Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clive, Robert
CLIVE, ROBERT, Lord Clive (1725–1774), governor of Bengal, was the eldest son of Richard Clive of Styche, a small estate near Market Drayton in Shropshire, in which county the Clive family had been established ever since the reign of Henry II. He was born 29 Sept. 1725 (Robinson, Merchant Taylors' School, ii. 90). His mother was a daughter of Mr. Nathaniel Gaskell of Manchester, one of her sisters being the wife of Mr. Daniel Bayley of Hope Hall, Manchester, in whose house Clive spent several years of his childhood. At a very early age he appears to have given evidence of that energy of disposition, combined with a certain amount of combatieness, which distinguished him in after life. Mr. Bayley, writing about him to his father in June 1732, when he had not completed his seventh year, described him as 'out of measure addicted to fighting.' When still very young he was sent to a school at Lostock, Cheshire, kept by a Dr. Eaton, who predicted that 'if his scholar lived to be a man, and if opportunity enabled him to exert his talents, few names would be greater than his.' At the age of eleven he was removed to a school at Market Drayton, thence in 1737 to Merchant Taylors' School, and finally to a private school at Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, where he remained until he was appointed in 1743, at the age of eighteen, a writer in the service of the East India Company at Madras. His school life does not appear to have been particularly studious. Notwithstanding Dr. Eaton's opinion of his talents, which seems in some measure to have been shared by his father, the greater part of such book learning as Clive possessed would appear to have been acquired some few years later, after his arrival in India, when he obtained access to the library of the governor of Madras, and is said to have spent a good deal of his time in studying its contents. As a schoolboy Olive's chief characteristics were undaunted courage and energy in out-of-door pursuits, which latter sometimes took a mischievous turn, and possibly accounted for his frequent changes of school. It is related of him that on one occasion he climbed the lofty steeple of the church at Market Drayton, and seated himself on a stone spout in the form of a dragon's head which projected from it near the top. There is also a tradition that he levied from the shopkeepers at Market Drayton contributions in pence and in trifling articles as compensation to himself and a band of his schoolfellows for abstaining from breaking windows.
Leaving England in 1743, Clive did not reach Madras until late in 1744, after an unusually long voyage, in the course of which he was delayed for nine months in Brazil. His detention in Brazil led to his acquiring some slight knowledge of the Portuguese language, which was of use to him in after years in India, but he does not appear ever to have acquired any proficiency in the native languages of India. The unforeseen expenses in which he became involved owing to the detention of the ship resulted in his arriving at Madras in debt to the captain. The only gentleman at Madras to whom he had an introduction had left India before he arrived. He appears at first to have led a very forlorn and solitary life, suffering even then from the depression of spirits which at times attacked him in after years, and which was the cause of his melancholy end. In one of his letters, written a few months after his arrival, he described himself as not having enjoyed one happy day since he left his native country. 'I am not acquainted,' he wrote, 'with any one family in the place, and I have not assurance enough to invite myself without being asked.' About this time he made an attempt upon his life which failed owing to the pistol not going off. His work, which was very much that of a clerk in a merchant's office, was by no means to his taste, nor was subordination to his official superiors a duty which he was prepared to discharge without a struggle. On more than one occasion he got into serious scrapes by his wayward and insubordinate behaviour.
But Clive was not destined for prolonged employment at the desk. In the very year in which he arrived at Madras war was declared between England and France, and two years later Madras capitulated to the French under Admiral Labourdonnais. Clive, with the rest of the English in the settlement, became a prisoner of war, but was allowed to remain at liberty on parole, the French admiral having promised to restore the place on payment of a ransom, which he undertook should not be excessive in amount. The terms granted by Labourdonnais were not approved by Dupleix, the governor of Pondicherry, who required the English to give a fresh parole to a new governor, removing the English governor and some of the principal officials to Pondicherry, and parading them as captives before the natives of the town and surrounding country. Clive, deeming that this infraction of the terms upon which the parole had been given released him from his obligations, escaped in company with his friend, Edmund Maskelyne, in the disguise of a native, to Fort St. David, a place on the coast to the south of Pondicherry, which was still held by the English. In the following year Clive applied for military employment, and, having obtained an ensign's commission, served in 1748 under Admiral Boscawen in the unsuccessful siege of Pondicherry, where he greatly distinguished himself by his bravery. It was during dive's stay at Fort St. David, and before he had entered upon military duty, that a characteristic incident occurred. He became involved in a duel with an officer whom he had accused of cheating at cards. According to the account given in Malcolm's 'Life,' Clive fired and missed his antagonist, who came close up to him and held his pistol to his head, desiring him to ask for his life, which Clive did. His opponent then called upon him to retract his assertions regarding unfair play, and on his refusal threatened to shoot him. 'Fire and be d——,' was Clive's answer. 'I said you cheated and I say so still, and I will never pay you.' The astonished officer threw away his pistol, exclaiming that Clive was mad. Clive was much complimented on the spirit he had shown, but declined to come forward against the officer with whom he had fought, and never afterwards willingly alluded to his behaviour at the card-table. 'He has given me my life,' he said, 'and though I am resolved on never paying money which was unfairly won, or again associating with him, I shall never do him an injury.' This incident forms the subject of Browning's poem ' Clive ' (Dramatic Idylls, 2nd ser. 1880), in which the facts of the duel are stated somewhat differently, the poet omitting all mention of the demand that Clive should beg for his life and the compliance with it, and describing the officer as having, under the spell of Clive's undaunted courage, acknowledged the truth of the accusation.
During the siege of Pondicherry Clive became involved in a dispute with another officer who had made an offensive remark regarding Clive having on one occasion left his post to bring up some ammunition. In the course of the altercation the officer struck Clive, but a duel was prevented and a court of inquiry was held, which resulted in Clive's assailant being required to ask his pardon in front of the battalion to which they both belonged. The court, however, having taken no notice of the blow, Clive insisted on satisfaction for that insult, and on its being refused waved his cane over the head of his antagonist, telling him he was too contemptible a coward to be beaten. The affair ended in the person who had defamed Clive resigning his commission on the following day. Mill, adverting to these and other similar incidents, characterises Clive as having been 'turbulent with his equals;' but this judgment is contested, and apparently with reason, by Clive's biographer, Malcolm, who points out that 'in all these disputes Clive appears to have been the party offended, and that the resolute manner in which he resented the injuries done to him raised his reputation for courage, and no doubt protected him from further insult and outrage.'
