Previous Index Next
Page 12
(previous) (Page 000012) (next)
 
6 LORD CLIVE.

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 im-
periousness, 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 and
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 govern-
ments. 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

 

Previous Index Next