The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:27 am

The History of British India, vol. 3 of 6
by James Mill
Third Edition
1826

Contents:

• BOOK IV
o CHAP. I
o CHAP. II
o CHAP. III
o CHAP. IV
o CHAP. V
o CHAP. VI
o CHAP. VII
o CHAP. VIII
o CHAP. IX
• BOOK V
o CHAP. I
o CHAP. II
• NOTES
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:41 am

Part 1 of 3

HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA

BOOK IV.


From the establishment, on legislative authority, of one exclusive company, in the year 1708, till the change in the constitution of the company, by the act of 13th geo. iii. in 1773.

CHAP. I.

The Constitution of the East India Company, its practical Arrangements for the Conduct of Business, and Transactions till the Conclusion of the War with France by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

When the competitors for Indian commerce were united into one corporate body, and the privilege of exclusive trade was founded on legislative authority, the business of the East India Company became regular and uniform. Their capital, composed of the shares of the subscribers, was a fixed and definite sum: Of the modes of dealing, adapted to the nature of the business, little information remained to be acquired: Their proceedings were reduced to an [2] established routine, or a series of operations periodically recurring: A general description, therefore, of the plan upon which the Company conducted themselves, and a statement of its principal results, appear to comprehend every thing which falls within the design of a history of that commercial body, during a period of several years.

When a number of individuals unite themselves in any common interest, reason suggests, that they themselves should manage as much as it is convenient for them to manage; and that they should make choice of persons to execute for them such parts of the business as cannot be conveniently transacted by themselves.

It was upon this principle, that the adventurers in the trade to India originally framed the constitution of their Company. They met in assemblies, which were called Courts of Proprietors, and transacted certain parts of the common business: And they chose a certain number of persons belonging to their own body, and who were called Committees,1 to manage for them other parts of the business, which they could not so well perform themselves. The whole of the managing business, therefore, or the whole of the government, was in the hands of,

1st. The Proprietors, assembled in general court;

2dly. The Committees, called afterwards the Directors, assembled in their special courts.

At the time of the award of the Earl of Godolphin, power was distributed between these assemblies according to the following plan:

To have a vote in the Court of Proprietors, that is, any share in its power, it was necessary to be the [3] owner of 500l. of the Company’s stock: and no additional share, contrary to a more early regulation, gave any advantage, or more to any proprietor than a single vote.

The directors were twenty-four in number: No person was competent to be chosen as a Director who possessed less than 2,000l. of the Company’s stock: And of these directors, one was Chairman, and another Deputy-Chairman, presiding in the Courts.

The Directors were chosen annually by the Proprietors in their General Court; and no Director could serve for more than a year, except by reelection.

Four Courts of Proprietors, or General Courts, were held regularly in each year, in the month of December, March, June, and September, respectively; the Directors might summon Courts at other times, as often as they saw cause, and were bound to summon Courts within ten days, upon a requisition signed by any nine of the Proprietors, qualified to vote.

The Courts of Directors, of whom thirteen were requisite to constitute a Court, were held by appointment of the Directors themselves, as often, and at such times and places, as they might deem expedient for the dispatch of affairs.1

According to this constitution, the supreme power was vested in the Court of Proprietors. In the first place they held the legislative power entire: All laws and regulations, all determinations of dividend, all grants of money, were made by the Court of Proprietors. To act under their ordinances, and manage the business of routine, was the department reserved for the Court of Directors. In the second place, the supreme power was secured to the Court of Proprietors, [4] by the important power of displacing, annually, the persons whom they chose to act in their behalf.

In this constitution, if the Court of Proprietors be regarded as representing the general body of the people, the Court of Directors as representing an aristocratical senate, and the Chairman as representing the sovereign, we have an image of the British constitution; a system in which the forms of the different species of government, the monarchical, aristocratical, and democratical, are mixed and combined.

In the constitution however of the East India Company, the power allotted to the democratical part was so great, that a small portion may seem to have been reserved to the other two. Not only were the sovereignty, and the aristocracy, both elective, but they were elected from year to year; that is, were in a state of complete dependence upon the democratical part. This was not all: no decrees, but those of the democracy, were binding, at least in the last resort; the aristocracy, therefore, and monarchy, were subordinate, and subject. Under the common impression of democratic ambition, irregularity, and violence, it might be concluded, that the democratic assembly would grasp at the whole of the power; would constrain and disturb the proceedings of the Chairmen and Directors; would deliberate with violence and animosity; and exhibit all the confusion, precipitation, and imprudence, which are so commonly ascribed to the exercise of popular power.

The actual result is extremely different from what the common modes of reasoning incite common minds to infer. Notwithstanding the power which, by the theory of the constitution, was thus reserved to the popular part of the system, all power has centered in the court of directors; and the government of the [5] Company has been an oligarchy, in fact. So far from meddling too much, the Court of Proprietors have not attended to the common affairs even sufficiently for the business of inspection: And the known principles of human nature abundantly secured that unfortunate result. To watch, to scrutinize, to inquire, is labour, and labour is pain. To confide, to take for granted that all is well, is easy, is exempt from labour, and, to the great mass of mankind, comparatively delightful. On all ordinary occasions, on all occasions which present not a powerful motive to action, the great mass of mankind are sure to be led by the soft and agreeable feeling. And if they who act have only sufficient prudence to avoid those occurrences which are calculated to rouse the people on account of whom they act, the people will allow them abundant scope to manage the common concerns in a way conformable to their own liking and advantage. It is thus that all constitutions, however democratically formed, have a tendency to become oligarchical in practice. By the numerous body who constitute the democracy, the objects of ambition are beheld at so great a distance, and the competition for them is shared with so great a number, that in general they make but a feeble impression upon their minds: The small number, on the other hand, entrusted with the management, feel so immediately the advantages, and their affections are so powerfully engaged by the presence, of their object, that they easily concentrate their views, and point their energies with perfect constancy in the selfish direction. The apathy and inattention of the people, on the one hand, and the interested activity of the rulers on the other, are two powers, the action of which may always be counted upon; nor has the art of government as yet exemplified, however the science may or may not have discovered, [6] any certain means by which the unhappy effects of that action may be prevented.1


But though, as I before observed, this mighty branch of British commerce hath been represented by me greatly below its real and true value; yet, if it is but equal, what a dreadful amputation must the loss of it be? Such a diminution too of our trade and wealth, becoming an addition to that of an already dreaded neighbor, must appear not only dangerous to, but destructive of the power, safety, and independence of this kingdom. If these interesting points therefore are thus liable to be affected by the conduct of this company, how watchful ought we to be over it, how careful that it does not abuse the trust reposed in it by the nation? And indeed, when we come to consider the nature and constitution of this company, and how it is composed; if we also inquire into the number and quality of the persons to whom it deputeth its authority, together with the characters, capacities, and acquired light of those who have been entrusted with the charge of their weighty affairs in India, it will appear to be almost time to look about us, and see whether we may rest secure on their good management.

The proprietors of this company's stock are numerous, consisting of men, women, and children, foreigners as well as natives. This stock being also transferable like other public funds, is frequently shifting in the hands of such as know no more of the company's affairs, than any of the temporary stockholders know of the transactions at the Cockpit: The whole secret rests in the breasts of a few, a very few individuals, who have an interest in concealing it; therefore those who imagine that the nation is secured against any misconduct of the company, by the interposition of the numerous proprietors, will find themselves woefully mistaken. As an instance of the ignorance in which this fluctuating body is kept by its managers, I shall only mention, that some years ago a general court having been demanded by a few of the proprietors, it was then required by these, that in order to satisfy them of the real state of their affairs, the books of the company should be produced and shown; but they were given to understand by the directors, that it was not for the interest of the company that their books should be exposed to public view; for that it would make certain people too wise. The majority of the court not insisting on it, the thing was dropped, and they remained in the dark. As the stock is saleable, no man needs retain it longer than he pleases; if he is dissatisfied with the conduct of the company, he has his redress by selling out his share: Thus he is interested in their welfare only from day to day.


-- Reflections on the Present State of our East-India Affairs; With Many Interesting Anecdotes Never Before Made Public, by Gentleman Long Resident in India


For conducting the affairs of the Company, the Directors divided themselves into parties called Committees; and the business into as many separate shares.2

The first was the Committee of Correspondence, of which the business was more confidential, as well as extensive, than that of any of the rest. Its duties were, to study the advices from India, and to prepare answers for the inspection of the Court of Directors: To report upon the number of ships expedient for the trade of the season, and the stations proper for each: To report upon the number of servants, civil and military, in the different stations abroad; on the demand for alterations, and the applications made for leave of absence, or leave to return: All complaints of grievances, and all pecuniary demands on the Company, were decided upon in the first instance by this Committee, which nominated to all places, in the treasury, and in the secretary’s, examiner’s, and auditor’s offices. It performed, in fact, the prime and governing business of the Company: The rest was secondary and subordinate.

The next Committee was that of Law-suits; of [7] which the business was to deliberate and direct in all cases of litigation; and to examine the bills of law charges. It is not a little remarkable that there should be work of this description sufficient to engross the time of a committee.

The third was the Committee of Treasury. Its business was, to provide, agreeably to the orders of the Court, for the payment of dividends and interest on bonds; to negociate the Company’s loans; to purchase gold and silver for exportation: to affix the Company’s seal to bonds and other deeds; to examine monthly, or oftener, the balance of cash; and to decide, in the first instance, on applications respecting the loss of bonds, on pecuniary questions in general, and the delivery of unregistered diamonds and bullion.

The Committee of Warehouses was the fourth. The business of importation was the principal part of its charge. It framed the orders for the species of goods of which the investment or importation was intended to consist: It had the superintendance of the servants employed in the inspection of the purchases; determined upon the modes of shipping and conveyance; superintended the landing and warehousing of the goods; arranged the order of sales; and deliberated generally upon the means of promoting and improving the trade.

The fifth was the Committee of Accounts; of whose duties the principal were, to examine bills of exchange, and money certificates; to compare advices with bills; to examine the estimates, and accounts of cash and stock; and to superintend the office of the accountant, and the office of transfer, in which are effected the transfers of the Company’s stock and annuities, and in which the foreign letters of attorney for that purpose are examined.

A committee, called the Committee of Buying, was the sixth. Its business was, to superintend the purchase and preparation of the standard articles of export, of which lead and woollens constituted the chief; to contract with the dyers and other tradesmen; to audit their accounts, and keep charge of the goods till deposited in the ships for exportation.

The Committee of the House was the seventh, and its business was mostly of an inferior and ministerial nature. The alterations and repairs of the buildings, regulations for the attendance of the several officers and clerks, the appointment of the inferior servants of the House, and the control of the secretary’s accounts for domestic disbursements, were included in its province.

The eighth Committee, that of Shipping, had the charge of purchasing stores, and all other articles of export, except the grand articles appropriated to the Committee of Buying; the business of hiring ships, and of ascertaining the qualifications of their commanders and officers; of distributing the outward cargoes; of fixing seamen’s wages; of issuing orders for building, repairing, and fitting out the ships, packets, &c. of which the Company were proprietors; and of regulating and determining the tonnage allowed for private trade, to the commanders and officers of the Company’s ships.

The ninth was the Committee of Private Trade; and its occupation was to adjust the accounts of freight, and other charges, payable on the goods exported for private account, in the chartered ships of the Company; to regulate the indulgences to private trade homeward; and, by examining the commanders of ships, and other inquiries, to ascertain how far the regulations of the Company had been violated or obeyed.

The tenth Committee was of a characteristic description. It was the Committee for preventing the growth of Private Trade. Its business was to take cognizance of all instances in which the licence, granted by the Company for private trade, was exceeded; to decide upon the controversies to which the encroachments of the private traders gave birth; and to make application of the penalties which were provided for transgression. So closely, however, did the provinces of this and the preceding Committee border upon one another; and so little, in truth, were their boundaries defined, that the business of the one was not unfrequently transferred to the other.

Other transactions respecting the employment of troops and the government of territory, required additions to the system of Committees, when the Company afterwards became conquerors and rulers. But of these it will be time to speak when the events arrive which produced them.

The Chairmen, as the name imports, preside in the Courts, whether of Directors or Proprietors; they are the organs of official communication between the Company and other parties, and are by office members of all the Committees.

The articles in which the export branch of the Indian trade has all along consisted are bullion, lead, quicksilver, woollen cloths, and hardware, of which the proportions have varied at various times.

The official value of all the exports to India for the year 1708, the year in which the union of the two Companies was completed, exceeded not 60,915l. The following year it rose to 168,357l. But from this it descended gradually till, in the year 1715, it amounted to no more than 36,997l. It made a start, however, in the following year; and the medium exportation for the first twenty years, subsequent to [10] 1708, was 92,288l. per annum.1 The average annual exportation of bullion during the same years was 442,350l.

The articles of which the import trade of the East India Company chiefly consisted, were calicoes and the other woven manufactures of India; raw silk, diamonds, tea, porcelain, pepper, drugs, and saltpetre. The official value of their imports in 1708 was 493,257l.; and their annual average importation for this and the nineteen following years was 758,042l. At that period the official value assigned to goods at the Custom House differed not greatly from the real value; and the statements which have been made by the East India Company of the actual value of their exports and imports for some of those years, though not according with the Custom House accounts from year to year, probably from their being made up to different periods in the year, yet on a sum of several years pretty nearly coincide.2 The business of sale is transacted by the East India Company in the way of auction. On stated days, the goods, according to the discretion of the Directors, are put up to sale at the India House; and transferred to the highest bidder.

At first the Company built and owned the ships employed in their trade. But in the progress and sub-division of commerce, ship-owning became a distinct branch of business; and the company preferred the hiring of ships, called chartering. It was in hired or chartered ships, accordingly, that from this time the trade of the Company was chiefly conveyed; and [11] a few swift-sailing vessels, called packets, more for the purpose of intelligence than of freight, formed, with some occasional exceptions, the only article of shipping which they properly called their own. This regulation set free a considerable portion of the funds or resources of the Company, for direct traffic, or the simple transactions of buying and selling.1

That part of the business of the Company which was situated in India, was distinguished by several features which the peculiar circumstances of the country forced it to assume. The sale indeed of the commodities imported from Europe, they transacted in the simplest and easiest of all possible ways; namely, by auction, the mode in which they disposed of Indian goods in England. At the beginning of this trade, the English, as well as other European adventurers, used to carry their commodities to the interior towns and markets, transporting them in the hackeries of the country, and established factories or warehouses, where the goods were exposed to sale. During the confusion, however, which prevailed, while the empire of the Moguls was in the progress of dissolution, the security which had formerly existed, imperfect as it was, became greatly impaired: and, shortly after the union of the two Companies, a rule was adopted, not to permit any of the persons in the Company’s service, or under their jurisdiction, to remove far into the inland country, without leave obtained from the Governor and Council of the place to which they belonged. According to this plan, the care of distributing the goods into the country, and of introducing them to the consumers, was left to the native and other independent dealers.

For the purchase, collection, and custody of the [12] goods, which constituted the freight to England, a complicated system of operations was required. As the state of the country was too low in respect of civilization and of wealth, to possess manufacturers and merchants, on a large scale, capable of executing extensive orders, and delivering the goods contracted for on pre-appointed days, the Company were under the necessity of employing their own agents to collect throughout the country, in such quantities as presented themselves, the different articles of which the cargoes to Europe were composed. Places of reception were required, in which the goods might be collected, and ready upon the arrival of the ships, that the expense of demurrage might be reduced to its lowest terms. Warehouses were built; and these, with the counting-houses, and other apartments for the agents and business of the place, constituted what were called the factories of the Company. Under the disorderly and inefficient system of government which prevailed in India, deposits of property were always exposed, either to the rapacity of the government, or under the weakness of the government to the hands of depredators. It was always therefore an object of importance to build the factories strong, and to keep their inmates armed and disciplined for self-defence, as perfectly as circumstances would admit. At an early period the Company even fortified those stations of their trade, and maintained professional troops, as often as the negligence permitted, or the assent could be obtained, of the Kings and Governors of the countries in which they were placed.

Of the commodities collected for the European market, that part, the acquisition of which was attended with the greatest variety of operations, was the produce of the loom. The weavers, like the other laborious classes of India, are in the lowest stage of [13] poverty, being always reduced to the bare means of the most scanty subsistence. They must at all times, therefore, be furnished with the materials of their work, or the means of purchasing them; and with subsistence while the piece is under their hands. To transact in this manner with each particular weaver, to watch him that he may not sell the fabric which his employer has enabled him to produce, and to provide a large supply, is a work of infinite detail, and gives employment to a multitude of agents. The European functionary, who, in each district, is the head of as much business as it is supposed that he can superintend, has first his banyan, or native secretary, through whom the whole of the business is conducted: The banyan hires a species of broker, called a gomastah, at so much a month: The gomastah repairs to the aurung, or manufacturing town, which is assigned as his station; and there fixes upon a habitation, which he calls his cutchery: He is provided with a sufficient number of peons, a sort of armed servants; and hircarahs, messengers or letter carriers, by his employer: These he immediately dispatches about the place, to summon to him the dallâls, pycârs and weavers: The dallâls and pycârs are two sets of brokers; of whom the pycârs are the lowest, transacting the business of detail with the weavers; the dallâls again transact with the pycârs; the gomastah transacts with the dallâls, the banyan with the gomastah, and the Company’s European servant with the banyan. The Company’s servant is thus five removes from the workman; and it may easily be supposed that much collusion and trick, that much of fraud towards the Company, and much of oppression towards the weaver, is the consequence of the obscurity which so much complication implies.1 Besides [14] his banyan, there is attached to the European agent a mohurree, or clerk, and a cash-keeper, with a sufficient allowance of peons and hircarahs. Along with the gomastah is dispatched in the first instance as much money as suffices for the first advance to the weaver, that is, suffices to purchase the materials, and to afford him subsistence during part at least of the time in which he is engaged with the work. The cloth, when made, is collected in a warehouse, adapted for the purpose, and called a kattah. Each piece is marked with the weaver’s name; and when the whole is finished, or when it is convenient for the gomastah, he holds a kattah, as the business is called, when each piece is examined, the price fixed, and the money due upon it paid to the weaver. This last is the stage at which chiefly the injustice to the workman is said to take place; as he is then obliged to content himself with fifteen or twenty, and often thirty or forty per cent. less than his work would fetch in the market. This is a species of traffic which could not exist but where the rulers of the country were favourable to the dealer; as every thing, however, which increased the productive powers of the labourers added directly in India to the income of the rulers, their protection was but seldom denied.

The business of India was at this time under the government of three Presidencies, one at Bombay, another at Madras, and a third at Calcutta
, of which [15] the last had been created so lately as the year 1707, the business at Calcutta having, till that time, been conducted under the government of the Presidency of Madras. These Presidencies had as yet no dependance upon one another; each was absolute within its own limits, and responsible only to the Company in England. A Presidency was composed of a President or Governor, and a Council; both appointed by commission of the Company. The council was not any fixed number, but determined by the views of the Directors; being sometimes nine, and sometimes twelve, according to the presumed importance or extent of the business to be performed. The Members of the Council were the superior servants in the civil or non-military class, promoted according to the rule of seniority, unless where directions from home prescribed aberration. All power was lodged in the President and Council jointly; nor could any thing be transacted, except by a majority of votes. When any man became a ruler, he was not however debarred from subordinate functions; and the members of council, by natural consequence, distributed all the most lucrative offices among themselves. Of the offices which any man held, that which was the chief source of his gain failed not to be the chief object of his attention; and the business of the Council, the duties of governing, did not, in general, engross the greatest part of the study and care of a Member of Council. It seldom, if ever, happened, that less or more of the Members of Council were not appointed as chiefs of the more important factories under the Presidency, and, by their absence, were not disqualified for assisting in the deliberations of the governing body. The irresistible motive, thus afforded to the persons entrusted with the government, to neglect the business of government, occupied a high rank among [16] the causes to which the defects at that time in the management of the Company’s affairs in India may, doubtless, be ascribed. Notwithstanding the equality assigned to the votes of all the Members of the Council, the influence of the President was commonly sufficient to make the decisions agreeable to his inclination. The appointment of the Members to the gainful offices after which they aspired, was in a considerable degree subject to his determination; while he had it in his power to make the situation even of a member of the Council so uneasy to him, that his continuance in the service ceased to be an object of desire. Under the notion of supporting authority, the Company always lent an unwilling ear to complaints brought by a subordinate against his superior; and in the case of councilmen, disposed to complain, it seldom happened, that of the transactions in which they themselves had been concerned, a portion was not unfit to be revealed.

The powers exercised by the Governor or President and Council, were, in the first place, those of masters in regard to servants over all the persons who were in the employment of the Company; and as the Company were the sole master, without fellow or competitor, and those under them had adopted their service as the business of their lives, the power of the master, in reality, and in the majority of cases, extended to almost every thing valuable to man. With regard to such of their countrymen, as were not in their service, the Company were armed with powers to seize them, to keep them in confinement, and send them to England, an extent of authority which amounted to confiscation of goods, to imprisonment, and what to a European constitution is the natural effect of any long confinement under an Indian climate, actual death. At an early period of the Company’s history, it [17] had been deemed necessary to intrust them with the powers of martial law, for the government of the troops which they maintained in defence of their factories and presidencies; and by a charter of Charles II., granted them in 1661, the Presidents and Councils in their factories were empowered to exercise civil and criminal jurisdiction according to the laws of England. Under this sanction they had exercised judicial powers, during all the changes which their affairs had undergone; but at last it appeared desirable that so important an article of their authority should rest on a better foundation. In the year 1726 a charter was granted, by which the Company were permitted to establish a Mayor’s Court at each of their three presidencies, Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta; consisting of a mayor and nine aldermen, empowered to decide in civil cases of all descriptions. From this jurisdiction, the President and Council were erected into a Court of Appeal. They were also vested with the power of holding Courts of Quarter Sessions for the exercise of penal judicature, in all cases, excepting those of high treason. And a Court of Requests, or Court of Conscience, was instituted, for the decision, by summary procedure, of pecuniary questions of inconsiderable amount.

This reform in the judicature of India was not attended with all the beneficial effects which were probably expected from it. Negligence was left to corrupt the business of detail. The charter is said to have been procured by the influence of an individual, for the extension of his own authority; and when his ends were gained, his solicitude expired. The persons appointed to fill the judicial offices were the servants of the Company, bred to commerce, and nursed in its details: while a manuscript book of instructions comprised the whole of the assistance which the wisdom [18] of the King and the Company provided to guide uninstructed men in the administration of justice.

Nor was the obscurity of the English law, and the inexperience of the judges, the only source of the many evils which the new arrangements continued, or produced. Jealousy arose between the Councils, and the Mayor’s Courts. The Councils complained that the Courts encroached upon their authority; and the Courts complained that they were oppressed by the Councils. The most violent dissensions often prevailed; and many of the members of the Mayor’s Courts quitted the service, and went home with their animosities and complaints.

Besides the above-mentioned tribunals established by the Company for the administration of the British laws to the British people in India, they erected, in the capacity of Zemindar of the district around Calcutta, the usual Zemindary Courts, for the administration of the Indian laws to the Indian people. The Phousdary Court for the trial of crimes; and the Cutcherry for civil causes; besides the Collector’s Court for matters of revenue. The judges, in these tribunals, were servants of the Company, appointed by the Governor and Council, and holding their offices during pleasure; the rule of judgment was the supposed usage of the country, and the discretion of the court; and the mode of procedure was summary. Punishments extended to fine; imprisonment; labour upon the roads in chains for a limited time, or for life; and flagellation, either to a limited degree, or death. The ideas of honour, prevalent among the natives, induced the Mogul government to forbid the European mode of capital punishment, by hanging, in the case of a Mussulman. In compensation, however, it had no objection to his being whipped to death; and the flagellants in India are said to be so [19] dexterous, as to kill a man with a few strokes of the chawbuck.1

The executive and judicial functions were combined in the Councils, at the Indian presidencies; the powers even of justices of the peace being granted to the Members of Council, and to them alone. If complaints were not wanting of the oppression by these authorities upon their fellow-servants; it is abundantly evident that the Company were judge in their own cause in all cases in which the dispute existed between them and any other party.


The President was Commander-in-Chief of the Military Force maintained within his presidency. It consisted, partly of the recruits sent out in the ships of the Company; partly of deserters from the other European nations settled in India, French, Dutch, and Portuguese; and partly, at least at Bombay and Surat, of Topasses, or persons whom we may denominate Indo-Portuguese, either the mixed produce of Portuguese and Indian parents, or converts to the Portuguese, from the Indian, faith. These were troops disciplined and uniformed; besides whom, the natives were already, to a small extent, employed by the Company in military service, and called Sepoys, from the Indian term Sipahi, equivalent to soldier. They were made to use the musket, but remained chiefly armed in the fashion of the country, with sword and target; they wore the Indian dress, the turban, cabay or vest, and long drawers; and were provided with native officers according to the custom of the country; but ultimately all under English command. It had not as yet been attempted to train them to the European discipline, in which it was [20] possible to render them so expert and steady; but considerable service was derived from them; and under the conduct of European leaders they were found capable of facing danger with great constancy and firmness. What at this time was the average number at each presidency, is not particularly stated. It is mentioned, that at the time when the presidency was established at Calcutta in 1707, an effort was made to augment the garrison to 300 men.

The President was the organ of correspondence, by letter, or otherwise, with the country powers. It rested with him to communicate to the Council the account of what he thus transacted, at any time, and in any form, which he deemed expedient; and from this no slight accession to his power was derived.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:41 am

Part 2 of 3

The several denominations of the Company’s servants in India were, writers, factors, junior merchants, and senior merchants: the business of the writers, as the term, in some degree, imports, was that of clerking, with the inferior details of commerce; and when dominion succeeded, of government. In the capacity of writers they remained during five years. The first promotion was to the rank of factor; the next to that of junior merchant; in each of which the period of service was three years. After this extent of service, they became senior merchants. And out of the class of senior merchants were taken by seniority the members of the Council, and when no particular appointment interfered, even the presidents themselves.1

Shortly after the first great era, in the history of the British commerce with India, the nation was delivered from the destructive burthen of the long war with France which preceded the treaty of Utrecht: [21] And though the accession of a new family to the throne, and the resentments which one party of statesmen had to gratify against another, kept the minds of men for a time in a feverish anxiety, not the most favourable to the persevering studies and pursuits on which the triumphs of industry depend, the commerce and wealth of the nation-made rapid advances. The town of Liverpool, which was not formed into a separate parish till 1699, so rapidly increased, that in 1715 a new parish, with a church, was erected; and it doubled its size between 1690 and 1726. The town of Manchester increased in a similar proportion; and was computed in 1727 to contain no less than 50,000 inhabitants: the manufactures of Birmingham, which thirty years before was little more than a village, are stated as giving maintenance at that time to upwards of 30,000 individuals.1 In 1719, a patent was granted to Sir Thomas Lombe, for his machine for throwing silk, one of the first of those noble efforts of invention and enterprise which have raised this country to unrivalled eminence in the useful arts. The novelty and powers of this machine, the model of which he is said to have stolen from the Piedmontese, into whose manufactories he introduced himself in the guise of a common workman, excited the highest admiration; and its parts and performances are described to us by the historians of the time with curious exactness; 26,586 wheels, 97,746 movements, which worked 73,726 yards of organzine silk by every revolution of the water-wheel, 318,504,960 yards in one day and a night; a single water-wheel giving motion to the whole machine, of which any separate movement might be stopped without obstructing the rest; and [22] one fire communicating warmth by heated air to every part of the manufactory, not less than the eighth part of a mile in length.1 London was increased by several new parishes. And from the year 1708 to the year 1730, the imports of Great Britain, according to the valuation of the custom-house, had increased from 4,698,663l. to 7,780,019l.; the exports from 6,969,089l. to 11,974,135l.2

During this period of national prosperity, the imports of the East India Company rose from 493,257l., the importation of 1708, to 1,059,759l. the importation of 1730. But the other, and not the least important, the export branch of the Company’s trade, exhibited another result: As the exportation of the year 1708 was exceedingly small, compared with that of 1709 and the following years, it is fair to take an average of four years from 1706 to 1709 (two with a small, two an increased exportation), producing 105,773l.: The exportation of the year 1730 was 135,484l.; while that of 1709 was 168,357l.; that of 1710, 126,310l.; that of 1711, 151,874l.; and that of 1712, 142,329l.

With regard to the rate of profit, during this period, or the real advantage of the Indian trade, the Company, for part of the year 1708, divided at the rate of five per cent. per annum to the proprietors upon 3,163,200l. of capital; for the next year, eight per cent.; for the two following years, nine per cent.; and thence to the year 1716, ten per cent. per annum. In the year 1717, they paid dividends on a capital of 3,194,080l., at the same rate of ten per cent. per annum, and so on till the year 1723. That year the dividend was reduced to eight per cent. per [23] annum, at which rate it continued till the year 1732.1

In the year 1712, on the petition of the Company, the period of their exclusive trade was extended by act of parliament, from the year 1726, to which by the last regulation it stood confined, to the year 1733, with the usual allowance of three years for notice, should their privileges be withdrawn.2

In the year 1716, they obtained a proclamation against interlopers. Their complaints, it seems, were occasioned by the enterprises of British subjects, trading to India under foreign commissions. As this proclamation answered not the wishes of the Company, nor deterred their countrymen from seeking the gains of Indian traffic, even through all the disadvantages which they incurred by entrusting their property to the protection of foreign laws and the fidelity of foreign agents; they were able, in 1718, to procure an act of parliament for the punishment of all such competitors. British subjects, trading from foreign countries, and under the commission of a foreign government, were declared amenable to the laws for the protection of the Company’s rights; the Company were authorized to seize merchants of this description when found within their limits, and to send them to England, subject to a penalty of 500l. for each offence.3

The Company’s present alarm for their monopoly arose from the establishment for trading with India, which, under the authority of the Emperor, was formed at his port of Ostend. After the peace of Utrecht, which bestowed the Netherlands upon the house of Austria, the people of those provinces began to breathe from the distractions, the tyranny, and the wars which had so long wasted their fruitful country. Among other projects of improvement, a trade to India was fondly embraced. Two ships, after long preparations, sailed from Ostend in the year 1717, under the passports of the Emperor; and several more soon followed their example. The India Companies of Holland and England were in the highest degree alarmed; and easily communicated their fears and agitations to their respective governments. These governments not only expostulated, and to the highest degree of importunity, with the Emperor himself; but, amid the important negotiations of that diplomatic period, hardly any interest was more earnestly contended for in the discussions at the courts both of Paris and Madrid.1 The Dutch captured some of the Ostend East India ships: The Emperor, who dreamed of an inundation of wealth from Indian trade, persevered in his purpose; and granted his commission of reprisal to the merchants of Ostend. In the beginning of 1720, they sent no fewer than six vessels to India, and as many the year that followed. The English East India Company pressed the Government with renewed terrors and complaints. They asserted that, not only the capital, with which the trade was carried on, was to a great degree furnished by British subjects, but the trade and navigation were conducted by men who had been bred up in the trade and navigation of the British Company: They procured, in 1721, another act of parliament, enforcing the penalties already enacted; and as this also failed in producing the intended effects, another act was passed in the spring of 1723; prohibiting foreign adventures to India, under the penalty of triple the sum embarked; declaring all British subjects found in India, and not in the service, or under the licence of the East India Company, guilty of a high misdemeanour; and empowering the Company to seize, and send them home for punishment.1 The Emperor had been importuned, by the adventurers of Ostend, for a charter to make them an exclusive company; but, under the notion of saving appearances in some little degree with England and Holland, or the maritime powers, as they were called in the diplomatic language of the day, he had induced them to trade under passports as individuals. In the month of August, however, of 1723, the charter was granted; in less than twenty-four hours the subscription books of the Company were filled up; and in less than a month the shares were sold at a premium of fifteen per cent. Notwithstanding the virulent opposition of all the other nations, already engaged in the Indian trade, the Ostend Company experienced the greatest success. At a meeting of Proprietors, in 1726, the remaining instalment on the subscriptions, equal to a dividend of thirty-three and one-third per cent., was paid up from the gains of the trade. But by this time political difficulties pressed upon the Emperor. He was abandoned by his only ally, the King of Spain, and opposed by a triple alliance of France, England, and Holland. To give satisfaction to this potent confederacy, and to obtain their support to the pragmatic sanction, or the guarantee of his dominions to his daughter and only child, he submitted to sacrifice the Ostend Company. To save appearances, and consult the imperial dignity, nothing was stipulated in words, except that the business of the Ostend Company should be suspended for seven years; but all men understood that, in this case, suspension and extinction were the same.

By the act of 7 Geo. I. c. 5, the Company were authorized to borrow money on their common seal, to the amount of the sums lent by them to government, if not beyond the sum of five millions sterling in the whole. They were permitted, however, to borrow solely for the purposes of their trade. They were expressly interdicted from receiving moneys in any of the capacities of a banker; and for that purpose several restrictive clauses were inserted in the act; they were not to borrow any sums payable on demand, or at a shorter date than six months; they were not to discount any bills; or to keep books or cash for any persons sole or corporate, or otherwise than for the real business of the Company.1

When the Company commenced operations in India, upon the new foundation on which their affairs were placed by the grand arrangements in 1708, Shah Aulum, successor of Aurungzebe, was Emperor of the Moguls. His second son Azeem Ooshaun had been appointed Viceroy of Bengal before the death of Aurungzebe, and having bent his chief attention to the amassing of a treasure, against the impending contest between the competitors for the throne, he accepted the bribes of the company, and granted them proportional privileges. Under his authority they had purchased, in 1698, the Zemindarship of the three towns of Sutanutty, Calcutta, and Govindpore, with their districts. When Azeem Ooshaun left Bengal to assist his father, in the war which ensued upon the death of Aurungzebe, he left his son Feroksere his deputy. In 1712 Shah Aulum died; Azeem Ooshaun lost his life in the struggle for the succession; and Feroksere, by the help of two able chiefs, the Syed brothers, gained the throne. The government of Bengal now devolved upon Jaffier Khan, and the company experienced a change. This chief, of Tartar extraction, was born at Boorhanpore, in Deccan, and rose to eminence in the latter part of the reign of Aurungzebe, by whom he had been appointed duan (or controller of the revenues) of Bengal. It would appear that he was nominated, by Shah Aulum, to the viceroyalty of Bengal, shortly after his accession to the throne; but it is probable that, during the short reign of that prince, the appointment never took place; as, at the time of his death, Feroksere was in possession of the province. Upon the departure, however, of Feroksere to ascend the imperial throne, Jaffier Khan was invested with entire authority, as subahdar of Bengal; and the English Company, along with his other subjects, began speedily to feel the effects of his severe and oppressive administration.1

In 1713, the first year of the reign of Feroksere, the Presidency of Calcutta applied to the Company at home for leave to send an embassy, with a handsome present, to the Mogul durbar, in hopes of obtaining greater protection and privileges. Two of the Company’s factors, under the direction of an Armenian merchant, named Serhaud, set out for Delhi; and the Emperor, who had received the most magnificent account of the presents of which they were the bearers, ordered them to be escorted by the governors of the provinces through which they were to pass.