Shortly after the failure of the siege of Pondicherry the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, which provided for the restoration of Madras to the English, put a stop for a time to further hostilities between the English and French in India. Clive returned for a brief space to his civil employment, but before many months had elapsed circumstances occurred which induced him again to exchange the pen for the sword. An invitation addressed to the English authorities at Fort St. David by a member of the reigning family in the Mahratta principality of Tanjore to aid him in recovering the throne of which he had been dispossessed, coupled with an offer to cede to the company the town and fort of Devikota, led to the despatch of a small force to the aid of the dispossessed raja, which, failing to achieve its object, was followed by a larger force under the command of Major Lawrence, in which Clive served with the rank of lieutenant. Clive on this occasion requested and obtained the command of a storming party told off to storm an embankment which had been thrown up to defend the breach made in the walls of the fort. He again behaved with the same daring which he had displayed at Pondicherry, and had a very narrow escape ; for the sepoys, who formed the greater part of the storming party, having failed to advance, a small platoon of thirty British soldiers which accompanied Clive was suddenly attacked by a body of Tanjore horse and almost wholly destroyed. The fortune of the day was subsequently retrieved by Major Lawrence, who, advancing with the whole of his force, took the fort. Mill, in narrating this incident, accuses Clive of rashness 'in allowing himself at the head of the platoon to be separated from the sepoys.' Orme's version of the affair gives it a different complexion. He writes : 'About fifty yards in front of the entrenchment ran a deep and miry rivulet . . . The Europeans marching at the head of the sepoys crossed the rivulet with difficulty, and four of them were killed by the fire from the fort before they reached the opposite bank. As soon as the sepoys had passed likewise, Lieutenant Clive advanced briskly with the Europeans, intending to attack the entrenchment in flank,' at an end Where the work had not been completed. 'The sepoys who had passed the rivulet, instead of following closely, as they had been ordered, remained at the bank waiting until they were joined by greater numbers.' If Orme's statement of the facts is correct, the charge of rashness would seem in this case to be unfounded. Incidents very similar have frequently occurred in war. At the same time it is right to bear in mind that if Clive and the same may be said of other commanders in more recent times had not carried daring to, and sometimes beyond, the verge of rashness, the conquest of India would never have been achieved. Had British Indian strategy been always governed by ordinary rules, neither Assaye nor Plassey would have been fought, nor would the strong position of the Afghans on the Peiwar Kotal have been taken by General Roberts with his small force of three thousand men in the last Afghan war. After the affair of Devikota, Clive again returned to civil employment, and, on the recommendation of Major Lawrence, was appointed commissary for supplying the European troops with provisions. About this time he had an attack of fever of a nervous kind, 'which so much affected his spirits that the constant presence of an attendant became necessary.' He was sent for change of air in the cold season to Bengal, where the cooler temperature in a great measure restored him to health. Two years later he was present in a civil capacity at what Sir John Malcolm calls the disgraceful affair of Valkonda, where, owing to the irresolution of the English officers, a body of the company's troops sent to oppose a native chief on his way to attack Trichinopoly, then in possession of an ally of the government of Fort St. David, was compelled to retire and seek shelter under the walls of Trichinopoly. Clive, however, speedily resumed military employment. Very shortly after the last affair he was sent with Mr. (afterwards Lord) Pigot, then a member of council at Fort St. David, in charge of some recruits and stores to Trichinopoly. On their return, with an escort of only twelve sepoys, they were attacked by a body of polygars, and obliged to ride for their lives. Soon afterwards, Clive, having been promoted to the rank of captain, was sent for the third time to Trichinopoly in charge of another small reinforcement, and was then so much impressed by the situation of the garrison there, and the hopelessness of relieving it, except by creating a diversion in another quarter, that on his return to Fort St. David he suggested the expedition against Arcot, which may be said to have established his reputation as a military commander, and to have been the first decisive step towards the establishment of British power in India.
