind the curtain. In plain language, be resolved, provided no violent opposition was offered elsewhere, to place Clive in command of that portion of the arıny which, at the conclusion of the conference, it was judged expedient to detach, for the purpose of cutting off all communication between Seringham and Pondicherry." P. 43.
We are unwilling to enter upon the field of dissertation regarding the military genius of Clive, but we feel that we
may compress within a small space some of the leading traits of this extraordinary man's character; a daring determination was united with mental and physical energy ; a cool judgment combined with a presence of mind which never deserted him even in extreme peril; a perfect knowledge of the native character, of its subtlety, and of the principles which impelled its action, combined with a thorough confidence in the Europeans under him—without which he dared not have attempted many enterprises which were attended with the most complete success; his civil policy, was adapted to the times, the emergencies and the qualities of the people he had to govern; if he winked at peculation or practised it himself, it was a part of the system, and was connived at by the home administration—it was a period of cruelty and of injustice; and if he should be accused of it, or at least of extreme rigor, there is a degree of palliation in the precarious position of the government, and of the necessity under the circumstances of his position, which induced severity; the native character needed compulsion, and the generous qualities of more enlightened nations were rarely met with. Dissimulation and distrust existed on either side, and the fight was not gained by power, but by policy of the subtlest nature. The honour that was done him on his return to his native country was such as his eminent service fully merited, but we value much that noble feeling which required a similar testimony of respect to be awarded to his friend and commander, Major Lawrence: these are traits of the heart's goodness which elevate a man's character equally high even with the most splendid military renown, and, when united, form a picture which posterity will never cease to admire.
The field of action now became changed, and, in 1756, he was chosen the chief of another perilous enterprise, a detail of which had better be given in the author's concise and clear description.
“ On the 15th of July letters reached Madras, containing the most urgent entreaties for support from the authorities at Calcutta. It was then, however, too late; and the armament which set sail, in consequence of that requisition, arrived only to behold how effectually the work of destruction had been accomplished. Nevertheless, the indignation of the English was at least as great as their terror. Clive was hastily summoned from Fort St. David; a council of all the leading men in the colony was held, and, during several weeks it was debated whether an effort should be made to avenge the wrong received, and to re-establish the
colony. At last, after a great deal of hesitation, for which, to say the truth, there was some ground, it was resolved to suspend for the present certain designs, which had latterly been entertained, of superseding, by the presence of a British force at Golcondah, the influence of M. Bussy, and to employ every disposable man and vessel in one great effort to recover Calcutta, and to chastise Surajah Dowlah. Still, however, there remained some points to be settled. A difficulty arose as to the fitness of several candidates to undertake the perilous and important enterprise; but, in the end, the general choice fell upon Colonel Clive, who, with his usual promptitude, accepted without a scruple the commission thus honourably pressed upon him.” P. 59.
This expedition was also attended with ultimate success, but not without considerable loss on both sides; and we concur most fully with the historian in the remarks he has made illustrative of the military errors, he considers Colonel Clive to have committed : indeed, we have already stated that we estimate his knowledge and experience as a commander, to be deficient in the tactics necessary for extended field operations.
We are compelled to omit a great portion of very interesting matter relative to this and subsequent campaigns, and hasten to draw our remarks to a close with an extract from a letter, written to a friend, where the project by which we hold our present Indian possessions is detailed in Lord Clive's own account.
“We have at last,” says Clive, “ arrived at that critical period which I have long foreseen; I mean that period which renders it necessary for us to determine, whether we can or shall take the whole to ourselves. Jaffier Ali Khan is dead, and his natural son is a minor; but I know not yet whether he is declared successor. Sujah Dowlah is beat from his dominion; we are in possession of it; and it is scarcely hyperbole to say, to-morrow the whole Mogul empire is in our power. The inhabitants of the country we know, by long experience, have no attachment to any obligation. Their forces are neither disciplined, commanded, nor paid as ours are.
Can it then be doubted, that a large army of Europeans will preserve us sovereigns, not only holding in awe the attempts of any country prince, but, by rendering us so truly formidable, that no French, Dutch, nor other enemy, will presume to molest us? You will, I am sure, imagine with me, that, after the length we have ran, the princes of Indoostan must conclude our views to be boundless; they have seen such instances of our ambition, that they cannot suppose us capable of moderation. The very nabob whom we might support would XVII.