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dishonourable action which they have a mind to perform. In violating the Chap. L treaty with the English, which he had engaged to fulfil, Dupleix blushed at his v y^Q^ own baseness; and means were used to make the French inhabitants of Pondicherry assemble and draw up a remonstrance against the treaty, which they prayed him to annul. Dupleix, moved with respect for the general voice of his countrymen, sent his orders to the Governor of Madras, to declare the treaty of ransom annulled; to take the keys of all magazines into his hands; and seize every article of property except the clothes of the wearers, the moveables of their houses, and the jewels of the women; orders which were executed with avaricious exactness. The governor and principal inhabitants were carried prisoners to Pondicherry, and exhibited by Dupleix, in a species of triumph.*
The English still possessed the settlement of Fort St. David, on the coast of Fort St. Coromandel. It was situated twelve miles south from Pondicherry; and its Davldterritory was still larger than that of Madras. Besides Fort St. David, at which were placed the houses of the Company, and other Europeans, the territory contained the town of Cuddalore, inhabited by the Indian merchants, and other natives; and two or three populous villages. The fort was small; but stronger than any of its size in India. Cuddalore was surrounded, on the three sides towards the land, by walls flanked with bastions. On the side towards the sea, it was open, but skirted by a river, which was separated from the sea by a mound of sand. A part of the inhabitants of Madras had, after the violation of the treaty of ransom, made their way to Fort St. David; and the agents of the Company at that place now took upon themselves the functions of the Presidency of Madras, and the general administration of the English affairs on the Coromandel coast. f Dupleix lost no time in following up the retention of Madras with an enter- Attacked by prise against Fort St. David, the reduction of which would have left him ^French'without a European rival in India. In the night of the 19th of December, a
* Mem. pour Labourdonnais, i. 252. Orme, i. 77. Dupleix, in his Apology, (Mem. p. 27) declines defending this breach of faith, repeating the former pretence of secrecy—to which, he says, the Ministry and the Company enjoined him. Experience justifies three inferences; 1. That the disgrace was such as explanation would enhance; 2. that the Ministry and the Company were sharers in it; 3. that having such partners, his safety did not depend upon his justification. He adds, that it is certain he was innocent, because the Ministry and the Company continued to employ him. It was certain, either that he was innocent, or that the Ministry and the Company were sharers in his guilt. But it was a maxim at that time in France, that a Ministry never can have guilt: If so, the inference was logical.
+ Orme, i. 78.
Book IV. force, consisting of 1700 men, mostly Europeans, of which fifty were cavalry, v~~^^ 'with two companies of the Caffre slaves, trained by Labourdonnais, set out from Pondicherry, and arrived next morning in the vicinity of the English fort. The garrison, including the men who had escaped from Madras, amounted to no more than about 200 Europeans and 100 Topasses. At this time the English had not yet learned to train Sepoys in the European discipline, though the French had already set them the example, and had four or five disciplined companies at Pondicherry.* They had hired, however, 2,000 of the undisciplined soldiers of the country, who are armed promiscuously with sword and targets, bows and arrows, pikes and lances, matchlocks or muskets, and known among the Europeans by the name of Peons; among these men they had distributed eight or nine hundred muskets, and destined them for the defence of Cuddalore. They had also applied for assistance to the Nabob, who, exasperated against the French by his defeat at Madras, readily engaged, upon the promise of the English to defray part of the expense, to send his army to assist Fort St. David. The French, after gaining an advantageous post, had laid down their arms, to take a little rest, and were exulting in the prospect of an easy prey, when an army of nearly 10,000 men marched in sight. Without attempting resistance, they made good their retreat, with twelve Europeans killed and 120 wounded. Dupleix immediately entered into a correspondence with the Moors to detach them from the English; and, at the same time, meditated the capture of Cuddalore by surprise. On the night of the 10th of January, 500 men were embarked in boats, with orders to enter the river and attack the open quarter of the town at break of day. But, as the wind rose, and the surf was high, they were compelled to put back, f
Dupleix was fertile in expedients, and indefatigable in their application. He sent a detachment from Madras into the Nabob's territory, in hopes to withdraw him to its defence. The French troops disgraced themselves by the barbarity of their ravages; but the Indian army remained at Fort St. David, and the resentment of the Nabob was increased. On the 20th of January, the four ships of Labourdonnais' squadron, which had sailed to Acheen to refit, arrived in the road of Pondicherry. Dupleix conveyed to the Nabob an exaggerated account of the vast accession of force which had come to the French; and
* The two important discoveries for conquering India were; 1st, the weakness of the native armies against European discipline; 2dly, the facility of imparting that discipline to natives in the European service. Both discoveries were made by the French.
f Orme, i. 79—83.
