| Our Empire Story|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. Traces the development of the British colonies from days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Includes stories of the five chief portions of the Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ages 10-16 |
TIMES OF MISRULE
 IN 1760 Clive again sailed home. He was only
thirty-five but he was now enormously rich, a great
soldier and conqueror, and perhaps the most famous man
of his day. In England he was received with joy.
Honours were heaped upon him. He was made a peer and
became Lord Clive, Baron Plassey.
But while Clive was being fêted and feasted at home,
Bengal was quickly sinking into a state of fearful
Many of the British hated Mir Jafar, as he had been
leader of the troops at the time of the Black Hole.
They made up their minds to depose him and to set his
son-in-law, Mir Cossim, in his place. This they very
quickly did. But they soon found that the new Nawab
was not so easily dealt with as the old, and quarrels
Mir Jafar had been old and feeble and a mere tool in
the hands of the British. Mir Cossim was young and
clever, and anxious to free himself from their power.
They, it was true, had put him on the throne, but he
had paid them for that, and now he tried to show that
he meant to rule without their help or their
The officers of the Company were very badly paid, some
of them indeed receiving only a few pounds a year. It
was quite impossible to live in India on such small
 sums. So, instead of attending to the work of the
Company only, every officer became a merchant on his
own account, and bought and sold to the natives. This
was called private trading and was forbidden by the
directors of the Company, but in spite of that it was
Soon all the trade of Bengal was in the hands of the
white people, and the native traders were ruined. For
they had to pay duty while the British were allowed to
trade everywhere without paying duty. If a boat
hoisted a British flag, or a trader showed a Company's
passport, he could buy and sell as he pleased. The
Company's officers made a great deal of money by
selling passes to people who had nothing to do with the
Company. They forced the natives to sell their goods
cheaply, and made them pay dear for what they bought.
In fact, they did as they liked. The whole land was
filled with misery, and these years have been called
the darkest in the history of British rule in India.
The native people were utterly miserable, and the
Nawab, too, became poor, for a great deal of his money
came from customs and duties. And now all the money
from them went into the pockets of the Company's
servants. Mir Cossim tried his best to make the
British stop this inland trade and keep to the trade
between India and Europe. This made the British
traders angry, and both sides prepared for war.
Mir Cossim gathered his army at his capital, Monghyr,
on the Ganges. He thus lay between the British at
Calcutta and at Patna, where they had another factory.
The factory at Patna had no defences, and seeing
themselves cut off from their friends, the British
attacked and took the town of Patna, hoping to be able
to defend themselves there. But they were not strong
 keep the town, and the soldiers of the Nawab attacked
and took it again from them. Many of the British were
killed, and all the rest were taken prisoner.
Mir Cossim rejoiced greatly at this victory, but when
the British at Calcutta heard of it they were very
wrathful, and, to punish Mir Cossim, they dethroned
him, and again made Mir Jafar Nawab.
Mir Jafar was by this time not only old, but ill and
foolish. The traders, however, did not want a real
ruler, they only wanted a figure-head, and he did as
well as any other.
The British now sent an army against Mir Cossim, and as
they marched towards Patna, they beat his soldiers
again and again. Then a massacre, quite as bad as that
of the Black Hole, took place. For the Nawab, mad with
anger, ordered his men to kill all the British
They had been shut up in a large house built round a
square. Now three of the chief of them were brought
out into this square, and there cruelly put to death.
The Indians were then ordered to fire upon the rest who
were quite unarmed. Against their fierce, dark fores,
the white men defended themselves as best they could
with bottles, sticks, bits of furniture, anything that
they could find. But it was all useless, and soon the
last man fell dead and their bodies were thrown into a
So the war began, and soon the whole country was
ablaze, for the Nawab of Oudh and the Great Mogul both
joined with Mir Cossim against the British. But they,
when they heard of the massacre of Patna, swept with an
avenging army over the land. For months the war
lasted, and ended with the battle of Buxar. This was a
victory as important as Plassey, for it made the
British secure as the greatest power in India.
The Nawab of Oudh and the Great Mogul made
 Peace. Utterly vanquished, Mir Cossim fled, to die a
few years later in wretched exile. Yet Mir Cossim,
with all his cruelty, had been a clever ruler. He had
tried to do the best for his own people, and much of
the trouble and war was no doubt due to the misrule of
the Company's officers, which was such "as to make the
very name of Briton a shame."
In those days it took a long time for news to travel
home. But now every ship brought news of battles,
revolutions, loss. At length the directors began to be
alarmed. Filled with grief at the awful news of Patna,
wearied with constant tidings of disaster and war, they
begged Lord Clive to go back to India again and try to
bring order once more into the terrible confusion
there. And in 1764 Clive sailed again for Bengal.
When Clive arrived he found that poor old Mir Jafar was
dead, and that the Company had enthroned another Nawab.
He found, too, everything in such confusion that he
wept "for the lost fame of the British nation."
For eighteen months Clive stayed in India working hard.
He had immense difficulties to fight—difficulties with
the directors at home, with the Council in India, with
the British soldiers and officers, with the natives and
their rulers. But Clive had a will of iron, and all
that one man could do, he did. He sent away the men
who had done the worst deeds, he put down mutinies, he
made treaties with the native rulers, and at last
brought some sort of order out of wild disorder. But
he made many enemies and wore his health out, and after
eighteen months he again went home.
At first he was received with honour as before, and
thanked for all that he had done. But soon his enemies
began to attack him. They recalled again the deceit he
had used against Omi Chand, they accused him of taking
 bribes, and of many other wicked deeds. Against these
accusations Clive had to defend himself before the
House of Commons. And he defended himself so well that
the Commons, after much stormy debate, passed a
resolution, "That Robert, Lord Clive, did render great
and meritorious services to his country."
So Clive won the victory over his enemies. But the
struggle had left him sad. He could not forget it. He
suffered much, too, from a painful disease brought on
by his hard life in India. And one day his friends
found him dead, killed by his own hand. He was only
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