They arrived at the capital on the eighth of July, 1715, after a journey of three months; and, in pursuance of the advice which had been received at Calcutta, applied themselves to gain the protection of Khan Dowran,1 a nobleman in favour with the Emperor, and in the interest of Emir Jumla. Whatever was promoted by the interest of Emir Jumla was opposed by that of the vizir. The influence also of Jaffier Khan was exerted to defeat an application, which tended to abridge his authority, and impeach his government. The embassy and costly present of the Company were doomed to imperial neglect, had not an accident, over which they had no control, and the virtue of a public-spirited man, who preferred their interest to his own, opened an avenue to the grace of Feroksere. The intemperance of that prince had communicated to him a secret disease, from which the luxury of the harem does not always exempt: Under the unskilful treatment of Indian physicians the disorder lingered; and the Emperor’s impatience was augmented, by the delay which it imposed upon the celebration of his marriage with the daughter of the Rajah of Judpore. A medical gentleman of the name of Hamilton accompanied the embassy of the English Company: The Emperor was advised to make trial of his skill: A cure was the speedy consequence: The Emperor commanded his benefactor to name his own reward: And the generous Hamilton solicited privileges for the Company.2 The festival of the marriage, however, ensued; during which it would not have been decorous to importune with business the imperial mind: and six months elapsed before the ambassadors could present their petition. It was delivered in January, 1716; and prayed, “that the cargoes of English ships, wrecked on the Mogul’s coast, should be protected from plunder; that a fixed sum should be received at Surat in lieu of all duties; that three villages, contiguous to Madras, which had been granted and again resumed by the government of Arcot, should be restored in perpetuity; that the island of Diu, near the port of Masulipatam, should be given to the Company, for an annual rent; that all persons in Bengal, who might be indebted to the Company, should be delivered up to the presidency on the first demand; that a passport (dustuck, in the language of the country), signed by the President of Calcutta, should exempt the goods which it specified from stoppage or examination by the officers of the Bengal government; and that the Company should be permitted to purchase the Zemindarship of thirty-seven towns, in the same manner as they had been authorised by Azeem Ooshaun to purchase Calcutta, Sutta-nutty, and Govindpore.” The power of the vizir could defeat the grants of the Emperor, himself; and he disputed the principal articles. Repeated applications were made to the Emperor, and at last the vizir gave way; when mandates were issued confirming all the privileges for which the petition had prayed. To the disappointment, however, and grief of the ambassadors, the mandates were not under the seals of the Emperor, but only those of the vizir, the authority of which the distant viceroys would be sure to dispute. It was resolved to remonstrate, how delicate soever the ground on which they must tread; and to solicit mandates to which the highest authority should be attached. It was now the month of April, 1716, when the Emperor, at the head of an expedition against the Seiks, began his march towards Lahore. No choice remained but to follow the camp. The campaign was tedious: It heightened the dissensions between the favourites of the Emperor and the vizir; the ambassadors found their difficulties increased; and contemplated a long, and probably a fruitless negotiation, when they were advised to bribe a favourite eunuch in the seraglio. No sooner was the money paid, than the vizir himself appeared eager to accomplish their designs, and the patents were issued under the highest authority. There was a secret, of which the eunuch had made his advantage. The factory at Surat, having lately been oppressed by the Mogul governor and officers, had been withdrawn by the Presidency of Bombay, as not worth maintaining. It was recollected by the Moguls, that in consequence of oppression the factory at Surat had once before been withdrawn; immediately after which an English fleet had appeared; had swept the sea of Mogul ships, and inflicted a deep wound upon the Mogul treasury. A similar visitation was now regarded as a certain consequence; and, as many valuable ships of the Moguls were at sea, the event was deprecated with proportional ardour. This intelligence was transmitted to the eunuch, by his friend the viceroy of Guzerat. The eunuch knew what effect it would produce upon the mind of the vizir; obtained his bribe from the English; and then communicated to the vizir the expectation prevalent in Guzerat of a hostile visit from an English fleet. The vizir hastened to prevent such a calamity, by granting satisfaction. The patents were dispatched; and the ambassadors took leave of the Emperor in the month of July, 1717, two years after their arrival.

The mandates in favour of the Company produced their full effect in Guzerat and Deccan; but in Bengal, where the most important privileges were conceded, the subahdar, or nabob as he was called by the English, had power to impede their operation. The thirty-seven towns which the Company had obtained leave to purchase, would have given them a district extending ten miles from Calcutta on each side of the river Hoogley; where a number of weavers, subject to their own jurisdiction, might have been established. The viceroy ventured not directly to oppose the operation of an imperial mandate, but his authority was sufficient to deter the holders of the land from disposing of it to the Company; and the most important of the advantages aimed at by the embassy was thus prevented. The nabob, however, disputed not the authority of the President’s dustucks; a species of passports which entitled the merchandise to pass free from duty, stoppage, or inspection; and this immunity, from which the other European traders were excluded, promoted the vent of the Company’s goods.1


The trade of the Company’s servants occasioned another dispute. Beside the business which the factors and agents of the Company were engaged to perform on the Company’s account, they had been allowed to carry on an independent traffic of their own, for their own profit. Every man had in this manner a double occupation and pursuit; one for the benefit of the Company, and one for the benefit of himself. Either the inattention of the feebly interested Directors of a common concern had overlooked the premium for neglecting that concern which was thus bestowed upon the individuals entrusted with it in India: Or the shortness of their foresight made them count this neglect a smaller evil, than the additional salaries which their servants, if debarred from other sources of emolument, would probably require. The President of Calcutta granted his dustucks for protecting from the duties and taxes of the native government, not only the goods of the Company, but also the goods of the Company’s servants; and possibly the officers of that government were too little acquainted with the internal affairs of their English visitants to remark the distinction. The Company had appropriated to themselves, in all its branches, the trade between India and the mother country. Their servants were thus confined to what was called the country trade, or that from one part of India to another. This consisted of two branches, maritime, and inland; either that which was carried on by ships from one port of India to another, and from the ports of India to the other countries in the adjacent seas; or that which was carried on by land between one town or province and another. When the dustucks of the President, therefore, were granted to the Company’s servants, they were often granted to protect from duties, commodities, the produce of the kingdom itself, in their passage by land from one district or province to another. This, Jaffier Khan, the viceroy, declared it his determination to prevent; as a practice at once destructive of his revenue, and ruinous to the native traders, on whom heavy duties were opposed: And he commanded the dustucks of the President to receive no respect, except for goods, either imported by sea, or purchased for exportation. The Company remonstrated, but in vain. Nor were the pretensions of their servants exempt from unpleasant consequences; as the pretext of examining whether the goods were really imported by sea, or really meant for exportation, often produced those interferences of the officers of revenue, from which it was so great a privilege to be saved. Interrupted and disturbed in their endeavours to grasp the inland trade, the Company’s servants directed their ardour to the maritime branch; and their superior skill soon induced the merchants of the province, Moors, Armenians, and Hindus, to freight most of the goods, which they exported, on English bottoms. Within ten years, from the period of the embassy, the shipping of the port of Calcutta increased to 10,000 tons.

The year 1730 was distinguished by transactions of considerable moment in the history of the Company. In England, a new sovereign had but lately ascended the throne; an active and powerful Opposition made a greater use of the press, and more employed the public mind as a power in the state, than any party which had gone before them; success rendered the trading interest enterprising and highminded; intellect was becoming every day more enlightened, more penetrating, more independent; and experience testified the advantages of freedom in all the departments of trade.

Though the gains of the East India Company, had they been exactly known, would not have presented an object greatly calculated to inflame mercantile cupidity; yet the riches of India were celebrated as proverbially great; the boastings of the Company, in the representations they had made of the benefit derived to the nation from trading with [34] India, had confirmed the popular prejudice; and a general opinion seems to have prevailed, that the British subjects at large ought to be no longer debarred from enriching themselves in the trade which was invidiously, and, it seemed, imprudently, reserved for the East India Company.

Three years were still unexpired of the period of the Company’s exclusive charter: yet the plans of those who desired a total alteration in the scheme of the trade were moulded into form, and a petition, grounded upon them, was presented to the legislature so early as February, 1730.

As the payment of 3,200,000l. which the Company had advanced to government at an interest of five per cent. was a condition preliminary to the abolition of their exclusive privileges, the petitioners offered to lend to government an equal sum on far more favourable terms. They proposed to advance the money in five instalments, the last at Lady-day in 1733, the date of the expiration of the Company’s charter; requiring, till that period, interest on the money paid at the rate of four per cent., but offering to accept of two per cent. for the whole sum, from that time forward: Whence, they observed, a saving would accrue to the public of 92,000l. per annum, worth, at twenty-five years’ purchase, 2,500,000l.1

For the more profitable management of this branch of the national affairs, the following was the scheme which they proposed. They would constitute the subscribers to this original fund a company, for the purpose of opening the trade, in its most favourable shape, to the whole body of their countrymen. It [35] was not intended that the Company should trade upon a joint stock, and in their corporate capacity; but that every man in the nation, who pleased, should trade in the way of private adventure. The Company were to have the charge of erecting and maintaining the forts and establishments abroad; and for this, and for other expenses, attending what was called “the enlargement and preservation of the trade,” it was proposed that they should receive a duty of one per cent. upon all exports to India, and of five per cent. on all imports from it. For ensuring obedience to this and other regulations, it should be made lawful to trade to India only under the licence of the Company. And it was proposed that thirtyone years, with three years’ notice, should be granted as the duration of the peculiar privileges.

It appears from this account, that the end which was proposed to be answered, by incorporating such a company, was the preservation and erection of the forts, buildings, and other fixed establishments, required for the trade in India. This was its only use, or intent; for the business of trading, resigned to private hands, was to be carried on by the individuals of the nation at large. And, if it were true, as it has been always maintained, that for the trade of India, forts and factories are requisite, of such a nature as no individual, or precarious combination of individuals, is competent to provide, this project offers peculiar claims to consideration and respect. It promised to supply that demand which has always been held forth, as peculiar to Indian trade, as the grand exigency which, distinguishing the traffic with India from all other branches of trade, rendered monopoly advantageous in that peculiar case, how much soever proved to be injurious in others. While it provided for this real or pretended want, it left the trade open [36] to all the advantages of private enterprise, private vigilance, private skill, and private economy; the virtues by which individuals thrive, and nations prosper: And it afforded an interest to the proposed Company in the careful discharge of its duty; as its profits were to increase in exact proportion with the increase of the trade, and of course, with the facilities and accommodation by which the trade was promoted.

As no trade was to be carried on by the Company, the source, whence dividends to the proprietors would arise, was the interest to be received from government, and the duties upon the exports and imports: And as the territorial and other duties belonging to the forts and establishments in India were deemed sufficient to defray the expense of those establishments, this source was described as competent to yield an annual return of five or six per cent. upon the capital advanced. Under absence of risk, and the low rate of interest at the time, this was deemed a sufficient inducement to subscribe. Had the pernicious example, of lending the stock of trading companies to government, been rejected, a very small capital would have sufficed to fulfil the engagements of such a company; and either the gains upon it would have been uncommonly high, or the rate of duties upon the trade might have been greatly reduced.

The friends of this proposition urged; that, as the change which had taken place in the African trade, from monopoly to freedom, was allowed to have produced great national advantages, it was not to be disputed, that a similar change in the Indian trade would be attended with benefits so much the greater, as the trade was more valuable; that it would produce a larger exportation of our own produce and manufactures to India, and create employment for a [37] much greater number of ships and seamen; that it would greatly reduce the price of all Indian commodities to the people at home; that it would enable the nation to supply foreign markets with Indian commodities at a cheaper rate, and, by consequence, to a larger amount; that new channels of traffic would thence be opened, in Asia and America, as well as in Europe; that a free trade to India would increase the produce of the customs and excise, and “thereby lessen the national debt;” that it would introduce a much more extensive employment of British shipping from one part of India to another, from which great profit would arise; and that it would prevent the nation from being deprived of the resources of those who, for want of permission or opportunity at home, were driven to employ their skill and capital in the Indian trade of other countries.

The attention of the nation seems to have been highly excited. Three petitions were presented to the House of Commons, from the merchants, traders, &c. of the three chief places of foreign trade in England, London, Bristol, and Liverpool, in behalf of themselves and all other his Majesty’s subjects, praying, that the trade to India might be laid open to the nation at large, and that they might be heard by their counsel at the bar of the House. The press, too, yielded a variety of productions, which compared with one another the systems of monopoly and freedom, and showed, or pretended to show, the preference due to the last. Though competition might appear to reduce the gains of individuals, it would, by its exploring sagacity, its vigilance, address, and economy, even with an equal capital, undoubtedly increase the mass of business, in other words, the annual produce, that is to say, the riches and prosperity of the country: The superior economy, the superior [38] dispatch, the superior intelligence and skill of private adventure, while they enable the dealers to traffic on cheaper terms, were found by experience to yield a profit on the capital employed, not inferior to what was yielded by monopoly; by the business, for example, of the East India Company, whose dividends exceeded not eight per cent.: Whatever was gained by the monopolizing company, in the high prices at which it was enabled to sell, or the low prices at which it was enabled to buy, was all lost by its dilatory, negligent, and wasteful management: This was not production, but the reverse; it was not enriching a nation, but preventing its being enriched.1

The Company manifested their usual ardour in defence of the monopoly. They magnified the importance of the trade; and asked if it was wise to risk the loss of known advantages, of the greatest magnitude, in pursuit of others which were only supposed: they alledged that it was envy which stimulated the exertions of their opponents; coveting the gains of the Company, but unable to produce any instance of misconduct, without going forty years back for the materials of their interested accusations: The Company employed an immense stock in trade, their sales amounting to about three millions yearly: The customs, about 300,000l. per annum, for the service of government, ought not to be sacrificed for less than a certainty of an equal supply: And the maintenance of the forts and factories cost 300,000l. a year. Where, they asked, was the security that an open trade, subject to all the fluctuation of individual fancy, one year liable to be great, another to [39] be small, would afford regularly an annual revenue of 600,000l. for customs and forts? By the competition of so many buyers in India, and of so many sellers in Europe, the goods would be so much enhanced in price in the one place, and so much reduced in the other, that all profit would be destroyed, and the competitors, as had happened in the case of the rival companies, would end with a scene of general ruin.

Under the increased experience of succeeding times, and the progress of the science of national wealth, the arguments of the Company’s opponents have gained, those of the Company have lost, a portion of strength. To exaggerate the importance of the Indian trade; and because it is important, assume that the monopoly ought to remain, is merely to say, that when a thing is important, it ought never to be improved; in things of no moment society may be allowed to make progress; in things of magnitude that progress ought ever to be strenuously and unbendingly opposed. This argument is, unhappily, not confined to the use of the East India Company. Whoever has attentively traced the progress of government, will find that it has been employed by the enemies of improvement, at every stage; and only in so far as it has been disregarded and contemned, has the condition of man ascended above the miseries of savage life. Instead of the maxim, A thing is important, therefore it ought not to be improved; reason would doubtless suggest, that the more any thing is important, the more its improvement should be studied and pursued. When a thing is of small importance, a small inconvenience may suffice to dissuade the pursuit of its improvement. When it is of great importance, a great inconvenience alone can be allowed to produce that unhappy [40] effect. If it be said, that where much is enjoyed, care should be taken to avoid its loss; this is merely to say that men ought to be prudent; which is very true, but surely authorizes no such inference, as that improvement, in matters of importance, should be always opposed.

The Company quitted the argument, to criminate the arguers: The objections to the monopoly were the impure and odious offspring of avaricious envy. But, if the monopoly, as the opponents said, was a bad thing, and free trade a good thing; from whatever motive they spoke, the good thing was to be adopted, the evil to be shunned. The question of their motives was one thing; the truth or falsehood of their positions another. When truth is spoken from a bad motive, it is no less truth; nor is it less entitled to its command over human action, than when it is spoken from the finest motive which can enter the human breast; if otherwise, an ill-designing man would enjoy the wonderful power, by recommending a good course of action, to render a bad one obligatory upon the human race.

If, as they argued, the East India Company had a large stock in trade, that was no reason why the monopoly should remain. The capital of the mercantile body of Great Britain was much greater than the capital of the East India Company, and of that capital, whatever proportion could find a more profitable employment in the Indian trade, than in any other branch of the national industry, the Indian trade would be sure to receive.
With regard to the annual expense of the forts and factories, it was asserted by the opponents of the Company; and, as far as appears, without contradiction, that they defrayed their own expense, and supported themselves.

As to the customs paid by the East India Company; all trade paid customs, and if the Indian trade increased under the system of freedom, it would pay a greater amount of customs than it paid before; if it decreased, the capital now employed in it would seek another destination, and pay customs and taxes in the second channel as well as the first. To lay stress upon the customs paid by the Company, unless to take advantage of the gross ignorance of a minister, or of a parliment, was absurd.

The argument, that the competition of free trade, would make the merchants buy so dear in India, and sell so cheap in England, as to ruin themselves, however depended upon, was contradicted by experience. What hindered this effect, in trading with France, in trading with Holland, or any other country? Or what hindered it in every branch of business within the kingdom itself? If the two East India Companies ruined themselves by competition, why reason from a case, which bore no analogy whatsoever to the one under contemplation; while the cases which exactly corresponded, those of free trade, and boundless competition, led to a conclusion directly the reverse? If two East India Companies ruined one another, it was only an additional proof, that they were ineligible instruments of commerce. The ruin proceeded, not from the nature of competition, but the circumstances of the competitors. Where two corporate bodies contended against one another, and the ruin of the one left the field vacant to the other, their contention might very well be ruinous; because each might hope, that, by exhausting its antagonist in a competition of loss, it would deliver itself from its only rival. Where every merchant had not one, but a multitude of competitors, the hope was clearly vain of wearing all of them out by a contest of loss. Every [42] merchant therefore would deal on such terms alone, as allowed him the usual, or more than the usual rate of profit; and he would find it his interest to observe an obliging, rather than an hostile deportment towards others, that they might do the same toward him. As it is this principle which produces the harmony and prosperity of trade in all other cases in which freedom prevails, it remained to be shown why it would not produce them in the Indian trade.

The subject was introduced into parliament, and discussed. But the advocates for the freedom of the trade were there overruled, and those of monopoly triumphed.

In order to aid the parliament in coming to such a decision as the Company desired, and to counteract in some degree the impression likely to be made by the proposal of their antagonists to accept of two per cent. for the whole of the loan to government, they offered to reduce the interest from five to four per cent., and, as a premium for the renewal of their charter, to contribute a sum of 200,000l. to the public service. On these conditions it was enacted that the exclusive privileges should be prolonged to Lady Day in the year 1766, with the usual addition of three years’ notice, and a proviso that nothing in this arrangement should be construed to limit their power of continuing a body corporate, and of trading to India on their joint stock with other of their fellow subjects, even after their exclusive privileges should expire.1

On the ground on which the affairs of the East [43] India Company were now established, they remained till the year 1744. From 1730 to that year, the trade of the Company underwent but little variation. Of goods exported, the amount indeed was considerably increased; but as in this stores were included, and as the demand for stores, by the extension of forts, and increase of military apparatus, was augmented, the greater part of the increase of exports may be justly set down to this account. The official value of the goods imported had kept rather below a million annually; sometimes indeed exceeding that sum, but commonly the reverse, and some years to a considerable amount; with little or no progressive improvement from the beginning of the period to the end. The exports had increased from 135,484l., the exportation of the first year, to 476,274l., that of the last; and they had been still greater in the preceding year. But the greater part of the increase had taken place after the prospect of wars and the necessity of military preparations; when a great addition was demanded in the article of stores.1

In the year 1732, the Company first began to make up annual accounts; and from that period we have regular statements of the actual purchase of their exports, and the actual sale of their imports. In the year 1732, the sales of the Company amounted to 1,940,996l. In 1744, they amounted to 1,997,506l.; and in all the intermediate years were less. The quantity of goods and stores paid for in the year 1732 amounted to 105,230l.; the quantity paid for in 1744, to 231,318l. The quantity of bullion exported in 1732 was 393,377l.; the quantity exported in 1744 was 458,544l. The quantity then of goods exported was increased, and in some degree, also, that of bullion, while the quantity of goods imported remained [44] nearly the same. It follows, that the additional exportation, not having been employed in the additional purchase of goods, must have been not merchandize, but stores. It is to be observed, also, that in the amount of sales, as exhibited in the Company’s accounts, were included at this time the duties paid to government, stated at thirty per cent.; a deduction which brings the amount of the sales to nearly the official valuation of the imports at the custom-house.1

In 1732, the Company were obliged to reduce their dividends from eight to seven per cent. per annum; and at this rate they continued till 1744, in which year they returned to eight per cent.2 The Dutch East India Company, from 1730 to 1736, divided twenty-five per cent. per annum upon the capital stock; in 1736, twenty per cent.; for the next three years, fifteen per cent. per annum; for the next four, twelve and a half per annum; and in 1744, as much as fifteen per cent.3 The grand advantage of the English East India Company, in the peculiar privilege of having their trade exempted from duties in Bengal and in the other concessions obtained by their embassy to the court of the Mogul, had thus produced no improvement in the final result, the ultimate profits of the trade.

The Company seem to have been extremely anxious to avoid a renewal of the discussion on the utility or fitness of the monopoly, and, for that purpose, to forestal the excitement of the public attention by the approach to the conclusion of the privileged term. [45] At a moment accordingly when no one was prepared to oppose them; and in the middle of an expensive war, when the offer of any pecuniary facilities was a powerful bribe to the government, they made a proposal to lend to it the sum of one million, at an interest of three per cent. provided the period of their exclusive privileges should be prolonged to three years’ notice after Lady-day 1780. On these conditions, a new act was passed in 1744; and to enable the Company to make good their loan to government, they were authorized to borrow to the extent of a million on their bonds.1
On the death of the Emperor Charles VI. in the year 1740, a violent war, kindled by competition for the imperial throne, and for a share in the spoils of the house of Austria, had begun in Germany. In this contest, France and England, the latter involved by her Hanoverian interests, had both engaged as auxiliaries; and in the end had become nearly, or rather altogether principals. From 1739, England had been at war with Spain, a war intended to annul the right, claimed and exercised by the Spaniards, of searching English ships on the coast of America for contraband goods. England and France, though contending against one another, with no ordinary efforts, in a cause ostensibly not their own, abstained from hostilities directly on their own account, till 1744; when the two governments came to mutual declarations of war. And it was not long before the most distant settlements of the two nations felt the effects of their destructive contentions.
On the 14th2 of September, 1746, a French fleet [46] anchored four leagues to the south of Madras; and landed five or six hundred men. On the 15th the fleet moved along the coast, while the troops marched by land; and about noon it arrived within cannon-shot of the town. Labourdonnais, who commanded the expedition, then landed, with the rest of the troops. The whole force destined for the siege, consisted of 1000 or 1100. Europeans, 400 Sepoys, and 400 Caffres, or blacks of Madagascar, brought from the island of Mauritius: 1700 or 1800 men, all sorts included, remained in the ships.1
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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Part 3 of 3

Madras had, during the space of 100 years, been the principal settlement of the English on the Coromandel coast. The territory belonging to the Company extended five miles along the shore, and was about one mile in breadth. The town consisted of three divisions. The first, denominated the white town, in which resided none but the English, or Europeans under their protection, consisted of about fifty houses, together with the warehouses and other buildings of the Company, and two churches, one an English, the other a Roman Catholic church. This division was surrounded with a slender wall, defended with four bastions, and four batteries, but weak and badly constructed, decorated with the title of Fort St. George. Contiguous to it, on the north side, was the division in which resided the Armenian, and the richest of the Indian, merchants, larger, and still worse fortified than the former. And on the northern side of this division was a space, covered by the hovels of the country, in which the mass of the natives resided. These two divisions constituted what was called the black town. The English in this colony exceeded not 300 men, of whom 200 were the soldiers of the [47] garrison. The Indian Christians, converts or descendants of the Portuguese, amounted to three or four thousand; the rest were Armenians, Mahomedans, or Hindus, the last in by far the largest proportion; and the whole population of the Company’s territory amounted to about 250,000. With the exception of Goa and Batavia, Madras was, in point both of magnitude and riches, the most important of the European establishments in India.

The town sustained the bombardment for five days, when the inhabitants, expecting an assault, capitulated. They had endeavoured to save the place, by the offer of a ransom; but Labourdonnais coveted the glory of displaying French colours on the ramparts of fort St. George. He engaged however his honour to restore the settlement, and content himself with a moderate ransom; and on these terms he was received into the town. He had not lost so much as one man in the enterprise. Among the English four or five were killed by the explosion of the bombs, and two or three houses were destroyed. Labourdonnais protected the inhabitants, with the care of a man of virtue; but the magazines and warehouses of the Company, as public property, were taken possession of by the commissaries of the French.1

Labourdonnais, with the force under his command, had arrived in India in the month of June, 1746. At that time the settlements of France in the Indian seas were under two separate governments, analogous to the English Presidencies; one established at the Isle of France, the other at Pondicherry. Under the former of these governments were placed the two islands; the one called the isle of France, about sixty leagues in circumference; the other that of Bourbon, [48] of nearly the same dimensions. These islands, lying on the eastern side of Madagascar, between the nineteenth and twentieth degrees of latitude, were discovered by the Portuguese, and by them called Cerne, and Mascarhenas. In 1660 seven or eight Frenchmen settled on the island of Mascarhenas; five years afterwards they were joined by twentytwo of their countrymen; the remains of the French colony which was destroyed in Madagascar sought refuge in this island; and when it became an object of some importance, the French changed its name to the island of Bourbon. The island of Cerne was, at an early date, taken possession of by the Dutch, and by them denominated the island of Mauritius, in honour of their leader Maurice, Prince of Orange; but, after the formation of their establishment at the Cape of Good Hope, was abandoned as useless. The French, who were subject to great inconvenience by want of a good harbour on the island of Bourbon, took possession of it in 1720, and changed its name from the isle of Mauritius, to the isle of France. Both islands are fruitful, and produce the corn of Europe, along with most of the tropical productions. Some plants of coffee, accidentally introduced from Arabia, succeeded so well on the island of Bourbon, as to render that commodity the staple of the island.1

Pondicherry was the seat of the other Indian government of the French. It had under its jurisdiction the town and territory of Pondicherry; and three factories, or Comptoirs, one at Mahé, not far south from Tellicherry on the Malabar coast, one at Karical on one of the branches of the Coleroon on [49] the Coromandel coast, and one at Chandernagor on the river Hoogley in Bengal.1

The form of the government at both places was the same. It consisted, like the English, the form of which was borrowed from the Dutch, of a Governor, and a Council; the Governor being President of the Council, and allowed, according to the genius of the government in the mother country, to engross from the Council a greater share of power than in the colonies of the English and the Dutch. The peculiar business of the Governor and Council was, to direct, in conformity with instructions from home, all persons in the employment of the Company; to regulate the expenditure, and take care of the receipts; to administer justice, and in general to watch over the whole economy of the establishment. Each of the islands had a Council of its own; but one Governor sufficed for both.2

In 1745 Labourdonnais was appointed Governor of the islands. This was a remarkable man. He was born at St. Malo, in 1699; and was entered on board a ship bound for the South Sea at the age of ten. In 1713 he made a voyage to the East Indies, and the Philippine islands; and availed himself of the presence of a Jesuit, who was a passenger in the ship, to acquire a knowledge of the mathematics. After performing several voyages to other parts of the world, he entered for the first time, in 1719, into the service of the East India Company, as second lieutenant of a vessel bound to Surat. He sailed again to India, as first lieutenant in 1723; and a third time, as second captain in 1724. In every voyage he found opportunity to distinguish himself by some [50] remarkable action; and during the last he acquired, from another passenger, an officer of engineers, a knowledge of the principles of fortification and tactics. He now resolved to remain in India, and to navigate a vessel on his own account. He is said to have been the first Frenchman who embarked in what is called the country trade; in which he conducted himself with so much skill, as to realize in a few years a considerable fortune. The force of his mind procured him an ascendancy wherever its influence was exerted: A violent quarrel was excited between some Arabian and Portuguese ships in the harbour of Mocca, and blood was about to be shed, when Labourdonnais interposed, and terminated the dispute to the satisfaction of the parties. So far did his services on this occasion recommend him to the Viceroy of Goa, that he invited him into the service of the King of Portugal, gave him the command of a King’s ship, the order of Christ, the rank of Fidalgo, and the title of agent of his Portuguese Majesty on the coast of Coromandel. In this situation he remained for two years, and perfected his knowledge of the traffic and navigation of India; after which, in 1733, he returned to France. Apprized of his knowledge and capacity, the French government turned its eyes upon him, as a man well qualified to aid in raising the colonies in the eastern seas from that state of depression in which they remained. In 1734 he was nominated Governor General of the isles of France and Bourbon; where he arrived in June 1735. So little had been done for the improvement of these islands, that the people, few in number, were living nearly in the state of nature. They were poor, without industry, and without the knowledge of almost any of the useful arts. They had neither magazine, nor hospital, neither fortification, [51] nor defensive force, military or naval. They had no roads; they had no beasts of burden, and no vehicles. Every thing remained to be done by Labourdonnais; and he was capable of every thing. With the hand to execute, as well as the head to contrive, he could construct a ship from the keel; He performed the functions of engineer, of architect, of agriculturist: He broke bulls to the yoke, constructed vehicles, and made roads: He apprenticed blacks to the few handicrafts whom he carried out with him: He prevailed upon the inhabitants to cultivate the ground; and introduced the culture of the sugar-cane and indigo: He made industry and the useful arts to flourish; contending with the ignorance, the prejudices, and the inveterate habits of idleness, of those with whom he had to deal, and who opposed him at every step. To introduce any degree of order and vigilance into the management even of the hospital which he constructed for the sick, it was necessary for him to perform the office of superintendant himself, and for a whole twelvemonth he visited it regularly every morning. Justice had been administered by the Councils, to whom that function regularly belonged, in a manner which produced great dissatisfaction. During eleven years that Labourdonnais was Governor, there was but one law-suit in the isle of France, he himself having terminated all differences by arbitration.

The vast improvements which he effected in the islands did not secure him from the disapprobation of his employers. The captains of ships, and other visitants of the islands, whom he checked in their unreasonable demands, and from whom he exacted the discharge of their duties, filled the ears of the Company’s Directors with complaints; and the Directors, with too little knowledge for accurate [52] judgment, and too little interest for careful inquiry, inferred culpability, because there was accusation. He returned to France in 1740, disgusted with his treatment; and fully determined to resign the government: But the minister refused his consent. It is said that being asked by one of the Directors of the Company, how it was, that he had conducted his own affairs so prosperously, those of the Company so much the reverse; he replied that he had conducted his own affairs according to his own judgement: those of the Company according to that of the Directors.1

Perceiving, by the state of affairs in Europe, that a rupture was approaching between France and the maritime powers, his fertile mind conceived a project for striking a fatal blow at the English trade in the East. Imparting the design to some of his friends, he perceived that he should be aided with funds sufficient to equip, as ships of war, six vessels and two frigates; with which, being on the spot when war should be declared, he could sweep the seas of the English commerce, before a fleet could arrive for its protection. He communicated the scheme to the ministry, by whom it was embraced, but moulded into a different form. They proposed to send out a fleet, composed partly of the King’s and partly of the Company’s ships, with Labourdonnais in the command: And though he foresaw opposition from the Company, to whom neither he nor the scheme was agreeable, he refused not to lend himself to the ministerial scheme. He sailed from L’Orient on the 5th of April, 1741, with five ships of the Company: one carrying fifty-six; two carrying fifty; one, twentyeight; and one, sixteen guns; having on board about 1,200 sailors, and 500 soldiers. Two King’s ships [53] had been intended to make part of his squadron; but they, to his great disappointment, received another destination. He also found that, of the ship’s crews, three-fourths had never before been at sea; and that of either soldiers or sailors hardly one had ever fired a cannon or a musket. His mind was formed to contend with, rather than yield to difficulties: and he began immediately to exercise his men with all his industry; or rather with as much industry as their love of ease, and the opposition it engendered, rendered practicable. He arrived at the Isle of France on the 14th of August, 1741; where he learned, that Pondicherry was menaced by the Mahrattas, and that the islands of France and Bourbon had sent their garrisons to its assistance. After a few necessary operations to put the islands in security, he sailed for Pondicherry on the 22d of August, where he arrived on the 30th of September. The danger there was blown over; but the settlement at Mahé had been eight months blockaded by the natives. He repaired to the place of danger; chastised the enemy; re-established the factory; and then returned to the islands to wait for the declaration of war between France and England. There he soon received the mortifying orders of the Company to send home all the vessels under his command. Upon this he again requested leave to resign, and again the minister refused his consent. His views were now confined to his islands, and he betook himself with his pristine ardour to their improvement. On the 14th of September, 1744, in the midst of these occupations, the intelligence arrived of the declaration of war between France and England; and filled his mind with the mortifying conception of the important things he now might have achieved, but which the mistaken policy or perversity of his employers had prevented.

