Three Frenchmen in Bengal
S.C. Hill

Part 2 out of 3

us. It being our interest to humour him, we had received
him with a hundred times more politeness than he deserved.
By the advice of Rai Durlabh Ram and Mohan Lal, we had
recourse to him in important affairs. Consequently, we
gave him presents from time to time, and this confirmed his
friendship for us. The previous year (1755) had been a
very good one for him, owing to the business connected with
the settlement of the Danes in Bengal. In fact, it was by
his influence that I was enabled to conclude this affair, and
Aliverdi Khan allowed him to retain all the profit from it,
so I can say that I had no bad place in the heart of Siraj-ud-daula.
It is true he was a profligate, but a profligate who
was to be feared, who could be useful to us, _and who might
some day be a good man_. Nawajis Muhammad Khan[71] had
been at least as vicious as Siraj-ud-daula, and yet he had
become the idol of the people."

Law, therefore, had cultivated the young Nawab. Mr. Watts, on the
other hand, was not only foolish enough to neglect him, but carried
his folly to extremes. He was not in a position to prevent his
accession, and ought therefore to have been careful by the
correctness of his behaviour to show no signs of being opposed to
it. So far from this, he is strongly suspected of having entered
into correspondence with the widow of Nawajis Khan, who had adopted
Siraj-ud-daula's younger brother[72] and was supporting his
candidature for the throne, and also with Saukat Jang, Nawab of
Purneah and cousin of Siraj-ud-daula, who was trying to obtain the
throne for himself. Still further, he advised Mr. Drake, Governor of
Calcutta, to give shelter to Kissendas, son of Raj Balav (Nawajis
Khan's _Diwan_), who had fled with the treasures in his charge when
his father was called to account for his master's property.

Contrary to Mr. Watts's expectations, Aliverdi Khan's last acts so
smoothed the way for Siraj-ud-daula, and the latter acted with such
decision and promptitude on his grandfather's death, that in an
incredibly short time he had all his enemies at his feet, and was at
leisure to attend to state business, and especially the affairs
of the foreign Settlements. Aliverdi Khan had always been
extremely jealous of allowing the European nations to erect any
fortifications, but, during his last illness, all of them, expecting
a contested succession, during which, owing to complications in
Europe, they might find themselves at war with each other in India,
began to repair their old walls or to erect new ones. This was
exactly what Siraj-ud-daula wanted. His first care on his accession
had been to make himself master of his grandfather's and uncle's
treasures. To these he had added those of such of his grandfather's
servants as he could readily lay hands on. Other wealthy nobles and
officers had fled to the English, or were suspected of having
secretly sent their treasures to Calcutta. It was also supposed that
the European Settlements, and especially Calcutta, were filled with
the riches accumulated by the foreigners. Whilst, therefore, the
Nawab was determined to make all the European nations contribute
largely in honour of his accession, and in atonement for their
insolence in fortifying themselves without his permission, he had
special reasons for beginning with the English. In the mean time,
however, he had first to settle with his cousin, Saukat Jang, the
Nawab of Purneah, so he contented himself with sending orders to the
Chiefs of the Factories to pull down their new fortifications. Law
acted wisely and promptly.

"I immediately drew up an _Arzi_, or Petition, and had one
brought from the Council in Chandernagore of the same
tenour as my own. These two papers were sent to Siraj-ud-daula,
who appeared satisfied with them. He even wrote
me in reply that he did not forbid our repairing old works,
but merely our making new ones. Besides, the spies who
had been sent to Chandernagore, being well received and
satisfied with the presents made them, submitted a report
favourable to us, so that our business was hushed up."

The English behaved very differently, and their answer, which was
bold if not insolent in tone,[73] reached the Nawab at the very
moment when he had received the submission of the Nawab of Purneah.
Law adds:--

"I was assured that the Nawab of Purneah showed him
some letters which he had received from the English. This
is difficult to believe, but this is how the match took fire.

"Accordingly, no sooner had the Nawab heard the contents
of the answer from the English, than he jumped up in
anger, and, pulling out his sword, swore he would go and
exterminate all the Feringhees.[74] At the same time he gave
orders for the march of his army, and appointed several
Jemadars[75] to command the advance guard. As in his first
burst of rage he had used the general word Feringhees,
which is applied to all Europeans, some friends whom I had
in the army, and who did not know how our business had
ended, sent to warn me to be on my guard, as our Factory
would be besieged. The alarm was great with us, and with
the English, at Cossimbazar. I spent more than twenty-four
hours in much anxiety; carrying wood, provisions, etc., into
the Factory, but I soon knew what to expect. I saw horsemen
arrive and surround the English fort, and at the same
time I received an official letter from the Nawab, telling me
not to be anxious, and that he was as well pleased with us
as he was ill pleased with the English."

Cossimbazar surrendered without firing a shot, owing to the
treacherous advice of the Nawab's generals, and Siraj-ud-daula
advanced on Calcutta. It was with the greatest difficulty that Law
escaped being forced to march in his train.

"The remains of the respect which he had formerly felt
for Europeans made him afraid of failure in his attack
on Calcutta, which had been represented to him as a very
strong place, defended by three or four thousand men. He
wrote to me in the strongest terms to engage the Director of
Chandernagore to give him what assistance he could in men
and ammunition. 'Calcutta is yours,' he said to our agent
in full _Durbar_; 'I give you that place and its dependencies
as the price of the services you will render me. I know,
besides, that the English are your enemies; you are always
at war with them either in Europe or on the Coromandel
Coast, so I can interpret your refusal only as a sign of the
little interest you take in what concerns me. I am resolved
to do you as much good as Salabat Jang[76] has done you in
the Deccan, but if you refuse my friendship and the offers I
make you, you will soon see me fall on you and cause you
to experience the same treatment that I am now preparing
for others in your favour.' He wished us to send down at
once to Calcutta all the ships and other vessels which were
at Chandernagore. After having thanked him for his
favourable disposition towards us, I represented to him
that we were not at war with the English, that what had
happened on the Coromandel Coast was a particular affair
which we had settled amicably, and that the English, in
Bengal having given us no cause of offence, it was impossible
for us, without orders either from Europe or Pondicherry, to
give him the assistance he asked for. Such reasons could
only excite irritation in the mind of a man of Siraj-ud-daula's
character. He swore he would have what he wanted
whether we wished it or not, and that, as we lived in his
country, his will ought to be law to us. I did my best to
appease him, but uselessly. At the moment of his departure
his sent us word by one of his uncles that he still counted
on our assistance, and he sent me a letter for the Governor of
Pondicherry, in which he begged him to give us the necessary
orders. I thought to myself this was so much time gained."

The Nawab captured Calcutta without any open assistance from the
French, and, though he set free most of the prisoners who survived
the Black Hole, he sent Holwell and three others before him to
Murshidabad. Law, who had already sheltered Mrs. Watts and her
family, and such of the English of Cossimbazar as had been able to
escape to him, now showed similar kindness to Holwell and his
companions. Of this he says modestly:--

"The gratitude Mr. Holwell expresses for a few little
services which I was able to render him makes me regret
my inability to do as much to deserve his gratitude as I
should have liked to do."[77]

He also, apparently with some difficulty, obtained consent to M.
Courtin's request for the release of the English prisoners at Dacca;

"Siraj-ud-daula, being informed that there were two or
three very charming English ladies at Dacca, was strongly
tempted to adorn his harem with them."

Law's success in these matters is a striking instance of his
personal influence, for Siraj-ud-daula was by no means any longer
well disposed towards the French and Dutch.

"The fear of drawing on his back all the European
nations at once had made him politic. At first he pretended
to be satisfied with the reply sent by the Governor
of Chandernagore, and assured him that he would always
treat us with the greatest kindness. He said the same to
the Dutch, but when Calcutta was taken the mask fell. He
had nothing more to fear. Scarcely had he arrived at Hugli
when he sent detachments to Chandernagore and Chinsurah
to summon the commandants to pay contributions, or to
resolve to see their flags taken away and their forts
demolished. In short, we were forced to yield what the
Nawab demanded; whilst he, as he said, was content with
having punished a nation which had offended him, and with
having put the others to ransom to pay for the expenses of
the expedition. We saw the tyrant reappear in triumph at
Murshidabad, little thinking of the punishment which Providence
was preparing for his crimes, and to make which still
more striking, he was yet to have some further successes."

It may be here pointed out that, not only did the Nawab not insist
on the destruction of the French and Dutch fortifications, but he
did not destroy the fortifications of Calcutta. This proves that if
the English had shown the humility and readiness to contribute which
he desired, he would have left them in peace at the first, or, after
the capture of Calcutta, have permitted them to resettle there
without farther disturbance. In short, the real necessity of making
the European nations respect his authority, instead of guiding him
in a settled course, merely provided a pretext for satisfying his
greed. This is the opinion, not only of the French and English who
were at Murshidabad when the troubles began, but of the English
officials who went there later on and made careful inquiries amongst
all classes of people in order to ascertain the real reason of
Siraj-ud-daula's attack upon the English.

His avarice was to prove the Nawab's ruin.

"Siraj-ud-daula was one of the richest Nawabs that had
ever reigned. Without mentioning his revenues, of which
he gave no account at the Court of Delhi, he possessed
immense wealth, both in gold and silver coin, and in jewels
and precious stones, which had been left by the preceding
three Nawabs. In spite of this he thought only of increasing
his wealth. If any extraordinary expense had to be met
he ordered contributions, and levied them with extreme
rigour. Having never known himself what it was to want
money, he supposed that, in due proportion, money was as
common with other people as with himself, and that the
Europeans especially were inexhaustible. His violence
towards them was partly due to this. In fact, from his
behaviour, one would have said his object was to ruin everybody.
He spared no one, not even his relatives, from whom
he took all the pensions and all the offices which they
had held in the time of Aliverdi Khan. Was it possible for
such a man to keep his throne? Those who did not know
him intimately, when they saw him victorious over his
enemies and confirmed as Nawab by a _firman_[78]from the
Great Mogul, were forced to suppose that there was in his
character some great virtue which balanced his vices and
counteracted their effects. However, this young giddy-pate
had no talent for government except that of making himself
feared, and, at the same time, passed for the most cowardly
of men. At first he had shown some regard for the officers of
the army, because, until he was recognized as Nawab, he felt
his need of them. He had even shown generosity, but this
quality, which was quite opposed to his real character, soon disappeared,
to make place for violence and greed, which decided
against him all those who had favoured his accession in the
hope that he would behave discreetly when he became Nawab."

