Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

were incapable of taking the vigorous resolutions which the necessity of their Chap. II. affairs demanded." They allowed Mr. Boscawen, with the fleet and troops, to v' set sail for England, at the end of October, and sent only 120 Europeans to support Mahomed Ali at Trichinopoly.* The presence, however of Nazir Jung, at the head of a great army, encouraged them to command the detachment at Trichinopoly to accompany Mahomed Ali; and a few days after their arrival in the camp, Major Laurence, with 600 Europeans from Fort St. David, joined the army of the Subahdar.

The two armies were now sufficiently near to skirmish; when thirteen French Difficulties of officers, displeased that they had not shared in the spoils of Tanjore, resigned dexterity 1with their commissions, and infused terror and alarm into the men they were destined ^JeTf to command. D'Auteuil, considering it no longer safe to venture into action with men thus affected, decamped the night before the expected battle, and retreated in the direction of Pondicherry; leaving Mirzapha Jung and Chunda Saheb, in a state of despair. Mirzapha Jung thought it best to yield himself up to his uncle, by whom he was immediately put in fetters; Chunda Saheb, with his own troops, made his way to Pondicherry.f

The dangers were formidable and imminent which now stared Dupleix in the face; but he had confidence in the resources of his own genius, and the slippery footing of an oriental prince. He sent an embassy to the camp of the victorious Subahdar, offering terms of peace; and at the same time entered into correspondence with some disaffected chiefs in his army. These were leaders of the Patan troops which Nizam al Mulk, as the principal instrument of his ambition, had maintained in his service; and of which he had made the principal captains Nabobs of different districts in his Subah. It was the standing policy of all the Mahomedan princes in India to compose a great part of their armies of men drawn from the more hardy people of the north, the Tartars and Afghauns. Of these people the men who arrived in India were mere soldiers of fortune, accustomed to seek for wealth and distinction through crimes. If the master whom they served were able to chastise their perfidy, and fed their hopes of plunder and aggrandizement, by the prospect of his conquests, they were useful and important instruments. The moment they appeared to have more to gain by destroying than by serving him, they were the most alarming source of his danger.

* Orme, i. 130, 133, 138.

+ Cambridge's War in India, p. 6—11; Orme, i. 138—142; History and Management of the East India Company, p. 73; Memoire pour Dupleix, p. 54; Memoire contre Dupleix, p. 47 Revolution des Indes, i. 232—238.

VOL. II. K

Book IV.Nazir Jung had the usual character of a man educated a prince. He devoted his time to pleasure, and withdrew it from business; decided without consider

I7oU.ation, hence unwisely; and was at once too indolent and too proud to correct his mistakes. Under such a master, the Patan lords expected, by selling their services to a competitor, to add both to their treasures, and the territories of which the government was lodged in their hands.

The deputies of Dupleix had returned from the camp of Nazir Jung, when D'Auteuil, who continued to watch the motions of the army, observing the negligence with which the camp was guarded during the night, detached an officer with 300 men, who entered it unobserved; penetrated into it a mile; spread terror and alarm; killed upwards of a thousand of the enemy; and returned with the loss of only two or three men: Another proof of the extraordinary weakness of an Indian army, when opposed to the force of the European mind.

The Subahdar, alarmed at the presence of so enterprising an enemy, hastened to Arcot; while the English, quarrelling about the performance of his promises, and the abandonment of their cause by withdrawing his army, left the camp in disgust, and removed the only important obstacle to the machinations of the conspirators and Dupleix.

