Previous Index Next
Page 117
(previous) (Page 000117) (next)
 
WARREN HASTINGS. 

it was discovered that, while professing the strongest attachment
to the English, he was engaged in several conspiracies against
them, and in particular that he was the medium of a correspond-
ence between the court of Delhi and the French authorities in the
Carnatic. For these and similar practices he had been long de-
tained in confinement. But his talents and influence had not only
procured his liberation, but had obtained for him a certain degree
of consideration even among the British rulers of his country.

Clive was extremely unwilling to place a Mussulman at the head
of the administration of Bengal. On the other hand, he could not
bring himself to confer immense power on a man to whom every
sort of villany had repeatedly been brought home. Therefore,
though the nabob, over whom N uncomar had by intrigue acquired
great influence, begged that the artful H indoo might be intrusted
with the government, Clive, after some hesitation, decided honestly
and wisely in favour of Mahommed Reza Khan. When Hastings
became Governor, Mahommed Reza Khan had held power seven
years. An infant son of Meer Jaffier was now nabob; and the
guardianship of the young prince’s person had been confided to
the minister.

Nuncomar, stimulated at once by cupidity and malice, had been
constantly attempting to hurt the reputation of his successful rival.
This was not difficult. The revenues of Bengal, under the adminis-
tration established by Clive, did not yield such a surplus as had
been anticipated by the Company; for, at that time, the most
absurd notions were entertained in England respecting the wealth
of India. Palaces of porphyry, hung with the richest brocade, heaps
of pearls and diamonds, vaults from which pagodas and gold mohurs
were measured out by the bushel, filled the imagination even of
men of business. Nobody seemed to be aware of what never-
theless was most undoubtedly the truth, that India was a poorer
country than countries which in Europe are reckoned poor, than
Ireland, for example, or than Portugal. It was confidently believed
by Lords of the Treasury and members for the city that Bengal
would not only defray its own charges, but would afford an in-
creased dividend to the proprietors of India stock, and large relief
to the English finances. These absurd expectations were disap-
pointed : and the Directors, naturally enough, chose to attribute the
disappointment rather to the mismanagement of Mahommed Reza
Khan than to their own ignorance of the country intrusted to their

3

Previous Index Next