« ПредишнаНапред »
Book IV. ten years, when his knowledge and talents pointed him out as the fittest person 'to ^p^^^nd tne DUsmess of the Company at their settlement at Chandernagor in Bengal. Though Bengal was the richest part of India, the French factory in that province had, from want of funds and bad management, remained in a low and degraded condition. The colony was still to be formed; and the activity and resources of the new manager soon produced the most favourable changes. The colonists multiplied; enterprise succeeded to languor; Dupleix on his own account entered with ardour into the country trade, in which he employed the inheritance he derived from his father, and frequently had not less than twelve vessels, belonging to himself and his partners, navigating to Surat, Mocca, Jedda, the Manillas, the Maldivias, Goa, Bussora, and the coast of Malabar: He realized a great fortune: During his administration more than 2,000 brick houses were built at Chandernagor: He formed a new establishment for the French Company at Patna; and rendered the French commerce in Bengal an object of envy to the most commercial of the European colonies.
The reputation which he acquired in this situation pointed him out as the fittest person to occupy the station of Governor at Pondicherry. Upon his appointment to this chief command, he found the Company in debt: and he was pressed by instructions from home, to effect immediately a great reduction of expense.
The reduction of expense, in India, by raising up a host of enemies, is an arduous and a dangerous task to a European Governor. In addition to this, Dupleix was informed that war was impending between France and the maritime powers. Pondicherry was entirely open to the sea, and very imperfectly fortified even toward the land. He proceeded with his usual industry to inquire, to plan, and to execute. Though expressly forbidden, under the present circumstances of the Company, to expend any thing on fortifications, the prospect of a war with the maritime powers made him proceed with the works at Pondicherry as a primary object. He had been struggling at Pondicherry with the difficulties of narrow resources, and the strong temptation of extended views, about four years, when Labourdonnais arrived in the roads.* Want of union Though the mind of Dupleix was ambitious, active, and ingenious; it seems Frenc^GcH to have possessed but little elevation. His vanity was excessive, and even AdmiraLnd effeminate; and he was not exempt from the infirmities of jealousy and revenge. In the enterprizesin which the fleet was destined to be employed, Labourdonnais
* Memoire pour Dupleix, pp. 9—26.
was to reap the glory; and from the very first he had reason to complain of the .air of haughtiness and reserve which his rival assumed. As the English traders were warned out of the seas, and nothing was therefore to be gained by cruizing with the French fleet, Labourdonnais directed his thoughts to Madras. So long, however, as his ships were liable to be attacked, with the greater part of their crews on shore, the danger was too great to be incurred. He, therefore, demanded sixty pieces of cannon from Dupleix to place him on a level in point of metal; and resolved to proceed in quest of the English fleet. But Dupleix alleged the danger of leaving Pondicherry deprived of its guns, and refused. With a very inferior reinforcement of guns,* with a very inadequate supply of ammunition, and with water given him at Pondicherry, so bad as to produce the dysentery in his fleet, he put to sea on the 4th of August, and worked southwards against the monsoon. On the 17th he descried the English fleet off Negapatnam, hoisted Dutch colours as a decoy, and made sail. The English, understanding the feint, changed their course, and fled. Labourdonnais says he pursued them all that and the next day, when, having the wind in their favour, they escaped, f He returned to Pondicherry on the 23d, much enfeebled by disease, and found all hearty co-operation on the part of the governor and council still more hopeless than before. After a series of unfriendly proceedings, to which he had corresponded with a manly temperance, after Dupleix had even commanded him to reland the Pondicherry troops, he resolved to send the fleet, which he was still too much indisposed to accompany, towards Madras, for the double purpose, of seizing the vessels by which the people of Madras were preparing to send away the most valuable of their effects, and of ascertaining whether his motions were watched by the English fleet. The cruize was unskilfully conducted, and yielded little in the way of prize; but afforded presumption that the English fleet, which had not been seen, had abandoned the coast. Labourdonnais, therefore, saw a chance of safety in executing his plan upon Madras. He left Pondicherry on the 12th of September, and on the 14th commenced the operations, which ended, as we have seen, in the surrender of the place.
