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Nor can we be surprised, when we consider the state of those times, and the loose system which had so long continued. Nine years had not elapsed since the batıle of Plassey; and the remembrance of the presents then received was fresh in the recollection of every
The accounts of the booty received had been exaggerated rather than diminished, by the few years of plunder and misrule which had intervened; and the dazzling narrative was constantly repeated to fire the imagination of the youthful recruit on his arrival in the land of promise. But now they were “to bid a long farewell to all their former greatness;" the frost-the killing frost, had come to nip their blushing honours: and from a position of comparative affluence and independence, they were to be reduced to what (as they stated) would be one of ruin and misery. The blow was also doubly felt, as coming from Clive, who had himself benefitted so largely, when presents were allowed to be taken : and he, who had boasted that he was astonished at his own moderation in accepting only a quarter of a million sterling, now prohibited the receipt of a solitary gold mohur. Nor were the officers without extraneous support and sympathy. The civil service almost openly encouraged them, and subscribed largely to provide commissions for them in the royal service, should the mutiny fail; while the general feeling of the free merchants and other European residents in India was amply testified by the fact, that only two in Calcutta, and one or two in the Upper Provinces, could be found, who were willing to assist the Commander-in-chief by accepting commissions, which were freely offered to them.
Lord Clive, when at Múrshedabad, received a memorial signed by forty-one officers of the 3rd brigade, respecting the reduction of their batta, and the miseries that threatened them in consequence; but no suspicion appears to have existed of any combination, until the receipt of a letter from Sir R. Fletcher, announcing that the officers of his brigade seemed determined to combine.
on the 28th of April. Next day, Captain Carnac, then with Lord Clive, received a letter signed “Full Batta," informing him that 130 officers in the three brigades had already lodged their commissions, and joined in an agreement to resign them, requesting him to do the
This letter was laid before Clive. Other and more violent letters were subsequently received by other members of the staff from different brigades, all clearly proving, that the combination was general. We shall best convey to our readers Clive's sentiments and conduct on this occasion by the following extract:
He saw at once that the combination was general: but his knowledge of
human nature convinced him that so considerable a number of men, actuated by so many various motives and principles, were not likely to persevere in a course, criminal in itself, and, in the event of failure, entailing certain ruin. He kuew that a few of the senior officers had acquired considerable fortunes during the late campaigns, and to them the loss of their commissions might be a matter of comparative indifference : but he also knew that the majority were, on the contrary, entirely dependent on the service for support; and that, as the excitement wore off, and the crisis approached, they would naturally, shrink from throwing aside their hopes of obtaining, not only an independence, but an actual subsistence. It was true that this very circumstance—were the Rubicon once passed—might render them desperate : and, enlisting the troops on their side, a general and fearful mutiny might ensue, which could only be suppressed by a powerful armed force from England, and even then the evils would be of the most serious nature. On the other band, the slightest concession to a demand made in such a manner was out of the question. It was not only repugnant to the personal character of Clive, but would have been opposed to the practice of his whole career. Such & measure would have evinced the weakness of the Goverment, and the strength of the army; a lesson which, once learned by the latter, was not likely to be speedily forgotten. Similar opposition might be made to any future measure of Government with equal success; new demands might arise and be thus enforced; discipline and subordination would be at an end ; and the civil government of the country become perfectly subservient to the military.
No time, however, was to be lost, On the 12th of April, Lord Clive formed a special committee, himself as president, and General Carnac and Mr. Sykes as members, in which it was determined that the de ands of the officers should not be complied with: and an express was despatched to Calcutta, requesting the Council to write to the Madras Government, informing them of the state of affairs, and urging them to send round as many captains, subalterns, and cadets, as they could possibly spare, holding out every encouragement to the officers of that army, who should prove their zeal for the service, by coming round to Bengal.
A further resolution was passed, that any officer, resigning his commis. sion, should be precluded from holding apy place or situation whatever, in the Company's service,
Copies of these resolutions, as conveyed in the letter to Council, were forwarded to the commanding officers of the three brigades, with authority to make the contents known to their officers, if they considered that this proof of the firm determination of Government was likely to be attended with success. Pp. 572-573.
Clive managed to bring the officers at Múrshedabad to a sense of their duty, and, with two exceptions, prevented their resigning their commissions. The efforts of the Council at the Presidency were also similarly successful with the officers in the immediate vicinity of Fort William. On the 1st of May, Sir R. Fletcher, at Monghyr, received the commissions of forty-two officers of his brigade. On the same day, the adjutant of the 3rd brigade sent to Sir R. Barker between fifty and sixty commissions from officers in his brigade, which, however, were immediately returned by that officer, with an assurance that, should any of the officers presume to disobey his orders, the full penalties of military law should be put in force against them. He followed up this declaration by placing the adjutant in arrest, and forwarding him with three others to Calcutta by water. This determined conduct had the desired effect; and the rest of the officers continued temporarily to perform their duty without further question, although their resolution to resign remained unaltered.