The military operations in which Clive was now engaged were not, like those which preceded them, caused by hostilities between the English and French nations. In Europe the two countries were for the time at peace. In India the English and French trading companies became involved in wars which arose between native rivals for power in the Deccan and in the Carnatic. The conflict between the English and French was immediately brought about by the ambition of Dupleix, the head of the French factory at Pondicherry ; but apart from this, the position of the two companies in relation to the native states was such that sooner or later the political ascendency of one or the other must have become essential to their prosperity, if not to their continued existence. Dupleix was the first practically to recognise this important fact, and had it not been for Olive it is quite possible that he would have succeeded in obtaining for the French that position in India to which the English eventually attained. The struggle arose in connection with rival claims for the offices of subahdar, or viceroy of the Deccan, and of nawab of the Carnatic. The holders of the first of these posts, though nominally subordinate to the emperors of Delhi, had long been practically independent. They were the real over-lords of the greater part of the south of India, recognised as such by, and receiving tribute from, the nawabs of the Oarnatic. On the death, in 1748, of Nizam ul Mulk, the last really powerful subahdar of the Deccan, the succession of his son, Nazir Jung, was disputed by Mirzapha Jung, one of his grandsons ; and shortly afterwards a somewhat similar dispute arose regarding the nawabship of the Carnatic, at that time held by Anwaruddin Khan, whose claim was contested by Chanda Sahib, the son-in-law of a former nawab. The two claimants having united their forces, a battle was fought on 3 Aug. 1749 at Ambur, in which Anwar ud din Khan was killed, his eldest son taken prisoner, and his second son, Mahomed Ali, afterwards better known as the Nawab Walajah, compelled with a small body of adherents to take refuge at Trichinopoly. The victory on this occasion was mainly due to the aid rendered by Dupleix, who, having espoused the cause of Mirzapha Jung and Chanda Sahib, sent them a contingent of four hundred French soldiers and two thousand sepoys, trained under French officers. Nazir Jung was killed shortly afterwards by one of his tributaries, and was succeeded as subahdar by his rival, Mirzapha Jung, who, in his turn, met his death in a revolt of some of his Pathan soldiers, when on his way to Hyderabad with an escort of French troops under M. Bussy. Meanwhile Mahomed Ali, whose cause had been espoused by the English authorities at Fort St. David, was besieged at Trichinopoly by a large force under
Chanda Sahib, and it was while this siege was in progress that Clive, having been sent to Trichinopoly with the reinforcements already referred to, conceived the idea of compelling Chanda Sahib to raise the siege, by seizing Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic. Clive's proposal was sanctioned by the governor of Fort St. David, and on 26 Aug. 1751 Clive marched from Madras in command of a detachment of five hundred men, of whom only two hundred were English, and three field pieces of artillery. Of the English officers, eight in number, who accompanied Clive, six had never been in action, and four were young men in the mercantile service of the company, who, fired by the example of Clive, had volunteered to join the expedition. On reaching Conjeveram, about forty miles from Madras, Clive, learning that the garrison in the fort of Arcot was eleven hundred strong, despatched a message to Madras for two more guns to be sent after him. The little force reached Arcot on 31 Aug., making the last march in a violent thunderstorm, and arriving to find the fort evacuated by the enemy, who, it was said, were so much alarmed by the accounts they had received of the unconcern with which Clive's force had pursued its march through the thunderstorm, that they fled in a panic. Clive occupied the fort without encountering any opposition, and at once set to work to lay in provisions for undergoing a siege. During the first week after his arrival he marched out twice with the greater part of his force to beat up the quarters of the fugitive garrison, which had taken up a position some six miles from Arcot. Two unimportant encounters took place, after which Clive and his men remained for some ten days in the fort, engaged in strengthening the works. At the end of that time the enemy, augmented by reinforcements from the neighbourhood to three thousand men, and encouraged by the cessation of Clive's sallies, took up a position within three miles of Arcot, where Clive surprised them by a night attack and put them to flight without the loss of a single man. A few days later, having detached a considerable part of his force to strengthen the detachment coming from Madras in charge of the guns for which he had applied, he was attacked by and repulsed a large body of the enemy. The occupation by the English of the fort of Arcot very speedily produced the effect which Clive had anticipated, in inducing Chanda Sahib to detach a portion of his force from Trichinopoly. On 23 Sept. four thousand of Chanda Sahib's troops, reinforced by a hundred and fifty French soldiers from Pondicherry, and by the troops already collected in the neighbourhood of Arcot, the whole numbering ten thousand men, under the command of Chanda Sahib's son, Raja Sahib, occupied the city of Arcot preparatory to laying siege to the fort. On the following day Clive made another sally in the hope of driving the enemy out of the city, or at all events of inflicting such loss upon him as would diminish his boldness in the prosecution of the siege. The first of these objects was not accomplished, and the sally was attended by the loss of fifteen of the English force ; Clive himself having one of those narrow escapes which were so numerous at this period of his career. The fort was then completely invested and underwent a siege, which, last ing for fifty days, is justly regarded as one of the most memorable events in military history. 'The fort was more than a mile in circumference ; the walls in many places ruinous, the towers inconvenient and decayed, and everything unfavourable to defence. Yet Clive found the means of making an effectual resistance. When the enemy attempted to storm at two breaches, one of fifty and one of ninety feet, he repulsed them with but eighty Europeans and a hundred and fifty sepoys fit for duty ; so effectually did he avail himself of his resources, and to such a pitch of fortitude had he exalted the spirit of those under his command' (Mill, History of British India, iii. 84). The final assault was delivered on 14 Nov. and failed, and on the following morning it was found that the whole of the besieging army had disappeared from Arcot. Before the siege commenced Clive had lost four out of the eight officers who had accompanied him from Madras. One had been killed, two wounded, and one had returned to Madras. The stock of provisions had fallen very low some time before the siege was raised. When it became apparent that famine might compel the garrison to surrender, the sepoys offered to give up the grain to the Europeans, contenting themselves with the water in which the rice was boiled. 'It is,' they said, 'sufficient for our support. The Europeans require the grain.' The defence of Arcot produced an immense effect upon the minds of the natives of Southern India. They had hitherto entertained but little respect for the English, ranking the French as greatly their superiors in military capacity ; but from this time native opinion entirely changed, and the defence of Arcot may justly be regarded as 'the turning-point in the 'eastern career of the English' (Malleson, French in India, p. 290).
The long-expected reinforcement from Madras reached Arcot the day after the siege was raised. At the same time Clive was joined by a contingent of Mahratta troops, who had been hovering about the neighbourhood, uncertain which side to take. Clive at once followed the enemy, who, although considerably reduced in the number of native troops, had been joined by three hundred French soldiers sent by Dupleix. A battle was fought at Ami, in which Clive was victorious, driving the enemy from the field with a loss of two hundred and fifty killed and wounded and all their guns. Recapturing Conjeveram, which had been taken by the French, Clive returned to Fort St. David, with the intention of arranging for the immediate relief of Trichinopoly. From this duty, however, he was speedily called away by the intelligence that Raja Sahib, profiting by his absence, had recovered Conjeveram and had ravaged the country in the immediate neighbourhood of Madras. Clive again took the field and, recapturing Conjeveram for the second time, followed up Raja Sahib, who was marching to recover Arcot, and overtaking him at Caveripak, again beat him in a severely contested battle, fought by moonlight, killing fifty French and three hundred sepoys, and capturing nine guns, three colours, and many prisoners. Advancing again to Arcot, Clive proceeded to Vellore, and was planning the reduction of that place, when he was recalled to Fort St. David to command an expedition against Trichinopoly. On his march back he razed to the ground a town called Dupleix Fatihabad and a monument which Dupleix had built in commemoration of French victories. When Clive was on the point of starting for Trichinopoly, Major Lawrence, who had been absent in England, landed at Fort St. David, and as senior officer of the company's forces claimed the command of the expedition. To this Clive, who throughout his life entertained a grateful regard for his old commander, readily assented, and accompanied the expedition in a subordinate capacity. Notwithstanding his recent services, Clive was not placed in the position of second in command until the force reached Trichinopoly, when Lawrence, acting on a suggestion made by Clive to detach a portion of the troops to a position some miles to the north of the town for the purpose of isolating the enemy's force and operating against any reinforcements that might be sent from Pondicherry, placed the detachment under the command of Clive ; the remonstrances of the other captains, who were all senior to Clive, being silenced by the refusal of Mahomed Ali's troops to serve under any other commander. Olive's strategy again proved thoroughly successful, and resulted in the capitulation of the French commander, and also in that of Chanda Sahib, who was subsequently murdered by order of the Tanjore chief. In the course of these operations Clive had more than one hair-breadth escape. During a night attack by the French, who, aided by some English deserters, had managed by stratagem to secure an entrance into Olive's position, a choultry in which Clive was sleeping was fired into, a box which lay under his feet was shattered by bullets, and a servant sleeping close to him was killed. In the fighting which followed Clive was wounded, and a few hours later had the narrowest escape of being shot. The incident is thus related by Orme : 'At daybreak the commanding officer of the French, seeing the danger of his situation, made a sally at the head of his men, who received so heavy a fire that he himself, with twelve others who first came out of the gateway, were killed by the volley ; on which the rest ran back into the pagoda. Captain Clive then advanced into the porch of the gate to parley with the enemy, and, being weak with loss of blood and fatigue, stood with his back to the wall of the porch, and leaned, stooping forward, on the shoulders of two sergeants. The officer in charge of the English deserters presented himself with great insolence, and, telling Clive with abusive language that he would shoot him, fired his musket. The ball missed him, but went through the bodies of both the sergeants on whom he was leaning, and they both fell mortally wounded.' Shortly after the close of the Trichinopoly campaign Clive was employed in reducing the forts of Covelong and Chingleput, which had been occupied by the enemy. This service he performed with a force of two hundred raw English recruits, just landed at Madras, and five hundred sepoys newly raised, alike deficient in discipline and courage, until shamed into the exercise of the latter quality by the example of Clive, who, exposing himself to the hottest fire, compelled his men to stand firm.
Clive's health was at this time much broken by the fatigues and exposure to climate which he had undergone. He accordingly resolved to revisit England, and embarked from Madras early in 1753, reaching England in the course of the year. Before his departure he contracted what proved to be a very happy marriage with Margaret, daughter of Mr. Edmund Maskelyne of Purton in Wiltshire, and sister of the friend with whom he had escaped from Madras after its capture by the French. The fame of his exploits having preceded him, his reception in England was most gratifying. The court of directors of the East India Company treated him with special honour, toasting the young captain at their banquets as General Clive, and presenting him with a sword set in diamonds, of the value of five hundred guineas, ' as a token of their esteem and of their sense of his singular services to the company on the coast of Coromandel.' Clive's stay in England was short. He had received considerable sums in prize money, and had brought home a moderate fortune, a portion of which he expended in extricating his father from pecuniary difficulties, and in redeeming the family estate ; while the greater part of the remainder was dissipated in maintaining an establishment beyond his means, and in an expensive contested election for the borough of St. Michael's in Cornwall, which ended in his being unseated on petition. Being thus compelled to return to India, Clive obtained from the court of directors the appointment of lieutenant-governor of Fort St. David, with a provisional commission to succeed to the government of Madras, but was ordered in the first instance to go to Bombay and take part in an expedition then contemplated against the French in the Deccan. The rank of lieutenant-colonel was conferred upon him before his departure. The expedition to the Deccan having been countermanded in consequence of a convention which had been made between the governors of Madras and Pondicherry, Clive, on his arrival at Bombay, was employed, in conjunction with Admiral Watson, in reducing the stronghold of a piratical freebooter, named Angria, and then proceeded to Fort St. David, of which he took charge on 20 June 1756, the day preceding the capture of Calcutta by Suraj ud Dowlah and the tragedy of the Black Hole. When the intelligence of these occurrences reached Madras, Clive was at once selected to command a force sent to recapture Calcutta, and to avenge the outrage which had been committed. The expedition, in which the naval command was entrusted to Admiral Watson, was embarked on a squadron composed of five king's ships and five ships of the company, with nine hundred British soldiers and fifteen hundred sepoys under Clive. It sailed from Madras on 16 Oct., but did not reach the Hiigli until the latter part of December. After an encounter with the nawab's troops at Budge Budge, the force advanced to Calcutta, which surrendered at once. An expedition against the town of Hugli followed, resulting in the capture of the place and of booty valued at 15,000l. Shortly afterwards the nawab, with an army of forty thousand men, advanced against Calcutta, encamping on the outskirts of the town, from which they were driven by Clive with a small force of thirteen. hundred Europeans and eight hundred sepoys. The nawab then made overtures for peace, which, in opposition to the advice of Admiral Watson, Clive accepted, being anxious to withdraw his troops to the Carnatic, which