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Book IV. pital, and himself; that great dissatisfaction arising among Suraja Dowla's troops, Meer Jaffier was pitched upon to be the person to place in the room of Suraja Dowla, in consequence of which a treaty was formed." *
A complicated scene took place, which it would be little instructive to unfold, f of plotting and intrigue. The first proposals were made by an officer named Yar Khan Latty; and they were greedily embraced; till intimation was received that Meer Jaffier Khan was inclined to enter into a confederacy for deposing the Subahdar. This was a personage of much greater power and distinction. He had been married at an early period to the sister of Aliverdi, and held a high rank in his army. Between him and Aliverdi had not been always the best understanding; and Meer Jaffier had at one time entered into a project of treason. But the interest of the two parties taught them to master their dissatisfaction; and at the death of Aliverdi, Meer Jaffier was paymaster-general of the forces, one of the highest offices in an Indian government. Suraja Dowla hated Meer Jaffier, and was too ignorant and headstrong to use management with his dislikes. Shortly after his accession, Meer Jaffier was removed from his office, and remained exposed to all that might result from the violent disposition of the Subahdar. According to the constitution however of an Indian army, in which every General maintains his own troops, a considerable portion of the army belonged to Meer Jaffier; and this he exerted himself to increase, by enlisting as many as possible of the adventurers, with whom the nature of Indian warfare made the country abound.
In manufacturing the terms of the confederacy, the grand concern of the English appeared to be money. "The Committee really believed," says Mr. Orme, "the wealth of Suraja Dowla much greater than it possibly could be, even if the whole life of the late Nabob Aliverdi had not been spent in defending his own dominions against the invasion of ruinous enemies; and even if Suraja Dowla himself had reigned many, instead of only one year." \ They resolved accordingly not to be sparing in their demands; and the situation of Jaffier Khan, and the manners and customs of the country, made him ready to promise whatever they desired. In name of compensation for losses by the capture of Calcutta, 10,000,000 rupees were promised to the English Company, 5,000,000 rupees to English inhabitants, 2,000,000 to the Indians, and 700,000 to the Armenians. These sums were specified in the formal treaty. Over and beside
* Report, ut supra.
f It has been done with exemplary minuteness and patience by Mr. Orme, ii. 149—175. % Orme, ii. 153.
this, it was resolved by the Committee of the Council, that is, the small number Chap. III. of individuals by whom the business was performed, that a donation of 2,500,000 ^ T^CT^
rupees should be asked for the squadron: and another of equal amount for the army. "When this was settled," says Lord Clive,* "Mr. Becher (a member) suggested to the Committee, that he thought that Committee, who managed the great machine of government, was entitled to some consideration, as well as the army and navy." Such a proposition, in such an assembly, could not fail to appear eminently reasonable. It met with a suitable approbation. Mr. Becher informs us, that the sums received were 280,000 rupees by Mr. Drake the Governor; 280,000 by Colonel Clive; and 240,000 each, by himself, Mr. Watts, and Major Kilpatrick, the inferior members of the Committee. f The terms obtained in favour of the Company were, that all the French factories and effects should be given up; that the French should be for ever excluded from Bengal; that the territory surrounding Calcutta to the distance of 600 yards beyond the Mahratta ditch, and all the land lying south of Calcutta as far as Culpee should be granted them on Zemindary tenure, the Company paying the rents in the same manner as other Zemindars.
For effecting the destruction of Suraja Dowla it was concerted, that the The English English should take the field; and that Meer Jaffier should join them at Cutwa, the field, with his own troops, and those of as many of the other commanders as it should be in his power to debauch. When the English arrived at Cutwa, no allies, however, appeared: Letters were received from Moorshedabad by some of the natives in the camp, stating that the conspiracy was discovered, and that Meer Jaffier had obtained his pardon, on condition of aiding the Nabob with all his resources against the English. Instead of Meer Jaffier and his troops, a letter from Meer Jaffier arrived. In this it was stated, that the suspicions of the Nabob had been raised, that he had constrained Meer Jaffier to swear fidelity on the Koran; that it had thus become impossible for Meer Jaffier to join the English before the day of battle; but that it would be easy for him, in the action, to desert the Nabob, and decide the fortune of the day. The mind of
* Evidence before the Committee, Report, ut supra.
