Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

This is a broad, catch-all category of works that fit best here and not elsewhere. If you haven't found it someplace else, you might want to look here.

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:35 am

Part 5 of 6

MR. AKSHAYA KUMAR MAITRA, B.L.--

I. Foreword: Orthodox Tradition.

Few had access to the vast literature which should have been carefully scrutinised to come to an independent judgment on the genuineness of this unheard-of story; but few felt the necessity of taking so great a trouble; because the tradition recorded by Robert Orme—a contemporary—was ready at hand.

Thus, the story has been handed down to posterity as an undisputed episode of History, which can no longer be questioned without stirring up popular sentiment against critical inquisitiveness.

This was noticed twenty years ago, when I ventured to publish my doubts.  

The Modern View.

The times have now changed rapidly to make it possible for Mr. J. H. Little to utilise more abundant materials with conspicuous ability, and to announce with calm confidence in the journal of the Calcutta Historical Society, (Vol. XI, Part I, Serial No. 21) that the story of the Black Hole was a “gigantic hoax.”

Yet, even now, a keen controversy regarding the propriety of this verdict has been roused in more quarters than one; and Mr. Little has come to be belittled with a taunt that he has managed “to play off a clever and audacious practical joke.”


This justifies the reopening of the question.

The New School of Historians.

I must confess, at the outset, that I find it more reasonable to adopt the critical methods of investigation recommended by “the historians of the modern school in Europe,” than to follow the time-honoured practice of swallowing all extravagant stories without any sort of investigation. I cannot, therefore, look upon them as “a generation of iconoclasts," as represented by The Pioneer, for the simple reason that a mere iconoclast exults only in his work of wanton destruction, while “the historians of the modern school in Europe” have shown by example that if they are obliged to destroy any old fetish of faith, they destroy it only to replace fiction by truth.

The Critical Method.

Their critical method, when it lights upon an interesting statement, “begins by suspecting it” (Lord Acton’s The Study of History, p. 40); because the maxim that, “a man must be presumed to be innocent until his guilt is proved” was not made for the historian. The main thing for him “is not the art of accumulating material, but the sublimer art of investigating it,—of discerning truth from falsehood." This art, according to Harrisse (The Discovery of America, VI.), consists “in determining with documentary proofs and by minute investigations duly set forth—the literal, precise, and positive inferences to be drawn at the present day from every authentic statement without regard to commonly received notions, to sweeping generalities, or to possible consequences." J. S. Mill (Inaugural Address, p. 34) rightly pointed out that “there is no part of our knowledge, which is more useful to obtain at first hand, -- to go to the fountain-head for,—than our knowledge of History.” The modern critical method goes a step further, and wants to test all first-hand informations without regard to commonly-received opinions about them, because it looks upon “consistency in regard to opinions as the slow poison of intellectual life.” Every authentic statement is not necessarily true. This may be best illustrated by many authentic statements of Col. Clive, in one of which, in a letter to Alamgir Sani, King of Hindostan, dated the 30th July, 1757 (Hill, II. 462,) he asserted that after the battle of Plassey, Sirajuddowla retreated to the city of Murshidabad, “nor stopt there, but continued his flight, and was killed by his servants who followed him to demand their pay." This statement, though authentic, suppressed the real truth and suggested a deliberate falsehood. Instances need not be multiplied to shew that no story of this notorious period should be accepted without a critical investigation. The story of the Black Hole cannot, therefore, be treated as an exception. We should not only go to the fountain-head of this story, but we should also carefully investigate it according to the well-established rules of modern critical method, which is a method of Science. There can be no investigation in any other way to ensure accuracy in our knowledge of History. In this the modern method differs from the old;—the critical from the uncritical;—the historical from the romantic.

II. Suspicious Circumstances: Mahomedan Histories.

My suspicions were roused by the significant fact that no Mahomedan Historian of the Eighteenth Century made any mention of the Black Hole story, or of any catastrophe, which could be reasonably identified with it. Mr. Little has also noticed this only to ask his readers “to note the fact." But it requires some elaboration to enable one to appreciate the full significance of this omission.

One of these historians, and the most important one, was Nawab Golam Hosain Khan, the author of the celebrated Syer-ul-Mutakherin. He was a relation and adherent of Showkatjung, who disputed the succession of Siraj-Uddowla. After the overthrow and death of his patron, this historian lived in banishment at Benares, until he was restored to his jageer after the battle of Plassey. He completed his work in 1783, when the fall of Calcutta would not have still continued to be regarded as the only or the chief matter of interest, and the story of the Black Hole a mere subsidiary one, as has been ingenuously suggested by The Pioneer to account for the non-mention of the catastrophe in the public records of the day.

Another historian, Golam Hosain Salim of Malda, the author of the Riaz-us-Salateen, completed his work in 1787-88, under the orders and patronage of his kind and benevolent master, George Udney, who was well-known for his piety and scrupulous regard for historical accuracy.


These two Mahomedan historians received just recognition from all celebrated English writers of the Modern History of India. Neither of them had any motive to conceal the truth; yet neither had a word about the Black Hole.

Haji Mustapha's Observations.

A renegade Frenchman, named Haji Mustapha, translated the Syer-ul-Mutakherin into English. He noticed this significant omission, and recorded his own views about the incident in a note, which included the following observation:—

“This much is certain that this event, which cuts so capital a figure in Mr. Watts’ performance, is not known in Bengal; and even in Calcutta it is ignored by every man out of the four hundred thousand that inhabit that city; at least it is difficult to meet a single native that knows anything of it; so careless and incurious are those people.”


Mr. Hill supposed this “to be a sarcastic hint that the translator himself did not believe this story." Be that as it may, this observation reveals a fact and an explanation;—the fact relates to the want of knowledge of the people even of Calcutta;—the explanation relates to an estimate of their character. The explanation is, however, untenable; because Holwell’s monument, built in 1760, was then in existence to refresh the memory of the people; and also because the Mahomedan histories make it abundantly clear that the “natives” were not altogether “careless” or “incurious” about other matters of public notoriety during that period of change of Government, when gossip about every little event naturally ran in every direction with incredible rapidity. If the story of the Black Hole was really true, it could not have failed to reach their ears; nor could it have been kept a profound secret by the people of the Nawab.

Mr. Hill's Explanation.

Mr. Hill, while writing the Introduction to his book on Bengal in 1756-57, did not notice or discuss this significant omission, so prominently noted by Haji Mustapha. He has, however, now noticed it (The Englishman, Town Edition, 16 February, 1916) with an observation,—that knowing by his “own experience how very insouciant are the bulk of the people of India to whatever concerns only those of other castes and creeds, it did not produce sufficient impression” upon his mind for him “to think it worth while to discuss the question.”

Prof. William's Contention

But Mr. Rushbrook Williams, Professor of Modern History in the Allahabad University, has not taken the same view. He has tacitly conceded that this omission carries some weight. So he has made an honest effort to enquire if some faint reference,—even a figurative one,—cannot after all be discovered in some obscure Mahomedan History. For this purpose he contended for a while that a veiled reference might be discovered in the Muzarffarnamah. Maulavi Abdul Wali of Murshidabad, whose knowledge of Persian cannot be inferior to that of the learned Professor, quoted the text (The Statesman, Dawk Edition, 23rd. February, 1916) from the manuscript belonging to the Nizamut Library, and annexed the following translation:—

“Having seen that they are incapable to resist, and being in despair of concluding peace, the English gentlemen seated themselves on board ship and left for the sea; and a few of the English soldiers who saw the road of escape closed on them killed themselves out of excess of the sense of honour and a few persons became prisoners of the claws of predestination.”

Mr. Abdul Wali's Interpretation.

Moulavi Abdul Wali has rightly pointed out that “this passage,—which is the only passage on the subject,—does not prove that the English were put into the Black Hole. The sentence that a few persons became also prisoners of the claws of predestination is a figurative one, and proves nothing." Those who are acquainted with the oriental methods of polished composition, will readily admit that the figurative expression cannot indicate imprisonment; the context shows that while a few committed suicide, a few were also killed during the capture of the fort; a fact admitted also in the English reports.

After this analysis of the text, it must be idle to contend that the story was referred to by a figurative description by at least one Mahomedan historian,—or to contest the fact so definitely and confidently recorded by Haji Mustapha about the complete ignorance of the people even of Calcutta—or to question his authority for such an unqualified acknowledgment.

Mr. Hill's Attitude.

This then is the first important fact which should not have been at first ignored and at last dismissed by Mr. Hill as unworthy of consideration, upon a plea of personal experience, which is as exceptional as it is inapplicable to the bulk of the people of India. In writing the Introduction to his book, Mr. Hill could not have really missed the undeniable proofs which clearly disclosed that the people of this country, even at the risk of their lives, had actually felt compassion for the English fugitives, and supplied them with necessary provisions, “by stealth in the night” (Hill, I, 171), inspite of the strictest prohibition of the Nawab.

Omission in Public Records.

Turning to the important public records of the day, we find the same significant omission. If considerations of unavoidable diplomacy demanded a studied silence on the point in the earlier correspondence with the Nawab, because the English were then very naturally anxious to re-establish their trade at any sacrifice, the same explanation could not be put forward in support of a studied silence in the Minutes and Consultations of the English Council; or in the first report submitted to the Court of Directors. Even in respect of the correspondence with the Nawab, this explanation would be inapplicable to the last letter at any rate which Colonel Clive addressed, complaining only of “the loss of many crores of Rupees" said to have been sustained by the English “in the capture of Calcutta." In the two treaties,-- one with Siraj-ud-dowla (9 February, 1757), and another with Mir Jaffier Khan (3 June, 1757), -- no satisfaction was obtained for the atrocities of the Black Hole. Thornton (History of the British Empire in India, Vol. I, 212-13) observed that the absence of any provision for this purpose was “the greatest scandal attached to the treaty.” Mr. Hill has not quoted or questioned this unbiassed verdict of a truly “eminent historian.” He has only quoted the Third Article of the Treaty, without seeing eye to eye with Thornton, that that Article can in no way be spun out to cover, as Mr. Hill contends, “compensations for every thing.” It related only to compensations for clearly specified losses of property; and did not and could not include a compensation for loss of life in general, or in the Black Hole. In the same strain Mr. Hill now adds that,—“it is quite certain that a large number of the British were killed after Drake deserted his post. If they perished in the Black Hole, then Holwell’s story is substantially true, though it may be incorrect in details." It is needless to point out that no verdict of History can be based upon this “if.” Even if it were possible, it would not banish the need for proof; for, “the living do not give up their secret,” as Lord Acton pointed out, “with the candour of the dead; one key is always excepted; and a generation passes before we can ensure accuracy."

First Official Report

In the first official report of the fall of Calcutta (dated Fulta the 17th. September 1756) submitted to the Court of Directors, nearly three months after the event, there was no mention of the massacre; although it was signed amongst others, by Holwell himself. This document narrated on the other hand that the fort had surrendered “upon the promise of civil treatment of the prisoners” (Hill, I, 214-19) without saying that the promise was ultimately broken.

Mr. Hill's self-contradiction.

Mr. Hill’s present contention (although he did not put it forward in his Introduction) is that it was not mentioned, because “no two members of the Council held the same opinion." This was really so, (Letter from Fort William to the Court of Directors, 31st January, 1757). Mr. Hill has not, however, shown how in the face of such an undeniable fact, he can justify his present self-contradictory observation that the story received “general acceptance,—unquestioned by any of the Europeans present in Calcutta at the time.”

Consistency of First Report

The first official report was consistent with several well-established facts;—(i) that many of the besieged fled when the fort surrendered (Hill, I, 43), nay they simply walked out without opposition; (ii) that a Mahomedan Jemadar of the Nawab’s army escorted unmolested several English ladies, and restored them to their husbands at Fulta that very night (Mutakherin, Vol. II, 190); (iii) that all who had ventured to approach the Nawab in person were pardoned (Hill, I, 108-9) and allowed to go away; and (iv) that when Holwell was brought before the Nawab “with his hands bound, the Nawab released him from his bonds "and promised him (Hill, II, p. 151), “on the word of a soldier" that no harm should be done to him,—which he is said to have “repeated more than once.”

The Causes of Imprisonment

Why was any one imprisoned at all? We are indebted to Holwell for the suggestion that it was due to his inability to disclose the hidden treasure of the garrison, which the Nawab was naturally anxious to secure. This makes it difficult to discover a motive for the imprisonment of 146 persons,—men, women and children, —all of whom could never have been treated as privy to the secret.

Why were then so many persons imprisoned? Holwell assigned no reason to it in his first statement, (reported by Sykes of Cossimbazar) on the 8th July, 1756. In his second statement, (said to have been forwarded from Muxudabad to the Councils of Bombay and Madras) on the 17th July, 1756 (Hill, I, 115), he hazarded an opinion, not a fact, that—“the resistance made by the English and the loss suffered by the besiegers so irritated the Nawab that he ordered the imprisonment of all.”

This was, however, quickly given up in his third statement, (sent from Hugli to the Council of Madras) on 3rd August, 1756 (Hill, I, 186), in which he suggested another reason, viz.,—that the number of the English in the fort was “too great to be at large”;—a reason which ill-fitted the fact that permission and facilities had already been granted to many to leave the fort, after which the Nawab could not have been really anxious to detain any but those who could be reasonably supposed to know anything about the hidden treasure. It could not also have been probable for a really large number of men, women, and children, to have actually lingered in the fort, after many had died in defending it, and some had managed to escape during the confusion which followed the surrender. This reason was accordingly abandoned by the historians, who found it more consistent to adopt a different plea, viz.,—that “some of the drunken soldiers had drawn the misfortune upon all by attacking the soldiers of the Nawab.” This explanation was originally put forward by Governor Drake (Hill, I, 160) either from hearsay or from his own imagination of which he has been proved to have had an ample fund. As he was not an eye-witness, he could not have spoken from personal knowledge.


Holwell's Fairness.

This plea, however, received no support from Holwell, who was an eye-witness. He, on the other hand, recorded in his letter of 3rd August, 1756 that,—“I charged the Nawab with designedly having ordered the unheard-of piece of cruelty of cramming us all into that small prison; but I have now reason to think I did him injustice.”

This significant admission may justly give rise to an interesting and instructive inquiry into its motive, which Mr. Hill has not tried to pursue. When Holwell deliberately charged the Nawab, the English had by that time lost all hopes of returning to Bengal; as soon as the first ray of hope began to dawn upon them, on account of their submitting a petition on 6th July, 1756 to the Nawab to be restored to Calcutta, the charge was as deliberately withdrawn on the 3rd August;-—but when Siraj-ud-dowla was no more, the revolution was over, and the country had quieted down to enable Holwell to build his monument, he inscribed with equal deliberateness on his obelisk that 123 persons had been suffocated to death in the Black Hole prison of Fort William.


"By The Tyrannic Violence of Surajud-Dowla, Suba of Bengal.”


This is the man whose testimony is our chief guide in discerning truth from falsehood.

“He was known,” says Prof. Rushbrook Williams as “a clever rascal even in his own day.” He was “clever” indeed in never asking the English Council, not even when he acted as Governor, to commemorate the catastrophe, which would have necessarily called for a critical investigation of his extravagant story. He, on the other hand, built a monument at his own cost, and “cleverly” attached two inscriptions to it,—one for the tragedy and another for the “revenge” taken by Clive and Watson, evidently to ensure the preservation of his monument, at least as a trophy of victory. An Englishman, a ship’s doctor, however, found it in 1817 in a deplorable condition, (Mss. of a Voyage in the private collection of S. O’Mally Esqr. I.C.S.)— “no railing, nor shrubs,”—“totally unworthy of the universal interest excited by that most hideous event”; nor did it seem to have “arrested the attention of natives, none of whom could point out the Black Hole close to it.” That monument was unhesitatingly demolished in 1821 to make room for the Customs House. The new monument, built in 1902, by a noble donor, has omitted the “revenge,” excluded the reference to “the tyrannic violence of Sirajuddowla,” revised the list of victims, and included some names which are names of those (Hill, Introduction, p. xcix, note 4) Mr. Hill has given “as being killed during the fighting.” This monument, in the language of Sir Rabindranath Tagore, may, therefore, be justly liable to be looked upon as “a big thumb of stone, raised in the midst of a public thoroughfare to proclaim to the heavens that exaggeration is not the monopoly of any particular race or nation.”

Unavoidable Presumption.

These circumstances naturally raise some presumption against the genuineness of the story; and that presumption gradually gains in strength when we find, as Mr. Little has shown in detail, that the presence of so many persons in the fort at that late hour would be a matter of great improbability.

III. Development of the story: Admissibility of Evidence.

Before we turn to that important question, we must decide another,—the question of the admissibility of evidence. Should we admit, as required by a correspondent of The Statesman (Dawk Edition, 15th February, 1916), half in jest and half in earnest, The Confessions of De Quincey, in which the ill-ventilated coaches of England in the early days of the nineteenth century were compared to “Governor Holwell’s Black cage at Calcutta” in support of Holwell’s story? Sober sense will readily concede that all sayings and doings of third persons, after the story had gained a fair currency, must stand on the same footing, whether they related to Lord Clive’s endorsement of the petitions of those who said that they had lost their relatives in the Black Hole; or to the writings of the French and the Dutch, who derived no knowledge except through Holwell and his party. The story must stand or fall with the statements of the aggrieved party,—the alleged survivors of the grim tragedy of the Black Hole; for, they and the Nawab’s people, and no one else, could supply us with real proof.

Mr. Hill has referred to a book, Memoir Sur l’Empire Mogul, written in French by a Scoto-Frenchman named Jean Law of Lauriston, to show that the writer, who was an independent spectator in Bengal, “accepted the story of Holwell.” This book, written under the orders of the French Ministry, partly in Paris in 1763, and partly on a second voyage to India in 1764, was published by Alfred Martineau in 1913. I am indebted to my learned friend, Prof. R. C. Majumdar M. A., for an extract of the Preface, which shows that the author was an old Chief of the French Factory of Cossimbarar, who was well-known to the Durbar of the Nawab. In his Memoir (Hill, III, 160) he distinctly noted that he could not be “certain as to the correctness” of all he had heard; he preferred, therefore, “to refer” us “to what the English themselves have written.” Mr. Hill should have found that a reference to the story of Holwell by this writer could not be accepted as an “acceptance."

Modern Research.

Modern research has discovered, with commendable diligence, many useful materials, which tend to show that a story of the Black Hole was actually in circulation among the European residents of Bengal from a certain date, before it was transmitted to Europe;—but it does not fail at the same time to reveal that that story was the result of a gradual development.

The letter of 3rd July from Chandernagor (Hill, I, 50), Syke’s letter of the 8th July (Hill, I, 61) and William Lindsay’s letter (Hill, I, 168) relied on by Mr. Hill as tests of Holwell's story, cannot be treated as real tests; because these letters are not the letters of eyewitnesses. They can, however, be referred to to show, why, inspite of them, Holwell’s story fails to carry conviction; because these letters prove a gradual development of the story, and supply us with many useful materials to discover how the story stood at each stage of such development.


True Concern.

This did probably induce Prof. Rushbrook Williams to contend that “our true concern is not with Holwell," and that the Black Hole incident does not stand or fall with the truth or falsehood of Holwell’s story. An analysis of the first accounts in circulation in Bengal will, however, show at a glance that we cannot have the story of the Black Hole without Holwell, as we cannot have Hamlet, without the Prince of Denmark. Holwell cannot altogether be dismissed for the simple reason that the story of the imprisonment of the 146 persons and of the death of 123, which constitute “the main features of the tragedy” was the story of no one else but of Holwell; and even with him it was not the first story, narrated by him as soon as he got the earliest opportunity to do so. Our true concern must, therefore, be with Holwell and his principal associates, not with those, who reported from hearsay only; nor with those who accepted the story without any critical investigation.

First Uncertainty.

The first story of the fall of Calcutta, that could be gathered by the French or the Dutch from really independent sources, including the wounded, who passed by their settlements, did not disclose an episode of the Black Hole (Hill, I, 22-24).

The news of the fall of Calcutta was speedily carried far and wide. But (i) the letter written by the Council of Fort William from Fulta on the 25th June 1756 (Hill, I, 25) asking for aid and succour from the Dutch in the distress of the English, (ii) the Consultations of the Dutch at Hugli from 25th to 27th June, 1756 (Hill, I, 25), (iii) the letter from the Dutch Council to their agent written on 27th. June, 1756 (Hill, I, 33), (iv) the Dacca Consultations of 27th and 28th June, 1756 (Hill, I, 34 and 36) showing that the news of the fall of Calcutta had already been received through the French at that distant station, and (v) the secret Consultations of the Dutch at Hugli on 28th June, 1756 (Hill, I, 37),— do not disclose an account or even a mention of the Black Hole story.

Although the Dutch were at first afraid to succour the English, the French speedily accomodated matters with the Nawab, and readily offered a shelter to the English at Chandernagur. To this asylum arrived Watts and Colett, after their release, “in palanquins in the evening of the 28th June, 1766” (Hill, I.).

Image
Palanquin


After a well-earned rest at this place for three days, Watts and Colett wrote to the Council at Madras on 2nd July, 1756, giving an account of the fall of Cossimbazar and of Calcutta, as well of their imprisonment and release (Hill, I, 45). But this letter contained no reference to the Black Hole, or to any catastrophe, which could be placed in it. Although they were prisoners in the Nawab’s camp before their release, they did not carry with them any information even from that source.

Holwell's First Story.

According to Holwell (India Tracts, Third Edition, pp. 387-418) he was sent to Murshidabad along with Court, Walcot and Burdett. On his way, as a prisoner of war, he sent a letter which was reported by Sykes of Cossimbazar on 8th of July, 1756 (Hill, I, 61-62).

This was the first story of Holwell;—a story which was begun with a confusion of dates obviously to assert that the fort had held out till 21st June. It did not disclose that the fort had really surrendered on “a promise of civil treatment of the prisoners”; it recorded another story,—the story of a dishonourable “surrender at discretion.” What was worse, it made out a case of wilful murder with an allegation that,——“all the night our poor gentlemen were in the Black Hole, the Nawab’s people kept firing at them through the door.”


Evident Concoction.

Strangely enough, an account recorded by Captain Grey, on the 13th July 1756 (Hill, I, 73) at Fulta, discloses that the story of firing had also been carried to that station by some, although it was contradicted by others.

This shows, beyond doubt, that as the fact of firing could not have been independently imagined by more than one person, it must have been concocted in consultation to be circulated in different directions by different associates to make out a case of wilful murder, which came to be given up only because every one could not prove clever enough to repeat that story without contradicting others.


Probable Motive.

One is, therefore, naturally tempted to enquire into the reason of the invention of such a story; specially in view of an observation of the French on 3rd July 1756 (Hill, I, 50) that “the two first days passed in license and all the disorders of a place taken by assault, with the exception of massacre, to which the Moors are not accustomed in regard to people disarmed.” Was it not due to the consciousness that the dead bodies thrown into the ravelin actually bore marks of gun-shot wounds which caused death during the defence of the fort? When the story had to be given up, something had to be retained to account for these marks of injuries; and so the final story retained the allegation that many “wounded” persons had also been thrust into the Black Hole; although there could be no motive for any one to take such an unnecessary step; in as much as the “wounded" could have raised no apprehension in the minds of the Nawabs' army.

Holwell's Caution.

Under these circumstances, Holwell very soon came to take caution. He nowhere acknowledged in his subsequent correspondence that he had given out a story at Cossimbazar, much less a story of “firing,” although he admitted he had written a letter to Mr. Law, the French Chief of that station. In his letter to his dear friend, William Davis, written on 28th February 1757, Holwell gave a detailed account of his voyage to Murshidabad as a prisoner (India Tracts, Third Edition, p. 411). In this letter he referred to the English factory at Cossimbazar by saying only this that,—“passing by our fort and factory at Cossimbazar raised some melancholy reflections amongst us.” Maintaining a discreet silence about the statement made at Cossimbazar, he deliberately placed his arrival “in sight of the French factory” of that station on the 7th of July, (Hill, I, 115 and India Tracts) evidently to ignore Sykes, who noted (Hill, I, 61) on the 8th July that,—“this morning Mr. Holwell, Court, Walcot, and one Burent (Burdett?) a writer, passed by on their way to Murshidabad, prisoners in irons.” The omission on the part of Holwell to refer to his Cossimbazar-statement is significant;—it betrays an evident solicitude to suppress his connection with the discarded first story of the “firing.”

Different Stories.

When Drake and others left the fort, they left behind more than 200 men (Hill, III, 169). “Without counting the Armenians and the Portuguese (Hill, II, 129) those who were left behind found that “They numbered 170 men Capable of defence." The story that was carried to Captain Grant (Hill, I, 88) and to Roger Drake (Hill, I, 160) at Fulta, was the story of the imprisonment of 200 persons. This story of the imprisonment of the entire garrison, thoughtlessly left behind by Drake, was carried only to two places,—Fulta and Chandernagore,—evidently to blacken the character of the deserters, whose conduct had been harshly criticised by Holwell on the rampart. This number had, however, to be subsequently changed. Why was it changed? The inference is irresistible that when the story was found to be insupportable and inconsistent with the dimensions of the Black Hole, it came down to the imprisonment of 160 persons. Holwell, immediately after his release, in his letter of the 17th July 1756, narrated the imprisonment of 165 or 170 persons; and the death of all but 6. His next account, written from Hugli on 3rd August 1756, disclosed another story. In this he said he had “over-reckoned the number of the prisoners and the number of the dead,” the former being really 146, and the latter 123. Why had Holwell at first “over-reckoned" and what materials he obtained afterwards to ascertain the correct figures, he never condescended to disclose.

Probable Reason.

One is, therefore, naturally tempted to enquire into the cause of this change. The Black Hole, according to Mr. Holwell, was 18 feet square; and reserving 2 x 1 square feet for each person, ordinary Arithmetic would allow only 162 persons to be put into it. Was not this Arithmetic responsible for fixing upon the number of 160 persons? Strangely enough, Holwell gave the number as 160 in his first account communicated to Sykes. Strangely enough, news had also been carried to Chandernagore (Hill, I, 50),—the first news of the tragedy,—by another informant, who also reported the imprisonment of exactly the same number of persons.

The current story shows that this number was also ultimately abandoned. Was it due to any further calculation that more than 146 persons could not have been in the fort on the 20th June?


Evident Concert.

The records of the period can hardly explain the psychology of this “over-reckoning” of prisoners to the same extent by two informants, who carried the earliest account to two different stations—Cossimbazar and Chandernagore. Was not this another and equally convincing instance of concert?

Final Account.

A mystery hangs about the letter of John Young, Prussian Supercargo as to its date,-—the 10th July 1756 (Hill, I, 65). In this letter he noted that “Holwell with his fellow partners of misery and affliction, from the moment of their capture to that of their release, came to Chandernagore a few days ago.” Their coming to Chandernagore was no doubt a fact; but that must have been an event of a date subsequent to their release, which took place on the 16th of July,—subsequent also to the 17th of July on which date Holwell wrote from Murshidabad,—and probably subsequent to the 3rd of August, when he wrote from Hugli. Thus, the letter of John Young must have been a letter of a subsequent date. By that time the story had been finally settled, viz.,—146 “wounded and unwounded of all ranks” had been imprisoned, and 23 only survived. This going round the European settlements by Holwell and his fellow-sufferers coincides with the final reduction of the number. It makes all subsequent French and Dutch reports loose their value as independent accounts of a real episode of History.

Nationality of Prisoners.

If there was uncertainty about the number of prisoners, there was no less uncertainty about their nationality. According to some the prisoners included Portuguese and Armenians, “of which many were wounded” (Hill, I, 88). But according to another, all Portuguese and Armenians received pardon, and left the fort (Hill, II, p. 182; p. 301). Holwell on the other hand, alleged that the prisoners included Dutch and English whites and Portuguese blacks. If any Dutch had actually died in the Black Hole, the Dutch in Bengal took no notice of it: this was hardly probable.

The Real Question.

Mr. Hill is satisfied with the truth of the story, not as a historian, but as one who takes the contemporary historian to be his infallible guide. The special "acceptance by the great contemporary historian Robert Orme” weighs greatly with him. He cites Captain Mills, Sykes, William Lindsay and the French at Cossimbazar and Chandernagore as witnesses, who are said to supply “confirmation and corroboration.” Neither in the Introduction to his work, nor in his letter now published in The Englishman, has Mr. Hill tried to face the real question,—a question, which is concerned only with the direct evidence of the imprisonment of 146 persons, and the death of 123; because the imprisonment of Holwell and a few of the principal persons likely to know the hidden treasure, and the death of no one from suffocation would not constitute the tragedy. To support the current story, there must be evidence of the imprisonment of 146, and the death of 123. Who were they? That is the real question, which must legitimately demand to know the names of all. In the absence of evidence on that point, a true historian cannot go beyond saying that the story should be called “not to be proven."

Future Research.

This verdict, which really applies to the story in question, has been, by an irony of fate, sought to be applied to the theory advanced by Mr. Little. Mr. Hill has, therefore, sincerely hoped “that in future, instead of indulging in practical jokes, Mr. Little will direct his energies into some more fruitful lines of historical research.” One such fruitful line for Mr. Little should have been the History of the History of this period, which alone could have cleared the ground of all unscholarly freedom of language and verdict.

In the absence of such research work, The Pioneer discovers a formidable obstacle for Mr. Little to over-come. “If the Black Hole incident had never taken place at all,” says The Pioneer, “Holwell, who was no fool, would have known better than to put forward his own account of it." But inspite of this “formidable obstacle," Holwell actually invented another story,— the story of the Dacca-massacre,—about which the English Council of Calcutta had to record that it had “not the least foundation in truth.” Although Mr. Little referred to this, The Pioneer did not notice it, or refute it in any way. Such is the critical atmosphere in which knowledge struggles to advance in India.

IV. The Last Questions: Names of Victims.

Coming now to the last question,—the names of the victims,—we have to admit that, do what we may, we shall never know the names of all who were imprisoned,— of all who perished,—and of all who survived. We must abandon all critical inquisitiveness and remain conveniently satisfied with nothing better than the allegation that 146 persons were thrust into the Black Hole, 123 died of suffocation, and only 23 survived. But who were they? We must never ask to know.

Knowing how the number of prisoners gradually came down from 200 to 146, and knowing how the number of survivors gradually mounted up from 6 to 23, it will be an insult to human intelligence not to suppose that the names, of all who were imprisoned and of all who perished, and also of all who survived, must have been ascertained at some stage to find out the definite numbers related in the current story. But do what we may, we shall never know—when, where, how, and by whom such an enquiry was made, and with what result.

The List of Holwell.

This leads us to only one source of information; and that source leads to the available lists.

The list annexed to the “genuine narrative” of Holwell (Hill, III, 131-154) contains only some of the names,—not all. This list begins by excluding, without any reason, the names of 69 victims; and, therefore, it purports to disclose the names of 54 persons, though as a matter of fact, it comes abruptly to an end with the names of 52 only; still giving us 4 more names than those which Holwell caused to be inscribed on his monument. The list does not give us the occupation or nationality of the excluded 69. This exposes the list to the just criticism of all students of History.


"The Genuine Narrative".

This must have convinced Holwell to some extent. His “genuine narrative," with the list annexed, was not published until 1764. It contained a foreword “to the reader,” written by Holwell himself, which revealed that he too was not without some misgivings regarding his performance. This “genuine narrative” was originally written as a private letter to a dear friend, on board the Syren-Sloop, when Holwell was going home with the natural expectation of meeting his dear friend in person. Why was this letter written at all, or written during the voyage? It was not written like a letter of The Citizen of the World for the purpose of publication. Holwell assures us that “only through a chain of unforeseen accidents" it came "to appear in print.” But it was printed and published with a grim picture, made to order, showing “Governor Holwell confined in the Black Hole,” which cannot fail to show that a motive of advertisement could not have been altogether absent; and the alleged cause of publication could not have been absolutely colourless.

Be that as it may, the list, thus published, failed to render any account of 71 victims,—a large number indeed,—too large to be lightly disregarded as an unimportant matter of unnecessary detail. Yet this list and this “genuine narrative" are the chief foundations on which the current story stands.

Captain Mill's Diary.

The diary of Captain Mills (Hill, I, 40-45), recorded in an octavo pocket book of 16 pages and given to the contemporary historian, who was then in Madras, is another piece of evidence which Mr. Hill now characterises as the first test of Holwell’s story; because “this diary still exists and cannot be ignored”; it purports to be a contemporaneous account of events, which happened from day to day from 7th June to 1st July 1756. That it “still exists” cannot show that it “cannot be ignored.” Although its existence cannot be ignored, its value will always be ignored whenever it will be properly examined.

How was it written?

We have no evidence that it was recorded from day to day. Such an assumption would lead to many more;—(i) that it was taken by the writer with him into the Black Hole; and so it happened to be preserved during the sack of Calcutta; and (ii) that it was clung to with more than a martyr’s steadfastness during all those long hours of unbearable agony in that “night of horrors.” It shows at a glance that it could not have been recorded, like an ordinary diary, from day to day; but that it must have been written afterwards for being sent to Madras to Robert Orme, the historian, who had a well-known hobby not only of collecting, but also of preserving all such original documents. This diary records the names of victims and survivors in pages 9-11. In the next page it records the names of those, who escaped, when the fort was taken; and then, in the next page, it records what had happened before the fort was captured. This anachronism makes it forfeit its bonafide character as a diary written up from day to day.

Supplimentary Account.

As the personal narrative of a Captain, engaged in active military work, this diary reveals a significant and disappointing feature, in that it does not disclose any item of personal work done by the narrator. Another account (Hill, I, 194) was sent to Robert Orme to supplement it. But that also gave only an account of what happened to the writer, after he had come out of the Black Hole, until he reached Fulta, on 10th August 1756. According to this account Captain Mills and his companions, after their expulsion from Calcutta on 1st July, came to the Prussian Supercargo, and then to Chandernagore, where they resided till 8th or 9th August 1756.

The Prussian Account.

This makes the Prussian account one of great importance to History. According to this account “20 of the English that escaped death" were the first to come up. John Young recorded what he had heard from them about the fall of Calcutta. He did not hear a word about the Black Hole. Next appeared Messrs. Watts and Colett; and they too could not disclose the story of the tragedy. Lastly came Holwell and his companions, and from them the story of the Black Hole was heard. This interesting letter of John Young, the Prussian Supercargo (Hill, I, 62-66), discloses an important secret,—it shows at a glance that when Captain Mills appeared, he had no story to tell about the Black Hole.

The London Chronicle.

A report, published in the London Chronicle, a year after the event, (Hill, III, 70-74), gives a list of the Europeans “who were in Calcutta when it was taken, but escaped being put into the Black Hole, and were ordered to leave Calcutta by the Moors.” This list contains only four names, —the very names of Captain Mills and his companions, who were not included in the list of survivors, published in the London Chronicle. This makes it difficult to regard Captain Mills’ diary as the diary of an eye-witness. He can be hardly put forward as a witness to corroborate Holwell. The same remark applies to Grey Junior (Hill, I, 106-109) who was not also a “survivor," and who did not note (Hill, I, 109) that Captain Mills was one of the survivors.

Incredibility of List.

The report of the London Chronicle makes the lists, left by Holwell and Captain Mills, equally unreliable. William Bailley was a member of the Council, and an important person. It was reported in the London Chronicle that he had died “with a shot in his head." Of the “gentlemen in service,” Carse is said to have been “cut to pieces,” having rashly fired a pistol after the place was taken. Lt. Bellamy “shot himself before the attack." Blagg was “cut to pieces on a bastion.” Lieutenants Bishop and Paccard died “before the place was taken.” Sea-Captains Parnell, Stephenson, Carey, and Grey, “were killed in the attack”. But, according to Holwell, these very persons died in the Black Hole; and what is more,—Carey died with thankfulness on his lips for having been offered by Holwell a convenient place, which he could not live to occupy.

The name of Blagg has now been unanimously omitted from the list of victims, and excluded altogether from the names inscribed on the new monument.

Evidentiary Effect.

Mr. Hill has not, however, considered the effect of this exclusion upon the whole testimony. As the name of Blagg occurs equally in the lists of victims left by Grey junior, Holwell and Captain Mills, was it possible for them to have erred independently or to have dreamt simultaneously regarding his death in the Black Hole? If this is a circumstance, which indicates concert between them, as it does without doubt, does it not affect the entire testimony, and make it difficult to discard one portion and retain the rest?

Veracity of Eye-witnesses.

