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

Mir Jaffier was surrounded by enemies

of the treason that was hatching

against Suraj ud Dowlah in his own court and among his own friends, and he was quite ready to play his part and find his account in that treason. Treason is a risky game for a political prisoner at a court like that of Suraj ud Dowlah. Warren Hastings was quick-witted enough to see that the sooner he got away from that {250} court the better for himself. He succeeded accordingly in making his escape and joining the fugitives at Falta. Here two things of moment happened to him. He met the woman who was to be his first wife, and he met the great man who was to give him his first chance for fame. Among the refugees from Calcutta was the widow of a Captain Campbell. Warren Hastings fell in love with her, and afterwards in an hour of greater security he married her. He seem to have been very fond of her, to have been very happy with her, but she died very soon after the marriage, and the two children she bore him both died young, and so that episode came to an end. The more momentous meeting was with Clive. When the Madras expedition appeared in the Hughli, Warren Hastings volunteered to serve in the ranks, shouldered his gun, and took his part in the fighting round Calcutta. But Clive's keen eyes discerned stuff for better things than the sieging of Indian forts in the young volunteer. When Suraj ud Dowlah's defeat ended in Suraj ud Dowlah's death, and the traitorous Mir Jaffier sat on the throne in his stead, Warren Hastings was sent to the court of the new prince at Murshidabad,
originally as second to the Company's representative, Mr. Scratton, and afterwards as sole representative.

[Sidenote: 1762--Clive and the East India Company]

At Murshidabad Warren Hastings had every opportunity to justify Clive's acumen in singling him out for distinction. The post he held was one of exceptional difficulty and delicacy. Mir Jaffier was not altogether an agreeable person to get on with. The English in India were taking their first lessons in Oriental intrigue. They were learning that if it was not particularly difficult to upset one tyrant and place another on his throne, it was not always easy to keep that other on the throne, or at all safe to rely upon his loyalty to the men who had brought about his exaltation. Mir Jaffier was surrounded by enemies. His court, like every other Oriental court, was honeycombed with intrigues against him. His English patrons, or rather his English masters, proved to have an itching palm. They were always wanting money, and Mir Jaffier {251} had not always got enough money in his treasury to content their desires. So he began to intrigue against the English with the Dutch, and the English found him out and promptly knocked him off his throne, and set up a new puppet in his stead. By this time Clive had returned to England, and the direction of the destinies of the East India Company was in the hands of the Governor, Mr. Vansittart, a well-meaning man whose views were not the views of Clive. Clive objected very much to the course which the East India Company were pursuing. He wrote a letter to the London Board rebuking in no measured language the defects and evils of the Indian Administration. Once again Clive was the cause of Warren Hastings's advancement. The London Board ordered the instant dismissal of all the officials who had signed Clive's letter and Warren Hastings was appointed to fill one of the vacant places.

The five years that elapsed between the departure of Clive for England in 1760 and his return to India in 1765 are not years that reflect much credit upon the East India Company's administration. They had suddenly found themselves lifted from a condition of dependency and, at one moment, of despair to a position of unhoped-for authority and influence. New to such power, dazzled by such influence, they abused the one and they misused the other. But the part that Warren Hastings played during this unfortunate five years reflects only credit upon himself. The vices of the East India Company were not his vices; he was no party to their abuse of their power, or their misuse of their influence. When he was advanced from the Patna agency, his place was taken by a Mr. Ellis, who seems to have been exceptionally and peculiarly unfitted for the delicate duties of his post. He appears to have carried on all his negotiations and communications with the Nawab Mir Kasim with a high-handed arrogance and an absence of tact which were in their way astonishing. Relations between the Nawab and Mr. Ellis, as the Company's representative, became so strained that in 1762 Warren Hastings was again sent to Patna to investigate the whole trouble. {252} Clive's judgment was already justified: Warren Hastings's ability had already found much of the recognition it deserved; his twelve years of Indian life had changed him from the adventurous, inexperienced lad into the ripe and skilful statesman upon whom his masters were confident that they could rely in such a moment of emergency as had now come.

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