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LORD CLIVE. 15

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 free-
booters. They still retained the predatory habits of their fore-
fathers. Every region which was not subject to their rule
was wasted by their incursions. Wherever their kettle-drums
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 neigh-
bourhood of the hyaena and the tiger. Many provinces re-
deemed their harvests by the payment 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, de.
scended 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.

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