Imágenes de página
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

avenue. Bless me! thought I, the gods still continue this man in his insolence and pomp! The chariot was drawn by eight horses in golden harness, and the whole represented his triumphal return, after he had conquered the world. It passed me with a splendor I had not seen before, and shined so luminously up into the country, that I discovered innumerable shades sitting under the trees, which before were invisible. As there were two persons in the chariot equally splendid, I could not distinguish which was Alexander, and on requiring that information of the shade who still stood by, he replied, Alexander is not there. Did you not, continued I, tell me that Alexander was coming, and bid me get out of the way ? Yes, answered the shade, becuse he was the fore horse on the side next to us. Horse! I mean Alexander the Emperor. I mean the same, replied the shade, for whatever he was on the other side of the water is nothing now, he is a horse here; and not always that, for when he is apprehensive that a good licking is intended for him, he watches his opportunity to roll out of the stable in the shape of a piece of dung or in any other disguise he can escape. On this information I turned instantly away, not being able to bear the thoughts of such astonishing degradation notwithstanding the aversion I have to his character. But curiosity got the better of my compassion, and having a mind to see what sort of a figure the conqueror of the world cut in the stable, I directed my flight thither. He was just returned with the rest of the horses from the journcy, and the groom was rubbing him down with a large furze bush, but turning himself round to get a still larger and more prickly one that was newly brought in, Alexander catched the opportunity, and instantly disappeared, on which I quitted the place, lest I should be suspected of stealing him. When I had reached the banks of the river, and was preparing to take my flight over, I perceived that I had picked up a bug among the Plutonian gentry, and thinking it was needless to increase the breed on this side the water, was going to dispatch it, when the little wretch screamed out, Spare Alexander the GREAT. On which I withdrew the violence I was offering to his person, and holding up the emperor between my finger and thumb, he exhibited a most contemptible figure of the downfall of tyrant greatness. Affected with a mixture of concern and compassion (which he was always a stranger to) I suffered him to nibble on a pimple that was newly risen on my hand, in order to refresh him; after which I placed him on a tree to hide him, but a tom-tit


coming by, chopped him up with as little ceremony as he put whole kingdoms to the sword. On which I took my flight, reflecting with pleasure that I was not Alexander the GREAT.



New York, March 8, 1803.

MR. MUNROE, who is appointed Minister Extraordinary to France, takes charge of this, to be delivered to Mr. Este, banker, in Paris, to be forwarded to you.

I arrived at Baltimore on the 30th October, and you can have no idea of the agitation which my arrival occasioned. From New Hampshire to Georgia, (an extent of 1500 miles,) every newspaper was filled with applause or abuse.

My property in this country has been taken care of by my friends, and is now worth six thousand pounds sterling, which put in the funds will bring me four hundred pounds sterling a year.

Remember me in friendship and affection to your wife and family, and in the circle of our friends.

I am but just arrived here, and the minister sails in a few hours, so that I have but just time to write you this. If he should not sail this tide, I will write to my good friend Colonel Bosville, but in any case, I request you to wait on him for me.

Yours, in friendship,



[blocks in formation]

АH! The tale is told-the scene is ended-and the curtain falls. As an emblem of the vanity of all earthly pomp, let his monument be a globe, but be that globe a bubble; let his effigy be a man walking round it in his sleep; and let Fame, in the character of a shadow, inscribe his honors on the air.

I view him but as yesterday on the burning plains of Plassey,* doubtful of life, health, or victory. I see him in the instant when "To be or not to be," were equal chances to a human eye. To be a lord or a slave, to return loaded with the spoils, or remain mingled with the dust of India. Did necessity always justify the severity of a conqueror, the rude tongue of censure would be silent, and however painfully he might look back on scenes of horror, the pensive reflection would not alarm him. Though his feelings suffered, his conscience would be acquitted. The sad remembrance would move serenely, and leave the mind without a wound. But oh, India! thou lond proclaimer of European cruelties! thou bloody monument of unnecessary deaths! be tender in the day of inquiry, and show a Christian world thou canst suffer and forgive.

Departed from India, and loaded with plunder, I see him doubling the Cape and looking wistfully to Europe. I see him contemplating on years of pleasure, and gratifying his ambition with expected honors. I see his arrival pompously announced in every newspaper, his eager eye rambling through the crowd in quest of homage, and his ear listening lest an applause should escape him. Happily for him he arrived before his fame, and the short interval was a time of rest. From the crowd I follow him to court, I see him enveloped in the sunshine of sovereign favor, rivalling the great in honors, the proud in splendor, and the rich in wealth. From the court I trace him to the country; his equipage moves like a camp;

*Battle of Plassey, in the East Indies, where Lord Clive, at that time Colonel Clive, acquired an immense fortune, and from which place his title is taken.


every village bell proclaims his coming; the wondering peasants admire his pomp, and his heart runs over with joy.

