Previous Index Next
Page 69
(previous) (Page 000069) (next)

of that worthless demagogue‘\Vilkes had strongly excited the
public mind, the town was amused by an anecdote, which we
have seen in some unpublished memoirs of Horace Walpole.
Old Mr. Richard Clive who, since his son’s elevation, had been
introduced into society for which his former habits had not
well fitted him, presented himself at the levee. The King
asked him where Lord Clive was. “ He will be in town very
soon,” said the old gentleman, loud enough to be heard by the
whole circle, “ and then your Majesty will have another vote.”

But in truth all Clive’s views were directed towards the
country in which he had so eminently distinguished himself as
a soldier and a statesman; and it was by considerations re-
lating to India that his conduct as a public man in England was
regulated. The power of the Company, though an anomaly,
is in our time, we are firmly persuaded, a beneficial anomaly.
In the time of Clive, it was not merely an anomaly, but a
nuisance. There was no Board of Control. The Directors
were for the most part mere traders, ignorant of general
politics, ignorant of the peculiarities of the empire which had
strangely become subject to them. The Court of Proprietors,
wherever it chose to interfere, was able to have its way. That
court was more numerous, as well as more powerful than at
present; for then every share of five hundred pounds conferred
a vote. The meetings were large, stormy, even riotous, the
debates indecently virulent. All the turbulence of a West-
minster election, all the trickery and corruption of a Gram-
pound election, disgraced the proceedings of this assembly on
questions of the most solemn importance. Fictitious votes
were manufactured on a gigantic scale. Clive himself laid out
a hundred thousand pounds in the purchase of stock, which he
then divided among nominal proprietors on whom he could
depend, and whom he brought down in his train to every dis-
cussion and every ballot. Others did the same, though not to
quite so enormous an extent.

Previous Index Next