Previous Index Next
Page 60
(previous) (Page 000060) (next)

ally. The biographer, on the other hand, considers these great’
acquisitions as free gifts, honourable alike to the donor and to
the receiver, and compares them to the rewards bestowed by
foreign powers on Marlborough, on Nelson, and on VVellington.
It had always, he says, been customary in the East to give and
receive presents; and there was, as yet, no Act of Parliament
positively prohibiting English functionaries in India from pro-
fiting by this Asiatic usage. This reasoning, we own, does not
quite satisfy us._ We do not suspect Clive of selling the inte-
rests of his employers or his country; but we cannot acquit
him of having done what, if not in itself evil, was yet of evil
example. Nothing is more clear than that a general ought to
be the servant of his own government, and of no other. It
follows that whatever rewards he receives for his services ought
to be given either by his own government, or with the full
knowledge and approbation of his own government. This rule
ought to be strictly maintained even with respect to the merest
bauble, with respect to a cross, a medal, or a yard of coloured
riband. But how can any government be well served, if those
who command its forces are at liberty, without its permission,
without its privity, to accept princely fortunes from its allies?
It is idle to say that there was then no Act of Parliament pro-
hibiting the practice of taking presents from Asiatic sovereigns.
It is not on the Act which was passed at a later period for the
purpose of preventing any such taking of presents, but on
grounds which were valid before that Act was passed, on
grounds of common law and common sense, that we arraign
the conduct of Clive. There is no Act that we know of, pro-
hibiting the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from being
in the pay of continental powers. But it is not the less true
that a Secretary who should receive a secret pension from
France would grossly violate his duty, and would deserve
severe punishment. Sir John Malcolm compares the conduct
of Clive with that of the Duke of \Vellington. Suppose,-— and

Previous Index Next