Unable to do what he wished, he still resolved to do what he could. He retained whatever ships had arrived at the islands, namely, one of forty-four guns, one of forty, one of thirty, one of twenty-six, one of eighteen, and another of twenty-six, which was sent to him from Pondicherry with the most pressing solicitations to hasten to its protection. The islands, at which unusual scarcity prevailed, were destitute of almost every requisite for the equipment of the ships; and their captains, chagrined at the interruption of their voyages, seconded the efforts of the Governor with all the ill-will it was safe for them to show. He was obliged to make even a requisition of negrees to man the fleet. In want of hands trained to the different operations of the building and equipping of ships, he employed the various handicrafts whom he was able to muster; and by skilfully assigning to them such parts of the business as were most analogous to the operations of their respective trades, by furnishing them with models which he prepared himself, by giving the most precise directions, and with infinite diligence superintending every operation in person, he overcame in some measure the difficulties with which he was surrounded. In the mean time intelligence was brought by a frigate, that five of the Company’s ships which he was required to protect, and which he was authorized by the King to command, would arrive at the islands in October. They did not arrive till January, 1746. The delay had consumed a great part of the provisions of the former ships: those which arrived had remaining for themselves a supply of only four months; they were in bad order: and there was no time, nor materials, nor hands to repair them. Only one was armed. It was necessary they should all be armed; and the means for that purpose were totally wanting. The [55] ships’ crews, incorporated with the negroes and the handicrafts, Labourdonnais formed into companies; he taught them the manual exercise, and military movements; showed them how to scale a wall, and apply petards; exercised them in firing at a mark; and employed the most dexterous among them in preparing themselves to use a machine, which he had invented, for throwing with mortars grappling-hooks for boarding to the distance of thirty toises.1

He forwarded the ships, as fast as they were prepared, to Madagascar, where they might add to their stock of provisions, or at any rate save the stock which was already on board; and he followed with the last on the 24th of March. Before sailing from Madagascar, a storm arose by which the ships were driven from their anchorage. One was lost; and the rest, greatly damaged, collected themselves in the bay of a desert island on the coast of Madagascar. Here the operations of repairing were to be renewed; and in still more unfavourable circumstances. To get the wood they required, a road was made across a marsh, a league in circumference; the rains were incessant; disease broke out among the people; and many of the officers showed a bad disposition; yet the work was prosecuted with so much efficiency, that in forty-eight days the fleet was ready for sea. [56] It now consisted of nine sail, containing 3,342 men, among whom were 720 blacks, and from three to four hundred sick.

In passing the island of Ceylon, they received intelligence that the English fleet was at hand. Labourdonnais summoned his captains on board, many of whom had shown themselves ill-disposed in the operations of industry; but all of whom manifested an eagerness to fight. As Labourdonnais understood that he was superior to the English in number of men, but greatly inferior in weight of metal, he declared his intention to gain, if possible, the wind, and to board. On the 6th of July, on the coast of Coromandel, the English fleet appeared to windward, advancing with full sail toward the French.1

Immediately after the declaration of war between France and England, a fleet, consisting of two ships of sixty guns each, one of fifty, and a frigate of twenty, commanded by Commodore Barnet, had been dispatched to India. It cruized, at first, in two divisions; one in the straits of Sunda, the other in the straits of Malacca, the places best fitted for intercepting the French traders, of which it captured four. After rendezvousing at Batavia, the united fleet appeared on the coast of Coromandel, in the month of July, 1745. The Governor of Pondicherry, the garrison of which at that time consisted of only 436 Europeans, prevailed on the Mogul Governor of the province, to declare Pondicherry under his protection, and to threaten Madras, if the English fleet should commit hostilities on any part of his dominions. This intimidated the government of Madras, and they requested Commodore Barnet to confine his operations [57] to the sea; who accordingly left the coast of Coromandel, to avoid the stormy season, which he passed at Mergui, a port on the opposite coast; and returned in the beginning of 1746. His fleet was now reinforced by two fifty gun ships, and a frigate of twenty guns from England; but one of the sixty gun ships had become unfit for service, and, together with the twenty gun frigate, went back to England. Commodore Barnet died at Fort St. David in the month of April; and was succeeded by Mr. Peyton, the second in command; who was cruizing to the southward of Fort St. David, near Negapatnam, when he descried the enemy just arriving on the coast.1

Labourdonnais formed his line, and waited for the English, who kept the advantage of the wind, and frustrated his design of boarding. A distant fight began about four in the afternoon, and the fleets separated for want of light about seven. Next morning Mr. Peyton called a council of war, and it was resolved, because the sixty gun ship was leaky, to sail for Trincomalee. The enemy lay to, the whole day, expecting that the English, who had the wind, would return to the engagement. The French, however, were in no condition to pursue, and sailed for Pondicherry, at which they arrived on the eighth day of the month.2

Joseph Francis Dupleix was at that time Governor of Pondicherry; having succeeded to the supreme command of the French settlements in 1742. To [58] this man are to be traced some of the most important of the modern revolutions in India. His father was a farmer-general of the revenues, and a Director of the East India Company. He had set his heart upon rearing his son to a life of commerce; and his education, which was liberal, was carefully directed to that end. As the study of mathematics, of fortification, and engineering, seemed to engross his attention too exclusively,1 his father in 1715 sent him to sea; and he made several voyages to the Indies and America. He soon imbibed the taste of his occupation, and, desiring to pursue the line of maritime commerce, his father recommended him to the East India Company, and had sufficient interest to send him out in 1720 as first Member of the Council at Pondicherry. Impatient for distinction, the young man devoted himself to the business of his office; and became in time minutely acquainted with the commerce of the country. He embarked in it, on his own account; a species of adventure from which the poverty of the servants of the French Company had in general debarred them. In this station he continued for ten years, when his knowledge and talents pointed him out as the fittest person to superintend the business of the Company at their settlement at Chandernagor in Bengal. [59] Though Bengal was the richest part of India, the French factory in that province had, from want of funds and from bad management, remained in a low 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 had frequently 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, raising up a host of enemies, is an arduous and a dangerous task to a European Governor. 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 incur [60] any expense for fortifications, he, on the prospect of a war with the maritime powers, made the works at Pondicherry a primary object. He had been struggling with the difficulties of narrow resources, and the strong temptation of extended views, about four years, when Labourdonnais arrived in the roads.1

The mind of Dupleix, though ambitious, active, and ingenious, seems to have possessed but little elevation. His vanity was excessive, and even effeminate; and he was not exempt from the infirmities of jealousy and revenge. In the enterprizes in which the fleet was destined to be employed, Labourdonnais 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 to be gained by cruizing, Labourdonnais directed his thoughts to Madras. The danger however was great, so long as his ships were liable to be attacked, with the greater part of their crews on shore. He, therefore, demanded sixty pieces of cannon from Dupleix, to place him on a level in point of metal with the English fleet, and resolved to proceed in quest of it. Dupleix alleged the danger of leaving Pondicherry deprived of its guns, and refused. With a very inferior reinforcement of guns,2 with a very inadequate supply of ammunition, and with water given him at Pondicherry, so bad, as to produce the dysentery in his fleet, Labourdonnais put to sea on the 4th of August. On the 17th he descried the English fleet off Negapatnam, and hoisted Dutch colours as a decoy. [61] The English understood the stratagem; changed their course; and fled. Labourdonnais says he pursued them all that day and the next; when, having the wind, they escaped.1 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, under which he had behaved with a manly temperance; after Dupleix had even commanded him to re-land the Pondicherry troops, he resolved to send the fleet, which he was still too much indisposed to command, 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 cruise was unskilfully conducted, and yielded little in the way of prize; it afforded presumption, however, that the English fleet had abandoned the coast. Labourdonnais saw, therefore, a chance of 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 Labourdonnais agreed to the restoration of Madras.2 But nothing could be more adverse to the views of Duplex. He advised, he intreated, he menaced, he protested; Labourdonnais, [62] 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 Labourdonnais’ own people, that they might seize and send him to Pondicherry. On the night of the 13th of October a storm arose, which forced the ships out 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; all lost their masts, and sustained great and formidable injury. Disregarding the most urgent entreaties for assistance, Dupleix maintained his opposition. At last, a suggestion 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; and Labourdonnais and the English, though with some reluctance, 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 rendered indispensable, the place would be delivered into the hands of Dupleix, and he was not to be embarrassed with the fetters of a treaty.1

The remaining history of Labourdonnais may be shortly adduced. Upon his return to Pondicherry, the opposition, which he had formerly experienced, was changed 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, notwithstanding 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.1 Convinced, by the counteraction which he experienced, that he possessed not the means of carrying his designs into execution, Labourdonnais acceded to the proposition of Dupleix that he should proceed to Acheen with such of the ships as were able to keep the sea, and return to Pondicherry after they were repaired; resigning five of them to Dupleix to carry next year’s investment to Europe. At its departure, the squadron consisted of seven ships, of which four were in tolerable repair; the rest were in such a condition that it was doubted whether they could reach Acheen; if this was impracticable, they were to sail for the islands. In conformity with this plan, Labourdonnais divided them into two parts. The first, consisting of the sound vessels, was directed to make its way to Acheen, [64] without waiting for the rest: he himself remained with the second, with intention to follow, if that 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 directed his course to the islands. Hastening to Europe, to make his defence, or answer the accusations of his enemies, he took his passage in a ship belonging to Holland. In consequence of the declaration of war she was forced into an English harbour. Labourdonnais was recognized, and made a prisoner; but the conduct which he had displayed at Madras was known and remembered. All ranks received him with favour and distinction. That he might not be detained, a Director of the East India Company offered to become security for him with his person and property. With a corresponding liberality, the government declined the offer, desiring no security but the word of Labourdonnais. His treatment in France was different. The representations of Dupleix had arrived: A brother of Dupleix was a Director of the East India Company; Dupleix had only violated a solemn treaty; Labourdonnais had only faithfully and gloriously served his country; and he was thrown into the Bastile. He remained in that prison three years; while the vindication which he published, 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 a short time, a memorable example of the manner in which a blind government encourages desert.1

He had not taken his departure from Madras, when the troops of the Nabob appeared. Dupleix had been able to dissuade that native ruler from yielding his protection to Madras, a service which the English, who had prevailed on Commodore Barnet to abstain from molesting Pondicherry, claimed as their due. Dupleix had gained him by the promise of Madras. The Moor (so at that time the Moslems in India were generally called) quickly however perceived, that the promise was 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. From the disaster however which had befallen the fleet, Labourdonnais 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 of their artillery; with a numerical force which bore no proportion to the enemy, gained over them a decisive victory; and first broke the spell which held the Europenas in subjection to the native powers.1

The masters of mankind, how little soever disposed to share better things with the people, are abundantly willing to give them a share of their disgrace. Though, on other occasions, they may affect [66] a merit in despising the public will, they diligently put on the appearance of being constrained by it in any dishonourable action which they have a mind to perform. In violating the treaty with the English, Dupleix recognized his own baseness; means were therefore used to make the French inhabitants of Pondicherry assemble and draw up a remonstrance against it, and a prayer that it might be annulled. Moved by respect for the general voice of his countrymen, Dupleix sent his orders to declare the treaty of ransom annulled; to take the keys of all magazines; and to 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.1

The English still possessed the settlement of Fort St. David, on the coast of Coromandel. It was situated twelve miles south from Pondicherry; with a territory still larger than that of Madras. Besides Fort St. David, at which were placed the houses of the Company, and other Europeans, it contained the town of Cuddalore, inhabited by the Indian merchants, and other natives; and two or three populous [67] 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.1

Dupleix lost no time in following up the retention of Madras with an enterprise against Fort St. David, the reduction of which would have left him without a European rival. In the night of the 19th of December, a force consisting of 1700 men, mostly Europeans, of which fifty were cavalry, 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.2 They had hired, however, 2000 of the undisciplined soldiers of the country, who are armed promiscuously with swords and targets, bows and arrows, pikes, lances, matchlocks or muskets, and known among the Europeans by the [68] 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; and he, exasperated against the French, by his defeat at Madras, engaged, upon the promise of the English to defray part of the expense, to send his army to assist Fort St. David. The French, having gained an advantageous post, and laid down their arms for a little rest, were exulting in the prospect of an easy prey, when an army of nearly 10,000 men advanced in sight. Not attempting resistance, the French 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 daybreak. But, as the wind rose, and the surf was high, they were compelled to return.1

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 he had received; describing the English [69] as a contemptible handful of men, devoted to destruction. “The governments of Indostan,” says Mr. Orme on this occasion, “have no 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; his son, who commanded the army, paid a visit to Pondicherry; was received, by Dupleix, with that display in which he delighted; and was gratified by a considerable present.1

Blocked up, as it would have been, 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.2 And now the favourable opportunity for accomplishing the destruction of Fort St. David was eagerly seized. On the morning of the 13th of March, a 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 seen approaching the road. The French crossed the river with precipitation, and returned to Pondicherry.3

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 [70] 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 Tellichery: 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.1

The four ships which had arrived at Pondicherry from Acheen, and which Dupleix foresaw would be in imminent danger, when the English fleet should 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 200,000l. 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, [71] 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 the 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.1

The government of England, moved by the disasters of the nation in India, and 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 occasion. 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.2

Dupleix, who had received early intelligence from France of the preparations for this armament, had [72] 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 stores at Pondicherry and Madras; knowing well, as soon as the superior force of the English should appear, that the Nabob would change sides, and the French settlements, both by sea and land, would again be cut off from supplies.1

Preparations at Fort St. David had been made, to expedite the operations of Boscawen, and he was in a very short time ready for action; when all Englishmen 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 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, [73] 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 enemy’s 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; and hurricanes were apprehended, which would drive the ships from the coast. It was therefore determined, by a council of war, thirty-one days after the opening of the trenches, that the siege should be raised. Dupleix, as corresponded with the character of the man, made a great ostentation and parade on this unexpected event. He represented himself as having gained one of the most brilliant victories on record; he wrote letters in this strain, not only to France, but to the Indian princes, and even to the Great Mogul himself; he received in return the highest compliments on his own conduct and bravery, as well as on the prowess of his nation; and the [74] English were regarded in India as only a secondary and inferior people.1

In November news arrived that a suspension of arms had taken place between England and France: and this was shortly after followed by intelligence of the treaty of Aix la Chapelle, in which the French government had agreed to restore Madras. It was delivered up in August, with its fortifications much improved. At the distance of four miles south from Madras was the town of San Tomé, or St. Thomas, built by the Portuguese, and, in the time of their prosperity, a place of note. It had long however been reduced to obscurity, and though inhabited mostly by Christians, had hardly been regarded as a possession by any of the European powers. It had been found that the Roman Catholic priests, from the sympathy of religion, had conveyed useful information to the French in their designs upon Madras. To prevent the like inconvenience in future, it was now taken possession of by the English, and the obnoxious part of the inhabitants ordered to withdraw.2

No events of any importance had occurred at the other presidencies, during these years of war. The Viceroy of Bengal had prohibited the French and English from prosecuting their hostilities in his dominions. This governor exacted contributions from the European colonies, for the protection which he bestowed; that however which he imposed upon the [75] English did not exceed 100,000l. A quantity of raw silk, amounting to 300 bales, belonging to the Company, was plundered by the Mahrattas; and the distress which the incursions of that people produced in the province, increased the difficulties of traffic.1

The trade of the Company exhibited the following results:—

Year / Goods and Stores exported. / Bullion ditto. / Total.

1744.. / £231,318.. / £458,544.. / £689,862
1745.. / 91,364.. / 476,853.. / 568,217
1746.. / 265,818.. / 560,020.. / 825,838
1747.. / 107,979.. / 779,256.. / 887,235
1748.. / 127,224.. / 706,890.. / 834,114


The bills of exchange for which the Company paid during those years were:

Year / Goods and Stores exported. / Bullion ditto. / Total.

1744.. / £103,349 / 1747.. / £441,651
1745.. / 98,213 / 1748.. / 178,419
1746.. / 417,647 / -- / --


The amount of sales for the same years (including thirty per cent. of duties, which remained to be deducted) was:

Year / Goods and Stores exported. / Bullion ditto. / Total.

1744.. / £1,997,506 / 1747.. / £1,739,159
1745.. / 2,480,966 / 1748.. / 1,768,0412
1746… / 1,602,388 / -- / --
2 Third Report from the Committee of Secrecy, 1773, p. 75.


The official value at the custom-house of the imports and exports of the Company, during that period, was as follows:

Year / Imports. / Exports.

1744.... / £743,508.... / £476,274
1745.... / 973,705.... / 293,113[76]


Year / Imports. / Exports.

1746.... / £646,697.... / 893,540
1747.... / 821,733.... / 345,526
1748.... / 1,098,712.... / 306,3571
1 Sir C. Whitworth’s tables, part ii. p. 9.


The dividend was eight per cent. per annum, during the whole of the time.2

During the same period, the trade of the nation, notwithstanding the war, had considerably increased. The imports had risen from 6,362,971l. official value, to 8,136,408l.; and the exports from 11,429,628l. to 12,351,433l.; and, in the two following years, to 14,099,366l. and 15,132,004l.3
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:47 am

Part 1 of 2

CHAP. II.

Origin, Progress, and Suspension, of the Contest for establishing Mahomed Ali, Nabob of Carnatic.

A new scene is now to open in the history of the East India Company. Before this period they had maintained the character of mere traders, and, by humility and submission, endeavoured to preserve a footing in that distant country, under the protection or oppression of the native powers. We shall now behold them entering the lists of war; and mixing with eagerness in the contests of the princes. Dupleix, whose views were larger than, at that time, those of any of the servants of the Company, had already planned, in his imagination, an empire for the French, and had entered pretty deeply into the intrigues of the country powers. The English were the first to draw the sword; and from no higher inducement than the promise of a trifling settlement on the Coromandel coast.

A prince who, amid the revolutions of that country, had, some years before, possessed and lost the throne of Tanjore, repaired to Fort St. David, and entreated the assistance of the English. He represented his countrymen as ready to co-operate for his restoration; and promised the fort and country of Devi-Cotah, with the payment of all expenses, if, with their assistance, he should recover his rights. The war between the French and English had brought to the settlements [78] of both nations in that quarter of India, a greater quantity of troops than was necessary for their defence; and with the masters of troops it seems to be a law of nature, whenever they possess them in greater abundance than is necessary for defence, to employ them for the disturbance of others. The French and English rulers in India showed themselves extremely obedient to that law. The interests of the Tanjore fugitive were embraced at Fort St. David; and in the beginning of April, 1749, 430 Europeans and 1,000 Sepoys, with four field-pieces and four small mortars, marched with him for Tanjore.
Tanjore was one of those rajahships, or small kingdoms, into which the Mohamedans, at their first invasion of India, found the country in general divided. It occupied little more than the space enclosed and intersected by the numerous mouths of the river Cavery. The Coleroon, or most northern branch of that river, bounded it on the north, and it extended about seventy miles along the coast, and nearly as much inland from the sea. Like the rest of the neighbouring country, it appears to have become dependent upon the more powerful rajahship of Beejanuggur, before the establishment of the Mohamedan kingdoms in Deccan; and afterwards upon the kingdom of Beejapore, but subject still to its own laws and its own sovereign or rajah, who held it in the character of a Zemindar. In the time of Aurungzebe, it has been already seen, that a very remarkable personage, the father of Sevagee, who had obtained a footing in the Carnatic, had entered into a confederacy with the Rajah or Polygar of Mudkul or Madura, against the Rajah or Zemindar or Naig (for we find all these titles applied to him) of Tanjore, whom they defeated and slew; that afterwards quarrelling [79] with the Rajah of Mudkul, about the division of the conquered territory, the Mahratta stripped him of his dominions, took possession both of Mudkul and Tanjore, and transmitted them to his posterity.1 His grandson Shawgee was attacked and taken prisoner by Zulfeccar Khan, who, to strengthen his party, restored him to his government or zemindary, upon the death of Aurungzebe. Shawgee had two brothers, Shurfagee and Tuckogee. They succeeded one another in the government, and all died without issue, excepting the last. Tuckogee had three sons Baba Saib, Nana, and Sahugee. Baba Saib succeeded his father, and died without issue. Nana died before him, but left an infant son, and his widow was raised to the government, by the influence of Seid the commander of the fort. This powerful servant soon deprived the Queen of all authority, threw her into prison, and set up as rajah a pretended son of Shurfagee. It suited the views of Seid to allow a very short existence to this prince and his power. He next placed Sahugee, the youngest of the sons of Tuckogee, in the seat of government. Sahugee also was soon driven from the throne. Seid now vested with the name of sovereign Pretaupa Sing, a son by one of the inferior wives of Tuckogee. This was in 1741. The first act of Pretaupa Sing’s government was to assassinate Seid. It was Sahugee who now craved the assistance of the English.2 And it was after having corresponded for years with Pretaupa Sing, as King of Tanjore; after having offered to him the friendship of the English nation; and after having courted his assistance against the [80] French; that the English rulers now, without so much as a pretence of any provocation, and without the allegation of any other motive than the advantage of possessing Devi-Cotah, dispatched an army to dethrone him.1

The troops proceeded by land, while the battering-cannon and provisions were conveyed by sea. They had begun to proceed when the monsoon changed, with a violent hurricane. The army, having crossed the river Coleroon, without opposition, were on the point of turning into a road among the woods which they would have found inextricable. Some of the soldiers, however, discovered a passage along the river, into [81] which they turned by blind but lucky chance; and this led them, after a march of about ten miles, to the neighbourhood of Devi-Cotah. They had been annoyed by the Tanjorines; no partisans appeared for Sahugee; it indeed appears not that so much as a notice had been conveyed to them of what was designed; and no intelligence could be procured of the ships, though they were at anchor only four miles off at the mouth of the river. The army threw at the fort what shells they had, and then retreated without delay.

The shame of a defeat was difficult to bear; and the rulers of Madras resolved upon a second attempt. They exaggerated the value of Devi-Cotah; situated in the most fertile spot on the coast of Coromandel; and standing on the river Coleroon, the channel of which, within the bar, was capable of receiving ships of the largest burden, while there was not a port from Masulipatam to Cape Comorin, which could receive one of 300 tons: it was true the mouth of the river was obstructed by sand; but if that could be removed, the possession would be invaluable. This time, the expedition, again commanded by Major Laurence, proceeded wholly by sea; and from the mouth of the river the troops and stores were conveyed up to Devi-Cotah in boats. The army was landed on the side of the river opposite to the fort, where it was proposed to erect the batteries, because the ground on the same side of the river with the fort, was marshy, covered with wood, and surrounded by the Tanjore army. After three days’ firing a breach was made; but no advantage could be taken of it till the river was crossed. This was dangerous, as well from the breadth and rapidity of the stream, as from the number of soldiers in the thickets which covered the opposite shore. To the ingenuity of a common ship’s carpenter, the army [82] was indebted for the invention by which the danger was overcome. A raft was constructed sufficient to contain 400 men; but the difficulty was to move it across. John Moore, the man who suggested and constructed the raft, was again ready with his aid. He swam the river in the night; fastened to a tree on the opposite side a rope which he carefully concealed in the bushes and water; and returned without being perceived. Before the raft began to move, some pieces of artillery were made to fire briskly upon the spot where the rope was attached; and moved the Tanjorines to a distance too great to perceive it. The raft was moved across; it returned, and recrossed several times, till the whole of the troops were landed on the opposite bank. Major Laurence resolved to storm the breach without delay. Lieutenant Clive, who had given proofs of his ardent courage at the siege of Pondicherry, offered to lead the attack. He proceeded with a platoon of Europeans and 700 Sepoys; but rashly allowing himself, at the head of the platoon, to be separated from the Sepoys, he narrowly escaped with his life; and the platoon was almost wholly destroyed. Major Laurence advanced with the whole of his force, when the soldiers mounted the breach, and after a feeble resistance took possession of the place. An accommodation between the contending parties was effected soon after. The reigning king agreed to concede to the English the fort for which they contended, with a territory of the annual value of 9000 pagodas; and they, on their part. not only renounced the support of him for whom they had pretended to fight as the true and lawful king, but agreed to secure his person, in order that he might give no farther molestation to Pretaupa Sing, and demanded only 4000 rupees, about 400l., for his annual [83] expenses.1 It may well be supposed, that to conquer Tanjore for him would have been a frantic attempt. But no such reflection was made when a zeal for the justice of his cause was held up as the impelling motive to the war; nor can it be denied that his interests were very coolly resigned. It is even asserted that, but for the humanity of Boscawen, he would have been delivered into the hands of Pretaupa Sing.2 He found means to make his escape from the English; who imprisoned his uncle, and kept him in confinement for nine years, till he was released by the French, when they took Fort St. David in 1758.3

While the English were occupied with the unimportant conquest of Devi-Cotah, the French had engaged in transactions of the highest moment; and a great revolution was accomplished in Carnatic. This revolution, on which a great part of the history of the English East India Company depends, it is now necessary to explain. Carnatic is the name given to a large district of country along the coast of Coromandel, extending from near the river Kistna, to the northern branch of the Cavery. In extending westward from the sea, it was distinguished into two parts, the first, including the level country between the sea and the first range of mountains, and entitled Carnatic below the Ghauts; the second, including the table land between the first and second range of mountains, and called Carnatic above the Ghauts. A corresponding track, extending from the northern [84] branch of the Cavery to Cape Comorin, sometimes also receives the name of Carnatic; but in that case it is distinguished by the title of the Southern Carnatic.1 The district of Carnatic had fallen into dependence upon the great rajahships of Beejanuggur and Warankul; and after the reduction of these Hindu powers, had been united to the Mahomedan kingdoms of Beejapore and Golconda. Upon the annexation of these kingdoms to the Mogul empire, in the reign of Aurungzebe, Carnatic was included in the general subjugation, and formed part of the great Subah of Deccan. In the smaller provinces or viceroyalties, the districts or sub-divisions were proportionally small; and the sub-governors of these divisions were known by the titles of Zemindar, and Phouzdar or Fogedar. In the great Subahs, however, particularly that of Deccan, the primary divisions were very large, and the first rank of sub-governors proportionally high. They were known by the name of nabob or deputy; that is, deputy of the Subahdar, or Viceroy, governor of the Subah; and under these deputies or nabobs were the Zemindars and Fogedars [85] of the districts. Carnatic was one of the nabobships, or grand divisions of the great Subah of Deccan. During the vigour of the Mogul government, the grand deputies or nabobs, though immediately subject to the Subahdar, or Viceroy, were not always nominated by him. They were very often nominated immediately by the emperor; and not unfrequently as a check upon the dangerous power of the Subahdar. When the Subahdar however was powerful, and the emperor weak, the nabobs were nominated by the Subahdar.

When Nizam al Mulk was established Subahdar of Deccan, a chief, named Sadatullah, was nabob of Carnatic, and held that command under the Nizam till the year 1732, when he died. Sadatullah, who had no issue male, adopted the two sons of his brother; Doost Ali, and Bâkir Ali. Bâkir Ali he made governor of Velore: and he had influence to leave Doost Ali in possession of the nabobship at his death. Nizam al Mulk claimed a right to nominate his deputy in the government of Carnatic; and took displeasure that Doost Ali had been intruded into the office with so little deference to his authority; but he happened to be engaged at the time in disputes with the emperor, which rendered it inconvenient to resent the affront. Doost Ali had two sons and four daughters. Of these daughters one was married to Mortiz Ali, the son of his brother Bâkir Ali, governor of Velore; another to Chunda Saheb, a more distant relative, who became duan, or minister of the finances, under Doost Ali his father-in-law.

Trichinopoly was a little sovereignty bordering on the west upon Tanjore. Though subdued by the Mogul, it had been allowed, after the manner of Tanjore, to retain, as Zemindar, its own sovereign, accountable for the revenues and other services, [86] required from it as a district of the Mogul empire. The rajahs of Tanjore and Trichinopoly were immediately accountable to the nabobs of Carnatic; and, like other Zemindars, frequently required the terror of an army to make them pay their arrears. In the year 1736 the Rajah of Trichinopoly died, and the sovereignty passed into the hands of his wife. The supposed weakness of female government pointed out the occasion as favourable for enforcing the payment of the arrears; or for seizing the immediate government of the country. By intrigue and perfidy, Chunda Saheb was admitted into the city; when, imprisoning the queen who soon died with grief, he was appointed by his father-in-law governor of the kingdom.

The Hindu Rajahs were alarmed by the ambitious proceedings of the Nabob of Carnatic and his son-in-law, and incited the Mahrattas,1 as people of the same origin and religion, to march to their assistance. The attention of Nizam al Mulk was too deeply engaged in watching the motions of Nadir Shaw, who at that very time was prosecuting his destructive war in Hindustan, to oppose a prompt resistance to the Mahrattas; it has indeed been asserted though without proof, and not with much probability, that, as he was but little pleased with the appointment or proceedings of Doost Ali, he instigated the Mahrattas to this incursion, for the sake of chastising the presumption of his deputy.

An army, commanded by Ragogee Bonslah, appeared on the confines of Carnatic, in the month of May, 1740. The passes of the mountains might have been successfully defended by a small number [87] of men; but an officer of Doost Ali, a Hindu, to whom that important post was committed, betrayed his trust, and left a free passage to the Mahrattas. Doost Ali encountered the invaders; but lost his life in the battle. Subder Ali, the eldest son of the deceased, retired to the strong fort of Velore, and began to negotiate with the Mahrattas. A large sum of money was partly promised, and partly paid; and Trichinopoly, which rendered Chunda Saheb an object of jealousy to the new Nabob, was secretly offered to them, if they chose the trouble of making the conquest. They returned in a few months and laid siege to Trichinopoly. Chunda Saheb defended himself gallantly for several months, but was obliged to yield on the 26th of March, 1741; and was carried a prisoner to Satarah; while Morari Row, a Mahratta chief, was left Governor of Trichinopoly. Subder Ali, afraid to trust himself in the open city of Arcot, the capital of Carnatic, took up his residence in Velore. Bâkir Ali was dead, the late governor of Velore, and uncle of the Nabob; and Mortiz Ali, his son, was now governor in his place. By instigation of this man, whose disposition was perfidious and cruel, Subder Ali was assassinated; and an attempt was made by the murderer to establish himself in the government of the province; but, finding his efforts hopeless, he shut himself up in his fort of Velore; and the infant son of Subder Ali was proclaimed Nabob.1[88]

Nizam al Mulk, however, had now left the court of Delhi, and returned to his government of Deccan. To arrange the troubled affairs of Carnatic, he arrived at Arcot in the month of March 1743. He treated the son of Subder Ali with respect; but appointed his general Cojah Abdoolla, to the government of Carnatic; and compelled Morari Row, and the Mahrattas, to evacuate Trichinopoly. Cojah Abdoolla died suddenly, apparently through poison, before he had taken possession of his government; and the Nizam appointed An’war ad dien Khan, to supply his place. An’war ad dien Khan, the son of a man noted for his learning and piety, had been promoted to a place of some distinction, by the father of Nizam al Mulk, and after his death attached himself to the fortunes of his son. When Nizam al Mulk became Subahdar of Deccan, he made An’war ad dien Nabob of Ellore and Rajamundry, where he governed from the year 1725 to 1741; and from that period till the death of Cojah Abdoolla, he served as Governor of Golconda. In ostent, Nizam al Mulk conferred the government of Carnatic upon An’war ad dien, only for a time, till Seid Mahomed, the young son of Subder Ali, should arrive at the years of manhood; but, in the mean while, he consigned him to the guardianship of An’war ad dien, and in a short time the young Nabob was murdered by a party of Patan soldiers, who clamoured for arrears of pay, due to them, or pretended to be due, by his father. An’war ad dien escaped not the imputation of being author of the crime, but he was supported by Nizam al Mulk, and appointed Nabob in form. It was An’war ad dien, who was the Governor of Carnatic when the French and English contended for Madras, and whom Dupleix treated alternately as a friend and a foe.

Nizam al Mulk, whose abilities and power were calculated to confirm the arrangements which he had made in Deccan, died in 1748, after a whole life spent in the toils and agitations of oriental ambition, at the extraordinary age of 104. The government of Sadatullah and his family had been highly popular in Carnatic; that of An’war ad dien Khan was very much hated: A strong desire prevailed that the government of An’war ad dien should be subverted, and that of the family of Sadatullah restored: The death of Nizam al Mulk opened a channel through which the hope of change made its way: Chunda Saheb was the only member of the family of Sadatullah, who possessed talents likely to support him in the ascent to the proposed elevation: The keen eye of Dupleix had early fixed itself upon the prospect of the ascendancy of Chunda Saheb; and if that chief should, by the assistance of the French, acquire the government of Carnatic, the most important concessions might be expected from his gratitude and friendship. At the first irruption of the Mahrattas, the whole family of Doost Ali had been sent to Pondicherry, (so strongly had the Indians already learned to confide in the superiority of European power) as the place of greatest safety in the province. They received protection and respect; and the wife and family of Chunda Saheb, during the whole time of his captivity, had never been removed. Dupleix treated them with the attention calculated to make a favourable impression on the man whom he wished to gain. He even corresponded with Chunda Saheb in his captivity; and agreed to advance money to assist in raising the sum which the Mahrattas demanded for his ransom. He was liberated in the beginning of the year 1748, and even furnished, it is said, with 3,000 Mahratta troops. He entered [90] immediately into the quarrels of some contending Rajahs, whose dominions lay inland between the coast of Malabar and Carnatic, with a view to increase his followers, and collect treasure; and he was already at the head of 6000 men, when the death of Nizam al Mulk occurred.

To maintain his authority, in his absence, both at court and in his province, Nizam al Mulk had procured the high office of Ameer al Omrah, for his eldest son, Ghazee ad dien Khan, who always attended the person of the Emperor. His second son, Nazir Jung, had resided for the most part in Deccan, and had officiated as his father’s deputy, as often as the wars of the empire, or the intrigues of the court, had called him away. Though the obedience of Nazir Jung had been so little perfect as to have been lately chastised even by imprisonment, he was present when his father died; the army was accustomed to obey him; he got possession of his father’s treasures; the Emperor was far too weak to assert his right of nomination; and Nazir Jung assumed the power and titles of Subahdar of Deccan.