Holwell disclosed the names of only eleven “survivors, including his own." One of them, Secretary Cooke, was examined by the Parliamentary Committee appointed in 1772. Instead of giving an oral disposition, like the other witnesses, Cooke preferred to hand in a written narrative (Hill, III, 290-303) said to have been “copied with his own hands from notes taken by him soon after the transactions” of 1756. Although the massacre of the Black Hole was not then one of the subjects of the enquiry, Secretary Cooke volunteered an account of it in his statement, an account which must remind one of Holwell's narrative, which had already been then in print.

These facts and circumstances affect the veracity of all the eye witnesses alike, even if we do not allow ourselves to be prejudiced against them on account of the little regard for veracity which they enjoyed from their own contemporaries.

Mr. Little has supplemented his original essay with a long letter in The Statesman to discuss Holwell’s motive for concoction, and the motive of his concocted story being accepted. The value of this labour lies chiefly in showing that an absolute want of motive cannot be urged in defence of Holwell. When an improbable story is proved to have been started, developed and supported in concert, the question of motive does not really arise, or affect the verdict.

The Story: a libel.

Although the Black Hole story was open to these objections from the very beginning, yet it was never subjected to any critical investigation by any of the contemporaries of Holwell. In that respect it has left us in utter darkness,—perhaps also in the suffocating atmosphere of a real Black Hole. But this negligence on the part of contemporaries, whose hands were then always full with one question of life and death after another, cannot be accepted as a test of Holwell’s story;—the truth of which must be established by evidence, not by any conduct, opinion, or want of critical faculties of the contemporaries.

As the story goes, it is an undoubted libel against some at least of the British heroes, who sacrificed their lives in doing their duty;—nay, it is also a general libel against the British love of truth, which Col. Clive and Admiral Watson took every opportunity to refer to in their correspondence with the Nawab.


Mr. Little's Theory.

In the midst of all these harrowing circumstances, Mr. Little’s theory—as to what really happened—comes as a welcome working hypothesis, which agrees better with probable human conduct than the current story of the Black Hole. Mr. Little may, therefore, be congratulated upon his honest attempt to do justice, where justice has been either ignored or delayed for more than a century and a half.

The noble band of heroes, who sacrificed their lives in ignorance of Holwell’s solicitude to surrender, have a legitimate claim upon the recognition of History. A tribute, paid to their memory by an alien historian, Nawab Golam Hosain Khan, makes the reticence of their own countrymen all the more prominent and deplorable. Mr. Little, will therefore, command the admiration of all lovers of justice for his noble attempt, inspite of the hesitation of many of his countrymen, which is really due to their inability to look upon his work in its true perspective.

Holwell had associates and devoted ones too. He had more than one in those, who carried the story of the firing at Fulta; and a principal one in Captain Mills, who supported him regarding the death of Blagg in the Black Hole, and helped him greatly by sending a diary to the contemporary historian. Thus supported, Holwell acted in concert,—which related to two important matters, (i) the number of prisoners (ii) and the death of those in the Black Hole, some of whom at any rate had actually died as heroes in the defence of the fort. With this concert vanishes the large number that is said to have created the suffocation; and with it vanishes the story of the Black Hole. An unshaken faith in it reveals a want of critical faculty, which Mr. Little is unwilling to claim.

“When we are told,” said Lord Acton (Lecture on the Study of History, June 11, 1895), “that England is behind the continent in critical faculty, we must admit that this is true as to quantity, not as to quality of work." Mr. Little’s work may now be rightly cited as an example of such quality, in contrast with the great body of unscholarly criticism that has cropped up against him.

The Conclusion.

True it is that this “gigantic hoax" of Holwell is recorded in every text-book as an actual event of History, and we have to teach it, and generations after generations have to continue to learn it by heart. But it is also true, as Lord Acton told us, that,—“the historians of former ages unapproachable for us in knowledge and in talent cannot be our limit. We have the power to be more rigidly impersonal, disinterested, and just than they; and to learn from undisguised and genuine records to look with remorse upon the past, and to the future with assured hope of better things; bearing this in mind that if we lower our standard in History, we cannot uphold it in Church and State."

Mr. Little briefly replied.

The Venerable Archdeacon, W. K. Firminger, said that as the hour was late, nearly midnight, he would not detain them beyond expressing the hope that the ladies and gentlemen present who were not members of the Calcutta Historical Society, would join the Society. At present the Society was in a bad way as regards funds, and by becoming members they would not only be engaged in interesting historical work but would also help the Society.

The meeting then separated.  

***
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 5:36 am

Part 6 of 6

The Black Hole Episode: Is It History or Myth?
by Alfred Albert Martineau
English Translation by Mr. A. Lehuraux

Is the dreadful episode of the Black Hole of Calcutta during the night of the 20th June 1756, like the heroic revolt of William Tell against Gessler, nothing more than a legend? The incident is well known. In the forenoon of the 20th June 1756 Siraj-ud-daula, Nawab of Bengal, captured Fort William at Calcutta. The Governor, Mr. Drake, had escaped two days earlier to Fulta on the Hoogly with a portion of the English from the town; the remainder, unable to follow his example, were compelled either to remain in the fort or to return to the town. Mr. Holwell conducted the defence. On the 20th June at about 11 o’clock in the morning he capitulated. In the afternoon he had three conferences with Siraj-ud-daula the subject of which remains a mystery, but which probably referred to the surrender of the alleged treasures of the Company. In the evening the officers of Siraj-ud-daula confined the survivors, to the number of 169, in a prison called the Black Hole. The prison was a cell eighteen feet by fourteen, the heat was stifling and 143 perished during the night. Mr. Holwell was among the survivors; he was removed to Murshidabad and eventually set at liberty about the 10th July. But he had already spread the news of that tragic night in a letter addressed by him from Cassimbazar to a Company’s servant named Sykes. Later, he wrote a more detailed narrative of the catastrophe. The account was published in 1764. The impression produced by these revelations is one of the gloomiest in history.

Till very recent times, apart from the Bengalis, no one had cast a doubt on the authenticity of Holwell’s facts. Last September Bengal Past and Present, the organ of the Calcutta Historical Society, published a long article in which Mr. Little, an Englishman resident in Murshidabad, set out to prove that if there were English prisoners confined in the Black Hole on the 20th June 1756, their number did not exceed nine and the victims were not more than three.

Image
Monghyr. View from "Scandal Point." Photo by Walter K. Firminger

To justify his opinion Mr. Little first endeavours to establish that Holwell, in the opinion of Clive himself as well as of other Directors of the East India Company of the period, was wont to draw largely upon his imagination for his facts. Apart from the Black Hole episode he had invented other imaginary conversations and incidents. The Black Hole incident, according to Mr. Little, was imagined by Holwell merely to screen himself from a trick practised by him on the 20th June at the capitulation, which, for some reason difficult to surmise, he had omitted to make known to his people. When Siraj-ud-daula’s soldiers came to take possession of the fort they met with an unexpected resistance, the garrison continuing to fire on them. Driven to fury they returned the fire of the English, killing a great number. These were, according to Mr. Little, the alleged victims of the Black Hole. Witnesses to his deception having thus disappeared, when Holwell was restored to liberty fifteen days or three weeks later he concocted the story known to us.

Mr. Little’s article produced a considerable sensation in India. The newspapers of Bengal, notably the Englishman and the Statesman, commented on it at great length. His critics point to the existence of several survivors of the Black Hole who died as late as 1800, the latest in 1815, and quote the letters of Holwell’s contemporaries one of whom shared his dramatic captivity. They also appeal to the opinion of Law de Lauristan, the former Chief of the French loge of Cassimbazar, who wrote in 1764 in his “Mémoires sur quelques affaires de l'Empire Mogol” published by us in 1913, a lurid account of the Calcutta drama.

The Company failed to found a successful colony on Madagascar, but was able to establish ports on the nearby islands of Bourbon and Île-de-France (today's Réunion and Mauritius). By 1719, it had established itself in India, but the firm was near bankruptcy. In the same year the Compagnie des Indes Orientales was combined under the direction of John Law with other French trading companies to form the Compagnie Perpétuelle des Indes [The Mississippi Company].
Image
Lauriston Castle from the south

Law was born into a family of Lowland Scots bankers and goldsmiths from Fife; his father, William, had purchased Lauriston Castle, a landed estate at Cramond on the Firth of Forth and was known as Law of Lauriston. On leaving the High School of Edinburgh, Law joined the family business at the age of 14 and studied the banking business until his father died in 1688.

-- John Law (Economist), by Wikipedia
The reorganized corporation resumed its operating independence in 1723.

-- French East India Company, by Wikipedia


Jacques François Law French: Jacques-Francois Law, Compte de Tancarville Birthdate: 1724 Death: 1767 (42-43), Mauritius Immediate Family: Son of William Law of Lauriston and Rebecca Desves de Percy Husband of Maria de Carvalho Father of Jacques Louis Law de Clapernon Brother of Jean Law, baron de Lauriston; Jeanne Marie Law and Elisabeth Jeanne Law

William Law of Lauriston Birthdate: 1675 Death: 1752 (76-77) Immediate Family: Son of William Law of Brunton, Baron of Lauriston and Jean Campbell Husband of Rebecca Desves de Percy Father of Jean Law, baron de Lauriston; Jeanne Marie Law; Jacques François Law, comte de Tancarville and Elisabeth Jeanne Law Brother of John Law de Lauriston; Andrew Law of Lauriston and Jean Law of Lauriston

William Law of Brunton, Baron of Lauriston Birthdate: estimated between 1608 and 1668 Death: September 1684, Paris, France Immediate Family: Son of Reverend Mr. John Law of Waterfoot, Minister of the Gospel at Neilston and Agnes Shearer; Husband of Jean Campbell; Father of John Law de Lauriston; Andrew Law of Lauriston; William Law of Lauriston and Jean Law of Lauriston Brother of John Law, goldsmith -- by geni.com


Mr. Little refutes this evidence on the ground of the total absence of official documents relating to the occurrence. Neither the English refugees from Calcutta, nor the French at Chandernagor, nor yet the Dutch at Hoogly have written anything which makes the faintest allusion to that tragic night, although all relate the capture of Fort William. He recognises moreover that the distortion of history has been very rapid. It appears to have even preceded the liberation of Holwell. Prepared by him in a letter addressed to Sykes, it finds confirmation as early as July 3rd in a letter from Chandernagor written by some Englishmen who were not eye witnesses. Three months later it had become an accepted historical fact.

However great the interest attaching to the subject, we can only give it a very limited space here, as the Black Hole incident belongs to English history. But since Mr. Little has alluded to the absence of French testimony in the circumstances, it appeared to us interesting to consult the archives of Pondichery, the only ones actually available. In Registers Nos. 90 & 91 of our archives we possess a series of letters from 1744 to 1757 written by the Council of Pondichery to that of Chandernagor, or by the latter to different persons. Unfortunately these letters are incomplete; nevertheless we have discovered five, two of which are of great importance. They originate from the same source, the Superior Council of Chandernagor, but with a strange irony one sustains Mr. Little’s theory, while the other seemingly refutes it.

In a letter dated 25th June addressed to the factory of Masulipatam, Mr. Renault the Chief of Chandernagor relates that Siraj-ud-daula is at war with the English; he has arrived at Calcutta which he is besieging with 50,000 men, a great number of elephants and a numerous artillery. The issue is as yet unknown, but Mr. Renault anticipates the defeat and expulsion of the English. Nevertheless Mr. Renault’s letter displays no sympathy for Siraj-ud-daula. The next day Mr. Renault knows the end of the drama and announces it in the following terms in a second letter to the factory of Musulipatam: “(The English) had taken the precaution, from the beginning of the siege which has not been long, to embark the wives of the employes and of the principal residents, .... which makes one believe these vessels will have much to endure from now till they can get out of the Ganges and gain the coast. The Nawab did no harm to those who were in the factory when he took possession of it. He was content to have them stripped of their belongings, and dismissed them, with the exception of the principal residents whom he has made prisoners.”

This letter written the day following the event should be carefully noted. Not only does Mr. Renault ignore the Black Hole affair, but he calmly writes the Nawab did no harm to those who were in the factory. The letter certainly supports Mr. Little’s theory.

In another letter dated 29th August, also addressed to Masulipatam, and which appears to be a continuation of that of 26th June, Mr. Renault still appears to be ignorant of the Black Hole incident.

“No event of importance," he writes “has occurred in the country since the capture of Calcutta, and the English have so far not made any sign. All those who were imprisoned have been set free by the Nawab and have regained their ships. They have been joined by several boats from the coast, but among them there is only one Company’s vessel bearing 250 soldiers from Madras. It does not appear that with such a feeble reinforcement they will attempt any enterprise, seeing that they lack the greater part of the means required for the purpose. There has been a rumour afloat for sometime that they are willing to come to terms with the Nawab in order to return to their settlement, but this has not taken place. It is said at present that the war ships have gone to Madras and that large forces are assembling there to come and avenge the affront to the nation."

Mr. Renault on the 29th August sees nothing more in the capture of Calcutta than an affront offered to the English; to judge by current rumours the English regard themselves so little as the victims of an abominable crime that they are thinking of making terms with the Nawab.
The opinion of Mr. Renault is very different on the 16th September. In a letter addressed that day to Mr. LeVerrier, the Chief of Surat, he narrates events from their commencement:

“When we sent you our packets for Europe last July” he wrote, “we were so occupied that it was impossible to give you the smallest details concerning the revolution that we announced to you, the account of which formed the subject of our despatch. You will learn from the present that the Nawab Siraj-ud-daula having, contrary to the expectation of everyone, succeeded his grand uncle (sir) Ali Verdi Khan in the Soubadari of Bengal from the month of April, the English have experienced the most terrible effects of the anger of this young prince whom they had irritated by their arrogance and by the asylum they had accorded to certain of his enemies.

“Provoked by their boasting he invested them in their fort of Cassimbazar with many of their troops and after having removed the Chief (Mr. Watts) he made them surrender the factory which, although strong, was defended by only a few troops. Emboldened by this success, which he originally had little ground to expect, he drew up his army in battle array and came to lay siege to this place on the 18th June with 60,000 men, an immense artillery and numerous elephants.

“The vanity of the English having led them to believe that the Moors would never dare to venture so far, they found themselves so surprised and terrorized that they lost their heads at the sight of the enemy and did not profit by any of the advantages which Europeans possess over such contemptible troops. Although well fortified and numbering 600 Europeans, they scarcely offered the least resistance. The very day before the arrival of the Nawab (the 19th) the Governor, Mr. Drake, took refuge on the ships, with the commandant of the troops, the greater part of the Council, officers, inhabitants and the women. The few soldiers who remained in the fort, refusing to obey any superiors, so great a disorder ensued that the white flag was hoisted on the afternoon of the 20th. But the Moors, not wishing to recognise any capitulation, attacked the gates in great numbers and forced an entry, doing great violence to those who continued to offer any resistance. The pillage of both the settlement and the factory was immense, the English not having taken the precaution of embarking all their wealth.

“This was so to speak but the beginning of their troubles. The prisoners, amounting to some 200, having been confined pell-mell in a warehouse, were nearly all suffocated during the night. Those who survived, and especially the principal inhabitants, after enduring every species of misery, and having been carried in chains to Moxoudabad were sent back to us by the Nawab in the most pitiable condition, which we have endeavoured to relieve by all the assistance possible.

“The fate of those who escaped to the vessels was not less deplorable. Having gained the lower reach of the river with the utmost trouble in the world, they have suffered all the ill effects of the season and the inconvenience of having a multitude of women and children by whom the vessels were overcrowded, all of which added to bad fare procured with difficulty has produced a species of pestilential malady that carries away numbers every day. Many have come to seek relief here and at Chinsurah, but very few have recovered.”

A letter conceived in exactly the same terms was sent to the Council of Ile de France on the 16th December following. Do these documents suffice to pass a decisive judgment on the incident of the Black Hole? We do not think so. Like Mr. Little we are at first surprised that so extraordinary and alarming an event should not immediately have become known to public opinion, while on the other hand it seems difficult to admit that a legend of this nature could have grown so quickly. That Mr. Holwell and the English should have accepted it without question and spread it with complacency is not surprising, since it served their interests; but to admit that strangers should have been equally credulous is to say that their hatred for Siraj-ud-daula had extinguished in them all spirit of criticism. None of these suppositions is impossible. In 1756 the French at Chandernagor still considered that their interests were identical with those of the English, and their fear of Siraj-ud-daula fed by reports of his lordly cruelties, clouded their judgment.

We must, therefore, until further evidence is forthcoming, regard Mr. Little’s theory as not proven, but we are far from considering his arguments as valueless. India, every one knows, is a land where truth is deformed with the greatest ease and rapidity. We find instances of this fact every day in our own administration. It must also be recognised, in equity, that cruelty is not the characteristic of Indians, and nothing justifies us in supposing that in the present case they wreaked vengeance for a particular offence. Siraj-ud-daula, every one is agreed, did not give orders to imprison the English or to cause them to perish in so brutal a fashion; why should his officers have been more cruel? From the standpoint of psychology this is by no means evident.

We shall be told perhaps that seven years later at Patna the dethroned Nawab Mir Kassim caused many English to be put to death under still more cruel circumstances; but Mir Kassim had good grounds for hating the English and for wishing to be revenged on them. Moreover nothing tells us that in ordering their massacre he did not wish to transform the Black Hole legend into a striking reality.

We must not ask History to be the handmaid of passion. Holwell sleeps in the grave yard of Pinner since 1798; he has his statue at Calcutta, let us respect his grave. As to his memory, if it is ever proved beyond doubt that the incident of the Black Hole was grossly exaggerated, it should not be forgotten that, according to the official documents published by Mr. Hill in his Bengal in 1756-57, the English defended themselves bravely against Siraj-ud-daula on the 20th June till six o’clock in the evening and that a great number of them fell in the fight. In default of legend that alone would suffice for their fame.

Image
Monghyr. Entrance to Fort Close to Cemetery. Photo by Walter K. Firminger.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:02 am

Part 1 of 4

Lord Clive
by Thomas Babington Macaulay
Edinburgh Review, January, 1940
The Life of Robert Lord Clive; collected from the Family Papers, communicated by the Earl of Powis. By Major-General Sir John Malcolm, K. C. B. 3 vols. 8vo. London:1836.

We have always thought it strange that, while the history of the Spanish empire in America is familiarly known to all the nations of Europe, the great actions of our countrymen in the East should, even among ourselves, excite little interest. Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atahualpa. But we doubt whether one in ten, even among English gentlemen of highly cultivated minds, can tell who won the battle of Buxar, who perpetrated the massacre of Patna, whether Sujah Dowlah ruled in Oude or in Travancore, or whether Holkar was a Hindoo or a Mussulman. Yet the victories of Cortes were gained over savages who had no letters, who were ignorant of the use of metals, who had not broken in a single animal to labour, who wielded no better weapons than those which could be made out of sticks, flints, and fish-bones, who regarded a horse-soldier as a monster, half man and half beast, who took a harquebusier for a sorcerer, able to scatter the thunder and lightning of the skies. The people of India, when we subdued them, were ten times as numerous as the Americans whom the Spaniards vanquished, and were at the same time quite as highly civilised as the victorious Spaniards. They had reared cities larger and fairer than Saragossa or Toledo, and buildings more beautiful and costly than the cathedral of Seville. They could show bankers richer than the richest firms of Barcelona or Cadiz, viceroys whose splendour far surpassed that of Ferdinand the Catholic, myriads of cavalry and long trains of artillery which would have astonished the Great Captain. It might have been expected, that every Englishman who takes, any interest in any part of history would be curious to know how a handful of his countrymen, separated from their home by an immense ocean, subjugated, in the course of a few years, one of the greatest empires in the world. Yet, unless we greatly err, this subject is, to most readers, not only insipid, but positively distasteful.

Perhaps the fault lies partly with the historians. Mr. Mill’s book, though it has undoubtedly great and rare merit, is not sufficiently animated and picturesque to attract those who read for amusement. Orme, inferior to no English historian in style and power of painting, is minute even to tediousness. In one volume he allots, on an average, a closely printed quarto page to the events of every forty-eight hours. The consequence is, that his narrative, though one of the most authentic and one of the most finely written in our language, has never been very popular, and is now scarcely ever read.

We fear that the volumes before us will not much attract those readers whom Orme and Mill have repelled. The materials placed at the disposal of Sir John Malcolm by the late Lord Powis were indeed of great value. But we cannot say that they have been very 196skilfully worked up. It would, however, be unjust to criticise with severity a work which, if the author had lived to complete and revise it, would probably have been improved by condensation and by a better arrangement. We are the more disposed to perform the pleasing duty of expressing our gratitude to the noble family to which the public owes so much useful and curious information.

The effect of the book, even when we make the largest allowance for the partiality of those who have furnished and of those who have digested the materials, is, on the whole, greatly to raise the character of Lord Clive. We are far indeed from sympathizing with Sir John Malcolm, whose love passes the love of biographers, and who can see nothing but wisdom and justice in the actions of his idol. But we are at least equally far from concurring in the severe judgment of Mr. Mill, who seems to us to show less discrimination in his account of Clive than in any other part of his valuable work. Clive, like most men who are born with strong passions and tried by strong temptations, committed great faults. But every person who takes a fair and enlightened view of his whole career must admit that our island, so fertile in heroes and statesmen, has scarcely ever produced a man more truly great either in arms or in council.

The Clives had been settled, ever since the twelfth century, on an estate of no great value, near Market-Drayton, in Shropshire. In the reign of George the First this moderate but ancient inheritance was possessed by Mr. Richard Clive, who seems to have been a plain man of no great tact or capacity. He had been bred to the law, and divided his time between professional business and the avocations of a small proprietor. 197He married a lady from Manchester, of the name of Gaskill, and became the father of a very numerous family. His eldest son, Robert, the founder of the British empire in India, was born at the old seat of his ancestors on the twenty-ninth of September, 1725.

Some lineaments of the character of the man were early discerned in the child. There remain letters written by his relations when he was in his seventh year; and from these letters it appears that, even at that early age, his strong will and his fiery passions, sustained by a constitutional intrepidity which sometimes seemed hardly compatible with soundness of mind, had begun to cause great uneasiness to his family. “Fighting,” says one of his uncles, “to which he is out of measure addicted, gives his temper such a fierceness and imperiousness, that he flies out on every trifling occasion.” The old people of the neighbourhood still remember to have heard from their parents how Bob Clive climbed to the top of the lofty steeple of Market-Drayton, and with what terror the inhabitants saw him seated on a stone spout near the summit. They also relate how he formed all the idle lads of the town into a kind of predatory army, and compelled the shopkeepers to submit to a tribute of apples and halfpence, in consideration of which he guaranteed the security of their windows. He was sent from school to school, making very little progress in his learning, and gaining for himself everywhere the character of an exceedingly naughty boy. One of his masters, it is said, was sagacious enough to prophesy that the idle lad would make a great figure in the world. But the general opinion seems to have been that poor Robert was a dunce, if not a reprobate. His family expected nothing good from such slender parts 198and such a headstrong temper. It is not strange, therefore, that they gladly accepted for him, when he was in his eighteenth year, a writership in the service of the East India Company, and shipped him off to make a fortune or to die of a fever at Madras.

Far different were the prospects of Clive from those of the youths whom the East India College now annually sends to the Presidencies of our Asiatic empire. The Company was then purely a trading corporation. Its territory consisted of a few square miles, for which rent was paid to the native governments. Its troops were scarcely numerous enough to man the batteries of three or four ill-constructed forts, which had been erected for the protection of the warehouses. The natives, who composed a considerable part of these little garrisons, had not yet been trained in the discipline of Europe, and were armed, some with swords and shields, some with bows and arrows. The business of the servant of the Company was not, as now, to conduct the judicial, financial, and diplomatic business of a great country, but to take stock, to make advances to weavers, to ship cargoes, and above all, to keep an eye on private traders who dared to infringe the monopoly. The younger clerks were so miserably paid that they could scarcely subsist without incurring debt; the elder enriched themselves by trading on their own account; and those who lived to rise to the top of the service often accumulated considerable fortunes.

Madras, to which Clive had been appointed, was, at this time, perhaps, the first in importance of the Company’s settlements. In the preceding century Fort St. George had risen on a barren spot beaten by a raging surf; and in the neighbourhood a town, inhabited by many thousands of natives, had sprung up, as towns 199spring up in the East, with the rapidity of the prophet’s gourd. There were already in the suburbs many white villas, each surrounded by its garden, whither the wealthy agents of the Company retired, after the labours of the desk and the warehouse, to enjoy the cool, breeze which springs up at sunset from the Bay of Bengal. The habits of these mercantile grandees appear to have been more profuse, luxurious, and ostentatious, than those of the high judicial and political functionaries who have succeeded them. But comfort was far less understood. Many devices which now mitigate the heat of the climate, preserve health, and prolong life, were unknown. There was far less intercourse with Europe than at present. The voyage by the Cape, which in our time has often been performed within three months, was then very seldom accomplished in six, and was sometimes protracted to more than a year. Consequently, the Anglo-Indian was then much more estranged from his country, much more addicted to Oriental usages, and much less fitted to mix in society after his return to Europe, than the Anglo-Indian of the present day.

Within the fort and its precinct, the English exercised, by permission of the native government, an extensive authority, such as every great Indian land-owner exercised within his own domain. But they had never dreamed of claiming independent power. The surrounding country was ruled by the Nabob of the Carnatic, a deputy of the Viceroy of the Deccan, commonly called the Nizam, who was himself only a deputy of the mighty prince designated by our ancestors as the Great Mogul. Those names, once so august and formidable, still remain. There is still a Nabob of the Carnatic, who lives on a pension allowed to him by the 200English out of the revenues of the province which his ancestors ruled. There is still a Nizam, whose capital is overawed by a British cantonment, and to whom a British resident gives, under the name of advice, commands which are not to be disputed. There is still a Mogul, who is permitted to play at holding courts and receiving petitions, but who has less power to help or hurt than the youngest civil servant of the Company.

Clive’s voyage was unusually tedious even for that age. The ship remained some months at the Brazils, where the young adventurer picked up some knowledge of Portuguese, and spent all his pocket-money. He did not arrive in India till more than a year after he had left England. His situation at Madras was most painful. His funds were exhausted. His pay was small. He had contracted debts. He was wretchedly lodged, no small calamity in a climate which can be made tolerable to an European only by spacious and well placed apartments. He had been furnished with letters of recommendation to a gentleman who might have assisted him; but when he landed at. Fort St. George he found that this gentleman had sailed for England. The lad’s shy and haughty disposition withheld him from introducing himself to strangers. He was several months in India before he became acquainted with a single family. The climate affected his health and spirits. His duties were of a kind ill suited to his ardent and daring character. He pined for his home, and in his letters to his relations expressed his feelings in language softer and more pensive than we should have expected either from the waywardness of his boyhood, or from the inflexible sternness of his later years. “I have not enjoyed,” says he, “one happy day since I left my native country;” and again, “I must confess, at intervals, 201when I think of my dear native England, it affects me in a very particular manner.... If I should be so far blest as to revisit again my own country, but more especially Manchester, the centre of all my wishes, all that I could hope or desire for would be presented before me in one view.”

One solace he found of the most respectable kind. The Governor possessed a good library, and permitted Clive to have access to it. The young man devoted much of his leisure to reading, and acquired at this time almost all the knowledge of books that he ever possessed. As a boy he had been too idle, as a man he soon became too busy, for literary pursuits.

But neither climate nor poverty, neither study nor the sorrows of a home-sick exile, could tame the desperate audacity of his spirit. He behaved to his official superiors as he had behaved to his school-masters, and was several times in danger of losing his situation. Twice, while residing in the Writers’ Buildings, he attempted to destroy himself; and twice the pistol which he snapped at his own head failed to go off. This circumstance, it is said, affected him as a similar escape affected Wallenstein. After satisfying himself that the pistol was really well loaded, he burst forth into an exclamation that surely he was reserved for something great.

About this time an event which at first seemed likely to destroy all his hopes in life suddenly opened before him a new path to eminence. Europe had been, during some years, distracted by the war of the Austrian succession. George the Second was the steady ally of Maria Theresa. The house of Bourbon took the opposite side. Though England was even then the first of maritime powers, she was not, as she has since become, 202more than a match on the sea for all the nations of the world together; and she found it difficult to maintain a contest against the united navies of France and Spain. In the eastern seas France obtained the ascendency. Labourdonnais, governor of Mauritius, a man of eminent talents and virtues, conducted an expedition to the continent of India in spite of the opposition of the British fleet, landed, assembled an army, appeared before Madras, and compelled the town and fort to capitulate. The keys were delivered up; the French colours were displayed on Fort St. George; and the contents of the Company’s warehouses were seized as prize of war by the conquerors. It was stipulated by the capitulation that the English inhabitants should be prisoners of war on parole, and that the town should remain in the hands of the French till it should be ransomed. Labourdonnais pledged his honour that only a moderate ransom should be required.

But the success of Labourdonnais had awakened the jealousy of his countryman, Dupleix, governor of Pondicherry. Dupleix, moreover, had already begun to revolve gigantic schemes, with which the restoration of Madras to the English was by no means compatible. He declared that Labourdonnais had gone beyond his powers; that conquests made by the French arms on the continent of India were at the disposal of the governor of Pondicherry alone, and that Madras should be rased to the ground. Labourdonnais was compelled to yield. The anger which the breach of the capitulation excited among the English, was increased by the ungenerous manner in which Dupleix treated the principal servants of the Company. The Governor and several of the first gentlemen of Fort St. George were carried under a guard to Pondicherry, and conducted 203through the town in a triumphal procession, under the eyes of fifty thousand spectators. It was with reason thought that this gross violation of public faith absolved the inhabitants of Madras from the engagements into which they had entered with Labourdonnais. Clive fled from the town by night in the disguise of a mussulman, and took refuge at Fort St. David, one of the small English settlements subordinate to Madras.

The circumstances in which he was now placed naturally led him to adopt a profession better suited to his restless and intrepid spirit than the business of examining packages and casting accounts. He solicited and obtained an ensign’s commission in the service of the Company, and at twenty-one entered on his military career. His personal courage, of which he had, while still a writer, given signal proof by a desperate duel with a military bully, who was the terror of Fort St. David, speedily made him conspicuous even among hundreds of brave men. He soon began to show in his new calling other qualities which had not before been discerned in him, judgment, sagacity, deference to legitimate authority. He distinguished himself highly in several operations against the French, and was particularly noticed by Major Lawrence, who was then considered as the ablest British officer in India.

Clive had been only a few months in the army when intelligence arrived that peace had been concluded between Great Britain and France. Dupleix was in consequence compelled to restore Madras to the English Company; and the young ensign was at liberty to resume his former business. He did indeed return for a short time to his desk. He again quitted it in order to assist Major Lawrence in some petty hostilities with the natives, and then again returned to 204it. While he was thus wavering between a military and a commercial life, events took place which decided his choice. The politics of India assumed a new aspect. There was peace between the English and French Crowns; but there arose between the English and French Companies trading to the East a war most eventful and important, a war in which the prize was nothing less than the magnificent inheritance of the house of Tamerlane.

The empire which Baber and his Moguls reared in the sixteenth century was long one of the most extensive and splendid in the world. In no European kingdom was so large a population subject to a single prince, or so large a revenue poured into the treasury. The beauty and magnificence of the buildings erected by the sovereigns of Hindostan amazed even travellers who had seen St. Peters. The innumerable retinues and gorgeous decorations which surrounded the throne of Delhi dazzled even eyes which were accustomed to the pomp of Versailles. Some of the great viceroys who held their posts by virtue of commissions from the Mogul ruled as many subjects as the King of France or the Emperor of Germany. Even the deputies of these deputies might well rank, as to extent of territory and amount of revenue, with the Grand Duke of Tuscany or the Elector of Saxony.

There can be little doubt that this great empire, powerful and prosperous as it appears on a superficial view, was yet, even in its best days, far worse governed than the worst governed parts of Europe now are. The administration was tainted with all the vices of Oriental despotism, and with all the vices inseparable from the domination of race over race. The conflicting pretensions of the princes of the royal house produced 205a long series of crimes and public disasters. Ambitious lieutenants of the sovereign sometimes aspired to independence. Fierce tribes of Hindoos, impatient of a foreign yoke, frequently withheld tribute, repelled the armies of the government from the mountain fastnesses, and poured down in arms on the cultivated plains. In spite, however, of much constant maladministration, in spite of occasional convulsions which shook the whole frame of society, this great monarchy, on the whole, retained, during some generations, an outward appearance of unity, majesty, and energy. But, throughout the long reign of Aurungzebe, the state, notwithstanding all that the vigour and policy of the prince could effect, was hastening to dissolution. After his death, which took place in the year 1707, the ruin was fearfully rapid. Violent shocks from without co-operated with an incurable decay which was fast proceeding within; and in a few years the empire had undergone utter decomposition.

The history of the successors of Theodosius bears no small analogy to that of the successors of Aurungzebe. But perhaps the fall of the Carlovingians furnishes the nearest parallel to the fall of the Moguls. Charlemagne was scarcely interred when the imbecility and the disputes of his descendants began to bring contempt on themselves and destruction on their subjects. The wide dominion of the Franks was severed into a thousand pieces. Nothing more than a nominal dignity was left to the abject heirs of an illustrious name, Charles the Bald, and Charles the Fat, and Charles the Simple. Fierce invaders, differing from each other in race, language, and religion, flocked, as if by concert, from the farthest comers of the earth, to plunder 206provinces which the government could no longer defend. The pirates of the Northern Sea extended their ravages from the Elbe to the Pyrenees, and at length fixed their seat in the rich valley of the Seine. The Hungarian, in whom the trembling monks fancied that they recognized the Gog or Magog of prophecy, carried back the plunder of the cities of Lombardy to the depths of the Pannonian forests. The Saracen ruled in Sicily, desolated the fertile plains of Campania, and spread terror even to the walls of Rome. In the midst of these sufferings, a great internal change passed upon the empire. The corruption of death began to ferment into new forms of life. While the great body, as a whole, was torpid and passive, every separate member began to feel with a sense, and to move with an energy all its own. Just here, in the most barren and dreary tract of European history, all feudal privileges, all modern nobility, take their source. It is to this point that we trace the power of those princes who, nominally vassals, but really independent, long governed, with the titles of dukes, marquesses, and counts, almost every part of the dominions which had obeyed Charlemagne.

Such or nearly such was the change which passed on the Mogul empire during the forty years which followed the death of Aurungzebe. A succession of nominal sovereigns, sunk in indolence and debauchery, sauntered away life in secluded palaces, chewing bang, fondling concubines, and listening to buffoons. A succession of ferocious invaders descended through the western passes, to prey on the defenceless wealth of Hindostan. A Persian conqueror crossed the Indus, marched through the gates of Delhi, and bore away in triumph those treasures of which the magnificence had astounded Roe 207and Bernier, the Peacock Throne, on which the richest jewels of Golconda had been disposed by the most skilful hands of Europe, and the inestimable Mountain of Light, which, after many strange vicissitudes, lately shone in the bracelet of Runjeet Sing, and is now destined to adorn the hideous idol of Orissa. The Afghan soon followed to complete the work of devastation which the Persian had begun. The warlike tribes of Rajpootana threw off the Mussulman yoke. A band of mercenary soldiers occupied Rohilcund. The Seiks ruled on the Indus. The Jauts spread dismay along the Jumna. The highlands which border on the western sea-coast of India poured forth a yet more formidable race, a race which was long the terror of every native power, and which, after many desperate and doubtful struggles, yielded only to the fortune and genius of England. It was under the reign of Aurungzebe that this wild clan of plunderers first descended from their mountains; and soon after his death, every corner of his wide empire learned to tremble at the mighty name of the Malirattan. Many fertile viceroyalties were entirely subdued by them. Their dominions stretched across the peninsula from sea to sea. Mahratta captains reigned at Poonah, at Gualior, in Guzerat, in Berar, and in Tanjore.

Nor did they, though they had become great sovereigns, therefore cease to be freebooters. They still retained the predatory habits of their forefathers. Every region which was not subject to their rule was wasted by their incursions. Wherever their kettle-drams were heard, the peasant threw his bag of rice on his shoulder, hid his small savings in his girdle, and fled with his wife and children to the mountains or the jungles, to the milder neighbourhood of the hyæna and the tiger. Many provinces redeemed their harvests by the 208payment of an annual ransom. Even the wretched phantom who still bore the imperial title stooped to pay this ignominious black-mail. The camp-fires of one rapacious leader were seen from the walls of the palace of Delhi. Another, at the head of his innumerable cavalry, descended year after year on the rice-fields of Bengal. Even the European factors trembled for their magazines. Less than a hundred years ago, it was thought necessary to fortify Calcutta against the horsemen of Berar, and the name of the Mahratta ditch still preserves the memory of the danger.