Owing to the general disgust felt at Murshidabad for the Nawab, his
cousin, Saukat Jang, Nawab of Purneah, thought the opportunity
favourable for reviving his claims, and, early in October,
Siraj-ud-daula, hearing of his contemplated rebellion, invaded his

"Every one longed for a change, and many flattered
themselves it would take place. In fact, it was the most
favourable opportunity to procure it. The result would have
been happiness and tranquillity for Bengal. Whilst contributing
to the general good--which even the Dutch might
have interested themselves in--we could have prevented
the misfortunes which have since happened to us. Three or
four hundred Europeans and a few sepoys would have done
the business. If we could have joined this force to the
enemies of Siraj-ud-daula we should have placed on the
throne another Nawab--not, indeed, one wholly to our taste,
but, not to worry about trifles, one to the liking of the house
of Jagat Seth,[79] and the chief Moors and Rajas. I am sure
such a Nawab would have kept his throne. The English
would have been re-established peaceably, they would certainly
have received some compensation, and would have had
to be satisfied whether they liked it or not. The neutrality of
the Ganges assured, at least to the same extent as in the time
of Aliverdi Khan, the English would have been prevented
from invading Bengal, and from sending thither the reinforcements
which had contributed so much to their success
on the Madras Coast. All this depended on us, but how
could we foresee the succession of events which has been as
contrary to us as it has been favourable to the English? As
it was, we remained quiet, and the rash valour of the young
Nawab of Purneah, whilst it delivered Siraj-ud-daula from
the only enemy he had to fear in the country, made it clear
to the whole of Bengal that the change so much desired
could be effected only by the English."

Mir Jafar and other leaders of the Nawab's army were about to
declare in favour of Saukat Jang when Ramnarain,[80] Naib of Patna,
arrived to support Siraj-ud-daula. Whilst the malcontents were
hesitating what to do, Saukat Jang made a rash attack on the Nawab's
army, and was shot dead in the fight.

"Behold him then, freed by this event from all his
inquietudes; detested, it is true, but feared even by those
who only knew him by name. In a country where predestination
has so much power over the mind, the star of
Siraj-ud-daula was, people said, predominant. Nothing could
resist him. He was himself persuaded of this. Sure of the
good fortune which protected him, he abandoned himself
more than ever to those passions which urged him to the
commission of every imaginable form of violence.

"It can be guessed what we had to suffer, we and the
Dutch, at Cossimbazar. Demand followed demand, and insult
followed insult, on the part of the native officers and soldiers;
for they, forming their behaviour on that of their master,
thought they could not sufficiently show their contempt for
everything European. We could not go outside of our Factories
without being exposed to annoyance of one kind or another."

Every one in the land turned wistful eyes towards the English, but
they lay inactive at Fulta, and it seemed as if help from Madras
would never come. The English, therefore, tried to bring about a
revolution favourable to themselves at Murshidabad, and began to
look for persons who might be induced to undertake it; but this was
not easy, as the Moor nobles had little acquaintance with the
Europeans. Of the Hindus in Bengal--

"the best informed were the bankers and merchants, who
by their commercial correspondence had been in a position
to learn many things. The house of Jagat Seth, for instance,
was likely to help the English all the more because to its
knowledge of them it joined several causes of complaint
against Siraj-ud-daula. Up to the death of Aliverdi Khan
it had always enjoyed the greatest respect. It was this
family which had conducted almost all his financial business,
and it may be said that it had long been the chief cause of
all the revolutions in Bengal. But now things were much
changed. Siraj-ud-daula, the most inconsiderate of men,
never supposing that he would need the assistance of mere
bankers, or that he could ever have any reason to fear them,
never showed them the slightest politeness. He wanted
their wealth, and some day or other it was certain he would
seize it. These bankers, then, were the persons to serve the
English. They could by themselves have formed a party,
and, even without the assistance of any Europeans, have
put another Nawab upon the throne and re-established the
English, but this would have required much time. Business
moves very slowly amongst Indians, and this would not have
suited the English. The bankers also were Hindus, and of
a race which does not like to risk danger. To stimulate
them to action it was necessary for the English to commence
operations and achieve some initial successes, and as yet
there seemed no likelihood of their doing so. To negotiate
with Siraj-ud-daula for a peaceful re-establishment was quite
as difficult, unless they were inclined to accept the very
hardest conditions, for the Nawab had now the most extravagant
contempt for all Europeans; a pair of slippers, he
said, is all that is needed to govern them."

Just as it seemed likely that the English would have to stoop to the
Nawab's terms, they received news of the despatch of reinforcements
from Madras. About the same time, it became known to both French and
English that France and England had declared war against each other
in the preceding May.[81] The English naturally said nothing about
it, and the French were too eager to see the Nawab well beaten to
put any unnecessary obstacles in their way. The negotiations with
the friends of the Europeans at Murshidabad were quietly continued
until Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive arrived. A rapid advance was
then made on Calcutta, which was captured with hardly any

Siraj-ud-daula was so little disturbed by the recapture of Calcutta
that the French thought everything would terminate amicably, but,
possibly owing to the reputation of Watson and Clive, who had so
long fought against the French,[82] they thought it likely that, if
the English demanded compensation for their losses, the Nawab would
allow them to recoup themselves by seizing the French Settlements.
M. Renault, therefore, wrote to Law to make sure that, in any treaty
between the Nawab and the English, an article should be inserted
providing for the neutrality of the Ganges; but the French, at
present, were needlessly alarmed. The English had no intention of
creeping quietly back into the country. Watson and Clive addressed
haughty letters to the Nawab, demanding reparation for the wrongs
inflicted on the English; and the Admiral and the Council declared
war in the name of the King and the Company. This possibly amused
the Nawab, who took no notice of their letters; but it was a
different matter when a small English force sailed up the Hugli,
passed Chandernagore unopposed by the French, captured the fort of
Hugli, burnt Hugli[83] and Bandel towns, and ravaged both banks of
the river down to Calcutta. The French were in an awkward position.
The English had passed Chandernagore without a salute, which was an
unfriendly, if not a hostile act; whilst the Nawab thought that, as
the French had not fired on them, they must be in alliance with
them. Law had to bear the brunt of this suspicion. His common sense
told him that the English would never consent to a neutrality, and
he wrote to Renault that it was absolutely necessary to join the

"The neutrality was by no means obligatory, as no treaty
existed. In fact, what confidence could we have in a forced
neutrality, which had been observed so long only out of
fear of the Nawab, who for the general good of the country
was unwilling to allow any act of hostility to be committed
by the Europeans? Much more so when the English were
at war with the Nawab himself. If they managed to get
the better of him, what would become of this fear, the sole
foundation of the neutrality?"

So Law wrote to Renault, begging him, if he could not persuade the
English to sign a treaty of neutrality at once, to make up his mind
and join the Nawab. We have seen why Renault could do neither, and
Law, writing after the event says, generously enough:--

"I am bound to respect the reasons which determined
M. Renault as well as the gentlemen of the Council, who
were all much too good citizens not to have kept constantly
in their minds the welfare of our nation and the Company.
People always do see things differently, and the event does
not always prove the correctness or incorrectness of the
reasons which have decided us to take one or the other course."

As soon as the Nawab heard of the plundering of Hugli he set out for
Calcutta, but to blind the English he requested M. Renault to
mediate between them. The English refusal to treat through the
French had the effect of clearing up matters between the latter and
the Nawab; but he could not understand why the French would not
actively assist him. Certain, at any rate, that he had only the
English to deal with, he foolishly played into their hands by
marching to fight them on their own ground, whereas, if he had
remained idle at a little distance, merely forbidding supplies to be
sent them, he could have starved them out of Calcutta in a few
months. As I have said before, Clive attacked his camp on the 5th of
February, and so terrified him that he consented to a shameful
peace, in which he forgot all mention of the neutrality of the
Ganges. Law tells a curious story to the effect that what frightened
the Nawab most of all was a letter from Admiral Watson, threatening
to make him a prisoner and carry him to England. Watson's letter is
extant, and contains no such threat, but it is quite possible that
it was so interpreted to the Nawab.

Though the Nawab had assured the English that he would have the same
friends and enemies as they, and had omitted to mention the French
in the treaty, he now, of his own accord, gave the French all that
the English had extorted from him. This act could not be kept

"A great fault at present, and which has always existed,
in the management of affairs in India, especially in Bengal,
is that nothing is secret. Scarcely had the Nawab formed
any project when it was known to the lowest of his slaves.
The English, who were suspicious, and who had for friends
every one who was an enemy of Siraj-ud-daula, whom all
detested, were soon informed of his proposals to M. Renault
and of the letters written on both sides."

Yet Law thinks it was only the European war and the fear that
Renault intended an alliance with the Nawab that induced the English
to proceed to extremities:--

"The dethronement of the Nawab had become an absolute
necessity. To drive us out of Bengal was only a preliminary
piece of work. A squadron of ours with considerable forces
might arrive. Siraj-ud-daula might join his forces to it.
What, then, would become of the English? They needed
for Nawab a man attached to their interests. Besides, this
revolution was not so difficult to carry out as one might
imagine. With Chandernagore destroyed, nothing could be
more easy; but even if we were left alone the revolution
could have been effected by the junction of the English with
the forces which would have been produced against Siraj-ud-daula
by the crowd of enemies whom he had, and amongst
whom were to be counted the most respectable persons in
the three provinces.[84] This statement demands an explanation.
I have already spoken of the house of Jagat Seth, or
rather of its chiefs, who are named Seth Mahtab Rai and Seth
Sarup Chand, bankers of the Mogul, the richest and most
powerful merchants who have ever lived. They are, I can
say, the _movers_ of the revolution. Without them the English
would never have carried out what they have. I have
already said they were not pleased with Siraj-ud-daula, who
did not show them the same respect as the old Nawab
Aliverdi Khan had done; but the arrival of the English
forces, the capture of the Moorish forts, and the fright of
the Nawab before Calcutta, had made a change which was
apparently in their favour. The Nawab began to perceive
that the bankers were necessary to him. The English
would have no one except them as mediators, and so they
had become, as it were, responsible for the behaviour of
both the Nawab and the English. Accordingly after the
Peace there was nothing but kindness and politeness from
the Nawab towards them, and he consulted them in everything.
At the bottom this behaviour of his was sheer
trickery. The Seths were persuaded that the Nawab who
hated the English must also dislike the persons whom the
English employed. Profiting by the hatred which the
Nawab had drawn on himself by his violence, and distributing
money judiciously, they had long since gained over
those who were nearest to the Nawab, whose imprudence
always enabled them to know what he had in his heart.
From what came to the knowledge of the Seths it was easy
to guess what he intended, and this made them tremble, for
it was nothing less than their destruction, which could be
averted only by his own. The cause of the English had
become that of the Seths; their interests were identical. Can
one be surprised to see them acting in concert? Further,
when one remembers that it was this same house of bankers
that overthrew Sarfaraz Khan[85] to enthrone Aliverdi Khan,
and who, during the reign of the latter, had the management
of all important business, one must confess that it ought not
to be difficult for persons of so much influence to execute a
project in which, the English were taking a share."[86]

Law could not persuade Renault to act, and without his doing so the
game was nearly hopeless. Still, he worked at forming a French party
in the Court. By means of Coja Wajid, an Armenian merchant of
Hugli, whose property had been plundered by the English, he obtained
an interview with the Nawab, and persuaded him to send the 2000
soldiers who were with Renault at the beginning of the siege. More
would have been despatched but for the apparent certainty that the
treaty of neutrality would be signed. In fact, Renault was so
worried that, on the complaint of Watson and Clive that Law was
exciting the Nawab against the English, he wrote Law a letter which
caused the latter to ask to be recalled from Cossimbazar, and it was
only at Renault's earnest request that he consented to remain at his
post. Law continued forming his party.

