Thursday, August 21, 2008

The launch of the Empire

Setting up a hafta vasool racket in a Shropshire town and being expelled from three schools during one's early teenage years is normally predictive of behaviour that would end up with capital punishment. But an 18th century father's frustration led to this boy being sent off to India, to work with the British East India Company, sometime around his 18th birthday. And where does he land up but in Fort St. George, employed as a lowly clerk. With some good timing and street-smart skills picked up from the Shropshire market operations, this clerk showed signs of being a 'heaven-born general'. And so it came to pass that Robert Clive returned home in 1753, as a Captain of the army, with several exploits of derring-do credited to him.

But the campaigns out of Fort St George had given him the craving for the soldierly life. He returned to India and was the key man in pushing the expansion of the British East India Company's interest not merely through trading, but through military action to take control of markets or, more possibly, factors of production. It was Robert Clive who brought Bengal into the British fold, laying the foundations to build the Company to become the power wielder of the sub-continent.

But before he left Madras, he married Margeret Maskeylne; by this time, Clive was a legend even in Madras. The Governor threw open a newly constructed building for the newlyweds to live in for the short period between their marriage and their return to England. And thus did this building get it's name - Clive House!


Hilda said...

What an interesting bit of history! Thank you.

Shantaram said...

>> Hilda>> As always, you're welcome!