was again threatened by the French. Before, however, leaving Bengal, he determined to attack Chandernagore, a French settlement near Calcutta, the capture of which had been urged upon him from Madras, on the ground that its retention by the French endangered the safety of Calcutta. This object was speedily and successfully accomplished by a joint military and naval operation ; but other circumstances occurred which delayed indefinitely the return of Clive and his troops to Madras. The nawáb, crafty as he was cruel, although he had outwardly assented to the attack upon Chandernagore, was found to be intriguing with the French, and by advancing a part of his army to Plassey again threatened Calcutta. Clive speedily came to the conclusion that there was no chance of permanent peace or safety for the English in Bengal as long as Suráj ud Dowlah continued on the throne. Taking advantage of an intrigue which had been set on foot by some of the nawab's principal officers who had been alienated from him by his vices, Clive resolved to dethrone him, and to replace him by Mir Jaffier, the commander of the nawab's troops, from whom he had received overtures. The events which followed included the most brilliant and the most questionable incidents in Clive's career. While his military reputation, already established, rose higher than ever, and while he developed a capacity for civil and political administration of the highest order, the fame of his exploits was tarnished by a breach of faith which it is impossible to justify, and by the acceptance of large sums of money from a native prince which afterwards formed the subject of damaging charges against him. The negotiations with Mir Jaffier were principally conducted through the agency of a Hindu named Omichand, who, after having entered into solemn engagements to support the English cause, threatened to divulge the intrigue to Suráj ud Dowlah, demanding thirty lakhs of rupees as the price of his silence. Clive met the demand by a fraud. It had been settled that a treaty should be drawn up embodying the terms upon which Mir Jaffier should be placed upon the throne, and Omichand had demanded that the payment to be made to him should be inserted in the treaty. In order to defeat the latter demand Clive had two treaties drawn up, one on white paper and the other on red paper. In the white treaty, which was the real one, no mention was made of the agreement with Omichand. In the red treaty, which was shown to Omichand, but which was not the document given to Mir Jaffier, the payment to be made to Omichand was set forth in full. It appears that Admiral Watson, who in all the operations in Bengal up to that time had been associated with Clive, declined to sign the red treaty, and that his signature was attached to it by another person by Clive himself according to Macaulay, but at all events by Clive's orders. On the strength of evidence subsequently given by Clive, Sir John Malcolm, who defends the transaction as a pious and necessary fraud, represents that Watson, while unwilling to affix his signature to the fictitious treaty, did not object to its being done for him. Having thus secured the silence of Omichand, and having arranged with Mir Jaffier that he should separate himself with a considerable body of troops from the nawab's army and join the English on their advance, Clive, on 12 June 1757, commenced the campaign, sending at the same time a letter to the nawab in which he arraigned him for his breach of treaty, and stated that he should 'wait upon him to demand satisfaction.' Clive's force, consisting of three thousand men, of whom less than a thousand were Europeans, reached Plassey on 23 June and found itself confronted by an army numbering forty thousand infantry, fifteen thousand cavalry, and fifty guns. Clive had previously been disquieted by apprehensions of treachery on the part of Mir Jaffier, who had not joined him as agreed, and on the 21st, on reaching the Hǘgli river a few miles distant from Plassey, he had called a council of war to discuss the question of an immediate attack. A majority of the council, including Clive, voted against the attack, but shortly afterwards Clive changed his mind and ordered the troops to cross the river on the following morning. Clive's small army had only time to take a few hours' rest in a grove which they occupied, when the battle commenced by a cannonade from the nawáb's artillery. Clive remained for some hours on the defensive, taking advantage of the grove in which his small force was posted, and which, by its trees and the mudbanks enclosing it, afforded an excellent position. His original intention was to delay his advance until night, and then to attack the enemy's camp ; but about noon they drew off their artillery, and Clive at once took possession of some eminences, from one of which a few guns, managed by Frenchmen, had caused considerable annoyance to his force. This movement brought out the enemy a second time ; but their heavy guns were driven back by Clive's field-pieces, which, killing some of their chief officers, threw them into confusion, with the exception of a body of troops under Mir Jaffier, who, detaching themselves from the rest, joined Clive after the action was over. In the course of a few hours the rout of the nawab's army was complete. He himself escaped from the field, and after a brief visit to Murshidabad, his capital, fled to the neighbourhood of Rajmahal, where he was captured, brought back to Murshidabad, and there put to death by order of Mir Jaffier's son. Mir Jaffier was at once installed as nawab, Clive accepting his excuses for not having joined him before the battle. Omichand was then informed of the fraud by which his silence had been secured, and told that he was to have nothing. According to Orme and Mill he lost his reason and died in the course of a few months. According to Wilson, the editor of, and commentator upon, Mill's history, the alleged loss of reason is doubtful, inasmuch as Clive, in a subsequent letter to the court of directors, describes Omichand as 'a person capable of rendering you great services, therefore not wholly to be discarded' (see also Malcolm, Life of Clive, i. 301). A large sum was paid by Mir Jaffier to the company, and Clive accepted, as a personal gift, between 200,000l. and 300,000l. Shortly after these transactions took place orders were received from England for a reconstitution of the government of Bengal under arrangements which provided no place in it for Clive ; but the persons selected wisely invited Clive to place himself at the head of the government, thereby anticipating the views of the court of directors, who, on hearing of the victory of Plassey and the events which succeeded it, immediately appointed Clive governor of their possessions in Bengal. During the four years which followed, Clive was to all intents and purposes the ruler of the whole of Bengal. Mir Jaffier, though free from many of his predecessor's vices, was by no means a strong man, and for a time relied upon Clive in all emergencies. Clive aided him in suppressing a rising of certain Hindu chiefs, and by merely advancing to his rescue stopped a threatened invasion of Bengal by the son of the emperor of Delhi. In return for these services Mir Jaffier bestowed upon Clive for life in jaghir the quit-rent which the East India Company paid to him for the territory rwhich they held to the south of Calcutta, amounting to nearly 30,000l. a year. After a time Mir Jaffier, forgetful of the benefits he had received, and chafing under his dependence upon Clive, induced the Dutch to bring troops to their factory at Chinsura, in the hope of subverting, with their aid, the daily increasing power of the English in Bengal. Clive thereupon, notwithstanding that England and Holland were at peace, and notwithstanding that a great part of his own fortune had recently been remitted to Europe through the Dutch East India Company, despatched a force which defeated the Dutch force near Chinsura, and, equipping and arming some merchant vessels, captured the Dutch squadron, and compelled the Dutch to sue for peace.
