Page images

peśted aids), adequate to the accomplishment of purposes, which bore no relation to an English policy. His pride and ambition, which were excessive, had been mortified by many ačts of the Bengal Government; and the restrićtions imposed by the Allahabad deputation, he deemed violently oppressive, and an infringement of the treaty that had been made by Lord Clive. But concealing his resentment with an admirable address, he diligently searched for expedients to dissolve a conneétion which placed him in so subordinate a condition. Shujah-ud-Dowlah had felt, and resolved to adopt, the European discipline. Exclusive of the French who were employed in forming his troops, he had solicited a supply of English officers to accomplish his purpose. But subsequently to the application, the Government of Calcutta had been new modeled, and seeing it hostile to his interests, he refused the service of any person who held a commission in the English army. I have obtained an information, supported by documents of substantial authority, but which I am not empowered to bring forward, that Shujah-ud-Dowlah, in the last moments of his life, was aćtively employed in forming schemes of independence, and even pursuing measures to extirpate the English power in India. The French officers in the service of this prince, improving on his ill humour to the English Government, represented to him that an alliance with France might be made the effectual instrument of emancipating his country from controul, and enable him to prosecute with success his schemes of conquest. The Vizier eagerly hearkened to this language, and agreed to open the negotiation ; but the keenness with which he commenced it, prevented his seeing the difficulties which would have obstrućted its purpose. It was stipulated by the agents at Oude, that a body of French troops should land on the coast of Cambay, and marching across the upper part of the peninsula, enter the western frontier of Oude. Had the Vizier made the experiment, he would have witnessed the impračticability of the project, and the visionary schemes of these French adventurers. But a ministry of France, it is to be presumed, would have altogether rejećted the measure, and have foreseen that the attempt of conveying an European force over so large a tract of country, inhabited by powerful military tribes, who entertain a common jealousy of Europeans, must have been frustrated by the surrounding impediments. The fact which is now related, stands accompanied with such a variety of corroborating proofs, that I am induced firmly to believe its authenticity. Shujah-ud-Dowlah who felt the force of the English power both in its open and concealed directions, ačted consistently with the station he occupied, in endeavouring to remove a pressure so galling and disgraceful; and had he lived until a later period, when the English nation in India was encountered by a host of assailants, and sinking under an accumulated load of intestine calamities, we might have been severely punished for having too powerfully armed the hands of this prince. His memory, I trust, will not be injured, if I place Shujah-ud-Dowlah at the crisis adverted to, amongst the foremost of



the enchmies of the English; when, to the extent of his abilities, he would probably have been seen making strong exertions to wipe off his former disgrace, and gratify a private resentment. HAv IN G marked the more conspicuous outline of the transactions of Shujah-ud-Dowlah, I will close it with some desultory observations on his charaćter. In treating of the personal qualities of this Prince, it must be noticed, that they pertain to a native of Hindostan, whose mind, fettered by religious prejudices and the effects of a narrowed education, is rarely incited to the search of knowledge. The same ačtions which are countenanced, and even applauded by a Mahometan, would in the European world be often viewed with disgust, or fall under a severe reprehension of the Law. Under this preliminary sančtion, it may with justice be said, that the Prince who has been the subjećt of this treatise, possessed a penetrating understanding, and an active mind. His disposition, when no grand objećt interposed, had a general tendency to promote the welfare of his subjects: and he was always averse to acts of barren cruelty. IN the year 1765, Shujah-ud-Dowlah's revenue did not amount to more than one hundred and twenty thousand pounds, and his army had been so much reduced by the effects of the defeat at Buxar, that it was incapable of defending his territory; yet at the expiration of ten years, the period of his death, he held a dominion which produced a revenue of three hundred and fixty thousand pounds; and he maintained in his service, one hundred thousand

fighting fighting men. When it is admitted, that in the acquisition of dominion, in maintaining an important station amongst the states of India, and in the salutary government of his country, this Prince displayed an enlarged genius, it must also be allowed, that he derived a real strength, and a large portion of political consequence, from the intimate conne&tion he had formed with the government of Bengal ; over which, he seemed, at one period, to have exercised a prevailing influence. Had Shujah ud-Dowlah dissolved his English alliance, the security of his country, and the execution of his schemes, would have chiefly depended on the force of his army, and the ability of his officers; for he himself was not endowed with the genius of a soldier. He wanted that valour, or courage, which is ever shewn in the event of common danger, and at every season which requires its exertion: but when personal strength, or skill, was to decide the combat, Shujah-ud-Dowlah had few equals. He rode, without fear, the most unruly horses; he would attack with the sword, match-lock, or the bow, in the use of which weapons he was wonderfully expert, the most furious animal of the field. This species of courage he seems to have acquired from his skill in the use of arms, and in the strength and ačtivity of his body. In situations of indiscriminate danger; as in the day of battle, he is said to have been deficient in the ordinary exertions of fortitude. Though Shujah-ud-Dowlah was the ostensible condućtor of the Rohilla war, he evinced throughout the campaign a marked pusillanimity ; and in the engagement

with with Hafiz Rhamut, who like a brave soldier had occupied the foremost rank of the battle, Shujah-ud-Dowlah, sheltering himself in the rear, is accused of betraying evident signs of fear, which were not wholly effaced, until he saw the severed head of the Rohilla chief. LIKE the men of rank in Asia, he was courteous and affable, had an infinuating address, and accomplished manners. These qualifications, united with a large well-formed person, and a handforme countenance, gave him powerful advantages, as well in his intercourse with foreign agents, as in the administration of his own government. With a soothing flow of language he could calm the most outrageous claimants, who though aware of the futility of the language, seldom left his presence but under the impression of a momentary pleasure. He had acquired an extensive knowledge in the pračtice of every species of deceit, and he could perform with facility every charaćter that was necessary to condućt the various purposes of delusion or treachery. Though capable of executing the subtilest scheme of intrigue, he was subjećt to occasional emotions of anger, which have frequently clouded his countenance at feasons when they were hostile to his views. In his family, he performed the duties of a mild, indulgent parent, and a kind master. When an objećt of policy called for pecuniary distribution, he could lavish with a liberal hand; but generosity did not form a fixed part of his disposition: He was equally rapacious in acquiring, as sordid in preserving wealth. Shujah-ud-Dowlah's ex

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »