CHAPTER XVII
Bengal

The Anglo-French struggle in south India was a kind of dress rehearsal for European intervention in Bengal. The incentives for action were there; the weakness of potential opposition, and the divisions which encouraged action were apparent. The methods of interference were tried out and developed. But European action in the South of India was indecisive because the south was both physically and economically separated from the north. The north of India was the reservoir of Indian wealth and manpower which was the vital part of the country. European action in Bengal was therefore the decisive phase of intervention. But for their experience at Madras the British action in Bengal might have taken quite a different form. Once launched upon action they had their southern experience to draw upon in dealing with Indian states. Why should not Clive do in Bengal what Bussy had done in Hyderabad?

Before going further we should notice certain broad differences between the situations in the north and south, which help to explain the different results which followed. In Bengal other Europeans had little influence. While Calcutta was the chief British station in India, Dutch Chinsura and French Chandernagar were both subordinate stations of their respective companies. Both were on the Hughli and helpless so long as the English company controlled the river. The Danish settlement at Serampore was too small to count. The East India Company dealt directly with the local power. There was, in fact, no European power to restrain its actions for fear of the consequences. A second difference lay in the power and personalities of the respective princes. Both areas were fragments of the Mughal empire, ruled by governors who had established themselves as hereditary princes. Both were imposing in size and enjoyed large resources. The ruler of Bengal governed Behar, higher up the Ganges Valley, as well, while the Nizam controlled the coastal plain of east India from Orissa to Tanjore. But the Nizams belonged to one of

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