While the Subahdar spent his time at Arcot in the pleasures of the harem and the chase, of both of which he was immoderately fond, the French exhibited new specimens of their activity and enterprise. A small body of troops sailed to Masulipatam, at the mouth of the river Kistna, once the principal mart of that region of India; attacked it by surprise in the night; and gained possession with a trifling loss: And another detachment seized the Pagoda of Trivadi, about fifteen miles west from Fort St. David. Mahomed Al i obtained permission to detach himself from the army of the Subahdar for the purpose of dislodging them from Trivadi; in which he obtained assistance from the English, who were deeply interested in preventing the French from gaining a position so near. Some attacks which Mahomed Ali and the English made upon the pagoda were unsuccessful; and these allies began to quarrel. Mahomed AH would neither advance pay to the English, nor move his troops between the pagoda and Pondicherry; upon which they left him. The French, who expected this event, waited for its arrival; attacked Mahomed Ali; gained an easy victory, and made him fly to Arcot, with two or three attendants. The French, still aiming at further acquisitions, advanced against the celebrated Fort of Gingee, situated on a vast insulated rock, and deemed the strongest fortress in Carnatic. They stormed the fortifications to the very summit of the mountain; and contemplat

[ocr errors]

ing afterwards the natural strength of the place, felt astonished at their own Chap. H.

success. ^'

1751.

This last exploit disturbed the tranquillity and the amusements of the Subahdar; and he offered to enter upon negotiation. The demands of the French were lofty; Nazir Jung, therefore, began his march to Gingee. But it was now October, 1750, and the rains began. The Subahdar kept the field; but felt exceedingly weary of the contest; and at last appeared inclined to concede whatever was demanded by the French. Dupleix negotiated at once with the traitors and the Subahdar. He had just concluded his treaty with the Subahdar, when his commander at Gingee receives from the traitors the concerted call: He marches with his whole force; attacks the camp of the Subahdar, and is joined by the traitors; by one of whom Nazir Jung is shot through the heart. In his Memoir Dupleix affirms, that he wrote immediately to inform the Commander at Gingee of the conclusion of the treaty and to prevent further hostilities, but that his letter arrived not till after the revolution was performed. Mirzapha Jung was now freed from his imprisonment, and vested with the authority of Subahdar. Immediately, however, the enormous demands of the Power and Patan nobles, to whose perfidy he owed his power, began to oppress him; and [£e French^ he only parried their importunities by asserting the necessity of forming his arrangements in concert with Dupleix. Lofty were the hopes in which that ambitious leader seemed now entitled to indulge himself. Mirzapha Jung advanced to Pondicherry, and lavished upon him every testimony of gratitude and friendship. Dupleix exerted himself to satisfy the Patan lords; who, seeing his determination to support their master, permitted him to retrench their demands, and treasured up their resentments for a future day. An adept in Indian policy, when he had men of their dangerous character within the walls of Pondicherry, would have taken care how they made their escape. Dupleix was appointed Governor of the Mogul dominions on the coast of Coromandel from the river Kistna to Cape Comorin; and Chunda Saheb his Deputy at Arcot. Mahomed Ali, who had fled to Trichinopoly, upon the assassination of Nazir Jung, now offered to resign his pretensions to the nabobship of Carnatic, provided Dupleix, who listened to the overture, would obtain from the new Subahdar a command for him, in any other part of his dominions. Mirzapha Jung left Pondicherry in the month of January, 1751, accompanied by a body of French troops, with M. Bussy, who had signalized himself in the Book IV. late transactions, at their head. The army had marched about sixty leagues; 'when a disturbance, in appearance accidental, arose among a part of the troops;

presently it was discovered, that the Patan chiefs were in revolt; and that they had seized a pass in front through which it behoved the army to proceed. They were attacked with great spirit; the French artillery carried every thing before it; and a victory was gained, when the impetuosity of the Subahdar carried him too far in the pursuit, and he was shot dead with an arrow. M. Bussy was not a man who lost his presence of mind, upon an unexpected disaster. He represented to the principal commanders the necessity of agreeing immediately upon the choice of a master; and as the son of Mirzapha Jung was an infant, and the present state of affairs required the authority of a man of years, he recommended Salabut Jung, the eldest surviving son of Nizam al Mulk, who was present in the camp, and who without delay was raised to the vacant command. Salabut Jung promised the same concessions to the French which had been made by his predecessor, and the army continued its march towards Golconda.*

