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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

The policy which Dupleix had adopted


Gentlemen

adventurers who went out to India in the last century in the service of John Company seldom knew much, or indeed cared much, about the condition of the country which they were invading. They dreamed mostly of large fortunes, fortunes to be swiftly made and then brought home and expended splendidly to the amazement of less fortunate stay-at-homes. For the past history of India they did not care a penny piece. What to them were the mythical deeds of Rama and of Krishna; what to them the marches of Semiramis and Sesostris, or the conquests of Alexander, or the fate and fortunes of the ancient kingdoms of the Deccan and Hindostan? They cared nothing for the spread of Mahommedan influence and authority, the glories of the Mogul Empire, the fate of Tamerlane, the fame of Aurungzebe. For them the history of India began with the merchant adventurers of 1659 and the East India Company of 1600, with the grant of Bombay to England as part of the dower which the Princess of Portugal brought to Charles the Second. Nor were they moved by imperial ambitions. It did not enter into their heads to conceive or to desire the addition of a vast Indian empire to the appanages of the English crown. They cared little for the conflicting creeds of India, for Brahmanism and Buddhism and Jainism and Hinduism and the sects of Islam. They knew little of the differing tongues talked over that vast continent, more than five hundred in number, from the Hindi of one hundred million men to the most restricted
dialects of the mountains of Assam and Nepaul. India for them meant the little space of earth where the English had a trading interest, {249} and the regions of the shadowy potentates beyond from whom in some way or other money might be got.

[Sidenote: 1750--Suraj ud Dowlah]

When Warren Hastings landed in India the relations of England and of Englishmen to India were just upon the turn. The star of Clive's fortunes was mounting towards its zenith; the fiery planet of Dupleix had begun to fail and pale and fade. The policy which Dupleix had adopted, that policy of intrigue with the native princes of India, the English East India Company had been forced in self-defence and very reluctantly to adopt. Having adopted it, the men of the English East India Company proved themselves to be better players at the game than Dupleix. Warren Hastings, driving his pen at a desk in Calcutta, or looking after silk-spinning in the factory of Kazim Bazar near Murshidabad on the Ganges, was able to watch almost from its beginning the great political drama in which he was destined in his time to play so great a part, and which was to end in giving England a great Asiatic empire. When Suraj ud Dowlah declared war against the English his first move was to fall upon the Kazim Bazar settlement. Warren Hastings and the other English residents were made prisoners and sent to Murshidabad, where, through the intervention of the Dutch Company, they were humanely treated. Then came the madman's march on Calcutta, the horror of the Black Hole, and the flight of the Governor and the Company's servants to the little fort at Falta in the Hughli below Calcutta. Communications were entered upon between Governor Drake in Falta Island and Hastings at Murshidabad with a view to coming to terms with Suraj ud Dowlah. Warren Hastings was already, however, developing that genius for Oriental diplomacy which afterwards so characterized his career. He was made aware


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