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ment should remain, to encircle the brows of another with laurels which be- Chap. IV. longed to his own. v"^^v——'
Around Pondicherry, like many other towns in India, ran a hedge of the strong prickly shrubs of the country, sufficiently strong to repel the sudden incursions of the irregular cavalry of the country. As the position of the French was contrived to give it whatsoever protection this rampart could yield, the first operation of Monson was intended to deprive them of that advantage. The attack was indeed successful; but through mismanagement on the part of some of the officers, the plan was badly executed; and considerable loss was incurred. Among the rest Monson himself was wounded, and rendered incapable for a time of acting in the field. Colonel Coote had not yet sailed for Bengal; and Monson and the Council joined in requesting him to resume the command. He returned to the camp on the 20th of September, and actively proceeded with the reduction of the outposts. When the rains began, in the beginning of October, the camp was removed to an elevated ground at some distance from the town; and during the rains no efforts were made, except those on the part of the French to introduce provisions, and those on the part of the English to frustrate their attempts. About the beginning of December, the rains drawing to a close, preparations were made for improving the blockade into more expeditious methods of reduction. Several batteries were prepared, which played on the town from the 8th to the 30th of December. On that day a dreadful storm arose, which stranded three of the English ships in the road, and seriously damaged the greater part of the fleet; while it tore up the tents of the soldiers, and threw the camp into the utmost confusion. Fortunately the inundation produced by the storm rendered it impracticable for the enemy to move their artillery, nor could the troops carry their own ammunition dry. The greatest diligence was exerted in restoring the works. An attempt failed which was made on the 5th of January to obtain possession of a redoubt still retained by the enemy. But on the 12th of January the trenches were opened. The enemy were now reduced to the last stage of privation. Lally himself was sick; worn out with vexation and fatigue. The dissensions which raged within the fort had deprived him of almost all authority: A very feeble resistance was therefore made to the progress of the English works. The provisions, which such arduous efforts had been required to introduce into the fort, had been managed without economy; the importunities of Lally to force away the black inhabitants, who consumed the stores of the place with so much rapidity, were resisted, till matters were approaching to the last extremity. While provisions Book IV. for some days yet remained, Lally urged the Council, since a capitulation must regard the civil as well as the military affairs of the colony, to concert general measures for obtaining the most favourable terms; and procured nothing but chicanery in return. The device of the Council was to preserve to themselves, if possible, the appearance of having had no share in the unpopular transaction of surrender, and the advantage, dear to their resentments, of throwing with all its weight the blame upon Lally. When at last not two days' provisions remained in the magazines, Lally informed them that he was reduced to the necessity of delivering up the military possession of the place; for the civil affairs it rested with them to make what provision was in their power. Toward the close of day on the 14th, a commissioner from Lally, together with a deputation from the Council, approached the English camp. The enemy claimed the benefit of a cartel which had been concluded between the two crowns, and which they represented as precluding them from proposing any capitulation for the town of Pondicherry. As a dispute respecting that cartel remained still undecided, Coote refused to be guided by it, or to accept any other terms than those of an Pondicherry unconditional surrender. Their compliance, as he concluded with sufficient surrenders- assurance, the necessity of their affairs rendered wholly indispensable. Serious dis- On the fourth day after the surrender, there arose between the English civil SeciviUnd11 an(l mmtary authorities a dispute, which, had the military been as daring as military au- the civil, might have been attended with the most serious consequences. Mr.
thonties, to 0
whom it Pigot, the Governor of Madras, made a formal demand, that Pondicherry s ou belong, jj^^y given Up ^0 tne Presidency, as the property of the East India Company. Coote assembled a council of war, consisting of the chief officers, both of the fleet and the army, who were of opinion that the place ought to be held for the disposal of the King. Pigot, with a hardihood which subdued them; though, in a man without arms in his hands, toward those men on whose arms he totally depended, it might have been a hardihood attended with risk; declared that, unless Pondicherry were given up to the Presidency, he would furnish no money for the subsistence of the King's troops or the French prisoners. Upon this intimation the military authorities submitted.