The Europeans in India, who hitherto had crouched at the feet of the meanest of the petty governors of a district, were astonished at the progress of the French, who now seemed to preside over the whole region of Deccan. A friend of Dupleix wrote to him from the camp of Salabut Jung, that in a little time the Mogul on his throne would tremble at the name of Dupleix,f and how presumptuous soever this prophecy might appear, little was wanting to secure its fulfilment. The English The English, sunk in apathy or despair, were so far as yet from taking any sive.d a"dpaS" vigorous measures to oppose a torrent by which they were likely to be overwhelmed, that Major Laurence, the Commander of the troops, on whose military talents and authority their whole dependance was placed, took the extraordinary resolution, not opposed, it should seem, by the Council, of returning at this critical juncture to England. They used their influence indeed, to prevent Mahomed Ali from carrying into execution the proposal he had made to the

* For the above details see Orme, i. 142—166; History and Management of the East India Company, p. 74—79; Cambridge's War in India, p. 10—16; Seer Mutakhareen, iii. 116—118, the author of which says that Mirzapha Jung had a plot against the Patans, who on this occasion were not the aggressors; Memoire pour Dupleix, p. 55—68, who says he entered into the conspiracy against Nazir Jung, because he would not listen to peace; Memoire contre Dupleix, p. 47—61Wilks, chap. vii. with whom Dupleix is a favourite. •

T Memoire contre Dupleix. ,

French of surrendering Trichinopoly; but Mahomed Ali and the English, in Chap. II. concert, made offer to acknowledge Chunda Saheb Nabob of all Carnatic, with y"~~

• • m • 1751.

the exception of Trichinopoly and its dependencies. This the French treated as a departure from the original proposal of Mahomed Ali, and replied with haughtiness and contempt. The English now engaged to support him, and he resolved to hold out. The Governor of Madura, however, a small adjacent province, formerly a Hindu rajahship, declared for Chunda Saheb, and an attempt made by a party of the English to reduce it was repelled.

Toward the beginning of April Chunda Saheb began his march from Arcot; Progress of and about the same time Captain Gingens, with the English, was dispatched from Fort St. David. Chunda Saheb was encamped near the fort of Volconda, on the great road between Trichinopoly and Arcot, when the English approached. A battle was brought on; but the English officers spent so much time in deliberation as discouraged the men; and the European soldiers fled shamefully from the field, even while the Caffres and the native troops maintained the contest. The army retreated; and though it posted itself, and encamped at two different places, Utatoor and Pitchonda; it quitted both upon the arrival of the enemy, and at last took shelter under the walls of Trichinopoly. Chunda Saheb and the French lost no time in following, and sat down on the opposite side of the town.

The city of Trichinopoly, at the distance of about ninety miles from the sea, is situated on the south side of the great river Cavery, about one half of a mile from its bank; and, for an Indian city, was fortified with extraordinary strength. About five miles higher up than Trichinopoly, the Cavery divides itself into two branches, which, after separating to the distance of about two miles, again approach, and are only prevented from uniting, about fifteen miles below Trichinopoly, by a narrow mound, forming a peninsula, which goes by the name of the island of Seringham; celebrated as containing one of the most remarkable structures, and one of the most venerated pagodas, in India; and henceforward remarkable for the struggle, constituting an era in the history of India, of which it was now to be the scene.

The Presidency of Fort St. David, somewhat roused by seeing the army of Mahomed Ali driven out of Carnatic, and obliged to take shelter beyond the Cavery, made several efforts to reinforce the English; whom, after all, they were able to augment to the number of only 600 men. There was another misfortune; for, notwithstanding the urgency with which, in the depressed and alarming state of their affairs, the English were called upon for the utmost

[graphic]
« ПредишнаНапред »