There was, however, a favourite grandson of Nizam al Mulk, the son of a descendant of Sadoollah Khan, Vizir to Shaw Jehan, by a daughter of Nizam al Mulk. His name was Hedayet Mohy ad dien; to which he added the title of Mirzapha Jung. He had been Nabob of Beejapore, for several years, during the life of his grandfather; who, it was now given out and believed, had nominated him successor by his will.1 Such a competitor for the government of Deccan appeared to Chunda Saheb the very man on whom his hopes might repose. He offered his services, [91] and they were greedily received. To attain the assistance of Dupleix was regarded by them both as an object of the highest importance; and in a Subahdar of Deccan, and a Nabob of Carnatic, whom he himself should be the chief instrument in raising to power, Dupleix contemplated the highest advantages, both for himself and for his country. Chunda Saheb persuaded Mirzapha Jung that they ought to commence their operations in Carnatic; where the interest of the family of Chunda Saheb would afford advantages. Their troops had increased to the number of 40,000 men, when they approached the confines of Carnatic. They were joined here by the French, who consisted of 400 Europeans, 100 Caffres, and 1800 Sepoys, commanded by M. d’Auteuil.1 They immediately advanced towards An’war ad dien, whom on the 3d of August, 1749, they found encamped under the fort of Amboor, fifty miles west from Arcot. The French offered to storm the entrenchment; and though twice beaten back, they advanced three times to the charge, and at last prevailed. An’war ad dien was slain in the engagement, at the uncommon age of 107 years; his eldest son was taken prisoner; and his second son Mahomed Ali, with the wreck of the army, escaped to Trichinopoly, of which he was Governor.2

Dupleix affirms, that had the victorious leaders, according to his advice, advanced without delay against Trichinopoly, while the consternation of defeat remained, they would have obtained immediate possession of the place, and the success of their enterprise would have been assured. They chose [92] however to go first to Arcot, that they might play for a while the Subahdar and Nabob; they afterwards paid a visit at Pondicherry to M. Dupleix, who gratified himself by receiving them with oriental display; and was gifted with the sovereignty of eighty-one villages in the neighbourhood of the settlement.1

They marched not from Pondicherry till the very end of October; and instead of proceeding directly against Trichinopoly, as they had settled with Dupleix, they directed their march to the city of Tanjore. The urgency of their pecuniary wants, and the prospect of an ample supply from the hoards of Tanjore, made them undervalue the delay. The King was summoned to pay his arrears of tribute, and a large sum as a compensation for the expense of the war. By negotiation, by promises, and stratagems, he endeavoured; and the softness of his enemies enabled him, to occupy their time till the very end of December, when news arrived that Nazir Jung, the Subahdar, was on his march to attack them.2

Nazir Jung had been summoned, upon his accession, to the imperial presence; and had advanced with a considerable army as far as the Nerbudda, when a counter-order arrived. Informed of the ambitious designs of his nephew, he accelerated his return; and was arrived at Aurengabad, when he heard of the overthrow and death of the Nabob of [93] Carnatic.1 The impolitic delays of his enemies afforded time for his preparations; and they were struck with consternation when they now heard of his approach. They broke up their camp with precipitation: and, harassed by a body of Mahrattas, in the service of Nazir Jung, returned to Pondicherry.2

Dupleix was admirably calculated for the tricks of Indian policy. Though he exerted himself with the utmost vigour to animate the spirits, and augment the force of his allies; lending them 50,000l., declaring that he would lend them still more, and increasing the French forces to the number of 2000 Europeans; yet contemplating now with some terror the chance of a defeat, he sought to be prepared for all events, and endeavoured secretly to open a negotiation with Nazir Jung. He addressed to him a memorial, in which he set forth the enmity which was borne by An’war ad dien to the French nation; and the necessity under which they were placed to avail themselves of any allies to secure themselves from its effects; that the death of that Nabob, however, had now freed them from such obligation, and they were ready to detach themselves from the enemies of Nazir Jung; that they had already manifested their friendly dispositions towards him, in sparing Tanjore, and suspending the siege of Trichinopoly, which the victorious army of them and their allies, there was no doubt, might have easily taken.3 It was only, says Dupleix, the arrival of an English force in the camp of Nazir Jung, that prevented the Subahdar from embracing the proposal.4

From the beginning of 1747, the English had been intriguing, both with Nizam al Mulk and with Nazir Jung, against the French. Besides a letter from the English Governor to the same effect, Commodore Griffin, in a letter to Nizam al Mulk, dated March 6, 1747, said, “I shall not enter into a particular detail of all the robberies, cruelties, and depredations, committed on shore upon the King my Master’s subjects, by that insolent, perfidious nation the French; connived at, and abetted by those under your Excellency (the Nabob of Arcot), whose duty it was to have preserved the peace of your country, instead of selling the interest of a nation, with whom you have had the strictest friendship time out of mind; a nation that has been the means not only of enriching this part of the country, but the whole dominions of the grand Mogul; and that to a people who are as remarkable all over the world for encroaching upon, and giving disturbances and disquiet to all near them; a people who are strangers in your country, in comparison of those who have been robbed by them of that most important fortress and factory, Madras; and now they are possessed of it, have neither money nor credit, to carry on the trade.———And now, excellent Sir, we have laid this before you, for your information and consideration; and must entreat you, in the name of the King of Great Britain, my Royal Master, to call the Nabob to an account for his past transactions, and interpose your power to restore, as near as possible in its original state, what has been so unjustly taken from us.” Application was at the same time made to Nazir Jung for his interest with his father, which that prince assures the English by letter he had effectually employed. A favourable answer was received from Nizam al Mulk, and a mandate was sent to An’war ad dien Khan, called at that time by [95] the English Anaverdy Khan, in which were the following words: “The English nation, from ancient times, are very obedient and serviceable to us; besides which they always proved to be a set of true people, and it is very hard that they met with these troubles, misfortunes, and destruction. I do therefore write you, to protect, aid, and assist them in all respects, and use your best endeavours in such a manner, that the French may be severely chastised and rooted off, that his Majesty’s sea-port town may be recovered, and that the English nation may be restored to their right, establish themselves in their former place, as before, and carry on their trade and commerce for the flourishment of the place.” An agent of the English, a native, named Hodgee Hodee, who dates his letter from Arcot, the 10th of March, 1747, presents them with the real state of the fact in regard to An’war ad dien, the Nabob: “I take the liberty to acquaint your worship, that as the Nabob is but a Renter, he does not much regard the distress of the people of this province, but in all shapes has respect to his own interest and benefit; therefore there is no trusting to his promises. The French are very generous in making presents of other people’s goods, both to the old and young.” He advises the English to be equally liberal with their gifts, and says, “Don’t regard the money, as Governor Morse did, but part with it for the safety of your settlement.” Another of their agents, Boundla Mootal, informed them that if they expected any cordial assistance from An’war ad dien, they must send him money for it. The second son of An’war ad dien, Mahomed Ali Khan, showed himself during this period of French ascendancy, rather favourable to the English: probably, from that spirit of discord which prevails in the ruling [96] families of the East, because his eldest brother displayed a partiality to the French.1

When, after the deaths of Nizam al Mulk and An’war ad dien Khan, and the captivity of the eldest son of An’war ad dien Khan, Nazir Jung marched into Carnatic against Chunda Saheb and Mirzapha Jung, he summoned Mahomed Ali to join him from Trichinopoly, and sent to Fort St. David to solicit assistance from the English. The arrival of Mirzapha Jung, the defeat of An’war ad dien, which happened when they were engaged in the attack of Tanjore, and the apprehended schemes of Dupleix, had struck the English with alarm. “They saw,” says Mr. Orme, “the dangers to which they were exposed, but were incapable of taking the vigorous resolutions which the necessity of their affairs demanded.” They allowed Mr. Boscawen, with the fleet and troops, to set sail for England, at the end of October, and sent only 120 Europeans to support Mahomed Ali at Trichinopoly.2 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 officers, displeased that they had not shared in the spoils of Tanjore, resigned their commissions, and infused terror and alarm into the men they were destined 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; [97] 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.1

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 feed 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.

Nazir Jung had the usual character of a man educated a prince. He devoted his time to pleasure, and [98] withdrew it from business; decided without consideration, 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 to 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 with him 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 Ali obtained permission to detach himself [99] from the army of the Subahdar, for the purpose of dislodging them from Trivadi; in this 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 Ali 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 contemplating afterwards the natural strength of the place, felt astonished at their own success.

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 nith 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 [100] 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 Patan nobles, to whose perfidy he owed his power, began to oppress him; and 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 late transactions, at their head. The army had marched about sixty leagues; when a disturbance, [101] 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.1

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 letter to Dupleix, from a friend in the camp of Salabut Jung, affirmed that in a little time the Mogul on his throne would tremble at the [102] name of Dupleix;1 and however presumptuous this prophecy might appear, little was wanting to secure its fulfilment.

The English, sunk in apathy or despair, were so far as yet from taking any 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 dependence 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 French of surrendering Trichinopoly; but Mahomed Ali, and the English, in concert, made offer to acknowledge Chunda Saheb Nabob of all Carnatic, with 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; 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 to discourage [103] 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 half 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 being only prevented from uniting, about fifteen miles below Trichinopoly, by a narrow mound, they form a peninsula, which goes by the name of the island of Seringham; celebrated as containing one of the most remarkable edifices, 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 troops they had sent him; 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 exertions of their virtue, “a fatal spirit of division,” says Major Laurence, “had unhappily crept in among our [104] officers, so that many opportunities and advantages were lost, which gave the country alliance but an in-different opinion of our conduct.”1 The French, however, made but feeble efforts for the reduction of the place; and the English were too much impressed with an opinion of their own weakness to hazard any enterprise to dislodge them.2
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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Part 2 of 2

While the war thus lingered at Trichinopoly, Clive, who had been made a captain to supply some of the removals occasioned by the recent discontents, persuaded the Presidency to create a diversion, by sending him to attack Arcot, the capital of Chunda Saheb, left with a very slender defence. This young man was the son of a gentleman of small fortune in Shropshire. From the untractableness of his own disposition, or the unsteadiness of his father’s, he was moved when a boy, from one to another, through a great variety of schools; at which he was daring, impetuous, averse to application, and impatient of control. At [105] the age of nineteen he was appointed a writer in the service of the East India Company, and sent to Madras. There his turbulence, though he was not ill-natured, engaged him in quarrels with his equals; his dislike of application and control prevented his acquiring the benevolence of his superiors.1 When the capitulation with Madras was violated, Clive made his escape in a Mahomedan dress, to Fort St. David, and when the siege of Pondicherry was undertaken, he was allowed to enter into the military service, with the rank of an ensign. At the siege of Pondicherry, and the enterprise against Devi-Cotah, he rendered himself conspicuous by courting posts of danger, and exhibiting in them a daring intrepidity. Discerning men, however, perceived, along with his rashness, a coolness and presence of mind, with a readiness of resource in the midst of danger, which made Laurence, at an early period, point him out as a man of promise. Upon the conclusion of the affair at Devi-Cotah, Clive returned to his civil occupation; but no sooner did his countrymen resume the sword, than his own disposition, and the scarcity of officers, again involved him in operations, far better suited to his restless, daring, and contentious mind. He had accompanied the troops sent for the defence of Trichinopoly, till after the affair at Volcondah, and had been employed by the Presidency in conducting the several reinforcements which they had attempted to forward. He was now furnished with 200 Europeans, and 300 Sepoys: and to spare even these, Fort St. David and Madras were left, for their defence, the one with 100, the other with fifty men. To command them he had eight officers, of whom six had never been in action, and four were young men in the [106] mercantile service of the Company, whom his own example had inflamed. For artillery they had three field-pieces; and two eighteen pounders were sent after him. The enemy, who remained in garrison at Arcot, which was an open town, defended by a fort, abandoned the place, and gave him possession without resistance. Expecting a siege, he exerted his utmost diligence to supply the fort; and that he might prevent the fugitive garrison, who hovered around, from resuming their courage, he made frequent sallies; beat up their camp in the middle of the night; defended himself with vigour when assailed; and harassed them by incessant and daring attacks. In the mean time Chunda Saheb detached 4,000 men from his army at Trichinopoly, which were joined by his son with 150 Europeans from Pondicherry; and, together with the troops already collected in the neighbourhood, to the number of 3,000, entered the city. Clive immediately resolved upon a violent attempt to dislodge them. Going out with almost the whole of the garrison, he with his artillerty forced the enemy to leave the street in which they had posted themselves; but filling the houses they fired upon his men, and obliged him to withdraw to the fort. In warring against the people of Hindustan, a few men so often gain unaccountable victories over a host, that on a disproportion of numbers solely no enterprise can be safely condemned as rash; in this, however, Clive run the greatest risk, with but a feeble prospect of success. He lost fifteen of his Europeans, and among them a lieutenant; and his only artillery officer, with sixteen other men, was disabled.

Next day the enemy were reinforced with 2,000 men from Velore. The fort was more than a mile in circumference; the walls in many places ruinous; the towers inconvenient and decayed; and every [107] thing unfavourable to defence: Yet Clive found the means of making an effectual resistance. When the enemy attempted to storm at two breaches, one of fifty and one of ninety feet, he repulsed them with but eighty Europeans and 120 Sepoys fit for duty; so effectually did he avail himself of his feeble resources, and to such a pitch of fortitude had he exalted the spirits of those under his command. During the following night the enemy abandoned the town with precipitation, after they had maintained the siege for fifty days. A reinforcement from Madras joined him on the following day; and, leaving a small garrison in Arcot, he set out to pursue the enemy. With the assistance of a small body of Mahrattas, who joined him in hopes of plunder, he gave the enemy, now greatly reduced by the dropping away of the auxiliaries, a defeat at Arni, and recovered Conjeveram, into which the French had thrown a garrison, and where they had behaved with barbarity to some English prisoners; among the rest, two wounded officers whom they seized returning from Arcot to Madras, and threatened to expose on the rampart, if the English attacked them. After these important transactions, Clive returned to Fort St. David about the end of December. The enemy no sooner found that he was out of the field than they re-assembled, and marched to ravage the Company’s territory. Reinforced by some troops which had arrived from Bengal, he went out to meet them in the end of February. They abandoned their camp upon his approach; but with intent to surprise Arcot, from which the principal part of the garrison had marched to the reinforcement of Clive. They expected the gates to be opened by two officers of the English Sepoys, whom they had corrupted; but the plot being discovered, and their signals not answered, they did not venture to [108] make an attack, and suddenly withdrew. Though informed of their retreat, Clive was still hastening his march to Arcot, when at sun-set his van was unexpectedly fired upon by the enemy’s artillery; and a hot engagement ensued. The superior force of the enemy afforded them great advantages and seemed likely to decide the contest, unless by some expedient their cannon could be seized. At ten at night Clive detached a party, who, favoured by the darkness, came upon it unexpectedly in the rear; defeated the troops who were placed for its defence; and succeeded completely in that important enterprise. After this disaster, the enemy dispersed; and before Clive could undertake any new exploit, he was ordered to the presidency; where it was determined to send him with all the troops under his command, to Trichinopoly. It was fortunate that the enemy, dispirited by the last, in addition to so many former disappointments and defeats, disbanded themselves at the same moment; the country troops departing to their homes, and the French being recalled to Pondicherry.

While these active operations were performing in the province of Arcot, Mahomed Ali, though he appeared to have little to dread from the attacks of the French upon Trichinopoly, began to have every thing to dread from the deficiency of his funds. The English, whom he engaged to maintain out of his own treasury, were now obliged to be maintained at the cost of the Presidency. His own troops were without pay, and there was no prospect of keeping them long from mutiny or dispersion. He had applied for assistance to the government of Mysore, a considerable Hindu kingdom, which had risen out of the wreck of the empire of Beejanuggur, and viewed with dread the elevation of Chunda Saheb, who had [109] formerly aimed at its subjugation. Mahomed Ali renewed his importunities; and, by promising to the Mysoreans whatever they chose to ask, prevailed upon them to march to his assistance. They arrived at Trichinopoly about the middle of February, 20,000 strong, including 6000 Mahrattas, who had entered into their pay, and of whom a part were the same with those who had assisted Clive after the siege of Arcot. Their arrival determined the King of Tanjore, who till then had remained neutral, to send 5000 men. A few days after Clive was recalled to Fort St. David, he was again prepared to take the field; but on the 26th of March Major Laurence returned from England, and put himself at the head of the reinforcement, which consisted of 400 Europeans and 1100 Sepoys, with eight field pieces, and a large quantity of military stores. Both parties had their eyes fixed upon the reinforcement, and Dupleix sent repeated orders that it might be intercepted at all events. The efforts, however, of the enemy, proved unavailing; and Laurence in safety joined the camp.1

It was now determined to attack the enemy in [110] their camp. This attack the French had not the resolution, or the means, to withstand, and formed the determination of passing over to the island of Seringham. Chunda Saheb, it is said, remonstrated, but without avail. In the hurry of their retreat, the enemy were able to carry over only a part of their baggage, and burned what they were unable to remove of the provisions which they had collected in their magazines.1

As delay was dangerous to the English, from the circumstances of their allies, it was their policy to reduce the enemy to extremities within the shortest possible time. With this view Clive advised them to detach a part of the army to the other side of the Coleroon, for the purpose of intercepting the enemy’s supplies. Though there was hazard in this plan; for an enterprising enemy, by attacking one of the divisions, might gain a decisive advantage before the other could arrive, Laurence accepted the advice; and Clive was detached for the performance of the service. It was executed with his usual activity, spirit, and success. Dupleix made the strongest exertions to reinforce and supply his army; but was [111] baffled in every attempt. D’Auteuil, at the head of a large convoy, was first compelled to suspend his march; was afterwards attacked in the fort to which he had retired; and at last taken prisoner. The enemy were soon in distress for provisions; their camp was cannonaded by the English; the troops of Chunda Saheb left his service; and he himself, looking round for the means of personal safety, chose at last to trust to the generosity of the King of Tanjore, and delivered himself, under promise of protection, into the hands of the Tanjorine commander. The French soon after capitulated, and surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

The fate of Chunda Saheb was lamentable. He was immediately put in fetters by the faithless Tanjorine. A dispute, under the power of which of them he should remain, arose between the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs, the Tanjorine Generals, and Mahomed Ali. To compromise the dispute, Major Laurence proposed that he should be confined in one of the English forts. The parties separated without coming to an agreement; and the Tanjorine immediately ordered him to be assassinated. Dupleix affirms that he was murdered by the express command of Major Laurence, which it is difficult to suppose that Dupleix must not have known to be untrue. But it is true, that Laurence showed an indifference about his fate which is not very easy to be reconciled with either humanity or wisdom. He well knew that his murder was, in the hands of any of them, the probable; in those of some of them, the certain consequence, of their obtaining the charge of his person. He well knew, that if he demanded him with firmness, they would have all consented to his confinement in an English fort. And, if he did not [112] know, it is not the less true, that in the hands of the English he might have become a powerful instrument with which to counterwork the machinations of Dupleix. At any rate Dupleix, of all men, on this ground, had the least title to raise an accusation against the English; since he had resolved to imprison for life his unfortunate ally, and to reign sole Nabob of Carnatic himself.1

The failure of the enemy at Trichinopoly, the possession of which both parties appear to have valued too high, produced in the breasts of the English hopes of undisputed superiority, and of that tide of riches, which unbounded sway in the affairs of Carnatic promised to their deluded imaginations. Major Laurence was in haste to march through the province, investing his triumphant Nabob; and saw no place, except Gingee, which he imagined would retard his progress.2

He was not a little surprised when the delays of the Nabob indicated much less impatience. The Nabob was, in fact, engaged in a troublesome dispute. Among the inducements which he had employed to [113] gain the assistance of the Mysoreans, he had not scrupled to promise the possession of Trichinopoly and its dependencies. The Mysorean chief now insisted upon performance; and the Mahratta captain, who eagerly desired an opportunity of obtaining Trichinopoly for himself, encouraged his pretensions.

Intelligence of this dispute was a thunderstroke to Laurence. His country had paid dear for Trichinopoly; yet now it appeared that it could not be retained, by him for whom it was gained, without a flagrant violation of honour and faith. The violation of honour and faith the Nabob, in the Indian manner, treated as a matter of entire insignificance. The Mysorean could not but know, he said, that such a promise was never made to be fulfilled; and doubtless no Indian can believe of any man, that he will keep more of a promise, than it is his interest, or than he is compelled, to keep.1

After some time lost in altercation, the Nabob promised to fulfil his engagement, and deliver up the fort in two months; and with this the Mysorean, finding more could not be obtained, allowed himself for the present to appear satisfied. The English, leaving a garrison in the fort, set forward to establish their Nabob; but the auxiliary troops of Tanjore, and of Tondeman, had marched to their homes; and the Mysoreans and Mahrattas refused to depart from Trichinopoly.

Dupleix was not reduced to despondency, by the stroke which the English imagined had realized their fondest hopes. As it was the character of this man to form schemes, which from their magnitude appeared romantic, so was it his practice to adhere to [114] them with constancy, even when the disasters which he encountered in their execution seemed to counsel nothing but despair. Nor did the resources of his mind fail to second its firmness. He still found means to oppose a nearly equal, in a little time a more than equal, force to his opponents.

It was resolved, and very unwisely, that the first operation of the English should be the reduction of Gingee; garrisoned by the French; and the only place in the province expected to yield a serious resistance. Major Laurence condemned this plan of operations; and recommended the previous recovery of the province, and the collection of the rents; but by the influence of Mr. Saunders, the President, his opinion was over-ruled.1 Dupleix dispatched a force for the purpose of seizing the passes of the mountains by which Gingee is surrounded, and of intercepting the English convoys. The detachment of the English army, which had arrived at Gingee, marched to dislodge them; but, instead of succeeding in their object, sustained a defeat.

The French, elevated by this advantage, reinforced their victorious party with as many troops as they found it possible to send into the field. This army, by way of triumph, marched close to the very bounds of Fort St. David. A company of Swiss, in the English service, were sent on this emergency from Madras to Fort St. David, in boats, contrary to the advice of Laurence, who entreated they might be sent in a ship of force; and Dupleix, unrestrained by the vain forms of a treaty of peace, subsisting between England and France, while both parties were violating the substance of it every day, took them prisoners of war by a ship from Pondicherry road. [115] Laurence hastened toward the enemy. His force consisted of 400 Europeans, 1700 Sepoys, 4000 troops belonging to the Nabob, and nine pieces of cannon. The French army consisted of 400 Europeans, 1500 Sepoys, and 500 horse; who declined a battle, till Laurence, by a feigned retreat, inspired them with confidence. The action, which took place near Bahoor, two miles from Fort St. David, was decidedly in favour of the English; but would have been far more destructive to the French, had the Nabob’s cavalry done their duty, who, instead of charging the routed foe, betook themselves to the more agreeable operation of plundering their camp. After this seasonable victory, Captain Clive was employed, with a small detachment, to reduce the two forts, called Covelong and Chingliput, which he executed with his usual vigour and address; and then returned to Europe for his health. About the same time the monsoon compelled the army to withdraw from the field.

During these transactions, Nunjeraj, the Mysorean General, was not idle before Trichinopoly. He made several attempts to get into the fort by surprise, as well as to corrupt the troops; and his efforts held Captain Dalton, commanding the English garrison, perpetually on the watch. The views of that chief were now, also, directed toward the French; and so much progress had been made in the adjustment of terms, that a body of 3000 Mahrattas were actually on their march to join the enemy, when the victory at Bahoor produced a revolution in their minds; and they joined the English, as if they had marched from Trichinopoly with that express design. During the interval of winter quarters, the negotiations with the French were completed, and the Mahrattas, at an early period, marched to Pondicherry; while the [116] Mysoreans, to give themselves all possible chances, remained before Trichonopoly, as still allies of the English; but they declared themselves, before the armies resumed their operations; and attacked an advanced post of Captain Dalton’s, defended by sixty Europeans and some Sepoys, whom they destroyed to a man.

Before these designs of the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs were brought to maturity, Major Laurence had given his advice to seize them, in one of their conferences with Captain Dalton.1 If there was any confidence, during negotiation, reposed in the English by the Indians, beyond what they reposed in one another, a confidence of which the loss would have been risked by such a blow, we are not informed; the danger, which might have been averted by securing the persons of those enemies, was of considerable amount.

Dupleix, though so eminently successful in adding to the number of combatants on his side, was reduced to the greatest extremity for pecuniary supplies. The French East India Company were much poorer than even the English; the resources which they furnished from Europe were proportionally feeble; and, though perfectly willing to share with Dupleix in the hopes of conquest, when enjoyment was speedily promised, their impatience for gain made them soon tired of the war; and they were now importunately urging Dupleix to find the means of concluding a peace. Under these difficulties Dupleix had employed his own fortune, and his own credit, in answering the demands of the war; and, as a last resource, he now turned his thoughts to Mortiz Ali, the Governor of Velore. He held up to him the [117] prospect of even the Nabobship itself, in hopes of drawing from him the riches which he was reputed to possess. Mortiz Ali repaired to Pondicherry; and even advanced a considerable sum; but finding that much more was expected, he broke off the negotiation, and retired to his fort.

The contending parties looked forward with altered prospects to the next campaign. By the co-operation of the Mysoreans, and the junction of the Mahrattas, the latter of whom, from the abilities of their leader, and their long experience of European warfare, were no contemptible allies, the French had greatly the advantage in numerical force. In the capacity, however, of their officers, and in the quality of their European troops, they soon felt a remarkable inferiority. Laurence, without being a man of talents, was an active and clearheaded soldier; and the troops, whom he commanded, both officers and men, appeared, by a happy contingency, to combine in their little body all the virtues of a British army. The European troops of the enemy, on the other hand, were the very refuse of the French population; and Laurence himself candidly confesses that their officers were frequently seen in the hour of action, making the greatest efforts, and without effect, to retain them in their ranks. Among their commanders, not a man showed any talents; and Dupleix with great bitterness complains, that, with the exception of Bussy, he never had an officer on whose ability he could place the smallest reliance.1

Early in January the two armies again took the field: The French, consisting of 500 European infantry and sixty horse, 2,000 Sepoys; and 4,000 Mahrattas, commanded by Morari Row. The English consisted of 700 European infantry, 2,000 Sepoys, and 1,500 horse belonging to the Nabob. The French, to avail themselves of their superiority in cavalry, avoided an action, and employed themselves in making war upon the English convoys. This they did, with so much effect, that Major Laurence was frequently obliged to escort his stores and provisions with his whole army from Fort St. David. In this manner the time was consumed till the 20th of April, when an express arrived from Captain Dalton, that he had only three weeks’ provisions remaining in the fort.

When the English, after the capitulation of the [119] French at Seringham, marched from Trichinopoly, and left Captain Dalton Commandant of the English garrison, a brother of the Nabob was at the same time appointed Governor of the town. By an unhappy oversight the magazines were left under direction of the Mohamedan Governor; and Captain Dalton satisfied himself with asking from time to time in what condition they remained. When the Mysoreans, however, had shut him up in his fort, and, scouring the adjacent country with their cavalry, had prevented for some time the arrival of supplies, it occurred to him, rather too late, that he had better see with his own eyes on what he had to depend. His ally, he found, had been selling the provisions at an enormous price to the people of the town; and he was left in that alarming condition, of which he hastened to make report to Major Laurence.

Only one resolution was left to the English commander, that of marching directly to the support of Trichinopoly. His army suffered greatly on the march, both by desertion and sickness; and, upon his arrival at the place, he found that all the force he could muster for offensive operations, after leaving the proportion necessary for the duties of the garrison, consisted of 500 Europeans, and 2,000 Sepoys. The Nabob had 3,000 horse; but they were badly paid; and executed their duty with proportional neglect and disobedience. The French followed with 200 Europeans and 500 Sepoys, to the support of the Mysoreans; and Trichinopoly became once more the seat of a tedious and harassing warfare.

It deserves remark, that Major Laurence, who had recommended the seizure of the Mysorean and Mahratta chiefs, uniformly disapproved of the attempt to retain Trichinopoly after the promise to give [120] it up.1 It is equally worthy of remark, that the delicacy of the Presidency witheld their hands from the persons of the hostile chiefs; but easily endured the violation of the engagement respecting Trichinopoly. Delicacy would have been less violated in the one instance by following the advice of Laurence, and prudence would have been more consulted by following it in both. The cession of Trichinopoly to the Mysoreans would have enabled the English to establish their nabob, with little opposition, in the sovereignty of Carnatic, and would have saved them from two years of expensive warfare.

It was on the 6th of May, 1753, that Major Laurence again arrived at Trichinopoly; and from that day to the 11th of October, 1754, the most active operations were carried on. Neither the French, with their allies, were sufficiently powerful to reduce Trichinopoly; nor had the English sufficient force to compel them to raise the siege. The two parties, therefore, bent their endeavours; the English, to supply the garrison with a sufficient quantity of food, to enable them to prosecute their objects in another quarter; the French, by cutting off the supplies, to compel the garrison to surrender. On both sides the greatest exertions were made; severe conflicts were frequently sustained, in some of which decisive advantages, at one time on one side, at another on the other, were on the point of being gained: and never did English troops display more gallantry and good conduct, than in defence of the unimportant city of Trichinopoly. More than a year had been spent; and neither of the contending parties seemed [121] nearer their object, when a new scene was introduced.1

The objects, which fired the ambition of the European Governors in India, were too distant to warm the imaginations of the Directors and Proprietors of the French and English Companies in Europe; and to them the burden of the war had become exceedingly hateful. Aware of the passion for peace which now animated his employers, and of the opinion disseminated in Europe of his ambitious and warlike views, Dupleix had opened a negociation with Saunders, the Governor of Madras, in January, 1754, The real point in dispute was whether or not Mahomed Ali should be acknowledged Nabob of Carnatic; the English contending that he should be recognized by the French, the French contending that he should be given up by the English. The parties were far from being disposed, on either side, to concede the point; and the state of circumstances was little calculated to facilitate a compromise: the negotiation turned, therefore, on matters of form; and never, surely, did negotiation find more ridiculous matters of form on which to employ itself. In a country in which all questions of dominion are determined by the sword; in a question which, without any consideration of right, they themselves had, during four years, been labouring to decide by the sword, they affected to sit down gravely to a comparison of pretended titles and grants. The authority to which both parties appealed was that of the Mogul, though the Mogul himself, in the district in question, was an usurper, and that of a very recent date; though the power too of the Mogul was such, that he had no more authority [122] in Deccan than he had at Rome. The authority on which the government of Carnatic immediately depended was that of the Subahdar of Deccan; and the Subahdar of Deccan was Salabut Jung, the friend of the French: So far, in point of title, they had the undoubted advantage. The patents, however, which Dupleix had received from Salabut Jung, and which placed the nabobship of the Carnatic entirely at his disposal, he asserted to have been confirmed by the Mogul. The English, on their side, affirmed that they had a patent constituting Mahomed Ali Nabob of Carnatic; and they called upon the French to produce their documents. The French did exhibit some papers, which the English, and probably with truth, asserted to be forged. The English were called upon to produce their pretended patent, and had none to produce: Upon this with mutual crimination the proceedings broke off.1

The parties upon whom the decision depended in Europe came together with minds more disposed to accommodation. The English Company had, from an early period of the war, importuned the ministry with complaints, that during the existence of a treaty of peace between England and France, they were oppressed by the burden of a dangerous war, produced by the ambition of a French governor in India. The [123] same subject had formed the matter of remonstrance between the English and French governments; and it was at last agreed that the dispute should be terminated by a distinct negotiation. M. Duvelaer arrived in London, vested with the powers of the French East India Company; Lord Holdernesse negotiated on the part of the English; while the Duke of Newcastle, as minister of England, and the Duc de Mirepoix, as embassador of France, shared, when necessary, in the conferences and decisions.

Dupleix, in stating afterwards the reasons of his conduct, asserted that, in the situation into which Deccan was thrown, upon the death of Nizam al Mulk, an interference in the affairs of the country was not a matter of choice. The chiefs who contended for power, supreme and subordinate, were all ready to tempt, and by the most important concessions, the European nations to grant them support. If one nation, from an extraordinary effort of self-denial, should decline such advantages, what was to be expected but that another would embrace them? and that, rising in power above its rivals, it should first oppress, and finally expel them from the country? Dupleix was the first to perceive these consequences; and, from the promptitude and decision of his character, the first to act upon his discovery. This priority, which naturally promised to be advantageous to him, was the reverse. It stamped his whole career with the character of aggression; though the English themselves drew the same conclusions, as soon as they were suggested to them by the proceedings of Dupleix; and guided their proceedings by the belief, that it was not safe for them to see their rival aggrandized by favour of the native powers. That to play a high game in India, was a wish dear to the heart of Dupleix, sufficiently appears; but that there [124] were strong reasons for the part which he acted, no one acquainted with the affairs of India will attempt to dispute.

The French East India Company, however, and the French Ministers, were but little acquainted with the affairs of India; those who envied, and those who hated Dupleix, accused him of wasting the resources of the Company in ambitious wars; the English Company and the English Ministry accused him of embroiling the two nations in India; and there was a general prejudice against him and his proceedings, both in France and in England, at the time when the conferences in London were held. The English Ministry prudently dispatched a considerable fleet to India while the negotiation was still proceeding. The French Ministry had no fleet to spare; and dreaded the superiority which such a force might bestow. The French Company were at the same time extremely eager to taste the gains of commerce, which they promised themselves in peace; and, from all these causes, were disposed to make ample concessions. It ultimately appeared, that no definitive arrangement could be made except upon the spot. The English, however, exclaimed against any negotiation which was to be conducted by Dupleix, the object of which, they affirmed, his ambition and artifice would be sure to defeat. The French Ministry were not far from harbouring the same opinion; and easily enough assented to the proposition of sending commissioners from Europe to settle the differences of the two nations in India.

A point was thus gained in favour of the English, on which their fortune in India very probably hinged; for when, after the short interval of two years, war was renewed between the English and French; when the English were expelled from Bengal; and the [125] influence of Bussy was paramount at the court of the Subahdar; had Dupleix remained at the head of French affairs in India, the scheme of that enterprising governor, to render himself master of Carnatic, and the Subahdar master of Bengal, would have stood a fair chance of complete accomplishment.

On the second of August, 1754, M. Godheu, appointed commissary to negotiate a peace with the English, and vested with authority to supersede Dupleix in the government of all the French possessions in India, arrived at Pondicherry. Dupleix affirms, that in the negotiations at London, for the sake of removing all local prejudices and views, it had been established that the governors in India on both sides should be removed; and commissioners, free from all bias, should be sent from England to terminate the costly disputes.1 If this was a condition really made, the French, it would appear, consented to a departure from it, as they raised no complaint against Mr. Saunders, who continued the President of Madras. The English in this manner obtained the important advantage of having the negotiation conducted on their side by a person conversant with the affairs and interests of the two nations in India, while it was conducted, on the part of their antagonists, by a man to whom they were in a great measure unknown.

Godheu lost no time in taking upon himself the exercise of his authority, and in commencing his negotiations with Saunders. The strong desire of his employers for peace appears to have been the [126] predominating consideration in his mind; and he manifested, from the beginning, a disposition to concede, of which the English made ample advantage. On the 11th of October, a suspension of arms was established for three months; and on the 26th of December, a provisional treaty, to be confirmed or altered in Europe, was signed at Pondicherry. By this treaty, every thing for which they had been contending was gained by the English; every advantage of which they had come into possession was given up by the French. By the stipulation to withdraw effectually from interference in the affairs of the native princes, Mahomed Ali was left, by the fact, Nabob of Carnatic or Arcot. And by the stipulation to arrange the territorial possessions of the two nations on the principle of equality, the important acquisition of the four Circars was resigned.1 Till the decision of the two Companies in Europe should be given, the contracting parties were to abstain from hostilities, direct or indirect; and their possessions to remain as they were.

