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chants 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 water-fowl 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 juris-
diction within their domain.

The great province of Bengal, together with Orissa and
Bahar, had long been governed by a viceroy, whom the Eng-
lish called Aliverdy Khan, and who, like the other viceroys
of the Mogul, had become virtually independent. He died in
1756, and the sovereignty 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 mad-
ness. His chosen companions were flatterers sprung from the
dregs of the people, and recommended by nothing but but‘-
foonery 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 peen his

c 2

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