Wherever the viceroys of the Mogul retained authority they became sovereigns. They might still acknowledge in words the superiority of the house of Tamerlane; as a Count of Flanders or a Duke of Burgundy might have acknowledged the superiority of the most helpless driveller among the later Carlovingians. They might occasionally send to their titular sovereign a complimentary present, or solicit from him a title of honour.

In truth, however, they were no longer lieutenants removable at pleasure, but independent hereditary princes. In this way originated those great Mussulman houses which formerly ruled Bengal and the Carnatic, and those which still, though in a state of vassalage, exercise some of the powers of royalty at Lucknow and Hyderabad.

In what was this confusion to end? Was the strife to continue during centuries? Was it to terminate in the rise of another great monarchy? Was the Mussulman or the Mahratta to be the Lord of India? Was another Baber to descend from the mountains, and to lead the hardy tribes of Cabul and Chorasan against a wealthier and less warlike race? None of these events seemed improbable. But scarcely any man, 209however sagacious, would have thought it possible that a trading company, separated from India by fifteen thousand miles of sea, and possessing in India only a few acres for purposes of commerce, would, in less than a hundred years, spread its empire from Cape Comorin to the eternal snow of the Himalayas; would compel Mahratta and Mahommedan to forget their mutual feuds in common subjection; would tame down even those wild races which had resisted the most powerful of the Moguls; and, having united under its laws a hundred millions of subjects, would carry its victorious arms far to the east of the Burrampooter, and far to the west of the Hydaspes, dictate terms of peace at the gates of Ava, and seat its vassal on the throne of Candahar.

The man who first saw that it was possible to found an European empire on the ruins of the Mogul monarchy was Dupleix. His restless, capricious, and inventive mind had formed this scheme, at a time when the ablest servants of the English Company were busied only about invoices and bills of lading. Nor had he only proposed to himself the end. He had also a just and distinct view of the means by which it was to be attained. He clearly saw that the greatest force which the princes of India could bring into the field would be no match for a small body of men trained in the discipline, and guided by the tactics, of the West. He saw also that the natives of India might, under European commanders, be formed into armies, such as Saxe or Frederic would be proud to command. He was perfectly aware that the most easy and convenient way in which an European adventurer could exercise sovereignty in India, was to govern the motions, and to speak through the mouth 210of some glittering puppet dignified by the title of Nabob or Nizam. The arts both of war and policy, which a few years later were employed with such signal success by the English, were first understood and practised by this ingenious and aspiring Frenchman.

The situation of India was such that scarcely any aggression could be without a pretext, either in old laws or in recent practice. All rights were in a state of utter uncertainty; and the Europeans who took part in the disputes of the natives confounded the confusion, by applying to Asiatic politics the public law of the West and analogies drawn from the feudal system. If it was convenient to treat a Nabob as an independent prince, there was an excellent plea for doing so. He was independent in fact. If it was convenient to treat him as a mere deputy of the Court of Delhi, there was no difficulty; for he was so in theory. If it was convenient to consider his office as an hereditary dignity, or as a dignity held during life only, or as a dignity held only during the good pleasure of the Mogul, arguments and precedents might be found for every one of those views. The party who had the heir of Baber in their hands represented him as the undoubted, the legitimate, the absolute sovereign, whom all subordinate authorities were bound to obey. The party against whom his name was used did not want plausible pretexts for maintaining that the empire was in fact dissolved, and that, though it might be decent to treat the Mogul with respect, as a venerable relic of an order of things which had passed away, it was absurd to regard him as the real master of Hindostan.

In the year 1748, died one of the most powerful of 211the new masters of India, the great Nizam al Mulk, Viceroy of the Deccan. His authority descended to his son, Nazir Jung. Of the provinces subject to this high functionary, the Carnatic was the wealthiest and the most extensive. It was governed by an ancient Nabob, whose name the English corrupted into Anaverdy Khan.

But there were pretenders to the government both of the viceroyalty and of the subordinate province. Mirzaplia Jung, a grandson of Nizam al Mulk, appeared as the competitor of Nazir Jung. Chunda Sahib, son-in-law of a former Nabob of the Carnatic, disputed the title of Anaverdy Khan. In the unsettled state of Indian law it was easy for both Mirzapha Jung and Chunda Sahib to make out something like a claim of right. In a society altogether disorganized, they had no difficulty in finding greedy adventurers to follow their standards. They united their interests, invaded the Carnatic, and applied for assistance to the French, whose fame had been raised by their success against the English in the recent war on the coast of Coromandel.

Nothing could have happened more pleasing to the subtile and ambitious Dupleix. To make a Nabob of the Carnatic, to make a Viceroy of the Deccan, to rule under their names the whole of southern India; this was indeed an attractive prospect. He allied himself with the pretenders, and sent four hundred French soldiers, and two thousand sepoys, disciplined after the European fashion, to the assistance of his confederates. A battle was fought. The French distinguished themselves greatly. Anaverdy Khan was defeated and slain. His son, Mahommed Ali, who was afterwards well known in England as the Nabob of Arcot, and 212who owes to the eloquence of Burke a most unenviable immortality, fled with a scanty remnant of his army to Trichinopoly; and the conquerors became at once masters of almost every part of the Carnatic.

This was but the beginning of the greatness of Dupleix.

After some months of fighting, negotiation, and intrigue, his ability and good fortune seemed to have prevailed everywhere. Nazir Jung perished by the hands of his own followers; Mirzapha Jung was master of the Deccan; and the triumph of French arms and French policy was complete. At Pondicherry all was exultation and festivity. Salutes were fired from the batteries, and Te Deum sung in the churches. The new Nizam came thither to visit his allies; and the ceremony of his installation was performed there with great pomp. Dupleix, dressed in the garb worn by Mahommedans of the highest rank, entered the town in the same palanquin with the Nizam, and, in the pageant which followed, took precedence of all the court. He was declared Governor of India from the river Kristna to Cape Comorin, a country about as large as France, with authority superior even to that of Chunda Sahib. He was intrusted with the command of seven thousand cavalry. It was announced that no mint would be suffered to exist in the Carnatic except that at Pondicherry. A large portion of the treasures which former Viceroys of the Deccan had accumulated found its way into the coffers of the French governor. It was rumoured that he had received two hundred thousand pounds sterling in money, besides many valuable jewels. In fact, there could scarcely be any limit to his gains. He now ruled thirty millions of people with almost absolute power. No honour or emolument could be obtained from the government but by his intervention 213No petition, unless signed by him, was perused by the Nizam.

Mirzapha Jung survived his elevation only a few months. But another prince of the same house was raised to the throne by French influence, and ratified all the promises of his predecessor. Dupleix was now the greatest potentate in India. His countrymen boasted that his name was mentioned with awe even in the chambers of the palace of Delhi. The native population looked with amazement on the progress which, in the short space of four years, an European adventurer had made towards dominion in Asia. Nor was the vain-glorious Frenchman content with the reality of power. He loved to display his greatness with arrogant ostentation before the eyes of his subjects and of his rivals. Near the spot where his policy had obtained its chief triumph, by the fall of Nazir Jung and the elevation of Mirzapha, he determined to erect a column, on the four sides of which four pompous inscriptions, in four languages, should proclaim his glory to all the nations of the East. Medals stamped with emblems of his successes were buried beneath the foundations of this stately pillar, and round it arose a town bearing the haughty name of Dupleix Fatihabad, which is, being interpreted, the City of the Victory of Dupleix.

The English had made some feeble and irresolute attempts to stop the rapid and brilliant career of the rival Company, and continued to recognize Mahommed Ali as Nabob of the Carnatic. But the dominions of Mahommed Ali consisted of Trichinopoly alone; and Trichinopoly was now invested by Chunda Sahib and his French auxiliaries. To raise the siege seemed impossible. The small force which was then at Madras had no commander. Major Lawrence had returned to 214England; and not a single officer of established character remained in the settlement. The natives had learned to look with contempt on the mighty nation which was soon to conquer and to rule them. They had seen the French colours flying on Fort St. George; they had seen the chiefs of the English factory led in triumph through the streets of Pondicherry; they had seen the arms and counsels of Dupleix everywhere successful, while the opposition which the authorities of Madras had made to his progress, had served only to expose their own weakness, and to heighten his glory. At this moment, the valour and genius of an obscure English youth suddenly turned the tide of fortune.

Clive was now twenty-five years old. After hesitating for some time between a military and a commercial life, he had at length been placed in a post which partook of both characters, that of commissary to the troops, with the rank of captain. The present emergency called forth all his powers. He represented to his superiors that unless some vigorous effort were made, Trichinopoly would fall, the house of Anaverdy Khan would perish, and the French would become the real masters of the whole peninsula of India. It was absolutely necessary to strike some daring blow. If an attack were made on Arcot, the capital of the Carnatic, and the favourite residence of the Nabobs, it was not impossible that the siege of Trichinopoly would be raised. The heads of the English settlement, now thoroughly alarmed by the success of Dupleix, and apprehensive that, in the event of a new war between France and Great Britain, Madras would be instantly taken and destroyed, approved of Clive’s plan, and intrusted the execution of it to himself. The young captain was put at the head of two hundred English soldiers, 215and three hundred sepoys, armed and disciplined after the European fashion. Of the eight officers who commanded this little force under him, only two had ever been in action, and four of the eight were factors of the company, whom Clive’s example had induced to offer their services. The weather was stormy; but Clive pushed on, through thunder, lightning, and rain, to the gates of Arcot. The garrison, in a panic, evacuated the fort, and the English entered it without a blow.

But Clive well knew that he should not be suffered to retain undisturbed possession of his conquest. He instantly began to collect provisions, to throw up works, and to make preparations for sustaining a siege. The garrison, which had fled at his approach, had now recovered from its dismay, and, having been swollen by large reinforcements from the neighbourhood to a force of three thousand men, encamped close to the town. At dead of night, Clive marched out of the fort, attacked the camp by surprise, slew great numbers, dispersed the rest, and returned to his quarters without having lost a single man.

The intelligence of these events was soon carried to Chunda Sahib, who, with his French allies, was besieging Trichinopoly. He immediately detached four thousand men from his camp, and sent them to Arcot. They were speedily joined by the remains of the force which Clive had lately scattered. They were further strengthened by two thousand men from Vellore, and by a still more important reinforcement of a hundred and fifty French soldiers whom Dupleix despatched from Pondicherry. The whole of this army, amounting to about ten thousand men, was under the command of Rajah Sahib, son of Chunda Sahib. 216Rajah Sahib proceeded to invest the fort of Arcot, which seemed quite incapable of sustaining a siege. The walls were ruinous, the ditches dry, the ramparts too narrow to admit the guns, the battlements too low to protect the soldiers. The little garrison had been greatly reduced by casualties. It now consisted of a hundred and twenty Europeans and two hundred sepoys. Only four officers were left; the stock of provisions was scanty; and the commander, who had to conduct the defence under circumstances so discouraging, was a young man of five and twenty, who had been bred a book-keeper.

During fifty days the siege went on. During fifty days the young captain maintained the defence, with a firmness, vigilance, and ability, which would have done honour to the oldest marshal in Europe. The breach, however, increased day by day. The garrison began to feel the pressure of hunger. Under such circumstances, any troops so scantily provided with officers might have been expected to show signs of insubordination; and the danger was peculiarly great in a force composed of men differing widely from each other in extraction, colour, language, manners, and religion. But the devotion of the little band to its chief surpassed any thing that is related of the Tenth Legion of Cæsar, or of the Old Guard of Napoleon. The sepoys came to Clive, not to complain of their scanty fare, but to propose that all the grain should be given to the Europeans, who required more nourishment than the natives of Asia. The thin gruel, they said, which was strained away from the rice, would suffice for themselves. History contains no more touching instance of military fidelity, or of the influence of a commanding mind. 217An attempt made by the government of Madras to relieve the place had failed. But there was hope from another quarter. A body of six thousand Mahrattas, half soldiers, half robbers, under the command of a chief named Morari Row, had been hired to assist Mahommed Ali; but thinking the French power irresistible, and the triumph of Chunda Sahib certain, they had hitherto remained inactive on the frontiers of the Carnatic. The fame of the defence of Arcot roused them from their torpor. Morari Row declared that he had never before believed that Englishmen could fight, but that he would willingly help them since he saw that they had spirit to help themselves. Rajah Sahib learned that the Mahrattas were in motion.

It was necessary for him to be expeditious. He first tried negotiation. He offered large bribes to Clive, which were rejected with scorn. He vowed that, if his proposals were not accepted, he would instantly storm the fort, and put every man in it to the sword. Clive told him in reply, with characteristic haughtiness, that his father was an usurper, that his army was a rabble, and that he would do well to think twice before he sent such poltroons into a breach defended by English soldiers.

Rajah Sahib determined to storm the fort. The day was well suited to a bold military enterprise. It was the great Mahommedan festival which is sacred to the memory of Hosein the son of Ali. The history of Islam contains nothing more touching than the event which gave rise to that solemnity. The mournful legend relates how the chief of the Fatimites, when all his brave followers had perished round him, drank his latest draught of water, and uttered his latest prayer, how the assassins carried his head in triumph, how the 218tyrant smote the lifeless lips with his staff, and how a few old men recollected with tears that they had seen those lips pressed to the lips of the Prophet of God. After the lapse of near twelve centuries, the recurrence of this solemn season excites the fiercest and saddest emotions in the bosoms of the devout Moslem of India. They work themselves up to such agonies of rage and lamentation that some, it is said, have given up the ghost from the mere effect of mental excitement. They believe that whoever, during this festival, falls in arms against the infidels, atones by his death for all the sins of his life, and passes at once to the garden of the Houris. It was at this time that Rajah Sahib determined to assault Arcot. Stimulating drugs were employed to aid the effect of religious zeal, and the besiegers, drunk with enthusiasm, drunk with bang, rushed furiously to the attack.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:03 am

Part 2 of 4

Clive had received secret intelligence of the design, had made his arrangements, and, exhausted by fatigue, had thrown himself on his bed. He was awakened by the alarm, and was instantly at his post. The enemy advanced, driving before them elephants whose foreheads were armed with iron plates. It was expected that the gates would yield to the shock of these living battering-rams. But the huge beasts no sooner felt the English musket balls than they turned round, and rushed furiously away, trampling on the multitude which had urged them forward. A raft was launched on the water which filled one part of the ditch. Clive, perceiving that his gunners at that post did not understand their business, took the management of a piece of artillery himself, and cleared the raft in a few minutes. Where the moat was dry the assailants mounted with great boldness, but they were received with a fire so heavy 219and so well directed, that it soon quelled the courage even of fanaticism and of intoxication. The rear ranks of the English kept the front ranks supplied with a constant succession of loaded muskets, and every shot told on the living mass below. After three desperate onsets, the besiegers retired behind the ditch.

The struggle lasted about an hour. Four hundred of the assailants fell. The garrison lost only five or six men. The besieged passed an anxious night, looking for a renewal of the attack. But when day broke, the enemy were no more to be seen. They had retired, leaving to the English several guns and a large quantity of ammunition.

The news was received at Fort St. George with transports of joy and pride. Clive was justly regarded as a man equal to any command. Two hundred English soldiers and seven hundred sepoys were sent to him, and with this force he instantly commenced offensive operations. He took the fort of Timery, effected a junction with a division of Morari Row’s army, and hastened, by forced marches, to attack Rajah Sahib, who was at the head of about five thousand men, of whom three hundred were French. The action was sharp; but Clive gained a complete victory. The military chest of Rajah Sahib fell into the hands of the conquerors. Six hundred sepoys who had served in the enemy’s army, came over to Clive’s quarters and were taken into the British service. Conjeveram surrendered without a blow. The governor of Arnee deserted Chunda Sahib, and recognised the title of Mahommed Ali.

Had the entire direction of the war been intrusted to Clive, it would probably have been brought to a speedy close. But the timidity and incapacity which 220appeared in all the movements of the English, except where he was personally present, protracted the struggle. The Mahrattas muttered that his soldiers were of a different race from the British whom they found elsewhere. The effect of this languor was that in no long time Rajah Sahib, at the head of a considerable army, in which were four hundred French troops, appeared almost under the guns of Fort St. George, and laid waste the villas and gardens of the gentlemen of the English settlement. But he was again encountered and defeated by Clive. More than a hundred of the French were killed or taken, a loss more serious than that of thousands of natives. The victorious army inarched from the field of battle to Fort St. David. On the road lay the City of the Victory of Dupleix, and the stately monument which was designed to commemorate the triumphs of France in the East. Clive ordered both the city and the monument to be rased to the ground. He was induced, we believe, to take this step, not by personal or national malevolence, but by a just and profound policy. The town and its pompous name, the pillar and its vaunting inscriptions, were among the devices by which Dupleix had laid the public mind of India under a spell. This spell it was Clive’s business to break. The natives had been taught that France was confessedly the first power in Europe, and that the English did not presume to dispute her supremacy. No measure could be more effectual for the removing of this delusion than the public and solemn demolition of the French trophies.

The government of Madras, encouraged by these events, determined to send a strong detachment, under Clive, to reinforce the garrison of Trichinopoly. But 221just at this conjuncture, Major Lawrence arrived from England, and assumed the chief command. From the waywardness and impatience of control which had characterized Clive, both at school and in the counting-house, it might have been expected that he would not, after such achievements, act with zeal and good humour in a subordinate capacity. But Lawrence had early treated him with kindness; and it is bare justice to Clive to say that, proud and overbearing as he was, kindness was never thrown away upon him. He cheerfully placed himself under the orders of his old friend, and exerted himself as strenuously in the second post as he could have done in the first. Lawrence well knew the value of such assistance. Though himself gifted with no intellectual faculty higher than plain good sense, he fully appreciated the powers of his brilliant coadjutor. Though he had made a methodical study of military tactics, and, like all men regularly bred to a profession, was disposed to look with disdain on interlopers, he had yet liberality enough to acknowledge that Clive was an exception to common rules.

“Some people,” he wrote, “are pleased to term Captain Clive fortunate and lucky; but, in my opinion, from the knowledge I have of the gentleman, he deserved and might expect from his conduct every thing as it fell out;—a man of an undaunted resolution, of a cool temper, and of a presence of mind which never left him in the greatest danger—born a soldier; for, without a military education of any sort, or much conversing with any of the profession, from his judgment and good sense, he led on an army like an experienced officer and a brave soldier, with a prudence that certainly warranted success.”

The French had no commander to oppose to the two 222friends. Dupleix, not inferior in talents for negotiation and intrigue to any European who has borne a part in the revolutions of India, was ill qualified to direct in person military operations. He had not been bred a soldier, and had no inclination to become one. His enemies accused him of personal cowardice; and he defended himself in a strain worthy of Captain Bobadil.

He kept away from shot, he said, because silence and tranquillity were propitious to his genius, and he found it difficult to pursue his meditations amidst the noise of fire-arms. He was thus under the necessity of intrusting to others the execution of his great warlike designs; and he bitterly complained that he was ill served. He had indeed been assisted by one officer of eminent merit, the celebrated Bussy. But Bussy had marched northward with the Nizam, and was fully employed in looking after his own interests, and those of France, at the court of that prince. Among the officers who remained with Dupleix, there was not a single man of capacity; and many of them were boys, at whose ignorance and folly the common soldiers laughed.

The English triumphed everywhere. The besiegers of Trichinopoly were themselves besieged and compelled to capitulate. Chunda Sahib fell into the hands of the Mahrattas, and was put to death, at the instigation probably of his competitor, Mahommed Ali. The spirit of Dupleix, however, was unconquerable, and his resources inexhaustible. From his employers in Europe he no longer received help or countenance.

They condemned his policy. They gave him no pecuniary assistance. They sent him for troops only the sweepings of the galleys. Yet still he persisted, intrigued, bribed, promised, lavished his private fortune, 223strained his credit, procured new diplomas from Delhi, raised up new enemies to the government of Madras on every side, and found tools even among the allies of the English Company. But all was in vain. Slowly, but steadily, the power of Britain continued to increase, and that of France to decline.

The health of Clive had never been good during his residence in India; and his constitution was now so much impaired that he determined to return to England. Before his departure he undertook a service of considerable difficulty, and performed it with his usual vigour and dexterity. The forts of Covelong and Chingleput were occupied by French garrisons. It was determined to send a force against them. But the only force available for this purpose was of such a description that no officer but Clive would risk his reputation by commanding it. It consisted of five hundred newly levied sepoys, and two hundred recruits who had just landed from England, and who were the worst and lowest wretches that the Company’s crimps could pick up in the flash-houses of London. Clive, ill and exhausted as he was, undertook to make an army of this undisciplined rabble, and marched with them to Cove-long. A shot from the fort killed one of these extraordinary soldiers; on which all the rest faced about and ran away, and it was with the greatest difficulty that Clive rallied them. On another occasion, the noise of a gun terrified the sentinels so much that one of them was found, some hours later, at the bottom of a well. Clive gradually accustomed them to danger, and, by exposing himself constantly in the most perilous situations, shamed them into courage. He at length succeeded in forming a respectable force out of his unpromising materials. Covelong fell. Clive learned 224that a strong: detachment was marching: to relieve it from Chingleput. He took measures to prevent the enemy from learning that they were too late, laid an ambuscade for them on the road, killed a hundred of them with one fire, took three hundred prisoners, pursued the fugitives to the gates of Chingleput, laid siege instantly to that fastness, reputed one of the strongest in India, made a breach, and was on the point of storming, when the French commandant capitulated and retired with his men.

Clive returned to Madras victorious, but in a state of health which rendered it impossible for him to remain there long. He married at this time a young lady of the name of Maskelyne, sister of the eminent mathematician, who long held the post of Astronomer Royal. She is described as handsome and accomplished; and her husband’s letters, it is said, contain proofs that he was devotedly attached to her.

Almost immediately after the marriage, Clive embarked with his bride for England. He returned a very different person from the poor slighted boy who had been sent out ten years before to seek his fortune. He was only twenty-seven; yet his country already respected him as one of her first soldiers. There was then general peace in Europe. The Carnatic was the only part of the world where the English and French were in arms against each other. The vast schemes of Dupleix had excited no small uneasiness in the city of London; and the rapid turn of fortune, which was chiefly owing to the courage and talents of Clive, had been hailed with great delight. The young captain was known at the India House by the honourable nickname of General Clive, and was toasted by that appellation at the feasts of the Directors. On his arrival in 225England, he found himself an object of general interest and admiration. The East India Company thanked him for his services in the warmest terms, and bestowed on him a sword set with diamonds. With rare delicacy, he refused to receive this token of gratitude, unless a similar compliment were paid to his friend and commander, Lawrence.

It may easily be supposed that Clive was most cordially welcomed home by his family, who were delighted by his success, though they seem to have been hardly able to comprehend how their naughty idle Bobby had become so great a man. His father had been singularly hard of belief. Not until the news of the defence of Arcot arrived in England was the old gentleman heard to growl out that, after all, the booby had something in him. His expressions of approbation became stronger and stronger as news arrived of one brilliant exploit after another; and he was at length immoderately fond and proud of his son.

Clive’s relations had very substantial reasons for rejoicing at his return. Considerable sums of prize money had fallen to his share; and he had brought home a moderate fortune, part of which he expended in extricating his father from pecuniary difficulties, and in redeeming the family estate. The remainder he appears to have dissipated in the course of about two years. He lived splendidly, dressed gaily even for those times, kept a carriage and saddle horses, and, not content with these ways of getting rid of his money, resorted to the most speedy and effectual of all modes of evacuation, a contested election followed by a petition.

At the time of the general election of 1754, the government was in a very singular state. There was 226scarcely any formal opposition. The Jacobites had been cowed by the issue of the last rebellion. The Tory party had fallen into utter contempt. It had been deserted by all the men of talents who had belonged to it, and had scarcely given a symptom of life during some years. The small faction which had been held together by the influence and promises of Prince Frederic, had been dispersed by his death. Almost every public man of distinguished talents in the kingdom, whatever his early connections might have been, was in office, and called himself a Whig. But this extraordinary appearance of concord was quite delusive. The administration itself was distracted by bitter enmities and conflicting pretensions. The chief object of its members was to depress and supplant each other. The prime minister, Newcastle, weak, timid, jealous, and perfidious, was at once detested and despised by some of the most important members of his government, and by none more than by Henry Fox, the Secretary at War. This able, daring, and ambitious man seized every opportunity of crossing the First Lord of the Treasury, from whom he well knew that he had little to dread and little to hope; for Newcastle was through life equally afraid of breaking with men of parts and of promoting them.

Newcastle had set his heart on returning two members for St. Michael, one of those wretched Cornish boroughs which were swept away by the Reform Act in 1832. He was opposed by Lord Sandwich, whose influence had long been paramount there: and Fox exerted himself strenuously in Sandwich’s behalf. Clive, who had been introduced to Fox, and very kindly received by him, was brought forward on the Sandwich interest, and was returned. But a petition 227was presented against the return, and was backed by the whole influence of the Duke of Newcastle.

The case was heard, according to the usage of that time, before a committee of the whole House. Questions respecting elections were then considered merely as party questions. Judicial impartiality was not even affected. Sir Robert Walpole was in the habit of saying openly that, in election battles, there ought to be no quarter. On the present occasion the excitement was great. The matter really at issue was, not whether Clive had been properly or improperly returned, but whether Newcastle or Fox was to be master of the new House of Commons, and consequently first minister. The contest was long and obstinate, and success seemed to lean sometimes to one side and sometimes to the other. Fox put forth all his rare powers of debate, beat half the lawyers in the House at their own weapons, and earned division after division against the whole influence of the Treasury. The committee decided in Clive’s favour. But when the resolution was reported to the House, things took a different course. The remnant of the Tory Opposition, contemptible as it was, had yet sufficient weight to turn the scale between the nicely balanced parties of Newcastle and Fox. Newcastle the Tories could only despise. Fox they hated, as the boldest and most subtle politician and the ablest debater among the-Whigs, as the steady friend of Walpole, as the devoted adherent of the Duke of Cumberland. After wavering till the last moment, they determined to vote in a body with the Prime Minister’s friends. The consequence was that the House, by a small majority, rescinded the decision of the committee, and Clive was unseated. 228Ejected from Parliament, and straitened in his means, he naturally began to look again towards India. The Company and the Government were eager to avail themselves of his services. A treaty favourable to England had indeed been concluded in the Carnatic. Dupleix had been superseded, and had returned with the wreck of his immense fortune to Europe, where calumny and chicanery soon hunted him to his grave. But many signs indicated that a war between France and Great Britain was at hand; and it was therefore thought desirable to send an able commander to the Company’s settlements in India. The Directors appointed Clive governor of Fort St. David. The King gave him the commission of a lieutenant-colonel in the British army, and in 1755 he again sailed for Asia.

The first service on which he was employed after his return to the East was the reduction of the stronghold of Gheriah. This fortress, built on a craggy promontory, and almost surrounded by the ocean, was the den of a pirate named Angria, whose barks had long been the terror of the Arabian Gulf. Admiral Watson, who commanded the English squadron in the Eastern seas, burned Angria’s fleet, while Clive attacked the fastness by land. The place soon fell, and a booty of a hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling was divided among the conquerors.

After this exploit, Clive proceeded to his government of Fort St. David. Before he had been there two months, he received intelligence which called forth all the energy of his bold and active mind.

Of the provinces which had been subject to the house of Tamerlane, the wealthiest was Bengal. No part of India possessed such natural advantages both 229for agriculture and for commerce. The Ganges, rushing through a hundred channels to the sea, has formed a vast plain of rich mould which, even under the tropical sky, rivals the verdure of an English April. The rice fields yield an increase such as is elsewhere unknown. Spices, sugar, vegetable oils, are produced with marvellous exuberance. The rivers afford an inexhaustible supply of fish. The desolate islands along the sea-coast, overgrown by noxious vegetation, and swarming with deer and tigers, supply the cultivated districts with abundance of salt. The great stream which fertilises the soil is, at the same time, the chief highway of Eastern commerce. On its banks, and on those of its tributary waters, are the wealthiest marts, the most splendid capitals, and the most sacred shrines of India. The tyranny of man had for ages struggled in vain against the overflowing bounty of nature. In spite of the Mussulman despot and of the Mahratta freebooter, Bengal was known through the East as the garden of Eden, as the rich kingdom. Its population multiplied exceedingly. Distant provinces were nourished from the overflowing of its granaries; and the noble ladies of London and Paris were clothed in the delicate produce of its looms. The race by whom this rich tract was peopled, enervated by a soft climate and accustomed to peaceful employments, bore the same relation to other Asiatics which the Asiatics generally bear to the bold and energetic children of Europe. The Castilians have a proverb, that in Valencia the earth is water and the men women; and the description is at least equally applicable to the vast plain of the Lower Ganges. Whatever the Bengalee does he does languidly. His favourite pursuits are sedentary. He shrinks from bodily exertion; 230and, though voluble in dispute, and singularly pertinacious in the war of chicane, he seldom engages in a personal conflict, and scarcely ever enlists as a soldier. We doubt whether there be a hundred genuine Bengalees in the whole army of the East India Company. There never, perhaps, existed a people so thoroughly fitted by nature and by habit for a foreign yoke.

The great commercial companies of Europe had long possessed factories in Bengal. The French were settled, as they still are, at Chandernagore on the Hoogley.

Higher up the stream the Dutch traders held Chinsurah. Nearer to the sea, the English had built Fort William. A church and ample warehouses rose in the vicinity. A row of spacious houses, belonging to the chief factors of the East India Company, lined the banks of the river; and in the neighbourhood had sprung up a large and busy native town, where some Hindoo merchants of great opulence had fixed their abode. But the tract now covered by the palaces of Chowringhee contained only a few miserable huts thatched with straw. A jungle, abandoned to waterfowl and alligators, covered the site of the present Citadel, and the Course, which is now daily crowded at sunset with the gayest equipages of Calcutta. For the ground on which the settlement stood, the English, like other great landholders, paid rent to the government; and they were, like other great landholders, permitted to exercise a certain jurisdiction within their domain.

The great province of Bengal, together with Orissa and Bahar, had long been governed by a viceroy, whom the English called Aliverdy Khan, and who, like the other viceroys of the Mogul, had become virtually independent. He died in 1756, and the 231sovereignty descended to his grandson, a youth under twenty years of age, who bore the name of Surajah Dowlah. Oriental despots are perhaps the worst class of human beings; and this unhappy boy was one of the worst specimens of his class. His understanding was naturally feeble, and his temper naturally unamiable. His education had been such as would have enervated even a vigorous intellect, and perverted even a generous disposition. He was unreasonable, because nobody ever dared to reason with him, and selfish, because he had never been made to feel himself dependent on the good will of others. Early debauchery had unnerved his body and his mind. He indulged immoderately in the use of ardent spirits, which inflamed his weak brain almost to madness. His chosen companions were flatterers sprung from the dregs of the people, and recommended by nothing but buffoonery and servility. It is said that he had arrived at that last stage of human depravity, when cruelty becomes pleasing for its own sake, when the sight of pain as pain, where no advantage is to be gained, no offence punished, no danger averted, is an agreeable excitement. It had early been his amusement to torture beasts and birds; and, when he grew up, he enjoyed with still keener relish the misery of his fellow-creatures.

From a child Surajah Dowlah had hated the English. It was his whim to do so; and his whims were never opposed. He had also formed a very exaggerated notion of the wealth which might be obtained by plundering them; and his feeble and uncultivated mind was incapable of perceiving that the riches of Calcutta, had they been even greater than he imagined, would not compensate him for what he must lose, if the European 232trade, of which Bengal was a chief seat, should be driven by his violence to some other quarter. Pretexts for a quarrel were readily found. The English, in expectation of a war with France, had begun to fortify their settlement without special permission from the Nabob. A rich native, whom he longed to plunder, had taken refuge at Calcutta, and had not been delivered up. On such grounds as these Surajah Dowlali marched with a great army against Fort William.

The servants of the Company at Madras had been forced by Dupleix to become statesmen and soldiers. Those in Bengal were still mere traders, and were terrified and bewildered by the approaching danger. The governor, who had heard much of Surajah Dowlah’s cruelty, was frightened out of his wits, jumped into a boat, and took refuge in the nearest ship. The military commandant thought that he could not do better than follow so good an example. The fort was taken after a feeble resistance; and great numbers of the English fell into the hands of the conquerors. The Nabob seated himself with regal pomp in the principal hall of the factory, and ordered Mr. Holwell, the first in rank among the prisoners, to be brought before him. His Highness talked about the insolence of the English, and grumbled at the smallness of the treasure which he had found; but promised to spare their lives, and retired to rest.

Then was committed that great crime, memorable for its singular atrocity, memorable for the tremendous retribution by which it was followed. The English captives were left at the mercy of the guards, and the guards determined to secure them for the night in the prison of the garrison, a chamber known by the fearful name of the Black Hole. Even for a single European 233malefactor, that dungeon would, in such a climate, have been too close and narrow. The space was only twenty feet square. The air-holes were small and obstructed. It was the summer solstice, the season when the fierce heat of Bengal can scarcely be rendered tolerable to natives of England by lofty halls and by the constant waving of fans. The number of the prisoners was one hundred and forty-six. When they were ordered to enter the cell, they imagined that the soldiers were joking; and, being in high spirits on account of the promise of the Nabob to spare their lives, they laughed and jested at the absurdity of the notion. They soon discovered their mistake. They expostulated; they entreated; but in vain. The guards threatened to cut down all who hesitated. The captives were driven into the cell at the point of the sword, and the door was instantly shut and locked upon them.

Nothing in history or fiction, not even the story which Ugolino told in the sea of everlasting ice, after he had wiped his bloody lips on the scalp of his murderer, approaches the horrors which were recounted by the few survivors of that night. They cried for mercy. They strove to burst the door. Holwell who, even in that extremity, retained some presence of mind, offered large bribes to the gaolers. But the answer was that nothing could be done without the Nabob’s orders, that the Nabob was asleep, and that he would be angry if anybody woke him. Then the prisoners went mad with despair. They trampled each other down, fought for the places at the windows, fought for the pittance of water with which the cruel mercy of the murderers mocked their agonies, raved, prayed, blasphemed, implored the guards to fire among them. The gaolers in the mean time held lights to the bars, and shouted with 234laughter at the frantic struggles of their victims. At length the tumult died away in low gaspings and moanings.

The day broke. The Nabob had slept off his debauch, and permitted the door to be opened. But it was some time before the soldiers could make a lane for the survivors, by piling up on each side the heaps of corpses on which the burning climate had already begun to do its loathsome work. When at length a passage was made, twenty-three ghastly figures, such as their own mothers would not have known, staggered one by one out of the charnel-house. A pit was instantly dug. The dead bodies, a hundred and twenty-three in number, were flung into it promiscuously and covered up.

But these things which, after the lapse of more than eighty years, cannot be told or read without horror, awakened neither remorse nor pity in the bosom of the savage Nabob. He inflicted no punishment on the murderers. He showed no tenderness to the survivors. Some of them, indeed, from whom nothing was to be got, were suffered to depart; but those from whom it was thought that any thing could be extorted were treated with execrable cruelty. Holwell, unable to walk, was carried before the tyrant, who reproached him, threatened him, and sent him up the country in irons, together with some other gentlemen who were suspected of knowing more than they chose to tell about the treasures of the Company. These persons, still bowed down by the sufferings of that great agony, were lodged in miserable sheds, and fed only with grain and water, till at length the intercessions of the female relations of the Nabob procured their release. One Englishwoman had survived that night. She was placed in the harem of the Prince at Moorshedabad. 235Surajah Dowlah, in the mean time, sent letters to his nominal sovereign at Delhi, describing the late conquest in the most pompous language. He placed a garrison in Fort William, forbade Englishmen to dwell in the neighbourhood, and directed that, in memory of his great actions, Calcutta should thenceforward be called Alinagore, that is to say, the Port of God.

In August the news of the fall of Calcutta reached Madras, and excited the fiercest and bitterest resentment. The cry of the whole settlement was for vengeance. Within forty-eight hours after the arrival of the intelligence it was determined that an expedition should be sent to the Hoogley, and that Clive should be at the head of the land forces. The naval armament was under the command of Admiral Watson. Nine hundred English infantry, fine troops and full of spirit, and fifteen hundred sepoys, composed the army which sailed to punish a Prince who had more subjects than Lewis the Fifteenth or the Empress Maria Theresa. In October the expedition sailed; but it had to make its way against adverse winds, and did not reach Bengal till December.

The Nabob was revelling in fancied security at Moorshedabad.

He was so profoundly ignorant of the state of foreign countries that he often used to say that there were not ten thousand men in all Europe; and it had never occurred to him as possible, that the English would dare to invade his dominions. But, though undisturbed by any fear of their military power, he began to miss them greatly. His revenues fell off; and his ministers succeeded in making him understand that a ruler may sometimes find it more profitable to protect traders in the open enjoyment of their gains than to put them to the torture for the purpose of discovering 236hidden chests of gold and jewels. He was already disposed to permit the Company to resume its mercantile operations in his country, when he received the news that an English armament was in the Hoogley. He instantly ordered all his troops to assemble at Moorshedabad, and marched towards Calcutta.