Two places, Thiagar, and the strong fort of Gingee, still remained in possession of the French in Carnatic. The garrisons, however, who saw no hope of relief, made but a feeble resistance; and on the 5th of April Gingee surrendered, after which the French had not a single military post in India; for even Mahe and its dependencies, on the Malabar coast, had been attacked and reduced by a body of troops which the fleet landed in the month of January. The council of Madras lost no time in levelling the town and fortifications of Pondicherry with Chap. IV. the ground. . ^""1761""^
Dreadful was the fate which awaited the unfortunate Lally, and important Fate of Lally. are the lessons which it reads. By the feeble measures of a weak and defective government, a series of disasters, during some preceding years, had fallen upon France; and a strong sentiment of disapprobation prevailed in the nation against the hands by which the machine of government was conducted. When the total loss of the boasted acquisitions of the nation in India was reported, the public discontent was blown into a flame; and the ministry were far from easy with regard to the shock which it might communicate to the structure of their power. Any thing was to be done which might have the effect to divert the storm. Fortunately for them, a multitude of persons arrived from India, flaming with resentment against Lally, and pouring out the most bitter accusations. Fortunately for them, too, the public, swayed as usual by first appearances, and attaching the blame to the man who had the more immediate guidance of the affairs upon which ruin had come, appeared abundantly disposed to overlook the ministry in their condemnation of Lally. The popular indignation was carefully cultivated; and by one of those acts of imposture and villainy of which the history of ministries in all the countries of Europe affords no lack of instances, it was resolved to raise a screen between the ministry and popular hatred by the cruel and disgraceful destruction of Lally. Upon his arrival in France, he was thrown into the Bastille; from the Bastille, as a place too honourable for him, he was removed to a common prison. An accusation, consisting of vague or frivolous imputations, was preferred against him. Nothing whatsoever was proved, except that his conduct did not come up to the very perfection of prudence and wisdom, and that it did display the greatest ardour in the service, the greatest disinterestedness, fidelity, and perseverance, with no common share of military talent and of mental resources. The grand tribunal of the nation, the parliament of Paris, found no difficulty in seconding the wishes of the ministry, and the artificial cry of the day, by condemning him to an ignominious death. Lally, confident in his innocence, had never once anticipated the possibility of any other sentence than that of an honourable acquittal. When it was read to him in his dungeon, he was thrown into an agony of surprise and indignation; and taking up a pair of compasses, with which he had been sketching a chart of the Coromandel coast, he endeavoured to strike them to his heart; when his arm was held by a person that was near him. With indecent precipitation he was executed that very day. He was dragged through the streets of Paris in a
Book IV. dirty dung cart; and lest he should address the people, a gag was stuffed into *-~v——'his mouth, so large as to project beyond his lips. Voltaire, who had already signalized his pen by some memorable interpositions in favour of justice and the oppressed, against French judges and their law, exerted himself to expose, in clear light, the real circumstances of this horrid transaction; which Mr. Orme scruples not to call " a murder committed with the sword of justice." It was the son of this very man, who, under the name of Lally Tolendal, was a Member of the Constituent Assembly, and by his eloquence and ardour in the cause of liberty, contributed to crumble into dust a monarchy, under which acts of this atrocious description were so liable to happen. Thus had the French East India Company, within a few years, destroyed three, the only eminent men who had ever been placed at the head of their affairs in India, Labourdonnais, Dupleix, and Lally. It did not long survive this last display of its imbecility and injustice.*
* For these events see Mem. pour le Comte deLally; Mem. pour le Sieur DeLeyrit; Mem. pourBussy; Orme, vol. ii.; Cambridge; Wilks; Voltaire, Fragmens Hist, sur Undo, et sur la Mort du Comte de Lally.
First Nabobship of Meer Jaffier—Expedition against the Northern Circars —Emperor's eldest Son, and Nabobs of Oude and Allahabad, invade Bengal —Clive resigns the Government, and is succeeded by Air. Vansittart—Jaffier dethroned, and Meer Causim set up—Disorders by the private Trade of Company's Servants—War with Causim—He is dethroned, and Jaffier again set up—War with the Nabob of Oude—Death of Jaffier—His Son made nominal Nabob—Courts of Proprietors and Directors—Clive sent back to govern Bengal.
A DEFECTIVE treasury is the grand and perennial source of the difficulties Chap. V. which beset the sovereigns of India. This evil pressed with peculiar weight ^^"^v——' upon Meer Jaffier. Before the battle of Plassy, which rendered him Subahdar, Situation and his own resources were scanty and precarious. In the treasury of the province, the TMewSuthe liberality of Aliverdi, the expense of his war with the Mahrattas, and the bahdarravages of that destructive enemy, left a scanty inheritance to Suraja Dowla: The thoughtless profligacy of that prince, even had his reign been of adequate duration, was not likely to add to the riches of the state: To purchase the conspiracy of the English, Meer Jaffier, with the prodigality of Eastern profession, had promised sums which he was altogether unable to pay: The chiefs whom he had debauched by the hopes of sharing in his fortunes, were impatient to reap the fruits of their rebellion: And the pay of the troops was deeply in arrear. In these circumstances, it was almost impossible for any man to yield satisfaction. The character of Meer Jaffier was ill calculated for approaching to that point of perfection.
In making promises, with a view to the attainment of any great and attractive object, an Indian sovereign seldom intends to perform any more, than just as much as he may find it unavoidable to perform; and counts, in general too with a well-grounded certainty, upon evading at least a considerable part of that for which he had engaged. To Meer Jaffier the steadiness with which the English adhered to the original stipulations appeared, for a time, the artifice merely of cunning men, who protract an accommodation for the purpose of ren1