"It would appear from the English memoirs that we
corrupted the whole _Durbar_ at Murshidabad to our side by
presents and lies. I might with justice retort this reproach.
As a matter of fact, except Siraj-ud-daula himself, one may
say the English had the whole _Durbar_ always in their
favour. Without insisting on this point, let us honestly
agree, since the English themselves confess it, that we were,
like them, much engaged in opposing corruption to corruption
in order to gain the friendship of scoundrels so as to
place ourselves on equal terms with our enemies. This has
always happened, and ought not to cause surprise in a Court
where right counts for nothing and, every other motive apart,
one can never be successful except by the weight of what
one puts in the balance of iniquity. For the rest, right
or wrong, it is certain that the English were always in a
position to put in more than we could.

"Fear and greed are the two chief motives of Indian
minds. Everything depends on one or the other. Often
they are combined towards the same object, but, when they
are opposed, fear always conquers. A proof of this is easily
to be seen in all the events connected with, the revolution
in Bengal. When, in 1756, Siraj-ud-daula determined to
expel the English, fear and greed combined to make him
act. As soon as he had himself proved the superiority of
the English troops, fear took the upper hand in his mind,
grew stronger day by day, and soon put him in a condition
in which he was unable to follow, and often even to see, his
true interests.

"I mention the Nawab first. His hatred for the English
certainly indicated friendship for us. I think so myself, but
we have seen what was his character and his state of mind
in general. I ask, in all good faith, whether we could expect
any advantage from his friendship? This person, cowed by
fear, irresolute and imprudent, could he alone be of any use
to us? It was necessary for him to be supported by some
one who had his confidence and was capable by his own
firmness of fixing the irresolution of the Prince.

"Mohan Lal, chief _Diwan_ of Siraj-ud-daula, was this
man, the greatest scoundrel the earth has ever borne, worthy
minister of such a master, and yet, in truth, the only person
who was really attached to him. He had firmness and also
sufficient judgment to understand that the ruin of Siraj-ud-daula
must necessarily bring on his own. He was as much,
detested as his master. The sworn enemy of the Seths, and
capable of holding his own against them, I think those
bankers would not have succeeded so easily in their project
if he had been free to act, but, unfortunately for us, he had
been for some time, and was at this most critical moment
dangerously ill. He could not leave his house. I went to
see him twice with Siraj-ud-daula, but it was not possible to
get a word from him. There is strong reason to believe he
had been poisoned. Owing to this, Siraj-ud-daula saw himself
deprived of his only support.

"Coja Wajid, who had introduced me to the Nawab, and
who, it would be natural to suppose, was our patron, was a
great merchant of Hugli. He was consulted by the Nawab
only because, as he had frequented the Europeans and especially
the English, the Nawab imagined he knew them perfectly.
He was one of the most timid of men, who wanted
to be polite to everybody, and who, had he seen the dagger
raised, would have thought he might offend Siraj-ud-daula
by warning him that some one intended to assassinate him.[87]
Possibly he did not love the Seths, but he feared them,
which was sufficient to make him useless to us.

"Rai Durlabh Ram, the other _Diwan_ of the Nawab, was
the man to whom I was bound to trust most. Before the
arrival of Clive he might have been thought the enemy of
the English. It was he who pretended to have beaten them
and to have taken Calcutta. He wished, he said, to maintain
his reputation; but after the affair of the 5th of February,
in which the only part he took was to share in the flight, he
was not the same man; he feared nothing so much as to
have to fight the English. This fear disposed him to gradually
come to terms with the Seths, of whose greatness he
was very jealous. He also hated the Nawab, by whom he
had been ill-used on many occasions. In short, I could never
get him to say a single word in our favour in the _Durbar_.
The fear of compromising himself made him decide to remain
neutral for the present, though firmly resolved to join finally
the side which appeared to him to be the strongest."

This, then, was the French party, whose sole bond was dislike to the
Seths, and the members of which, by timidity or ill-health, were
unable to act. It was different with their enemies.

"The English had on their side in the _Durbar_ the terror
of their arms, the faults of Siraj-ud-daula, the ruling influence
and the refined policy of the Seths, who, to conceal their game
more completely, and knowing that it pleased the Nawab,
often spoke all the ill they could think of about the English,
so as to excite him against them and at the same time gain
his confidence. The Nawab fell readily into the snare, and
said everything that came into his mind, thus enabling his
enemies to guard against all the evil which otherwise he
might have managed to do them. The English had also on
their side all the chief officers in the Nawab's army--Jafar
All Khan, Khodadad Khan Latty, and a number of others
who were attached to them by their presents or the influence
of the Seths, all the ministers of the old Court whom
Siraj-ud-daula had disgraced, nearly all the secretaries,[88] the
writers[89] of the _Durbar_, and even the eunuchs of the harem.
What might they not expect to achieve by the union of all
these forces when guided by so skilful a man as Mr. Watts?"

With such enemies to combat in the Court itself, Law heard that the
English were marching on Chandernagore. By the most painful efforts
he obtained orders for reinforcements to be sent to the French.

"were ready to start, the soldiers had been paid, the Commandant[90]
waited only for final orders. I went to see him
and promised him a large sum if he succeeded in raising the
siege of Chandernagore. I also visited several of the chief
officers, to whom I promised rewards proportionate to their
rank. I represented to the Nawab that Chandernagore must
be certainly captured if the reinforcements did not set out
at once, and I tried to persuade him to give his orders to
the Commandant in my presence. 'All is ready,' replied the
Nawab, 'but before resorting to arms it is proper to try all
possible means to avoid a rupture, and all the more so as the
English have just promised to obey the orders I shall send
them.'[91] I recognized the hand of the Seths in these details.

They encouraged the Nawab in a false impression about this
affair. On the one hand, they assured him that the march
of the English, was only to frighten us into subscribing to
a treaty of neutrality, and on the other hand they increased
his natural timidity by exaggerating the force of the English
and by representing the risk he ran in assisting us with
reinforcements which would probably not prevent the capture
of Chandernagore if the English were determined to take it,
but would serve as a reason for the English to attack the
Nawab himself. They managed so well that they destroyed
in the evening all the effect I had produced in the morning.

"I resolved to visit the bankers. They immediately
commenced talking about our debts, and called my attention
to the want of punctuality in our payments. I said that
this was not the question just now, and that I came to them
upon a much more interesting matter, which, however, concerned
them as well as us with respect to those very debts
for which they were asking payment and security. I asked
why they supported the English against us. They denied it,
and, after much explanation, they promised to make any
suggestions I wished to the Nawab. They added that they
were quite sure the English would not attack us, and that
I might remain tranquil. Knowing that they were well
acquainted with the designs of the English, I told them I
knew as well as they did what these were, and that I saw
no way of preventing them from attacking Chandernagore
except by hastening the despatch of the reinforcements which
the Nawab had promised, and that as they were disposed to
serve me, I begged them to make the Nawab understand the
same. They replied that the Nawab wished to avoid any
rupture with the English, and they said many other things
which only showed me that, in spite of their good will, they
would do nothing for us. Ranjit Rai, who was their man
of business as well as the agent of the English, said to me
in a mocking tone, 'You are a Frenchman; are you afraid of
the English? If they attack you, defend yourselves! No
one is ignorant of what your nation has done on the Madras
Coast, and we are curious to see how you will come off in
this business here.' I told him I did not expect to find such
a warlike person in a Bengali merchant, and that sometimes
people repented of their curiosity. That was enough for such
a fellow, but I saw clearly that the laugh would not be on
my side. However, every one was very polite, and I left
the house."

Law thinks the Seths honestly believed that the English march on
Chandernagore was merely intended to frighten the French, and, as a
proof of their friendliness, narrates a further incident of this

"The conversation having turned on Siraj-ud-daula, on
the reasons he had given the Seths to fear him, and on his
violent character, I said I understood clearly enough what
they meant, and that they certainly wanted to set up another
Nawab. The Seths, instead of denying this, contented themselves
with saying in a low voice that this was a subject
which should not be talked about. Omichand, the English
agent[92] (who, by the way, cried 'Away with them!' wherever
he went), was present. If the fact had been false, the Seths
would certainly have denied it, and would have reproached
me for talking in such a way. If they had even thought
I intended to thwart them, they would also have denied
it, but considering all that had happened, the vexations
caused us by the Nawab and our obstinate refusals to help
him, they imagined that we should be just as content as they
were to see him deposed, provided only the English would
leave us in peace. In fact, they did not as yet regard us as

Law was, however, ignorant that Clive had already promised, or did
so soon after, to give the property of the French Company to the
Seths in payment of the money the French owed them; but he now for
the first time fully realized the gravity of the situation. The
indiscretion of the Seths showed him the whole extent of the plot,
and the same evening he told the Nawab, but--

"the poor young man began to laugh, not being able to
imagine I could be so foolish as to indulge in such ideas."

And yet, whilst he refused to believe in the treason of his
officers, the Nawab indulged at times in the most violent outbreaks
of temper against them.

"Siraj-ud-daula was not master of himself.[93] It would
have needed as much firmness in his character as there was
deceitfulness to make the latter quality of use to him. At
certain times his natural disposition overmastered him,
especially when in his harem surrounded by his wives and
servants, when he was accustomed to say openly all that
was in his heart. Sometimes this happened to him in full

The same evening, also, Mr. Watts came to the _Durbar_, and the
matter of the neutrality was talked over. The Nawab wished the two
gentlemen to pledge their respective nations to keep the peace, but
Mr. Watts skilfully avoided giving any promise, and suggested the
Nawab should write to the Admiral. Law, seeing that further delay
was aimed at, exclaimed that the Admiral would pay as little respect
to this letter as to the Nawab's previous ones.

"'How?' said the Nawab, looking angrily at me instead
of at Mr. Watts: 'who am I then?' All the members of his
Court cried out together that his orders would certainly be
attended to."

As Law expected, Chandernagore was attacked before the Admiral's
reply was received. Law received the news on the 15th, and hurried
to the Nawab. Reinforcements were ordered and counter-ordered. At
midnight the Nawab's eunuch came to inform Law that the English had
been repulsed with loss, and on the morning of the 16th the Nawab's
troops were ordered to advance, but when the same day news came that
the French had withdrawn into the Fort, every one cried out that the
Fort must fall, and that it was mere folly to incense the English by
sending down troops. They were immediately recalled. Then news
arrived that the Fort was holding out, and Rai Durlabh Ram was
ordered to advance. Again there came a false report that the Fort
had fallen. Law knew Rai Durlabh was a coward, and his whole
reliance was on the second in command, Mir Madan:--

"a capable officer, and one who would have attacked the
enemy with pleasure."