While thus consolidating British influence in Bengal, Clive did not neglect the interests of his countrymen in the south of India, then menaced by the French under Lally. In the year after the battle of Plassey he despatched an expedition under the command of Colonel Forde, the officer who was afterwards employed in conducting the attack upon the Dutch, to the northern sirkárs, the districts north of the Carnatic, which was attended with signal success. During the whole of this time Clive displayed a genius and firmness in dealing with administrative affairs hardly less remarkable than that which characterised him as a military commander. Even at that early period in British Indian history those presidential jealousies existed which still occasionally clog the wheels of administrative progress. The rivalry between the army and the navy, and the antagonism between the troops of the crown and those of the company, were then, as in later times, a source of difficulty. When Clive first reached Calcutta the committee of civilians which formed the so-called government of the factory, unmindful of the terrible calamity by which they had been so recently overwhelmed, resented the authority with which Clive had been invested by the Madras government, and called upon him to place himself under their orders. With Admiral Watson, who cooperated with him loyally enough in the operations which subsequently took place, Clive's relations at the outset were not free from friction. When Calcutta was recaptured, Captain (afterwards Sir Eyre) Coote, acting under Watson's orders, refused to admit Clive's claims as senior officer to command the fort, and it was not until the day after the capture that the fort was handed over to Clive. In both these cases, and in many others, Clive, by the exercise of tact and firmness, overcame the difficulties which confronted him, and proved himself in the council chamber, as in the camp, a true leader of men. Clive's views as to the British position in India were in advance of his time. Malcolm's life contains a remarkable letter which Clive addressed to the elder Pitt shortly before his departure from Bengal, in which he urged upon that statesman the policy of extending British rule in Bengal as opportunities offered, and of taking the conquests under the guardianship of the crown (Malcolm, Life of Clive, ii. 119-25). At an early period Clive perceived the importance of placing the company's possessions in India under the controlling influence of one head. This policy had been recognised by the court nearly seventy years before by the appointments of Sir John Child [q. v.] and Sir John Goldsborough successively as captains-general, with supreme authority over the company's possessions throughout India ; but the arrangement had been allowed to lapse, and Clive, on becoming governor of Bengal, speedily discerned the evils which were likely to result from the three presidencies continuing entirely independent of each other. Clive does not appear at that time to have raised this question officially ; nor did he at any time make a definite recommendation that the appointment of governor-general should be created ; but in one of his letters to the court, on the occasion of his second appointment to the government of Bengal, he expressed the opinion that 'if ever the appointment of such an officer as governor-general should become necessary,' 'he ought to be established in Bengal, as the greatest weight of your civil, commercial, political, and military affairs will always be in that province' (ib. ii. 315). Olive's opinion of the administrative capacity of the court of directors as a governing body was at no time favourable. During his first government of Bengal he resented extremely the language of some of their despatches, and in a letter addressed to them not long before his departure, which was signed by four other members of the council, he administered to the court a rating in terms which have seldom been used by subordinate officers, however high in rank, when addressing official superiors. The result was the recall of all the members of council still in India who had signed the letter.
Clive left India for the second time on 25 Feb. 1760. The reception which he met with on his arrival in England was even more enthusiastic than that which had greeted him on his return a few years before. He was received with distinction by the king and by his ministers, and also by the court of directors, notwithstanding the letter which had given so much offence. The court during his absence had placed a statue of him in the India House, and had struck a medal in his honour. The estimation in which he was held by the authorities was fully shared by the country. The reports of Clive's victories had come at a time when the nation was smarting under disasters in other quarters, and made, it is probable, a greater impression than, brilliant as they were, might otherwise have been the case. Mr. Pitt, in a speech on the Mutiny Bill, described Clive as 'a heaven-born general,' contrasting his achievements with the disgraces which had attended the British arms elsewhere. There was at the same time a delay in conferring upon him other honours, for which it is difficult to account, unless it was caused by a long and serious illness which attacked him shortly after his arrival, and disabled him from appearing in public for nearly twelve months. However, in 1762 he was raised to the Irish peerage, with the title of Baron Clive of Plassey, and in 1764 he was created a knight of the Bath. In the year of his return he was elected member for Shrewsbury, which seat he retained until his death. He appears to have cultivated parliamentary interest, and had a not inconsiderable number of followers in the House of Commons, but did not take a prominent part in English politics. Overtures made to him by Lord Bute to support the government of which he was the head, Clive rejected, entertaining the greatest admiration for the political principles of Mr. Pitt, but finally connecting himself in the closest manner with George Grenville. When, however, the peace of Paris was about to be concluded, Clive offered to Lord Bute, and procured the adoption of, various suggestions regarding those provisions of the treaty which related to India ; the chief one being that the French should be required to keep no troops in Bengal or in the northern sirkars. India, indeed, was the sphere to which Olive's attention was almost wholly devoted. At the India House he exercised considerable influence, having invested a large sum in East India stock, and being able thereby to command a large number of votes. During the greater part of Olive's stay in England the chairman of the court of directors was Lawrence Sulivan, a person with whom Clive had carried on a most friendly correspondence when last in India, and who had welcomed him on his return with profuse expressions of admiration and esteem. Owing, however, to various causes, one of which, it would seem, was jealousy on the part of Sulivan of dive's influence, an estrangement took place and increased to such an extent, that when Clive, in 1764, was requested again to undertake the government of Bengal, he stated publicly at a meeting of the court of proprietors that he could not accept the office if Sulivan, whom he denounced as his inveterate enemy, retained the chair at the India House. Clive carried his point, and another person was appointed to the chair. The matter in which Sulivan's hostility towards Clive had been mainly shown was connected with the jaghir which had been bestowed upon Clive by Mir Jaffier. This grant the directors, at the instance of Sulivan, proposed to disallow, and sent orders to Bengal to that effect. Ultimately the question was compromised by Clive accept- ing a limitation to ten years of the period for which the payment was to continue. Another point of difference between Clive and Sulivan had reference to the claims of military officers who had served under Clive. Here also Clive was victorious and his recommendations were acted on.