It was in consequence of an express article in his orders from home that Dupleix resists
the restoration of Madras.
* Labourdonnais (Memoire, i. 109) does not state the number of the guns from Pondicherry with which he was obliged to content himself. Orme, i. 64. says he obtained thirty or forty pieces; but it is a grievous defect of Mr. Orme's history, that he never gives his authorities.
f Memoire pour Labourdonnais, ut supra, p. 110, and Orme, p. 6*, who here adopts the account of Labourdonnais.
Vol. Il a
Book IV. Labourdonnais agreed to the restoration of Madras.* But nothing could be *~"j^T~"'more adverse to the views of Dupleix. He advised, he intreated, he menaced, he protested; Labourdonnais, however, proceeded with firmness to fulfil the conditions into which he had entered. Dupleix not only refused all assistance to expedite the removal of the goods, and enable the ships to leave Madras before the storms which accompany the change of monsoon; he raised up every obstruction in his power, and even endeavoured to excite sedition among the people of Labourdonnais, that they might seize and send him to Pondicherry. While time was lost in these distracting contentions, a storm arose on the night of the 13th of October, which drove the ships to sea. Two were lost, and only fourteen of the crew of one of them were saved. Another was carried so far to the southward, that she was unable to regain the coast; and of those which were saved, all lost their masts, and sustained great and formidable injury. Notwithstanding the most pressing entreaties for assistance, Dupleix maintained his opposition. A suggestion at last was made, that the articles of the treaty of ransom should be so far altered, as to afford time to the French for removal of the goods. Labourdonnais and the English, though with some reluctance, both agreed, that the period of evacuation should be changed from the 15th of October to the 15th of January. This was all that Dupleix desired. Upon the departure of Labourdonnais, which the state of the season made indispensable, the place would be delivered into the hands of Dupleix, and he was not a man to be much embarrassed with the fetters of a treaty, f
* II est expressement defendu au sieur de la Bourdonnais de s'emparer d'aucun etablissement ou comptoir des ennemis pour le conserver. Mem. p. 105. This was signed by M. Orry, Controuleur General. It appears, by the orders both to Labourdonnais and Dupleix, that the French government, and East India Company, shrunk from all idea of conquest in India.
f Memoire, ut supra, pp. 142—220. Orme, i. 69—72. Dupleix, in his apology, involves the cause of his opposition to Labourdonnais in mystery. It was a secret, forsooth! And a secret too, of the ministry, and the company! The disgrace, then, was tripartite: Great consolation to Labourdonnais! And great satisfaction to the nation!" Le Sieur Dupleix," says the Memoire, " respecte trop les ordres du ministere et ceux de la Compagnie pour oser publier ici ce qu'il lui a éte enjoint d'ensevelir dans le plus profond secret:" p. 27. In the usual style of subterfuge and mystery, this is ambiguous and equivocal. The word ordres may signify orders given him to behave as he did to Labourdonnais; and this is the sense in which it is understood by Voltaire, who says, " Le gouverneur Dupleix s'excusa dans ses Memoires sur des ordres secrets du ministere. Mais il n'avait pu recevoir a six mille lieues des ordres concernant une conquete qu'on venait de faire, et que le ministere de France n'avait jamais pu prevoir. Si ces ordres funestes avaient 6t6 donnds par prevoyance, ils etoient formellement contradictoires avec ceux que la Bourdonnais avait apportes. Le ministere aurait eu a se reprocher la perte de neuf
The remaining history of Labourdonnais may be speedily given. Upon his Chap. return to Pondicherry, the opposition which he had formerly experienced was ^ "y^Qchanged into open hostility. All his proposals for a union of counsels and of resources were rejected with scorn. Three fresh ships had arrived from the islands; and even after the loss occasioned by the storm, the force of the French was still sufficient to endanger, if not to destroy, the whole of the English settlements in India.