Fully to understand the difficulties of Clive's position at this time, it must be remembered, that a large Mahratta force had moved down the Jumna to Korah ; and Balaji Rao, with a body of 60,000 cavalry, was preparing to cross that river at Kulpi. The death of the Nawab occurred also at the saine time, and might have led to disturbances in Bengal. But Clive was fully equal to the emergency. He wrote to General Smith in the field, giving him full power to act, according as he might see occasion. He wrote to Madras for officers, and proceeded bimself with all expedition to Monghyr, which he reached on the 15th. Sir R. Fletcher had by no means given a faithful picture of the circumstances, which had taken place in his brigade at that station; and his officers bitterly complained of bis ill conduct and duplicity. “ They declared that he himself had originated the combination,
and artfully made tools of them in carrying out his private * views of opposing Lord Clive's Government." One letter, which that officer wrote to Clive on the thirteenth, contained the following startling paragraph :
Some have been very troublesome, and particularly those whom I have all along suspected, and whose confidence 1 used every art to gain in January last, when I heard that the whole were to form a plan of quitting the brigade without giving any warning. I even went so far as to approve of some of their schemes, that they might do nothing without my knowleilge.-P. 589.
Clive took no notice of bis conduct at the time. On the 16th he harangued the Europeans ; pointed out that the conduct of the officers was mutinous; that the ringleaders should suffer the penalties of martial law, and the rest be sent to England by the first available ship; and exhorted the men to orderly behaviour, until the arrival of other officers at Monghyr. He also distributed honorary rewards amongst the native officers; praised the sepoys for their fidelity, and ordered double pay for the men for two months. These measures were effectual; and the European troops, who had previously exhibited signs of mutiny, now gave three hearty cheers to the Commander-in-Chief, and returned quietly to their quarters. The officers, who had re
signed, were ordered to proceed forth with to Calcutta, and Clive started the next day for Bankipore and Patna, where, in Sir R. Barker's brigade, matters were quickly settled, as that officer was so universally beloved and respected.
The officers in the 2nd brigade, both those in garrison at Allahabad, and those in camp at Surajpore, had almost all combined to resign, which they did on the 6th May. Colonel Smith lost no time in communicating with the select committee, and his letter reached Lord Clive on his arrival at Monghyr. The officers in command of this brigade, confident of the fidelity of the sepoys, dismissed all the more turbulent of the European officers, and sent them down to stand their trial. Major Smith even threatened that, if they attempted to break their arrest, he would order the sepoys to put them to death. This spirited conduct broke the combination. Those, who tendered apologies, and whose characters had hitherto been good, were pardoned at once: and, with the exception of the ringleaders of each brigade, most of the subalterns were reinstated before the close of the year. Some were made to feel the consequences of their misconduct by the hesitation, which Clive affected to feel in restoring their commissions : and they not only lost their allowances during the interval of suspense, but many were superseded by officers, who had in the interim come round from Madras. To prevent any recurrence of such conduct, agreements were required from every officer not to quit the service under three years, or without giving a year's notice. The ringleaders were tried by Court Martial, and, with one exception, were sentenced to be cashiered. Some pleaded, that the court had no authority to try them, as they had resigned their commissions, and were not subject to military law; but this plea was not listened to by the court.
After the suppression of the mutiny, the conduct of Sir R. Fletcher came under reviey. This appears to have been bad throughout: and it was with general satisfaction that he was subsequently arraigned, tried, convicted of exciting sedition, and cashiered; nor did it much redound to the credit of the Court of Proprietors, that he was afterwards restored to their service, which indulgence he abused, by taking a prominent part at Madras in the deposition and confinement of Lord Pigot.
The volume closes with the retirement of Clive in the following January, and a well merited tribute of praise to that great man for his conduct in the Government. Whether some others might not have been found at that particular juncture equal to the performance of the part, which Clive so ably executed, must ever remain undecided; but we may be very certain that, without some such able hand to stem the torrent of corruption, which then flowed in so broad and rapid a stream, the affairs of the Company would speedily have gone to ruin, and the cause of the English in India might have been lost for ever. Clive's conduct has, in some respects, not been sufficiently appreciated. He has been too much lauded as a soldier, and too little approve ed of as a statesman: but, the more the circumstances and the events of his Indian career are critically and minutely examined, the more noble will his conduct appear to have been, and his character more free from stain.
We have now followed to its close the interesting narrative of Captain Broome, and presented our readers with an epitome of his work, which we heartily recommend to their notice. We trust also, that he will speedily fulfil his intention of carrying on the history. It is the only work which contains a connected narrative of the military events of the period of which it treats, and so far, therefore, is complete in itself. As to the composition of the work, we are bound to say, that it might in some places be judiciously condensed, without omitting any necessary details; and it appears to us that the serial mode of publication, originally adopted, has rather injured than benefitted this volume. Some of the chapters might have been more conveniently divided, and the subjects, embraced in each, more skilfully combined into one picture ; but Captain Broome has ably and faithfully performed the task which he appointed for himself ; and the most carping critic must allow, that he has amply fulfilled his endeavour" to collect material with industry, to employ it with discrimination, and to narrate facts plainly and honestly."
We hope soon to meet with Captain Broome again, and we take leave of him now with regret; for the freshness and charm of the style, the minuteness and accuracy of the details, and the impartial and soldier-like spirit in which it is written, render this portion of his work, in our opinion, the most interesting book, that has yet been published on Indian Military History.