The reappointment of Clive to the government of Bengal was rendered necessary by the misgovernment which had taken place under his successors. Mir Jaffier had been displaced in favour of his minister and son-in-law, Mir Kasim, and the latter in his turn, after having been goaded by the extortions of the Calcutta civilians to make war against the company, had been expelled from Bengal. Mir Jaffier, then in a state of senile imbecility, had been restored. Every ship brought to England intelligence of grave irregularities, of venality and corruption, and of the disorganisation of trade owing to the rapacity of the members of the Calcutta council. A terrible massacre of Europeans, described by Macaulay as surpassing that of the Black Hole, had taken place at Patna. Battles had been fought at Gheriah, Adwanalla, and Buxar, in the first of which the sepoys of Mir Kasim, trained on the European system, had fought so well that the issue was for a time doubtful [see Adams, Thomas, 1730?-1764]. 'Rapacity, luxury, and the spirit of insubordination had spread from the civil service to the officers of the army, and from the officers to the soldiers. The evil continued to grow till every mess-room became the seat of conspiracy and cabal, and till the sepoys could be kept in order only by wholesale executions' (Macaulay, Essay on Clive). It was in these circumstances that a general cry arose, urged by the proprietors of East India stock, but at first resisted by the court, that Clive, as the only man qualified to deal with the crisis, should be induced to return to Bengal. Clive responded to the call, and, leaving England in the autumn of 1764, resumed the government on 3 May in the following year. He found the military situation improved, the defeat at Buxar of the nawab of Oudh having broken the power of the only formidable foe of the company in that part of India, while the insubordination of the army had been quelled for the time. But in all other respects the difficulties with which Clive had ; to contend exceeded his previous expectations. While he was on his voyage out Mir Jaffier had died, and his second son, Najam ud Dowlah, an effeminate youth utterly unfit for the position, had been placed on the masnad. In direct opposition to the recent and positive orders of the court, that their servants should not receive presents from the native princes, the governor and certain members of the council had exacted from the young prince on his accession sums amounting to twenty lakhs of rupees. The court, at Clive's request, before his departure from England had appointed a small select committee, composed of persons in whom he had confidence, and to whom, in conjunction with him, the real authority was to be entrusted. The existing council, however, had not been abolished, and some of the members at once called in question the powers of the select committee ; but Clive, by his firmness, overbore all opposition. The most factious of his opponents he removed from office, and brought up civilians from Madras to assist him in carrying on the administration. He then proceeded to effect the reforms which were necessary to secure honest and efficient government. The private trade of civil servants was suppressed. The orders prohibiting the receipt of presents from natives were enforced, and the salaries of the civil servants, at that time absurdly low, were placed for a time upon a proper footing by appropriating to that purpose the profits of a monopoly for the sale of salt. But the most serious of the difficulties with which Clive had to deal was a mutinous conspiracy among the English officers of the army. Recent orders from home had provided for certain reductions in the allowances to the officers. The spirit of insubordination, partially suppressed, still existed, and a large body of officers determined to prevent the enforcement of the obnoxious orders by simultaneously resigning their commissions. Clive was equal to the situation. Finding that he had a few officers upon whom he could rely, he sent to Madras for more, gave commissions to mercantile men who were prepared to support him, and ordered all the officers who had resigned their commissions to be sent to Calcutta. Clive's firmness prevailed. The sepoys stood by him. The ringleaders were tried and cashiered. The rest of the conspirators asked to be allowed to withdraw their resignations, and discipline was restored. While thus reforming the civil service and restoring the discipline of the army, Clive introduced an important change in the relations of the company to the native powers. Discerning in the recent occurrences the danger of allowing the nawab of Bengal to maintain a disciplined body of troops, he relieved him of all responsibility for the military defence of the country and of the management of the revenue, assigning to him out of the revenues of the province an annual sum of fifty-three lakhs of rupees for the expenses of his court and for the administration of justice. From the emperor of Delhi he obtained an imperial firman conferring upon the company the diwani, i.e. the right to collect the revenue in Bengal, Behar, and Orissa, thus constituting them in form, as well as in fact, the governors of the country.
After a residence of twenty-two months in Bengal Clive was compelled by ill-health to leave India for the last time. He returned to England a poorer man than he had left it. With enormous opportunities for amassing additional wealth in the course of the large transactions in which he was engaged, he had scrupulously abstained during his last visit to India from making any addition to his fortune. A legacy of 70,000l. which had been left to him by Mir Jaffier he accepted, but not for himself, devoting it to the establishment of a fund for the benefit of disabled Indian officers and their families. In his second government of Bengal Clive rendered services to his country which went far to outweigh whatever errors he had committed in his previous government. But those services, eminent as they were, did not meet with the same recognition in England which had been accorded to the services rendered by him in the earlier periods of his career. Both in the civil service and in the army he had made enemies by his stern repression of abuses and inflexible enforcement of orders. The malcontents, supported by Sulivan and his party at the India House, and by other persons, who, indignant at the abuses which had discredited British rule in Bengal, identified with the perpetrators of those abuses the man who in his last government had devoted himself to their repression, were unceasing in their denunciations of Clive. The newspapers were filled with attacks upon him; stories of the wildest kind were scattered broadcast; the very crimes which he had incurred odium by suppressing were laid to his charge; the unsatisfactory condition of the company's affairs after his departure from India, attributable to the errors of his successors, was ascribed to him. At last Clive, stung to the quick by the attacks which were made upon him, took advantage of a debate in the House of Commons on Indian affairs to reply to his assailants, and in a speech of considerable eloquence and vigour, in regard to which Lord Chatham, who heard it, said that he had never heard a finer speech, demolished the greater part of the accusations which had been made against him. A parliamentary inquiry ensued. Clive was subjected to a rigid examination and cross-examination, in the course of which, after describing in vivid language the temptations to which he had been exposed, he gave utterance to the celebrated exclamation, 'By God, Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation!' The inquiry extended into two sessions. It was completed in May 1773, and resulted in resolutions condemning, as illegal, the appropriation by servants of the state of acquisitions made by the arms of the state, and resolving, first, that this rule had been systematically violated by the English, functionaries in Bengal; and, secondly, that Clive, by the powers which he possessed as commander of the British forces in India, had obtained large sums from Mir Jaffier; but when it was further moved that Clive had abused his powers, and set an evil example to the servants of the public, the previous question was put and carried, and subsequently a motion that Clive had rendered 'great and meritorious services to the state' was passed without a division.