That the severe strictures which Dupleix made upon this treaty were in some degree overcharged, is not to be denied. There is no reason to believe him, when he asserts that Trichinopoly was on the point of surrendering for want of supplies; for, at the time [127] of the suspension of arms, the relative advantages of the contending parties appear to have been nearly the same as they had been twelve months before. It is equally impossible to believe, what the English writers affirm, that the advantages of the English were now so great as to make it politic on the part of the French to conclude the treaty, unfavourable as it was. Admiral Watson had indeed arrived with a fleet, consisting of three ships and a sloop; having on board a king’s regiment of 700 men, with forty artillery men, and 200 recruits. But 1500 European troops had arrived with Godheu on the part of the French;1 and Dupleix boasts, with some reason, that he could have added to these the Mahrattas, the Mysoreans, and, on certain conditions, the King of Tanjore.2 Bussy too had improved with so much ability his situation with Salabut Jung, that he ruled in a great measure the counsels of the Subahdar of Deccan.

After displaying, in the most brilliant manner, the extraordinary superiority of European soldiers, in the subjugation of the Patan rebels, he compelled Salabut Jung to raise the son of Mirzapha Jung, the late Subahdar, and friend of the French, to the government, originally enjoyed by that unfortunate prince, of the strong hold of Adoni and its territory, augmented by the possessions of two of the Patan nobles, by whose treachery the father was slain. “An example of generosity,” says Mr. Orme, “which, if true, could not fail to raise admiration in [128] a country, where the merits of the father are so seldom of advantage to the distresses of the son.”1

The settlement of the dominions of Salabut Jung was formidably opposed by the Mahrattas, who, in the weakness which ensued upon the death of Nizam al Mulk, were actively employed in adding to their conquests as much as possible of the Subah of Deccan. A Mahratta general, named Balagee Row, had opposed himself, at the head of 25,000 horse, to the march of the Subahdar, between the Kistnah and Golconda, but, by negotiation and a suitable present, was induced to withdraw. Within a few months he appeared again, with a force which would have enabled him to gain important advantages, had not the talents of Bussy, and the execution of European firearms, which astonished the Indians, decided in a variety of engagements the fortune of the day. Danger came not from one quarter alone. Ghazee ad dien Khan, the eldest son of Nizam al Mulk, destined by his father to maintain the interests of his family at the court of the Mogul, had apparently acquiesced in the accession of his second brother to the government of Deccan, to which, as to a destined event, he had been accustomed to look. Upon the death however of Nazir Jung, as he had become very uneasy in his situation at court, he solicited, as the eldest son and successor of Nizam al Mulk, the appointment of Subahdar of Deccan. The assent of the Emperor, which was now a mere form without power, was easily obtained; and Ghazee ad dien arrived at Aurungabad in the beginning of October, 1752, at the head, it is said, of 150,000 men, of whom a large body were Mahrattas, commanded by Holkar Malhar. At the same time Balagee Row, [129] and another Mahratta general, named Ragogee Bonsla, in concert, it is said, with Ghazee ad dien Khan, entered the province of Golconda with 100,000 horse. To meet these formidable armies, Salabut Jung and Bussy took the field with very unequal numbers; when Ghazee ad dien Khan suddenly died. He was an old man, worn out by the pleasures of the harem; and his sudden death was by no means a surprising event; but, as it was singularly opportune for Salabut Jung, it was ascribed to poison, said to be administered, at his instigation, by the mother of the deceased; and, as the event was favourable to the French, the story of its odious cause has been adopted, with patriotic credulity, by the English historians.1 The Mahratta generals still continued the war; but were in every encounter repulsed with so much slaughter by the French, that they soon became desirous of peace, and Salabut Jung was happy to purchase their retreat by the cession of some districts, to Balagee Row in the neighbourhood of Boorhanpore, and to Ragogee Bonsla, in the neighbourhood of Berar; where that Mahratta chief had acquired for himself an extensive dominion. By the services which, in all these dangers, Bussy had rendered to the cause of Salabut Jung,2 whom he alone preserved upon the throne, his [130] influence with that prince had risen to the greatest height: And though the envy and jealousy of the Ministers, and the weak character of the Subahdar, exposed his power to perpetual jeopardy; and on one occasion, when he was absent for the recovery of his health, had almost destroyed it; the prudence and dexterity of that able leader enabled him to triumph over all opposition. In the latter end of 1753 he obtained for his country the four important provinces of Mustaphanagar, Ellore, Rajamundry, and Chicacole, called the Northern Circars; “which made the French,” says Mr. Orme, “masters of the sea-coast of Coromandel and Orixa, in an uninterrupted line of 600 miles from Medapilly to the Pagoda of Jagernaut;”1 and “which,” says Colonel Wilks, “not only afforded the requisite pecuniary resources, but furnished the convenient means of receiving reinforcements of men and military stores from Pondicherry and Mauritius; and thus enabled Bussy to extend his political views to the indirect or absolute empire of Deccan and the south.”2 All these brilliant advantages were now cordially resigned by M. Godheu; and it will certainly be allowed that few nations have ever made, to the love of peace, sacrifices relatively more important.

Dupleix, says Mr. Orme, whose concluding strictures upon his enemy are equally honourable to the writer and the subject, “departed on his voyage to Europe, on the 14th of October, having first delivered his accounts with the French Company to Mr. Godheu, by which it appeared that he had disbursed on their account near three millions of rupees more than he had received during the course of the war. A great part of this sum was furnished out of his [131] own estate, and the rest from moneys which he borrowed at interest, from the French inhabitants at Pondicherry, upon bonds given in his own name. Mr. Godheu referred the discussion of these accounts to the Directors of the Company in France, who pretending that Mr. Dupleix had made these expenses without sufficient authority, refused to pay any part of the large balance he asserted to be due to him; upon which he commenced a law-suit against the Company; but the ministry interfered and put a stop to the proceedings by the King’s authority, without entering into any discussion of Mr. Dupleix’s claims, or taking any measures to satisfy them. However, they gave him letters of protection to secure him from being prosecuted by any of his creditors. So that his fortune was left much less than that which he was possessed of before he entered upon the government of Pondicherry, in 1742. His conduct certainly merited a very different requital from his nation, which never had a subject so desirous and capable of extending its reputation and power in the East Indies; had he been supplied with the forces he desired immediately after the death of Anwar-o-dean Khan, or had he afterwards been supported from France in the manner necessary to carry on the extensive projects he had formed, there is no doubt but that he would have placed Chunda Saheb in the nabobship of the Carnatic, given law to the Subah of the Deccan, and perhaps to the throne of Delhi itself, and have established a sovereignty over many of the most valuable provinces of the empire; armed with which power he would easily have reduced all the other European settlements to such restrictions as he might think proper to impose. When we consider that he formed this plan of conquest and dominion at a time when all other Europeans entertained the [132] highest opinion of the strength of the Mogul government, suffering tamely the insolence of its meanest officers, rather than venture to make resistance against a power which they chimerically imagined to be capable of overwhelming them in an instant, we cannot refrain from acknowledging and admiring the sagacity of his genius, which first discovered and despised this illusion.”1

In a short time after the conclusion of this treaty, both Saunders and Godheu took their departure for Europe; pleasing themselves with the consideration that, by means of their exertions, the blessings of peace between the two nations in India were now permanently bestowed. Never was expectation more completely deceived. Their treaty procured not so much as a moment’s repose. The English proceeded to reduce to the obedience of their Nabob the districts of Madura and Tinivelly. The French exclaimed against these transactions, as an infringement of the treaty with Godheu; but finding their remonstrances without avail, they followed the English example, and sent a body of troops to reduce to their obedience the petty sovereignty of Terriore.

Madura was a small kingdom, bordering on Trichinopoly towards the south; and Tinivelly was a kingdom of similar extent, reaching from the southern extremity of Madura to Cape Comorin. These countries had acknowledged the supremacy of the Mogul government of Deccan, and had paid tribute through the Nabob of Arcot. When Chunda Saheb was master of Trichinopoly, he had set up his own brother as Governor of Madura; but during the disturbances [133] which followed, a soldier of fortune, named Aulum Khan, obtained possession of the city and government. When Aulum Khan marched to the assistance of Chunda Saheb at Trichinopoly, where he lost his life, he left four Patan chiefs to conduct his government, who acted as independent princes, notwithstanding the pretensions of Mahomed Ali, as Nabob of Arcot. To compromise the dispute about Trichinopoly, Mahomed Ali had offered to resign Madura to the Mysoreans. And upon his liberation from the terror of the French arms, by the treaty of Godheu, he prevailed upon the English to afford him a body of troops to collect, as he hoped, and as the English believed, a large arrear of tribute from the southern dependencies of his nabobship.

The troops proceeded to the city of Madura, which they took. The Polygars, as they are called; the lords, or petty sovereigns of the several districts; overawed by the terror of European arms, offered their submissions, and promised to discharge the demanded arrears; but for the present had little or nothing which they were able to pay. Instead of the quantity of treasure which the Nabob and English expected to receive, the money collected sufficed not to defray the expense of the expedition. The disappointment and ill humour were consequently great. The conduct of the English officer who commanded became the subject of blame. He formed a connexion, which promised to be of considerable importance, with Marawar; a district, governed by two Polygars, which extended along the coast on the eastern side of Madura, from the kingdom of Tanjore till it joined Tinivelly; but this connexion gave umbrage to the Polygar Tondeman, and the Rajah of Tanjore, in satisfaction to whom it was renounced. With Maphuz Khan, the brother of the Nabob, who attended [134] the expedition, as future Governor of the country, the officer formed an agreement, at a rent which was afterwards condemned, as not one half of the requisite amount: And the English detachment, upon its return, was imprudently exposed in a narrow pass, where it suffered severely by the people of the country. From all these causes, the existing displeasure found an object and a victim, in the unlucky officer, who was tried, and dismissed from the Company’s service.1

About the same time with these transactions in Madura, Salabut Jung, accompanied by Bussy and the French troops, marched against the kingdom of Mysore, to extort arrears of tribute, said to be due from it, as a dependency of the Subah of Deccan. Upon this emergency, the Mysorean army before Trichinopoly (the Mysoreans had refused to abandon their pretensions upon Trichinopoly, when the treaty was concluded between the English and French), was recalled. As the Mysoreans were threatened at the same time by an army of Mahrattas under Balagee Row, they were happy to acquire the protection of Salabut Jung, by acknowledging his authority, and paying as large a sum as it was possible for them to raise.

By the departure of the Mysoreans from Trichinopoly, Mahomed Ali was left without an ostensible opponent in Carnatic: and he was vested, as pompously as circumstances would permit, with the ensigns of his office and dignity, at Arcot. It still remained to compel the Zemindars or Polygars, and other Governors of forts and districts, to yield him a revenue. The English, after stipulating to receive one half of all the moneys collected, sent with him a [135] large detachment to enforce a tribute from the northern chiefs, who recognized the authority of the Nabob, and produced a portion of the demanded sums. The reputed riches of Mortiz Ali, the Governor of Velore, rendered his subjugation the main object of desire. The English detachment was strongly reinforced; and encamped with the Nabob within cannon-shot of the fort. Mortiz Ali applied to the French. M. Deleyrit, who was Governor of Pondicherry, informed the English presidency, that he regarded their proceedings at Velore as a violation of the treaty; and that he should commence hostilities, if their troops were not immediately withdrawn. The English rulers, soon aware that Velore could not be easily taken; and unwilling to put to proof the threat of Deleyrit, who had made 700 Europeans, and 2,000 Sepoys take the field; recalled the army to Madras. An attempt was made to obtain a contribution for the Company from Mortiz Ali; but the negotiation terminated without any effect.1

Meanwhile the Polygars of Madura and Tinivelly who had made an ostensible submission during the presence of the English troops, were affording dangerous employment to the Governor Maphuz Khan. A confederacy was formed, which it soon appeared that the Governor was altogether unable to withstand. The English sent a large body of Sepoys. But in spite of this support, the refractory chiefs continued unsubdued; the country was thrown into confusion by a petty warfare which extended itself into every corner of the provinces; and no tribute could be raised. Highly dissatisfied with the unproductive state of a country, which they had fondly believed to be the richest dependency of the Carnatic Nabob, the English determined to manage it themselves; and [136] Maphuz Khan was ordered to return to Trichinopoly. But that chief entered immediately into confederacy with the Polygars; set himself in opposition to the English; obtained possession of the town and fort of Madura by a stratagem: And, with much uneasiness to the English, the disturbances in Madura and Tinivelly were prolonged for several years.1

During these transactions of the English, not very consistent with their agreement not to interfere in the disputes of the native princes or add to their territory in India, the French were restrained from that active opposition which, otherwise, it is probable, they would have raised, by the dangerous situation of their affairs under the government of the Subahdar.

The enemies of Bussy, in the service and in the confidence of Salabut Jung, were both numerous and powerful; and exerted themselves in concert, and with eagerness, to change the confidence and attachment of their feeble-minded master into distrust and hatred. It was now about two years and a half since the grant of the northern Circars; when certain favourable circumstances enabled them to make so deep an impression on the mind of this prince, that the French troops were ordered to quit his territories without delay. Bussy, in expectation, probably, that the necessities of the Subahdar would speedily make him eager to retract his command, showed no hesitation in commencing his march. It was continued for eight days without interruption: but his enemies had a very different intention from that of allowing him to depart in safety. When he approached the city of Hyderabad, he found his progress impeded by large bodies of troops; and the road obstructed by all the chiefs of the neighbouring countries; who had orders to intercept his march. Upon this he resolved to occupy [137] a post of considerable strength, adjoining the city of Hyderabad; to defend himself; and try the effect of his arms, and of his intrigues among the chiefs, whom he well knew, till the reinforcements which he expected from Pondicherry should arrive. Though surrounded by the whole of the army of the Subahdar, and so feeble in pecuniary means, that his Sepoys deserted for want of pay, and he durst not venture them in sallies, for fear of their joining the enemy, he found the means of supplying himself fully with provisions, and of resisting every attack, till his succours arrived; when the Subahdar sent to demand a reconciliation, and he was restored to a still higher degree of influence and authority than he had previously enjoyed.

Among the means which had been employed to reconcile the mind of Salabut Jung to the dismissal of the French, was the prospect held up to him of replacing them by the English. No sooner therefore were the measures against Bussy devised, than an application was made for a body of troops to the Presidency of Madras. To the Presidency of Madras, few things could have presented a more dazzling prospect of advantage; and in any ordinary situation of their affairs, the requisition of the Subahdar would have met with an eager acceptance. But events had before this time taken place in Bengal which demanded the utmost exertions of the English from every quarter; made them unable to comply with the proposal of the Subahdar; and thenceforward rendered Bengal the principal scene of the English adventures in India.1
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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CHAP. III.

Suraja Dowla, Subahdar of Bengal—takes Calcutta—attacked by an army from Madras——dethroned—Meer Jaffier set up in his stead.

During the latter part of the reign of Aurungzebe, the Subahs of Bengal and Orissa, together with those of Allahabad and Bahar, were governed by his grandson Azeem Ooshaun, the second son of Shah Aulum, who succeeded to the throne. Azeem Ooshaun appointed as his deputy, in the provinces of Bengal and Orissa, Jaffier Khan, who had been for some time the duan, or superintendant of the finances, in Bengal; a man of Tartar descent, but a native of Boorhanpore in Deccan, who had raised himself to eminence in the wars of Aurungzebe. Upon the death of Shah Aulum, and the confusions which ensued, Jaffier Khan remained in possession of his important government, till he was too powerful to be removed. While yet a resident in his native city, he had married his daughter and only child to a man of eminence in the same place, and of similar origin with himself, by name Sujah Khan. This relative had repaired with him to Bengal; and when Jaffier Khan was elevated to the Subahdarry of Bengal and Orissa, Orissa was placed under the government of Sujah Khan, as deputy or nawab of the Subahdar.1

Among the adventurers who had been in the service [139] of Azeem Shah, the second son of Aurungzebe, was a Tartar, named Mirza Mahommed. Upon the death of that prince, and the ruin of his party, Mirza Mahommed remained without employment; and was overtaken, after some years, with great poverty. His wife not only belonged to the same place from which the family of Sujah Khan was derived; but was actually of kin to that new ruler. By this wife he had two sons: the eldest named Hodgee Ahmed; the youngest, Mirza Mahommed Ali. Upon the news of the elevation of their kinsman, it was determined, in this destitute family, that Mirza Mahommed, with his wife, should repair to his capital in hopes of receiving his protection and bounty. The disposition of Sujah Khan was benevolent and generous. He received them with favour. The success of his father and mother induced Mirza Mahommed Ali, the youngest of the two sons, to hope for similar advantages. With great difficulty his poverty allowed him to find the means of performing the journey. He obtained employment, and distinction. His prospects being now favourable, he sent for his brother Hodgee Ahmed; and removed the whole of his family to Orissa. The talents of the two brothers were eminent. Hodgee Ahmed was insinuating, pliant, discerning; and in business equally skilful and assiduous. Mirza Mahomed Ali to all the address and intelligence of his brother added the highest talents for war. They soon acquired a complete ascendancy in the counsels of Sujah Khan; and by their abilities added greatly to the strength and splendour of his administration.

Jaffier Khan died in 1725; but destined Sereffraz Khan, his grandson, instead of Sujah Khan, the father of that prince, with whom he lived not on friendly terms, to the succession. By the address [140] and activity of the two brothers, the schemes of Jaffier were entirely defeated; patents were procured from Delhi; and Sujah Khan, with an army, was in possession of the capital and the government, before any time was given to think of opposition. The province of Bahar was added to the government of Sujah Khan in 1729; and the younger of the two brothers, on whom was bestowed the title of Aliverdi Khan, was entrusted with its administration. He exerted himself, with assiduity and skill, to give prosperity to the province, and to acquire strength in expectation of future events.1 In 1739, the same year in which Nadir Shah ravaged Delhi, Sujah Khan died, and was succeeded by Sereffraz Khan, his son. Sereffraz Khan had been educated a prince; and had the incapacity, and the servile subjection to pleasure, which that education usually implies. He hated the brothers; and began with disgusting and affronting, when he should have either exterminated, or reconciled. The resolution of Aliverdi was soon taken. He employed his influence, which was great, at Delhi, to obtain his nomination to the government of Bengal and the united provinces; and marched with an army to dethrone Sereffraz, who lost his life in the battle. With the exception of the Governor of Orissa, whom he soon reduced, the whole country submitted without opposition. He governed it with unusual humanity and justice; and defended it with splendid ability and unwearied perseverance.

The Mahrattas, who had spread themselves at this time over a great part of the continent of India, seemed resolved upon the conquest of Bengal, the [141] richest portion of the Mogul empire.1 The dependence of the greatest events upon the slightest causes is often exemplified in Asiatic story. Had Sereffraz Khan remained Subahdar of Bengal, the Mahrattas might have added it, and all the adjoining provinces, to their extensive dominion: The English and other European factories might have been expelled: Nothing afterwards remained to check the Mahratta progress: The Mahomedans might have been exterminated: And the government of Brahmens and Cshatriyas might have extended once more from Caubul to Cape Comorin.

Aliverdi was on his return from the expedition against the Governor of Orissa, and had disbanded a great portion of his army, in contemplation of tranquillity and enjoyment, when he learned that a large army of Mahrattas had entered through the valleys in the mountains, at eight days’ journey west of his capital Moorshedabad. The Mahrattas, besides possessing themselves of Candeish and Malwa, had, before this period, overrun and subdued the whole province of Berar, where a general, named Ragogee Bonsla, of the family of Sevagee, had established himself in a widely-extended sovereignty which acknowledged but a nominal subjection to the primitive throne. The dominions of Ragogee Bonsla were separated from Bahar, Bengal, and Orissa, by only a chain of mountains, which it was easy for Mahrattas to penetrate in many parts. And now it was that the said chief, either urged by the hope of adding the richest part of Hindustan to his empire, or at the instigation, as was alleged, of Nizam al Mulk, sent an army under a Brahmen general to invade Bengal. [142] Aliverdi marched against them instantly with the small number of troops which he had about his person, and was hardy enough to venture a battle; but the Afghaun troops in his service were discontented with some recent treatment, and were inclined to make their advantage of his necessities. They acted coldly and feebly during the engagement. Aliverdi found it difficult to avoid a total defeat, and remained surrounded on all sides by a numerous and active enemy. He resolved to fight his way back; and though he suffered prodigiously from the sword, from fatigue, and from famine, he effected a glorious retreat; but reached not his capital till a detachment of the enemy had taken and plundered the suburbs.1

The Mahrattas, instead of returning to their own country, determined to remain during the period of the rains; and collected the revenue of almost the whole of the territory south of the Ganges. Aliverdi made the greatest exertions to collect an army; and marching out at the termination of the rains, surprised the Mahrattas in their camp, and put them to flight; pursued them from post to post; and at last compelled them to evacuate his dominions.2

If Aliverdi flattered himself that he was now delivered from a dangerous foe, he knew not the people with whom he had to contend. The Mahrattas appeared [143] the very next year with Ragogee Bonsla himself at their head. Another army of Mahrattas, belonging to the government of Satarah, entered the province; but whether with hostile or friendly intentions, is variously asserted. It is not doubtful that, at this time, Aliverdi delivered himself from his enemies, by a sum of money; upon receipt of which they retired.1

After a little time the general of Ragogee again entered by the province of Orissa, whence he advanced toward Bengal. By a train of artful and base negotiation, he was brought to trust himself at a conference in the tent of Aliverdi. He was there assassinated; and his death was the signal of dispersion to his troops.

The next invasion of the Mahrattas was encouraged by the rebellion of one of Aliverdi’s principal officers. The good fortune of that chief still seconded his vigour. The formidable rebel was killed in battle, and the Mahrattas were compelled to retire.

The Mahratta pressure, incessantly returning, though frequently repelled, seldom failed, in the long run, to make the opposing body recede. The subjects of Aliverdi were grievously harassed, and the produce of his dominions was greatly impaired, by these numerous invasions, and by the military exertions which were necessary to oppose them. [144] In a new incursion, headed by Janogee the son of Ragogee, the Mahrattas possessed themselves almost completely, of Orissa. The attention of the Subahdar was engaged in another quarter: Discontent again prevailed among his Afghaun and Tartar officers, which it required some address to allay: His youngest nephew, who was the most distinguished for ability of all his relations, and whom he had appointed Nabob or Deputy Governor of Bahar, had taken into his pay two Afghaun officers, who had retired in discontent from the service of Aliverdi: These leaders murdered their young master, the nephew of the Subahdar; and with a body of Mahrattas, who had entered the province on purpose to join them, and a considerable army of their own countrymen, whom the host of Ahmed Shah Abdallee, then covering the upper provinces of Hindustan, enabled them to collect, erected against Aliverdi the standard of revolt. Never was that governor, or rather king, for it was but a nominal obedience which he now paid to the throne of Delhi, in greater danger. He was obliged to meet the enemy, with a very inferior force: Yet he gained a complete victory; and the Afghaun lords were killed in the battle. The Mahrattas, however, only retired on the road towards Orissa, without crossing the mountains; and halted at Midnapore. He followed; pursued them into Orissa, with great slaughter; and even recovered the capital Cuttack; but was obliged to leave the province in so defenceless a condition, that the Mahrattas were not long deprived of their former acquisitions.

During the fifteen years of Aliverdi’s government or reign, scarcely a year passed free from the ruinous invasions of the Mahrattas; though during the infirmities of his latter years he had, by a tributary [145] payment, endeavoured to procure some repose. He died at the age of eighty on the 9th of April, 1756.1 Aliverdi never had a son. He had three daughters, and his brother had three sons.2 He married his three daughters to his three nephews; all of whom were men of considerable merit. The youngest was slain by the Afghaun lords, as already related; and the two elder both died a little before the decease of Aliverdi. The eldest son of his youngest nephew had from his birth been taken under the immediate care of Aliverdi himself; and was the object of extreme and even doting fondness. This youth, on whom had been bestowed the title of Suraja Dowla, was, upon the death of his uncles, regarded as the destined successor of Aliverdi;3 and took the reins of government without opposition upon his decease.

Suraja Dowla was educated a prince, and with more than even the usual share of princely consideration and indulgence. He had, accordingly, more than the usual share of the princely vices. He was ignorant; he was voluptuous; on his own pains and pleasures he set a value immense, on the pains and pleasures of other men no value at all; he was impatient, irascible, headstrong.

The first act of Suraja Dowla’s government was to plunder his aunt, the widow of his senior uncle, eldest daughter of Aliverdi, reputed immensely rich. To this uncle had belonged the government of the province of Dacca; and orders were dispatched to that place, to seize the receivers and treasurers of the family. His second uncle, who was Nabob of Poorania or Purneah, a province on the northern side of the Ganges, died during the last illness of Aliverdi, and left the government in the hands of his son, whose conduct was imprudent, and his mind vicious. Jealousy, or the desire of showing power by mischief, excited the young subahdar to resolve upon the destruction of his cousin, the nabob of Purneah. He had advanced as far as Raje Mahl, when he received intelligence that one of the principal officers of finance in the service of his late uncle at Dacca, had given the slip to his guards; and found an asylum at Calcutta.

Suraja Dowla had manifested aversion to the English, even during the life of his grandfather; the appearance of protection, therefore, shown to a man, who had disappointed his avarice, and was probably imagined to have escaped with a large treasure, kindled his rage; the army was that moment commanded to halt, and to march back towards the capital. A messenger was dispatched to Calcutta to remonstrate with the Governor; but as the messenger entered the town in a sort of disguise, the Governor thought proper to treat him as an impostor, and dismissed him from the Company’s territory. With a view to the war between France and England, the Presidency had begun to improve their fortifications. This too was matter of displeasure to the Subahdar; and the explanation offered by the [147] English, which intimated that those strangers were audacious enough to bring their hostilities into his dominions, still more inflamed his resentment. The factory at Cossimbuzar, near Moorshedabad, was seized; and its chief, Mr. Watts, retained a prisoner. The Presidency were now very eager to appease the Subahdar; they offered to submit to any conditions which he pleased to impose; and, trusting to the success of their humility and prayers, neglected too long the means of defence. The Subahdar had a wish for a triumph, which he thought might be easily obtained; and he was greedy of riches, with which, in the imagination of the natives, Calcutta was filled.

The outposts of Calcutta were attacked on the 18th of June, 1756. There was but little of military skill in the place, and it was badly defended. After a short experiment of resistance, a general consultation decided upon the policy of retreat. It was agreed that the women and effects should be put on board the ships in the course of the next day; and that the persons employed in the work of defence should escape in the same manner the following night. There was hardly a chance of mishap, for the natives always close their operations with the close of the day; but by some strange inadvertence no orders were published respecting the mode in which the plan was to be carried into effect. It was generally known that retreat was intended: When the embarkation next morning began, every person imagined he was to shift for himself, and hurried on board by the readiest conveyance: During this confusion an apprehension arose in the ships respecting the security of their situation; and they began to move down the river: The danger of being left without the means of retreat now flashed on the minds of the [148] spectators on shore; and the boats were filled and gone in an instant. “Among those who left the factory in this unaccountable manner were, the Governor Mr. Drake, Mr. Macket, Captain Commandant Minchin, and Captain Grant.”1 Great was the indignation among the people in the fort, upon hearing that they were in this manner abandoned. Mr. Holwell, though not the senior servant, was by the general voice called to assume the command; and exerted himself with great vigour to preserve order, and maintain the defence. “Signals were now thrown out,” says Mr. Cooke, “from every part of the fort, for the ships to come up again to their stations, in hopes they would have reflected (after the first impulse of their panic was over) how cruel as well as shameful it was, to leave their countrymen to the mercy of a barbarous enemy; and for that reason we made no doubt they would have attempted to cover the retreat of those left behind, now they had secured their own; but we deceived ourselves; and there never was a single effort made, in the two days the fort held out after this desertion, to send a boat or vessel to bring off any part of the garrison.”2 “Never perhaps,” says Mr. Orme, “was such an opportunity of performing an heroic action so ignominiously neglected: for a single sloop with fifteen brave men on board, might, in spite of all the efforts of the enemy, have come up, and anchoring under the fort, have carried away all who suffered in the dungeon.”3 [149] During these trying days Mr. Holwell made several efforts, by throwing letters over the wall, to signify his wish to capitulate; and it was during a temporary pause in the fire of the garrison, while expecting an answer, that the enemy approached the walls in numbers too great to be resisted, and the place was carried by storm. The Subahdar, though humanity was no part of his character, appears not on the present occasion to have intended cruelty; for when Mr. Holwell was carried into his presence with his hands tied, he ordered them to be set loose, and assured him, upon the faith of a soldier, that of the heads of him and his companions not a hair should be touched. When evening however came, it was a question with the guards to whom they were entrusted, how they might be secured for the night. Some search was made for a convenient apartment; but none was found; upon which information was obtained of a place which the English themselves had employed as a prison. Into this, without further inquiry, they were impelled. It was unhappily a small, ill-aired, and unwholesome dungeon, called, the Black Hole; and the English had their own practice to thank for suggesting it to the officers of the Subahdar as a fit place of confinement.1 Out of 146 unfortunate individuals [150] thrust in, only twenty-three were taken out alive in the morning. The horror of the situation may be conceived, but it cannot be described. “Some of our company,” says Mr. Cooke, “expired very soon after being put in; others grew mad, and having lost their senses, died in a high delirium.” Applications were made to the guard, with the offer of great rewards; but it was out of their power to afford relief. The only chance consisted in conveying intelligence, by means of a bribe, to some officer of high authority; but to no one does it appear that this expedient occurred.1[151]
The news of the capture of Cossimbuzar arrived at Madras on the 15th of July, of that of Calcutta on the 5th of August. It was fortunate that Admiral Watson and Colonel Clive were now both upon the coast. Admiral Watson was commander of the squadron which the English ministry had prudently sent to India during the progress of the negotiation in 1754. Soon after his arrival on the coast of Coromandel, the monsoon obliged him to sail to Bombay, from which he returned in the January following, by a very able navigation against a contrary monsoon; and was now joined by Mr. Pocock, who had arrived from England with two ships of superior force. He remained on the coast of Coromandel till the 10th of October, when he again sailed to Bombay, to escape the monsoon. At this place matters of great importance were already in agitation.

Captain Clive had arrived from England, where he had obtained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in his Majesty’s service, and the appointment of Deputy Governor of Fort St. David. He had landed at Bombay, with three companies of the King’s artillery, and between three and four hundred of the King’s troops, with a view to a project, concerted in England, of attacking Salabut Jung, in conjunction with the Mahrattas, and driving the French out of Deccan. The report which the directors in England had received of the brilliant exploits of Captain Clive in India had made them desirous of entrusting to him a service, highly delicate, of the greatest importance, and requiring the fullest acquaintance with the manners and circumstances of the country. “But from that dependance on the ministry,” says Mr. Orme, “to which their affairs will always be subject, whilst engaged in military operations, the Court of Directors, in compliance with very powerful recommendations, [152] appointed Lieutenant Colonel Scott to command the expedition.”1 This officer had sailed to India, in the capacity of Engineer-General, the preceding year. Clive was still directed to land at Bombay, in hopes that some accident might take the business out of the hands of Scott; which in reality happened, for that officer died before the other arrived. But in the mean time, the truce had been concluded between the English and French; and the Presidency of Bombay refused to engage in a measure by which it would be violated. There was another enterprise, however, in which they had already embarked, and in which, with the great force, military and naval, now happily assembled at Bombay, they had sanguine hopes of success.

The Mahrattas as early as the time of Sevagee, had raised something of a fleet, to protect them against the enterprise of the Siddees. In this service a common man distinguished himself; and rose from one post to another, till he became Admiral of the fleet. He was appointed Governor of a strong fort, called Severndroog, situated on a rocky island, within cannon shot of the continent, about eight miles north from Dabul. This adventurer quarrelled with the Mahratta government; and revolted with the greater part of the fleet. He not only set the Mahratta state at defiance; but was able to render himself master of the coast to an extent of sixty leagues, from Tanna to Rajapore; and the Mahrattas compounded their dispute with him, by receiving a small annual tribute as a mark of subjection. The name of the successful rebel was Conagee Angria; and he made piracy his trade. The nature of the [153] coast is well adapted to that species of depredation; because it is intersected by a great number of rivers, and the breezes compel ships to keep close to the land. The European nations had been harassed by this predatory community for nearly half a century; they had made several efforts to subdue them; but the power of Angria had always increased; and his fleets now struck terror into all commercial navigators on the western coast of India.

Several approaches towards the formation of a union for the extirpation of these corsairs had been made by the English and Mahrattas; but without effect, till 1755, when an English squadron, under Commodore James, and a land army of Mahrattas, attacked Severndroog, and took it, as well as the fort of Bancoote. It was toward the conclusion of the same year that Admiral Watson with his fleet, and Colonel Clive with his forces, arrived at Bombay: The final reduction of the piratical state was therefore decreed. On the 11th of February, 1756, the fleet, consisting of eight ships, besides a grab, and five bomb ketches, having on board 800 Europeans and 1,000 Sepoys, commanded by Colonel Clive, arrived at Gheriah; while a Mahratta army approached on the other side. Gheriah, the capital of Angria, stood on a rocky promontory, nearly surrounded by the sea, and had a fort of extraordinary strength. But the number of the assailants, and the violence of the cannonade, terrified both Angria and his people; and they made a feeble use of their advantages. Angria, with a view to effect an accommodation, placed himself in the hands of the Mahrattas; the fort surrendered; and the object of the expedition was completely attained. Watson arrived at Madras on the 16th of May, and Clive repaired to his government at Fort St. David, from which, in the month of August, he was summoned [154] to Madras, to assist in the deliberations for recovering Calcutta.1

It was resolved, after some debate, that the reestablishment of the Company’s affairs in Bengal should be pursued at the expense of every other enterprise. A dispute, however, of two months ensued, to determine in what manner prizes should be divided; who should command; and what should be the degree of power entrusted with the commander. The parties, of whom the pretensions were severally to be weighed, were Mr. Pigot, who had been Governor of Madras since the departure of Saunders, but was void of military experience; Colonel Aldercron, who claimed as senior officer of the King, but was unacquainted with the irregular warfare of the natives; Colonel Laurence, whose experience and merit were unquestionable, but to whose asthmatical complaints the close and sultry climate of Bengal were injurious; and Clive, to whom none of these exceptions applied. It was at last determined, that Clive should be sent. It was also determined, that he should be sent with powers independent of the Presidency of Calcutta. Among his instructions, one of the most peremptory was, that he should return, and be again at Madras with the whole of the troops, in the month of April; about which time it was expected that in consequence of the war between France and England, a French fleet would arrive upon the coast. It was principally, indeed, with a view to this return, that independence of the Calcutta rulers, who might be tempted to retain him, was bestowed upon Clive.