Clive had commenced operations with his usual vigour. He took Budgebudge, routed the garrison of Fort William, recovered Calcutta, stormed and sacked Hoogley. The Nabob, already disposed to make some concessions to the English, was confirmed in his pacific disposition by these proofs of their power and spirit. He accordingly made overtures to the chiefs of the invading armament, and offered to restore the factory, and to give compensation to those whom he had despoiled.

Clive’s profession was war; and he felt that there was something discreditable in an accommodation with Surajah Dowlah. But his power was limited. A committee, chiefly composed of servants of the Company who had fled from Calcutta, had the principal direction of affairs; and these persons were eager to be restored to their posts and compensated for their losses. The government of Madras, apprised that war had commenced in Europe, and apprehensive of an attack from the French, became impatient for the return of the armament. The promises of the Nabob were large, the chances of a contest doubtful; and Clive consented to treat, though he expressed his regret that things should not be concluded in so glorious a manner as he could have wished.

With this negotiation commences a new chapter in the life of Clive. Hitherto he had been merely a 237soldier carrying into effect, with eminent ability and valour, the plans of others. Henceforth he is to be chiefly regarded as a statesman; and his military movements are to be considered as subordinate to his political designs. That in his new capacity he displayed great ability, and obtained great success, is unquestionable. But it is also unquestionable that the transactions in which he now began to take a part have left a stain on his moral character.

We can by no means agree with Sir John Malcolm, who is obstinately resolved to see nothing but honour and integrity in the conduct of his hero. But we can as little agree with Mr. Mill, who has gone so far as to say that Clive was a man “to whom deception, when it suited his purpose, never cost a pang.” Clive seems to us to have been constitutionally the very opposite of a knave, bold even to temerity, sincere even to indiscretion, hearty in friendship, open in enmity. Neither in his private life, nor in those parts of his public life; in which he had to do with his countrymen, do we find any signs of a propensity to cunning. On the contrary, in all the disputes in which he was engaged as an Englishman against Englishmen, from his boxing-matches at school to those stormy altercations at the India House and in Parliament amidst which his later years were passed, his very faults were those of a high and magnanimous spirit. The truth seems to have been that he considered Oriental politics as a game in which nothing was unfair. He knew that the standard of morality among the natives of India differed widely from that established in England. He knew that he had to deal with men destitute of what in Europe is called honour, with men who would give any promise without hesitation, and break any promise without 238shame, with men who would unscrupulously employ corruption, perjury, forgery, to compass their ends. His letters show that the great difference between Asiatic and European morality was constantly in his thoughts. He seems to have imagined, most erroneously in our opinion, that he could effect nothing against such adversaries, if he was content to be bound by ties from which they were free, if he went on telling truth, and hearing none, if he fulfilled, to his own hurt, all his engagements with confederates who never kept an engagement that was not to their advantage. Accordingly this man, in the other parts of his life an honourable English gentleman and a soldier, was no sooner matched against an Indian intriguer, than he became himself an Indian intriguer, and descended, without scruple, to falsehood, to hypocritical caresses, to the substitution of documents, and to the counterfeiting of hands.

The negotiations between the English and the Nabob were carried on chiefly by two agents, Mr. Watts, a servant of the Company, and a Bengalee of the name of Omichund. This Omichund had been one of the wealthiest native merchants resident at Calcutta, and had sustained great losses in consequence of the Nabob’s expedition against that place. In the course of his commercial transactions, he had seen much of the English, and was peculiarly qualified to serve as a medium of communication between them and a native court. He possessed great influence with his own race, and had in large measure the Hindoo talents, quick observation, tact, dexterity, perseverance, and the Hindoo vices, servility, greediness, and treachery.

The Nabob behaved with all the faithlessness of an Indian statesman, and with all the levity of a boy whose 239mind had been enfeebled by power and self-indulgence. He promised, retracted, hesitated, evaded. At one time he advanced with his army in a threatening manner towards Calcutta; but when he saw the resolute front which the English presented, he fell back in alarm, and consented to make peace with them on their own terms. The treaty was no sooner concluded than he formed new designs against them. He intrigued with the French authorities at Chandernagore. He invited Bussy to march from the Deccan to the Hoogley, and to drive the English out of Bengal. All this was well known to Clive and Watson. They determined accordingly to strike a decisive blow, and to attack Chandernagore, before the force there could be strengthened by new arrivals, either from the south of India, or from Europe. Watson directed the expedition by water, Clive by land. The success of the combined movements was rapid and complete. The fort, the garrison, the artillery, the military stores, all fell into the hands of the English. Near five hundred European troops were among the prisoners.

The Nabob had feared and hated the English, even while he was still able to oppose to them their French rivals. The French were now vanquished; and he began to regard the English with still greater fear and still greater hatred. His weak and unprincipled mind oscillated between servility and insolence. One day he sent a large sum to Calcutta, as part of the compensation due for the wrongs which he had committed. The next day he sent a present of jewels to Bussy, exhorting that distinguished officer to hasten to protect Bengal “against Clive, the daring in war, on whom,” says his Highness, “may all bad fortune attend.” He ordered his army to march against the English. He countermanded 240his orders. He tore Clive’s letters. He then sent answers in the most florid language of compliment. He ordered Watts out of his presence, and threatened to impale him. He again sent for Watts, and begged pardon for the insult. In the mean time, his wretched maladministration, his folly, his dissolute manners, and his love of the lowest company, had disgusted all classes of his subjects, soldiers, traders, civil functionaries, the proud and ostentatious Mahommedans, the timid, supple, and parsimonious Hindoos. A formidable confederacy was formed against him, in which were included Roydullub, the minister of finance, Meer Jaffier, the principal commander of the troops, and Jugget Seit, the richest banker in India. The plot was confided to the English agents, and a communication was opened between the malcontents at Moorshedabad and the committee at Calcutta.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:05 am

Part 3 of 4

In the committee there was much hesitation; but Clive’s voice was given in favour of the conspirators, and his vigour and firmness bore down all opposition. It was determined that the English should lend their powerful assistance to depose Surajah Dowlah, and to place Meer Jaffier on the throne of Bengal. In return, Meer Jaffier promised ample compensation to the Company and its servants, and a liberal donative to the army, the navy, and the committee. The odious vices of Surajah Dowlah, the wrongs which the English had suffered at his hands, the dangers to which our trade must have been exposed, had he continued to reign, appear to us fully to justify the resolution of deposing him. But nothing can justify the dissimulation which Clive stooped to practise. He wrote to Surajah Dowlah in terms so affectionate that they for a time lulled that weak prince into perfect security. The same courier 241who carried this “soothing letter,” as Clive calls it, to the Nabob, carried to Mr. Watts a letter in the following terms: “Tell Meer Jaffier to fear nothing. I will join him with five thousand men who never turned their backs. Assure him I will march night and day to his assistance, and stand by him as long as I have a man left.”

It was impossible that a plot which had so many ramifications should long remain entirely concealed. Enough reached the ears of the Nabob to arouse his suspicions. But he was soon quieted by the fictions and artifices which the inventive genius of Omichund produced with miraculous readiness. All was going well; the plot was nearly ripe; when Clive learned that Omichund was likely to play false. The artful Bengalee had been promised a liberal compensation for all that he had lost at Calcutta. But this would not satisfy him. His services had been great. He held the thread of the whole intrigue. By one word breathed in the ear of Surajah Dowlah, he could undo all that he had done. The lives of Watts, of Meer Jaffier, of all the conspirators, were at his mercy; and he determined to take advantage of his situation and to make his own terms. He demanded three hundred thousand pounds sterling as the price of his secrecy and of his assistance. The committee, incensed by the treachery and appalled by the danger, knew not what course to take. But Clive was more than Omichund’s match in Omichund’s own arts. The man, he said, was a villain. Any artifice which would defeat such knavery was justifiable. The best course would be to promise what was asked. Omichund would soon be at their mercy; and then they might punish him by withholding from him, not only the bribe which he now demanded, but also the 242compensation which all the other sufferers of Calcutta were to receive.

His advice was taken. But how was the wary and sagacious Hindoo to be deceived? He had demanded that an article touching his claims should be inserted in the treaty between Meer Jaffier and the English, and he would not be satisfied unless he saw it with his own eyes. Clive had an expedient ready. Two treaties were drawn up, one on white paper, the other on red, the former real, the latter fictitious. In the former Omichund’s name was not mentioned; the latter, which was to be shown to him, contained a stipulation in his favour.

But another difficulty arose. Admiral Watson had scruples about signing the red treaty. Omichund’s vigilance and acuteness were such that the absence of so important a name would probably awaken his suspicions.

But Clive was not a man to do any thing by halves. We almost blush to write it. He forged Admiral Watson’s name.

All was now ready for action. Mr. Watts fled secretly from Moorshedabad. Clive put his troops in motion, and wrote to the Nabob in a tone very different from that of his previous letters. He set forth all the wrongs which the British had suffered, offered to submit the points in dispute to the arbitration of Meer Jaffier, and concluded by announcing that, as the rains were about to set in, he and his men would do themselves the honour of waiting on his Highness for an answer.

Surajah Dowlah instantly assembled his whole force, and marched to encounter the English. It had been agreed that Meer Jaffier should separate himself from the Nabob, and carry over his division to Clive. But, 243as the decisive moment approached, the fears of the conspirator overpowered his ambition. Clive had advanced to Cossimbuzar; the Nabob lay with a mighty power a few miles off at Plassey; and still Meer Jaffier delayed to fulfil his engagements, and returned evasive answers to the earnest remonstrances of the English general.

Clive was in a painfully anxious situation. He could place no confidence in the sincerity or in the courage of his confederate: and whatever confidence he might place in his own military talents, and in the valour and discipline of his troops, it was no light thing to engage an army twenty times as numerous as his own. Before him lay a river over which it was easy to advance, but over which, if things went ill, not one of his little hand would ever return. On this occasion, for the first and for the last time, his dauntless spirit, during a few hours, shrank from the fearful responsibility of making a decision. He called a council of war. The majority pronounced against fighting; and Clive declared his concurrence with the majority. Long afterwards, he said that he had never called but one council of war, and that, if he had taken the advice of that council, the British would never have been masters of Bengal. But scarcely had the meeting broke up when he was himself again. He retired alone under the shade of some trees, and passed near an hour there in thought. He came back determined to put every thing to the hazard, and gave orders that all should be in readiness for passing the river on the morrow.

The river was passed; and, at the close of a toilsome day’s march, the army, long after sunset, took up its quarters in a grove of mango trees near Plassey, within a mile of the enemy. Clive was unable to 244sleep; he heard, through the whole night, the sound of drums and cymbals from the vast camp of the Nabob. It is not strange that even his stout heart should now and then have sunk, when he reflected against what odds, and for what a prize, he was in a few hours to contend.

Nor was the rest of Surajah Dowlah more peaceful.

His mind, at once weak and stormy, was distracted by wild and horrible apprehensions. Appalled by the greatness and nearness of the crisis, distrusting his captains, dreading every one who approached him, dreading to be left alone, he sat gloomily in his tent, haunted, a Greek poet would have said, by the furies of those who had cursed him with their last breath in the Black Hole.

The day broke, the day which was to decide the fate of India. At sunrise, the army of the Nabob, pouring through many openings of the camp, began to move towards the grove where the English lay. Forty thousand infantry, armed with firelocks, pikes, swords, bows and arrows, covered the plain. They were accompanied by fifty pieces of ordnance of the largest size, each tugged by a long team of white oxen, and each pushed on from behind by an elephant. Some smaller guns, under the direction of a few French auxiliaries, were perhaps more formidable. The cavalry were fifteen thousand, drawn, not from the effeminate population of Bengal, but from the bolder race which inhabits the northern provinces; and the practised eye of Clive could perceive that both the men and the horses were more powerful than those of the Carnatic. The force which he had to oppose to this great multitude consisted of only three thousand men. But of these nearly a thousand were English; and all were led by English officers, and 245trained in the English discipline. Conspicuous in the ranks of the little army were the men of the Thirty-Ninth Regiment, which still bears on its colours, amidst many honourable additions won under Wellington in Spain and Gascony, the name of Plassey, and the proud motto, Primus in Indis.

The battle commenced with a cannonade in which the artillery of the Nabob did scarcely any execution, while the few field-pieces of the English produced great effect. Several of the most distinguished officers in Surajah Dowlah’s service fell. Disorder began to spread through his ranks. His own terror increased every moment. One of the conspirators urged on him the expediency of retreating. The insidious advice, agreeing as it did with what his own terrors suggested, was readily received. He ordered his army to fall back, and this order decided his fate. Clive snatched the moment, and ordered his troops to advance. The confused and dispirited multitude gave way before the onset of disciplined valour. No mob attacked by regular soldiers was ever more completely routed. The little band of Frenchmen, who alone ventured to confront the English, were swept down the stream of fugitives. In an hour the forces of Surajah Dowlah were dispersed, never to reassemble. Only five hundred of the vanquished were slain. But their camp, their guns, their baggage, innumerable waggons, innumerable cattle, remained in the power of the conquerors. With the loss of twenty-two soldiers killed and fifty wounded, Clive had scattered an army of near sixty thousand men, and subdued an empire larger and more populous than Great Britain.

Meer Jaffier had given no assistance to the English during the action. But as soon as he saw that the 246fate of the day was decided, he drew off his division of the army, and, when the battle was over, sent his congratulations to his ally. The next morning he repaired to the English quarters, not a little uneasy as to the reception which awaited him there. He gave evident signs of alarm when a guard was drawn out to receive him with the honours due to his rank. But his apprehensions were speedily removed. Clive came forward to meet him, embraced him, saluted him as Nabob of the three great provinces of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, listened graciously to his apologies, and advised him to march without delay to Moorshedabad.

Surajah Dowlah had fled from the field of battle with all the speed with which a fleet camel could carry him, and arrived at Moorshedabad in little more than twenty-four hours. There he called his councillors round him. The wisest advised him to put himself into the hands of the English, from whom he had nothing worse to fear than deposition and confinement. But he attributed this suggestion to treachery. Others urged him to try the chance of war again. He approved the advice, and issued orders accordingly. But he wanted spirit to adhere even during one day to a manly resolution. He learned that Meer Jaffier had arrived; and his terrors became insupportable. Disguised in a mean dress, with a casket of jewels in his hand, he let himself down at night from a window of his palace, and, accompanied by only two attendants, embarked on the river for Patna.

In a few days Clive arrived at Moorshedabad, escorted by two hundred English soldiers and three hundred sepoys. For his residence had been assigned a 247palace, which was surrounded by a garden so spacious that all the troops who accompanied him could conveniently encamp within it. The ceremony of the installation of Meer Jaffier was instantly performed. Clive led the new Nabob to the seat of honour, placed him on it, presented to him, after the immemorial fashion of the East, an offering of gold, and then, turning to the natives who filled the hall, congratulated them on the good fortune which had freed them from a tyrant. He was compelled on this occasion to use the services of an interpreter; for it is remarkable that, long as he resided in India, intimately acquainted as he was with Indian politics and with the Indian character, and adored as he was by his Indian soldiery, he never learned to express himself with facility in any Indian language. He is said indeed to have been sometimes under the necessity of employing, in his intercourse with natives of India, the smattering of Portuguese which he had acquired when a lad, in Brazil.

The new sovereign was now called upon to fulfil the engagements into which he had entered with his allies.

A conference was held at the house of Jugget Seit, the great banker, for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements. Omichund came thither, fully believing himself to stand high in the favour of Clive, who, with dissimulation surpassing even the dissimulation of Bengal, had up to that day treated him with undiminished kindness. The white treaty was produced and read. Clive then turned to Mr. Scrafton, one of the servants of the Company, and said in English, “It is now time to undeceive Omichund.”

“Omichund,” said Mr. Scrafton in Hindostanee, “the red treaty is a trick you are to have nothing.” Omichund fell back in 248to the arms of his attendants. He revived; but his mind was irreparably ruined. Clive, who, though little troubled by scruples of conscience in his dealings with Indian politicians, was not inhuman, seems to have been touched. He saw Omichund a few days later, spoke to him kindly, advised him to make a pilgrimage to one of the great temples of India, in the hope that change of scene might restore his health, and was even disposed, notwithstanding all that had passed, again to employ him in the public service. But from the moment of that sudden shock, the unhappy man sank gradually into idiocy. He who had formerly been distinguished for the strength of his understanding and the simplicity of his habits, now squandered the remains of his fortune on childish trinkets, and loved to exhibit himself dressed in rich garments, and hung with precious stones. In this abject state he languished a few months, and then died.

We should not think it necessary to offer any remarks for the purpose of directing the judgment of our readers, with respect to this transaction, had not Sir John Malcolm undertaken to defend it in all its parts. He regrets, indeed, that it was necessary to employ means so liable to abuse as forgery; but he will not admit that any blame attaches to those who deceived the deceiver. He thinks that the English were not bound to keep faith with one who kept no faith with them, and that, if they had fulfilled their engagements with the wily Bengalee, so signal an example of successful treason would have produced a crowd of imitators. Now, we will not discuss this point on any rigid principles of morality. Indeed, it is quite unnecessary to do so for, looking at the question as a question of expediency in the lowest sense of the word, and using no arguments 249but such as Machiavelli might have employed in his conferences with Borgia, we are convinced that Clive was altogether in the wrong, and that he committed, not merely a crime, but a blunder. That honesty is the best policy is a maxim which we firmly believe to be generally correct, even with respect to the temporal interests of individuals; but with respect to societies, the rule is subject to still fewer exceptions, and that for this reason, that the life of societies is longer than the life of individuals. It is possible to mention men who have owed great worldly prosperity to breaches of private faith; but we doubt whether it be possible to mention a state which has on the whole been a gainer by a breach of public faith. The entire history of British India is an illustration of the great truth, that it is not prudent to oppose perfidy to perfidy, and that the most efficient weapon with which men can encounter falsehood is truth. During a long course of years, the English rulers of India, surrounded by allies and enemies whom no engagement could bind, have generally acted with sincerity and uprightness; and the event has proved that sincerity and uprightness are wisdom. English valour and English intelligence have done less to extend and to preserve our Oriental empire than English veracity. All that we could have gained by imitating the doublings, the evasions, the fictions, the perjuries which have been employed against us is as nothing, when compared with what we have gained by being the one power in India on whose word reliance can be placed. No oath which superstition can devise, no hostage however precious, inspires a hundredth part of the confidence which is produced by the “yea, yea,” and “nay, nay,” of a British envoy. No fastness, however strong by art or nature, gives to 250its inmates a security like that enjoyed by the chief who, passing through the territories of powerful and deadly enemies, is armed with the British guarantee. The mightiest princes of the East can scarcely, by the offer of enormous usury, draw forth any portion of the wealth which is concealed under the hearths of their subjects. The British Government offers little more than four per cent.; and avarice hastens to bring forth tens of millions of rupees from its most secret repositories. A hostile monarch may promise mountains of gold to our sepoys, on condition that they will desert the standard of the Company. The Company promises only a moderate pension after a long service. But every sepoy knows that the promise of the Company will be kept: he knows that if he lives a hundred years his rice and salt are as secure as the salary of the Governor-General: and he knows that there is not another state in India which would not, in spite of the most solemn vows, leave him to die of hunger in a ditch as soon as he had ceased to be useful. The greatest advantage which a government can possess is to be the one trustworthy government in the midst of governments which nobody can trust. This advantage we enjoy in Asia. Had we acted during the last two generations on the principles which Sir John Malcolm appears to have considered as sound, had we as often as we had to deal with people like Omichund, retaliated by lying and forging, and breaking faith, after their fashion, it is our firm belief that no courage or capacity could have upheld our empire.

Sir John Malcolm admits that Clive’s breach of faith could be justified only by the strongest necessity. As we think that breach of faith not only unnecessary, but most inexpedient, we need hardly say that we altogether condemn it. 251Omichund was not the only victim of the revolution. Surajah Dowlah was taken a few days after his flight, and was brought before Meer Jaffier. There he flung himself on the ground in convulsions of fear, and with tears and loud cries implored the mercy which he had never shown. Meer Jaffier hesitated; but his son Meeran, a youth of seventeen, who in feebleness of brain and savageness of nature greatly resembled the wretched captive, was implacable. Surajah Dowlah was led into a secret chamber, to which in a short time the ministers of death were sent. In this act the English bore no part; and Meer Jaffier understood so much of their feelings, that he thought it necessary to apologize to them for having avenged them on their most malignant enemy.

The shower of wealth now fell copiously on the Company and its servants. A sum of eight hundred thousand pounds sterling, in coined silver, was sent down the river from Moorshedabad to Fort William. The fleet which conveyed this treasure consisted of more than a hundred boats, and performed its triumphal voyage with flags flying and music playing. Calcutta, which a few months before had been desolate, was now more prosperous than ever. Trade revived; and the signs of affluence appeared in every English house. As to Clive, there was no limit to his acquisitions but his own moderation. The treasury of Bengal was thrown open to him. There were piled up, after the usage of Indian princes, immense masses of coin, among which might not seldom be detected the florins and byzants with which, before any European ship had turned the Cape of Good Hope, the Venetians purchased the stuffs and spices of the East. Clive walked between heaps of gold and silver, crowned with rubies 252and diamonds, and was at liberty to help himself. He accepted between two and three hundred thousand pounds.

The pecuniary transactions between Meer Jaffier and Clive were sixteen years later condemned by the public voice, and severely criticised in Parliament. They are vehemently defended by Sir John Malcolm. The accusers of the victorious general represented his gains as the wages of corruption, or as plunder extorted at the point of the sword from a helpless ally. The biographer, on the other hand, considers these great acquisitions as free gifts, honourable alike to the donor and to the receiver, and compares them to the rewards bestowed by foreign powers on Marlborough, on Nelson, and on Wellington. It had always, he says, been customary in the East to give and receive presents; and there was, as yet, no Act of Parliament positively prohibiting English functionaries in India from profiting by this Asiatic usage. This reasoning, we own, does not quite satisfy us. We do not suspect Clive of selling the interests of his employers or his country; but we cannot acquit him of having done what, if not in itself evil, was yet of evil example. Nothing is more clear than that a general ought to be the servant of his own government, and of no other. It follows that whatever rewards he receives for his services ought to be given either by his own government, or with the full knowledge and approbation of his own government. This rule ought to be strictly maintained even with respect to the merest bauble, with respect to a cross, a medal, or a yard of coloured riband. But how can any government be well served, if those who command its forces are at liberty, without its permission, without its privity, to accept princely fortunes from its allies? It is 253idle to say that there was then no Act of Parliament prohibiting the practice of taking presents from Asiatic sovereigns. It is not on the Act which was passed at a later period for the purpose of preventing any such taking of presents, but on grounds which were valid before that Act was passed, on grounds of common law and common sense, that we arraign the conduct of Clive. There is no Act that we know of, prohibiting the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from being in the pay of continental powers, but it is not the less true that a Secretary who should receive a secret pension from France would grossly violate his duty, and would deserve severe punishment. Sir John Malcolm compares the conduct of Clive with that of the Duke of Wellington. Suppose,—and we beg pardon for putting such a supposition even for the sake of argument,—that the Duke of Wellington had, after the campaign of 1815, and while he commanded the army of occupation in France, privately accepted two hundred thousand pounds from Lewis the Eighteenth, as a mark of gratitude for the great services which his Grace had rendered to the House of Bourbon; what would be thought of such a transaction? Yet the statute-book no more forbids the taking of presents in Europe now than it forbade the taking of presents in Asia then.

At the same time, it must be admitted that, in Clive’s case, there were many extenuating circumstances. He considered himself as the general, not of the Crown, but of the Company. The Company had, by implication at least, authorised its agents to enrich themselves by means of the liberality of the native princes, and by other means still more objectionable.

It was hardly to be expected that the servant should entertain stricter notions of his duty than were entertained 254by his masters. Though Clive did not distinctly acquaint his employers with what had taken place and request their sanction, he did not, on the other hand, by studied concealment, show that he was conscious of having done wrong. On the contrary, he avowed with the greatest openness that the Nabob’s bounty had raised him to affluence. Lastly, though we think that he ought not in such a way to have taken any thing, we must admit that he deserves praise for having taken so little. He accepted twenty lacs of rupees. It would have cost him only a word to make the twenty forty. It was a very easy exercise of virtue to declaim in England against Clive’s rapacity; but not one in a hundred of his accusers would have shown so much self-command in the treasury of Moorshedabad.

Meer Jaffier could be upheld on the throne only by the hand which had placed him on it. He was not, indeed, a mere boy; nor had he been so fortunate as to be born in the purple. He was not therefore quite so imbecile or quite so depraved as his predecessor had been. But he had none of the talents or virtues which his post required; and his son and heir, Meeran, was another Surajah Dowlah. The recent revolution had unsettled the minds of men. Many chiefs were in open insurrection against the new Nabob. The viceroy of the rich and powerful province of Oude, who, like the other viceroys of the Mogul, was now in truth an independent sovereign, menaced Bengal with invasion. Nothing but the talents and authority of Clive could support the tottering government. While things were in this state a ship arrived with despatches which had been written at the India House before the news of the battle of Plassey had reached London. The Directors had determined to place the English settlements in Ben gal 255under a government constituted in the most cumbrous and absurd manner; and, to make the matter worse, no place in the arrangement was assigned to Clive. The persons who were selected to form this new government, greatly to their honour, took on themselves the responsibility of disobeying these preposterous orders, and invited Clive to exercise the supreme authority. He consented; and it soon appeared that the servants of the Company had only anticipated the wishes of their employers. The Directors, on receiving news of Clive’s brilliant success, instantly appointed him governor of their possessions in Bengal, with the highest marks of gratitude and esteem. His power was now boundless, and far surpassed even that which Dupleix had attained in the south of India. Meer Jaffier regarded him with slavish awe. On one occasion, the Nabob spoke with severity to a native chief of high rank, whose followers had been engaged in a brawl with some of the Company’s sepoys. “Are you yet to learn,” he said, “who that Colonel Clive is, and in what station God has placed him?” The chief, who, as a famous jester and an old friend of Meer Jaffier, could venture to take liberties, answered, “I affront the Colonel! I, who never get up in the morning without making three low bows to his jackass!” This was hardly an exaggeration. Europeans and natives were alike at Clive’s feet. The English regarded him as the only man who could force Meer Jaffier to keep his engagements with them. Meer Jaffier regarded him as the only man who could protect the new dynasty against turbulent subjects and encroaching neighbours.

It is but justice to say that Clive used his power ably and vigorously for the advantage of his country. He sent forth an expedition against the tract lying to the 256north of the Carnatic. In this tract the French still had the ascendency; and it was important to dislodge them. The conduct of the enterprise was intrusted to an officer of the name of Forde, who was then little known, but in whom the keen eye of the governor had detected military talents of a high order. The success of the expedition was rapid and splendid.

While a considerable part of the army of Bengal was thus engaged at a distance, a new and formidable danger menaced the western frontier. The Great Mogul was a prisoner at Delhi in the hands of a subject. His eldest son, named Shah Alum, destined to be, during many years, the sport of adverse fortune, and to be a tool in the hands, first of the Mahrattas, and then of the English, had fled from the palace of his father. His birth was still revered in India. Some powerful princes, the Nabob of Oude in particular, were inclined to favour him. Shah Alum found it easy to draw to his standard great numbers of the military adventurers with whom every part of the country swarmed. An army of forty thousand men, of various races and religions, Mahrattas, Rohillas, Jauts, and Afghans, was speedily assembled round him; and he formed the design of overthrowing the upstart whom the English had elevated to a throne, and of establishing his own authority throughout Bengal, Orissa, and Bahar.

Meer Jaffier’s terror was extreme; and the only expedient which occurred to him was to purchase, by the payment of a large sum of money, an accommodation with Shah Alum. This expedient had been repeatedly employed by those who, before him, had ruled the rich and unwarlike provinces near the mouth of the Ganges. But Clive treated the suggestion with a scorn worthy of his strong sense and dauntless courage.

“If 257you do this,” he wrote, “you will have the Nabob of Oude, the Mahrattas, and many more, come from all parts of the confines of your country, who will bully you out of money till you have none left in your treasury. I beg your Excellency will rely on the fidelity of the English, and of those troops which are attached to you.” He wrote in a similar strain to the governor of Patna, a brave native soldier whom he highly esteemed. “Come to no terms; defend your city to the last. Rest assured that the English are stanch and firm friends, and that they never desert a cause in which they have once taken a part.”

He kept his word. Shah Alum had invested Patna, and was on the point of proceeding to storm, when he learned that the Colonel was advancing by forced marches. The whole army which was approaching consisted only of four hundred and fifty Europeans and two thousand five hundred sepoys. But Clive and his Englishmen were now objects of dread over all the East. As soon as his advanced guard appeared, the besiegers fled before him. A few French adventurers who were about the person of the prince advised him to try the chance of battle; but in vain. In a few days this great army, which had been regarded with so much uneasiness by the court of Moorshedabad, melted away before the mere terror of the British name.

The conqueror returned in triumph to Fort William. The joy of Meer Jaffier was as unbounded as his fears had been, and led him to bestow on his preserver a princely token of gratitude. The quit-rent which the East India Company were bound to pay to the Nabob for the extensive lands held by them to the south of Calcutta amounted to near thirty thousand pounds sterling a year. The whole of this splendid estate, 258sufficient to support with dignity the highest rank of the British peerage, was now conferred on Clive for life.

This present we think Clive was justified in accepting. It was a present which, from its very nature, could be no secret. In fact, the Company itself was his tenant, and, by its acquiescence, signified its approbation of Meer Jaffier’s grant.

But the gratitude of Meer Jaffier did not last long. He had for some time felt that the powerful ally who had set him up might pull him down, and had been looking round for support against the formidable strength by which he had himself been hitherto supported. He knew that it would be impossible to find among the natives of India any force which would look the Colonel’s little army in the face. The French power in Bengal was extinct. But the fame of the Dutch had anciently been great in the Eastern seas; and it was not yet distinctly known in Asia how much the power of Holland had declined in Europe. Secret communications passed between the court of Moorshedabad and the Dutch factory at Chinsurah; and urgent letters were sent from Chinsurah, exhorting the government of Batavia to fit out an expedition which might balance the power of the English in Bengal. The authorities of Batavia, eager to extend the influence of their country, and still more eager to obtain for themselves a share of the wealth which had recently raised so many English adventurers to opulence, equipped a powerful armament. Seven large ships from Java arrived unexpectedly in the Hoogley. The military force on board amounted to fifteen hundred men, of whom about one half were Europeans. The enterprise was well timed. Clive had sent such large detachments to 259oppose the French in the Carnatic that his army was now inferior in number to that of the Dutch. He knew that Meer Jaffier secretly favoured the invaders. He knew that he took on himself a serious responsibility if he attacked the forces of a friendly power; that the English ministers could not wish to see a war with Holland added to that in which they were already engaged with France; that they might disavow his acts; that they might punish him. He had recently remitted a great part of his fortune to Europe, through the Dutch East India Company; and he had therefore a strong interest in avoiding any quarrel. But he was satisfied that, if he suffered the Batavian armament to pass up the river and to join the garrison of Chinsurah, Meer Jaffier would throw himself into the arms of these new allies, and that the English ascendency in Bengal would be exposed to most serious danger. He took his resolution with characteristic boldness, and was most ably seconded by his officers, particularly by Colonel Forde, to whom the most important part of the operations was intrusted. The Dutch attempted to force a passage. The English encountered them both by land and water. On both elements the enemy had a great superiority of force. On both they were signally defeated. Their ships were taken. Their troops were put to a total rout. Almost all the European soldiers, who constituted the main strength of the invading army, were killed or taken. The conquerors sat down before Chinsurah; and the chiefs of that settlement, now thoroughly humbled, consented to the terms which Clive dictated. They engaged to build no fortifications, and to raise no troops beyond a small force necessary for the police of their factories; and it was distinctly provided that, any violation of these covenants 260should be punished with instant expulsion from Bengal.

Three months after this great victory, Clive sailed for. England. At home, honours and rewards awaited him, not indeed equal to his claims or to his ambition, but still such as, when his age, his rank in the army, and his original place in society are considered, must be pronounced rare and splendid. He was raised to the Irish peerage, and encouraged to expect an English title. George the Third, who had just ascended the throne, received him with great distinction. The ministers paid him marked attention; and Pitt, whose influence in the House of Commons and in the country was unbounded, was eager to mark his regard for one whose exploits had contributed so much to the lustre of that memorable period. The great orator had already in Parliament described Clive as a heaven-born general, as a man who, bred to the labour of the desk, had displayed a military genius which might excite the admiration of the King of Prussia. There were then no reporters in the gallery; but these words, emphatically spoken by the first statesman of the age, had passed from mouth to mouth, had been transmitted to Clive in Bengal, and had greatly delighted and flattered him. Indeed, since the death of Wolfe, Clive was the only English general of whom his countrymen had much reason to be proud. The Duke of Cumberland had been generally unfortunate; and his single victory, having been gained over his countrymen and used with merciless severity, had been more fatal to his popularity than his many defeats. Conway, versed in the learning of his profession, and personally courageous, wanted vigour and capacity. Granby, honest, generous, and as brave as a lion, had neither 261science nor genius. Sackville, inferior in knowledge and abilities to none of his contemporaries, bad incurred, unjustly as we believe, the imputation most fatal to the character of a soldier. It was under the command of a foreign general that the British had triumphed at Minden and Warburg. The people therefore, as was natural, greeted with pride and delight a captain of their own, whose native courage and self-taught skill had placed him on a level with the great tacticians of Germany.

The wealth of Clive was such as enabled him to vie with the first grandees of England. There remains proof that he had remitted more than a hundred and eighty thousand pounds through the Dutch East India Company, and more than forty thousand pounds through the English Company. The amount which he had sent home through private houses was also considerable. He had invested great sums in jewels, then a very common mode of remittance from India. His purchases of diamonds at Madras alone, amounted to twenty-five thousand pounds. Besides a great mass of ready money, he had his Indian estate, valued by himself at twenty-seven thousand a year. His whole annual income, in the opinion of Sir John Malcolm, who is desirous to state it as low as possible, exceeded forty thousand pounds; and incomes of forty thousand pounds at the time of the accession of George the Third were at least as rare as incomes of a hundred thousand pounds now. We may safely affirm that no Englishman who started with nothing, has ever, in any line of life, created such a fortune at the early age of thirty-four.

It would be unjust not to add that Clive made a creditable use of his riches. As soon as the battle of 262Plassey had laid the foundation of his fortune, he sent ten thousand pounds to his sisters, bestowed as much more on other poor friends and relations, ordered his agent to pay eight hundred a year to his parents, and to insist that they should keep a carriage, and settled five hundred a year on his old commander Lawrence, whose means were very slender. The whole sum which Clive expended in this manner may be calculated at fifty thousand pounds.

He now set himself to cultivate Parliamentary interest. His purchases of land seem to have been made in a great measure with that view, and, after the general election of 1761, he found himself in the House of Commons, at the head of a body of dependents whose support must have been important to any administration. In English politics, however, he did not take a prominent part. His first attachments, as we have seen, were to Mr. Fox; at a later period he was attracted by the genius and success of Mr. Pitt; but finally he connected himself in the closest manner with George Grenville. Early in the session of 1764, when the illegal and impolitic persecution of that worthless demagogue Wilkes had strongly excited the public mind, the town was amused by an anecdote, which we have seen in some unpublished memoirs of Horace Walpole. Old Mr. Richard Clive, who, since his son’s elevation, had been introduced into society for which his former habits had not well fitted him, presented himself at the levee. The King asked him where Lord Clive was. “He will be in town very soon,” said the old gentleman, loud enough to be heard by the whole circle, “and then your Majesty will have another vote.”

But in truth all Clive’s views were directed towards 263the country in which he had so eminently distinguished himself as a soldier and a statesman; and it was by considerations relating to India that his conduct as a public man in England was regulated. The power of the Company, though an anomaly, is in our time, we are firmly persuaded, a beneficial anomaly. In the time of Clive, it was not merely an anomaly, but a nuisance. There was no Board of Control. The Director were for the most part mere traders, ignorant of general politics, ignorant of the peculiarities of the empire which had strangely become subject to them. The Court of Proprietors, wherever it chose to interfere, was able to have its way. That court was more numerous, as well as more powerful, than at present; for then every share of five hundred pounds conferred a vote. The meetings were large, stormy, even riotous, the debates indecently virulent. All the turbulence of a Westminster election, all the trickery and corruption of a Grampound election, disgraced the proceedings of this assembly on questions of the most solemn importance. Fictitious votes were manufactured on a gigantic scale. Clive himself laid out a hundred thousand pounds in the purchase of stock, which he then divided among nominal proprietors on whom he could depend, and whom he brought down in his train to every discussion and every ballot. Others did the same, though not to quite so enormous an extent.