Clive did not long survive the termination of the inquiry. His health, always precarious, and much impaired by the exposure and fatigue of his life in India, had for some time occasioned him acute bodily suffering, which was greatly increased by the mental annoyance to which he was subjected after his final return from India. In order to alleviate his physical pain he had recourse to opium. The fits of depression to which he had been from time to time subject from an early age increased in frequency, and, combined with paroxysms of pain, affected his reason. He died by his own hand on 22 Nov. 1774, very shortly after completing his forty-ninth year. Lady Clive survived him for many years. He left several children. His eldest son, Edward [q. v.], afterwards became Earl of Powis.
The career of Clive was a very remarkable one, whether we consider the position and the reputation which he, the son of an impoverished country squire, commencing life as a clerk in the service of a mercantile company, was able to achieve at a comparatively early age; or the results of his exertions to his country; or the combination of administrative capacity in civil affairs with military genius of the highest order; or the difficulties under which he laboured, arising from a temperament peculiarly susceptible of nervous depression, and from a physique by no means strong; or the shortness of the time in which his work was done. Perhaps the most extraordinary part of the story is the very few years which it took to lay the foundations of the British Indian empire. Clive received his first military commission in 1747, and his first course of service in India was brought to a close in February 1753. In that brief period, amounting to less than six years, during which he twice reverted to civil employment, Clive by his defence of Arcot, and by the other operations in which he was engaged in the south of India, at the age of twenty-seven, established his reputation as a military commander. His second visit to India, which included Plassey and the establishment of British military ascendency in Bengal, lasted only from 27 Nov. 1755 to 25 Feb. 1760, or little more than four years. His third and last visit, in which he laid the foundations of regular government in Bengal, was cut short by ill-health in twenty-two months. Clive's real work in India thus occupied, all told, a little less than twelve years. Regarding Clive's character, in spite of all that has been written upon it, a considerable amount of misconception exists even now. The common estimate of him still is that he was a brave and able, but violent and unscrupulous man. The prejudice against him, which embittered the latter years of his life, although in a great degree unfounded, has not yet entirely passed away. In a modern poem, entitled 'Clive's Dream before Plassey,' Clive is thus apostrophised:
Violent and bad, thou art Jehovah's servant still,
And e'en to thee a dream may be an angel of
(Ex Eremo, poems chiefly written in India, by H. G. Keene, London, 1855.)
Macaulay's statement that 'Clive, like most men who are born with strong passions and tried by strong temptations, committed great faults,' but that 'our island has scarcely ever produced a man more truly great either in arms or in council,' is not only more generous but more true. The transactions upon which Clive has been chiefly attacked are the fraud upon Omichand and the pecuniary transactions with Mír Jaffier. For the fraud upon Omichand it is impossible to offer any defence. It was not only morally a crime, but, regarded merely from the point of view of political expediency, it was a blunder of a kind which, if it had been copied in after times, would have deprived our government in India of one of the main sources of its power—the implicit confidence of the natives in British faith. But for the acceptance of the sum of money, large as it was, which Mír Jaffier presented to Clive after Plassey, and of the jághír which he subsequently conferred upon him, there is something to be said, if not in justification, at all events in extenuation. Macaulay, indeed, justifies Clive's acceptance of the jághír, making what is perhaps a questionable distinction between the one grant and the other, on the ground that the jághír was a present, in regard to which there could be no secrecy. The East India Company became under its terms Clive's tenants, and by their acquiescence in the first instance virtually sanctioned Clive's acceptance of the grant. Macaulay, however, admits that both grants were accepted without any attempt at secrecy, and it would seem that to both the primâ facie objection that a general ought not to accept rewards from a foreign ruler without the express permission of his own government must be held to apply. On the other hand, as Macaulay shows, in extenuation of the course taken by Clive, it must be remembered, and the fact is entitled to great weight, that the East India Company at that time tacitly sanctioned the acceptance by their servants of presents from the native powers, paying them miserable salaries, but allowing them to enrich themselves by trade and presents. That Clive would have scorned for the sake of personal gain, under any circumstances, to take a course which he knew to be inconsistent with the interests of his country, is proved by his conduct in making war on his own responsibility upon the Dutch at a time when a great part of his fortune was in the hands of the Dutch East India Company. And, whatever errors he committed in the two transactions above referred to, those errors were nobly redeemed by the energetic onslaught which he made during his second government of Bengal upon the system of oppression, extortion, and corruption which then prevailed. In the relations of private life Clive's character appears to have been irreproachable. He was a generous and dutiful son, a kind brother, an affectionate husband, and a firm friend.
In 1775, the year after Clive's death, the first volume was published of a work entitled 'The Life of Robert, Lord Clive, Baron Plassey,' by Charles Caraccioli, which was subsequently extended to four volumes. It is from first to last a virulent attack upon Clive both in his public and in his private life. It denies his capacity, whether in civil or in military affairs, and attributes his success partly to good luck and partly to the timidity of the natives of India [see Caraccioli, Charles].
[Sir John Malcolm's Life of Lord Clive, London, 1836; Macaulay's Essay on Clive; Orme's Hist. of the Military Transactions of the British Nation in Indostan, vol. ii., Madras edit. 1861; Mill's Hist, of British India, vol. iii. edit. 1858; Marshman's Hist, of India, vol. i., London, 1867; Malleson's French in India, London, 1868; Browning's Dramatic Idylls, 2nd ser., London, 1880; Hunter's Imperial Gazetteer of India, vi. 383, London, 1886; English Historical Review, article on François Joseph Dupleix, October 1886.]