The force, which sailed from the road of Madras, on the 16th of October, consisted of five King’s ships [155] with Admiral Watson as Commander, and five Company’s ships, serving as transports; having on board 900 European troops, and 1,500 Sepoys. All the ships, with the exception of two, arrived in the Ganges on the 20th of December, and found the fugitives from Calcutta at Fulta, a town at some distance down the river, to which the ships had descended, and where they had found it practicable to remain.

After forwarding letters, full of threats, to Suraja Dowla, which the Governor of Calcutta sent word that he dared not deliver, it was resolved to commence operations, by the capture of a fort, which stood, on the river, between Fulta and Calcutta. On the 27th of December, at the time when the fort was to be attacked by the ships, Clive marched out, with the greater part of the troops, to lay an ambush for intercepting the garrison, who were not expected to make a tedious defence. The troops, fatigued in gaining their position, were allowed to quit their arms to take a little repose; “and from a security,” says Mr. Orme, “which no superiority or appearances in war could justify, the common precaution of stationing centinels was neglected.” In a few minutes they were all asleep; and in this situation, surprised by a large body of the enemy. The presence of mind and steady courage, which never deserted Clive in sudden emergencies, enabled him, even in those unfavourable circumstances, to disperse a band of irregular troops, led by a cowardly commander. “But had the enemy’s cavalry,” says Orme, “advanced and charged at the same time that the infantry began to fire, it is not improbable that the war would have been concluded on the very first trial of hostilities.”1

The ships came up and cannonaded the fort; but the garrison frustrated the project of Clive; and, totally unperceived, made their escape in the night. The other forts on the river were deserted, as the English approached; and on the 2d of January, 1757, the armament arrived at Calcutta. The garrison withstood not the cannon of the ships for two hours; and evacuated the place. The merchandise belonging to the Company was found mostly untouched, because it had been reserved for the Subahdar; but the houses of individuals were totally plundered.

Intelligence was received from the natives, who began to enter the town, that Hoogley, a considerable city, about twenty-three miles up the river from Calcutta, was thrown into great consternation by these recent events. In this situation an attack upon it was expected to produce a very favourable result. One of the ships sent on this service struck on a sandbank, and five days retarded the progress of the detachment. On the 10th of January they reached the spot; made a breach in the wall before night; and the troops no sooner mounted the rampart, than the garrison fled and escaped.

During the expedition to Hoogley news arrived of the commencement of hostilities between England and France.1 The French in Bengal had a force of 300 Europeans, and a train of field artillery; which, if added to the army of the Subahdar, would render him an irresistible enemy. The English were now [157] very desirous to make their peace with that formidable ruler; but the capture of Hoogly, undertaken solely with a view to plunder, had so augmented his rage, that he was not in a frame of mind to receive from them any proposition; and his army received its orders to march. Happily for the English, the same spirit by which Dupleix was reproached for not having negotiated a neutrality between the French and English Companies in India, though the nations were at war in Europe, prevailed in the Councils at Chandernagor. The rulers at that settlement refused to assist Suraja Dowla; and proposed that they and the English should engage by treaty, notwithstanding the war between their respective countries, to abstain from hostilities against one another in Bengal. Still the power of the Subahdar presented an appalling aspect to Clive; and no sooner had he received intimation of an abatement in the irritation of that enemy, than he renewed his application for peace. The Subahdar received his letter, and even proposed a conference; but continued his march, and on the 3d of February surrounded Calcutta with his camp. Clive resolved to surprise it before dawn of the following morning. The design was no less politic than bold; both as the audacity of it was likely to alarm a timorous enemy; and as the difficulty of procuring provisions, surrounded by a large body of cavalry, must soon have been great. The execution, however, was badly planned; and a thick mist augmented the causes of misfortune. The troops suffered considerably; and were several times exposed to the greatest dangers. Yet they marched through the camp; and produced on the minds of the Subahdar and his army the intended effect. Eager to be removed from an enemy capable of those daring attempts, Suraja Dowla was now in earnest to effect an accommodation. [158] Overtures were received and returned; and on the 9th of February a treaty was concluded by which the Nabob, as he was styled by the English, agreed to restore to the Company their factories, and all the privileges they had formerly enjoyed; to permit them to fortify Calcutta; and to make compensation to them for such of the plundered effects as had been brought to account in the books of his government. So greatly was he pleased with this treaty, that two days after its conclusion, he proposed to conclude with the English an alliance offensive and defensive; a contract which the English eagerly formed, and which both parties ratified on that very day.

In return to the French for that neutrality of theirs which had saved the English, Clive, at the very moment of making peace with the Nabob, sounded him to know if he would permit the English to attack the settlement at Chandernagor, for which there still would be time before the setting in of the southern monsoon. The proposition was hateful to the Subahdar; but for the present he returned an evasive answer. As this was not a prohibition, Clive resolved to construe it as a permission; and he sent his army across the river. The Subahdar now interfered with efficacy; sent an express prohibition; and took measures for opposing the attempt.

The Council at Calcutta, no longer expecting the consent of the Subahdar, and alarmed at the thought of attempting the enterprise in defiance of his authority, entered into negotiation with the French. They had mutually agreed upon terms; and obtained the assent of the Subahdar to guarantee between them a treaty of neutrality and pacification. But the factory at Chandernagor was dependant on the government of Pondicherry, and could only ratify the treaty provisionally; the government of Calcutta signed with [159] definitive powers. This difference started a scruple in the brain of Admiral Watson; and he refused to sign. In the opinion of Clive, there was but one alternative: that of embracing the neutrality, or instantly attacking Chandernagor. But Watson refused to attack without the Nabob’s consent; and Clive urged the necessity of accepting the neutrality. In a letter to the Select Committee he said, “If the neutrality be refused, do but reflect, Gentlemen, what will be the opinion of the world of these our late proceedings. Did we not, in consequence of a letter received from the Governor and Council of Chandernagor, making offers of a neutrality within the Ganges, in a manner accede to it, by desiring they would send deputies, and that we would gladly come into such neutrality with them? And have we not, since their arrival, drawn out articles that were satisfactory to both parties; and agreed that such articles should be reciprocally signed, sealed, and sworn to? What will the Nabob think, after the promises made him on our side, and after his consenting to guarantee this neutrality? He, and all the world, will certainly think, that we are men without principles, or that we are men of a trifling insignificant disposition.”1 While the altercations on this subject continued, news reached the Subahdar, that Ahmed Shah, the Abdallee, had taken Delhi; and meant to extend his conquests to the eastern provinces of the Mogul empire. This intelligence, which filled him with consternation, suggested the vast importance of securing the co-operation of the English; and he immediately sent a letter to Colonel Clive, the object of which was to pave the way for attaining it, on almost any terms. The very same day on which the letter of [160] the Nabob reached Calcutta, the arrival was announced of three ships with troops from Bombay, and of one of the ships, also bearing troops, which sailed with Clive from Madras, but was compelled to return. “With such additions,” says Mr. Orme, “the English force was deemed capable of taking Chandernagor, although protected by the Nabob’s army: Colonel Clive therefore immediately dismissed the French deputies, who were then with him waiting to sign the treaty, which was even written out fair, and which they supposed had been entirely concluded.”1

The English force advanced; while the scruples of Admiral Watson, under the great accession of force, were vanquished by some supposed contradictions in the letters of the Subahdar; and the opposition of the Subahdar was suspended by his apprehension of the Afghauns. On the 14th of March, the detachment from Bombay having joined the English army, hostilities commenced. The French defended themselves with great gallantry: the Nabob, roused at last, and eager to prevent their fall, sent peremptory orders to [161] the English to desist; and even put a part of his army in motion: But the fire from the ships was irresistible, and the reduction of the fort anticipated the effects of his intended resistance. The resentment of the Nabob was checked by his remaining dread of the Abdallees; and he still courted the friendship of the invaders: He, however, eluded their request to give up all the other French factories and subjects in his dominions; and afforded protection to the troops who had escaped from the fort of Chandernagor.

The time was now arrived when, according to his instructions, Clive ought no longer to have deferred his return to Madras. He himself, in his letter to the select committee, dated the 4th of March, had said respecting Watson’s objection to the treaty of neutrality; “This leads me to consider seriously the situation of the Company’s affairs on the coast, and the positive orders I have received from the President and the Committee at Madras, to return at all events with as great a part of the forces under my command as could possibly be spared.”1 “The situation of the Company’s affairs on the coast,” that is, in Carnatic, was indeed in no small degree alarming, if they remained without the protection of their military force, sent for the restoration of the settlements in Bengal. The Presidency of Madras had not left themselves troops sufficient to make head against the French even then in the country; and it was known at Madras, before the departure of Clive, that, in consequence of the expected hostilities, a powerful armament was destined by the French government for India; and without doubt would make its first landing in Carnatic. On the other side Clive beheld an opening [162] for exploits, both splendid and profitable, in Bengal; overlooked all other considerations; violated his instructions; and remained.

The French, who had collected themselves at Cossimbuzar, became the first subject of dispute. Instead of yielding them up, on the repeated solicitations of the English, the Nabob furnished M. Law, who was the head of the factory at Cossimbuzar, with money, arms, and ammunition, and sent them into Bahar; Clive, to the great displeasure of his new ally, threatening, and even preparing, to detach a part of his army to intercept them. By the author of the Seer Mutakhareen, we are told, that M. Law, before his departure, revealed to Suraja Dowla the disaffection of his principal officers; the connection which they would be sure to form with the English for his destruction; and the necessity of retaining the French about his person if he wished to preserve himself from that deplorable fate. The persons, however, who meditated his ruin, and who saw the importance of removing the French, pressed upon his mind the impolicy of quarrelling with the victorious English on account of the vanquished and fugitive French. He therefore dismissed M. Law, telling him, “that if there should happen any thing new, he would send for him again.”—“Send for me again?” answered Law, “Be assured, my lord nawab, that this is the last time we shall see each other; remember my words,—we shall never meet again; it is nearly impossible.”1

Lord Clive, in his statement to the House of Commons, said, “that after Chandernagor was resolved to be attacked, he repeatedly said to the committee, as well as to others, that they could not stop there, but [163] must go further; that, having established themselves by force, and not by consent of the Nabob, he would endeavour to drive them out again; that they had numberless proofs of his intentions, many upon record; and that he did suggest to Admiral Watson and Sir George Pococke, as well as to the Committee, the necessity of a revolution; that Mr. Watson and the gentlemen of the Committee agreed upon the necessity of it;1 and that the management of that revolution was, with consent of the committee, left to Mr. Watts, who was resident at the Nabob’s capital, and himself; that great dissatisfaction arising among Suraja Dowla’s troops, Meer Jaffier was pitched upon to be the person to place in the room of Suraja Dowla, in consequence of which a treaty was formed.”2

A complicated scene took place, which it would be little instructive to unfold,3 of plotting and intrigue. The first proposals were made by an officer named Yar Khan Latty; and they were greedily embraced; till intimation was received that Meer Jaffier Khan was inclined to enter into a confederacy for deposing the Subahdar. This was a personage of much greater power and distinction. He had been married at an early period to the sister of Aliverdi, and held a high rank in his army. Between him and Aliverdi had not been always the best understanding; and Meer Jaffier had at one time entered into a project of treason. But the interest of the two parties taught them to master their dissatisfaction; and at [164] the death of Aliverdi, Meer Jaffier was paymaster general of the forces, one of the highest offices in an Indian government. Suraja Dowla hated Meer Jaffier, and was too ignorant and headstrong to use management with his dislikes. Shortly after his accession, Meer Jaffier was removed from his office, and remained exposed to all that might result from the violent disposition of the Subahdar. According to the constitution however of an Indian army, in which every General maintains his own troops, a considerable portion of the army belonged to Meer Jaffier; and this he exerted himself to increase, by enlisting as many as possible of the adventurers, with whom the nature of Indian warfare made the country abound.

In manufacturing the terms of the confederacy, the grand concern of the English appeared to be money. “The Committee really believed,” says Mr. Orme, “the wealth of Suraja Dowla much greater than it possibly could be, even if the whole life of the late Nabob Aliverdi had not been spent in defending his own dominions against the invasion of ruinous enemies; and even if Suraja Dowla himself had reigned many, instead of only one year.”1 They resolved accordingly not to be sparing in their demands; and the situation of Jaffier Khan, and the manners and customs of the country, made him ready to promise whatever they desired. In name of compensation for losses by the capture of Calcutta, 10,000,000 rupees were promised to the English Company, 5,000,000 rupees to English inhabitants, 2,000,000 to the Indians, and 700,000 to the Armenians. These sums were specified in the formal treaty. Over and beside this, it was resolved by the Committee [165] of the Council, that is, the small number of individuals by whom the business was performed, that a donation of 2,500,000 rupees should be asked for the squadron; and another of equal amount for the army. “When this was settled,” says Lord Clive,1 “Mr. Becher (a member) suggested to the Committee, that he thought that Committee, who managed the great machine of government, was entitled to some consideration, as well as the army and navy.” Such a proposition, in such an assembly, could not fail to appear eminently reasonable. It met with a suitable approbation. Mr. Becher informs us, that the sums received were 280,000 rupees by Mr. Drake the Governor; 280,000 by Colonel Clive; and 240,000 each, by himself, Mr. Watts, and Major Kilpatrick, the inferior members of the Committee.2 The terms obtained in favour of the Company were, that all the French factories and effects should be given up; that the French should be for ever excluded from Bengal; that the territory surrounding Calcutta to the distance of 600 yards beyond the Mahratta ditch, and all the land lying south of Calcutta as far as Culpee should be granted them on Zemindary tenure, the Company paying the rents in the same manner as other Zemindars.

For effecting the destruction of Suraja Dowla it was concerted, that the English should take the field; and that Meer Jaffier should join them at Cutwa, [166] with his own troops, and those of as many of the other commanders as it should be in his power to debauch. When the English arrived at Cutwa, no allies, however, appeared: Letters were received from Moorshedabad by some of the natives in the camp, stating that the conspiracy was discovered, and that Meer Jaffier had obtained his pardon, on condition of aiding the Nabob with all his resources against the English. Instead of Meer Jaffier and his troops, a letter from Meer Jaffier arrived. In this it was stated, that the suspicions of the Nabob had been raised; that he had constrained Meer Jaffier to swear fidelity on the Koran; that it had thus become impossible for Meer Jaffier to join the English before the day of battle; but that it would be easy for him, in the action, to desert the Nabob, and decide the fortune of the day. The mind of the English commander was disturbed. The treachery of Meer Jaffier could not be regarded as improbable; and “he thought it extremely hazardous” (to use his own words) “to pass a river which is only fordable in one place, march 150 miles up the country, and risk a battle, when, if a defeat ensued, not one man would have returned to tell it.”1

In these difficulties he called a council of war. “It is very rare,” says Mr. Orme, “that a council of war decides for battle.”2 Clive himself says, “that this was the only council of war that ever he held, and if he had abided by that council, it would have been the ruin of the East India Company.”3 The singularity is, that in the council Clive himself was of the same opinion with the majority, and by delivering his opinion first, which was far from the [167] usual practice, had no doubt considerable influence in determining others: yet that afterwards he disregarded that decision; and took upon himself to act in direct opposition to it. The army was ordered to cross the river the next morning; and at a little past midnight arrived at Plassy.1

At this place, a part of the army of the Subahdar had been intrenched for a considerable time; and the Subahdar himself had reached it with the remainder of his forces the evening before the arrival of the English. The army with which he was now to contend for his power and his life consisted of 50,000 foot, 18,000 horse, and fifty pieces of cannon. Of the English force, 900, including 100 artillery-men and fifty sailors, were Europeans; 100 were Topasses; and 2,100 Sepoys. The battle was nothing but a distant cannonade. This was maintained during the greatest part of the day, and sufficed to terrify the Subahdar, who, by the advice of those who desired his ruin, issued orders of preparation for retreat. Upon this, Jaffier Khan was observed moving off with his troops: Clive was then convinced of his intention to join him: He now, therefore, ordered the English to advance, and attack that part of the line which still maintained its position. The knowledge of these two events determined the mind of the Subahdar, who mounted a fleet camel and fled with 2,000 attendants. No further resistance was offered; and the English entered the camp at five o’clock, having, by the assistance of a weak and vicious sovereign, [168] determined the fate of a great kingdom, and of 30,000,000 of people, with the loss of twenty Europeans killed and wounded, of sixteen Sepoys killed, and only thirty-six wounded.1

The army advanced, about nine miles, to Daudpore, the same evening, with little occasion to pursue the enemy, who had almost entirely dispersed. At this place, Meer Jaffier sent a message to the English commander; that he, with many more of the great officers, and a considerable part of the army, waited his commands. The next morning Clive sent to conduct him to his quarters; and he arrived, under some apprehensions, which the Colonel, thinking it no time for reproaches, hastened to dispel. It was arranged that Meer Jaffier should march to the capital immediately, to prevent the escape of Suraja Dowla, and the removal of his wealth.

That wretched prince had arrived at his palace the night after the battle, where, now apprized that he had not a friend on whom he could rely, and utterly uncertain what course to pursue, he remained till the evening of the following day, when Meer Jaffier entered the city. Then his fears dictated a resolution. He disguised himself in a mean dress, and about ten o’clock at night went secretly out of a window of the palace, with his favourite concubine and a single eunuch, intending to join M. Law, and escape into Bahar, where he counted upon the protection of the Governor. The rowers, however, of his boat, worn out before the morning with fatigue, stopped at Raje [169] Mahl, where he endeavoured to conceal himself in a garden. He was there, at break of day, discovered by a man, whom he had formerly treated with cruelty; and who now revealed him to the Governor. Covered with indignity, he was hurried back to Moorshedabad; and presented to Meer Jaffier, who placed him under the custody of his son. The son, a brutal, ferocious youth, the same night gave orders for his assassination. M. Law, who received a summons to join the Nabob as soon as war with the English appeared inevitable, immediately began his march; but had not passed Tacriagully when he received reports of the battle of Plassy; and halted for further information. “Had he immediately proceeded twenty miles further,” says Mr. Orme, “he would the next day have met and saved Suraja Dowla, and an order of events, very different from those which we have to relate, would, in all probability, have ensued.”1

The battle was fought on the 23d of June, and on the 25th Colonel Clive with his troops arrived at Moorshedabad. On the next day, a meeting was held to confer about the stipulated moneys; when the chief officer of finance declared that the whole of Suraja Dowla’s treasures was inadequate to the demand. “The restitution,” says Mr. Orme, “ with the donations to the squadron, the army, and the committee, amounted to 22,000,000 of sicca rupees, equal to 2,750,000l. But other donations were promised, which have since been the foundation of several fortunes.”2 The scantiness of the Bengal treasury was most unexpected, as well as most painful news, to the English; who had been accustomed to a fond and literal belief of Oriental exaggeration [170] on the subject of Indian riches. With great difficulty were they brought to admit so hateful a truth. Finding at last that more could not be obtained, they consented to receive one half of the moneys immediately, and to accept of the rest by three equal payments, in three years. Even of the portion which was now to be received, it was necessary to take one third not in specie, which was all exhausted, but in jewels, plate, and other effects, at a valuation. Before the 9th of August, after a multitude of difficulties, the stipulated half, all but 584,905 rupees, was delivered and discharged.1

Upon the news of the seizure and death of Suraja Dowla, M. Law, with the French party, hastened [172] back, to join the Governor of Bahar, at Patna, the capital of the province. Upon the assassination of the father of Suraja Dowla, Aliverdi had nominated Suraja Dowla himself to the nabobship of that important province; but appointed Ramnarain, a Hindu, in whom he reposed great confidence, to be Deputy Governor in the absence of the Prince. Ramnarain had administered the affairs of the province during the life of Aliverdi, and had continued in the government since the accession of Suraja Dowla. From him Meer Jaffier expected no co-operation, and displayed anxiety that the French party should be pursued. He suspected, however, the fidelity of any part of his own army; and a large detachment of the English were sent under Major Coote. They were detained too long in preparation; they were poorly provided with the means of expedition; and the European part of the detachment, exasperated at the fatigue they had to endure, behaved mutinously on the way. Before they reached Patna, the French had arrived; and, to obviate disputes, had been sent forward by Ramnarain into the territory of the Subahdar of Oude, with whom he had begun to negotiate an alliance. Major Coote was at first instructed to endeavour by intrigue and by force to wrest the government from Ramnarain: but while he was meditating the execution of these orders, he received further instructions which led to an accommodation; and he returned to Moorshedabad on the 13th of September. The detachment which he had [173] conducted was stationed at Cossimbuzar, near Moorshedabad; the rest of the army was sent into quarters at Chandernagor as a more healthy situation than the seat of the Presidency; and on the day after the arrival of Major Coote, Colonel Clive left Moorshedabad and returned to Calcutta.1
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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Part 1 of 2

CHAP. IV.

Renewal of the war with the French in Carnatic—Arrival of Lally.—French power superior to the English.—English power superior to the French.—Pondicherry taken—and the French driven out of Carnatic.

When the English detachment for the recovery of Calcutta, and the French detachment for the relief of Bussy, left Carnatic, the contending parties were so far diminished in force, as to meditate quietness and forbearance: the English, till the troops which they had sent to Bengal should return; the French, till the armament should arrive, which they expected from Europe. In the mean time it was felt by the English as a grievous misfortune, that though their Nabob Mahomed Ali was now without a rival in Carnatic, its pecuniary produce was remarkably small. The governors of forts and districts, the zemindars, polygars, and renters, employed, as usual, all their means of artifice and force, to withhold their payments; and the rabble employed by Mahomed Ali, as soldiers, ill paid and weakly governed, were found altogether inadequate to the establishment of an efficient authority in the province. The notion which was early entertained of the great pecuniary supplies capable of being drawn from Madura and Tinivelly, appears still to have maintained a determining influence in the councils of Madras; and notwithstanding the general resolution to remain inactive, Captain Calliaud, the commanding officer at Trichinopoly, before the end of the year 1756, received instructions to renew his attempts for the reduction of those dependencies. [175] In the hope of prevailing upon the King of Tanjore to afford some assistance; a hope which, as usual, he took care to disappoint; Captain Calliaud directed his march through Tanjore, and crossing Marawar, arrived in Tinivelly. The troops who accompanied him, joined to the body of Sepoys who had remained in the country, and the troops of the Polygars who had espoused the English interest, composed a formidable army. But it was unable to proceed to action for want of money; and the utmost exertions of Calliaud produced but an insignificant supply. Intelligence that the rebellious polygars were treating with the Mysoreans, who had a station at the fort of Dindigul, presented in strong colours the necessity of expedition; yet he was unable to leave Tinivelly before the 10th of April; when he marched to attack Madura with 180 Europeans, 2,500 Sepoys, six fieldpieces, and 500 horse. Upon arriving at the town, he found it a place of much greater strength then he had been led to suppose; and, without battering cannon, not easy, if possible, to be reduced. He planned an effort to take it by surprise. The first ladders were planted; and Calliaud himself, with twenty men, had got into the fausse-bray, when the guard within received the alarm, and they were obliged to retreat. Two companies of Sepoys were soon after dispatched to bring two pieces of battering artillery from Trichinopoly; and Calliaud had commenced an intrigue with some of the jematdars or captains of the enemy’s troops, when he received intelligence that the French had arrived at Trichinopoly.

During these efforts to obtain possession of the revenues of Madura and Tinivelly, similar efforts had been undertaken in other parts of the province. A brother of the Nabob, by name Nezeeb Oolla, [176] who was Governor of Nelore and its district, situated in the northern quarter of Carnatic, evaded or refused payment of the sums demanded of him; and the Nabob, who possessed not the means of coercion, was urgent with the English to perform it in his stead. The rupture between the two brothers took place towards the end of February, and it was the 1st of April before the English troops were ready to march. By the end of the month they had erected batteries against the fort; on the 2d of May a breach was effected, which they deemed practicable; and a storm was attempted the next morning. But the English were repulsed from the breach, nor was it deemed expedient to renew the attack till more battering-cannon should be received from Madras. In the mean time the detachment received orders to return to the Presidency with all expedition.

The Government of Pondicherry, notwithstanding the pacific policy inculcated by the recall of Dupleix, and the commands which they had received to abstain from all operations of hazard, till the arrival of the forces which they expected from Europe, determined, when they saw the English so largely at work, and their small force separated to such a distance as Tinivelly and Nelore, to avail themselves of an opportunity which good fortune seemed to present. They took the field on the 6th of April; but, to cover their designs, with only a small number of troops, and for an object of minor importance. By forced marches they appeared before Ellavanasore on the 10th, a fort possessed by a chief, who had hitherto refused to acknowledge either the English or the French Nabob. In a sally, in which he threw the French army into great jeopardy, he received a mortal wound, of which he died in a few days, and the garrison, during the night, evacuated the fort. [177] The French, after this acquisition, marched in the direction leading to the territory of some polygars with whom they had disputes; and Captain Calliaud received a letter from the Madras Presidency, on the very day on which he attempted to surprise Madura, that from the late intelligence received of the motions of the French, no design on their part was apprehended against Trichinopoly.1 The season for the arrival of the English troops from Bengal was elapsed; and it was impossible now that any should return before September. The French, therefore, suddenly, barring their garrisons; leaving in Pondicherry itself none but invalids; and enrolling the European inhabitants to man the walls, dispatched every soldier to the field; and the army took post before Trichinopoly on the 14th of May. The garrison, deprived of the troops which had marched to Madura, were insufficient to guard the walls; and they had 500 French prisoners in the fort. Calliaud received intelligence before Madura of the imminent danger of Trichinopoly, at three o’clock in the afternoon of the 21st; at six he was on his march; on the 25th at day-break he halted nineteen miles from Trichinopoly. An army five times as great as his watched his approach, and guarded every avenue by which it was supposed he could enter the fort. On one side of the town was a large plain, about seven miles in extent, consisting of rice fields, covered with water, which the French deemed impassable. Calliaud continued his march, as if he intended to enter by one of the ordinary inlets, till night; when he suddenly took another direction; and arrived at the margin of the rice fields about ten o’clock. The fatigue of marching through the rice fields up to the knees in mud, [178] after forced marches of several days, was excessive. At day-break, however, the main body of the detachment reached the fort, and were received with that ardent welcome by its inmates which the greatness of the danger, and the exertions which the detachment had made to save it, naturally inspired. The French commander, astonished at the news of their entrance, and now despairing of success, marched away for Pondicherry the following day.1

Intelligence of the march of the French against Trichinopoly, and of the repulses sustained by their own troops, in the two assaults upon Madura and Nelore, reached the Presidency of Madras at nearly the same time. They recalled immediately the detachment from Nelore; sent as many troops as possible into the field; and were uncertain whether, to relieve Trichinopoly, they should recall the French to the defence of their own settlements, or march to attack them before the place; when the welcome news arrived of the fact and consequences of Calliaud’s return. To possess and garrison the forts which were scattered over the country, and which, by commanding the adjacent districts, afforded the only chance of revenue, was a principal object of desire to both contending parties. Several transactions took place about this time, relating to places of minor importance; but Wandewash was a fortress to the reduction of which peculiar value was attached. The Governor of Wandewash had paid no revenue since 1752; he had perpetually favoured the French; who from that station had been enabled to make incursions into every part of the province; it not only afforded a large revenue, it was also a barrier to the [179] surrounding districts. In hopes that it might be taken before the French army could arrive from Trichinopoly to its relief, the English commander, sent to the attack, was ordered to push his operations with the greatest vigour. He got possession of the town, which was contiguous to the fort, after a slight resistance. The French, however, were now hastening to its relief; and Colonel Aldereron, whose march had not displayed any wonderful dispatch, thought it prudent to renounce the enterprise before they arrived. At his departure he set fire to the defenceless town though no peculiar circumstance is alleged to justify an act so cruel to the innocent inhabitants.

The English Presidency, to whom the nabobship of Arcot continued as yet but little productive, were straitened in their treasury. Anxious therefore to diminish expense, they gave directions, upon hearing that the army had retired from Wandewash, for its proceeding immediately to the Presidency. Unhappily the enemy were in the field, of which they were thus left entirely the masters; and they performed a successful incursion as far as Conjeveram, where they burned the town, to revenge the outrage committed upon Wandewash. The Presidency, now aware of their blunder, ordered back the army into the field. The two armies were nearly equal. The English offered battle; but the French kept within their entrenchments. The English, after remaining in their presence for some weeks, retired again at the end of July; and marched to the several stations from which they had been drawn. The French were no sooner masters of the field, than they renewed their incursions, collected the revenues, and levied contributions in several districts.

A pressure was now sustained of another description. The Mahratta general Balagee Row had paid a visit of exaction to the kingdom of Mysore the preceding [180] season; and, upon marching back to his own country, before the period of the rains, left an officer with a large detachment, who, after taking several intervening forts, made himself master of one of the passes into Carnatic, about sixty miles north-west from the city of Arcot, and sent a peremptory demand of the chout for the whole nabobship. The city of Arcot was thrown into the utmost alarm: the Nabob dreaded the incursion of Mahratta parties into the very town; and accepted the invitation of the English to send his family to Madras. The Mahrattas pretended that the chout had been settled by Nizam al Mulk, at 600,000 rupees a year; two thirds for Carnatic, and one for Trichinopoly and the southern dependencies. Of this they asserted that six years were due; and presented their demand, in the whole, at 4,000,000 of rupees. The Nabob, who knew the weakness of his physical, if not of his intellectual resources, was glad to negotiate. After much discussion, the Mahratta agent consented to accept of 200,000 rupees, in ready money, and the Nabob’s draughts upon the governors of forts and the polygars, for 250,000 more. To these terms the Nabob agreed; but he required that the money should be found by the English, and should be furnished out of the revenues which he had assigned to them for the expenses of the war. At this time the English might have obtained important assistance against the Mahrattas. Morari Row, and the Patan Nabobs of Savanore, Canoul, Candanore, and Cudapa, who, since the assassination of Nazir Jung, had maintained a sort of independence, offered their alliance. But the English could spare no troops; and were as much afraid to admit such allies into the province as the Mahrattas themselves. After as much delay and evasion as possible, they were induced, not [181] withstanding the danger of the precedent, in fear of greater evils, to comply with the demand.

During all this period the attention of the Presidency of Madras may be considered as chiefly divided between two objects; the French in Carnatic, and the Polygars of Madura and Tinivelly. When Calliaud was obliged to march from Madura for the defence of Trichinopoly, he left about sixty Europeans, and upwards of 1,000 Sepoys, who were not inactive; and, as soon as he was convinced that no further danger was to be apprehended from the French, he dispatched a reinforcement from Trichinopoly. In compliance with the recommendation of the Presidency, Calliaud himself, with as great a portion of the troops from Trichinopoly as it was safe to withdraw, marched on the 25th of June, and arrived at Madura on the 3d of July. Having effected a breach on the 10th, he resolved to storm. He was repulsed with great loss. For some days the operations of the besiegers were retarded by the sickness of their leader. The admission of supplies into the town was now, however, cut off; and the negotiations for its surrender were renewed. After some time was spent in bargaining about the price, Calliaud, on the 8th of August, on payment of 170,000 rupees, was received into the town.

On the 8th of September a French fleet of twelve ships anchored in Pondicherry road; but, after landing about a thousand men, it again set sail for Mauritius. This was not the grand armament which the government at Pondicherry expected; and, till the arrival of which, all operations of magnitude were to be deferred. The army, however, which had been scouring the country, was still in its camp at Wandewash. It was now strongly reinforced by the troops newly arrived; and marched against the fort [182] of Chittapet. The Nabob, Mahomed Ali, had a personal dislike to the Governor of Chittapet, and had infused into the English suspicions of his fidelity, which imprudently diminished the efforts necessary for his support. He fell, defending his fort to the last extremity; and thus another place of considerable importance was gained by the French. From Chittapet they marched to Trinomalee, which was abandoned by the Governor and garrison, upon their approach. After this they divided themselves into several detachments; and before the 6th of November, when they were recalled, they had reduced eight forts in the neighbourhood of Chittapet, Trinomalee, and Gingee; and established collectors in the dependent districts.

On the news of the arrival of the French fleet, Captain Calliaud returned to Trichinopoly, with all the Europeans, and was soon after followed by the Sepoys, who, however, went back, as soon as it appeared that Trichinopoly was not in danger. The Mysoreans, who had been long expected to the assistance of the confederate Polygars, arrived in the month of November, took the fort of Sholavenden, and plundered to the walls of Madura, under which they remained for several days. They allowed themselves, however, to be attacked in a narrow pass, by the commander of the British Sepoys, and suffered a severe defeat. In the mean time Captain Calliaud, under the safeguard of a passport from Pondicherry, repaired in person to the Presidency, to represent the state of the southern dependencies, for the reduction of which so many useless efforts had been made; and declared his opinion that the settlement of the country could not be achieved, or a revenue drawn from it, without a greater force, or the removal of Maphuz Khan. It was agreed with the Nabob that [183] an annual income, adequate to his maintenance, should be offered to this his elder brother, provided he would quit the province and disband his troops. Maphuz Khan, however, would listen to no terms importing less than the government of the whole country; and the confederates continued in formidable force.

Though, after the recall of the French troops in November, no army was in the field; the garrisons left in the several forts continued to make incursions upon one another, and mutually ravaged the unhappy country. As these operations, “being always levelled at defenceless villages, carried,” says Mr. Orme, “the reproach of robbery, more than the reputation of war;” each side, too, losing by them more than it gained; the French officer at Wandewash proposed a conference, for the purpose of ending this wretched species of warfare; and an English officer was authorized to conclude an agreement. The governments of Madras and Pondicherry were both now disposed to suspend their efforts—the French, till the arrival of the forces which they boasted were to render them irresistible in Carnatic—the English, that they might husband their resources for the danger with which they were threatened. In this situation they continued till the 28th of April, when a French squadron of twelve sail arrived in the road of Fort St. David.