The interest taken by the public of England in Indian questions was then far greater than at present, and the reason is obvious. At present a writer enters the service young; he climbs slowly; he is fortunate if, at forty-five, he can return to his country with an annuity of a thousand a year, and with savings amounting to thirty thousand pounds. A great quantity of wealth is made 264by English functionaries in India; but no single functionary makes a very large fortune, and what is made is slowly, hardly, and honestly earned. Only four or five high political offices are reserved for public men from England. The residencies, the secretaryships, the seats in the boards of revenue and in the Sudder courts are all filled by men who have given the best years of life to the service of the Company; nor can any talents however splendid or any connections however powerful obtain those lucrative posts for any person who has not entered by the regular door, and mounted by the regular gradations. Seventy years ago, less money was brought home from the East than in our time. But it was divided among a very much smaller number of persons, and immense sums were often accumulated in a few months. Any Englishman, whatever his age might be, might hope to be one of the lucky emigrants. If he made a good speech in Leadenhall Street, or published a clever pamphlet in defence of the chairman, he might be sent out in the Company’s service, and might return in three or four years as rich as Pigot or as Clive. Thus the India House was a lottery-office, which invited everybody to take a chance, and held out ducal fortunes as the prizes destined for the lucky few. As soon as it was known that there was a part of the world where a lieutenant-colonel had one morning received as a present an estate as large as that of the Earl of Bath or the Marquess of Rockingham, and where it seemed that such a trifle as ten or twenty thousand pounds was to be had by any British functionary for the asking, society began to exhibit all the symptoms of the South Sea year, a feverish excitement, an ungovernable impatience to be rich, a contempt for slow, sure, and moderate gains. 265At the head of the preponderating party in the India House, had long stood a powerful, able, and ambitious director of the name of Sulivan. He had conceived a strong jealousy of Clive, and remembered with bitterness the audacity with which the late governor of Bengal had repeatedly set at nought the authority of the distant Directors of the Company. An apparent reconciliation took place after Clive’s arrival; but enmity remained deeply rooted in the hearts of both. The whole body of Directors was then chosen annually. At the election of 1763, Clive attempted to break down the power of the dominant faction. The contest was carried on with a violence which he describes as tremendous. Sulivan was victorious, and hastened to take his revenge. The grant of rent which Clive had received from Meer Jaffier was, in the opinion of the best English lawyers, valid. It had been made by exactly the same authority from which the Company had received their chief possessions in Bengal, and the Company had long acquiesced in it. The Directors, however, most unjustly determined to confiscate it, and Clive was forced to file a bill in Chancery against them.

But a great and sudden turn in affairs was at hand. Every ship from Bengal had for some time brought alarming tidings. The internal misgovernment of the province had reached such a point that it could go no further. What, indeed, was to be expected from a body of public servants exposed to temptation such that, as Clive once said, flesh and blood could not bear it, armed with irresistible power, and responsible only to the corrupt, turbulent, distracted, ill informed Company, situated at such a distance that the average interval between the sending of a dispatch and the receipt 266of an answer was above a year and a half? Accordingly, during the five years which followed the departure of Clive from Bengal, the misgovernment of the English was carried to a point such as seems hardly compatible with the very existence of society. The Roman proconsul, who, in a year or two, squeezed out of a province the means of rearing marble palaces and baths on the shores of Campania, of drinking from amber, of feasting on singing birds, of exhibiting armies of gladiators and flocks of camelopards; the Spanish viceroy, who, leaving behind him the curses of Mexico or Lima, entered Madrid with a long train of gilded coaches, and of sumpter-horses trapped and shod with silver, were now outdone. Cruelty, indeed, properly so called, was not among the vices of the servants of the Company. But cruelty itself could hardly have produced greater evils than sprang from their unprincipled eagerness to be rich. They pulled down their creature, Meer Jaffier. They set up in his place another Nabob, named Meer Cossim. But Meer Cossim had parts and a will; and, though sufficiently inclined to oppress his subjects himself, he could not bear to see them ground to the dust by oppressions which yielded him no profit, nay, which destroyed his revenue in the very source. The English accordingly pulled down Meer Cossim, and set up Meer Jaffier again; and Meer Cossim, after revenging himself by a massacre surpassing in atrocity that of the Black Hole, fled to the dominions of the Nabob of Oude. At every one of these revolutions, the new prince divided among his foreign masters whatever could be scraped together in the treasury of his fallen predecessor. The immense population of his dominions was given up as a prey to those who had made him a sovereign, and who could unmake him. The servants 267of the Company obtained, not for their employers, but for themselves, a monopoly of almost the whole internal trade. They forced the natives to buy dear and to sell cheap. They insulted with impunity the tribunals, the police, and the fiscal authorities of the country. They covered with their protection a set of native dependents who ranged through the provinces, spreading desolation and terror wherever they appeared. Every servant of a British factor was armed with all the power of his master; and his master was armed with all the power of the Company. Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, while thirty millions of human beings were reduced to the extremity of wretchedness. They had been accustomed to live under tyranny, but never under tyranny like this. They found the little finger of the Company thicker than the loins of Surajah Dowlali. Under their old masters they had at least one resource: when the evil became insupportable, the people rose and pulled down the government. But the English government was not to be so shaken off. That government, oppressive as the most oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was strong with all the strength of civilisation. It resembled the government of evil Genii, rather than the government of human tyrants. Even despair could not inspire the soft Bengalee with courage to confront men of English breed, the hereditary nobility of mankind, whose skill and valour had so often triumphed in spite of tenfold odds. The unhappy race never attempted resistance. Sometimes they submitted in patient misery. Sometimes they fled from the white man, as their fathers had been used to fly from the Mahratta; and the palanquin of the English traveller was often carried through silent villages and 268towns, which the report of his approach had made desolate.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:06 am

Part 4 of 4

The foreign lords of Bengal were naturally objects of hatred to all the neighbouring powers; and to all the haughty race presented a dauntless front. The English armies, everywhere outnumbered, were everywhere victorious. A succession of commanders, formed in the school of Clive, still maintained the fame of their country. “It must be acknowledged,” says the Mussulman historian of those times, “that this nation’s presence of mind, firmness of temper, and undaunted bravery, are past all question. They join the most resolute courage to the most cautious prudence; nor have they their equals in the art of ranging themselves in battle array and fighting in order. If to so many military qualifications they knew how to join the arts of government, if they exerted as much ingenuity and solicitude in relieving the people of God, as they do in whatever concerns their military affairs, no nation in the world would be preferable to them, or worthier of command. But the people under their dominion groan everywhere, and are reduced to poverty and distress. Oh God! come to the assistance of thine afflicted servants, and deliver them from the oppressions which they suffer.”

It was impossible, however, that even the military establishment should long continue exempt from the vices which pervaded every other part of the government. Rapacity, luxury, and the spirit of insubordination 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. 269At length the state of things in Bengal began to excite uneasiness at home. A succession of revolutions; a disorganized administration; the natives pillaged, yet the Company not enriched; every fleet bringing back fortunate adventurers who were able to purchase manors and to build stately dwellings, yet bringing back also alarming accounts of the financial prospects of the government; war on the frontiers; disaffection in the army; the national character disgraced by excesses resembling those of Verres and Pizarro; such was the spectacle which dismayed those who were conversant with Indian affairs. The general cry was that Clive, and Clive alone, could save the empire which he had founded.

This feeling manifested itself in the strongest manner at a very full General Court of Proprietors. Men of all parties, forgetting their feuds and trembling for their dividends, exclaimed that Clive was the man whom the crisis required, that the oppressive proceedings which had been adopted respecting his estate ought to be dropped, and that he ought to be entreated to return to India.

Clive rose. As to his estate, he said, he would make such propositions to the Directors, as would, he trusted, lead to an amicable settlement. But there was a still greater difficulty. It was proper to tell them that he never would undertake the government of Bengal while his enemy Sulivan was chairman of the Company. The tumult was violent. Sulivan could scarcely obtain a hearing. An overwhelming majority of the assembly was on Clive’s side. Sulivan wished to try the result of a ballot. But, according to the by-laws of the Company, there, can be no ballot except on a requisition signed by nine proprietors; and, though 270hundreds were present, nine persons could not be found to set their hands to such a requisition.

Clive was in consequence nominated Governor and Commander-in-chief of the British possessions in Bengal. But he adhered to his declaration, and refused to enter on his office till the event of the next election of Directors should be known. The contest was obstinate; but Clive triumphed. Sulivan, lately absolute master of the India House, was within a vote of losing his own seat; and both the chairman and the deputy-chairman were friends of the new governor.

Such were the circumstances under which Lord Clive sailed for the third and last time to India. In May, 1765, he reached Calcutta; and he found the whole machine of government even more fearfully disorganized than he had anticipated. Meer Jaffier, who had some time before lost his eldest son Meeran, had died while Clive was on his voyage out. The English functionaries at Calcutta had already received from home strict orders not to accept presents from the native princes. But, eager for gain, and unaccustomed to respect the commands of their distant, ignorant, and negligent masters, they again set up the throne of Bengal to sale. About one hundred and forty thousand pounds sterling was distributed among nine of the most powerful servants of the Company; and, in consideration of this bribe, an infant son of the deceased Nabob was placed on the seat of his father. The news of the ignominious bargain met Clive on his arrival. In a private letter, written immediately after his landing, to an intimate friend, he poured out his feelings in language which, proceeding from a man so daring, so resolute, and so little given to theatrical display of sentiment, seems to us singularly touching. “Alas!” he 271says, “how is the English name sunk! I could not avoid paying the tribute of a few tears to the departed and lost fame of the British nation—irrecoverably so, I fear. However, I do declare, by that great Being who is the searcher of all hearts, and to whom we must be accountable if there be a hereafter, that I am come out with a mind superior to all corruption, and that I am determined to destroy these great and growing evils, or perish in the attempt.”

The Council met, and Clive stated to them his full determination to make a thorough reform, and to use for that purpose the whole of the ample authority, civil and military, which had been confided to him. Johnstone, one of the boldest and worst men in the assembly, made some show of opposition. Clive interrupted him, and haughtily demanded whether he meant to question the power of the new government. Johnstone was cowed, and disclaimed any such intention. All the faces round the board grew long and pale; and not another syllable of dissent was uttered.

Clive redeemed his pledge. He remained in India about a year and a half; and in that short time effected one of the most extensive, difficult, and salutary reforms that ever was accomplished by any statesman. This was the part of his life on which he afterwards looked back with most pride. He had it in his power to triple his already splendid fortune; to connive at abuses while pretending to remove them; to conciliate the good-will of all the English in Bengal, by giving up to their rapacity a helpless and timid race, who knew not where lay the island which sent forth their oppressors, and whose complaints had little chance of being heard across fifteen thousand miles of ocean. He knew that if he applied himself in earnest to the work 272of reformation, he should raise every bad passion in arms against him. He knew how unscrupulous, how implacable, would be the hatred of those ravenous adventurers who, having counted on accumulating in a few months fortunes sufficient to support peerages, should find all their hopes frustrated. But he had chosen the good part; and he called up all the force of his mind for a battle far harder than that of Plassey. At first success seemed hopeless; but soon all obstacles began to bend before that iron courage and that vehement will. The receiving of presents from the natives was rigidly prohibited. The private trade of the servants of the Company was put down. The whole settlement seemed to be set, as one man, against these measures. But the inexorable governor declared that, if he could not find support at Fort William, he would procure it elsewhere, and sent for some civil servants from Madras to assist him in carrying on the administration. The most factious of his opponents he turned out of their offices. The rest submitted to what was inevitable; and in a very short time all resistance was quelled.

But Clive was far too wise a man not to see that the recent abuses were partly to be ascribed to a cause which could not fail to produce similar abuses, as soon as the pressure of his strong hand was withdrawn. The Company had followed a mistaken policy with respect to the remuneration of its servants. The salaries were too low to afford even those indulgences which are necessary to the health and comfort of Europeans in a tropical climate. To lay by a rupee from such scanty pay was impossible. It could not be supposed that men of even average abilities would consent to pass the best years of life in exile, under a burning sun. 273for no other consideration than these stinted wages. It had accordingly been understood, from a very early period, that the Company’s agents were at liberty to enrich themselves by their private trade. This practice had been seriously injurious to the commercial interests of the corporation. That very intelligent observer, Sir Thomas Roe, in the reign of James the First, strongly urged the Directors to apply a remedy to the abuse. “Absolutely prohibit the private trade,” said he; “for your business will be better done. I know this is harsh. Men profess they come not for bare wages. But you will take away this plea if you give great wages to their content; and then you know what you part from.”

In spite of this excellent advice, the Company adhered to the old system, paid low salaries, and connived at the indirect gains of the agents. The pay of a member of Council was only three hundred pounds a year. Yet it was notorious that such a functionary could not live in India for less than ten times that sum; and it could not be expected that he would be content to live even handsomely in India without laying up something against the time of his return to England. This system, before the conquest of Bengal, might affect the amount of the dividends payable to the proprietors, but could do little harm in any other way. But the Company was now a ruling body. Its servants might still be called factors, junior merchants, senior merchants. But they were in truth proconsuls, proprætors, procurators of extensive regions. They had immense power. Their regular pay was universally admitted to be insufficient. They were, by the ancient usage of the service, and by the implied permission of their employers, warranted in enriching 274themselves by indirect means; and this had been the origin of the frightful oppression and corruption which had desolated Bengal. Clive saw clearly that it was absurd to give men power, and to require them to live in penury. He justly concluded that no reform could be effectual which should not be coupled with a plan for liberally remunerating the civil servants of the Company. The Directors, he knew, were not disposed to sanction any increase of the salaries out of their own treasury. The only course which remained open to the governor was one which exposed him to much misrepresentation, but which we think him fully justified in adopting. He appropriated to the support of the service the monopoly of salt, which has formed, down to our own time, a principal head of Indian revenue; and he divided the proceeds according to a scale which seems to have been not unreasonably fixed. He was in consequence accused by his enemies, and has been accused by historians, of disobeying his instructions, of violating his promises, of authorising that very abuse which it was his special mission to destroy, namely the trade of the Company’s servants. But every discerning and impartial judge will admit, that there was really nothing in common between the system which he set up and that which he was sent to destroy. The monopoly of salt had been a source of revenue to the governments of India before Clive was born. It continued to be so long after his death. The civil servants were clearly entitled to a maintenance out of the revenue; and all that Clive did was to charge a particular portion of the revenue with their maintenance. He thus, while he put an end to the practices by which gigantic fortunes had been rapidly accumulated, gave to every British functionary employed in the East the means 275of slowly, but surely, acquiring a competence. Yet, such is the injustice of mankind, that none of those acts which are the real stains of his life has drawn on him so much obloquy as this measure, which was in truth a reform necessary to the success of all his other reforms.

He had quelled the opposition of the civil service: that of the army was more formidable. Some of the retrenchments which had been ordered by the Directors affected the interests of the military service; and a storm arose, such as even Caesar would not willingly have faced. It was no light thing to encounter the resistance of those who held the power of the sword, in a country governed only by the sword. Two hundred English officers engaged in a conspiracy against the government, and determined to resign their commissions on the same day, not doubting that Clive would grant any terms rather than see the army, on which alone the British empire in the East rested, left without commanders. They little knew the unconquerable spirit with which they had to deal. Clive had still a few officers round his person on whom he could rely. He sent to Fort St. George for a fresh supply. He gave commissions even to mercantile agents who were disposed to support him at this crisis; and he sent orders that every officer who resigned should be instantly brought up to Calcutta. The conspirators found that they had miscalculated. The governor was inexorable. The troops were steady. The sepoys, over whom Clive had always possessed extraordinary influence, stood by him with unshaken fidelity. The leaders in the plot were arrested, tried, and cashiered. The rest, humbled and dispirited, begged to be permitted to withdraw their resignations. Many of them declared their 276repentance even with tears. The younger offenders Clive treated with lenity. To the ringleaders he was inflexibly severe; but his severity was pure from all taint of private malevolence. While he sternly upheld the just authority of his office, he passed by personal insults and injuries with magnanimous disdain. One of the conspirators was accused of having planned the assassination of the governor; but Clive would not listen to the charge. “The officers,” he said, “are Englishmen, not assassins.”

While he reformed the civil service and established his authority over the army, he was equally successful in his foreign policy. His landing on Indian ground was the signal for immediate peace. The Nabob of Oude, with a large army, lay at that time on the frontier of Baliar. He had been joined by many Afghans and Mahrattas, and there was no small reason to expect a general coalition of all the native powers against the English. But the name of Clive quelled in an instant all opposition. The enemy implored peace in the humblest language, and submitted to such terms as the new governor chose to dictate.

At the same time, the Government of Bengal was placed on a new footing. The power of the English in that province had hitherto been altogether undefined. It was unknown to the ancient constitution of the empire, and it had been ascertained by no compact. It resembled the power which, in the last decrepitude of the Western Empire, was exercised over Italy by the great chiefs of foreign mercenaries, the Ricimers and the Odoacers, who put up and pulled down at their pleasure a succession of insignificant princes, dignified with the names of Cæsar and Augustus. But as in Italy, so in India, the warlike strangers at length found 277it expedient to give to a domination which had been established by arms the sanction of law and ancient prescription. Theodoric thought it politic to obtain from the distant court of Byzantium a commission appointing him ruler of Italy; and Clive, in the same manner, applied to the Court of Delhi for a formal grant of the powers of which he already possessed the reality. The Mogul was absolutely helpless; and, though he murmured, had reason to be well pleased that the English were disposed to give solid rupees, which he never could have extorted from them, in exchange for a few Persian characters which cost him nothing. A bargain was speedily struck; and the titular sovereign of Hindostan issued a warrant, empowering the Company to collect and administer the revenues of Bengal, Orissa, and Baliar.

There was still a Nabob, who stood to the British authorities in the same relation in which the last drivelling Chilperics and Childerics of the Merovingian line stood to their able and vigorous Mayors of the Palace, to Charles Martel and to Pepin. At one time Clive had almost made up his mind to discard this phantom altogether: but he afterwards thought that it might be convenient still to use the name of the Nabob, particularly in dealings with other European nations. The French, the Dutch, and the Danes, would, he conceived, submit far more readily to the authority of the native Prince, whom they had always been accustomed to respect, than to that of a rival trading corporation. This policy may, at that time, have been judicious. But the pretence was soon found to be too flimsy to impose on anybody; and it was altogether laid aside. The heir of Meer Jaffier still resides at Moorshedabad, the ancient capital of his house, still bears the title of 278Nabob, is still accosted by the English as “Your Highness,” and is still suffered to retain a portion of the regal state which surrounded his ancestors. A pension of a hundred and sixty thousand pounds a year is annually paid to him by the government. His carriage is surrounded by guards, and preceded by attendants with silver maces. His person and his dwelling are exempted from the ordinary authority of the ministers of justice. But he has not the smallest share of political power, and is, in fact, only a noble and wealthy subject of the Company.

It would have been easy for Clive, during his second administration in Bengal, to accumulate riches, such as no subject in Europe possessed. He might indeed, without subjecting the rich inhabitants of the province to any pressure beyond that to which their mildest rulers had accustomed them, have received presents to the amount of three hundred thousand pounds a year. The neighbouring princes would gladly have paid any price for his favour. But he appears to have strictly adhered to the rules which he had laid down for the guidance of others. The Rajah of Benares offered him diamonds of great value. The Nabob of Oude pressed him to accept a large sum of money, and a casket of costly jewels. Clive courteously but peremptorily refused: and it should be observed that he made no merit of his refusal, and that the facts did not come to light till after his death. He kept an exact account of his salary, of his share of the profits accruing from the trade in salt, and of those presents which, according to the fashion of the East, it would be churlish to refuse. Out of the sum arising from these resources he defrayed the expenses of his situation. The surplus he divided among a few attached friends who had accompanied 279him to India. He always boasted, and, as far as we can judge, he boasted with truth, that his last administration diminished instead of increasing his fortune.

One large sum indeed he accepted. Meer Jaffier had left him by will above sixty thousand pounds sterling in specie and jewels: and the rules which had been recently laid down extended only to presents from the living, and did not affect legacies from the dead. Clive took the money, but not for himself. He made the whole over to the Company, in trust for officers and soldiers invalided in their service. The fund which still bears his name, owes its origin to this princely donation. After a stay of eighteen months, the state of his health made it necessary for him to return to Europe. At the close of January, 1767, he quitted for the last time the country, on whose destinies he had exercised so mighty an influence.

His second return from Bengal was not, like his first, greeted by the acclamations of his countrymen. Numerous causes were already at work which embittered the remaining years of his life, and hurried him to an untimely grave. His old enemies at the India House were still powerful and active; and they had been reinforced by a large band of allies, whose violence far exceeded their own. The whole crew of pilferers and oppressors from whom he had rescued Bengal persecuted him with the implacable rancour which belong to such abject natures. Many of them even invested their property in India stock, merely that they might be better able to annoy the man whose firmness had set bounds to their rapacity. Lying newspapers were set up for no purpose but to abuse him; and the temper of the public mind was then such, that 280these arts, which under ordinary circumstances would have been ineffectual against truth and merit, produced an extraordinary impression.

The great events which had taken place in India had called into existence a new class of Englishmen, to whom their countrymen gave the name of Nabobs. These persons had generally sprung from families neither ancient nor opulent; they had generally been sent at an early age to the East; and they had there acquired large fortunes, which they had brought back to their native land. It was natural that, not having had much opportunity of mixing with the best society, they should exhibit some of the awkwardness and some of the pomposity of upstarts. It was natural that, during their sojourn in Asia, they should have acquired some tastes and habits surprising, if not disgusting, to persons who had never quitted Europe. It was natural that, having enjoyed great consideration in the East, they should not be disposed to sink into obscurity at home; and as they had money, and had not birth or high connection, it was natural that they should display a little obtrusively the single advantage that they possessed. Wherever they settled there was a kind of feud between them and the old nobility and gentry, similar to that which raged in France between the farmer-general and the marquess. This enmity to the aristocracy long continued to distinguish the servants of the Company. More than twenty years after the time of which we are now speaking, Burke pronounced that among the Jacobins might be reckoned “the East Indians almost to a man, who cannot bear to find that their present importance does not bear a proportion to their wealth.”.

The Nabobs soon became a most unpopular class of men. 281Some of them had in the East displayed eminent talents, and rendered great services to the state; but at home their talents were not shown to advantage, and their services were little known. That they had sprung from obscurity, that they had acquired great wealth, that they exhibited it insolently, that they spent it extravagantly, that they raised the price of every thing in their neighbourhood, from fresh eggs to rotten boroughs, that their liveries outshone those of dukes, that their coaches were finer than that of the Lord Mayor, that the examples of their large and ill governed households corrupted half the servants in the country, that some of them, with all their magnificence, could not catch the tone of good society, but, in spite of the stud and the crowd of menials, of the plate and the Dresden china, of the venison and the Burgundy, were still low men; these were things which excited, both in the class from which they had sprung and in the class into which they attempted to force themselves, the bitter aversion which is the effect of mingled envy and contempt. But when it was also rumoured that the fortune which had enabled its possessor to eclipse the Lord Lieutenant on the race-ground, or to carry the county against the head of a house as old as Domesday Book, had been accumulated by violating public faith, by deposing legitimate princes, by reducing whole provinces to beggary, all the higher and better as well as all the low and evil parts of human nature were stirred against the wretch who had obtained by guilt and dishonour the riches which he now lavished with arrogant and inelegant profusion. The unfortunate Nabob seemed to be made up of those foibles against which comedy has pointed the most merciless ridicule, and of those crimes which have thrown the deepest 282gloom over tragedy, of Turcaret and Nero, of Monsieur Jourdain and Richard the Third. A tempest of execration and derision, such as can be compared only to that outbreak of public feeling against the Puritans which took place at the time of the Restoration, burst on the servants of the Company. The humane man was horror-struck at the way in which they had got their money, the thrifty man at the way in which they spent it. The Dilettante sneered at their want of taste. The Maccaroni black-balled them as vulgar fellows. Writers the most unlike in sentiment and style, Methodists and libertines, philosophers and buffoons, were for once on the same side. It is hardly too much to say that, during a space of about thirty years, the whole lighter literature of England was coloured by the feelings which we have described. Foote brought on the stage an Anglo-Indian chief, dissolute, ungenerous, and tyrannical, ashamed of the humble friends of his youth, hating the aristocracy, yet childishly eager to be numbered among them, squandering his wealth on pandars and flatterers, tricking out his chairman with the most costly hot-house flowers, and astounding the ignorant with jargon about rupees, lacs, and jaghires. Mackenzie, with more delicate humour, depicted a plain country family raised by the Indian acquisitions of one of its members to sudden opulence, and exciting derision by an awkward mimicry of the maimers of the great. Cowper in that lofty expostulation which glows with the very spirit of the Hebrew poets, placed the oppression of India foremost in the list of those national crimes for which God had punished England with years of disastrous war, with discomfiture in her own seas, and with the loss of her transatlantic empire. If any of our readers will take 283the trouble to search in the dusty recesses of circulating libraries for some novel published sixty years ago, the chance is that the villain or sub-villain of the story will prove to be a savage old Nabob, with an immense fortune, a tawny complexion, a bad liver, and a worse heart.

Such, as far as we can now judge, was the feeling of the country respecting Nabobs in general. And Clive was eminently the Nabob, the ablest, the most celebrated, the highest in rank, the highest in fortune, of all the fraternity. His wealth was exhibited in a manner which could not fail to excite odium. He lived with great magnificence in Berkeley Square. He reared one palace in Shropshire and another at Claremont. His parliamentary influence might vie with that of the greatest families. But in all this splendour and power envy found something to sneer at. On some of his relations wealth and dignity seem to have sat as awkwardly as on Mackenzie’s Margery Mushroom. Nor was he himself, with all his great qualities, free from those weaknesses which the satirists of that age represented as characteristic of his whole class. In the field, indeed, his habits were remarkably simple. He was constantly on horseback, was never seen but in his uniform, never wore silk, never entered a palanquin, and was content with the plainest fare. But when he was no longer at the head of an army, he laid aside this Spartan temperance for the ostentatious luxury of a Sybarite. Though his person was ungraceful, and though his harsh features were redeemed from vulgar ugliness only by their stern, dauntless, and commanding expression, he was fond of rich and gay clothing, and replenished his wardrobe with absurd profusion. Sir John Malcolm gives us a letter worthy of Sir Matthew Mite, in 284which Clive orders “two hundred shirts, the best and finest that can be got for love or money.” A few follies of this description, grossly exaggerated by report, produced an unfavourable impression on the public mind. But this was not the worst. Black stories, of which the greater part were pure inventions, were circulated touching his conduct in the East. He had to bear the whole odium, not only of those bad acts to which he had once or twice stooped, but of all the bad acts of all the English in India, of bad acts committed when he was absent, nay, of bad acts which he had manfully opposed and severely punished. The very abuses against which he had waged an honest, resolute, and successful war, were laid to his account. He was, in fact, regarded as the personification of all the vices and weaknesses which the public, with or without reason, ascribed to the English adventurers in Asia. We have ourselves heard old men, who knew. nothing of his history, but who still retained the prejudices conceived in their youth, talk of him as an incarnate fiend. Johnson always held this language. Brown, whom Clive employed to lay out his pleasure grounds, was amazed to see in the house of his noble employer a chest which had once been filled with gold from the treasury of Moorshedabad, and could not understand how the conscience of the criminal could suffer him to sleep with such an object so near to his bedchamber. The peasantry of Surrey looked with mysterious horror on the stately house which was rising at Claremont, and whispered that the great wicked lord had ordered the walls to be made so thick in order to keep out the devil, who would one day carry him away bodily. Among the gaping clowns who drank in this frightful story was a worthless 285ugly lad of the name of Hunt, since widely known as William Huntington, S. S.; and the superstition which was strangely mingled with the knavery of that remarkable impostor seems to have derived no small nutriment from the tales which he heard of the life and character of Clive.

In the mean time, the impulse which Clive had given to the administration of Bengal was constantly becoming fainter and fainter. His policy was to a great extent abandoned; the abuses which he had suppressed began to revive; and at length the evils which a bad government had engendered were aggravated by one of those fearful visitations which the best government cannot avert. In the summer of 1770, the rains failed; the earth was parched up; the tanks were empty; the rivers shrank within their beds; and a famine, such as is known only in countries where every household depends for support on its own little patch of cultivation, filled the whole valley of the Ganges with misery and death. Tender and delicate women, whose veils had never been lifted before the public gaze, came forth from the inner chambers in which Eastern jealousy had kept watch over their beauty, threw themselves on the earth before the passers-by, and, with loud wailings, implored a handful of rice for their children. The Hoogley every day rolled down thousands of corpses close to the porticoes and gardens of the English conquerors. The very streets of Calcutta were blocked up by the dying and the dead. The lean and feeble survivors had not energy enough to bear the bodies of their kindred to the funeral pile or to the holy river, or even to scare away the jackals and vultures, who fed on human remains in the face of day. The extent of the mortality 286was never ascertained; but it was popularly reckoned by millions. This melancholy intelligence added to the excitement which already prevailed in England on Indian subjects. The proprietors of East India stock were uneasy about their dividends. All men of common humanity were touched by the calamities of our unhappy subjects; and indignation soon began to mingle itself with pity. It was rumoured that the Company’s servants had created the famine by engrossing all the rice of the country; that they had sold grain for eight, ten, twelve times the price at which they had bought it; that one English functionary who, the year before, was not worth a hundred guineas, had, during that season of misery, remitted sixty thousand pounds to London. These charges we believe to have been unfounded. That servants of the Company had ventured, since Clive’s departure, to deal in rice, is probable. That, if they dealt in rice, they must have gained by the scarcity, is certain. But there is no reason for thinking that they either produced or aggravated an evil which physical causes sufficiently explain. The outcry which was raised against them on this occasion was, we suspect, as absurd as the imputations which, in times of dearth at home, were once thrown by statesmen and judges, and are still thrown by two or three old women, on the corn factors. It was, however, so loud and so general that it appears to have imposed even on an intellect raised so high above vulgar prejudices as that of Adam Smith. What was still more extraordinary, these unhappy events greatly increased the unpopularity of Lord Clive. He had been some years in England when the famine took place. None of his acts had the smallest tendency to produce such a calamity. If the 287servants of the Company had traded in rice, they had done so in direct contravention of the rule which he had laid down, and, while in power, had resolutely enforced. But, in the eyes of his countrymen, he was, as we have said, the Nabob, the Anglo-Indian character personified; and, while he was building and planting in Surrey, he was held responsible for all the effects of a dry season in Bengal.

Parliament had hitherto bestowed very little attention on our Eastern possessions. Since the death of George the Second, a rapid succession of weak administrations, each of which was in turn flattered and betrayed by the Court, had held the semblance of power. Intrigues in the palace, riots in the capital, and insurrectionary movements in the American colonies, had left the advisers of the crown little leisure to study Indian politics. When they did interfere, their interference was feeble and irresolute. Lord Chatham, indeed, during the short period of his ascendency in the councils of George the Third, had meditated a bold attack on the Company. But his plans were rendered abortive by the strange malady which about that time began to overcloud his splendid genius.

At length, in 1772, it was generally felt that Parliament could no longer neglect the affairs of India. The Government was stronger than any which had held power since the breach between Mr. Pitt and the great Whig connection in 1761. No pressing question of domestic or European policy required the attention of public men. There was a short and delusive lull between two tempests. The excitement produced by the Middlesex election was over; the discontents of America did not yet threaten civil war; the financial difficulties of the Company brought on a crisis; the 288Ministers were forced to take up the subject; and the whole storm, which had long been gathering, now broke at once on the head of Clive.

His situation was indeed singularly unfortunate. He was hated throughout the country, hated at the India House, hated, above all, by those wealthy and powerful servants of the Company, whose rapacity and tyranny he had withstood. He had to bear the double odium of his bad and of his good actions, of every Indian abuse and of every Indian reform. The state of the political world was such that he could count on the support of no powerful connection. The party to which he had belonged, that of George Grenville, had been hostile to the Government, and yet had never cordially united with the other sections of the Opposition, with the little hand which still followed the fortunes of Lord Chatham, or with the large and respectable body of which Lord Rockingham was the acknowledged leader. George Grenville was now dead: his followers were scattered; and Clive, unconnected with any of the powerful factions which divided the Parliament, could reckon only on the votes of those members who were returned by himself. His enemies, particularly those who were the enemies of his virtues, were unscrupulous, ferocious, implacable. Their malevolence aimed at nothing less than the utter ruin of his fame and fortune. They wished to see him expelled from Parliament, to see his spurs chopped off, to see his estate confiscated; and it may be doubted whether even such a result as this would have quenched their thirst for revenge.

Clive’s parliamentary tactics resembled his military tactics. Deserted, surrounded, outnumbered, and with every thing at stake, he did not even deign to stand 289on the defensive, but pushed boldly forward to the attack. At an early stage of the discussions on Indian affairs he rose, and in a long and elaborate speech vindicated himself from a large part of the accusations which had been brought against him. He is said to have produced a great impression on his audience. Lord Chatham, who, now the ghost of his former self, loved to haunt the scene of his glory, was that night under the gallery of the House of Commons, and declared that he had never heard a finer speech. It was subsequently printed under Clive’s direction, and, when the fullest allowance has been made for the assistance which he may have obtained from literary friends, proves him to have possessed, not merely strong sense and a manly spirit, but talents both for disquisition and declamation which assiduous culture might have improved into the highest excellence. He confined his defence on this occasion to the measures of his last administration, and succeeded so far that his enemies thenceforth thought it expedient to direct their attacks chiefly against the earlier part of his life.

The earlier part of his life unfortunately presented some assailable points to their hostility. A committee was chosen by ballot to inquire into the affairs of India; and by this committee the whole history of that great revolution which threw down Surajah Dowlah and raised Meer Jaffier was sifted with malignant care. Clive was subjected to the most unsparing examination and cross-examination, and afterwards bitterly complained that he, the Baron of Plassey, had been treated like a sheep-stealer. The boldness and ingenuousness of his replies would alone suffice to show how alien from his nature were the frauds to which, in the course of his eastern negotiations, he had sometimes descended. 290He avowed the arts which he had employed to deceive Omichund, and resolutely said that he was not ashamed of them, and that, in the same circumstances, he would again act in the same manner. He admitted that he had received immense sums from Meer Jaffier; but he denied that, in doing so, he had violated any obligation of morality or honour. He laid claim, on the contrary, and not without some reason, to the praise of eminent disinterestedness. He described in vivid language the situation in which his victory had placed him; great princes dependent on his pleasure; an opulent city afraid of being given up to plunder; wealthy bankers bidding against each other for his smiles; vaults piled with gold and jewels thrown open to him alone. “By God, Mr. Chairman,” he exclaimed, “at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation.”

The inquiry was so extensive that the House rose before it had been completed. It was continued in the following session. When at length the committee had concluded its labours, enlightened and impartial men had little difficulty in making up their minds as to the result. It was clear that Clive had been guilty of some acts which it is impossible to vindicate without attacking the authority of all the most sacred laws which regulate the intercourse of individuals and of states. But it was equally clear that he had displayed great talents, and even great virtues; that he had rendered eminent services both to his country and to the people of India; and that it was in truth not for his dealings with Meer Jaffier, nor for the fraud which he had practised on Omichund, but for his determined resistance to avarice and tyranny, that he was now called in question.

Ordinary criminal justice knows nothing of set-off. 291The greatest desert cannot be pleaded in answer to a charge of the slightest transgression. If a man has sold beer on Sunday morning, it is no defence that he has saved the life of a fellow-creature at the risk of his own. If he has harnessed a Newfoundland dog to his little child’s carriage, it is no defence that he was wounded at Waterloo. But it is not in this way that we ought to deal with men who, raised far above ordinary restraints, and tried by far more than ordinary temptations, are entitled to a more than ordinary measure of indulgence. Such men should be judged by their contemporaries as they will be judged by posterity. Their bad actions ought not, indeed, to be called good; but their good and bad actions ought to be fairly weighed; and if on the whole the good preponderate, the sentence ought to be one, not merely of acquittal, but of approbation. Not a single great ruler in history can be absolved by a judge who fixes his eye inexorably on one or two unjustifiable acts. Bruce the deliverer of Scotland, Maurice the deliverer of Germany, William the deliverer of Holland, his great descendant the deliverer of England, Murray the good regent, Cosmo the father of his country, Henry the Fourth of France, Peter the Great of Russia, how would the best of them pass such a scrutiny? History takes wider views; and the best tribunal for great political cases is the tribunal which anticipates the verdict of history.