f Ibid. These latter receipts were the occasion of a dispute. "Upon this being known," said Clive, (Report ut supra) "Mr. Watson replied, that he was entitled to a share in that money. He (Clive) agreed in opinion with the gentlemen, when this application was made, that Mr. Watson was not one of the Committee, but at the same time did justice to his^services, and proposed to the gentlemen to contribute as much as would make his share equal to the Governor's and his own; that about three or four consented to it, the rest would not."
IV., the English commander was disturbed. The treachery of Meer Jaffier could "* not be regarded as improbable; and "he thought it extremely hazardous" (to use his own words) " to pass a river which is only fordable in one place, march 150 miles up the country, and risk a battle, when, if a defeat ensued, not one man would have returned to tell it." *: • In these difficulties he called a council of war. "It is very rare," says Mr. Orme, "that a council of war decides for battle." f Clive himself says, "that this was the only council of war that ever he held, and if he had abided by that council, it would have been the ruin of the East India Company." \ The singularity is, that in the council Clive himself was of the same opinion with the majority, and by delivering his opinion first, which was far from the usual practice, had no doubt considerable influence in determining others: yet that afterwards he disregarded that decision; and took upon himself to act in direct opposition to it. The army was ordered to cross the river the next morning; and at a little past midnight arrived at Plassy. § At this place a part of the army of the Subahdar had been intrenched for a considerable time; and the Subahdar himself had reached it with the remainder of his forces the evening before the arrival of the English. The army with which he was now to contend for his power and his life consisted of 50,000 foot, 18,000 horse, and fifty pieces of cannon. Of the English force, 900, including 100 artillery-men and fifty sailors, were Europeans; 100 were Topasses; and 2,100 Sepoys. The battle was nothing but a distant cannonade. This was maintained during the greatest part of the day, and sufficed to terrify the Subahdar, who, by the advice of those who desired his ruin, issued orders of preparation for retreat. Upon this Jaffier Khan was observed moving off with his troops: Clive was then convinced of his intention to join him. He now, therefore, ordered the English to advance, and attack that part of the line which still maintained its position. The knowledge of these two events determined the mind of the Subahdar, who mounted a fleet camel and fled with 2,000 attendants. No further resistance was offered; and the English entered the camp at five o'clock, having, by the assistance of a weak and vicious sovereign, deter
• Evidence, ut supra. f Orme, ii. 171 • t Evidence, Report, ut supra.
§ Scrafton (Reflections, p. 90,) says, that the Colonel's resolution was founded upon a letter he received from Jaffier in the course of the day. Orme, who loves a little of the marvellous, says, "that as soon as the council of war broke up he retired alone into the adjoining grove, where he continued near an hour in deep meditation; and gave orders, on his return to his quarters, that the army should cross the river the next morning." ii. 170.
mined the fate of a great kingdom, and of 30,000,000 of people, with the loss of Chap. III. twenty Europeans killed and wounded, of sixteen Sepoys killed, and only thirty- 1757~""^ six wounded.*
The army advanced about nine miles to Daudpore the same evening, with little occasion to pursue the enemy, who had almost entirely dispersed. At this place, Meer Jaffier sent a message to the English commander; that he, with many more of the great officers, and a considerable part of the army, waited his commands. The next morning Clive sent to conduct him to his quarters; and he arrived, under some apprehensions, which the Colonel, thinking it no time for reproaches, hastened to dispel. It was arranged, that Meer Jaffier should march to the capital immediately, to prevent the escape of Suraja Dowla, and the removal of his wealth.
That wretched prince had arrived at his palace the night after the battle, where, now apprized that he had not a friend on whom he could rely; and utterly uncertain what course to pursue—he remained till the evening of the following day, when Meer Jaffier entered the city. Then his fears dictated a resolution. He disguised himself in a mean dress, and about ten o'clock at night went secretly out of a window of the palace, with his favourite concubine and a single eunuch, intending to join M. Law, and escape into Bahar, where he counted upon the protection of the Governor. The rowers, however, of his boat, worn out before the morning with fatigue, stopped at Raje Mahl, where he endeavoured to conceal himself in a garden. He was there, at break of day, discovered by a man, whom he had formerly treated with cruelty; and who now revealed him to the Governor. Covered with indignity, he was hurried back to Moorshedabad; and presented to Meer Jaffier, who placed him under the custody of his son. The son, a brutal, ferocious youth, the same night gave orders for his assassination. M. Law, who received a summons to join the Nabob as soon as war with the English appeared inevitable, immediately began his march; but had not passed Tacriagully when he received reports of the battle of Plassy; and halted for further information. "Had he immediately proceeded twenty miles further," says Mr. Orme, "he would the next day have met and
* Lord Clive stated (Report, ut supra,) " that the battle's being attended with so little bloodshed arose from two causes; first, the army was sheltered by so high a bank that the heavy artillery of the enemy could not possibly do them much mischief; the other was, that Suraja Dowla had not confidence in his army, nor his army any confidence in him, and therefore they did not do their duty upon that occasion."
VOL. II. Q
Book IV. saved Suraja Dowla, and an order of events, very different from those which we ^ 'have to relate, would, in all probability, have ensued." * Division of The battle was fought on the 23d of June, and on the 25th Colonel Clive the spoil. his troops arrived at Moorshedabad. On the next day a meeting was held to confer about the stipulated moneys; when the chief officer of finance declared that the whole of Suraja Dowla's treasures were inadequate to the demand. "The restitution," says Mr. Orme, "with the donations to the squadron, the army, and the committee, amounted to 22,000,000 of sicca rupees, equal to 2,750,000/. But other donations were promised, which have since been the foundation of several fortunes." f The scantiness of the Bengal treasury was most unexpected, as well as most painful news to the English; who had been accustomed to a fond and literal belief of Oriental exaggeration on the subject of Indian riches. With great difficulty were they brought to admit so hateful a truth. Finding at last that more could not be obtained, they consented to receive one half of the moneys immediately, and to accept of the rest by three equal payments, in three years. Even of the portion which was now to be received, it was necessary to take one third not in specie, which was all exhausted, but in jewels, plate, and other effects, at a valuation. Before the 9th of August, after a multitude of difficulties, the stipulated half, all but 584,905 rupees, was delivered and discharged.^;
• Orme, ii. 185. f Orme, ii. 180.'
J A piece of consummate treachery was practised upon an individual. Among the Hindu merchants established at Calcutta was Omichund, "a man," says Mr. Orme, "of great sagacity and understanding," who had traded to a vast amount, and acquired an enormous fortune. "The extent of his habitation," continues Mr. Orme, "divided into various departments, the number of his servants continually employed in various occupations, and a retinue of armed men in constant pay, resembled more the state of a prince than the condition of a merchant. His commerce extended to all parts of Bengal and Bahar, and by presents and services he had acquired so much influence with the principal officers of the Bengal government, that the Presidency* in times of difficulty, used to employ his mediation with the Nabob. This pre-eminence, however, did not fail to render him the object of much envy." (Orme, ii. 50.) When the alarm, excited by the hostile designs of Suraja Dowla, threw into consternation the minds of Mr. Drake and his council, among other weak ideas which occurred to them, one was, to secure the person of Omichund, lest, peradventure, he should be in concert with their enemies. He was seized and thrown into confinement. His guards, believing that violence, that is, dishonour, would next fall upon his house, set fire to it, after the manner of Hindus, and slaughtered the inmates of his harem. Notwithstanding this, when Mr. Holwell endeavoured to parley with the Nabob, he employed Omichund to write letters to his friends, importuning them to intercede, in that extremity,