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Surajah Dowlah, and to place Meer Jaffier on the throne of Bengal. ... Mr. Watts fled secretly from Moorshedabad. Clive put his troops in motion, and wrote to the Nabob in a tone very different from that of his previous letters.
He set forth all the wrongs which the British had suffered, offered to submit the points in dispute to the arbitration of Meer Jaffier, and concluded by announcing that, as the rains were about to set in, he and his men would do themselves the honor of waiting on his Highness for an answer.
Surajah Dowlah instantly assembled his whole force, and marched to encounter the English. It had been agreed that. Meer Jaffier should separate himself from the Nabob, and carry over his division to Clive. But, as the decisive moment approached, the fears of the conspirator overpowered his ambition. Clive had advanced to Cossimbuzar; the Naboblay with a mighty power a few miles off at Plassey; and still Meer Jaffier delayed to fulfill his engagements, and returned evasive answers to the earnest remonstrances of the English general.
Clive was in a painfully anxious situation. He could place no confidence in the sincerity or in the courage of his confederate: and whatever confidence he might place in his own military talents, and in the valor and discipline of his troops, it was no light thing to engage an army twenty times as numerous as his own. Before him lay a river over which it was easy to advance, but over which, if things went ill, not one of his little band would ever return. On this occasion, for the first and for the last time, his dauntless spirit, during a few hours, shrank from the fearful responsibility of making a decision. He called a council of war.
The majority pronounced against fighting; and Clive declared his concurrence with the majority. Long afterwards, he said that he had never called but one council of war, and that, if he had taken the advice of that council, the British would never have been masters of Bengal. But scarcely had the meeting broke up when he was himself again. He retired alone under the shade of some trees, and passed near an hour there in thought. He came back determined to put everything to the hazard, and gave orders that all should be in readiness for passing the river on the morrow.
The river was passed ; and, at the close of a toilsome day's march, the army, long after sunset, took up its quarters in a grove of mango trees near Plassey, within a mile of the enemy. Clive was unable to sleep; he heard, through the whole night,
the sound of drums and cymbals from the vast camp of the Nabob. ...
The day broke, the day which was to decide the fate of India. At sunrise, the army of the Nabob, pouring through many openings of the camp, began to move towards the grove where the English lay. Forty thousand infantry, armed with firelocks, pikes, swords, bows and arrows, covered the plain. They were accompanied by fifty pieces of ordnance of the largest size, each tugged by a long team of white oxen, and each pushed on from behind by an elephant. Some smaller guns, under the direction of a few French auxiliaries, were perhaps more formidable. The cavalry were fifteen thousand, drawn, not from the effeminate population of Bengal, but from the bolder race which inhabits the northern provinces; and the practiced eye of Clive could perceive that both the men and the horses were more powerful than those of the Carnatic. The force which he had to oppose to this great multitude consisted of only three thousand men. But of these nearly a thousand were English ; and all were led by English officers, and trained in the English discipline.
The battle commenced with a cannonade in which the artil. lery of the Nabob did scarcely any execution, while the few fieldpieces of the English produced great effect. Several of the most distinguished officers in Surajah Dowlah's service fell. Disorder began to spread through his ranks. His own terror increased every moment. One of the conspirators urged on him the expediency of retreating. The insidious advice, agreeing as it did with what his own terrors suggested, was readily received. He ordered his army to fall back, and this order decided his fate. Clive snatched the moment, and ordered his troops to advance. The confused and dispirited multitude gave way before the onset of disciplined valor. No mob attacked by regular soldiers was ever more completely routed. The little band of Frenchmen, who alone ventured to confront the Eng. lish, were swept down the stream of fugitives. In an hour the forces of Surajah Dowlah were dispersed, never to reassemble. Only five hundred of the vanquished were slain. But their camp, their guns, their baggage, innumerable wagons, innumerable cattle, remained in the power of the conquerors. With the loss of twenty-two soldiers killed and fifty wounded, Clive had scattered an army of near sixty thousand men, and subdued an empire larger and more populous than Great Britain.
BY JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU.
[JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU : A French author; born at Geneva, June 28, 1712 ; died at Ermenonville, near Paris, July 2, 1778. He was early thrown upon his own resources and acquired by his own exertions a desultory education, meanwhile earning his living in various ways, and spending not a little time in travel. He was given first place in a competition before the Academy of Dijon for a memorial upon the question “ Has the Progress of Sciences and Arts contributed to corrupt or to purify Morals” (1749). This, almost his first attempt at literary work, won for him immediate fame, but had the effect of making him misanthropic and melancholy. Among his subsequent works are: “ The Village Soothsayer" (1753), an opera which brought him a pension from the king ; “Narcissus " (1753); “Letter on French Music" (1753); “On the Origins and Foundations of Inequality among Mankind” (1755); “ On Political Economy" (1758); “Letters to Voltaire " ; “A Project of Perpetual Peace" (1761); · The Social Contract” (1762); "Émile” (1762); “To the Archbishop of Paris” (1763); “The Departure of Silvie” (1763); “ Letters from the Moun. tain " (1764); “ Dictionary of Music” (1767); “ Letters on his Exile" (1770); “Émile and Sophie" (1780); “ Consolations of my Life” (1781); “Government of Poland” (1782); and “Confessions" (1782–1790).]
