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    CARROT EGG

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    DESERT

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    THE FUSILIERS AT ALBUERA. (See p. 18.)
    We need not follow the track of the deserted army with much minuteness. The moment Buonaparte was gone, all discipline and command ceased. The chief officers quarrelled vehemently; and Murat denounced his Imperial brother-in-law in the bitterest terms, and escaped away into Italy on the first opportunity. The Austrians and Prussians marched off, and the French, pursued by the Russians till they crossed the Niemen, were continually assailed, and dispersed or killed; so that Macdonald at length reached K?nigsberg with nine thousand men, the body of French presenting anything but the appearance of an army! In this fatal campaign, Boutourlin states that, of this splendid army, one hundred and twenty-five thousand were killed; one hundred and thirty-two thousand died from fatigue, hunger, and the severity of the climate; and one hundred and ninety-three thousand, including forty-eight generals and three thousand officers, were taken prisonersan awful comment on the assertions of Buonaparte that he had beaten the Russians everywhere. The nine thousand soldiers who returned with Macdonald leave only eleven thousand to be accounted for of the whole four hundred and seventy thousand, besides women, children, and camp servitors, who entered Russia. These eleven thousand were, no doubt, dispersed fugitives, some of whom might eventually reach France. Such a destruction of human life in one campaign, so utterly unfelt for by the man who[55] occasioned it, stands alone in the history of this world's miserable wars. The crime of it, as it rests on the head of that guilty soul, is beyond mortal calculation.

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    CHAPTER IX. REIGN OF WILLIAM IV. (continued).

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    Besides succeeding to the government of a country whose chief province was thus exhausted, the finances of the Company were equally drained, both in Calcutta and at home, and the Directors were continually crying to Hastings for money, money, money! As one means of raising this money, they sent him a secret order to break one of their most solemn engagements with the native princes. When they bribed Meer Jaffier to depose his master, by offering to set him in his seat, and received in return the enormous sums mentioned for this elevation, they settled on Meer Jaffier and his descendants an annual income of thirty-two lacs of rupees, or three hundred and sixty thousand pounds. But Meer Jaffier was now dead, and his eldest son died during the[324] famine. The second son was made Nabob, a weak youth in a weak government, and as the Company saw that he could not help himself, they ordered Hastings to reduce the income to one-half. This was easily done; but this was not enough, disgraceful as it was. Mohammed Reza Khan, who had been appointed by the Company the Nabob's Minister, on the ground that he was not only a very able but a very honest man, they ordered to be arrested on pretended pleas of maladministration. He and all his family and partisans must be secured, but not in an open and abrupt way, which might alarm the province; they were to be inveigled down from Moorshedabad to Calcutta, on pretence of affairs of government, and there detained. Nuncomar, the Hindoo, who had been displaced, in order to set up Mohammed, who was a Mussulman, and who had been removed on the ground of being one of the most consummate rogues in India, was to be employed as evidence against Mohammed. Hastings fully carried out the orders of the secret committee of the India House. He had Mohammed seized in his bed, at midnight, by a battalion of sepoys; Shitab Roy, the Minister of Bahar, who acted under Mohammed at Patna, was also secured; and these two great officers and their chief agents were sent down to Calcutta under guard, and there put into what Hastings called "an easy confinement." In this confinement they lay many months, all which time Nuncomar was in full activity preparing the charges against them. Shitab Roy, like Mohammed, stood high in the estimation of his countrymen of both faiths; he had fought on the British side with signal bravery, and appears to have been a man of high honour and feeling. But these things weighed for nothing with Hastings or his masters in Leadenhall Street. He hoped to draw large sums of money from these men; but he was disappointed. Though he himself arranged the court that tried them, and brought up upwards of a hundred witnesses against them, no malpractice whatever could be proved against them, and they were acquitted. They were therefore honourably restored, the reader will think. By no means. Such were not the intentions of the Company or of Hastings. Whilst Mohammed and Shitab Roy had been in prison, Hastings had been up at Moorshedabad, had abolished the office of Minister in both Patna and Moorshedabad, removed all the government business to Calcutta, cut down the income of the young Nabob, Muharek-al-Dowla, to one half, according to his instructions, and reduced the Nabob himself to a mere puppet. He had transferred the whole government to Calcutta, with all the courts of justice, so that, writes Hastings, "the authority of the Company is fixed in this country without any possibility of competition, and beyond the power of any but themselves to shake it."

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