described the English as a contemptible handful of men, devoted to destruction. Chap, t "The governments of Indostan," says Mr. Orme on this occasion, "have no [747"^ idea of national honour in the conduct of their politics; and as soon as they think the party with whom they are engaged is reduced to great distress, they shift, without hesitation, their alliance to the opposite side, making immediate advantage the only rule of their action." A peace was accordingly concluded; the Nabob's troops abandoned the English; and his son, who commanded the army, paid a visit to Pondicherry, where he was received by Dupleix with the display of which he was fond, and gratified by a considerable present.* Blocked up from receiving supplies by the British ships at sea, and by the Nabob's army on land, Pondicherry, but for this treaty, would soon have been reduced to extremity.f
The favourable opportunity for accomplishing the destruction of Fort St. Saved by the David was now eagerly seized. On the morning of the 13th of March, a ETgUsh°fleet. French army was seen approaching the town. After some resistance it had crossed the river, which flows a little way north from the fort, and had taken possession of its former advantageous position; when an English fleet was descried approaching the road. The French crossed the river with precipitation, and returned to Pondicherry4
The fleet, under Captain Peyton, after it was lost sight of by Labourdonnais, on the 18th of August, off Negapatnam, had tantalized the inhabitants of Madras, who looked to it with eagerness for protection, by appearing off Pullicat, about thirty miles to the northward on the 3d of September, and again sailing away. Peyton proceeded to Bengal; because the sixty gun ship was in such a condition as to be supposed incapable of bearing the shock of her own guns. The fleet was there reinforced by two ships, one of sixty and one of forty guns, sent from England with Admiral Griffin; who assumed the command, and proceeded with expedition to save Fort St. David, and menace Pondicherry. The garrison was reinforced by the arrival of 100 Europeans, 200 Topasses, and 100 Sepoys, from Bombay, beside 400 Sepoys from Tellicherry: In the course of the year 150 soldiers were landed from the Company's ships from England: And, in the month of January, 1748, Major Laurence arrived, with a commission to command the whole of the Company's forces in India. §
The four ships which had arrived at Pondicherry from Acheen, and which
* Memoire pour Labourdonnais, i. 259. Memoire pour Dupleix, p. 29. Orme, i. 84, 85.
$ Orme, i. 66, 87, 88.
Beoic IV. Dupleix foresaw would be in imminent danger, when the English fleet should ^""~^g' 'return to the coast, he had, as soon as he felt assured of concluding peace with the Nabob, ordered from Pondicherry to Goa. From Goa they proceeded to Mauritius, where they were joined by three other ships from France. About the middle of June, this fleet was descried off Fort St. David, making sail, as if it intended to bear down upon the English. Admiral Griffin waited for the land wind, and put to sea at night, expecting to find the enemy in the morning. But the French admiral, as soon as it was dark, crowded sail, and proceeded directly to Madras, where he landed 300 soldiers, and 200,000/. in silver, the object of his voyage; and then returned to Mauritius. Admiral Griffin sought for him in vain. But Dupleix, knowing that several days would be necessary to bring the English ships back to Fort St. David, against the monsoon, contrived another attack upon Cuddalore. Major Laurence, by a well executed feint, allowed the enemy at midnight to approach the very walls, and even to apply their scaling ladders, under an idea that the garrison was withdrawn, when a sudden discharge of artillery and musketry struck them with dismay, and threw them into precipitate retreat.* A strong ar- The government of England, moved by the disasters of the nation in India, from England. an(^ jealous of the ascendancy assumed by the French, had now prepared a formidable armament for the East. Nine ships of the public navy, one of seventy-four, one of sixty-four, two of sixty, two of fifty, one of twenty guns, a sloop of fourteen, a bomb ketch with her tender, and a hospital-ship, commanded by Admiral Boscawen; and eleven ships of the Company, carrying stores and troops, to the amount of 1,400 men, set sail from England toward the end of the year 1747. They had instructions to capture the island of Mauritius in their way; as a place of great importance to the enterprises of the French in India. But the leaders of the expedition, after examining the coast, and observing the means of defence, were deterred by the loss of time which the enterprise would produce. On the 9th of August they arrived at Fort St. David, when the squadron, joined to that under Griffin, formed the largest European force that any one power had yet possessed in India.f
Dupleix, who had received early intelligence from France of the preparations for this armament, had been the more eager to obtain an interval of friendship with the Nabob, and to improve it to the utmost for laying in provisions and
* Orme, i. 88—91. Orme says that 200 soldiers only were landed by the French at Madras. Dupleix himself says, Trois cent homines, tant sains que malades. Mem. p. 32. f Orme, i. 91—98.
stores at Pondicherry and Madras; knowing well, as soon as the superior force Chap, h of the English should appear, that the Nabob would change sides, and the French 7^77"^ settlements, both by sea and land, would again be cut off from supplies.*
Preparations at Fort St. David had been made, to expedite the operations of The English Boscawen, and he was in a very short time ready for action; when all English- cheny. men exulted in the hope of seeing the loss of Madras revenged by the destruction of Pondicherry. Amid other points of preparation for attaining this desirable object, there was one, to wit, knowledge, which they had, unfortunately, overlooked. At a place called Ariancopang, about two miles to the ,*^v .■•southwest of Pondicherry, the French had built a small fort. When the English arrived at this place, not a man was found who could give a description of it. They resolved, however, to take it by assault; but were repulsed, and the repulse dejected the men. Time was precious; for the season of the rains, and the change of monsoon, were at hand: A small detachment, too, left at the fort, might have held the feeble garrison in check: But it was resolved to take Ariancopang at any expense: Batteries were opened; but the enemy defended themselves with spirit: Major Laurence was taken prisoner in the trenches: Several days were consumed, and more would have been added to them, had not a part of the enemy's magazine of powder taken fire, which so terrified the garrison, that they blew up the walls and retreated to Pondicherry. As if sufficient time had not been lost, the English remained five days longer to repair the fort, in which they resolved to leave a garrison, lest the enemy should resume possession during the siege.
They advanced to Pondicherry, and opened the trenches on the northwest side of the town, at the distance of 1,500 yards from the wall, though it was even then customary to open them within 800 yards of the covered way. The cannon and mortars in the ships were found capable of little execution; and, from want of experience, the approaches, with much labour, went slowly on. At last they were carried within 800 yards of the wall; when it was found impossible to extend them any further, on account of a large morass; while, on the northern side of the town, they might have been carried to the foot of the glacis. Batteries, at the distance of 800 yards, were constructed on the edge of the morass; but the enemies' fire proved double that of the besiegers; the rains came on; sickness prevailed in the camp; very little impression had been made on the defences of the town; a short time would make the roads impracticable;
* Memoire pour Dupleix, p. SI, 32. VOL. II. H