* The counteraction, however, which he experienced, convinced Labourdonnais that he possessed not the means of carrying his designs into execution. He acceded therefore to the demand of Dupleix; to proceed to Acheen with such of the ships as were able to keep the sea; to return to Pondicherry after they were repaired; and to give up five of them to Dupleix to carry next year's investment to Europe. The squadron, at its departure, consisted of seven ships, of which four were in tolerable repair; three in such a condition that it was doubted whether they could reach Acheen; if not, they were to sail for the islands. Conformably to this plan Labourdonnais divided the squadron into two parts. The first, consisting of the sound vessels, was directed to make its way to Acheen, without waiting for the rest: he himself remained with the second, resolving to follow, if it were in his power. The first division outsailed, and soon lost sight of the other; with which Labourdonnais, finding it in vain to strive for Acheen, at last steered his course to the islands. Hastening to Europe, to make his defence, or answer the accusations of his enemies, the Dutch vessel, in which he sailed as a passenger, was forced by the declaration of war into an English harbour, where Labourdonnais was recognized and made a prisoner. The conduct which he had displayed at Madras procured him the most honourable treatment. All ranks received him with favour and distinction. To obtain leave for his departure to France, a Director of the East India Company offered to become security for him with his person and property. The government, with a corresponding liberality, declined the offer, and desired no security but the word of Labourdonnais. His treat- Fate of Lament in France was of a different sort. The representations of Dupleix had arrived: A brother of Dupleix was a Director of the East India Company;millions dont on priva la France en violant la capitulation, mais sur-tout le cruel traitement dont il paya le genie, la valeur, et la magnanimite de la Bourdonnais." Fragm.Histor. sur 1' Inde, Art. 3. But the wordordres may also signify orders merely not to disclose the pretended secret. This is a species of defence which ought ever to be suspected; for it may as easily be applied to the greatest villainy as to the greatest worth, and is far more likely to be so. • Orrae, i. 69, 73.
Book IV. Dupleix had only violated a solemn treaty; Labourdonnais had only faithfully 'j,^ 'and gloriously served his country; and he was thrown into the Bastile. He remained in that prison for three years; though the vindication which he published of his conduct, and the authentic documents by which he supported it, fully established his innocence, and the ardour and ability of his services. He survived his liberation but a little time, and left a memorable example of the manner in which a blind government encourages desert.* The Nabob He had not taken his departure from Madras, when the troops of the Nabob
against the appeared. Dupleix had been able to dissuade the Nabob from yielding his prodsTeated.'"1'*" tection to Madras, which the English, who had prevailed on Commodore Barnet to abstain from molesting Pondicherry, claimed as their due. Dupleix had gained his forbearance by the promise of Madras. The Moor, however, (so at that time the Moslems in India were generally called) very quickly perceived, that the promise was only a delusion; and he now proposed to take vengeance by driving the French from the place. As soon as Labourdonnais and his fleet disappeared, a numerous army of the Nabob, led by his son, invested Madras. But Labourdonnais, from the disaster which had befallen his fleet, had been under the necessity of leaving behind him about 1200 Europeans, disciplined by himself. The French, therefore, encountered the Indians; astonished them beyond measure, by the rapidity with which they discharged their artillery; with a numerical force which bore no proportion to their own, gained over them a decisive victory; and first broke the spell which held the Europeans in subjection to the native powers, f Dupleix The masters of mankind, how little soever disposed to share better things with
wkhkthea tl> t^ie People' are always abundantly desirous to share with them their disgrace. English. Though, on other occasions, they may ostentatiously despise the public will, they are willing enough to have it appear that they are constrained by it in any
* Memoire, ut supra, pp. 221—280. Orme, i. 72, Raynal, liv. iv. sect. 20. Voltaire, amid other praises, says of him, "II fit plus; il dispersa une escadre Angloise dans la mer de l'lnde, ce qui n'etoit jamais arrive qu' a lui, et ce qu'on n'a pas revu depuis." Fragm. Histor. sur 1' Inde, Art. 3.
f Memoire pour Dupleix, p. 28 ; Mem. pour Labourdonnais, i. 243. "It was now more than a century," (says Mr. Orme, i. 76) "since any of the European nations had gained a decisive advantage in war against the officers of the Great Mogul. The experience of former unsuccessful wars, and the scantiness of military abilities which prevailed in all the colonies from a long disuse of arms, had persuaded them that the Moors were a brave and formidable enemy; when the French at once broke through the charm of this timorous opinion, by defeating a whole army with a single battalion."