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46 .LORD CLIVE.

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 con»
federate: 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 nume-
rous 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 band 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 de-
cision. 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 broken 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 sleep ; he heard, through the whole night,
the sound of drums and cymbals from the vast camp of the
Nabob. It is not strange thateven 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. I-Iis
mind, at once weak and stormy, was distracted by wild and

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