Reasonable and moderate men of all parties felt this in Clive’s case. They could not pronounce him blameless; but they were not disposed to abandon him to that low-minded and rancorous pack who had run him down and were eager to worry him to death. Lord North, though not very friendly to him, was not disposed to go to extremities against him. While the inquiry was 292still in progress, Clive, who had some years before been created a Knight of the Bath, was installed with great pomp in Henry the Seventh’s Chapel. He was soon after appointed Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire. When he kissed hands, George the Third, who had always been partial to him, admitted him to a private audience, talked to him half an hour on Indian politics, and was visibly affected when the persecuted general spoke of his services and of the way in which they had been requited.

At length the charges came in a definite form before the House of Commons. Burgoyne, chairman of the committee, a man of wit, fashion, and honour, an agreeable dramatic writer, an officer whose courage was never questioned, and whose skill was at that time highly esteemed, appeared as the accuser. The members of the administration took different sides; for in that age all questions were open questions, except such as were brought forward by the Government, or such as implied some censure on the Government. Thurlow, the Attorney General, was among the assailants. Wedderbume, the Solicitor General, strongly attached to Clive, defended his friend with extraordinary force of argument and language. It is a curious circumstance that, some years later, Thurlow was the most conspicuous champion of Warren Hastings, while Wedderburne was among the most unrelenting persecutors of that great though not faultless statesman. Clive spoke in his own defence at less length and with less art than in the preceding year, but with much energy and pathos. He recounted his great actions and his wrongs; and, after bidding his hearers remember, that they were about to decide not only on his honour but on their own; he retired from the House.

The Commons resolved that acquisitions made by 293the arms of the State belong to the State alone, and that it is illegal in the servants of the State to appropriate such acquisitions to themselves. They resolved that this wholesome rule appeared to have been systematically violated by the English functionaries in Bengal. On a subsequent day they went a step farther, and resolved that Clive had, by means of the power, which he possessed as commander of the British forces in India, obtained large sums from Meer Jaffier. Here the Commons stopped. They had voted the major and minor of Burgoyne’s syllogism; but they shrank from drawing the logical conclusion. When it was moved that Lord Clive had abused his powers, and set an evil example to the servants of the public, the previous question was put and carried. At length, long after the sun had risen on an animated debate, Wedderburne moved that Lord Clive had at the same time rendered great and meritorious services to his country; and this motion passed without a division.

The result of this memorable inquiry appears to us, on the whole, honourable to the justice, moderation, and discernment of the Commons. They had indeed no great temptation to do wrong. They would have been very bad judges of an accusation brought against Jenkinson or against Wilkes. But the question respecting Clive was not a party question; and the House accordingly acted with the good sense and good feeling which may always be expected from an assembly of English gentlemen not blinded by faction.

The equitable and temperate proceedings of the British Parliament were set off to the greatest advantage by a foil. The wretched government of Lewis the Fifteenth had murdered, directly or indirectly, almost every Frenchman who had served his country 294with distinction in the East. Labourdonnais was flung into the Bastile, and, after years of suffering, left it only to die. Dupleix, stripped of his immense fortune, and broken-hearted by humiliating attendance in antechambers, sank into an obscure grave. Lally was dragged to the common place of execution with a gag between his lips. The Commons of England, on the other hand, treated their living captain with that discriminating justice which is seldom shown except to the dead. They laid down sound general principles; they delicately pointed out where he had deviated from those principles; and they tempered the gentle censure with liberal eulogy. The contrast struck Voltaire, always partial to England, and always eager to expose the abuses of the Parliaments of France. Indeed he seems, at this time, to have meditated a history of the conquest of Bengal. He mentioned his design to Dr. Moore when that amusing writer visited him at Ferney. Wedderburne took great interest in the matter, and pressed Clive to furnish materials. Had the plan been carried into execution, we have no doubt that Voltaire would have produced a book containing much lively and picturesque narrative, many just and humane sentiments poignantly expressed, many grotesque blunders, many sneers at the Mosaic chronology, much scandal about the Catholic missionaries, and much sublime theo-philanthropy, stolen from the New Testament, and put into the mouths of virtuous and philosophical Brahmins.

Clive was now secure in the enjoyment of his fortune and his honours. He was surrounded by attached friends and relations; and he had not yet passed the season of vigorous bodily and mental exertion. But clouds had long been gathering over his mind, and now 295settled on it in thick darkness. From early youth he had been subject to fits of that strange melancholy “which rejoiceth exceedingly and is glad when it can find the grave.” While still a writer at Madras, he had twice attempted to destroy himself. Business and prosperity had produced a salutary effect on his spirits. In India, while he was occupied by great affairs, in England, while wealth and rank had still the charm of novelty, he had borne up against his constitutional misery. But he had now nothing to do and nothing to wish for. His active spirit in an inactive situation drooped and withered like a plant in an uncongenial air. The malignity with which his enemies had pursued him, the indignity with which he had been treated by the committee, the censure, lenient as it was, which the House of Commons had pronounced, the knowledge that he was regarded by a large portion of his countrymen as a cruel and perfidious tyrant, all concurred to irritate and depress him. In the mean time his temper was tried by acute physical suffering. During his long residence in tropical climates, he had contracted several painful distempers. In order to obtain ease he called in the help of opium; and he was gradually enslaved by this treacherous ally. To the last, however, his genius occasionally flashed through the gloom. It was said that he would sometimes, after sitting silent and torpid for hours, rouse himself to the discussion of some great question, would display in full vigour all the talents of the soldier and the statesman, and would then sink back into his melancholy repose.

The disputes with America had now become so serious that an appeal to the sword seemed inevitable; and the Ministers were desirous to avail themselves of the services of Clive. Had he still been what he was when 296he raised the siege of Patna, and annihilated the Dutch army and navy at the mouth of the Ganges, it is not improbable that the resistance of the Colonists would have been put down, and that the inevitable separation would have been deferred for a few years. But it was too late. His strong mind was fast sinking under many kinds of suffering. On the twenty-second of November, 1774, he died by his own hand. He had just completed his forty-ninth year.

In the awful close of so much prosperity and glory, the vulgar saw only a confirmation of all their prejudices; and some men of real piety and genius so far forgot the maxims both of religion and of philosophy as confidently to ascribe the mournful event to the just vengeance of God, and to the horrors of an evil conscience. It is with very different feelings that we contemplate the spectacle of a great mind ruined by the weariness of satiety, by the pangs of wounded honour, by fatal diseases, and more fatal remedies.

Clive committed great faults; and we have not attempted to disguise them. But his faults, when weighed against his merits, and viewed in connection with his temptations, do not appear to us to deprive him of his right to an honourable place in the estimation of posterity.

From his first visit to India dates the renown of the English arms in the East. Till he appeared, his countrymen were despised as mere pedlars, while the French were revered as a people formed for victory and command. His courage and capacity dissolved the charm. With the defence of Arcot commences that long series of Oriental triumph which closes with the fall of Ghizni. Nor must we forget that he was only twenty-five years old when he approved himself ripe for military command. 297This is a rare if not a singular distinction. It is true that Alexander, Condé, and Charles the Twelfth, won great battles at a still earlier age; but those princes were surrounded by veteran generals of distinguished skill, to whose suggestions must be attributed the victories of the Granicus, of Rocroi, and of Narva. Clive, an inexperienced youth, had yet more experience than any of those who served under him. He had to form himself, to form his officers, and to form his army. The only man, as far as we recollect, who at an equally early age ever gave equal proof of talents for war, was Napoleon Bonaparte.

From Clive’s second visit to India dates the political ascendency of the English in that country. His dexterity and resolution realised, in the course of a few months, more than all the gorgeous visions which had floated before the imagination of Dupleix. Such an extent of cultivated territory, such an amount of revenue, such a multitude of subjects, was never added to the dominion of Rome by the most successful proconsul. Nor were such wealthy spoils ever borne under arches of triumph, down the Sacred Way, and through the crowded Forum, to the threshold of Tarpeian Jove. The fame of those who subdued Antiochus and Tigranes grows dim when compared with the splendour of the exploits which the young English adventurer achieved at the head of an army not equal in numbers to one half of a Roman legion.

From Clive’s third visit to India dates the purity of our Eastern empire. When he landed in Calcutta in 1765, Bengal was regarded as a place to which Englishmen were sent only to get rich, by any means, in the shortest possible time. He first made dauntless and unsparing war on that gigantic system of oppression, 298extortion, and corruption. In that war he manfully put to hazard his ease, his fame, and his splendid fortune. The same sense of justice which forbids us to conceal or extenuate the faults of his earlier days compels us to admit that those faults were nobly repaired. If the reproach of the Company and of its servants has been taken away, if in India the yoke of foreign masters, elsewhere the heaviest of all yokes, has been found lighter than that of any native dynasty, if to that gang of public robbers, which formerly spread terror through the whole plain of Bengal, has succeeded a body of functionaries not more highly distinguished by ability and diligence than by integrity, disinterestedness, and public spirit, if we now see such men as Munro, Elphinstone, and Metcalfe, after leading victorious armies, after making and deposing kings, return, proud of their honourable poverty, from a land which once held out to every greedy factor the hope of boundless wealth, the praise is in no small measure due to Clive. His name stands high on the roll of conquerors. But it is found in a better list, in the list of those who have done and suffered much for the happiness of mankind. To the warrior, history will assign a place in the same rank with Lucullus and Trajan. Nor will she deny to the reformer a share of that veneration with which France cherishes the memory of Turgot, and with which the latest generations of Hindoos will contemplate the statue of Lord William Bentinck.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:15 am

The Enlightenment and Orientalist Discourse on the Aryan, Excerpt from Aryans, Jews, Brahmins: Theorizing Authority through Myths of Identity
by Dorothy M. Figueira
State University of New York Press
2002

CHAPTER 1: The Enlightenment and Orientalist Discourse on the Aryan

THE ENLIGHTENMENT BACKGROUND


Orientalist and postcolonialist criticism has positioned the origin of much that it seeks to critique within the Enlightenment project. Edward Said identified the Enlightenment as a unified trajectory and master sign of both Orientalism and colonialism (Said 1978). Ashis Nandy traced the roots of colonialism’s mandate to absolutize the relative differences between cultures to the cultural arrogance of Enlightenment Europe. Partha Chatterjee problematized Enlightenment historiography (Chatterjee 1986). Peter van der Veer has blamed Enlightenment discourse for the erroneous politicization of Hinduism (Van der Veer 1998). Curiously, none of their arguments dwells on specifics—a common methodological flaw of critical schools which measure past texts against contemporary claims of emancipation or fantasies of dissent (Fluck 1996: 228). In these instances, critics assess the Enlightenment in light of the subsequent colonial experience. Their critical canon virtually ignores the fundamental texts of the period. Indeed, the Enlightenment has suffered much at the hands of poststructuralism’s vague and atextual treatment. There is clearly a need for a reappraisal of the Enlightenment with reference to its literature.

In satirical works of the eighteenth century, there appeared a general theme, barely hidden under the fiction and in the satire itself: Asia can and should offer lessons. The pittoresque Oriental tale provided an ideal medium through which authors could expose the vices of their own corrupt civil and religious institutions. The satirist’s task had been made that much easier, since travel accounts minutely described the religious and secular institutions of Asia and marked analogies to European systems of rule. Somewhat bemused, the voyagers drew comparisons between Christian and Asian mores. They noted in detail the various resemblances and their far-seeing readers were spurred on to draw further comparisons. In Diderot, Raynal, and Helvétius, for example, the strategy consisted of distancing readers from their normal surroundings in order to make them understand dangerous truths. Incessantly, Helvétius protested that his critique was aimed at the Orient and not at France, but the context of his discussion clearly pointed to misery found in a France stifling under the yoke of oppression.

In contradistinction to the voyagers’ descriptions, the Jesuits had formulated a portrait of an Asia noteworthy for its enlightened customs and institutions. They represented the Chinese as philosophers of subtle wisdom, a marvelously civilized people who were ruled by a paternal government. They obeyed pious and tolerant magistrates who governed with admirably just laws. These Jesuitical observations were, in turn, appropriated by the philosophes, who were not adverse to borrowing their teachers’ arguments to attack the Church. The Jesuitical emplotment of an enlightened Asia allowed the philosophes to question the principle of revealed religion.

For philosophers lost in the century of Louis XV, where visions of utopia collided daily with the contradictions of reality, the fiction of exotic “pure” religions proved captivating. Hindu or Confucian tolerance could be contrasted to the relentlessness of a Church suppressing liberty and to the sad spectacle of European religious disputes. One discovers, therefore, in the Enlightenment emplotment of the Orient, a subtle rhetorical strategy: Asia is portrayed as the victim of prejudice and superstition as well as the domain of reason and virtue. In its former role, it engendered political discussions and emphasized secularized history. In its latter use, the Enlightenment depiction of Asia helped define the disciplinary parameters of the history of religions. The comparisons of religious dogmas resulted in paradigms for practical analyses, most notably a form of biblical exegesis and a criticism of religious superstitions.

In this manner, Montesquieu’s Esprit des lois (1748) presented, for the first time in European literature, an examination of India with the purpose of illuminating universal history. Asia offered Montesquieu a vision of diversity which was unavailable in the classics or in European cultural attitudes. In an important respect, Montesquieu’s understanding of Asia contributed to the work’s originality. He showed that although nature was the same all over, climates differed and affected human behavior. Data culled from Asia enabled Montesquieu to develop this theory in book 17 of the Esprit des lois. Montesquieu’s provocative conclusions directly inspired Voltaire’s Essai sur les moeurs (1756–78). Voltaire adopted Montesquieu’s theory of climates, which in turn legitimized the objective comparison of different social institutions. Although Montesquieu and Voltaire herald the beginning of the scientific or philosophical reception of Asia, the didactic model still informed their work.

VOLTAIRE AND THE SEARCH FOR AUTHORITY

The Aryan Rewrites History


For Voltaire, Asia was the ideal. In fact, in the eighteenth century, Voltaire was a principle panegyrist and official defender of Asia’s moral rectitude. It held the key to understanding the European present as well as its future. At first, Voltaire directed his enthusiasm toward China. But its radical foreignness and the indecipherability of its literature stymied his efforts. He then turned his attention toward India, consoling himself with the belief that Indian religion was “very possibly” the same as that of the Chinese government, that is, a pure cult of a Supreme Being disengaged from all superstition and fanaticism (Voltaire 1885: 11.190). He maintained that the brahmin religion was even more ancient than that of China (Voltaire 1885: 28.136). The Indians were, perhaps, the most ancient assembled body of people. It appeared that other nations, such as China and Egypt, went to India for instruction (Voltaire 1885: 11.49). The brahmins were the first theologians in the world (Voltaire 1885: 29.488), and Indian religion formed the basis of all other religions (Voltaire 1885: 45.448). Voltaire believed that Indian philosophers had discovered a new universe “en morale et en physique” [moral and physical] (Voltaire 1963: 2.318).

With time and with a more complete documentation, Voltaire became better informed and refined his characterization of ancient India. As inventors of art, the Aryans were chaste, temperate, and law-abiding (Voltaire 1963: 1.65). They lived in a state of paradise—naked and without luxury. They subsisted on fruit rather than cadavers. Paragons of morality and specimens of physical perfection, the Aryans embodied prelapsarian innocence and sobriety. Their gentleness, respect for animal life, and deep religiosity incarnated the virtues of “Christianity” far more than anything found in the civilized West. Unlike the Saracens, Tartars, Arabs, and the Jews, who lived by piracy, the Aryans found nourishment in a religion (Voltaire 1963: 1.229, 231; 1.60; 1.234) that was based upon universal reason (Voltaire 1963: 1.237).

While Voltaire had initially based his information on the travel accounts of Chardin, Tavernier, and Bernier (Voltaire 1953–65: D 2698), he later came to rely heavily on the Lettres édifiantes et curieuses . . . par quelques missions de la compagnie de Jésus (Paris: 1706–76), especially the letters from Père Bouchet to Huet. As elsewhere in his oeuvre, even in his most virulent critiques of the Church, Voltaire was never truly distant from his Jesuit teachers. Jesuitical documentation on India supplied him with a theme he was to exploit with verve. Although the reverend fathers expressed horror for idolatrous superstition, they were not totally negative in their assessment of Indian religious potential. Jesuit missionaries judged the Indians eminently capable and worthy of conversion. After all, one could find in their “ridiculous” religion belief in a single God (Voltaire 1953-65: 11.190; 11.54), suggesting a kind of proto-Christianity. Bouchet’s mention of parallels between Aryan religious thought and Christianity prompted Voltaire to develop the idea that the West had derived its theology from India.

In short, Voltaire appropriated from the Jesuits data to suit a specific polemic—that Vedism comprised the oldest religion known to man and represented a pure form of worship whose loftly metaphysics formed the basis of Christianity. Voltaire found no difficulty in reconciling the sublimity of Indian religion with its modern superstitions: the Vedic Indian had simply been made soft by the climate (Voltaire 1963: 1.235–37). The climate’s effect was so pernicious that India’s conquerors even became weak under its influence (Voltaire 1885: 13.158). Thus, human frailty (Voltaire 1963: 2.325) and nature (Voltaire 1963: 1.61) conspired to render man idolatrous.

By disengaging a fictive Urform of Hinduism from all superstition and fanaticism, Voltaire effectively set up an ideal against which all other religions could be measured to their disadvantage. What religion could compete with that of the initial brahmins, who had established a government and religion based upon universal reason? When you have peaceful prelates, ruling an innately spiritual people, religion is simple and reasonable. More importantly, India was to supply Voltaire with information to combat the Church and its role in society. As a culture ignored by the Bible, India allowed Voltaire to question the accepted biblical chronology. Most significantly, however, Voltaire’s discussion of India enabled him to vent his spleen against the Jews. In other words, Voltaire’s emplotment of India concentrated on four problems: it allowed him to call into question the chronology of the sacred book, the chosen status of the Jews, the origin of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the diffusion of our mythology, all of which challenged the historical importance of the Jewish people (Hawley 1974: 139–40).

Voltaire’s [H]anskrit Canon

One can almost forgive Voltaire his subjective portrayal of India, given the quality of the information culled from travel accounts, missionary letters, “scholarly” works, and “translations.” Although he sought out European accounts that he felt were exempt from sectarian prejudice, he was inexorably drawn to texts glaringly slanted by Protestant anti-Catholic rhetoric, as in the case of La Croze and Niecamp. He studied those Europeans who purported to know Sanskrit, yet knew none. He studied authors who, although they had spent sufficient time in India, were nevertheless woefully ignorant of the culture. Having literally read everything available concerning India, edited and unedited, Voltaire realized only too well the necessity of basing any future discussion of India upon an authentic Sanskrit text. He, therefore, set out to discover one. After having depended so long on secondary sources, he tended to ascribe authenticity to any Sanskrit text that fell into his hands. Time and again, he was deceived by his sources.

As the oldest theologians, Indians were the first people to possess books (Voltaire 1885: 26.325–6). One such book was the Shaster Bedang, a supposedly four-thousand-year-old exposition of the doctrine of the “Bedas” written by the philosopher Beass Muni. It was found in Alexander Dow’s History of Hindostan translated from the Persian to which are prefixed two dissertations concerning the Hindoos (1768, French translation in 1769).1 Voltaire believed that the Bedang taught Vedic monotheism. Voltaire was also familiar with another purportedly ancient and sacred book, the Shasta or Shastabad of Brahma. Voltaire maintained that the Shasta was five thousand years old, probably the oldest book in the world (Voltaire 1885: 15.326) and the source for subsequent law books (Voltaire 1885: 28.138).2 It possessed real wisdom and the pure original expression of Indian religion. The Shasta was actually a small “theological” treatise of recent date that had been transmitted to John Zephaniah Holwell, who included it in his Interesting historical events relative to the Provinces of Bengal and the Empire of Indostan (1765–71). However, Voltaire read its existence to prove that the brahmins had preceeded by several centuries the Chinese, whom Voltaire initially thought had preceeded the whole world in wisdom. The Shasta’s importance for Voltaire, therefore, was not so much that it was the oldest book but that its style prefigured, in his estimation, all wisdom, including that of Greece.3 The Shasta proved to Voltaire that the Indians were monotheists (Voltaire 1885: 29.167). More importantly, however, it showed that the Chinese and the West borrowed from India both their vision of God (Voltaire 1885: 29.210–11) and their myth of the Fall of Man (Voltaire 1885: 26.326; 28.138; 29.472–73).

Voltaire also discovered a manuscript, entitled the Cormo Vedam, that he described as a résumé of opinions and rites contained in the Veda (Voltaire 1885: 11.52). Voltaire did not believe the Cormo Vedam to be a text worthy of the modern brahmins. He judged it a ludicrous ritual “pile” of superstitions (Voltaire 1963: 1.242–43). Voltaire cited the Cormo Vedam primarily to show how the Veda and brahmins had degenerated. Traces of such decay were particularly prevalent in Voltaire’s primary document of Aryan religion, the Ezour Vedam. In Voltaire’s estimation, the Ezour Vedam was the most important Hanskrit [sic] text that he possessed.4 He claimed that its composition predated Alexander’s expedition to India (Voltaire 1885: 41.12, 367, 464; 45.448). Voltaire received the manuscript of the Ezour Vedam from the Comte de Maudave (1725–77) who had brought it to France. The count was purportedly a close friend of a francophone brahmin (Voltaire 1885: 45.170; 46.117) who had tried to translate the manuscript from Sanskrit into French (Voltaire 1885: 47.72). Voltaire alternately defined the Ezour Vedam as the beginning of the Veda (Voltaire 1885: 26.325–26) or “a copy of the four vedams” (Voltaire 1885: 26.392). In La Défense de mon oncle, he characterized it as “the true vedam, the vedam explained, the pure vedam.” By 1761, however, he described it as merely a commentary of the Veda.

In reality, it did not matter to Voltaire that this text was not really the Veda; what mattered was that it satisfied the idea of a Veda which, for Voltaire, represented an exemplum of sublimity and the scripture of the world’s oldest religion. The Ezour Vedam became such a text: it was the authentic text par excellance (Voltaire 1885: 41.464), the real Urtext, anterior to Pythagorus and anterior to the Shasta (Voltaire 1885: 19.58).5 Not only did Voltaire value it but, at the Bibliothèque du Roi where he had deposited a copy (Voltaire 1885: 47.72), he claimed that it was regarded as the most precious acquisition of the collection (Voltaire 1885: 45.464). This “Veda” announced a pure cult, disengaged from all superstition and all fanaticism (Voltaire 1963: 1.236). Written by the first brahmins, who also served as kings and pontiffs, it established a religion based upon universal reason.

More importantly, the Ezour Vedam provided Voltaire with the ideal text with which to challenge the historical perspective of Judeo-Christianity. Voltaire read the Ezour Vedam to show how the vaunted aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition existed in India centuries before the Old Testament. The general thrust of this argument was to displace the Jews from a favored position in the Christian tradition. Vedic India represented a more distant antiquity than that of the Jews (Voltaire 1885: 17.55–56). Or, as Voltaire allowed his Indian narrator to articulate his message:

We are a great people who settled around the Indus and the Ganges several centuries before the Hebraic horde transported itself to the banks of the Jordan. The Egyptians, Persians and Arabs came to our country in search of wisdom and spices, when the Jews were unknown to the rest of mankind. We could not have taken our Adimo from their Adam. (Voltaire 1885: 17.55)6


The Ezour Vedam harkens back to a time before brahmins and their cult had degenerated. The religion existing in modern India had obscured sage Vedic theology, marketed superstition, and profited modern brahmins (Voltaire 1963: 2.405–6). The Ezour Vedam, however, combated the growth of idolatry and the very superstitions that eventually destroyed Aryan religion (Voltaire 1885: 26.392). For his part, Voltaire hoped to prove how all the principles of Christian theology that had been lost with the Veda could still be found in the Ezour Vedam (Voltaire 1963: 1.240–42), thanks to its retrieval and circulation by a French philosophe.

The Ezour Vedam

Max Müller characterized the Ezour Vedam as a “very coarse forgery” (Müller 1978: 5).7It consisted of a poor compilation of Hindu and Christian doctrines mixed up together in the most childish way. While Müller believed that it was probably the work of a “half educated native convert at Pondicherry” (Müller, 1891: 39) and the silliest book that could be read by a student of religion, he did not believe that the original author intended it for the purpose for which it was used by Voltaire (Müller, 1872: 20).

In La Renaissance orientale, Raymond Schwab characterized the Ezour Vedam as an insidious piece of propaganda consisting of certain “Vedic” materials translated by Jesuits with the intention of isolating elements most in harmony with Christianity (Schwab 1950: 166–68). With this fraud, Schwab maintained, the Jesuits sought to refute idolatry and polytheism in the name of the purer doctrine of the Vedas, and, ultimately, to convert Indians. As the Indologist Willem Caland noted, the fraud was clever: The Ezour Vedam did not reject all Hinduism, but granted those tenets not in contradiction with Christiam dogma. Its author tried to make readers think that the Vedam differed entirely from what they might have believed it to be (Rocher 1983: 24).

The editor of the Ezour Vedam, the Baron de Sainte Croix, did not present it as one of the four Vedas (Ezour Vedam 1778: 116),8 but offered it as the first original Sanskrit text published on religious and philosophical dogma. He did believe, however, that the Ezour Vedam’s scriptural citations were authentic.9 This point was important, since the editor also maintained that the four Vedas were lost (Ezour Vedam 1778:130). Sainte Croix felt that, given the mendacity of the brahmins and the large fees offered by the West for the Veda’s retrieval, the texts would have long since fallen into missionary hands had they still existed (Ezour Vedam 1778: 109–10).

It was upon its arrival in Europe that the confusion concerning the Ezour Vedam’s identity occurred. Ludo Rocher has suggested that error arose due to the work’s title. The Ezour Vedam’s reference to itself as a “veda” should have been understood in a generic sense, as the term “veda” is used in India by both missionaries and Indians alike. In fact, Rocher suggests that the Ezour Vedam did not pretend to be one of the four Vedas, but rather a “veda” in the general sense of the term, a holy book or, as the text defined itself, a “corps de science” (Ezour Vedam 1778: 203). It made no attempt to rank itself among the Vedas. In fact, the text clearly presents itself as a commentary. 10 By resolving the samdhi11 of the Ezour Vedam’s original title (Zozur Bedo), Rocher translated the title as the “Gospel of Jesus.” It seems likely that the Ezour Vedam was, indeed, a syncretistic pastiche compiled in the hopes of converting Hindus to an amenable Christianity. What the Ezour Vedam actually was is less significant than the use to which it and the mythic Aryan society it described were put during the Enlightenment. The Veda (in the form of the Ezour Vedam) allowed Voltaire and Sainte Croix to draw a distinction between what was Vedic and post-Vedic, the latter being a degenerated form of the former. Just as scripture had degenerated, so too had its interpreters.

A considerable portion of this early discourse surrounding the “Veda” consisted in mourning the loss of a rational religion that had suffered corruption (Voltaire 1963: 1.238) and blaming the brahmin elite, who neither instructed their people properly nor desired knowledge themselves (Voltaire 1963: 1.243–44). In this diatribe, Voltaire always presented the brahmin clergy as mendacious and generally corrupt (Voltaire 1963: 1.61).12 Voltaire blamed the brahmin priests for having led the Aryans astray, just as he blamed the Jesuits for the state of French Catholicism. In both instances, priestly machinations had entrapped the faithful in the snares of superstition and intolerance. Aryan India mirrored the Human (that is, French) Condition: Rational religion had degenerated into superstitions and abominable cultic practices. The prime actors in both instances were the priests. Brahmins offered Voltaire a most pregnant symbol: Where in the world could he have directed his anticlerical polemics so successfully? The brahmin priests allowed him to “écraser l’infâme” and, for once, the objects of his critique were not Catholic, Jesuits, or French.

The polemic directed against the brahmin clergy was seen inscribed within the narrative structure of the Ezour Vedam itself rather than as an intentional product of it. Biache, the caricature of a degenerate brahmin, preaches superstition in the form of popular theology to the philosopher Chumontou. By challenging Biache with refutations culled from the “Veda,” Chumontou imparts “pure” Aryan wisdom concerning the unity of God, creation, the nature of the soul, and the doctrines of suffering and reward. By enumerating the proper forms of worship (Ezour Vedam 1778: 150), the text itself is seen to exhibit the extent to which original Aryan theism had degenerated into Hindu polytheism (Ezour Vedam 1778: 13). With a brahmin priest spouting foolish superstition ably refuted by a philosopher championing reason, the Ezour Vedam was tailor-made to voice Voltaire’s critique of organized religion and faith in rationalism. But, Voltaire’s exoticism did not limit itself to a simple Deist idealization of the Aryan past. India was to provide Voltaire with a forceful weapon for a more significant battle in historical revisionism.

India, What Can It Teach Us?

This question, adopted by Max Müller as the title of a collection of essays, addresses a fundamental concern of this study, namely, that a fictive India and fictional Aryan ancestors were constructed in the West to provide answers for questions regarding European identity. India enabled Europe to discover its “true” past. Nowhere is this more true than in Voltaire’s attempt to rewrite the history of religions. It was in his efforts to compare world mythologies, especially the myth of the Fall of Man, that Voltaire’s true need to construct an Indian alibi (Latin: elsewhere) surfaced.

Voltaire compared the “Indian” version of the Fall with the classical myth relating the revolt of the Titans and the apocryphal account of Lucifer’s rebellion found in the Book of Enoch (Voltaire 1885: 18.34). The common use of this myth in three traditions suggested to Voltaire that the Greeks and the Jews had knowledge of brahmin mysteries. Voltaire placed additional significance on this myth, attributing all subsequent religious thought to it. It provided the foundation for the entire Christian religion (Voltaire 1885: 11.184), since it set the stage for Original Sin, which in turn set the stage for everything that followed. Voltaire also claimed that the Aryans originated the concept of the Devil, who, as the agent of sin, animated all Judeo- Christian theology (Voltaire 1885: 29.482). If this was indeed true, why, Voltaire asked, did Christianity bother to use a source as tenuous as a Jewish apocryphal book to explain the existence of evil (Voltaire 1885: 29.172–73)? Why did Christianity seek to base itself solely on a myth that did not even appear in the Old Testament (Voltaire 1885: 28.139)?

Voltaire posed these questions with a clear response in mind. By inserting this fundamental myth into an apocryphal book, the Jews contrived to claim authorship and displace the true founders of our faith. It was the Aryans, the Vedic brahmins, who had first developed these truths. The Jews subsequently repeated this mythology, after stealing it from its ancient Indian source. Just as the Jews stole the source of religions, so too did they steal the idea of Adam as the progenitor.

Did they get this from the Jews? Did the Jews copy the Indians, were both original? The Jews are not allowed to think that their writers took (ont puisé) anything from the brahmins, of whom they have never heard. It is not permitted to think about Adam in another way than do the Jews. I will be quiet and I will not think. (Voltaire 1885: 19.59)


Such is Voltaire’s polemic: The Jews stole what was of worth in their religion from the Aryans, people whom they called Gog and Magog (Voltaire 1885: 29.471). They then conspired to keep their fraud a secret. We, as Christians, have not dared to reveal this fraud, as our own beliefs are implicated (Voltaire 1885: 29.481). We have to believe the Jews, although we detest them, because they are regarded as our precursors and masters (Voltaire 1885: 11.47).

Ironically, Voltaire’s strategy to reveal this fraud involved those very individuals who, had the Jews not been his scapegoats, would have been his natural enemies—the Jesuits. Voltaire felt that the Jesuits alone were capable of proving whether “the vast Indies or a part of Palestine” comprises the most ancient society. They alone possessed the scholarly means to determine whether brahmins had plagarized the Pentateuch or the Jews had appropriated the wisdom of the Aryans (Voltaire 1885: 29.184).

The Veda was never more than a symbolic text for Voltaire. Nevertheless, it supplied him with an effective tool to launch a considerable attack: it combated idolatry, introduced Adam to the world, and provided an alternative scenario for the Fall of Man. In short, the Veda provided “all the principles of theology” (Voltaire 1885: 11.192) that Voltaire needed or desired: baptism, the immortality of the soul, metempsychosis, the identification of Abraham with Brahm (sic), and of Adam and Eve with Adimo and Procriti. The description of the revolt of the angels found in Holwell’s Shasta prefigured the biblical account of Lucifer’s fall.

The political repercussions of this reconstruction of Aryan religion were signficant. We have seen how the Ezour Vedam’s creation myth enabled Voltaire to attack the originality of the Hebrews and their religion. It allowed him to claim the anteriority of the Indians and, in doing so, effectively challenge the authority of the Bible. India provided another basis for religion unencumbered by the Judaic tradition. Indian “scripture” also allowed Voltaire to make the argument that the Jews were the great plagiarists of history:

Some very intelligent thinkers say that the brahmin sect is incontestably older that that of the Jews . . . they say that the Indians were always inventors and the Jews always imitators, the Indians always clever and the Jews always coarse. (Cited in Hawley 1974: 151)


In sections appended at a later date (1769) to the Essai sur les moeurs, Voltaire accuses the Jews of stealing from the Indians both the myths of Creation and the Fall. The Jews did not set the stage for Christianity; rather it was the Aryans who bequethed to us a religion based on universal reason that the Jews subsequently distorted. In a late letter to Frederick the Great (December 1775), Voltaire reiterated that Christianity was founded solely on the ancient religion of “Brama” [sic].

Voltaire’s reading of the “Veda” is, indeed, as ironic as it is inventive. He was able to imbue a clever piece of propaganda (or a clumsy attempt at ecumenicism) with characteristics that suited his polemical needs. Vedic India became a privileged site of Deist rationalism. He enlisted the Aryans in an attack on the pretensions of the Catholic Church and invoked their originality in order to displace the Jews from their privileged position in history. Less spectacular yet not less noteworthy is the simple fact that hidden behind Voltaire’s polemic lie the seeds of modern historiography, the study of comparative mythology, and the history of religions. It was with such faulty source material and prejudice that Voltaire initiated the comparative study of religion by comparing our myths to those of the Aryans.

LOCUS OF POETIC INSPIRATION OR SITE OF CULTURAL DECAY?

Herder: Poetry versus Metaphysics


Kant proclaimed that the modern state resulted from man’s progressive development. How was one to reconcile this theory with the perception that many “primitive” peoples were happier and better off than inhabitants of the civilized world? In accordance with popular Enlightenment propaganda, one could render these “primitives” more sophisticated than the modern Western man. Thus, Kant could declare that Indian religious thought was free of dogmatism and intolerance: “It is a principle of the Indians (i.e. the Hindus), that every nation has its own religion. For this reason, they do not force anyone to accept theirs” (cited in Halbfass 1988:61).

We have seen how in the French Enlightenment discourse, India provided an alibi: by satisfying, through spacial displacement, the need for a new social and religious geography. Moreover, Indian religion also illustrated how “natural light” had been eclipsed through superstition, fanaticism, and idolatry. As Wilhelm Halbfass has noted, this theme of the suppression of natural light through superstition enjoyed great popularity among thinkers of the Enlightenment. Finally, the discourse on India also gives expression to the motif of religious decay (Halbfass 1988: 60–61). It was in the writings of Johann Gottfried von Herder that this strategy, linking self-reflection to anexotic, was first used to indulge politically charged fantasies of structural collapse and decay.

The philosophes and their followers believed in the unity of mankind and held that all men subsisted under the same natural law of right and reason. They supposed that all would participate alike in progress and that the outcome of history would be one of uniform civilization in which all peoples and races would share equally. As Herder maintained in the Ideen, man has the potential of ascending to the ideal of infinite perfection even without the benefits of Western culture. The study of peoples such as Indians (Herder 1877–1913: 4.357, 425; 5.214; 8.208; 11.247; 16.13) contributed to the development of Humanität, defined by Herder as the sum of the virtue and talents peculiar to human beings or the divine in man (Herder 1877–1913: 13.350; 14.230). However, the Enlightenment’s belief in the potential similarity of all human beings and in freedom from intolerance and ignorance would not be so easily realized. Herder’s discussions of India brings to the foreground this very dilemma.

Contrary to the account found in Genesis, Voltaire had placed the origin of mankind in the East on the banks of the Ganges. Herder followed Voltaire in that he too discovered the cradle of humanity in India (Herder 1877–1913: 13.38, 399, 403, 406).13 Since all men were descended from the same race (Herder 1877-1913: 5.447; 13.252, 405), Herder attributed the development of different cultures and languages to environmental forces (Herder 1877–1913: 5.539). Language, the purest expression of the spiritual character of a national group (Herder 1877–1913: 17.58–59), like man himself, descended from a unique source (Herder 1877–1913: 30.8). By positioning the childhood of humanity in India, Herder referred not only to the ancestors of Europeans, but also to progenitors of all humankind.