Upon the breaking out of the war between France and England in 1756, the French ministry resolved to strike an important blow in India. The Count de Lally, a member of one of those Irish families, which had transported themselves into France along with James II., was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the French forces in India. He had distinguished himself in the battle of Fontenoy, where he took several English officers with his own hand, and received [184] the rank of Colonel from the King, upon the field of battle: It was he who proposed the daring plan of landing in England with 10,000 men, while the Prince, Charles Edward, was trying his fortune for a crown in another part of the island: And his hatred of the English, and his reputation for courage, now pointed him out as the fittest person to crush the pretensions of that nation on the coast of Coromandel. He was accompanied with his own regiment of Irish, 1080 strong; with fifty of the royal artillery, and a great number of officers of distinction. They left the port of Brest on the 4th of May, 1757, when a malignant fever raged in the town, of which they carried the infection along with them. No fewer than 300 persons died in the fleet before they reached Rio Janeiro, where they remained for two months, and, after all, departed with a residue of the sickness on board. At Mauritius they were joined by a part of the ships which had landed the troops at Pondicherry in the preceding year; and, after a tedious voyage, made the coast of Coromandel on the 25th of April.

The court of Versailles anticipated nothing but triumphs from this splendid armament; and the presumption of Lally well assorted with that of his government. It was even laid down in the instructions of the ministers, that he should commence his operations with the siege of Fort St. David. For this purpose, before communicating with the land, he made the fleet anchor at the place of attack. He proceeded with two of the vessels to Pondicherry, where he arrived at five in the afternoon;1 and before the [185] night closed he had 1,000 Europeans, and as many Sepoys, on their march to Fort St. David. In military operations, notwithstanding the importance of dispatch, something more than dispatch is necessary. The troops marched without provisions, and with unskilful guides, who led them astray, and brought them to Fort St. David at seven o’clock in the morning, worn out with hunger and fatigue.1 This gave them a motive and an apology for commencing a system of plunder and insubordination, from which they could not easily be recalled.

These troops had scarcely arrived at Fort St. David, when the ships in the road descried the English fleet making way from the south. Mr. Pococke, with the ships of war from Bengal, had arrived at Madras on the 24th of February; on the 24th of the following month a squadron of five ships from Bombay had arrived under Admiral Stevens; and on the 17th of April, the whole sailed to the southward, looking out for the French. Having in ten days worked as high to windward as the head of Ceylon, they stood in again for the coast, which they made, off Negapatnam, on the 28th, and, proceeding along shore, discovered the French fleet at nine the next morning, riding near Cuddalore. The French immediately weighed, and bore down towards Pondicherry throwing out signals to recall the two ships which had [186] sailed with Lally; and the English Admiral gave the signal for chase. The summons for the two ships not being answered, the French fleet stood out to sea, and formed the line of battle. The French consisted of nine sail, the English only of seven. The battle was indecisive; the loss of a few men, with some damage to the ships, being the only result.1 Both fleets fell considerably to leeward during the engagement; and the French were six days in working up to the road of Pondicherry, where the troops were landed. Lally himself had some days before proceeded to Fort St. David with the whole force of Pondicherry, and the troops from the fleet were sent after him, as fast as they came on shore.

The English were thrown into the greatest alarm. So much was the power of the enemy now superior to their own, that they scarcely anticipated any other result, than their expulsion from the country; and had Dupleix been still the guide and conductor of the enemy’s affairs, it is more than probable, that their most gloomy apprehensions would have been realised.6 Not only had an overwhelming addition been made to a force, against which they had previously found it difficult to maintain themselves; but in the mean time, Bussy, in the northern parts of Deccan, had obtained the most important advantages, and brought upon the English the heaviest disasters. After the brilliant exploit of 1756, when he defended himself at Hyderabad against the whole power of the Subahdar, [187] and imposed his own terms upon his enemies, he had proceeded to the Northern Circars, where his presence was necessary, to collect the revenues, and, by an adjustment of the government, to provide for the future regularity of their payment. He began his march on the 16th of November of that year, with 500 Europeans and 4,000 Sepoys; leaving only a small detachment to attend the person of the Subahdar.1 In accomplishing his progress through the country, he encountered no considerable resistance. The Polygar of Bobilee defended his fort to the last extremity; and exhibited the customary spectacle of Hindu desperation, the fortress in flames, and the people in garrison butchered by their own hands: But he was excited to this desperation by the command to exchange the government of his present for that of another district, on account of the annoyance he gave to a neighbouring Chief, from whom Bussy had received a train of important services. When Bussy had nearly completed the arrangement which he intended to make, he received about the 1st of April letters from Suraja Dowla, inviting him, by the largest offers, to assist him in expelling the English from Bengal. Bussy waited on his northern frontier, ready to march through Orissa into Bengal, as soon as he should receive satisfactory intelligence; but, learning the capture of Chandernagor, and the imbecility of the Subahdar, he changed his purpose, and proceeded to the attack of the English establishments within the Circars. There were three factories, on three different branches of the Godavery, in a district remarkable for the excellence and cheapness of its cloths. They [188] were places of no strength, and surrendered on the first requisition. Vizigapatam, however, was one of the places of greatest importance belonging to the English in India. It was a fort, garrisoned by 150 Europeans, and 300 Sepoys; but so injudiciously constructed, that the attempt to defend it was unanimously determined to be vain. The van of Bussy’s army appeared before it on the 24th of June; and a capitulation was concluded; that all the Europeans, both military and civil, should be regarded as prisoners, and all the effects of the Company as prize of war. The Sepoys, and other natives, Bussy allowed to go where they pleased; he also promised to respect the property of individuals. “And he kept his word,” says Mr. Orme, “with the utmost liberality, resigning, without discussion, whatsoever property any one claimed as his own.”

During these transactions, however, a great revolution was preparing in the army of Salabut Jung. He had two younger brothers, whom Bussy, acquainted with the temper of Oriental governments, had advised the Subahdar to provide with establishments, and every indulgence suitable to their rank, but from whom he had exhorted him carefully to withhold those governments and places of power, which, in the hands of the near relations of the Prince, were the cause of so many revolutions in India. This prudent course was pursued till the period of the alienation from Bussy of the mind of the Subahdar; when that Prince was easily persuaded, by his designing courtiers, to reverse the policy which the sagacity of Bussy had established. The eldest of the two brothers, Bassalut Jung, was appointed Governor of the strong fort and country of Adoni; and Nizam Ali, the youngest and most dangerous, was made Governor of Berar, the most extensive province of [189] Deccan, of which the Mahrattas now possessed the principal part.

Towards the end of the year 1757, while a body of Mahrattas insulted Aurengabad, which was then the residence of the Subahdar, a mutiny, under the usual shape of clamour for pay, was excited in his army. The utmost alarm was affected by the Duan, or minister, who took shelter in a strong fort: The Subahdar, without resources, was driven to dismay: Nizam Ali, who had acquired some reputation, and intrigued successfully with the troops, offered to interpose and allay the tumults, provided the requisite powers, and among other things the great seal of the Subah, were committed to his hands: the requisition was obeyed: and Nizam Ali, leaving only the name of Subahdar to his brother, grasped the wholepowers of the state. With an affectation of indifference he committed the seal to his brother Bassalut Jung, but under sufficient security that it would be used agreeably to his directions.

Bussy received intelligence of these events in the beginning of January; immediately began his march with the whole of his army; and by a road never travelled before by European troops, arrived in twenty-one days at Aurungabad, a distance by the perambulator of nearly 400 miles.1 Four separate armies were encamped about the city; that of Nizam Ali from Berar; that of the Subah, of which Nizam Ali had now the command; that of Bassalut Jung from Adoni; and that of the Mahrattas commanded by Balagce Row. The presence of Bussy, with his handful of Europeans, imposed respect upon them all; and every eye was fixed upon his movements. His first care was to restore the authority of the Subahdar, [190] whom the presence alone of the French detachment, which had vigilantly guarded his person, had probably saved from the assassination which generally forms the main ingredient of Indian revolutions.

The two brothers at first assumed a high tone; and when obliged to part with the seal, exhibited unusual marks of rage and indignation. Bussy clearly saw that the safety of the Subahdar, and the existence of the present government, demanded the resumption of the power which had been entrusted to Nizam Ali; but when the proposition of a large pension was made to him in lieu of his government, he had the art to interest his troops in his behalf, and Bussy found it necessary to temporize. To remove still further the umbrage which he found was gaining ground at the uncontrolable authority with which a stranger disposed of the powers of Deccan, and of the sons of the great Nizam al Mulk, he re-committed the seal of state to Bassalut Jung, but under securities which precluded any improper use.

To provide a permanent security for his predominating influence in the government of the Subah, there was wanting, besides the distant provinces which yielded him the necessary revenue, a place of strength near the seat of government, to render him independent of the sudden machinations of his enemies. The celebrated fortress of Dowlatabad, both from locality and strength, was admirably adapted to his views. It was at present in possession of the prime minister, the mortal foe of Bussy, the chief actor in the late commotions, and the assured instrument of others in every hostile design. By a sum of money, Bussy gained the Deputy Governor to admit him secretly with his troops into the fort; and this invaluable instrument of power was gained without the loss of a man. As the utmost efforts, however, [191] of the resentment of the minister were now assured, Bussy secured the means of rendering him a prisoner in the midst of the camp of the Subahdar, at the very hour when he himself was received into the fort of Dowlatabad. These events alarmed Nizam Ali into submission; and an accommodation was effected, by which he agreed to divest himself of his government of Berar, and accept of Hyderabad in its stead. When holding his court, to receive the compliments of the principal persons, before his departure for his new government, he was waited upon, among others, by Hyder Jung, the Duan of Bussy. This personage was the son of a Governor of Masulipatam, who had been friendly to the French; and he had attached himself to Bussy, since his first arrival at Golconda. Bussy was soon aware of his talents, and soon discovered the great benefit he might derive from them. He became a grand and dexterous instrument for unravelling the plots and intrigues against which it was necessary for Bussy to be incessantly on his guard; and a no less consummate agent in laying the trains which led to the accomplishment of Bussy’s designs. To give him the greater weight with his countrymen, and more complete access to the persons and the minds of the people of consequence, he obtained for him titles of nobility, dignities, and riches; and enabled him to hold his Durbar, like the greatest chiefs. He was known to have been actively employed in the late masterly transactions of Bussy; and an occasion was chosen on which a blow might be struck, both at his life, and that of Salabut Jung. A day was appointed by the Subahdar for paying his devotions at the tomb of his father, distant about twenty miles from Aurungabad; and on the second day of his absence, Nizam Ali held his court. Hyder Jung was received with marked respect; but, on [192] some pretext, detained behind the rest of the assembly, and assassinated. The first care of Bussy, upon this new emergency, was, to strengthen the slender escort of Salabut Jung. The next was, to secure the person of the late minister; of whose share in the present perfidy he had no doubt, and whom he had hitherto allowed to remain under a slight restraint in the camp. That veteran intriguer, concluding that his life was in danger, excited his attendants to resist, and was slain in the scuffle. Struck with dismay, upon the news of this unexpected result, Nizam Ali abandoned the camp in the night, taking with him his select cavalry alone; and pursued his flight towards Boorhanpore, about 150 miles north from Aurungabad, with all the speed which the horses could endure. Thus was Bussy delivered from his two most formidable enemies, by the very stroke which they had aimed against him; and in this state of uncontrolable power in the wide-extended government of Deccan, was he placed, when the arrival of Lally produced an extraordinary change in his views; and insured a new train of events in the Subah.

The character of that new Governor was ill adapted to the circumstances in which he was appointed to act. Ardent and impetuous, by the original structure of his mind, his early success and distinction had rendered him vain and presumptuous.

With natural talents of considerable force, his knowledge was scanty and superficial. Having never experienced difficulties, he never anticipated any: For him it was enough to will the end; the means obtained an inferior portion of his regard. Acquainted thoroughly with the technical part of the military profession, but acquainted with nothing else, he was totally unable to apply its principles in a new situation [193] of things. Unacquainted with the character and manners of the people among whom he was called upon to act; he was too ignorant of the theory of war, to know, that on the management of his intellectual and moral instruments, the success of the General mainly depends.

He began by what he conceived a very justifiable act of authority, but which was in reality a cruel violation of the customs, the religion, and, in truth, the legal rights of the natives. As there was not at Pondicherry, of the persons of the lower castes, who are employed in the servile occupations of the camp, a sufficient number to answer the impatience of M. Lally, in forwarding the troops to Fort St. David, he ordered the native inhabitants of the town to be pressed, and employed, without distinction of caste, in carrying burdens, and performing whatever labour might be required. The terror and consternation created by such an act was greater than if he had set fire to the town and butchered every man whom it contained. The consequence was, that the natives were afraid to trust themselves in his power; and he thus insured a deficiency of attendants.1

The feeble bullocks of the country, and the smallness of the number which the Governor and Council of Pondicherry were able to supply, but ill accorded with Lally’s ideas of a sufficiency of draught cattle. The very depressed state of the treasury precluded the possibility of affording other facilities, the want of which his impatience rendered a galling disappointment. He vented his uneasiness in reproaches and complaints. He had carried out in his mind one of those wide and sweeping conclusions, which men of little experience and discrimination are apt to form; that his countrymen in India were universally rogues: And to this sentiment, that ignorance and avidity, at home, which recalled Dupleix, were well calculated to conduct him. The Directors had told him in their instructions; “As the troubles in India have been the source of fortunes, rapid and vast, to a great number of individuals, the same system always reigns at Pondicherry, where those who have not yet made their fortune hope to make it by the same means; and those who have already dissipated it hope to make it a second time. The Sieur de Lally will have an arduous task to eradicate that spirit of cupidity; but it would be one of the most important services which he could render to the Company.”1 Every want, therefore, which he experienced; every delay which occurred, he ascribed to the dishonesty and misconduct of the persons employed;2 and had [195] so little prudence as incessantly to declare those opinions in the most pointed and offensive terms which his language could supply. These proceedings rendered him in a short time odious to every class of men in the colony; precluded all cordial co-operation, and insured him every species of ill-office which it was safe to render. The animosity at last between him and his countrymen became rancour and rage; and the possibility of a tolerable management of the common concerns was utterly destroyed.

On the 1st of May, Lally himself arrived at Fort St. David; and when joined by the troops from the ships, and those whom he had drawn from the forts in Carnatic, he had, according to Mr. Orme, 2,500 Europeans, exclusive of officers, and about the same number of Sepoys, assembled for the attack. The garrison consisted of 1,600 natives, and 619 Europeans, of whom eighty-three were sick or infirm, and 250 were seamen.1 The place held out till the 1st of June, when, having nearly expended its ammunition, [196] it yielded on capitulation. It was expected to have made a better defence; and the English historians have not spared the conduct of the commanding officer. He had courage and spirit in sufficient abundance; but was not very rich in mental resources, or very accurate in ascertaining the conduciveness of his means. In consequence of instructions brought from France, Lally immediately issued orders for razing the fortifications to the ground: As soon as the fort capitulated, he sent a detachment against Devi-Cotah, which the garrison immediately abandoned; and on the 7th of June, he returned with the army, in triumph, and sung Te Deum at Pondicherry.

The English, in full expectation that the next operation of Lally would be the siege of Madras, had called in the troops from all the forts in the interior, except Trichinopoly; and had even debated whether they should not abandon that city itself. All the troops from Tinivelly and Madura were ordered to return to Trichinopoly, and, together with the garrison, to hold themselves in readiness for any emergency.

The great poverty, however, of the French exchequer; and the inability, created or greatly enhanced by the unpopular proceedings of Lally, of supplying its deficiencies by credit; cramped his operations, and sharpened the asperities of his temper. He had written from Fort St. David to the Governor of Pondicherry, in the following terms; “This letter shall be an eternal secret between you, Sir, and me, if you afford me the means of accomplishing my enterprise. I left you 100,000 livres of my own money to aid you in providing the funds which it requires. I found not, upon my arrival, in your purse, and in that of your whole council, the resource of 100 pence. [197] You, as well as they, have refused me the support of your credit. Yet I imagine you are all of you more indebted to the Company than I am. If you continue to leave me in want of every thing, and exposed to contend with universal disaffection, not only shall I inform the King and the Company of the warm zeal which their servants here display for their interest, but I shall take effectual measures for not depending, during the short stay I wish to make in this country, on the party spirit and the personal views, with which I perceive that every member appears occupied, to the total hazard of the Company.”1

Despairing of funds from any other source, he resolved to devote to this object the next operations of the war.2 He at the same time recalled Bussy, against whose character he fostered the strongest prejudices, and the importance of whose transactions under the Subahdar he treated as interested pretence and imposture.

Two plans presented themselves for the supply of [198] his wants. All the western and northern districts of the nabobship, evacuated by the English, lay open to his incursions, and in the rents which might be collected offered a certain resource. But the collection of rents was a tedious operation, and the expected produce a scanty supply. The King of Tanjore, when pressed in 1751 by Chunda Saheb and the French, had, among his other efforts to procrastinate and evade, given his bond, which still remained at Pondicherry, for 5,600,000 rupees. This sum, could it only be extorted from him, was a large and present resource; and in Fort St. David, as a prisoner, had been found the pretender to the throne of Tanjore, who might now be employed as an instrument to frighten the Rajah into compliance. The expedition against Tanjore was accordingly undertaken; and on the 18th of June Lally took the field.1

From the terror of the natives, the alienation of the Europeans, and the want of money, the equipment of the expedition, in attendants, draught cattle, and even provisions and ammunition, was in the highest degree defective. In seven days the army arrived at Carical, not without suffering, at this early stage, both from fatigue and from hunger.2 At this place Lally was met by a messenger from the King, who was desirous [199] to treat. Lally understood, that some of his predecessors had been duped into impolitic delay, by the artful negotiations of the King of Tanjore. He resolved to display superior wisdom, by a conduct directly the reverse. He proceeded to Nagore, a town accounted rich, about four miles to the north of Negapatnam; but the merchants had time to remove their most valuable effects, and the acquisition yielded only a trifle. On the 28th he arrived at Kiveloor, the seat of a celebrated Pagoda, which eastern exaggeration represented as containing enormous riches, the accumulated offerings of the piety of ages: Had it been plundered by a Mahomedan conqueror, and the transaction recorded by a Persian historian, he would have described his hero as bearing away, in his fortunate chariots, a mountain of gold. Under the vulgar persuasion, Lally ransacked, and even dug the houses; dragged the tanks, and took away the idols; but no treasures were found, and the idols, instead of gold, were only of brass. Six unhappy Brahmens lingered about the camp, in hopes, it is probable, of recovering some of their beloved divinities. The suspicions of Lally took them for spies; his violence and precipitation took his suspicions for realities; and he ordered the six Brahmens to be treated as the Europeans are accustomed to treat the natives convicted as spies; that is, to be shot away from the muzzles of the guns. The King’s army took the field; but after a slight show of resistance retreated to the capital, near which Lally arrived on the 18th of July. Conferences ensued: The King offered a sum of money, but greatly inferior to what was required: Lally offered to abate in his pecuniary demand, provided he were furnished with 600 bullocks, and a supply of gunpowder. His agents were more prudent than himself, and suppressed the article of gunpowder, the deficiency of which, if known to the King, [200] was not likely to improve his disposition to compliance: and the bullocks, the King observed, that his religion did not permit him to grant. The cannonade and bombardment began. After a few days the King renewed his efforts for an accommodation. The obliquities of Eastern negotiation wore out the temper of Lally; and he threatened to carry the King and all his family slaves to Mauritius. This outrage produced in the Hindu a final resolution to defend himself to the last extremity. He had early, among his applications for assistance, implored the co-operation of the English; and Captain Calliaud at Trichinopoly was commissioned to make all those efforts in his favour which his own security might appear to allow. That officer sent to him without delay a small detachment, which might feed his hopes of a more efficient support, and afford him no apology for making his peace with the French. But he was afraid to entrust with him any considerable portion of his troops, fully aware that the French might at any time make with him an accommodation, and receive his assistance to destroy the very men who had come to protect him. Upon this last occurrence Calliaud inferred that the time for accommodation was elapsed, and sent an additional detachment. Lally continued his operations, and on the 7th of August effected a breach.

At this time, however, only 150 charges of powder for the cannon, not twenty cartouches a man for the troops, and not provisions for two days, remained in the camp.1 The next morning intelligence was received, [201] that the English fleet, after a fresh engagement with the French, had anchored before Carical, from which alone the French army could derive its supplies. Lally summoned a council of war. Out of thirteen officers, two, the Count d’Estaign, and M. Saubinet, advised an immediate assault, considering the success as certain, and the landing of the English at Carical, while the French fleet kept the sea, as highly improbable. It was determined, in conformity with the opinion of the other eleven, to raise the siege.1 Intelligence of this resolution of the enemy, and of the negligence and security in which they encamped, encouraged the Tanjorines to attempt a surprise; which brought Lally and his army into imminent danger. After a disastrous march, in which they suffered severely, from the enemy, from fatigue, and from famine,2 they arrived on the 28th at Carical, and saw the English fleet at anchor off the mouth of the river.

After the first of the naval engagements, the English fleet, before they could anchor, were carried a league to the north of Sadras; the French, which had suffered less in the rigging, and sailed better, anchored fifteen miles to the windward. The English as soon as possible weighed again, and after a fruitless endeavour to reach Fort St. David, discovered the French fleet on the 28th of May in the road of Pondicherry. [202] The next day, the French, at the remonstrance of Lally, who sent on board a considerable body of troops, got under sail; but instead of bearing down on the English, unable to advance against the wind, proceeded to Fort St. David, where they arrived on the evening after the surrender. The English sailing badly, fell to leeward as far as Alamparva, where intelligence was received of the loss of the fort. The admiral therefore, not having water on board for the consumption of five days, made sail, and anchored the next day in the road of Madras. The fleet had numerous wants; Madras had very scanty means of supply; and nearly eight weeks elapsed before it was again ready for sea. On the 3d of July three of the Company’s ships arrived from Bengal, with money, merchandize, and stores, but no troops. The monsoon had obliged them to make the outward passage towards Acheen, and they came in from the southward. The French Admiral, after touching at Fort St. David, had stood to the southward, to cruize off Ceylon; in opposition to the remonstrances of Lally, who desired the fleet to co-operate in the destined enterprise against Madras. Lally hastened from Fort St. David to Pondicherry, and summoned a council by whose authority he recalled the fleet. The injunction reached the Admiral at Carical on the 16th of June, and he anchored the next day in the road of Pondicherry. Had he continued his destined course to the southward, he could not have missed the three English East Indiamen from Bengal, and by their capture would have obtained that treasure, the want of which alone disconcerted the scheme of English destruction. On the 25th of July the English fleet were again under sail; and on the 27th appeared before Pondicherry, where the French lay at anchor. They put to sea without delay; but the difficulties of the [203] navigation, and the aims of the commanders, made it the 2d of August before the fleets encountered off Carical. The French line consisted of eight sail; the English, as before, of seven. The fight lasted scarcely an hour; when three of the French ships being driven out of the line, the whole bore away, under all the sail they could carry. The English Admiral gave chase; but in less than ten minutes the enemy were beyond the distance of certain shot. Toward night the English gave over the pursuit, and came to anchor off Carical. The French steered for Pondicherry, when the Admiral declared his intention of returning to Mauritius. Lally sent forward the Count D’Estaign to remonstrate with him on the disgrace of quitting the sea before an inferior enemy, and to urge him to renewed operations. D’Estaign offered to accompany him on board, with any proportion of the troops. Lally himself moved with the army from Carical on the 24th of August, and, having passed the Coleroon, hurried on with a small detachment to Pondicherry, where he arrived on the 28th. He immediately summoned a mixed Council of the administration and the army, who joined in a fresh expostulation to the Admiral on the necessity of repairing to Madras, where the success of an attack must altogether depend upon the union of the naval and military operations. That commander, representing his ships as in a state of the greatest disablement, and his crews extremely enfeebled and diminished by disease, would yield to no persuasion, and set sail with his whole fleet for Mauritius on the 2d of September.1
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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Part 2 of 2

If we trust to the declaration of Lally, his intention of besieging Madras, still more his hopes of taking it, were abandoned from that hour. Before the fleet departed, an expedition against Arcot, with a view to relieve the cruel pressure of those pecuniary wants which the disastrous result of the expedition to Tanjore had only augmented, was projected and prepared. Arcot, the capital of Carnatic, had been left under the government of one of the principal officers of Mahomed Ali, the English Nabob, with a small body of Sepoys and native cavalry. With this officer, Rajah Saheb, (the eldest son of the late Chunda Saheb,) now decorated by the French with the title of Nabob, had opened a correspondence; and a treaty was concluded, according to which the Governor was to deliver up the place, to receive as a reward 13,000 rupees, and to be taken, along with his troops, into the pay and service of Lally. As auxiliary measures, the previous possession of the secondary forts of Trivatore, Trinomalee, Carangoly, and Timery, was deemed expedient. Lally divided his army into four parts, to two of which the forts of Carangoly and Timery surrendered without resistance; Trivatore and Trinomalee were taken by assault. On the terms of a pretended capitulation, on the 4th of October, Lally, amid the thunder of cannon, made his entrance into Arcot.

The fort of Chingliput, the occupation of which, from want of funds, or ignorance of its importance, Lally had postponed to the acquisition of Arcot, covered the country whence chiefly, in a case of siege, Madras would find it necessary to draw its provisions. In the consternation under which the English [205] had withdrawn their troops from the country forts, upon the arrival of Lally, Chingliput among the rest had been left in a very defenceless condition; and when the French marched against Carangoly, they might have taken Chingliput by escalade in open day. The English, awakened to a sense of its importance, left Arcot to its fate, and made all their exertions to save Chingliput. A fleet had arrived from England in the middle of September, which brought 850 of the king’s troops, and with them Colonel Drapier and Major Brereton: Captain Calliaud, with the whole of the European troops, was recalled from Trichinopoly: And before Lally entered Arcot, Chingliput was supplied with a strong garrison. The applications of Lally to the government of Pondicherry for 10,000 rupees, which were necessary, after the acquisition of Arcot, to put the troops in motion for Chingliput, were answered only by representations of the complete exhaustion of their resources; and that General, obliged for want of funds to place the troops in cantonments, returned to Pondicherry full of mortification and chagrin.1

He had been joined by Bussy about the time at which he entered Arcot. That officer, who had conducted himself with such rare ability in the dominions of the Subahdar, and with his handful of French had raised himself to an elevated station among the princes of India, had left the Subahdar on a tottering throne, which nothing but his strong support could much longer uphold. The Subahdar, when informed of the intended departure of the French, was too much amazed to believe the dreadful intelligence; and, when too well assured of its ominous reality, took his leave of Bussy, in an [206] agony of grief and despair. Bussy, it is possible, took his departure with the more alacrity, as he hoped, through the representations which in person he would be able to make, that he could prevail upon Lally to send him back, and with augmented force, to his important station. Having, on his march, been joined by Moracin, the Governor of Masulipatam, who with his troops was also recalled, he left the march to be conducted by Moracin, and under a safeguard granted him from Madras hastened to the meeting with Lally.

The head of that General was filled with the importance of his own project, the expulsion of the English from India; and with contempt for the schemes of Bussy, as of all other men who had different views from his own. In his letter to Bussy, upon the taking of Fort St. David, he had said, “It is the whole of British India which it now remains for us to attack. I do not conceal from you that, having taken Madras, it is my resolution to repair immediately, by land or by sea, to the banks of the Ganges, where your talents and experience will be of the greatest importance to me.” Bussy employed every effort to convince him of the importance of retaining the advantages which he had gained in the dominions of the Subahdar; and the most pressing and passionate letters arrived from the Subahdar himself.1 But Lally, who had already treated the representations of Bussy as the visions of a madman, and had told the Governor of Pondicherry that he thought himself too condescending in reading his [207] letters, lent a deaf ear to remonstrances which inwardly he regarded as the fruit of delusion or imposture.1 Apprized of the money which Dupleix had raised on his personal credit, he was not without hopes that Bussy might be possessed of similar resources; and he states as a matter of great surprise, mixed with incredulity, the averment of Bussy, that in this way he was altogether incapable of aiding the general cause.

A high testimony from another quarter was yielded to the merits of Bussy. His rank as an officer was only that of Lieutenant-Colonel. Besides a Major-General, six Colonels had arrived with the army of Lally. The six Colonels, yielding to the nobler impulses of the human mind, signed a requisition that Bussy might supersede them. “Their names,” says Mr. Orme, “highly worthy of record on this occasion, were mostly of ancient and noble descent; D’Estaign, de Landivisiau, de la Faire, Breteuil, Verdiere, and Crillon.”

To whatever quarter Lally turned his eyes, he found himself beset with the greatest difficulties. The government at Pondicherry declared, as they had frequently declared before, that in their exhausted situation it was altogether impossible for them to find the means of subsisting the army at Pondicherry. When a council of war was called, the Count D’Estaign, and other officers, pronounced it better to die by a musket ball, under the ramparts of Madras, than by hunger, within those of Pondicherry. The idea of undertaking a siege, says Lally, the total want of funds excluded from the mind of every one. But it was deemed expedient to bombard the place, [208] to shut up the English within the fort, to obtain the pillage of the black town, and to lay waste the surrounding country.1

The Governor of Pondicherry declared that he was destitute of every species of resource, either for the pay or the maintenance of the soldiers. Lally advanced 60,000 rupees of his own money, and prevailed upon some members of the council, and other individuals in Pondicherry, to follow, in some degree, his example. From this species of contribution or loan, he obtained 34,000 rupees, which, added to his own, made a sum of 94,000. This was the treasure with which at the head of 2,700 European troops, and 4,000 Indians, he marched against Madras.

The expedition was ready for its departure at the beginning of November, but the continuance of the rains retarded its arrival before Madras till the 12th of December, when Lally had not funds to ensure the subsistence of the army for a single week. The English had made active use of the intervening period for providing themselves with the means of defence. When Admiral Pococke quitted the coast in October to avoid the monsoon, he left behind him the marines of the squadron, and was expected back in January. A body of cavalry, under an adventurer of the country, was taken into pay; and so posted, along with the Sepoys from Trichinopoly, as to make war upon the line of the enemy’s convoys. The veteran Laurence, who was still in Madras, was put at the head of the troops; and took post with the greater part of the army on elevated ground at some distance from the town. It was not, however, his intention to run the risk of an action; and as the enemy advanced, he gradually yielded ground, till on the 12th he entered the fort with all his army. The command [209] in the fort belonged to the Governor, Pigot. But he was an intelligent, and an active man; and the harmony of the defence experienced no interruption. The military within the walls now consisted of 1,758 Europeans, 2,220 Sepoys, and 200 horse of the Nabob, on whom by experience little dependance was placed. The other Europeans were 150 men, who were employed without distinction in serving out stores, and other auxiliary operations.

On the 13th the enemy remained on the plain, and reconnoitred the place. On the 14th, early in the morning, they took possession of the black town, where the soldiery, from want of skill, or authority, on the part of their commander, abandoned themselves to intemperance and disorder. In hopes of profiting by this opportunity, the English made a strong sally with 600 chosen men. They penetrated into the black town before the enemy were collected in sufficient numbers; but were at last opposed by a force which they could not withstand; and, had the division of the enemy, which was under the command of Bussy, advanced with sufficient promptitude to cut off their retreat, it is highly probable that few of them would have made their escape. Lally adduces the testimony of the officers, who commanded under Bussy, that they joined in urging him to intercept the English detachment; but that he, alleging the want of cannon, absolutely refused. Mr. Orme says that he justified himself by the delay of Lally’s orders, without which it was contrary to his duty to advance. To gain however a great advantage at a critical moment, a zealous officer will adventure somewhat, under some deficiency both of cannon and of orders. The loss on the part of the English was not less than 200 soldiers, and six officers. [210] In mere numbers that of the enemy was nearly the same.

The capture of the black town had furnished to Lally for the demands of the service only 80,000 livres, lent to him by an Armenian merchant, whom he had saved from plunder; and to these were added 12,000 livres furnished by an Hindu partizan. With these funds he began to construct his batteries, in the intention, as he repeats, of only bombarding the place, when intelligence was brought, on the 24th of December, that a frigate from the islands had arrived at Pondicherry with a million of livres. It was this circumstance, he says, which now determined him to convert the bombardment into a siege.

With only two engineers, and three artillery officers, excepting the few who belonged to the Company, all deficient both in knowledge and enterprise; with officers in general dissatisfied and ill-disposed, with only the common men on whom he could depend, and of whose alacrity he never had reason to complain, he carried on the siege with a vigour and activity which commanded the respect even of the besieged, though they were little acquainted with the difficulties under which he toiled. By means of the supplies which had plentifully arrived from Bengal, and the time which the Presidency had enjoyed to make preparation for the siege, the English were supplied with an abundance both of money and of stores. The resolution to defend themselves to the utmost extremity, which has seldom been shared more universally and cordially by any body of men, inspired them with incessant vigilance and activity. The industry of the enemy was perpetually counteracted by a similar industry on the part of their opponents. No sooner had those without erected a work, [211] than the most active, and enterprising, and often skilful exertions were made from within to destroy it. Whatever ingenuity the enemy employed in devising measures of attack was speedily discovered by the keen and watchful eyes of the defenders. A breach, in spite of all those exertions, was however effected; and the mind of Lally was intensely engaged with preparations for the assault; when he found the officers of his army altogether indisposed to second his ardour. Mr. Orme declares his opinion that their objections were founded on real and prudential considerations, and that an attempt to storm the place would have been attended with repulse and disaster. Lally, however, says that the most odious intrigues were carried on in the army, and groundless apprehensions were propagated, to shake the resolution of the soldiers, and prevent the execution of the plan: that the situation of the General was thus rendered critical in the highest degree, and the chance of success exceedingly diminished; yet he still adhered to his design, and only waited for the setting of the moon, which in India sheds a light not much feebler than that of a winter sun, on the very day on which an English fleet of six sail arrived at Madras.

The fleet under Admiral Pococke, which had left Madras on the 11th of October, had arrived at Bombay on the 10th of December, where they found six of the Company’s ships, and two ships of the line, with 600 of the King’s troops on board. On the 31st of December the Company’s ships, with all the troops, sailed from Bombay, under the convoy of two frigates, and arrived on the 16th of February, at a critical moment, at Madras. “Words,” says Lally, “are inadequate to express the effect which the appearance [212] of them produced. The officer who commanded in the trenches deemed it even inexpedient to wait for the landing of the enemy, and two hours before receiving orders retired from his post.”