But, alas! (not satisfied with unaccountable thousands) I accompany him again to India. I mark the variety of countenances which appear at his landing-Confusion spreads the news-every passion seems alarmed-the wailing widow, the crying orphan, and the childless parent remember and lament; the rival Nabobs court his favor; the rich dread his power-and the poor his severity. Fear and terror march like pioneers before his camp-murder and rapine accompany it-famine and wretchedness follow it in the rear.

Resolved on accumulating an unbounded fortune, he enters into all the schemes of war, treaty, and intrigue. The British sword is set up for sale; the heads of contending Nabobs are offered at a price, and the bribe taken from both sides. Thousands of men or money are trifles in an Indian bargain. The field is an empire, and the treasure almost without end. The wretched inhabitants are glad to compound for offences never committed, and to purchase at any rate the privilege to breathe; while he, the sole lord of their lives and fortunes, disposes of either as he pleases, and prepares for Europe.*

Uncommon fortunes require an uncommon date of life to enjoy them in. The usual period is spent in preparing to live and un

In April, 1773, a Committee of the House of Commons, under the name of the Select Committee, were appointed by the House to inquire into the East India affairs, and the conduct of the several Governors of Bengal The Committee having gone through the examination, General Burgoyne, the chairman, prefaced their report to the House, informing them, "That the reports contained accounts shocking to human nature, that the most infamous designs had been carried into execution by perfidy and murder. He recapitulated the wretched situation of the East Indian princes, who held their dignities on the precarious condition of being the highest bribers. No claim, however just on their part, he said, could be admitted without being introduced with enormous sums of rupees, nor any prince suffered to reign long, who did not quadrate with this idea; and that Lord Clive, over and above the enormous sums he might with some appearance of justice lay claim to, had obtained others to which he could have no title. He (General Burgoyne) therefore moved, "That it appears to this house, that Robert Lord Clive, baron of Plassey, about the time of deposing Surajah Dowla, Nabob of Bengal, and establishing Meer Jaffier in his room, did, through the influence of the power with which he was intrusted, as member of the Select Committee in India, and Commander in Chief of the British forces there, obtain and possess himself of two lacks and 80,000 rupees, as member of the Select Committee; a further sum of two lacks of rupees, as Commander in Chief; a further sum of 16 lacks of rupees, or more, under the denomination of private donations; which sums, amounting together to 20 lacks and 80000 rupees, were of the value, in English money, of £234,000, and that in so doing, the said Robert Lord Clive abused the powers with which he was intrusted, to the evil example of the servants of the public."

less nature prolongs the time, fortune bestows her excess of favors in vain.

The Conqueror of the East having nothing more to expect from the one, has all his court to make to the other. Anxiety for wealth gives place to anxiety for life; and wisely recollecting that. the sea is no respecter of persons, resolves on taking his route to Europe by land. Little beings move unseen, or unobserved, but he engrosses whole kingdoms in his march, and is gazed at like a comet. The burning desart, the pathless mountains, and the fertile valleys, are in their turns explored and passed over. No material accident distresses his progress, and England once more receives the spoiler.

How sweet is rest to the weary traveller; the retrospect heightens the enjoyment; and if the future prospect be serene, the days of ease and happiness are arrived. An uninquiring observer might have been inclined to consider Lord Clive, under all these agreeable circumstances, one, whose every care was over, and who had nothing to do but sit down and say, Soul take thine ease, thou hast goods laid up in store for many years.

The reception which he met with on his second arrival, was in every instance equal, and in many, exceeded, the honors of the first. It is the peculiar temper of the English to applaud before they think. Generous of their praise, they frequently bestow it unworthily but when once the truth arrives, the torrent stops, and rushes back again with the same violence.* Scarcely had the echo

* Lord Clive, in the defence which he made in the House of Commons, against the charges mentioned in the preceding note, very positively insists on his innocence, and very pathetically laments his situation; and after informing the House of the thanks which he had some years before received, for the same actions which they are now endeavoring to censure him for, he says,

"After such certificates as these, Sir, am I to be brought here like a criminal, and the very best part of my conduct construed into crimes against the state? Is this the reward that is now held out to persons who have perform ed such important services to their coumtry? If it is, Sir, the future conse quences that will attend the execution of any important trust, committed to the persons who have the care of it, will be fatal indeed; and I am sure the noble Lord upon the treasury bench, whose great humanity and abilities I revere, would never have consented to the resolutions that passed the other night, if he had thought on the dreadful consequences that would attend them. Sir, I cannot say that I either sit or rest easy, when I find that all I have in the world is likely to be confiscated, and that no one will take my security for a shilling. These, Sir, are dreadful apprehensions to remain under, and I cannot but look upon myself as a bankrupt. I have not any thing left which I can call my own, except my paternal fortune, of £500 per annum, and which has been in the family for ages past. But upon this I am contented to live, and perhaps I shall find more real content of mind and happiness than in the trembling affluence of an unsettled fortune. But.


« AnteriorContinuar »