This Mir Madan is said to have been a Hindu convert to
Muhammadanism. Native poems still tell of the gallantry with which
he commanded the Hindu soldiers of the Nawab. He was one of the
first to fall at Plassey, and though it cannot be said that his
death caused the loss of the battle, it is certain that it put an
end to all chance of the victory being contested.

Law was at his wits' end. It was no time to stick at trifles, and,
that he might know the worst at once, he intercepted Mr. Watts's
letters. From them he gathered that the English intended to march
straight upon Murshidabad. He set about fortifying the enclosure
round the French Factory, and, as he had only 10 or 12 men, he
induced the Nawab to send him a native officer with 100 musketeers.
He soon learned that the reported English advance was merely the
pursuit of the fugitives from Chandernagore, who were mentioned in
the last chapter. By the end of March he had 60 Europeans:--

"of whom the half, in truth, were not fit to serve; but what
did that matter? The number was worth 120 to me outside
the fort, since rumour always delights in exaggeration."

Of the sepoys also, whom the English set free, some 30 found their
way to Law, and so far was he now from being afraid of Mr. Watts,
that it was the latter who had to ask the Nawab's protection.

The vacillation which had marked the Nawab's conduct previous to the
fall of Chandernagore still continued. He protected Law, but would
not help him with money.

"Further, at the solicitation of my enemies, the Nawab
sent people to pull down the earthworks I had erected. He
even wished the native agent of the English to be present.
In my life I have never suffered what I did that day. To
the orders of the Nawab I replied that so long as I was in
the Factory no foreigner should touch my fortifications, but
that to keep my agreement with him I was ready to withdraw
and to make over the Factory to him, with which he
could afterwards do as he liked, and for which I should hold
him responsible. At the same time, I made my whole troop
arm themselves, and, having had my munitions loaded on
carts for several days previous, I prepared to depart with
the small amount of money which belonged to me and to
a few other individuals. The Nawab's officer, seeing my
resolution, and fearing to do anything which, might not be
approved, postponed the execution of his orders, and informed
the Nawab of what was happening. He replied that he
absolutely forbade my leaving the Factory, and ordered the
pioneers to be sent away; but at the same time he informed
me that it was absolutely necessary for me to pull down the
earthworks, that under the present circumstances he had
himself to do many things contrary to his own wishes, that
by refusing to obey I should draw the English upon him
and upon us, that we could not defend ourselves and must
therefore submit, that I should not be troubled any more,
and that, finally, he would give me money enough to build
in brick what I had wished to make in earth. I knew well
the value of his promises, but I was forced to humour him.
It did not suit me to abandon the Factory altogether, so I set
my workmen to pull down what I had built, and the same
night the work was finished."

The English now tried to win over the French soldiers, and had some
success, for many of them were deserters from the British forces,
and they quickly saw how precarious was the shelter which Law could
afford them; but the Nawab could not be persuaded to force Law to
surrender, and, though he agreed to leave the country, Law declared
he would not do even that unless he received passports and money. On
the 8th of April he received passports, and was promised that if he
would go to Phulbari, near Patna, he should there receive all he
wanted. He was allowed four or five days to make his preparations.

"I profited by this interval to persuade the only man
who dared speak for us to got to action. This was the Nazir
Dalal, a man of no importance, but at the same time a man
in whom the Nawab appeared to have some confidence. As
he was constantly at the Factory, I had opportunities of telling
him many things of particular interest to the Nawab, and I
believed that by politeness and presents I had brought him
over to our interests. A little later, however, I learned that
he received quite as much from the English as from us. He
told the Nawab all that he learned from me, _viz._ the views
of the English and of the Seths, and the risk he himself was
running, and he brought to his notice that the English were
steadily increasing their garrison at Cossimbazar by bringing
up soldiers who pretended they were deserters and wished to
pass over to the Trench. By this trick, indeed, many soldiers
had passed through the Moorish camp without being stopped.
There was also talk of an English fleet preparing to come up
and waiting only for the Nawab's permission. The Nazir
Dalal represented to him that the trading boats might be
loaded with ammunition, and that they ought to be strictly
searched, and the casks and barrels opened, as guns and
mortars might be found in them. The Nawab opened his
eyes at information of this kind, and promptly sent the Nazir
Dalal to tell me not to leave. This order came on the 10th
of April. I accordingly passed my garrison in review before
the Nawab's agent, and a statement showing the monthly
pay of each officer and soldier was sent to the Nawab, who
promised to pay them accordingly."

On the 12th of April Law received a sudden summons to attend the
_Durbar_ the next day.

"After some reflection, I determined to obey. I thought
that by taking presents I could avoid the inconveniences I
feared, so I arranged to start early on the morning of the 13th
with five or six persons well armed. A slight rain detained
us till 10 o'clock. On leaving I told my people that M.
Sinfray was their commandant, and ordered him, if I did not
return by 2 o'clock, to send a detachment of forty men to
meet me. We arrived at the Nawab's palace about midday.
He had retired to his harem. We were taken into the
Audience Hall, where they brought us a very bad dinner.
The Nawab, they said, would soon come. However, 5 o'clock
had struck and he had not yet dressed. During this wearisome
interval I was visited by some of the _Diwans_, among
others by the _Arzbegi._[94] I asked him why the Nawab had
called me. He replied with an appearance of sincerity that
as the Nawab was constantly receiving complaints from the
English, about the numerous garrison we had in our Factory,
he had judged it proper to summon both Mr. Watts and
myself in order to reconcile us, and that he hoped to arrange
matters so that the English should have nothing to fear from
us nor we from them. He added that the Nawab was quite
satisfied with my behaviour, and wished me much good. At
last the _Durbar_ hour arrives. I am warned. I pass into a
hall, where I find Mr. Watts and a number of _Diwans_. The
agent of the Seths is present Compliments having passed,
one of the _Diwans_ asks me if I have anything particular to
say to Mr. Watts. I answer that I have not. Thereupon
Mr. Watts addresses me in English: 'The question is, sir,
whether you are prepared to surrender your Factory to me
and to go down to Calcutta with all your people. You will
be well treated, and will be granted the same conditions as
the gentlemen of Chandernagore. This is the Nawab's wish.'
I reply I will do nothing of the kind, that I and all those
with me are free, that if I am forced to leave Cossimbazar
I will surrender the Factory to the Nawab, and to no one else.
Mr. Watts, turning round to the _Diwans_, says excitedly, that
it is impossible to do anything with me, and repeats to them
word for word all that has passed between us.

"From that moment I saw clearly that the air of the
Court was not healthy for us. It was, however, necessary to
put a good face on matters. The _Arzbegi_ and some others,
taking me aside, begged me to consider what I was doing in
refusing Mr. Watts's propositions, and said that as the Nawab
was determined to have a good understanding with the
English, he would force me to accept them. They then
asked what I intended to do. I said I intended to stay at
Cossimbazar and to oppose, to the utmost of my power, the
ambitious designs of the English. 'Well, well, what can
you do?' they replied. 'You are about a hundred Europeans;
the Nawab has no need of you; you will certainly be forced
to leave this place. It would be much better to accept the
terms offered you by Mr. Watts.' The same persons who had
begged me to do this then took Mr. Watts aside. I do not
know what they said to each other, but a quarter of an hour
after they went into the hall where the Nawab was.

"I was in the utmost impatience to know the result of
all these parleyings, so much the more as from some words
that had escaped them I had reason to think they intended
to arrest me.

"Fire or six minutes after Mr. Watts had gone to the
Nawab, the _Arzbegi_, accompanied by some officers and the
agents of the Seths and the English, came and told me aloud,
in the presence of some fifty persons of rank, that the Nawab
ordered me to submit myself entirely to what Mr. Watts
demanded. I told him I would not, and that it was
impossible for the Nawab to have given such an order.
I demanded to be presented to him. 'The Nawab,' they
said, 'does not wish to see you.' I replied, 'It was he who
summoned me; I will not go away till I have seen him.'
The _Arzbegi_ saw I had no intention of giving way, and that
I was well supported, for at this very moment word was
brought of the arrival of our grenadiers, who had been
ordered to come and meet me. Disappointed at not seeing
me appear, they had advanced to the very gates of the palace.
The _Arzbegi_, not knowing what would be the result of this
affair, and wishing to get out of the scrape and to throw the
burden of it on to the Seths' agent, said to him, 'Do you
speak, then; this affair concerns you more than us.' The
Seths' agent wished to speak, but I did not give him time.
I said I would not listen to him, that I did not recognize
him as having any authority, and that I had no business
at all with him. Thereupon the _Arzbegi_ went back to the
Nawab and told him I would not listen to reason, and that
I demanded to speak to him. 'Well, let him come,' said
the Nawab, 'but he must come alone.' At the same time
he asked Mr. Watts to withdraw and wait for him in a
cabinet. The order to appear being given me, I wish to
go--another difficulty! The officers with me do not wish to
let me go alone! A great debate between them and the
Nawab's officers! At last, giving way to my entreaties,
and on my assuring them that I have no fears, I persuade
them to be quiet and to let me go.

"I presented myself before the Nawab, who returned my
salute in a kindly manner. As soon as I was seated, he told
me, in a shamefaced way, that I must either accept Mr.
Watts's proposals, or must certainly leave his territories.
_Your nation is the cause_, he said, _of all the importunities I
now suffer from the English. I do not wish to put the whole country
in trouble for your sake. You are not strong enough to defend
yourselves; you must give way. You ought to remember that when I had
need of your assistance you always refused it. You ought not to
expect assistance from me now_.

"It must be confessed that, after all our behaviour to
him, I had not much to reply. I noticed, however, that the
Nawab kept his eyes cast down, and that it was, as it were,
against his will that he paid me this compliment. I told
him I should be dishonoured if I accepted Mr. Watts's proposals,
but that as he was absolutely determined to expel us
from his country, I was ready to withdraw, and that as soon
as I had the necessary passports I would go towards Patna.
At this every one in concert, except the Nawab and Coja
Wajid, cried out that I could not take that road, that the
Nawab would not consent to it. I asked what road they
wished me to take. They said I must go towards Midnapur
or Cuttack. I answered that the English might at any
moment march in that direction and fall upon me. They
replied I must get out of the difficulty as best I could. The
Nawab, meanwhile, kept his face bent down, listening
attentively, but saying nothing. Wishing to force him to
speak, I asked if it was his intention to cause me to fall into
the hands of my enemies? 'No, no,' replied the Nawab,
'take what road you please, and may God conduct you.' I
stood up and thanked him, received the betel,[95] and went out."

Gholam Husain Khan says that the Nawab was much affected at parting
with Law, as he now believed in the truth of his warnings against
the English and the English party,--

"but as he did not dare to keep him in his service for fear
of offending the English, he told him that at present it was
fit that he should depart; but that if anything new should
happen he would send for him again. '_Send for me again?_'
answered Law. '_Rest assured, my Lord Nawab, that this is
the last time we shall see each other. Remember my words: we
shall never meet again. It is nearly impossible_."