In the Ideen, Herder described India as the birthplace of all languages, sciences, and art (Herder 1877–1913: 13.411). He characterized the Hindus as the gentlest race of man (Herder 1877–1913: 13.222, 225–26). The Indian has respect for all sentient beings. His nourishment is sound and his demeanor as graceful as his spirit (Herder 1877-1913: 13.222). Indians are endowed with supernatural physical and spiritual qualities (Herder 1877–1913: 14.32, 73–74). No people exceeds the Indian in calmness and gentle obedience. Herder attributed the Indians’ tranquility to the climate as well as their innate character (Herder 1877–1913: 14.28). Their gestures and speech are unconstrainedly charming, their intercourse free, their bodies pure, and their mode of life simple and harmless. Children are brought up with indulgence and are not lacking in sensitivity, knowledge, or diligence. Even the lowest strata of society learn to read, write, and add (Herder 1877–1913: 14.28–29). Their vision of God is great and beautiful.

However, Herder did not give India the least importance in the comparative history of primitive revelation. It was as though Indian religion, since the supposed loss of the Rig Veda, had been cut off from primitive revelation and reduced to human speculation. Indian religion was interesting in and of itself, but inappropriate to illuminate the authenticity of pure Christianity or Judaism, which, after all, were the objects of legitimate exegesis. Herder found much to respect about India. Like his friend Goethe, he admired the graceful simplicity of Kalidasa’s Sakuntala. He even felt that it must be more valuable than all “the Vedas, Upavedas and Upangas” put together. Its poetry, undistorted by tendentious religious speculation, provided greater beauty and truth than was thought possible in Sanskrit literature. Herder judged the Vedas, “Upavedas” and “Upangas,” although absent to his gaze, as interminable, less useful, and far less agreeable than the poetry of Kalidasa. He even surmised that it was the Veda that had blunted the spirit and character of the Indian people. Compared to the poetry, all those “Upnekats” and “Bagavedams” must have presented faint notions of the Indian mentality (Herder 1786–92: 91).

In Herder’s mind, India and the primitive world, the primitive world and nature, nature and poetry become synonymous and interchangeable. He joined the eighteenth-century belief in the anteriority of poetry to his own variation of the bon sauvage theme and posited an equivalence of India and poetry (Herder 1877–1913: 5.50; 1.32). The compiler of the Stimmen der Völker in Liedern also encouraged Germans to seek new inspirational models and question the absolute value of Greek classical norms. The philosophes and their German disciples believed that reality and, by extension, the arts were ordered in terms of universal, timeless, objective, and unalterable laws which rational investigation could discover. Their detractors believed that logic was incompatible with the force of inspiration necessary for poetic creation. Herder sought a middle ground between these diametrically opposed alternatives. He rejected the particular concept of reason propounded by Enlightenment rationalism and endeavored, rather, to interpret rationality in such a way that it was not inimical to spontaneity and vitality.

The Fragmente, Über die neuere deutsche Literatur, and Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache reveal Herder’s struggle with the possibility of discovering a native German literature. The movement of German authors to found a German national literature developed along two distinct lines: the first consisting of a need to establish a clear criterion for assessing a work’s national characteristics, the second, to create a literature unique in itself. As a corollary, this movement stimulated speculation on the nature of artistic inspiration in general. To proclaim the poetic origin of language, to situate the land of poetry in India, to present popular songs against the classics, to underline the sacred character of inspiration—in other words, to found a Weltliteratur—already entailed the assertion of the artistic equivalence between the Nibelungenlied and the Vedas (Gérard 1963: 65).

With man’s origin in India, it followed that Sanskrit poetry should provide the source from which all poetry descended. Sanskrit poetry thus played a pivotal role in Herder’s thought. Its beauty and sublimity provided an excellent argument in favor of Herder’s humanistic aesthetic. The study of songs, fables, and myths of nationalities such as that of India (Herder 1877–1913: 16.13; 4.357; 5.214; 8.208; 11.247) contributed to the development of one’s national culture, which, in turn, contributed to the development of humanity (Herder 1877–1913: 13.356; 14.230).

Due to the West’s necessarily incomplete knowledge of Sanskrit literature, Herder could cut it to measure out of the poetic presuppositions of an unpoetic age. As a result of Herder’s theories and instigations, Sanskrit poetry became required reading for anyone who desired to experience “real” poetry. In Herder’s thought, the ´´ Sakuntala possessed everything the absent Veda lacked. In fact, for Herder, Kalidasa’s nataka assumed a significance which subsequent writers attributed to the Veda in their depiction of an Aryan humanity. Herder chose to emphasize the Sakuntalafor two reasons. Kalidasa’s play existed and could be read in support of Romantic claims which found their germ in Herder’s writings. The Veda did not exist. But, even as an absent text, it was never absent as a counterpoint to Sanskrit poetry and was a negative authority in his discourse to be rejected because of its degeneracy and superstitious beliefs.

According to Herder, Aryan religion was destroyed long ago by Vaisnavite and Shivaite sectarians. Its legends came down to us only in the form of more recent interpretations. While some residue of the initial purity of primitive Aryan religion remains in these legends, they have been grossly distorted by myth. While quasi-biblical and quasi-Christian, Indian religion suffered from a particular evil, metempsychosis, that destroyed Aryan spirituality and morality, leaving Hindu quietism, indifference, and social disaster in its wake. Herder suspected what modern Indologists can prove from the Rig Veda—that the Aryans did not believe in metempsychosis. Herder believed that metempsychosis betokened the regression of Aryan spirituality from contact with aboriginal tribes given to totemism (Herder 1877–1913: 16.78). For Herder, metempsychosis signified the illusion of sensual men who envied the fate of animals. Populations that are more evolved and happier invent a locus where their terrestrial life can be prolonged in idealized form. The Aryans had done this. But the later Indians had degenerated. Their belief in metempsychosis encouraged compassion for plants and animals, rather than for people (Herder 1877–1913: 14.31).

In actuality, Herder distinguished three Indias: the primitive kingdom of poetry and natural religion provided by the presence of the Sakuntala, the mystico-metaphysical worldview represented by the Aryans of the absent Veda, and the degenerate present. For Herder’s subjective reasoning, the first alone was of interest, the second inaccessable, and the third a monstrous product of the human spirit. All three Indias—the locus of true poetry, the lost Aryan hierophany, and the degenerate present—would, however, reappear in subsequent discussions. It would be the task of the Romantic mythographers to incorporate these fictive Indias within an interpretation of the Semitic-Christian religious cycle. India was still too distant, however, in Herder’s time.

Nevertheless, many of the Romantic theses regarding India begin to coalesce in Herder. Already, in Voltaire, we saw the Aryans inhabiting a golden age and their religion offering a tradition older than the Bible. Aryan India saw primitive revelation degenerate under the influence of a corrupt priesthood and monotheism reduced to polytheism. Upon this script, Herder and the Romantics projected their own aesthetic need: the desire to discover a true national poetry. Once the Veda appeared on the literary scene, Herder’s notions concerning the poetic origin of language and poetry as a spontaneous expression of the folk spirit and Sanskrit poetry as natural national poetry would be applied to it. Herder’s depiction of India as an ancient poetic utopia and modern site of cultural decay would also reappear in subsequent discussions.

Jones and Colebrooke: Myth versus Text

Sir William Jones was Europe’s foremost Orientalist scholar. He mastered twenty-eight languages, translated the Sakuntala and the Manava Dharmashastra (Laws of Manu), and served in India as a judge. Nevertheless, he depicted the ancient Aryan in terms not dissimilar to those of the nonspecialists of his time. The Aryans were a superior people. All that was considered valuable in the Ancients found an initial expression among the Aryans. They possessed a highly evolved moral wisdom and a fertile imaginative genius (Jones 1788: 728-29). They originated the study of astronomy (Jones 1788: 430) and developed metaphysical theories that the Greeks later appropriated (Jones 1788: 425). The Aryans also supplied the Ancients with their gods (Jones 1788: 724). They were somewhat related to the great cultures of mankind, including our own. Aryan society was so magnificent that, even after so many revolutions and conquests, they still surpassed the world in wealth. However, Aryan culture degenerated and only vestiges of its former glory appear in modern India.

Today they appear degenerate and abased . . . in some early age, they were splendid in arts and arms, happy in government, wise in legislation, and eminent in various knowledges. (Jones 1788: 421) Before the Aryans disappeared, however, they left a textual trace of their genius behind in the Veda and its “compendium, the Upanishads.” According to Jones, these texts provided source material for information regarding the Aryans and their noble metaphysics (Jones 1788: 429). To this script, Jones added several key points that would provide valuable information for an ideological portrait of ancient India that subsequent thinkers in India and the West would exploit.

Jones is credited with the discovery of the affinity between Sanskrit and the Classical, Persian, Celtic, and Gothic languages. His speculation regarding the importance of Sanskrit not only initiated the scientific study of India, but proved revolutionary to the then barely nascent study of linguistics. For, in addition to noting the similarity between Sanskrit and the classical languages, Jones informed his readers that Sanskrit was “more perfect” than Greek, more copious than Latin and, more exquisitely refined than either (Jones 1788: 422). If Sanskrit so far surpassed those languages previously held as the highest forms of expression, then the Indians who spoke it were truly a race to be admired. We have seen how others had made similar assertions. Jones, however, was the first to be able to back his claim with “scientific” data. The belief in a linguistic affinity of the Aryans with Persians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, Tuscans, Goths, Celts, Chinese, Japanese, and Peruvians implied that these peoples all proceeded from some central site of origin (Jones 1788: 431). That they all possessed languages structurally similar to our own became politically significant. Scholarship could now be enlisted in the service of empire. By rediscovering India’s Aryan past, England could subsequently presume that it was helping India help itself. This motive, explicit in Jones’s translation efforts (Figueira 1991: 25), also informed the portrayal of the Aryan in the scholarship of Henry Thomas Colebrooke (Müller 1837: 1.2). Colebrooke’s assessment of the Vedic materials was, however, more directly instrumental in defining the British colonial mission.

Jones, along with other scholars (Halhed, Marine, and Chambers) had collected numerous Vedic fragments and deposited them in the library of the College of Fort William in Calcutta (Kopf 1969:40). In 1800, Colebrooke was assigned by Governor-General Wellesley to teach Sanskrit at Fort William. During his tenure there, he found an ideal opportunity to collate the Vedic fragments residing in the college library. In the Asiatick Researches of 1805, Colebrooke offered an approximate idea of the contents of the Veda (Colebrooke 1805: 377–497). His readings of this material offered Westerners for the first time the textual evidence to chart the decline of Indian civilization from Vedic to modern times (Müller 1837: 1.3).

Colebrooke had initially doubted whether the Vedas were extant or whether their obsolete dialect could be read by anyone.14 He had thought that even if brahmins possessed the Veda, they would not have shared them. Although the Upanishads had already been translated into Persian, the brahmins still jealously guarded their scripture (Colebrooke 1805: 377). Colonel Polier’s discovery of a purportedly complete copy dispelled Colebrooke’s doubts. The Veda did, in fact, exist and it became Colebrooke’s task to introduce it in general terms to the West.15

The bulk of Colebrooke’s article, however, dealt with proving the authenticity of his manuscripts. Although the Veda’s date and authorship could not be determined “with accuracy and confidence” (Colebrooke 1805: 489), Colebrooke confirmed its authenticity by cross-referencing it to other works. He also compared fragments of numerous commentaries whose authenticity had been secured by interpretations of their annotations in other works.16 He further verified Vedic quotations with the testimony of grammars, collections of aphorisms, law digests, astronomy, medical texts, profane poetry, and even the writings of heretical sects (Colebrooke 1805: 481–84). This corroboration offered sufficient grounds to prove that no forger’s skill was equal to the task of fabricating large works in all branches of Sanskrit literature to agree with the numerous citations pervading thousands of volumes in every branch of that literature (Colebrooke 1805: 484). The “superstitious” manner in which the Veda was read, its explanatory table of contents, and indices as well as glosses of every passage and every word made interpolations impracticable (Colebrooke 1805: 480). Colebrooke assured his readers that the Veda, as he presented it, not only was genuine but had survived in an unadulterated form. After authenticating the texts in question, however, Colebrooke showed little interest in analyzing their message or the civilization out of which they arose.

He did, however, corroborate Jones’s more significant assertions. Colebrooke read the Veda as a negative authority. It did not so much relate what the Aryans were like as what they were not like: modern Hindus. All the abuses of modern Hinduism were absent from Vedic religion. There were no blood sacrifices (Colebrooke 1805: 437–78). The numerous gods of modern cultic practice could be reduced to the three major Vedic deities and these were ultimately manifestations of one supreme god (Colebrooke 1805: 395). Just as Aryan religious rituals differed dramatically from those of modern India, so did its social practices (Colebrooke 1795: 209–19; Colebrooke 1798: 33-67).

Colebrooke’s thesis, while evidently more informed and expert than that of the nonspecialist commentary, was remarkably similar to the Enlightenment discourse on the Aryans. It emphasized an ideal Vedic age whose religion had degenerated through superstition and clerical abuse. The monotheistic religion that Colebrooke discovered in the Vedas was no longer in use and had been superseded by polytheism and decadent ceremonies, founded on the Puranas or, even worse, the Tantras. Bloody sacrifices to Kalı had taken the place of the less sanguinary yajña, just as adoration of Krishna and Rama had succeeded the worship of elements and plants (Colebrooke 1805: 495-96). As Colebrooke would note in his essay “On the Religious Ceremonies of the Hindus,” modern Hinduism functioned as a misunderstanding of ancient texts (Colebrooke 1802: 229–31). Rituals such as satı were not part of the authentic scriptural tradition (Colebrooke 1785: 109–19). Colebrooke also found discrepancies between the ancient texts and contemporary practice with reference to caste exclusionary practices. David Kopf has characterized the Jones-Colebrooke depiction of the Aryans in the following terms: they “were thought to have been outgoing and non-mystical. They were pictured as a robust, beef-eating, socially egalitarian society” (Kopf 1969: 41). These Aryans believed in one God, did not practice satı or idolatry, and did not adhere to caste regulations. They were in no way similar to modern Hindus.

Despite the length of Colebrooke’s article, his specific conclusions were scant and uninspiring. He limited his discussion to providing a soupçon of the Vedas, citing passages to show the “seeming absurdity” of the text under analysis (Colebrooke 1805: 434). They were too voluminous for a complete translation, their language was obscure, and they presented too little reward to the reader and the translator.17 Colebrooke concluded that the Vedas deserved to be consulted occasionally by the Oriental scholar for those few remarkable and important things found in them, however difficult it was to extract such pearls. On this negative note, Colebrooke concluded his 120- page analysis introducing the Veda to Europe. His article had the effect of dampening interest in the Vedas and discouraging scholars from delving deeper into them for profitable information. However, Colebrooke’s analysis had a significant political effect upon the colonial administration’s assessment of the worth of Sanskrit literature and modern Hindu religion, as Thomas B. Macauley’s oft-cited Minute will attest. It took another half-century to amend Colebrooke’s dismissive judgment and shift the focus of scholarly interest away from the classical period of Sanskrit literature back to the Urtext.18

CONCLUSION

The discourse on the Aryan during this period, culled from fraudulent or largely absent textual material, expressed concerns that were crucial to the Enlightenment vision of historical progress and knowing subjects acting within history. The Veda’s discovery, “scientific” analysis, and presence in the West as a text would not significantly alter the nonspecialist portrait of the Aryan. In fact, Orientalist scholarship is seen to have provided the documentation necessary to support the Enlightenment conceptual apparatus. Such validation may, indeed, explain critical interpretations of the Enlightenment’s influence on Orientalism and colonialism. As we have noted, postcolonial critiques of the Enlightenment tend to avoid actually engaging Enlightenment texts. This failure should not be attributed to critical laziness, the theorists’ restrictive canon, or the fact that Foucault has exhausted the possibilities of interpreting the Enlightenment. By evoking the Enlightenment without allowing its literature to inform any analysis and projecting onto Enlightenment anthropology the discursive source of colonialism without engaging texts, critics can neatly avoid having to confront what the literature reveals: the Enlightenment’s ambiguous representation of the Other. Poststructuralism’s limited canon normally protects certain ideological presuppositions, the first and foremost of which is Deconstruction’s critique of Western rationalism. Actual engagement with Enlightenment texts might very well call such presuppositions into question. Therefore, postcolonial theory, spawned as it is from Deconstruction’s confrontation with logocentrism, must present the Enlightenment as a unified trajectory. It must be seen as a period that uniformly absolutized differences. The Enlightenment must be made to fit the master narrative of Orientalism and colonial discourse analysis.

Moreover, any actual confrontation with Enlightenment literature would highlight the extent to which poststructural criticism embraces its presentism, equates politics with oppositionalism and power with rationalism. If poststructuralist theory’s universalization of power defines itself as a systemic limitation to individual choice (Fluck 1996: 227), then postcolonial criticism has a vested interest in dismissing the Enlightenment. If a key concern of this criticism involves the rejection of ideals that were fundamental to the Enlightenment project, then the Enlightenment as the perpetrator of rationalism, empiricism, and historicism must be suspect. The Enlightenment belief in the idea of historical agents and/or knowing subjects must also be ignored, since the edifice of poststructuralist criticism has been erected upon the impossibility of self-reflection and intersubjective validation (Fluck 1990: 17). Thus, criticism’s own agenda must be projected onto texts from the past. A valuable lesson can be learned from this critical reading of the Enlightenment. As readers, we should look beyond critical gestures of empowerment and assess the larger politics of identity that not only informed historical and literary analysis, but continue to be played out with Indian props.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:43 am

Jacob Ilive [John Ilive]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/31/20

Jacob Ilive (1705 – 1763) was an English type-founder, printer and author. He was a religious radical, who developed neognostic views based on deism.[1] He spent time in prison, convicted of blasphemy.

Life

He was the son of Thomas Ilive (died 1724), a London printer of Aldersgate Street, and his wife Jane James (1669–daughter of Thomas James, another printer. Two brothers, Abraham and Isaac, were also printers. He was apprenticed to his father, and freed from the bond in 1726, by his mother.[2][3]

Around 1730, Ilive carried on both a type foundry and a printing business. In 1734 he lived by Aldersgate coffee house. From January 1736 to 1738 he published a rival to Edward Cave's Gentleman's Magazine.

The Gentleman's Magazine was a monthly magazine founded in London, England, by Edward Cave in January 1731. It ran uninterrupted for almost 200 years, until 1922. It was the first to use the term magazine (from the French magazine, meaning "storehouse") for a periodical. Samuel Johnson's first regular employment as a writer was with The Gentleman's Magazine.

The original complete title was The Gentleman's Magazine: or, Trader's monthly intelligencer. Cave's innovation was to create a monthly digest of news and commentary on any topic the educated public might be interested in, from commodity prices to Latin poetry. It carried original content from a stable of regular contributors, as well as extensive quotations and extracts from other periodicals and books. Cave, who edited The Gentleman's Magazine under the pen name "Sylvanus Urban", was the first to use the term magazine (meaning "storehouse") for a periodical. Contributions to the magazine frequently took the form of letters, addressed to "Mr. Urban". The iconic illustration of St. John's Gate on the front of each issue (occasionally updated over the years) depicted Cave's home, in effect, the magazine's "office"...

Samuel Johnson's first regular employment as a writer was with The Gentleman's Magazine. During a time when parliamentary reporting was banned, Johnson regularly contributed parliamentary reports as "Debates of the Senate of Magna Lilliputia". Though they reflected the positions of the participants, the words of the debates were mostly Johnson's own. The name "Columbia", a poetic name for America coined by Johnson, first appears in a 1738 weekly publication of the debates of the British Parliament in the magazine.

A skilled businessman, Edward Cave developed an extensive distribution system for The Gentleman's Magazine. It was read throughout the English-speaking world and continued to flourish through the 18th century and much of the 19th century under a series of different editors and publishers. It went into decline towards the end of the 19th century and finally ceased general publication in September 1907...

In addition to an index for each year of The Gentleman's Magazine, which was usually published with the December issue of the magazine, a full index was compiled by the College of Arms and typed by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

-- The Gentleman's Magazine, by Wikipedia


He sold the foundry in 1740, but kept the printing side going for the rest of his life. He went to live in "London House", the former residence of Christopher Rawlinson.[2]

Ilive died in 1763, aged 58. The printer John Nichols considered him "somewhat disordered in his mind".[2]

Views and gaol sentence

Ilive delivered at Brewers' Hall on 10 September 1733, and at Joiners' Hall two weeks later, an Oration on the plurality of worlds and against the doctrine of eternal punishment. He hired Carpenters' Hall, London Wall, and lectured there on the natural religion. In 1738 he brought out another Oration, for which the venue was Trinity Hall, in Aldersgate Street, on 9 January 1738; it was directed against Henry Felton's True Discourses, on personal identity in the resurrection of the dead.[2]

Image


In 1751 Ilive printed anonymously the Book of Jasher, a purported translation. It was reissued with additions by Rev. Charles Rogers Bond, Bristol, 1829.[2] Behind unconvincing stories of its origin, the book contained naturalistic explanations of Old Testament miracles.[1]

The Book of Jasher, also called Pseudo-Jasher, is an eighteenth-century literary forgery by Jacob Ilive. It purports to be an English translation by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus of the lost Book of Jasher. It is sometimes called Pseudo-Jasher to distinguish it from the midrashic Sefer haYashar (Book of the Upright, Naples, 1552), which incorporates genuine Jewish legend.

Published in November 1750, the title page of the book says: "translated into English by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, of Britain, Abbot of Canterbury, who went on a pilgrimage into the Holy Land and Persia, where he discovered this volume in the city of Gazna." The book claims to be written by Jasher, son of Caleb, one of Moses's lieutenants, who later judged Israel at Shiloh. The book covers biblical history from the creation down to Jasher's own day and was represented as the Lost Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible.


The provenance of the text was immediately suspect: the eighth-century cleric Alcuin could not have produced a translation in the English of the King James Bible. There is an introductory account by Alcuin of his discovery of the manuscript in Persia and its history since the time of Jasher, and a commendation by John Wycliffe.

The supposed lost book was declared an obvious hoax by the Monthly Review in the December of the year of publication, and the printer Jacob Ilive was sentenced in 1756 to three years in jail for this fraud and for his radical anti-religious pamphlets.

In 1829, a slightly revised and enlarged edition was published in Bristol, provoking attacks against it. Photographic reproduction of this 1829 edition was published in 1934 by the Rosicrucians in San Jose, California, who declared it an inspired work.

-- Book of Jasher (Pseudo-Jasher), by Wikipedia


On 20 June 1756 Ilive was sentenced to three years' imprisonment with hard labour in the House of Correction at Clerkenwell, for writing, printing, and publishing an anonymous pamphlet in 1754. Aimed at Thomas Sherlock, it was entitled Some Remarks on the excellent Discourses lately published by a very worthy Prelate by a Searcher after Religious Truth. It was rewritten and enlarged as Remarks on the two Volumes of excellent Discourses lately published by the Bishop of London, 1755. It was declared to be "a most blasphemous book" denying the divinity of Jesus Christ as well as revealed religion.

Image

Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) PC was a British divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.

Born in London, he was the son of the Very Revd William Sherlock, Dean of St Paul's. He was educated at Eton College and St Catharine's College, Cambridge. In 1704 he succeeded his father as Master of the Temple, where he was very popular...

In 1714 he became master of his old college at Cambridge and later the university's vice-chancellor, whose privileges he defended against Richard Bentley. In 1715, he was appointed Dean of Chichester.

He took a prominent part in the Bangorian controversy against Benjamin Hoadly.

The Bangorian Controversy was a theological argument within the Church of England in the early 18th century, with strong political overtones. The origins of the controversy lay in the 1716 posthumous publication of George Hickes's Constitution of the Catholic Church, and the Nature and Consequences of Schism. In it, Hickes, on behalf of the minority non-juror faction that had broken away from the Church of England after the Glorious Revolution, as Bishop of Thetford, excommunicated all but the non-juror churchmen. Benjamin Hoadly, the Bishop of Bangor, wrote a reply, Preservative against the Principles and Practices of Non-Jurors; his own Erastian position was sincerely proposed as the only test of truth.

The controversy itself began very visibly and vocally when Hoadly delivered a sermon on 31 March 1717[which calendar?] to George I of Great Britain on The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ. His text was John 18:36, "My kingdom is not of this world" and from that, Hoadly deduced, supposedly at the request of the king himself, that there is no Biblical justification for any church government of any sort. He identified the church with the Kingdom of Heaven. It was therefore not of this world, and Christ had not delegated His authority to any representatives.

Two competing visions of government were in play. On the one hand, there was a vision of God appointing the king and the bishops to be leaders, selecting them from all others and imbuing them with special characters, either through grace or in creation. That view held that the king, as the head of the Established Church, was not only a secular leader of a state but also a religious primate. Power and regulation flowed downward from God to the people. That was the aristocratic model that was favoured by the Tory party and had been used to propose the divine right of kings.

The other view was that power flowed up from the people to the leaders, that leaders were no more intrinsically better than those led, and God gives out revelation freely. That Whig view was also the view of the Puritans and the "Independents" (the various Congregational and Baptist churches, Quakers etc.).

George I favoured the Whigs in Parliament and favoured a latitudinarian ecclesiastical policy in general. That was probably not by any desire to give up royal prerogative but to break the power of the aristocracy and the House of Lords. A significant obstacle to all kings of England had been the presence of bishops in the Lords. While a king could create peers, it was much more difficult for him to move bishops into and out of the Lords.

The sermon was immediately published and instantly drew counterattacks. William Law (Three Letters to the Bishop of Bangor) and Thomas Sherlock (dean of Chichester), in particular, gave vigorous defences of church polity. Hoadly himself wrote A Reply to the Representations of Convocation to answer Sherlock, Andrew Snape, provost of Eton, and Francis Hare, then dean of Worcester. The three men, and another opponent, Robert Moss, dean of Ely, were deprived of their royal chaplaincies by the king. Hoadly did not, however, attempt to answer William Law. It has been claimed that in all, over 200 pamphlets linked to the controversy were published by 53 writers. Of those, 74 were published in July 1717.

In May 1717, the Convocation appointed a committee to study the sermon. When the report was ready for synodal sanction against Hoadly, the king dismissed the convocation, which did not meet again for over 130 years.


-- Bangorian Controversy, by Wikipedia


Sherlock became Bishop of Bangor in 1728. He was translated to Salisbury in 1734, where he was ex officio Chancellor of the Order of the Garter; and in 1748 to London, where he was sworn of the Privy Council. Sherlock was a capable administrator and cultivated friendly relations with Dissenters. In Parliament he gave good service to his old schoolfellow, Robert Walpole, Prime Minister of Great Britain.

He published against Anthony Collins's deistic Grounds of the Christian Religion a volume of sermons entitled The Use and Intent of Prophecy in the Several Ages of the World (1725); and in reply to Thomas Woolston's Discourses on the Miracles he wrote a volume entitled The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729), which soon ran through fourteen editions. His Pastoral Letter (1750) on the late earthquakes had a circulation of many thousands, and four or five volumes of Sermons which he published in his later years (1754–1758) were also at one time highly esteemed. Jane Austen, wrote to her niece Anna in 1814, "I am very fond of Sherlock's Sermons, prefer them to almost any."...

Sherlock also wrote a respected work entitled A Discourse Concerning the Divine Providence, in which he argues that the Sovereignty and Providence of God are unimpeachable.

Since the Deist controversy Sherlock's argument for the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has continued to interest later Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and John Warwick Montgomery. His place in the history of apologetics has been classified by Ross Clifford as belonging to the legal or juridical school of Christian apologetics.

-- Thomas Sherlock, by Wikipedia


He remained in gaol until 10 June 1758, spending time writing.[2]

The sceptical line Ilive took towards the Genesis creation myth had something in common with ideas found earlier in Charles Blount and Charles Gildon. A strong influence came from the writings of William Derham, in particular Astro-Theology (1715).[4]

Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies as deities, or the association of deities with heavenly bodies. The most common instances of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic systems worldwide. Also notable is the association of the planets with deities in Babylonian, and hence in Greco-Roman religion, viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The term astro-theology is used in the context of 18th- to 19th-century scholarship aiming at the discovery of the original religion, particularly primitive monotheism. Unlike astrolatry, which usually implies polytheism, frowned upon as idolatrous by Christian authors since Eusebius, astrotheology is any "religious system founded upon the observation of the heavens", and in particular, may be monotheistic. Gods, goddesses, and demons may also be considered personifications of astronomical phenomena such as lunar eclipses, planetary alignments, and apparent interactions of planetary bodies with stars. Astro-theology is used by Jan Irvin, Jordan Maxwell and Andrew Rutajit (2006) in reference to "the earliest known forms of religion and nature worship", advocating the entheogen theory of the origin of religion...

-- Astrolatry, by Wikipedia


In what was a tolerant epoch of the Church of England, Ilive was in a select group, with Peter Annet and Thomas Woolston, of those against whom blasphemy charges were successfully brought.[5] Sherlock, by legal action, sought to discourage Ilive from publishing other deist writers.[3]

Works

In 1730 Ilive printed his major book, The Layman's Vindication of the Christian Religion, in 2 pts. The parts were

1. The Layman's general Vindication of Christianity

2. The Layman's Plain Answer to a late Book, a reply to the Grounds and Reasons of Anthony Collins.[2]

His Oration was written in 1729, and published in 1733 (2nd edit. 1736), at the wish of his mother Jane. A Dialogue between a Doctor of the Church of England and Mr. Jacob Ilive upon the subject of the Oration spoke at Joyners' Hall, wherein is proved that the Miracles said to be wrought by Moses were artificial acts only, followed in the same year, in support of the Oration.[2]

In relation to his profession, Ilive wrote:[2]

• Speech to his Brethren the Master Printers on the great Utility of the Art of Printing at a General Meeting 18th July 1750, London, no date.
• The Charter and Grants of the Company of Stationers, with Observations and Remarks thereon, 1762, a pamphlet. It dealt with Ilive's grievances against the management of the Stationers' Company, and he called a meeting on 3 July. A committee was appointed to inquire into the state of the company, and a new master and wardens elected.

Two further pamphlets were:[2]

• Reasons offered for the Reformation of the House of Correction … with a Plan of the Prison (1757)
A Scheme (1759) for the employment of persons sent to prison as disorderly.

Notes

1. Jones, Derek (1 December 2001). Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis. p. 2546. ISBN 9781136798634. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
2. Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Ilive, Jacob" . Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
3. Herrick, James A. "Ilive, Jacob". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14361. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
4. Hudson, Wayne; Lucci, Diego (15 April 2016). Atheism and Deism Revalued: Heterodox Religious Identities in Britain, 1650-1800. Routledge. pp. 113–4. ISBN 9781317177586. Retrieved 25 January 2018.
5. Lucci, Diego (2008). Scripture and Deism: The Biblical Criticism of the Eighteenth-century British Deists. Peter Lang. pp. 18–9. ISBN 9783039112548. Retrieved 25 January 2018.

External links

Attribution


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1887). "Ilive, Jacob". Dictionary of National Biography. 12. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:45 am

Astrolatry
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/31/20





The Sun is the ancient symbol of the life-giving and generative power of the Deity. To the ancients, light was the cause of life; and God was the source from which all light flowed; the essence of Light, the Invisible Fire, developed as flame manifested as light and splendor. The Sun was His manifestation and visible image; and the Sabæans' worshipping the Light -- God -- seemed to worship the Sun, in whom they saw the manifestation of the Deity.

The Moon was the symbol of the passive capacity of nature to produce, the female, of which the life-giving power and energy was the male. It was the symbol of Isis, Astarte, and Artemis, or Diana. The "Master of Life" was the Supreme Deity, above both, and manifested through both; Zeus, the Son of Saturn, become King of the Gods; Horus, son of Osiris and Isis, become the Master of Life; Dionusos or Bacchus, like Mithras, become the author of Light and Life and Truth.

The Master of Light and Life, the Sun and the Moon, are symbolized in every Lodge by the Master and Wardens: and this makes it the duty of the Master to dispense light to the Brethren, by himself, and through the Wardens, who are his ministers.

-- Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, by Albert Pike


Rome, that reformed the world, accustomed was
Two suns to have, which one road and the other,
Of God and of the world, made manifest.

-- The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Hail! Hail! Unto thee Jove supernal!
Light of the Sun! Of the Sun of the Suns!
Giver of the corn, the wine, and the oil!
Bread of the heart, ecstasy of soul, light that rays the face.
Bountiful Jove! Former of form!
Hail unto Thee! Hail unto Thee!
Essence of ecstasy! Return I unto Thee in rhapsody!
Hail unto Thee, Hail! Hail!

-- The Fire Regained, by Sidney M. Hirsch


The Sun's resplendent deity I sing,
The beauteous offspring of almighty Jove,
Who, thro' the vivifying solar fount
Within his fabricative mind conceal'd,
A triad form'd of splendid solar gods;
From whence the world's all-various forms emerg'd
From mystic darkness into beauteous light,
Perfect, and full of intellectual goods.
Hail! Supermundane king of light divine, ...
O best of gods, blest dæmon crown'd with fire,
My soul's sure refuge in the hour of woe, ...
And oft with thee in blissful union join'd
Thro' energy ineffable, may soar
Beyond the highest super-mundane forms

-- Two Orations of the Emperor Julian, One to the Sovereign Sun and the Other to the Mother of the Gods, by Flavius Claudius Julianus


We people are the children of the sun, the bright source of life; we are born of the sun and will vanquish the murky fear of death.

-- Children of the Sun, by Maxim Gorky


The mystic, as he sees the light of the morning dawn, looks upon it as the daily coming into his soul of the primordial Creative Fiat, "Let there be Light," and as the Light of day progresses and gradually wanes in the western sky, he sees in the glorious tapestry of the sunset a something beyond description by human tongue, a something that can be felt by the soul. If we let those five verses live within us, in the way they do in the mystic, we too, shall know the light, know the truth, as we know nothing else in the world.

-- The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, by Max Heindel


The life of the solitary would be cold were it not for the immense sun, which makes the air and rocks glow. The sun and its eternal splendor replace for the solitary his own life warmth. His heart longs for the sun. He wanders to the lands of the sun. He dreams of the flickering splendor of the sun, of the hot red stones spread out at midday, of the golden hot rays of dry sand. The solitary seeks the sun and no one else is so ready to open his heart as he is. Therefore he loves the desert above all, since he loves its deep stillness. He needs little food since the sun and its glow nourish him. Consequently the solitary loves the desert above all since it is a mother to him, giving him food and invigorating warmth at regular hours. In the desert the solitary is relieved of care and therefore turns his whole life to the sprouting garden of his soul, which can flourish only under a hot sun. In his garden the delicious red fruit grows that bears swelling sweetness under a tight skin. You think that the solitary is poor. You do not see that he strolls under laden fruit trees and that his hand touches grain a hundredfold. Under dark leaves the overfull reddish blossoms swell toward him from abundant buds, and the fruit almost bursts with thronging juices. Fragrant resins drip from his trees and under his feet thrusting seed breaks open. If the sun sinks onto the plane of the sea like an exhausted bird, the solitary envelops himself and holds his breath. He does not move and is pure expectancy until the miracle of the renewal of light rises in the East....

He gives you a small insignificant fruit, which has just fallen at his feet. It appears worthless to you, but if you consider it, you will see that this fruit tastes like a sun which you could not have dreamt of. It gives off a perfume which confuses your senses and makes you dream of rose gardens and sweet wine and whispering palm trees. And you hold this one fruit in your hands dreaming, and you would like the tree in which it grows, the garden in which this tree stands, and the sun which brought forth this garden. And you yourself want to be that solitary who strolls with the sun in his garden, his gaze resting on pendant flowers and his hand brushing a hundredfold of grain and his breath drinking the perfume from a thousand roses. Dull from the sun and drunk from fermenting wines, you lie down in ancient graves, whose walls resound with many voices and many colors of a thousand solar years....

You sleep down through the thousand solar years, and you wake up through the thousand solar years, and your dreams full of ancient lore adorn the walls of your bedchamber.