AFTER deliberating a long time on the bent of my natural inclinations, they resolved to dispose of me in a manner the most repugnant to them. I was sent to Monsieur Masseron, the city registrar, to learn (according to the expression of my uncle Bernard) the thriving occupation of a grapignan. This appellation was inconceivably displeasing to me, and I promised myself but little satisfaction in the prospect of heaping up money by a mean employment. The assiduity and subjection required completed my disgust, and I never set foot in the office without feeling a kind of horror, which every day gained fresh strength. Monsieur Masseron, who was not better pleased with my abilities than I was with the employment, treated me with disdain, incessantly upbraiding me with being a fool and blockhead, not forgetting to repeat that my uncle had assured him I had “knowledge, knowledge,” though he could not find that I knew anything ; that he had promised to furnish him with a sprightly boy, but had, in truth, sent him an ass. To conclude, I was ignominiously turned out of the registry, as being a stupid fellow, being pronounced a fool by all Monsieur Masseron's clerks, and fit only to handle a file.
My vocation thus determined, I was bound apprentice; not, however, to a watchmaker, but to an engraver; and I had been so completely humiliated by the contempt of the registrar that I submitted without a murmur. My master, whose naine was Monsieur Ducommon, was a young man of a very violent and boorish character, who contrived in a short time to tarnish all the amiable qualities of my childhood, to stupefy a disposition naturally sprightly, and reduce my feelings, as well as my condition, to an absolute state of servitude. I forgot my Latin, history, and antiquities ; I could hardly recollect whether such people as Romans ever existed. The vilest inclinations, the basest actions, succeeded my amiable amusements, and even obliterated the very remembrance of them, I must have had, in spite of my good education, a great propensity to degenerate, else the declension could not have followed with such ease and rapidity.
The trade itself did not displease me. I had a lively taste for drawing. There was nothing displeasing in the exercise of the graver; and as it required no extraordinary abilities to attain perfection as a watch-case engraver, I hoped to arrive
I at it. Perhaps I should have accomplished my design, if unreasonable restraint, added to the brutality of my master, had not rendered my business disgusting. I wasted his time, and employed myself in engraving medals which served me and my companions as a kind of insignia for a new-invented order of chivalry; and though this differed very little from my usual employ, I considered it as a relaxation. Unfortunately, my master caught me at this contraband labor, and a severe beating was the consequence.
My master's tyranny rendered insupportable that labor I should otherwise have loved, and drove me to vices I naturally despised, such as falsehood, idleness, and theft. Nothing ever gave me a clearer demonstration of the difference between filial dependence and abject slavery than the remembrance of the change produced in me at that period. Naturally shy and timid, effrontery was far from my nature ; but hitherto I had enjoyed a reasonable liberty ; this I suddenly lost. I was enterprising at my father's, free at Monsieur Lambercier's, discreet at my uncle's; but with my master I became fearful, and from that moment my mind was vitiated. Accustomed to live with my superiors on terms of perfect equality, to be witness of no pleasures I could not command, to see no dish I was not to partake of, or be sensible of a desire I might not express ; to be able to bring every wish of my heart to my lips - judge what must become of me in a house where I was scarce allowed to speak, was forced to quit the table before the meal was half ended, and the room when I had nothing particular to do there; was incessantly confined to my work; pleasures for others, privations only for me; while the liberty that my master and his journeymen enjoyed served only to increase the weight of my subjection.
When disputes happened to arise, though conscious that I understood the subject better than any of them, I dared not offer my opinion ; in a word, everything I saw became an object of desire, only because I was not permitted to enjoy anything. Farewell gayety, ease, those happy turns of expression which formerly even made my faults escape correction ! I recollect a circumstance that happened at my father's, which even now makes me smile. Being for some fault ordered to bed without my supper, as I was passing through the kitchen, with my poor morsel of bread in my hand, I saw the meat turning on the spit; my father and the rest were round the fire; I must bow to every one as I passed. When I had gone through this ceremony, leering with a wishful eye at the roast meat, which looked so inviting and smelt so savory, I could not abstain from making that a bow likewise, adding in a pitiful tone, “Good-by, roast meat!” This unpremeditated pleasantry put them in such good humor that I was permitted to stay and partake of it. Perhaps the same thing might have produced a similar effect at my master's, but such a thought could never have occurred to me, or, if it had, I should not have had courage to express it.
Thus I learned to covet, dissemble, lie, and at length to steal
a propensity I never felt the least idea of before, though since that time I have never been able entirely to divest myself of it. Desire and inability united naturally lead to this vice, which is the reason pilfering is so common among footmen and apprentices, though the latter, as they grow up, and find themselves in a situation where everything is at their command, lose this shameful propensity. As I never experienced this advantage, I never enjoyed the benefit.
Good sentiments, ill directed, frequently lead children into vice. Notwithstanding my continual wants and temptations,
. it was more than a year before I could resolve to take even eatables. My first theft was occasioned by complaisance, but it was productive of others which had not so plausible an