Law hurried back to his Factory, and by the evening of the 15th of
April he was ready to depart. The same day the Nawab wrote to

"Mr. Law I have put out of the city, and have wrote
expressly to my Naib[96] at Patna to turn him and his attendants
out of the bounds of his Subaship, and that he shall not
suffer them to stay in any place within it."[97]

At the end of April the Nawab wrote to Abdulla Khan, the Afghan
general at Delhi, that he had supplied Law with Rs.10,000. Clive was
quickly informed of this.

On the morning of the 16th the French marched through Murshidabad
with colours flying and drums beating, prepared against any surprise
in the narrow streets of the city. Mr. Watts wrote to Clive:--

"They had 100 Europeans, 60 Tellingees, 30 _hackerys_"
(i.e. bullock-waggons) "and 4 elephants with them."[98]

Close on their track followed two spies, sent by Mr. Watts to try
and seduce the French soldiers and sepoys. Law left a M. Bugros
behind in charge of the French Factory.

Shortly after leaving Cossimbazar, Law was reinforced by a party of
45 men, mostly sailors of the _Saint Contest_, who had managed to
escape from the English. On the 2nd of May the French arrived at
Bhagulpur, the Nawab writing to them to move on whenever he heard
they were halting, and not to go so fast when he heard they were on
the march.

"To satisfy him we should have been always in motion
and yet not advancing; this did not suit us. It was of the
utmost importance to arrive at some place where I could
find means for the equipment of my troop. We were
destitute of everything."

These contradictory orders, and even letters of recall, reached Law
on his march, but though he sent back M. Sinfray with letters to M.
Bugros and Coja Wajid--which the latter afterwards made over to
Clive--he continued his march to Patna, where he arrived on the 3rd
of June, and was well received by Raja Ramnarain, and where he was
within four or five days' march or sail from Sooty, the mouth of the
Murshidabad or Cossimbazar river, and therefore in a position to
join the Nawab whenever it might be necessary.

In the mean time fate had avenged Law on one of his lesser enemies.
This was that Ranjit Rai, who had insulted him during his interview
with the Seths. The latter had pursued their old policy of inciting
the English to make extravagant demands which they at the same time
urged the Nawab to refuse. To justify one such demand, the English
produced a letter in the handwriting of Ranjit Rai, purporting to be
written at the dictation of the Seths under instructions from the
Nawab. The latter denied the instructions, and the Seths promptly
asserted that the whole letter was a forgery of their agent's.

"The notorious Ranjit Rai was driven in disgrace from
the _Durbar_, banished, and assassinated on the road. It was
said he had received 2 lakhs from the English to apply his
masters' seal unknown to them. I can hardly believe this.
This agent was attached to the English only because he knew
the Seths were devoted to them."

This incident warned the Seths to be more cautious, but still the
plot against the Nawab was well known in the country. Renault, who
had been at this time a prisoner in Calcutta, says:--

"Never was a conspiracy conducted as publicly and with
such indiscretion as this was, both by the Moors and the
English. Nothing else was talked about in all the English
settlements, and whilst every place echoed with the noise of
it, the Nawab, who had a number of spies, was ignorant of
everything. Nothing can prove more clearly the general
hatred which was felt towards him."[99]

M. Sinfray had returned to Murshidabad, but could not obtain an
interview with the Nawab till the 8th of June, when he found him
still absolutely tranquil; and even on the 10th the Nawab wrote to
Law to have no fears on his account; but this letter did not reach
Law till the 19th.

"I complained of the delay in the strongest terms to
Ramnarain, who received the packets from the Nawab, but it
was quite useless. The Nawab was betrayed by those whom
he thought most attached to him. The Faujdar of Rajmehal
used to stop all his messengers and detain them as long as
he thought fit."

This officer was a brother of Mir Jafar.[100] The Seths and the
English had long found the chief difficulty in their way to be the
choice of a man of sufficient distinction to replace Siraj-ud-daula
on the throne. At this moment the Nawab himself gave them as a
leader Mir Jafar Ali Khan, who had married the sister of Aliverdi
Khan, and was therefore a relative of his. Mir Jafar was _Bukshi_,
or Paymaster and Generalissimo of the Army, and his influence had
greatly contributed to Siraj-ud-daula's peaceful accession. He was a
man of good reputation, and a brave and skilful soldier. It was such
a person as this that the Nawab, after a long course of petty
insults, saw fit to abuse in the vilest terms in full _Durbar_ and
to dismiss summarily from his post. He now listened to the
proposals of the Seths, and towards the end of April terms were
settled between him and the English.[101] The actual conclusion of
the Treaty took place early in June, and on the 13th of that month
Mr. Watts and the other English gentlemen at Cossimbazar escaped
under the pretence of a hunting expedition and joined Clive in
safety. As soon as he heard of this, the Nawab knew that war was
inevitable, and it had come at a moment when he had disbanded half
his army unpaid, and the other half was grumbling for arrears. Not
only had he insulted Mir Jafar, but he had also managed to quarrel
with Rai Durlabh. Instead of trying to postpone the conflict until
he had crushed these two dangerous enemies, he begged them to be
reconciled to him, and put himself in their hands. Letter after
letter was sent to recall Law, but even the first, despatched on the
13th, did not reach Law till the 22nd, owing to the treachery of the
Faujdar of Rajmehal. Law's letter entreating the Nawab to await his
arrival certainly never reached him, and though Law had started at
the first rumour of danger, before getting the Nawab's letter, he
did not reach Rajmehal till the 1st of July. The Nawab had been
captured in the neighbourhood a few hours before the arrival of his
advance-guard. Gholam Husain Khan says that Law would have been in
time had the Nawab's last remittance been a bill of exchange and not
an order on the Treasury, for--

"as slowness of motion seems to be of etiquette with the
people of Hindustan, the disbursing of the money took up
so much time that when M. Law was come down as far
Rajmehal, he found that all was over."

Law, who was nothing if not philosophical, remarked on this

"In saving Siraj-ud-daula we should have scored a great
success, but possibly he would have been saved for a short
time only. He would have found enemies and traitors
wherever he might have presented himself in the countries
supposed to be subject to him. No one would have acknowledged
him. Forced by Mir Jafar and the English to flee to
a foreign country, he would have been a burden to us rather
than an assistance.

"In India no one knows what it is to stand by an
unfortunate man. The first idea which suggests itself is to
plunder him of the little[102] which remains to him. Besides,
a character like that of Siraj-ud-daula could nowhere find a
real friend."

Siraj-ud-daula, defeated by Clive at Plassey on the 23rd of June,
was, says Scrafton,--

"himself one of the first that carried the news of his defeat
to the capital, which he reached that night."

His wisest councillors urged him to surrender to Clive, but he
thought this advice treacherous, and determined to flee towards
Rajmehal. When nearly there he was recognized by a Fakir,[103] whose
ears he had, some time before, ordered to be cut off. The Fakir
informed the Faujdar, who seized him and sent him to Murshidabad,
where Miran, Mir Jafar's son, put him to death on the 4th of July.

It was necessary for Law to withdraw as quickly as possible if he
was to preserve his liberty. Clive and Mir Jafar wrote urgent
letters to Ramnarain at Patna to stop him, but Ramnarain was no
lover of Mir Jafar, and he was not yet acquainted with Clive, so he
allowed him to pass. Law says:--

"On the 16th of July we arrived at Dinapur, eight miles
above Patna, where I soon saw we had no time to lose.
The Raja of Patna himself would not have troubled us much.
By means of our boats we could have avoided him as we
pleased, for though our fleet was in a very bad condition,
still it could have held its own against the naval forces
of Bengal, i.e. the Indian forces, but the English were advancing,
commanded by Major Coote. As the English call
themselves the masters of the aquatic element, it became us
the less to wait for them, when we knew they had stronger
and more numerous boats than we had. Possibly we could
have outsailed them, but we did not wish to give them the
pleasure of seeing us flee. On the 18th instant an order
from the Raja instructed me in the name of Mir Jafar to
halt--no doubt to wait for the English--whilst another on his
own part advised me to hurry off. Some small detachments
of horsemen appeared along the bank, apparently to hinder
us from getting provisions or to lay violent hands on the
boatmen. On this we set sail, resolved to quit all the
dependencies of Bengal. In spite of ourselves we had to
halt at Chupra, twenty-two miles higher up, because our
rowers refused to go further: prayers and threats all seemed
useless. I thought the English had found some means to
gain them over. The boats did not belong to us, but we
should have had little scruple in seizing them had our
Europeans known how to manage them. Unfortunately,
they knew nothing about it. The boats in Bengal have no
keel, and consequently do not carry sail well. So we lost
two days in discussion with the boatmen, but at last, by
doubling their pay, terms were made, and five days after, on
the 25th of July, we arrived at Ghazipur, the first place of
importance in the provinces of Suja-ud-daula, Viceroy of the
Subahs of Oudh, Lucknow, and Allahabad."

Before Law left Rajmehal on his return to Patna, the Faujdar tried
to stop him on pretence that Mir Jafar wished to reconcile him to
the English. Law thought this unlikely, yet knowing the native
proclivity for underhand intrigue, he wrote him a letter, but the
answer which he received at Chupra was merely an order to
surrender. Law says:--

"I had an idea that he might write to me in a quite
different style, _unknown to the English_. I knew the new
Nawab, whom I met at the time I was soliciting reinforcements
to raise the siege of Chandernagore. He had not then
taken up the idea of making himself Nawab. He appeared
to me a very intelligent man, and much inclined to do us
service, pitying us greatly for having to work with a man so
cowardly and undecided as Siraj-ud-daula."

Law thought his communication--

"was well calculated to excite in his mind sentiments
favourable to us, but if it did, Mir Jafar let none of them
appear. The Revolution was too recent and the influence of
the English too great for him to risk the least correspondence
with us."

From Clive, on the other hand, he received a letter,--

"such as became a general who, though an enemy, interested
himself in our fate out of humanity, knowing by his own
experience into what perils and fatigues we were going to
throw ourselves when we left the European Settlements."

This letter, dated Murshidabad, July 9th, was as follows:--

"As the country people are now all become your enemies,
and orders are gone everywhere to intercept your passage,
and I myself have sent parties in quest of you, and orders
are gone to Ramnarain, the Naib of Patna, to seize you if
you pursue that road, you must be sensible if you fall into
their hands you cannot expect to find them a generous
enemy. If, therefore, you have any regard for the men
under your command, I would recommend you to treat with
us, from whom you may expect the most favourable terms in
my power to grant."[104]

Law does not say much about the hardships of his flight; but Eyre
Coote, who commanded the detachment which followed him, had the
utmost difficulty in persuading his men to advance, and wrote to
Clive that he had never known soldiers exposed to greater hardships.
At Patna Eyre Coote seized the French Factory, where the Chief, M.
de la Bretesche, was lying ill. The military and other Company's
servants had gone on with Law, leaving in charge a person variously
called M. Innocent and Innocent Jesus. He was not a Frenchman, but
nevertheless he was sent down to Calcutta. From Patna Eyre Coote got
as far as Chupra, only to find Law safe beyond the frontier at
Ghazipur, and nothing left for him to do but to return.

From now on to January, 1761, Law was out of the reach of the
English, living precariously on supplies sent from Bussy in the
south, from his wife at Chinsurah, and from a secret store which M.
de la Bretesche had established at Patna unknown to the English, and
upon loans raised from wealthy natives, such as the Raja of
Bettiah. He believed all along that the French would soon make an
effort to invade Bengal, where there was a large native party in
their favour, and where he could assist them by creating a diversion
in the north. I shall touch on his adventures very briefly.

His first halt was at Benares, which he reached on the 2nd of
August, and where the Raja Bulwant Singh tried to wheedle and
frighten him into surrendering his guns. He escaped out of his hands
by sheer bluff, and went on to Chunargarh, where he received letters
from Suja-ud-daula, Nawab of Oudh, a friend of Siraj-ud-daula's,
whom he hoped to persuade into invading Bengal. On the 3rd of
September he reached Allahabad, and here left his troop under the
command of M. le Comte de Carryon, whilst he went on to Lucknow, the
capital of Oudh.

It is only at this moment that Law bethinks him of describing his
troop. It consisted of 175 Europeans and 100 sepoys drilled in
European fashion. The officers were D'Hurvilliers, le Comte de
Carryon (who had brought a detachment from Dacca before Law left
Cossimbazar), Ensign Brayer (who had commanded the military at
Patna), Ensign Jobard (who had escaped from Chandernagore), and
Ensign Martin de la Case. He also entertained as officers MM.
Debelleme (Captain of a French East Indiaman), Boissemont, and La
Ville Martere, Company's servants (these three had all escaped from
Chandernagore), Dangereux and Dubois (Company's servants stationed
at Cossimbazar), Beinges (a Company's servant stationed at Patna),
and two private gentlemen, Kerdizien and Gourbin. Besides these, MM.
Anquetil du Perron,[105] La Rue, Desjoux, Villequain, Desbrosses,
and Calve, served as volunteers. His chaplain was the Reverend
Father Onofre, and he had two surgeons, Dubois and Le Page. The last
two were probably the surgeons of Cossimbazar and Patna. He had also
with him M. Lenoir, second of Patna, whose acquaintance with the
language and the people was invaluable. Law seems to have been
always able to recruit his sepoys, but he had no great opinion of

"In fact it may be said that the sepoy is a singular
animal, especially until he has had time to acquire a
proper sense of discipline. As soon as he has received his
red jacket and his gun he thinks he is a different man. He
looks upon himself as a European, and having a very high
estimation of this qualification, he thinks he has the right to
despise all the country people, whom he treats as Kaffirs
and wretched negroes, though he is often just as black as they
are. In every place I have been I have remarked that the
inhabitants have less fear of the European soldier, who in
his disorderly behaviour sometimes shows an amount of
generosity which they would expect in vain from a sepoy."

Law has left the following description of Lucknow:--

"Lucknow, capital of the Subah[106] so called, is 160 miles
north of Allahabad, on the other side of the Ganges, and
about 44 miles from that river. The country is beautiful
and of great fertility, but what can one expect from the best
land without cultivation? It was particularly the fate of
this province and of a large portion of Oudh to have been
exhausted by the wars of Mansur Ali Khan.[107] That prince
at his death left the Treasury empty and a quantity of
debts. Suja-ud-daula, his successor, thought he could
satisfy his creditors, all of them officers of the army, by
giving them orders upon several of the large estates. This
method was too slow for these military gentlemen. In a
short time every officer had become the Farmer,[108] or rather the
Tyrant, of the villages abandoned to him. Forcible executions
quickly reimbursed him to an extent greater than his claim,
but the country suffered. The ill-used inhabitants left it,
and the land remained uncultivated. This might have
been repaired. The good order established by Suja-ud-daula
commenced to bring the inhabitants back when an
evil, against which human prudence was powerless, achieved
their total destruction. For two whole years clouds of
locusts traversed the country regularly with the Monsoon,[109]
and reduced the hopes of the cultivator to nothing. When
two days from Lucknow, we ourselves saw the ravages committed
by this insect. It was perfect weather; suddenly we
saw the sky overcast; a darkness like that of a total eclipse
spread itself abroad and lasted a good hour. In less than no
time we saw the trees under which we were camped stripped
of their leaves. The next day as we journeyed we saw that
the same devastation had been produced for a distance of ten
miles. The grass on the roads and every green thing in the
fields were eaten away down to the roots. This recurrent
plague had driven away the inhabitants, even those who had
survived the exactions of the military. Towns and villages
were abandoned; the small number of people who remained--I
am speaking without exaggeration--only served to
augment the horror of this solitude. We saw nothing but

"The state of the people of Lucknow city, the residence
of the Nawab, was hardly better. The evil was perhaps less
evident owing to the variety of objects, but from what one
could see from time to time nature did not suffer less. The
environs of the palace were covered with poor sick people
lying in the middle of the roads, so that it was impossible
for the Nawab to go out without causing his elephant to
tread on the bodies of several of them, except when he had
the patience to wait and have them cleared out of the way--an
act which would not accord with Oriental ideas of
grandeur. In spite of this there were few accidents. The
animal used to guide its footsteps so as to show it was
more friendly to human beings than men themselves

At Lucknow Suja-ud-daula greeted him with a sympathetic interest,
which Law quaintly likens to that shown by Dido for Aeneas, but
money was not forthcoming, and Law soon found that Suja-ud-daula was
not on sufficiently good terms with the Mogul's[110] Vizir[111] at
Delhi to risk an attack on Bengal. On the 18th of October he
returned to Allahabad, with the intention of going to Delhi to see
what he could do with the Vizir, but as it might have been dangerous
to disclose his object, he pretended he was going to march south to
Bussy in the Deccan, and obtained a passport from the Maratha
general, Holkar. This took some time, and it was not till March,
1758, that he started for Delhi. He reached Farukhabad without
difficulty, and on the 21st entered the country of the Jats. On the
evening of the 23rd a barber, who came into their camp, warned the
French they would be attacked. The next day the Jats, to the number
of 20,000, attacked them on the march. The fight lasted the whole
day, and the French fired 6000 musket shots and 800 cannon. The
cannon-balls were made of clay moulded round a pebble, and were
found sufficiently effective in the level country.

Soon after they arrived at Delhi, only to find the Marathas masters
of the situation and in actual possession of the person of the
Shahzada, or Crown Prince.[112] The Prince was friendly, gave Law
money, and eagerly welcomed the idea of attacking Bengal, but he was
himself practically a prisoner. The Vizir, too, could do nothing,
and would give no money. The Marathas amused him with promises, and
tried to trap him into fighting their battles. No one seemed to know
anything about what had happened in Bengal. He spoke to several of
the chief men about the English.

"I felt sure that, after the Revolution in Bengal, they
would be the only subject of conversation in the capital. The
Revolution had made much noise, but it was ascribed entirely
to the Seths and to Rai Durlabh Ram. Clive's name was
well known. He was, they said, a great captain whom the
Seths had brought from very far at a great expense, to
deliver Bengal from the tyranny of Siraj-ud-daula, as Salabat
Jang had engaged M. Bussy to keep the Marathas in
order. Many of the principal persons even asked me what
country he came from. Others, mixing up all Europeans
together, thought that I was a deputy from Clive. It was
useless for me to say we were enemies, that it was the
English who had done everything in Bengal, that it was
they who governed and not Jafar Ali Khan, who was only
Nawab in name. No one would believe me. In fact, how
could one persuade people who had never seen a race of
men different from their own, that a body of two or three
thousand Europeans at the most was able to dictate the law
in a country as large as Bengal?"

Law could do nothing at Delhi, and it was only by bribing the
Maratha general that he obtained an escort through the Jat country
to Agra. Most of his soldiers were glad to be off, but about 60
Europeans deserted with their arms to Delhi, where the Vizir offered
them pay as high as 50 rupees a month. M. Jobard was nearly killed
by some of them when he tried to persuade them to return to duty,
but, a few months after, more than half rejoined Law.

From Agra, Law went to Chatrapur in Bundelkand, where apparently,
though he does not say so, he was in the service of the Raja
Indrapat. His stay lasted from the 10th of June, 1758, to February,
1759. In order to keep on good terms with the inhabitants, who were
almost all Hindus, Law forbade his men to kill cattle or any of the
sacred birds, or to borrow anything without his permission, and at
the same time severely punished all disorderly behaviour. The people
having never heard of Christians, thought the French must be a kind
of Muhammadans, but they could not make out from what country they
came. Seeing them drink a red wine of which they had a few bottles,
they thought they were drinking blood, and were horrified, but the
good behaviour of the men soon put them on friendly terms.

Early in 1759 the Shahzada at last invaded Bengal, and on the 5th
of February Law marched to join him; but the invasion was badly
managed, and was an absolute failure. On the 28th of May Law was
back at Chatrapur. The only result of the invasion was that the
lands of a number of Rajas in Bihar were plundered by Miran, son of
Mir Jafar, and the English. These Rajas were all Hindus.

"They had an understanding with Ramnarain. All these
Rajas, of whom there is a great number in the dependencies
of Bengal, united to each other by the same religion, mutually
support each other as much as they can. They detest the
Muhammadan Government, and if it had not been for the
Seths, the famous bankers, with whom they have close
connections, it is probable that after the Revolution in which
Siraj-ud-daula was the victim, they would all have risen
together to establish a Hindu Government, from which the
English would not have obtained all the advantages they
did from the Muhammadan."

In 1759 the Dutch risked a quarrel with the English. They refused,
however, any assistance from Law, who, far away as he was, heard all
about it. They were defeated at Biderra on the 25th of November. The
effect of this was to reduce Bengal to such tranquillity that Clive
considered it safe to visit England. The Shahzada, however, thought
the opportunity a favourable one for another invasion, and on the
28th of February, 1760, Law again started to join him. Patna was
besieged, and, according to Broome, was very nearly captured, owing
to Law's skill and the courage of his Frenchmen. In fact, the French
were on the ramparts, when Dr. Fullerton and the English sepoys
arrived just in time to drive them back.[113]

The siege was raised, and the Prince's general, Kamgar Khan, led the
army about the country with apparently no object but that of
plunder. This suited the Marathas, but did not suit Law. On one
occasion he was ordered with his own troops and a body of Marathas
to capture the little fort of Soupy. The French stormed it at three
o'clock in the morning, but found that the Marathas, who had
carefully avoided the breach, had swarmed the walls, where there was
no one to oppose them, and were carrying off the plunder.

"My chief occupation and that of the officers, for more
than five hours during which we stayed in Soupy, was to
keep our soldiers and sepoys from bayoneting the Marathas,
who, without having incurred the least danger, had, by their
cleverness and lightness, carried off more than twenty times
as much as our own men, observing among themselves a
kind of order in their plundering, very like that of monkeys
when they strip a field."

In fact, Law had a personal altercation with the Maratha commander
about a young and beautiful Hindu woman, whom the Maratha wished to
seize, but whom Law was determined to restore unhurt to her
relations, who lived in a village close by.

For the capture of the fort, Law received from the Shahzada various
high-sounding titles and the right to have the royal music played
before him; but as he could not afford to entertain the native
musicians, he allowed the privilege to sleep.

In 1760 Mr. Vansittart assumed the Governorship of Bengal, and his
first act was to complete the project begun by his predecessor, Mr.
Holwell, namely, the dethronement of Mir Jafar. This was effected on
the 20th of October, 1760; the ex-Nawab went quietly to Calcutta,
and Mir Kasim reigned in his stead. The Shahzada had now become
Emperor by the death of his father, and had assumed the title of
Shah Alam. He was still hanging with his army round Patna, and Mir
Kasim and the English determined to bring him to book. Kamgar Khan
continued to lead the Imperial army aimlessly about the country, and
in January, 1761, found himself near the town of Bihar. He had 35 to
40 thousand cavalry, maintained chiefly by plunder, but his only
musketeers and artillery were those commanded by Law, i.e. 125
Europeans and 200 sepoys, with 18 guns of small calibre. The
British commander, Major Carnac, had 650 Europeans and 5 to 6
thousand sepoys, with 12 guns. Mir Kasim had some 20,000 cavalry,
and the same number of musketeers, all good troops, for "everybody
was paid in the army of Kasim Ali Khan."[114]

On the 14th of January, scouts brought word of the approach of the
English. The Emperor consulted Law, who advised a retreat, but he
was not deficient in courage, and determined to fight. The next day
was fought the battle of Suan.[115]

"At the dawn of day we heard that the enemy were on
the march, and that they would quickly appear. No disposition
of our army had yet been made by Kamgar Khan,
who, in fact, troubled himself very little about the matter.
It was at first decided to re-enter the camp, so I put my
men as much as possible under shelter behind a bank, along
which I placed my guns in what I thought the most useful
positions. About 6 or 7 o'clock the enemy were seen
advancing in good order, crossing a canal[116] full of mud and
water, the passage of which might have been easily contested
had we been ready soon enough; but everything was neglected.
For some time we thought the enemy were going
to encamp by the canal, but, seeing that they were still
advancing, the order was given to go and meet them. The
whole army was quickly out of the camp, divided into
several bodies of cavalry, at the head of which were, on their
elephants, the Emperor, the Generalissimo Kamgar Khan,
and other principal chiefs. Scarcely were we out of the camp
when we were halted to await the enemy, everything in the
greatest confusion; one could see no distinction between
right, left, and centre, nothing that had the appearance of
an army intending to attack or even to defend itself.

"An aide-de-camp brought me an order to march ahead
with all my troop, and to place myself in a position which
he pointed out, a good cannon-shot away. Abandoned to
ourselves we should have been exposed to all the fire of the
English, artillery and even to be outflanked by the enemy
and captured at the first attack. We advanced a few paces
in obedience to the order, but, seeing no one move to support
us, I suspected they wanted to get rid of us. I therefore
brought back my men to where I had first placed them, on
a line about 200 paces in front of the army.

"The enemy advanced steadily. The English at their
head with all their artillery were already within range of
our guns. They quickly placed their pieces in two batteries
to the right and left, and kept up a very lively cross fire.
In a very short time, having killed many men, elephants,
and horses--amongst others one of mine--they caused the
whole of the Prince's army to turn tail. Kamgar Khan, at
their head, fled as fast as he could, without leaving a single
person to support us. The enemy's fire, opposed to which
ours was but feeble, continued steadily. We were forced to
retire, and did so in good order, having had some soldiers
and sepoys killed and one gun dismounted, which we left on
the field of battle. We regained the village, which sheltered
us for a time. The enemy started in pursuit. Unluckily,
as we issued from the village, our guns traversing a hollow
road, we were stopped by ditches and channels full of mud,
in which the guns stuck fast. As I was trying to disengage
them the English reached us, and surrounded us so as to
cut off all retreat. Then I surrendered with 3 or 4 officers
and about 40 soldiers who were with me, and the guns. It
was about 4 o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th of January,
1761, a moment whose malign influence it was as it were
impossible to resist, since it was that of the surrender of
Pondicherry,[117] a place 300 leagues away from us."

Gholam Husain Khan has left a graphic description of this incident.

"Monsieur Law, with the small force and the artillery
which he could muster, bravely fought the English themselves,
and for some time he made a shift to withstand their
superiority. Their auxiliaries consisted of large bodies of
natives, commanded by Ramnarain and Raj Balav, but the
engagement was decided by the English, who fell with so
much effect upon the enemy that their onset could not be
withstood by either the Emperor or Kamgar Khan. The
latter, finding he could not resist, turned about and fled.
The Emperor, obliged to follow him, quitted the field of
battle, and the handful of troops that followed M. Law,
discouraged by this flight and tired of the wandering life
which they had hitherto led in his service, turned about
likewise and followed the Emperor. M. Law, finding himself
abandoned and alone, resolved not to turn his back. He
bestrode one of his guns and remained firm in that posture,
waiting the moment for his death. This being reported to
Major Carnac, he detached himself from his main body with
Captain Knox and some other officers, and he advanced to
the man on the gun, without taking with him either a guard
or any Telingas[118] at all. Being arrived near, this troop
alighted from their horses, and, pulling their caps from their
heads, they swept the air with them, as if to make him a
_salam_; and this salute being returned by M. Law in the
same manner, some parley followed in their own language.
The Major, after paying high encomiums to M. Law for his
perseverance, conduct, and bravery, added these words: 'You
have done everything that could be expected from a brave
man; and your name shall be undoubtedly transmitted to
posterity by the pen of history; now loosen your sword from
your loins, come amongst us, and abandon all thoughts of
contending with the English.' The other answered that, if
they would accept of his surrendering himself just as he was
he had no objection, but that as to surrendering himself with
the disgrace of being without his sword, it was a shame he
would never submit to, and that they might take his life if
they were not satisfied with that condition. The English
commanders, admiring his firmness, consented to his surrendering
himself in the manner he wished; after which
the Major, with his officers, shook hands with him in their
European manner, and every sentiment of enmity was instantly
dismissed on both sides. At the same time that
commander sent for his own _palky_, made him sit in it, and
he was sent to the camp. M. Law, unwilling to see or to be
seen, in that condition, shut up the curtains of the _palky_ for
fear of being recognized by any of his friends at camp, but
yet some of his acquaintances, hearing of his having arrived,
went to him; these were Mir Abdulla and Mustapha Ali
Khan. The Major, who had excused him from appearing in
public, informed them that they could not see him for some
days, as he was too much vexed to receive any company.
Ahmed Khan Koreishi, who was an impertinent talker,
having come to look at him, thought to pay his court to
the English by joking on this man's defeat--a behaviour that
has nothing strange [in it] if we consider the times in which
we live and the company he was accustomed to frequent; and
it was in that notion of his, doubtless, that with much pertness
of voice and air he asked him this question: '_And Bibi
Lass,[119] where is she_?' The Major and the officers present,
shocked at the impropriety of the question, reprimanded him
with a severe look and very severe expressions. 'This man,'
they said, 'has fought bravely, and deserves the attention
of all brave men; the impertinences which you have been
offering him may be customary amongst your friends and
your nation, but cannot be suffered in ours, who has it for
a standing rule never to offer an injury to a vanquished foe.'
Ahmed Khan, checked by this reprimand, held his tongue,
and did not answer a word. He tarried about one hour
more in his visit, and then went away much abashed; and
although he was a commander of importance, and one to
whom much honour had always been paid, no one did speak
to him any more, or made a show of standing up at his
departure. This reprimand did much honour to the English;
and it must be acknowledged, to the honour of those
strangers, that as their conduct in war and battle is worthy
of admiration, so, on the other hand, nothing is more modest
and more becoming than their behaviour to an enemy,
whether in the heat of action or in the pride of success and
victory. These people seem to act entirely according to the
rules observed by our ancient commanders and our men of

Gholam Husain Khan says the victory was decided by the English; the
following quotation from Major Carnac's Letter to the Select
Committee at Calcutta, dated the 17th of January, 1761, shows how
the courage of the British forces saved them from a great disaster.

"It gives me particular pleasure to inform you that we
have not lost a man in the action, but a few of the Nawab's
troops who had got up near our rear suffered considerably
from the explosion of one of the French tumbrils. It seems
the enemy had lain a train to it in hopes of it's catching
while our Europeans were storming the battery, but fortunately
we were advanced two or three hundred yards in
the pursuit before it had effect, and the whole shock was
sustained by the foremost of the Nawab's troops who were
blown up to the number of near four hundred, whereof
seventy or eighty died on the spot."[120]

Law continues:--

"The next morning, as the English army started in
pursuit of the Emperor Shah Alam, Major Carnac, from
whom, I must mention in passing, I received all possible
marks of attention and politeness, sent me to Patna, where
in the English Chief, Mr. McGwire, I found an old friend,
who treated me as I should certainly have treated him in
like circumstances. I was in need of everything, and he let
me want for nothing."

Thus ended Law's attempt to maintain the French party in Bengal. All
hopes of a French attack in force on Calcutta had long since
disappeared, and, under the circumstances, his capture was fortunate
for himself and his comrades. Most of the latter were gradually
picked up by the English. Law was sent to Calcutta, and left Bengal
in 1762. He was now only forty-two years of age. On his arrival in
France he found his services much appreciated by his countrymen, and
was made a Chevalier of the Royal and Military Order of St. Louis,
and a Colonel of Infantry. Later on he was appointed Commissary for
the King, Commandant of the French Nation in the East Indies, and
Governor of Pondicherry. Law's account of his adventures was
commenced at Paris in 1763.[121] There exist letters written by him
to the historian Robert Orme, dated as late as 1785, which show the
strong interest he always retained in the affairs of Bengal, where
with adequate resources he might have played a much more
distinguished part.

We have seen a town besieged by a foreign army; we have seen the
Court of a great Prince distracted by internal dissensions and
trembling at the approach of a too-powerful enemy, and now we shall
pass to the quiet retreats of rural Bengal, which even their
remoteness could not save from some share in the troubles of the
time. In those days, even more than at present, the rivers were the
great highways of the country, but it needs personal acquaintance
with them to enable us to realize the effect they produce upon the
mind of a European. As a rule comparatively shallow, in the dry
weather they pursue a narrow winding course in the middle of a sandy
waste, but in the Rains they fill their beds from side to side,
overtop the banks, and make the country for miles around a series of
great lakes, studded with heavily wooded islands. Amidst these one
can wander for days hardly seeing a single human being, and hearing
nothing but the rushing of the current and the weird cries of
water-birds; at other times the prow of one's boat will suddenly
push itself through overhanging branches into the very midst of a
populous village. At first all is strange and beautiful, but after a
short time the feeling grows that every scene is a repetition; the
banks, the trees, the villages, seem as if we have been looking at
them for a thousand years, and the monotony presses wearily on mind
and heart. It was in a country of this kind that Courtin and his
little band of Frenchmen and natives evaded capture for nearly nine
months, and it adds to our admiration for his character to see how
his French gaiety of heart unites with his tenderness for his absent
wife, not only to conceal the deadly monotony of his life in the
river districts during the Rains, and the depressing and
disheartening effect of the noxious climate in which he and his
companions had to dwell, but also to make light of the imminent
danger in which he stood from the unscrupulous human enemies by whom
he was surrounded.


[Footnote 65: From certain letters it appears that, strictly
speaking, the English Factory alone was at Cossimbazar, the French
being at Saidabad, and the Dutch at Calcapur. Both Saidabad and
Calcapur were evidently close to Cossimbazar, if not parts of it.]

[Footnote 66: George Lodewijk Vernet, Senior Merchant.]

[Footnote 67: The historian Malleson also confuses the two

[Footnote 68: The best copy I have seen is that in the Manuscript
Department of the British Museum.]

[Footnote 69: Gholam Husain Khan says that Siraj-ud-daula was born
in the year in which Aliverdi Khan obtained from the Emperor the
_firman_ for Bihar. This, according to Scrafton, was 1736, and the
connection of his birth with this auspicious event was the prime
cause of his grandfather's great reference for him.]

[Footnote 70: See note, p. 88.]

[Footnote 71: Uncle of Siraj-ud-daula, who died so shortly before
the death of Aliverdi Khan, that it was supposed he was poisoned to
ensure Siraj-ud-daula's accession.]

[Footnote 72: Fazl-Kuli-Khan. _Scrafton_.]

[Footnote 73: Law says; "The rumour ran that M. Drake replied to the
messengers that, since the Nawab wished to fill up the Ditch, he
agreed to it provided it was done with the heads of Moors. I do not
believe he said so, but possibly some thoughtless young Englishman
let slip those words, which, being heard by the messengers, were
reported to the Nawab."]

[Footnote 74: Europeans. Properly, Franks or Frenchmen. This term
was generally applied by Europeans to the half-caste descendants of
the Portuguese.]

[Footnote 75: Captains or generals: a term of somewhat indefinite

[Footnote 76: In alliance with Salabat Jang, Bussy temporarily
acquired a large territory for the French.]

[Footnote 77: "After Mr. Law had given us a supply of clothes,
linen, provisions, liquors, and cash, we left his Factory with
grateful hearts and compliments." _Holwell_. Letter to Mr. Davis,
February 28, 1757.]

[Footnote 78: Imperial Charter.]

[Footnote 79: For an explanation of the influence of the Seths, see
pp. 84, 85, and note.]

[Footnote 80: Ramnarain is an interesting character. He appears to
have been one of the most faithful of the adherents of the house of
Aliverdi Khan and on its extinction of the English connection. His
gallantry in battle is referred to by Colonel Ironside. _Asiatic
Annual Register_, 1800.]

[Footnote 81: The official intimation reached Admiral Watson in
January, 1757, but apparently not the formal orders from the
Admiralty. See page 30.]

[Footnote 82: In a letter to the Secret Committee, London, dated
October 11, 1756, Clive writes: "I hope we shall be able to
dispossess the French of Chandernagore." So it is evident that he
came with this intention to Bengal.]

[Footnote 83: Clive describes Hugli as "the second city in the
kingdom." _Letter to Lord Hardwicke, Feb_. 23, 1757.]

[Footnote 84: Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa.]

[Footnote 85: Hearing that Seth Mahtab Rai was to marry a
wonderfully beautiful woman, he forced the Seths to let him see the
young lady. _Scrafton_.]

[Footnote 86: "If one is to believe certain English writers, the
Seths were an apparently insurmountable obstacle to the project
because of the money we owed them, as if in their perilous position
these bankers would not be inclined to sacrifice something to save
the greater part. Besides, we shall see by what follows that they
sacrificed nothing." _Law_. The extraordinary influence of these
people was due not so much to their dealings with the head of the
State as to the fact that native princes generally make payments,
not in cash, but in bonds. It therefore depends on the bankers what
any man shall get for his bonds. In this way an official, even when
paid by the State, may be ruined by the bankers, who are merely
private persons.]

[Footnote 87: "In India it is thought disrespectful to tell a great
man distinctly the evil which is said of him. If an inferior knows
that designs are formed against the life of his superior, he must
use circumlocutions, and suggest the subject in vague terms and
speak in enigmas. It is for the great man to divine what is meant.
If he has not the wit, so much the worse for him. As a foreigner, I
was naturally more bold and said what I thought to Siraj-ud-daula.
Coja Wajid did not hesitate to blame me, so that for a long time I
did not know what to think of him. This man finally fell a victim to
his diplomacies, perhaps also to his imprudences. One gets tired of
continual diplomacy, and what is good in the beginning of a business
becomes in the end imprudence." _Law_.]

[Footnote 88: "Witness the letter written to the English Admiral
Watson, by which it is pretended the Nawab authorized him to
undertake the siege of Chandernagore. The English memoir" (by _Luke
Scrafton_) "confesses it was a surprise, and that the Secretary must
have been bribed to write it in a way suitable to the views of Mr.
Watts. The Nawab never read the letters which he ordered to be
written; besides, the Moors never sign their names; the envelope
being closed and well fastened, the Secretary asks the Nawab for his
seal, and seals it in his presence. Often there is a counterfeit
seal." _Law_. From this it may be seen that the Nawab could always
assert that his Secretary had exceeded his instructions, whilst it
was open to his correspondent to assert the contrary.]

[Footnote 89: The clerks.]

[Footnote 90: "This was the boaster Rai Durlabh Ram, who had already
received much from me, but all the treasures of the Universe could
not have freed him from the fear he felt at having to fight the
English. He had with him as his second in command a good officer,
Mir Madan, the only man I counted upon." _Law_.]

[Footnote 91: Referring to Clive's letter of the 7th of March,
saying he wished to attack Chandernagore, but would await the
Nawab's orders at that place.]

[Footnote 92: By "agent" Law must mean simply an agent in the plot.]

[Footnote 93: Scrafton, in his "Reflections" (_pp. 40 and 50_),
says, Siraj-ud-daula indulged in all sorts of debauchery; but his
grandfather, in his last illness, made him swear on the Koran to
give up drinking. He kept his oath, but probably his mind was
affected by his previous excesses.]

[Footnote 94: Arzbegi, i.e. the officer who receives petitions.]

[Footnote 95: A preparation of betel-nut (areca-nut) is used by the
natives of Hindustan as a digestive. When offered to a guest, it is
a sign of welcome or dismissal. When sent by a messenger, it is an
assurance of friendship and safe conduct.]

[Footnote 96: The Governor of Patna was Raja Ramnarain, a Hindu,
with the rank of Naib only. It was considered unsafe to entrust so
important a post to a Muhammadan, or an officer with the rank of

[Footnote 97: Orme MSS. India XI., p. 2779, No. 120.]

[Footnote 98: Ibid., India IX., p. 2294.]

[Footnote 99: Letter from Renault to Dupleix. Dated Chandernagore,
Sept. 4, 1757.]

[Footnote 100: Broome (p. 154) gives his name as Mir Daood.]

[Footnote 101: The Council signed the Treaty with Mir Jafar on the
19th of May, but Mr. Watts's first intimation of his readiness to
join the English is, I believe, in a letter dated the 26th of April.
Mir Jafar signed the Treaty early in June.]

[Footnote 102: So Suja-ud-daula, Nawab of Oudh, plundered the Nawab
Mir Kasim, when the English drove him from Bengal in 1763.]

[Footnote 103: Broome (p. 154) says "a fakier, named Dana Shah,
whose nose and ears he had ordered to be cut off thirteen months
before, when on his march against the Nawaub of Purneah."]

[Footnote 104: Orme MSS., India Office, and Clive correspondence at
Walcot, vol. iv.]

[Footnote 105: The celebrated traveller. He quickly quarrelled with
and left them.]

[Footnote 106: Province.]

[Footnote 107: Nawab of Oudh and father of Suja-ud-daula.]

[Footnote 108: I.e. the receiver of the rent or revenue.]

[Footnote 109: The regular winds of the various seasons are called
monsoons, and are named after the point of the compass from which
they blow.]

[Footnote 110: Alamgir II.]

[Footnote 111: Imad-ul-mulk, Ghazi-ud-din Khan.]

[Footnote 112: Ali Gauhar, born 1728. On the death of his father,
November 29, 1759, he assumed the name or title of Shah Alam.]

[Footnote 113: The old English Factory at Patna was re-opened by Mr.
Pearkes, in July, 1757. See his letters to Council, dated 12th and
14th July, 1757.]

[Footnote 114: Kasim Ali had a much better army than any of his
predecessors. Though it was not trained in the European manner,
several of the chief officers were Armenians, who effected great
reforms in discipline. Three years later it made a really good fight
against the English.]

[Footnote 115: The battle is generally known as that of Gaya, but
was fought at Suan. The site is marked in Rennell's map of South
Bihar. It lies about six miles west of the town of Bihar, on the
river Banowra.]

[Footnote 116: The Banowra River.]

[Footnote 117: The French capital on the Madras coast. Surrendered
to Eyre Coote.]

[Footnote 118: Sepoys, so called from the Telingana district in
Madras, where they were first recruited.]

[Footnote 119: Mrs. Law. _Bibi_ is the equivalent of mistress or
lady. _Lass_ was the native version of Law. Mrs. Law's maiden name
was Jeanne Carvalho.]

[Footnote 120: Bengal Select Com. Consultations, 28th January,

[Footnote 121: "A part of these Memoirs was written at Paris in
1703, and part at sea in 1764, during my second voyage to India, but
several of the notes were added later." _Law_.]



Jacques Ignace, son of Francois Courtin, Chevalier, Seigneur de
Nanteuil, and of Catherine Colin, is, I believe, the correct
designation of the gentleman who appears in all the records of the
French and English East India Companies as M. Courtin, Chief of the
French Factory at Dacca.

In June 1756, when Siraj-ud-daula marched on Calcutta, he sent word
to his representative, the Nawab Jusserat Khan at Dacca, to seize
the English Factory, and make prisoners of the Company's servants
and soldiers. The English Factory on the site of the present
Government College, was--

"little better than a common house, surrounded with a thin
brick wall, one half of it not above nine foot high." The
garrison consisted "of a lieutenant" (Lieutenant John Cudmore),
"4 serjeants, 3 corporals, and 19 European soldiers,
besides 34 black Christians[122] and 60 _Buxerries_."[123]

[Illustration: DACCA, OR JEHANGIR NAGAR. (_After Rennell_.)]

On the 27th of June Jusserat Khan sent on the Nawab's order by the
English _wakil_, or agent, to Mr. Becher, the English Chief, and
informed him of the capture of Fort William and the flight of Mr.
Drake. Thinking this was merely a trick to frighten them into
surrender, the Dacca Council requested Mr. Scrafton, third in
Council, to write to M. Courtin, chief of the French Factory, for
information. In reply M. Courtin sent them a number of letters which
he had received from Chandernagore, confirming the bad news from
Calcutta. Taking into consideration the unfortified condition of the


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