-- The Red Book: Liber Novus, by C.G. Jung


JUDAH, THEE SHALL THY BRETHEN PRAISE, THY HAND SHALL BE ON THE NECK OF THY ENEMIES. R. Jose discoursed here on the verse: He made the moon for seasons (Ps. CIV, 19). 'God', he said, 'made the moon for us to sanctify by it new moons and new years. Now the moon never shines except from the reflection of the sun, and when the sun is aloft the moon does not appear, but only when the sun is gathered in does the moon rule the heavens, and the moon is of no account save when the sun is gathered in. God made both of them to give light and also "for signs", to wit, Sabbaths, "and for seasons", to wit, festivals, "and for days", to wit, new moons, "and for years", to wit, New Year days, so that the Gentiles should reckon by the sun and Israel by the moon. This accords with R. Eleazar's exposition of the verse: "Thou hast multiplied the nation, thou hast increased its joy" (Is. IX, 2), where he refers "nation" to Israel and "it" to the moon, which gained accession of light for the sake of Israel. Which are superior, Israel or the Gentiles? Assuredly, the moon is highest, and the sun of the Gentiles is under this moon, and this sun derives light from this moon. See, then, the difference between Israel and the nations. Israel cling to the moon and are linked with the supernal sun, and are attached to the place which gives light to the supernal sun, as it is written: "But ye who cleave to the Lord, are alive every one of you this day" (Deut. IV, 4).'

-- The Zohar, translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon


Astrolatry is the worship of stars and other heavenly bodies as deities, or the association of deities with heavenly bodies. The most common instances of this are sun gods and moon gods in polytheistic systems worldwide. Also notable is the association of the planets with deities in Babylonian, and hence in Greco-Roman religion, viz. Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

The term astro-theology is used in the context of 18th- to 19th-century scholarship aiming at the discovery of the original religion, particularly primitive monotheism. Unlike astrolatry, which usually implies polytheism, frowned upon as idolatrous by Christian authors since Eusebius, astrotheology is any "religious system founded upon the observation of the heavens",[1] and in particular, may be monotheistic.Gods, goddesses, and demons may also be considered personifications of astronomical phenomena such as lunar eclipses, planetary alignments, and apparent interactions of planetary bodies with stars. Astro-theology is used by Jan Irvin, Jordan Maxwell and Andrew Rutajit (2006) in reference to "the earliest known forms of religion and nature worship" , advocating the entheogen theory of the origin of religion.

Etymology

Astrolatry comes from Greek ἄστρον astron, "star" and the suffix -λάτρης, itself related to λάτρις latris, "worshipper" or λατρεύειν latreuein, "to worship" from λάτρον latron, "payment".

History

Babylonian astronomy from early times associates stars with deities, but the heavens as the residence of an anthropomorphic pantheon, and later of monotheistic God and his retinue of angels, is a later development, gradually replacing the notion of the pantheon residing or convening on the summit of high mountains. Sayce (1913) argues a parallelism of the "stellar theology" of Babylon and Egypt, both countries absorbing popular star-worship into the official pantheon of their respective state religions by identification of gods with stars or planets.[2]

Astrolatry does not appear to have been common in the Levant prior to the Iron Age, and becomes popular under Assyrian influence. The Sabaeans were notorious for their astrolatry, for which reason the practice is also known as "Sabaism" or "Sabaeanism". Similarly, the Chaldeans came to be seen as the prototypical astrologers and star-worshippers by the Greeks.

The term astro-theology appears in the title of a 1714 work by William Derham, Astro-theology: or, A demonstration of the being and attributes of God, from a survey of the heavens based on the author's observations by means of "Mr. Huygens' Glass". Derham thought that the stars were openings in the firmament through which he thought he saw the Empyrean beyond.[3] The 1783 issue of The New Christian's magazine had an essay entitled Astro-theology which argued the "demonstration of sacred truths" from "a survey of heavenly bodies" in the sense of the watchmaker analogy. Edward Higginson (1855) argues a compatibility of "Jewish Astro-theology" of the Hebrew Bible, which places God and his angelic hosts in the heavens, with a "Scientific Astro-theology" based on observation of the cosmos.

Manly P Hall (1901–1990), mystic and a 33rd degree mason, taught that each of the three Abrahamic faiths has a planet that governs that religion. Judaism is Saturn: the symbol of Judaism is a hexagram symbol of Saturn, and the day of worship is on Saturday, day of Saturn. Christianity is the Sun: the symbol of Christianity is the cross symbol of the Sun, and the day of worship is Sunday, day of the Sun. Islam is Venus: the symbol of Islam is the star and crescent (the star commonly thought to represent Venus), and the day of worship is on Friday.


Prohibition in Abrahamic religions

The Hebrew Bible contains repeated reference to astrolatry. Thus, Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:3 contains a stern warning against worshipping the sun, moon, stars or any of the heavenly host. Relapse into worshipping the host of heaven, i.e. the stars, is said to have been the cause of the fall of the kingdom of Judah in II Kings 17:16. King Josiah in 621 BC is recorded as having abolished all kinds of idolatry in Judah, but astrolatry was continued in private (Zeph. 1:5; Jer. 8:2, 19:13). Ezekiel (8:16) describes sun-worship practiced in the court of the temple of Jerusalem, and Jeremiah (44:17) claims that even after the destruction of the temple, women in particular insisted on continuing their worship of the "queen of heaven".

Augustine of Hippo criticized sun- and star-worship in De Vera Religione (37.68) and De civitate Dei (5.1–8). Pope Leo the Great also denounced astrolatry, and the cult of Sol Invictus, which he contrasted with the Christian nativity.


Despite such prohibitions, Dorothy M. Murdock, a proponent of the study,[4] has released books on the subject and teaches the connections between the solar allegory and the life of Christ. She also goes beyond the astronomical comparisons and postulates ties between the origins of many of the early Abrahamic religions to ancient mythologies of that in Egypt, Rome, and Greece.

The Qur'an contains strong prohibitions against astrolatry.

Strong prohibition of Astrolatry is mentioned in the Quran through Prophet Abrahim observation of celestial bodies whose worship was common in Babylonian religion of that time.

Below is the reference from Al-Quran, Surah Anaam, chapter 6, verses 75–80

75. Thus did we show Ibrahim (Abraham) the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty.

76. When the night covered him over with darkness he saw a star. He said: "This is my lord." But when it set, he said: "I like not those that set."

77. When he saw the moon rising up, he said: "This is my lord." But when it set, he said: "Unless my Lord guides me, I shall surely be among the erring people."

78. When he saw the sun rising up, he said: "This is my lord. This is greater." But when it set, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from all that you join as partners in worship with Allah.

79. Verily, I have turned my face towards Him Who has created the heavens and the earth Hanifa (Islamic Monotheism, i.e. worshipping none but Allah Alone) and I am not of Al-Mushrikun (see V.2:105)".

80. His people disputed with him. He said: "Do you dispute with me concerning Allah while He has guided me, and I fear not those whom you associate with Allah in worship. (Nothing can happen to me) except when my Lord (Allah) wills something. My Lord comprehends in His Knowledge all things. Will you not then remember?

-- Al-Quran, Surah Anaam (chapter 6, verse 75–80)


See also

• Astraea (mythology)
• Astraeus
• Babylonian astrology
• Eosphorus
• Heavens (disambiguation)
• Hellenistic astrology
• History of astrology
• Moon worship
• Nature worship
• Religious cosmology
• Sky Father
• Sun worship

Notes

1. OED, citing Derham (1714) as the first attestation of the term.
2. Archibald Henry Sayce, The religion of ancient Egypt, Adamant Media Corporation, 1913, 237f.
3. Michael J. Crowe, Modern theories of the universe: from Herschel to Hubble, Courier Dover Publications, 1994, ISBN 978-0-486-27880-3, p. 67.
4. Maurice Casey Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? T&T Clark 2014 p21-22

References

• William Derham, Astro-theology: or, A demonstration of the being and attributes of God, from a survey of the heavens, printed by W. and J. Innys, 1721
• Jan Irvin, Jordan Maxwell, Andrew Rutajit, Astrotheology and Shamanism, Book Tree, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58509-107-2.
• D.M. Murdock, pen name Acharya S., The Christ Con: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, Adventures Unlimited, 1999, ISBN 0-932813-74-7.
• Edward Higginson, Astro-theology; or, The religion of astronomy: four lectures, in reference to the controversy on the "Plurality of worlds," as lately sustained between Sir David Brewster and an essayist, E.T. Whitfield, 1855.

External links

• Jewish Encyclopedia, Star-worship
• Blackwell Reference Online, Star-Worship (Astrolatry, Sabaism)
• Interdisciplinary Encyclopedia of Religion and Science
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:47 am

Part 1 of 4

Holwell's Religion of Paradise, Excerpt from The Birth of Orientalism
by Urs App
© 2010 University of Pennsylvania Press

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Chapter 6: Holwell's Religion of Paradise

An Internet search for John Zephaniah HOLWELL(1711-98) produces thousands of references, most of which contain the words "Black Hole." The back cover of Jan Dalley's The Black Hole: Money, Myth and Empire explains:

The story of the Black Hole of Calcutta was once drilled into every British schoolchild: how in 1756 the Nawab of Bengal attacked Fort William and locked the survivors in a tiny cell, where over a hundred souls died in insufferable heat. British retribution was swift and merciless, and led to much of India falling completely under colonial domination.1


Dalley's book tells the story of this foundation myth of the British Empire, a myth that was "based on improbable exaggeration and half-truth" and "helped justify the march of empire for two hundred years" (2007: back cover). The reason Holwell is associated with this myth is that he was its creator. When Holwell's account of the dreadful night in the Black Hole was printed in 1758, it provoked scandal and horror. Fueled by numerous reprints, the story soon became an event of mythic proportions, a symbol of the fall of Calcutta and the beginning of empire that Dalley lines up with the likes of the Boston Tea Party and the Barrie of Wounded Knee (2007:199). According to Hartmann (1946:195) this story was "about as well-known in the English- speaking world as the fact that Napoleon was Emperor of France"; but the fact that this statement occurs in a paper titled "A Case Study in the Perpetuation of Error" points to the raging controversy about the "Question of Holwell's Veracity," as J. H. Little put it in the title of his influential 1915 article. Having examined Holwell's original Black Hole report line by line,

Little arrived at the conclusion that the whole episode was a gigantic hoax. Hartmann summarized Little's observations as follows:

Specifically, Little shows that Holwell (1) fabricated a speech and fathered it on the Nawab Alivardi Khan; (2) brought false charges against the British puppet ruler of Bengal, the Nawab Mir Jafar, accusing him of massacring persons all of whom were later shown to be alive ... (3) forged a whole book and called it a translation from the ancient sacred writings of the Hindus. (Hartmann 1946:196)


Hartmann defended Holwell against the last accusation by portraying him as a possible victim of fraud rather than a forger:

This last might be defended on Holwell's behalf if we assume him to have been victimized by some Brahmin or pundit who enjoyed pulling a foreigner's leg; but certainly the first two cases have a brazen political significance also possessed by the similar story of the Black Hole. (pp. 196-97).


The book that Holwell (according to Little) forged and sold as a translation from the ancient sacred writings of the Hindus was the very Chartah Bhade Shastah that Voltaire from 1769 onward so stridently promoted as monotheism's oldest testament (see Chapter I). Is there any evidence that Holwell's Chartah Bhade Shastah is a brazen forgery? Some modern historians and Indologists have tried to identify the text translated by Holwell, thereby absolving him of the charge of having invented the whole text. For example, A. Leslie Willson thought that Holwell had adapted a genuine Indian text:

John Z. Holwell (1711-1798), a former governor of Bengal and a survivor of the famed Black Hole of Calcutta, gives an account of his favorable impression of the religious and moral precepts of India. Because of his acquaintance with one of the holy books of the Hindus (the Sanskrit Satapatha-brahmana, called the Chartah Bhade in Holwell's adaptation), he believed he discerned a great influence of Indic culture upon other lands in ancient times. The more familiar he became with the Sanskrit work, the more clearly he claimed to see that the mythology as well as the cosmogony of the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans was borrowed from the teachings of the Brahmans contained in the Satapatha brahmana. Even the extreme rituals of Hindu worship and the classification of Indic gods found their way West, although extremely falsified and truncated. (Willson 1964:24)


Based on the authority of Johannes Grundmann (1900:71), Willson claimed that Holwell's source, the Satapatha-Brahmana, was later lost (p. 24). In The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century, P. J. Marshall argued that "judging by the words which he reproduces, Holwell must have made his translation out of a Hindustani version" but added that "the original of Holwell's Shastah cannot be identified" (Marshall 1970:46). Marshall, who took the trouble of annotating Holwell's Shastah text, thus seems to have regarded it not as a literary hoax or an invention but as a translation of a genuine Indian text, albeit not from Sanskrit but from a Hindustani original. More recent research has questioned earlier opinions but otherwise hardly advanced matters.

In the introduction to the 2000 reprint of Holwell's text, M. J. Franklin calls the Shastah text "a text which must remain rather dubious as Holwell asserted it covered all doctrine, and no independent record of such a work exists" (Holwell 2000:xiii). Franklin and other recent authors all rely on Thomas Trautmann's excellent study Aryans and British India, which found that Holwell's book "contains what putport to be translations from a mysterious ancient Hindu text, Chartah Bhade Shastah (Sanskrit, Catur lIeda Sastra), a work not heard of since" (1997=30). Trautmann characterized Holwell's "supposed translations of the supposed ancient Shaster" as "obscure and dubious" (p. 33), his Indian sources as "not otherwise known, before or since," and the details of his account as "confusing" (p. 68). Thus, his valiant attempt to identify Holwell's Indian sources2 ended with a sigh: "It is all rather murky and more than a little suspicious" (pp. 68-69).

According to his obituary in the Asiatic Annual Register for 1799 (1801:25- 30), John Zephaniah Holwell was born in Dublin on September 17, 1711. At age 12 the intelligent boy won a prize for classical learning but was soon sent by his father as a merchant apprentice to Holland, where he learned Dutch and French. Before he turned eighteen, he became a surgeon's apprentice in England, and at age twenty he embarked as a surgeon's mate on a ship sailing to Bengal. As surgeon of a frigate of the East India Company, he soon was on the way to the Persian Gulf and studied Arabic, and on his return to Calcutta he also learned some Portuguese and Hindi. At the young age of twenty-three, he was appointed surgeon-major, and after another trip to the Gulf he could speak Arabic "with tolerable fluency" (p. 27). During his residence in Dacca, he was "indefatigable in improving himself in the Moorish and Hinduee tongues" and began "his researches into the Hindu theology" (p. 27). Back in Calcutta, he quickly rose through the ranks; at age 29 he was appointed assistant surgeon to the hospital, and in 1746 (age 35), he became principal physician and surgeon to the presidency of the Company. In 1747 and 1748, he was successively elected mayor of the corporation. In the winter of 1749/50' he returned for the first time from India to England. It was for health reasons, and while recuperating, he enjoyed the leisure "to arrange his materials on the theology and doctrines of the ancient and modern Brahmans." Only after his return to India did he become acquainted "with the Chartah Bhade of Bramah," of which he claims to have translated a considerable part (Holwell 1765:3). During the sack of Calcutta when the Black Hole incident took place, Holwell allegedly lost both the Indian manuscripts of the Chartah Bhade Shastah and his English translation.

After this incident Holwell had to sail back to Europe for the second time, and this time he used his sojourn to publish the famous Black Hole narrative (1758). Upon his return to India, he became governor of Bengal for a few months but was soon replaced. During the last eight months of his long stay in India, he was "freed from the plagues of government" and reassumed his researches into Indian religion "with tolerable success" when "some manuscripts" happened to be "recovered by an unforeseen and extraordinary event" (p. 4), which Holwell never explained. In 1761, at age 50, he returned to England for the third and final time and lived there for almost four leisurely decades until his death in 1798 at the age of 87. Of particular interest among the books published during these decades are the three volumes of Interesting historical events, relative to the provinces of Bengal, and the empire of Indostan (1765, 1767, 1771) and his Dissertations on the Origin, Nature, and Pursuits, of Intelligent Beings, and on Divine Providence, Religion, and Religious Worship of 1786.

Indian Paradises

In order to understand Holwell's pursuit and intention, one needs to examine not only the second volume of his Interesting historical events (1767), which contains the Chartah Bhade Shastah "translation" with his commentary, but also the first and third volumes. The title page of the first volume (1765) indicates that Holwell had from the outset planned a three-part work of which the first was to present the historical events of India during the first half of the eighteenth century, the second "the mythology and cosmogony, fasts and festivals of the Gentoos, followers of the Shastah," and the third "a dissertation on the metempsychosis." In the first volume (published in 1765 and revised in 1766), there is an easily overlooked account that is crucial for understanding both the "Question of Holwell's Veracity" and the character of his Chartah Bhade. Modern scholars paid no attention to it, but Voltaire highlighted this sensational report by Holwell in chapter 35 of his Fragmens sur l'Inde under the heading "Portrait of a singular people in India" (Voltaire 1774:212-16). Voltaire wrote:

Among so much desolation a region of India has enjoyed profound peace; and in the midst of the horrible moral depravation, it has preserved the purity of its ancient morality. It is the country of Bishnapore or Vishnapore. Mr. Holwell, who has travelled through it, says that it is situated in north-west Bengal and that it takes sixty days of travel to traverse it. (p. 212)


Quickly calculating the approximate size of this blessed territory, Voltaire concluded that "it would be much larger than France" (p. 212), and exhibited some of his much-evoked "complete trust" in Holwell by accusing him of "some exaggeration" (p. 212). But Voltaire did not exclude the possibility that it was someone else's fault, for example, "a printing error, which is all too common in books" (p. 212). Instead of double-checking the number in his copy of Holwell's book (which on p. 197 has "sixteen days" rather than "sixty"), Voltaire proceeded to correct Holwell:

We had better believe that the author meant [it takes] sixty days [to walk] around the territory, which would result in 100 [French] miles of diameter. [The country] yields 3.5 million rupees per year to its sovereign, which corresponds to 8,200,000 pounds. This revenue does not seem proportionate to the surface of the territory. (pp. 212-13)


Feigning astonishment, Voltaire adds: "What is even more surprising is that Bishnapore is not at all found on our maps" (p. 212). Could Holwell have invented this country? Of course not! "It is not permitted to believe that a state employee of known probity would have wanted to get the better of simple people. He would be too guilty and too easily refuted" (p. 212). When reporting biblical events that defy logic, Voltaire often cut the discussion short with a sarcastic exhortation to his readers to stop worrying about reason and to embrace faith. Here he "consoles" readers who are surprised that this blissful country is not found on any map with the tongue-in-cheek remark: "The reader will be even more pleasantly surprised that this country is inhabited by the most gentle, the most just, the most hospitable, and the most generous people that have ever rendered our earth worthy of heaven" (p. 213).

Today we know that Bisnapore (Bishnupur) is located only 130 kilometers northwest of Calcutta (Kolkata). The city is famous for its terracotta craft and Baluchari sarees made of tussar silk and was for almost a thousand years the capital of the Malla kings of Mallabhum. Bur Holwell's report carries a far more paradisiacal perfume. The country that he reportedly visited is portrayed as the happiest in me world. It is protected from surrounding regions by an ingenious system of waterways and lock gates mat gives the reigning Rajah the "power to overflow his country, and drown any enemy that comes against him." Holwell, ever the sly and devoted colonial administrator, suggests mat the British could avoid an invasion and easily bring the country to its knees through an export blockade that would oblige the Rajah to pay the British as much as two million rupees per annum (Holwell 1766:I.I97-98). Bur, of course, this was just an innocent idea and by no means a call for the colonialization of paradise:

But in truth, it would be almost cruelty to molest these happy people; for in this district, are the only vestiges of the beauty, purity, piety, regularity, equity, and strictness of the ancient Indostan government. Here the property, as well as the liberty of the people, are inviolate. Here, no robberies are heard of, either private or public. (p. 198)


When a foreigner such as Holwell enters this country, he "becomes the immediate care of the government; which allots him guards without any expence, to conduct him from stage to stage: and these are accountable for the safety and accommodation of his person and effects" (p. 198). Goods are duly recorded, certified, and transported free of charge. "In this form, the traveller is passed through the country; and if he only passes, he is not suffered to be at any expence for food, accommodation, or carriage for his merchandize or baggage" (p. 199). Furthermore, the people of Bisnapore are totally honest:

If any thing is lost in this district; for instance, a bag of money, or other valuable; the person who finds it, hangs it up on the next tree, and gives notice to the neatest Chowkey or place of guard; the officer of which, orders immediate publication of the same by beat of tomtom, or drum. (p. 199)


The country is graced by 360 magnificent pagodas erected by the Rajah and his ancestors, and the cows are venerated to such a degree that if one suffers violent death, the whole city or village remains in mourning and fasts for three days; nobody is allowed to displace him- or herself, and all must perform the expiations prescribed by the very Chartah Bhade Shastah whose existence and content Holwell herewith first announced to the world (pp. 199-200).

The country described by Holwell is a carefully delimited territory within whose boundaries time seems to have stood still since the proclamation of the Chartah Bhade Shastah several thousand years ago. Its elaborate water management system with lock gates and canals offers total protection from the dangers of the outside world, and within its boundaries perfect honesty, piety, purity, morality, tolerance, liberty, generosity, and prosperity reign since time immemorial. Sutely some of Holwell's and Voltaire's readers must have asked themselves why -- given the free transport, food, accommodation, and even health care for visitors -- Mr. Holwell was the only person ever to transmit the good news about this paradisiacal enclave at Calcutta's doorstep. Is it too farfetched to think that Holwell endowed Bisnapore with its ideal characteristics in order to prepare the ground for the Chartah Bhade Shastah in the second volume of his Interesting events? If a real country with a real economy existed -- a country whose religion was strictly based on the Chartah Bhade Shastah and whose rites had followed this text to the letter for millennia -- then the existence of this ancient sacred text could not be subject to doubt, could it?

Of course, Holwell was not the first person to imagine a paradise in or near India; medieval world maps are full of interesting information about it. In the year 883, about eight hundred years before Holwell wrote about Bisnapore, a Jew by the name of Eldad ha-Dani ("Eldad of the tribe of Dan") showed up in Tunisia.3 Presenting himself as a member of one of the ten lost tribes of Israel (which according to Eldad continued to flourish in Havilah), he told the local Jews a story that could have been written by Holwell. Beyond the boundaries of the known world, somewhere in Asia, he claimed, four tribes of the "sons of Moses" continue to lead pure lives protected by a river of rolling stones and sand called Sambaryon, and their laws and texts remain unchanged since antiquity.4 Their Talmud is written in the purest Hebrew, and their children never die as long as the parents are alive. Eldad supported his own credibility by an impressive genealogy stretching back to Dan, the son of Jacob. Eldad's tales provoked an inquiry addressed to the rabbinical academy in Sura, Babylon; and while not much is known about the further fate of Eldad, his Story pops up here and there in medieval manuscripts. Eventually, the inquiry triggered by his account and the response it received were printed in Mantua in 1480 (Wasserstein 1996:215).

About three centuries after Eldad, in 1122, a story with many similar elements began to make the rounds in Europe, and its protagonist ended up as a prominent feature on numerous illustrated world maps. It was the tale of John, archbishop of India, who had reportedly traveled to Constantinople and Rome. Patriarch John was said to be the guardian of the shrine of St. Thomas, the favorite disciple of Jesus; and through his Indian capital, so the Story went, flow the "pure waters of the Physon, one of the rivers of Paradise, which gives to the world outside most precious gold and jewels, whence the regions of India are extremely rich" (Hamilton 1996:173).

In 1145, Otto von Freising also heard of "a certain John, king and priest, who lived in the extreme east beyond Armenia and Persia." He reportedly was of the race of the very Magi who had come to worship the infant Christ at Bethlehem (p. 174). Otto first connected Prester John with the Magi and with Archbishop John, and soon after the completion of his History in Il57 three corpses exhumed in a church in Milan were identified as the bodies of the Three Magi (pp. 180-81). These relics were solemnly transported to the Cologne cathedral in n64 and became objects of a religious cult (p. 183). It is around this time that a letter signed by a Prester John began to circulate in western Europe. In his letter Prester John portrays himself as the extremely rich and powerful ruler of the Three Indies, whose subjects include the Ten Lost Tribes beyond the river Sambaryon. Prester John claims to live very close to Paradise and emphasizes that he guards the grave of St. Thomas, the apostle of Jesus.

Though the country described in Prester John's letter is richer and far larger than Holwell's Bisnapore, it is also extremely hospitable and its inhabitants are perfectly moral: "There are no robbers among us; no sycophant finds a place here, and there is no miserliness" (Zarncke 1996:83). As in Holwell's Bisnapore, "nobody lies, nor can anybody lie" (p. 84). All inhabitants of Prester John's country "follow the truth and love one another;" there is "no adulterer in the land, and there is no vice" (p. 84).

The Prester John Story became so widely known that the famous patriarch became a fixture on medieval world maps as well as a major motivation for the exploration of Asia (from the thirteenth century) and Africa (from the fifteenth century).5

Another layer in the archaeology of Holwell's Indian paradise can be found in the famous Travels of Sir John Mandeville of the fourteenth century, a book that fascinated countless readers and travelers as well as researchers.6 Mandeville's "isle of Bragman" -- like Prester John's Indies, Eldad's land beyond the Sambaryon, and Holwell's Bisnapore -- is a marvelous land. Its inhabitants, though not Christians, "by natural instinct or law ... live a commendable life, are folk of great virtue, flying away from all sins and vices and malice" (Moseley 1983:178). The still unidentified Mandeville, who habitually calls countries "isles," described a great many of them in his Travels. But the country of the "Bragmans" (Brachmans, Brahmins) is by far the most excellent:

This isle these people live in is called the Isle of Bragman; and some men call it the Land of Faith. Through it runs a great river, which is called Thebe. Generally all the men of that isle and of other isles nearby are more trustworthy and more righteous than men in other countries. In this land are no thieves, no murderers, no prostitutes, no liars, no beggars; they are men as pure in conversation and as clean in living as if they were men of religion. And since they are such true and good folk, in their country there is never thunder and lightning, hail nor snow, nor any other storms and bad weather; there is no hunger, no pestilence, no war, nor any other common tribulations among them, as there are among us because of our sins. And therefore it seems that God loves them well and is well pleased by their manner of life and their faith. (p. 178)


Of course, the antediluvian patriarchs of the Old Testament who lived many years before Abraham and Moses were not yet Jews blessed with the special covenant with God, something only conferred finally after the Exodus from Egypt at Mt. Sinai, much less Christians. But the virtues of these antediluvians were so great that they enjoyed extremely long life spans. Mandeville's Bragmans, too, though ignorant of God's commandments as conveyed to Moses, are said to "keep the Ten Commandments" (p. 178) and enjoy the benefits:

They believe in God who made all things, and worship Him with all their power; all earthly things they set at nought. They live so temperately and soberly in meat and drink that they are the longest-lived people in the world; and many of them die simply of age, when their vital force runs our. (p. 178)


Like Holwell's inhabitants of Bisnapore, they are a people without greed and want; all "goods, movable and immovable, are common to every man," and their wealth consists in peace, concord, and the love of their neighbor. Other countries in the vicinity of the land of the Bragmans for the most part also follow their customs while "living innocently in love and charity each with another." Almost like Adam and Eve in paradise before they sinned, these people "go always naked" and suffer no needs (p. 179).

And even if these people do not have the articles of our faith, nevertheless I believe that because of their good faith that they have by nature, and their good intent, God loves them well and is well pleased by their manner of life, as He was with Job, who was a pagan, yet nevertheless his deeds were as acceptable to God as those of His loyal servants. (p. 180)


Mandeville's naked people are extremely ancient and have "many prophets among them" since antiquity. Already "three thousand years and more before the time of His Incarnation," they predicted the birth of Christ; bur they have not yet learned of "the manner of His Passion" (p. 180). These regions that evoke paradise and antediluvian times form part of the empire of Prester John. Mandeville explains: "This Emperor Prester John is a Christian, and so is the greater part of his land, even if they do not have all the articles of the faith as clearly as we do. Nevertheless they believe in God as Father, Son and Holy Ghost; they are a very devout people, faithful to each other, and there is neither fraud nor guile among them" (p. 169). In Prester John's land, there are many marvels and close by, behind a vast sea of gravel and sand, are "great mountains, from which flows a large river that comes from Paradise" (p. (69).

The lands described by Eldad, Prester John, Mandeville, and Holwell share some characteristics that invite exploration. The first concerns the fact that all are associated with "India" and the vicinity of earthly paradise. In the Genesis account (2.8 ff.) God, immediately after having formed Adam from the dust of the ground, "planted a garden eastward of Eden" and put Adam there. He equipped this garden with trees "pleasant to the sight, and good for food," as well as the tree of life at the center of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The story continues:

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pishon: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. (Genesis 2.10-12)


The locations of this "land of Havilah" and the river Pishon (or Phison) are unclear, but the other rivers are better known. The second river, Gihon, "compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia," the third (Hiddekel) "goeth to the east of Assyria," and the fourth river is identified as the Euphrates (Genesis 2.13-14). In his Antiquities, written toward the end of the first century C.E., the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus for the first time identified the enigmatic first river of paradise as the Ganges river and the fourth river (Gihon or Geon) as the Nile:

Now the garden was watered by one river, which ran round about the whole earth, and was parted into four parts. And Phison, which denotes a Multitude, running into India, makes its exit into the sea, and is by the Greeks called Ganges.... Geon runs through Egypt, and denotes the river which arises from the opposite quarter to us, which the Greeks call Nile. (trans. Whiston 1906:2)


The location of the "garden in Eden" (gan b'Eden), from which Adam was eventually expelled, is specified in Genesis 2.8 as miqedem, which has both a spatial ("away to the East") and a temporal ("from before the beginning") connotation. Accordingly, the translators of the Septuagint, the Vedus Latina, and the English Authorized Version rendered it by words denoting "eastward" (Gr. kata anatolas, Lat. in oriente), while the Vulgate prefers "a principio" and thus the temporal connotation (Scafi 2006:35). But the association of the earthly paradise and enigmatic land of Havilah with the Orient, and in particular with India, was boosted by Flavius Josephus and a number of Church fathers who identified it with the Ganges valley (p. 35) where, nota bene, Holwell located his paradisiacal Bisnapore.

For the Christian theologian AUGUSTINE of Hippo (354-430), too, Pishon was the Ganges River and Gihon the Nile, and his verdict that these rivers "are true rivers, not just figurative expressions without a corresponding reality in the literal sense" hastened the demise of other theories as to the identity of the Pishon and Gihon (p. 46). In the seventh century, ISIDOR of Seville (d. 636) described in his Etymologiae the earthly paradise among the regions of Asia as a place that was neither hot nor cold but always temperate (Grimm 1977:77-78). Isidor also enriched the old tradition of allegorical interpretations of paradise. If paradise symbolized the Christian Church, he argued, the paradise river stood for Christ and its four arms for the four gospels (p. 78).

The allegorical view of paradise as the symbol of the Church, watered by four rivers or gospels and accessed by baptism, had first been advanced by Thascius Caelius CYPRlANUS (d. 258) and became quite successful in Carolingian Bible exegesis (pp. 45-46). The Commemoratio Geneseos, a very interesting Irish compilation of the late eighth century, identified the Pishon with the Indus river and interpreted Genesis's "compasseth the whole land of Havilah" as "runs through Havilah" while specifying that "this land is situated at the confines of India and Parthia" (p. 87). The Commemoratio also associates the Pishon with the evangelist "John who is full of the Holy Ghost," and the gold of Havilah with "the divine nature of God [diuinitas dei] which John wrote so much about" (p. 87).

Such Bible commentaries helped to establish an association of paradise with the name "John," with India, and with a mighty Indian river. Until the end of the fifteenth century, many medieval world maps depicted paradise somewhere in or near India (Knefelkamp 1986:87-92), and travelers like Giovanni MARIGNOLLI of the fourteenth or Columbus of the fifteenth century were absolutely convinced that they were close to the earthly paradise.

Image
Figure 14. Paradise near India at Eastern extremity of Osma world map (Santarem 1859).

Their view that paradise itself was not accessible does not signify that for them "earthly paradise ... was in a sense nowhere," as Scafi (2006:242) argues. When Marignolli met Buddhist monks at the foot of Adam's Peak in Ceylon, he noted that they "call themselves sons of Adam" and reports their claim mat "Cain was born in Ceylon." According to Marignolli, these monks lead a "veritably holy life following a religion whose founder, in their opinion, is the patriarch Enoch, the inventor of prayer, and which is professed also by the Brachmans" (Meinen 1820:85). No wonder that the missionary felt close to paradise. Did these monks not refrain from eating meat "because Adam, before the deluge, did not eat any," and did they not worship a nee, claiming that this custom stemmed "from Adam who, in their words, expected future salvation from its wood" (p. 86)?7 Marignolli also reports about his arrival "by sea to Ceylon, to the glorious mountain opposite paradise which, as the indigens say according to the tradition of their fathers, is found at forty Italian miles' distance -- so [near] that one hears the noise of the water falling from the source of paradise" (p. 77) -- and was proud to have visited Adam's house "built from large marble plates without plaster," which featured "a door at the center that he [Adam] built with his own hands" (pp. 80-8r). A pond full of jewels was reportedly fed by me source of paradise opposite the mountain, and Marignolli boasted of having tasted the delicious fruit of the paradise (banana) nee, whose leaves Adam and Eve had used to cover their private parts (pp. 81-83).

This paradise mythology was very influential and far reaching, and it shows itself sometimes in perhaps unexpected domains. Christopher COLUMBUS (1451-1506), a man who was very familiar with maps and had once made a living of their trade, also thought that he approached the earthly paradise on his third voyage. While he cruised near me estuary of me Orinoco in Venezuela, he firmly believed he had finally reached the mouth of a paradise fiver.

Holy Scripture testifies that Our Lord made the earthly Paradise in which he placed the Tree of Life. From it there flowed four main rivers: the Ganges in India, the Tigris and the Euphrates in Asia, which cut through a mountain range and form Mesopotamia and flow into Persia, and the Nile, which rises in Ethiopia and flows into the sea at Alexandria. I do not find and have never found any Greek or Latin writings which definitely state me worldly situation of the earthly Paradise, nor have I seen any world map which establishes its position except by deduction. (Columbus 1969:220-21)


Since Columbus knew that the earth is round and that he was far away from Africa and Mesopotamia, he apparently thought mat he was in the "Indies" and noted the unanimity of "St Isidor, Bede, Strabo, the Master of Scholastic History [Petrus Comestor], St Ambrose and Scotus and all learned theologians" that "the earthly Paradise is in the East" (p. 221). Columbus clearly imagined himself near the Ganges and the Indian Paradise.

I do not hold that the earthly Paradise has the form of a rugged mountain, as it is shown in pictures, but that it lies at the summit of what I have described as the stalk of a pear, and that by gradually approaching it one begins, while still at a great distance, to climb towards it. As I have said, I do not believe that anyone can ascend to the top. I do believe, however, that, distant though it is, these waters may flow from there to this place which I have reached, and form this lake. All this provides great evidence of the earthly Paradise, because the situation agrees with the beliefs of those holy and wise theologians and all the signs strongly accord with this idea. (pp. 221-22)


Who would have thought that the "Indian" fantasies of Flavius Josephus, Augustine, and the medieval theologians and cartographers in their wake would one day play a role in the discovery of the Americas? But while Columbus was looking forward to exploring the East Indies and enriching himself with the gold and jewels promised by the Bible commentators, the heyday of the "Indian" Paradise on world maps was coming to a close. In 1449, Aeneas Silvius PICCOLOMINI (1405-64; Pope Pius II from 1458-64) had already come to doubt the identification of the Gihon with the Nile (Scafi 2006:197), and soon the learned Augustinus STEUCHUS (1496-1549) argued that Pishon and Gihon had nothing to do with the Ganges and Nile since Havilah and Cush were not located in India and Ethiopia but in Mesopotamia and Arabia (p. 263).

Subsequently, the location of earthly paradise became unhinged and drifted for a time; Guillaume Postel, for example, first located it in the Moluccas, the home .of the paradise birds (Postel 1553a), but subsequently made a V-rum and placed it near the North Pole (Secret 1985=304-5). Though arguing that the entire earth had once been paradise, Postel's contemporary Jan Gorp (Goropius Becanus) of Antwerp believed that Adam had lived in India (Gorp 1569:483, 508) and that Noah's ark had landed not on Mt. Ararat but on the highest mountains of the Indian Caucasus, that is, near Mt. Imaus in the mountain range that we now call the Himalaya (p. 473). In his History of the World of 1614, Sir Walter Raleigh called this view "of all his conjectures the most probable" (1829.2.243); and around the end of the seventeenth century, some physical theories related to the deluge and the formation of the earth also revived Gorp's idea that the entire earth had initially been paradise (Burnet 1694). However, around the turn of the eighteenth century most specialists of biblical exegesis tended to place earthly paradise somewhere near the Holy Land.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 32372
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

PreviousNext

Return to Articles & Essays

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests