Previous Index Next
Page 29
(previous) (Page 000029) (next)
 
LORD CLIVE. 23

their scanty fare, but to proposethat 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.

An 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 be-
lieved 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 nego-
tiation. He offered large bribes to Clive, which were rejected
with scorn. He vowed that, if his proposals were not ac-
cepted, 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 perishedround him, drank

his latest draught of water, and uttered his latest prayer, how
3 4

Previous Index Next