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Robert, Lord Clive

      The history of British India is without a parallel in the annals of mankind. It is little over a hundred years ago since "the company of British merchants trading with the East Indies" possessed nothing more than a few ports favorably situated for commerce, held at the will, or rather the caprice, of the native princes, and defended against commercial rivals by miserable fortifications, which could not have resisted any serious attack. Now British sovereignty in India extends over an empire greater than that possessed by Alexander or the Caesars, and probably superior to both in the amount of its wealth and population. The chief agent in raising the East India Company from a trading association to a sovereign power was Lord Clive, whose own elevation was scarcely less marvellous than that of the empire which he founded.

      Robert Clive was born September 29, 1725; his father was a country gentleman, of moderate fortune and still more moderate capacity, who cultivated his own estate in Shropshire. When a boy, the future hero of India distinguished himself chiefly by wild deeds of daring and courage, neglecting the opportunities of storing his mind with information, the want of which he bitterly felt in after-life. His violent temper, and his neglect of study, led his family to despair of his success at home, and, in his eighteenth year, he was sent out as a "writer," in the service of the East India Company, to the Presidency of Madras. In our day such an a...

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