Lally was now constrained to abandon the siege. The officers and soldiers had been on no more than half pay during the first six weeks of the expedition, and entirely destitute of pay during the remaining three. The expenses of the siege, and the half pay, had consumed, during the first month, the million of livres which had arrived from the islands. The officers were on the allowance of the soldiers. The subsistence of the army for the last fifteen days had depended almost entirely upon some rice and butter, captured in two small vessels from Bengal. A very small quantity of gunpowder remained in the camp; and not a larger at Pondicherry. The bombs were wholly consumed three weeks before. The Sepoys deserted for want of pay, and the European cavalry threatened every hour to go over to the enemy. The defence of Pondicherry rested upon 300 invalids; and, within twelve hours, the English, with their reinforcements, might land and take possession of the place. On the night of the 17th the French army decamped from Madras; and the English made no efforts to molest their retreat.1

We may judge of the feelings, towards one another, of Lally and his countrymen, when he tells us, that the retreat of the army from Madras produced [213] at Pondicherry the strongest demonstrations of joy, and was celebrated by his enemies as an occasion of triumph.

The Nabob, Mahomed Ali, who had retreated into Madras when the French regained the ascendancy in the province, had been removed during the siege to Trichinopoly; and of his two refractory brothers Abdul Wahab and Nejeeb Oolla, who had taken the side of the French, the former returned to the English connexion, before the siege of Madras, and was joined to the party of the English kept in the field to act upon the enemy’s communications; the latter, induced by the event of the siege to anticipate success to the party which he had renounced, murdered all the French in his service, except a single officer, and professed himself a partizan of the English.

The English now elevated their hopes to the recovery of the province, but found their operations cramped by the narrowness of their funds. It was the 6th of March before the army, consisting of 1156 Europeans, rank and file, 1570 Sepoys, 1120 collieries (irregular troops of the southern Polygars,) and 1956 horse, was in a condition to move. The countries of Madura and Tinivelly at the same time recalled the attention of the Presidency. No sooner had the troops been withdrawn for the defence of Madras, than the refractory chiefs began their encroachments. Only the towns of Madura and Palam-Cotah, preserved by the steadiness of the Sepoys in garrison, remained in obedience to the English. And Mahomed Issoof, who had commanded with reputation the Company’s native troops, in their former attempts in that country, was now sent back, in the quality of renter, with a body of Sepoys, for the recovery of the country.

The French army had marched from Madras in the direction of Conjeveram; and there the French and English armies remained in sight of one another, without any operation of importance, for two and twenty days. The English, at the end of this time, made a march upon Wandewash; took possession of the town, and began to open ground against the fort. This brought the French army to defend it; upon which the English decamped in the night; by a forced march of two days arrived at Conjeveram, and took it by assault. The two armies continued to watch one another till the 28th of May, when they both went into cantonments.

On the 28th of April, Admiral Pococke had arrived upon the coast from Bombay, but had continued to windward of Pondicherry, and principally at Negapatnam, with a view to intercept the French squadron, which was expected from the isles. And near the end of June, three of the usual ships arrived at Madras, with 100 recruits of the Company, and intelligence that Lieutenant Colonel Coote, with 1000 of the King’s troops, might be shortly expected on the coast. The satisfaction, however, which this good fortune was calculated to excite, was grievously damped by an attendant piece of advice; that the Court of Directors, “dazzled,” as Mr. Orme expresses it, “by representations of the great wealth acquired by the conquest of Bengal, and of its sufficiency to supply their other presidencies, had determined to send no more treasure to any of them till the year 1760.” From the first moment of Indian conquests to a late period in their history, were the Company led into blunders, and were but too successful in misleading the councils of the nation, by their absurd estimates of the pecuniary value of Indian dominion. [215] This intelligence was so disastrous, and full of discouragement, “that for every reason,” says Mr. Orme, “it was kept within the Council.”

Towards the end of July five of the expected ships, with the first division of the troops, arrived at Negapatnam, and having given out the provisions and stores which they had brought for the use of the squadron, sailed for Madras. On the 20th of August the squadron left Negapatnam, and sailed for Trincomalee in the island of Ceylon, where the French fleet was descried, on the 2d of September. D’Aché had been reinforced by the arrival of three ships from France; but as the resources of the islands were inadequate to refit and supply the fleet, not only much time had been lost, but he had been compelled to return to sea, in a state of very imperfect equipment. It was the 10th of September before the state of the winds and the weather permitted the encounter of the fleets. The English having the wind, came down a-breast, while the French, who were farthest out at sea, lay-to in line of battle a-head. The English squadron consisted of nine ships of the line, a frigate, the Queensborough, two of the Company’s ships, and a fire ship. The French were eleven sail of the line, and three frigates; and their total battery exceeded that of the English by 174 guns, and consequently, by eighty-seven in action. The engagement lasted searcely two hours, when the greater part of the French ships having quitted the line, the whole fleet sailed away, and, in a few minutes were beyond the reach of the English shot. Such was the indecisive character of naval actions in general, at the period to which we now refer. The English, though they had clearly the victory, had also the principal share of the loss. In point of men the injury was supposed to be nearly equal on both sides; but all [216] the French ships, one only excepted, carried topsails when they retired from the fight; none of the English ships, after the engagement, could set half their sails, and two were obliged to be taken in tow. The English fleet anchored the next day in the road of Negapatnam, and the French in four days arrived at Pondicherry.

As nothing could exceed the distress of the French in respect to supplies; so their hopes were ardent of relief by the arrival of the ships. The fort of Covrepawk had surrendered upon summons, to a detachment of the English army, in the beginning of July. In the beginning of August, Lally’s own regiment mutinied for want of pay, and, by their example, subverted the discipline of the whole army. The confidence of the English had mounted so high, that Major Brereton, who commanded the troops, and who burned for an opportunity of performing some exploit before the arrival of Coote, persuaded the Presidency to sanction an attempt for the reduction of Wandewash. After waiting till the roads were passable, the whole army marched from Conjeveram on the 26th of September. The principal part of the French forces were concentrated at Wandewash; and the enterprize was unsuccessful. The English made a spirited attack on the night of the 29th, but were resisted with great gallantry, and finally repulsed with a loss of more than 200 men. In this action, a detachment of grenadiers were very expeditiously quitting the vicinity of danger; when their officer, instead of calling after them, an imprudence which would, in all probability, have converted their retreat into a flight, ran till he got before them, and then, turning suddenly round, said, “Halt,” as giving the ordinary word of command. The habit of discipline prevailed. The men stopped, formed according to [217] orders, and marched back into the scene of action. But this success of the French, however brilliant, neither clothed the men, nor provided them with provisions. Neither the English nor the French had ever been able to draw from the districts which they held in the country sufficient funds to defray the expense of the troops, employed in conquering and defending them. A considerable portion of those districts, which the French had been able to seize upon the arrival of Lally, the English had again recovered. The Government of Pondicherry, left almost wholly destitute of supplies from Europe, was utterly exhausted, first, by the long and desperate struggle in which they had been engaged; and secondly, (for the truth must not be disguised, though the complaints of Lally have long been treated with ridicule) by the misapplication of the public funds: a calamity, of which the violent passion of individuals for private wealth was a copious and perennial fountain. Lally had, from his first arrival, been struggling on the borders of despair, with wants which it was altogether out of his power to supply. The English had received, or were about to receive, the most important accession to their power. And nothing but the fleet, which had now arrived, and the supplies which it might have brought, could enable him much longer to contend with the difficulties which environed him.

M. d’Aché had brought, for the use of the colony, 16,000l. in dollars, with a quantity of diamonds, valued at 17,000l., which had been taken in an English East Indiaman; and, having landed these effects, together with 180 men, he declared his resolution of sailing again immediately for the islands. Nothing could exceed the surprise and consternation of the colony upon this unexpected and alarming intelligence. [218] Even those who were the most indifferent to the success of affairs, when the reputation of Lally, and the interest of their country alone were at stake, now began to tremble, when the very existence of the colony, and their interests along with it, were threatened with inevitable destruction. All the principal inhabitants, civil and military, assembled at the Governor’s house, and formed themselves into a national council. A vehement protest was signed against the departure of the fleet. But the resolution of the Admiral was inflexible; and he could only be induced to leave 400 Caffres, who served in the fleet, and 500 Europeans, partly marines and partly sailors.

At the same time the departure of Bussy had been attended, in the dominions of the Subahdar, with a rapid succession of events, ruinous to the interests of the French. An expedition from Bengal, fitted out by the English against the Northern Circars, those important districts of which Bussy had obtained the dominion from Salabut Jung, had been attended with the most brilliant success; had not only driven the French entirely out of the country, but had compelled the Subahdar to solicit a connexion with the English. Nizam Ali, whose audacious and aspiring character rendered him extremely dangerous to the feeble resources and feeble mind of his brother, had returned from the flight, to which he had been urged by the spirit and address of Bussy, at the head of a considerable army; and compelled the Subahdar to replace him in that commanding situation, from which he had recently been driven. Bassalut Jung, the second of the three brothers, who anticipated the revolution which the victorious return of Nizam Ali portended, promised himself important advantages from the assistance of the French, in the changes [219] which he expected to ensue; and dispatched a letter to Lally, in which he told him he was coming to throw himself into his arms.1 Bussy urged in strong terms the policy of declaring Bassalut Jung Nahob of Carnatic. This was opposed by the step which had been recently taken by Lally, of making this declaration, with much ceremony and pomp, in favour of the son of Chunda Saheb. It was, however, agreed that a body of troops, under the command of Bussy, should be sent to join Bassalut Jung, who hovered upon the borders of Carnatic. He had left Hyderabad, under pretence of regulating the affairs of his government of Adoni; but he soon directed his march toward the south-east, supporting his army by levying contributions as he proceeded, and approached Nelore in the month of July.

M. Bussy arrived at Wandewash the very day after the repulse of the English; and, having placed himself at the head of the detachment, which was destined to accompany him to the camp of Bassalut Jung, proceeded on his march. But the French army, which had long been enduring extraordinary privations, now broke out into the most alarming disorders. More than a year’s pay was due to them; they were destitute of clothing, and many times ill supplied with provisions. The opinion was disseminated, that a much larger sum than was pretended had been left by the fleet; and that the General was acquiring immense wealth by dilapidation. On the 16th of October the whole army was in mutiny, and the officers deprived of all authority. Intelligence of these disastrous events overtook Bussy at Arcot, and induced him to suspend his march. The troops were at last restored to obedience by the payment of six [220] months of their arrears, and a complete amnesty. But the delays which had intervened had exhausted the resources which enabled Bassalut Jung to remain on the borders of Carnatic: He was at the same time solicited, by a promised enlargement of his territory, to join with Nizam Ali, who dreaded the reappearance of M. Bussy in the territories of the Subahdar: His ardour for the French alliance was cooled by the intelligence of the disorders among their troops: He was alarmed by the presence of an English corps of observation, which had been sent to act upon his rear, if he should advance into the province: And on the 19th of October he struck off across the hills into the district of Kurpa; where Bussy, who followed him by a different route, arrived on the 10th of November. Bassalut Jung offered to accompany the French detachment to Arcot, provided he was recognized by the French as sovereign of Carnatic, and furnished with four lacks of rupees for the payment of his troops. The French were not without objections to the first of these conditions, and altogether incapable of fulfilling the last. The negotiation, therefore, proved fruitless; and Bussy returned; with an addition, however, of 400 good horse, whom he had found the means of attaching to his service.1

Urged by the necessity of making efforts for the supply, and even subsistence, of the army, Lally, shortly after the reconciliation of his troops, thought proper to divide his army into two parts; with the one of which he proposed to collect the rents of the southern; with the other, stationed at Wandewash [221] and Arcot, to protect what belonged to the French in the northern districts. De Leyrit and the Council of Pondicherry represented the danger, which could not be concealed from Lally himself, of dividing the army in the presence of a superior enemy; but they pointed out no means by which it was possible to preserve it together. On the 20th of November, the division which marched to the south took possession of the rich island of Seringham, which the garrison at Trichinopoly was too feeble to defend.

The English took the field. Colonel Coote, with the last division of his regiment, had arrived on the 27th of October; and on the 21st of November proceeded to Conjeveram, where the troops were cantoned for the rains. The first of his acts was to assemble a Council of the principal officers; that he might obtain from them a knowledge of facts, and profit by their observations. To divide the attention of the enemy, he began, with movements which indicated an attack upon Arcot; but his real intention was to gain possession of Wandewash; which was attacked and carried on the 29th. The inaction of the French army, at Chittapet, which, probably deeming itself too weak, made no effort for the protection of Wandewash, induced the English to march immediately to Carangoly, which made a feeble resistance, and surrendered on the 10th of December.

The loss of Arcot, and with it the command of all the northern districts of the province, now presented itself to the eyes of Lally as threatened to an alarming degree. The greater part of the troops was hastily recalled from Seringham; Bussy at the same time arrived from his expedition to the camp of Bassalut Jung; a Mahratta chief and his body of horse were taken into pay; and Lally [222] was eager to strike a blow for the recovery of Wandewash.

Bussy, on the other hand, was of opinion, as the French were superior in cavalry, which would render it dangerous for the English to hazard a battle, except in circumstances of advantage, that they should avail themselves of this superiority, by acting upon the communications of the English, which would soon compel them either to fight at a disadvantage, or retire for subsistence to Madras: whereas if they besieged Wandewash, the English would have two important advantages; one, that of fighting with only a part of the French army, while another part was engaged in the siege; the other, that of choosing the advantage of the ground, from the obligation of the French to cover the besiegers.

At the same time the motives of Lally were far from groundless. The mental state of the soldiers required some brilliant exploit to raise them to the temper of animated action. He was deprived of all means of keeping the army for any considerable time in the field. By seizing the English magazines, he counted upon retarding for several days their march to the relief of Wandewash; and as the English had breached the fort and taken it in forty-eight hours, he counted, and not unreasonably, upon rendering himself master of the place before the English could arrive.

Amusing the English, by some artful movements, he surprized and took Conjeveram, which he concluded was the place of the English magazines. The fact however was, that the English had no magazines, but were dependant on the purchases of the day, and already straitened for supplies by the extensive excursions of his Mahratta horse. Lally repaired to Wandewash; but several days elapsed before [223] his battery was ready to play; and in the meantime the English approached. Lally throws the blame upon his engineer; whom he ordered to batter in breach with three cannon upon one of the towers of the fort, which was only protected by the fire of a single piece, and which, five weeks before, the English with inferior means had breached in forty-eight hours. But the engineers insisted upon erecting a battery in exact conformity with the rules of the schools; and the soldiers in derision asked if they were going to attack the fortifications of Luxemburgh.1

The project of Lally having in this manner failed, now was the time, at any rate, to have profited by the judicious advice of Bussy, and, abandoning the siege, to have made war upon the English means of supply. But Lally, who was aware that his character had fallen low with the army, could not brook the imputation of retreating before his enemy; he prepared, therefore, to meet the attack of the English army, and to continue his operations. It was the policy of the English commander to leave the enemy at work, till they were ready to assault the fort, when he was sure of attacking separately, at his choice, either the troops engaged in the siege, or those who covered them. His movements were judiciously made; and on the morning of the 22d, he was on the ground before the French camp, his army drawn up in two lines in a most advantageous position, where he had a free communication with the fort, and one of his flanks protected by its fire. The French occupied the ground in front of their line, where the field of [224] battle had previously been marked out. The English army consisted of 1900 Europeans, of whom eighty were cavalry, 2100 Sepoys, 1250 black horse, and twenty-six field-pieces. The French, including 300 marines and sailors from the squadron, consisted of 2,250 Europeans, and 1,300 Sepoys; for the Mahrattas kept aloof at the distance of some miles from the field of battle.1 Lally, and apparently with reason, complains that his troops did their duty ill in the action. While the English army were advancing, Lally, who imagined he perceived some wavering on their left, occasioned by the fire of his artillery, though Mr. Orme says they had not yet come within cannon shot, put himself at the head of the cavalry, to profit by the favourable moment. The cavalry refused to march. The General suspended the Commanding Officer, and ordered the second Captain to take the command. He, also, disobeyed. Lally addressed himself to the men; and a Cornet crying out that it was a shame to desert their General in the day of battle, the officer who commanded on the left offered to put the troop in motion. They had not advanced many paces, when a single cannon-shot, says Lally, the rapid firing of two pieces, says Mr. Orme, put them to flight, and they gallopped off, leaving him absolutely [225] alone upon the plain.1 Lally returned to the infantry, and brought up his line. The French fired rashly, and ineffectually, both with artillery and musketry; the English leader, who was cool, and perfectly obeyed, made his men reserve their fire, till sure of its execution. The regiment that occupied the enemy’s right, when the distance between them and the English was now inconsiderable, threw themselves into column, and rushed forward at a rapid pace. Coote, directing the opposite regiment to be firm, and preserve their fire, gave the command when the enemy were at fifty yards distance. The fire fell heavy, both on their front and flanks. Yet it stopped not the course of the column; and in an instant the two regiments were mingled at the push of the bayonet. The weight of the column bore down what was opposed to it; but as it had been left unprotected by the flight of the cavalry, posted on its right, its flanks were completely exposed, and in a few moments the ground was covered with the slain, when it broke, and fled in disorder to the camp. Almost at the same time a tumbril blew up in the redoubt in front of the enemy’s left; and during the confusion which this accident produced, the English took possession of the post. No part of the French line continued firm much longer. When ordered to advance, the sepoys absolutely refused. Bussy, who put himself at the head of one of the regiments, to lead them to the push of the bayonet, as the only chance of restoring the battle, had his horse wounded under him, was abandoned by the troops, and taken prisoner. Lally frankly acknowledges, that his cavalry, who had behaved so ill at the beginning of the action, protected [226] his retreat with great gallantry: He was thus enabled to wait for the junction of the detachment at Wandewash, and to carry off his light baggage and the wounded. The black cavalry of the English were too timid, and the European too feeble in numbers, to impede the retreat.
Lally retired to Chittapet, from which, without strengthening the garrison, he proceeded the following day towards Gingee. The enterprise next resolved on by Colonel Coote was the reduction of Arcot, toward which, the day after the battle, he sent forward a body of troops. Intelligence however of the defenceless state in which the enemy had left Chittapet, gave him hopes of making that a previous acquisition. In two days the English effected a breach, and the garrison surrendered. On the 1st of February, Coote arrived at Arcot. On the 5th three batteries opened on the town. On the night of the 6th the army began their approaches. Although operations were retarded for want of ammunition, on the morning of the 9th the sap was carried near the foot of the glacis; and by noon, two breaches, but far from practicable, were effected; when, to the great surprise of the English, a flag of truce appeared, and the place was surrendered. Not three men had been lost to the garrison, and they might have held out ten days longer, before the assault by storm could have been risked.

From Gingee Lally withdrew the French troops to Valdore, both to prevent the English from taking post between them and Pondicherry, and to protect the districts to the south, from which alone provisions could be obtained. The difficulties of Lally, which had so long been great, were now approaching to extremity. The army was absolutely without equipments, stores, and provisions, and he was destitute of [227] resources to supply them. He repaired to Pondicherry to demand assistance, which he would not believe that the governor and council were unable to afford. He represented them as embezzlers and peculators; and there was no imputation of folly, of cowardice, or of dishonesty, which was spared against him in return.

To proceed with the reduction of the secondary forts which the enemy held in different parts of the province; to straiten Pondicherry, and, if sufficient force should not arrive from France for its relief, to undertake the reduction of that important place, was the plan of operations which the English embraced.1 The country between Alamparva and Pondicherry was plundered and burnt; Timery surrendered on the 1st of February; Devi-Cotah was evacuated about the same time: on the 29th of the same month Trinomalee surrendered; the fort of Permacoil was taken after some resistance in the beginning of March; and Alamparva on the 12th. Carical now remained the only station on the coast, except Pondicherry, in possession of the French; and of this it was important to deprive them, before the shortly expected return of the fleet. A large armament was sent from Madras, and the officer who commanded at Trichinopoly was ordered to march to Carical with all the force which could be spared from [228] the garrison. Lally endeavoured to send a strong detachment to its relief; but the place made a miserable defence, and yielded on the 5th of April before assistance could arrive. On the 15th of that month Valdore surrendered after a feeble resistance; as did Chillambaram on the 20th. Cuddalore was taken about the same time, and several strong attempts by the enemy to regain it were successfully resisted.

By the 1st of May the French army was confined to the bounds of Pondicherry, and the English encamped within four miles of the town; the English powerfully reinforced from England, and elated with remembrance of the past, as well as hope for the future; their antagonists abandoned, by neglect at home, to insuperable difficulties; and looking with eager eyes to the fleet, which never arrived. On the part of the English, Admiral Cornish had reached the coast with six ships of the line, before the end of February: On the 25th of April Admiral Stevens, who now commanded in room of Pococke, arrived with four ships of the line; and on the 23d of May came another ship of the line, with three companies of the royal artillery on board.

As the last remaining chance of prolonging the struggle for the preservation of the French colony, Lally turned his eyes towards the natives; and fixed upon the Mysoreans as the power most capable of rendering him the assistance which he required. The adventurer Hyder Ali was now at the head of a formidable army, and, though not as yet without powerful opponents, had nearly at his disposal the resources of Mysore. Negotiation was performed; and an agreement was concluded. On the one hand the Mysorean chief undertook to supply a certain quantity of bullocks for the provision of Pondicherry, and [229] to join the French with 3,000 select horse, and 5,000 Sepoys. On the other hand the French consented to give the Mysoreans immediate possession of the fort of Thiagar, a most important station, near two of the principal passes into Carnatic, at an easy distance from Baramhal, and about fifty miles E. S. E. from Pondicherry. Even Madura and Tinivelly were said to be promised, if by aid of such valuable allies the war in Carnatic were brought to a favourable conclusion. This resource proved of little importance to the French. The Mysoreans (who routed however a detachment of the English army sent to interrupt their march) were soon discouraged by what they beheld of the condition of the French; and soon recalled by an emergency which deeply affected Hyder at home. They remained in the vicinity of Pondicherry about four weeks, during which time Lally had found it impossible to draw from them any material service; and departing in the night without his knowledge they marched back to Mysore. A few days before their departure six of the English Company’s ships arrived at Madras with king’s troops to the amount of 600 men: On the 2d of September, one month later, several other ships of the Company arrived, and along with them three ships of war, and a portion of a Highland regiment of the King, increasing the fleet in India to the amount of seventeen sail of the line.

Lally had now, and it is no ordinary praise, during almost eight months since the total discomfiture of his army at Wandewash, imposed upon the English so much respect, as deterred them from the siege of Pondicherry; and notwithstanding the desperate state of his resources, found means to supply the fort, which had been totally destitute of provisions, with a stock sufficient to maintain the garrison for [230] several months. And he still resolved to strike a blow which might impress them with an opinion that he was capable of offensive operations of no inconsiderable magnitude. He formed a plan, which has been allowed to indicate both judgment and sagacity, for attacking the English camp by surprise in four places on the night of the 4th of September. But one of the four divisions, into which his army was formed for the execution of the enterprise, fell behind its time, and disconcerted the operations of the remainder.

A circumstance now occurred in the English army, which affords another proof (we shall find abundance of them as we proceed) of the impossibility of governing any country well from the distance of half the circumference of the globe. No government, which had any regard to the maxims either of justice or of prudence, would deprive of his authority a commander, who, like Colonel Coote, had brought a great and arduous service to the verge of completion, at the very moment when, without a chance of failure, he was about to strike the decisive blow which would give to his preceding operations the principal part of their splendour and renown. Yet the East India Company, without intending so reprehensible a conduct, and from their unavoidable ignorance of what after many months was to be the state of affairs, had sent out a commission, with the fleet just arrived, for Major Monson the second in command, to supersede Coote who was destined for Bengal. Monson was indeed directed to make no use of his commission while Coote remained upon the coast; but the spirit of Coote would not permit him to make any advanvantage of this indulgence; and had he been less a man of sense and temper, had he been more governed by that boyish sensibility to injury, which among vulgar [231] people passes for honour, this imprudent step of the Company would have been attended with the most serious consequences. When Coote was to proceed to Bengal it was the destination of his regiment to proceed along with him. The Council of Madras were thrown into the greatest alarm. Monson declared that if the regiment were removed he would not undertake the siege of Pondicherry. Coote consented that his regiment should remain, to encircle the brows of another with laurels which belonged to his own.

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 [232] 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 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 [233] 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. Towards 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 unconditional surrender. Their compliance, as he concluded with sufficient assurance, the necessity of their affairs rendered wholly indispensable.

On the fourth day after the surrender, there arose between the English civil and military authorities a dispute, which, had the military been as daring as the civil, might have been attended with the most serious consequences. Mr. Pigot, the Governor of Madras, made a formal demand, that Pondicherry should be given up to the 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 men on whose arms he totally depended, it might have been a hardihood attended with risk; declared that, unless Pondicherry were given up to [234] 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 in Carnatic, Thiagar, and the strong fort of Gingee, still remained in possession of the French. 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 Mahé 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 the ground.

Dreadful was the fate which awaited the unfortunate Lally, and important 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 fanned 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 avert the danger. Fortunately for them, a multitude of persons arrived from India, boiling 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 [235] 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 villany 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; but 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 dirty dung cart; and lest he should address the people, a gag was stuffed into his mouth, so large as to project beyond [236] 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 a 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.1
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. III, by James Mill

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Part 1 of 3

CHAP. V.

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 Mr. 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 which beset the sovereigns of India. This evil pressed with peculiar weight upon Meer Jaffier. Before the battle of Plassy, which rendered him Subahdar, his own resources were scanty and precarious. The liberality of Aliverdi, the expense of his war with the Mahrattas, and the ravages of that destructive enemy, left in the treasury of the province 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 [238] 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 a considerable part at least 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 rendering it more advantageous. Private bribes to defeat public ends, in Oriental politics, an engine seldom worked in vain, were applied with some perseverance. When he found the rigid fulfilment of the vast engagements to the English, still peremptorily and urgently claimed, he was not only surprised but exasperated; and began to hope, that some favourable event would deliver him from such obstinate and troublesome associates.1

The English were not the parties against whom his animosities were first displayed. Aliverdi Khan, aware of the rebellious and turbulent spirit, which almost always reigned among those adventurers from Iran and Turan, who commonly rose to the chief command in the armies of the Mahomedan princes in Hindustan, had adopted the sagacious policy of bringing forward the gentle, the less enterprising, and less [239] dangerous Hindus. And he had raised various individuals of that race to the principal places of power and emolument under his government. Of Ramnarain, whom he entrusted with the important government of Berar, the reader has already received information. Dooloob Ram, another Hindu, held the grand office of Duan, or Superintendant of the Finances. That celebrated family, the Seets of Moorshedabad, who by merchandize and banking had acquired the wealth of princes, and often aided him in his trials, were admitted largely to share in his counsels, and to influence the operations of his government. Aliverdi had recommended the same policy to Suraja Dowla; and that prince had met with no temptation to depart from it.1

Meer Jaffier was placed under the deepest obligations to Dooloob Ram. When he was convicted of malversation in his office, and stood in disgrace with his master, it was Dooloob Ram who had made his peace.2 In the late revolution, Dooloob Ram had espoused his interests, when the influence of that minister, and his command of treasure, might have conferred the prize upon another chief. Whether he dreaded the power of the Hindu connexion, or was stimulated with a desire of their wealth, Meer Jaffier resolved to crush them; and with Dooloob Ram, as the most powerful individual, it was prudent to begin. Before the departure of Clive, he had summoned Ramramsing, the Governor of Midnapore, and head of the Spy-office, to repair to the capital to answer for the arrears of his government; but the cautious Hindu, already alarmed, evaded the mandate by sending two of his relations. The Nabob, so by the English now was Jaffier styled, threw both into [240]
prison; and easily reconciled Clive, by informing him, that Ramramsing was an enemy to the English, and had been the agent through whom the correspondence between Suraja Dowla and Bussy had been carried on. A close connexion had long subsisted between Ramramsing and Dooloob Ram; and the latter, to whose sagacity the designs of Jaffier were not a secret, regarded the present step as a preliminary part of the plan which was laid for his own destruction.

Meantime opposition began to display itself in various parts of the provinces. The Rajah of Midnapore took arms upon the news of the detention of his relatives: An insurrection in favour of a son of Sereffraz Khan, whom Aliverdi deposed, was raised at Dacca: In the province of Poorania, the duan of the late governor had raised a creature of his own to the chief command: And Jaffier had resolved on the removal of Ramnarain from the province of Berar. Colonel Clive found the means of reconciling Ramramsing; and, with the assistance of the English, the insurrection at Dacca was easily quelled. But when the troops were drawn out to proceed to Poorania, they refused to march, without payment of their arrears. Clive was preparing to join the Nabob; but his troops, with the prize money distributed among them in consequence of the battle of Plassy, had indulged in such intemperance, that many of the Europeans had died, a still greater proportion were sick, and the army was unable to leave Chandernagor before the 17th of November.

The Nabob’s troops were ordered to march on the 6th of October. Partial payments, and other means of overcoming their disobedience were employed till the 7th of November, when the Nabob repaired to the camp. No sooner had he left the city, than his [241] son Meeran, who was to act as Governor, distributed
intelligence, that a confederacy was formed, under the authority of the Emperor at Delhi, between Ramnarain, the Subahdar of Oude, and Dooloob Ram, to raise to the government of Bengal the son of a younger brother of Surajah Dowla.1 He then commissioned a band of ruffians to enter in the night the palace of the widow of Aliverdi, with whom the mother of Suraja Dowla, and grandmother of the prince, resided. They murdered the child, and sent the two princesses to Dacca. The Nabob, who denied all participation in the action, received from the English, says Mr. Orme, “no reproaches.”

Clive arrived at Moorshedabad, on the 25th of November, where Dooloob Ram, who, under pretence of sickness, had refused to accompany Jaffier, remained with his troops. On the 3d of December he joined the Nabob at Raje Mahl. Cuddum Hussun, who had long been an associate in the pleasures of Jaffier, was destined for the government of Poorania;2 and some days had elapsed since he crossed the river into that province, with a body of troops. The terror inspired by the Nabob’s army, the intrigues which Cuddum Hussun, by means of letters and spies, was able to raise in the enemy’s camp, together with the rawness of the insurgent troops, made them take flight and disperse, upon the very approach of Cuddum Hussun; who took quiet possession of the government, and began immediately to gratify his avarice by the severest exactions.

The mind of the Nabob, now tranquil on account of other quarters, turned itself to the more arduous proceedings which it meditated in Bahar. Clive perceived his opportunity; and refused to proceed with him, unless all the sums, due upon the agreements with the English, were previously discharged. No payments could be made without Dooloob Ram. A reconcilement, therefore, was necessary; and, Clive undertaking for his security, Dooloob Ram joined the camp with 10,000 troops. Twenty-three lacks of rupees were now due: Orders were signed upon the treasury for one half; and tuncaws, that is, orders to the local receivers to make payment out of the revenues as they come in, were granted on certain districts for the remainder.

Clive, however, now stated, as objections to the removal of Ramnarain; the strength of his army; the probability that he would receive assistance from the Subahdar of Oude; the probability that the English would be recalled to the defence of their own settlements by the arrival of the French; and the danger lest Ramnarain should bring an army of Mahrattas to his aid. Jaffier was not willing to oppose directly an opinion of Clive; and offered to accept of his mediation; reserving in his mind the use of every clandestine effort to accomplish his own designs. The army began its march to Patna; and was joined by Ramnarain, after receipt of a letter from Clive, assuring him, that both his person and government should be safe. The intended delays and machinations of the Nabob were cut short, by intelligence that the Subahdar of Oude, with the French party under M. Law, and a great body of Mahratta horse, was about to invade the province; and by the actual arrival of a Mahratta chief, who came in the name of the principal Mahratta commanders to demand the [243] arrears of chout, amounting to twenty-four lacks of rupees, which were due from Bengal. These events produced a speedy accommodation with Ramnarain. The Nabob, indeed, used various efforts to remain behind the English, in order to defeat the securities which that Governor had obtained. But Clive penetrated, and disappointed his designs. He even extorted from him another grant, of no small importance to the English treasury. A leading article in the European traffic was the salt-petre produced in Bengal, the whole of which was made in the country on the other side of the Ganges above Patna. This manufacture had in general been farmed for the benefit of the Government; and Clive saw the advantage of obtaining the monopoly for the English. He offered the highest terms which the government had ever received, but the Nabob knew he could not demand from the English the regular presents which he would derive from a renter placed at his mercy; he was not, therefore, inclined to the arrangement; but, after a variety of objections, the necessity of his circumstances compelled him to comply.

Clive got back to Moorshedabad on the 15th of May; and, on the same day, received intelligence from the coast of Coromandel, of the arrival of the French fleet, and of the indecisive first engagement between it and the English. A friend to the use which governments commonly make of their intelligence of the events of war, “Clive spread,” says Orme, “the news he received, as a complete naval victory; two of the French ships sunk in the fight, instead of one stranded afterwards by a mischance; the rest put to flight, with no likelihood of being able to land the troops which they had brought from Pondicherry.”

On the 24th, Clive departed from Moorshedabad [244] without waiting for the Nabob. On the 20th of June, a ship arrived at Calcutta from England; and brought along with it a commission for new modelling the government. A council was nominated consisting of ten; and, instead of one Governor, as in preceding arrangements, four were appointed, not to preside collectively, but each during three months in rotation. The inconvenience of this scheme of government was easily perceived. “But there was another cause,” says Mr. Orme, “which operated on opinions more strongly. Colonel Clive had felt and expressed resentment at the neglect of himself in the Company’s orders, for no station was marked for him in the new establishment.” Convinced that he alone had sufficient authority to overawe the Nabob into the performance of his obligations, the council, including the four gentlemen who were appointed the governors, came to a resolution, highly expressive of their own disinterestedness and patriotism, but full of disregard and contempt for the judgment and authority of their superiors.1 This high legislative act of the Company they took upon them to set aside, and, with one accord, invited Clive to accept the undivided office of President. With this invitation he assures us, that “he hesitated not one moment to comply.”2

In the mean time considerable events were preparing at Moorshedabad. On the approach of Clive and Dooloob Ram, Meeran had thrown the city into violent agitation, by quitting it with demonstrations of fear, summoning all the troops and artillery of the government, and giving it out as his intention to march for the purpose of joining his father. Clive wrote with much sharpness to the Nabob; and Meeran apologised in the most submissive strain. Though inability to discharge the arrears due to the troops, who could with much difficulty be preserved from tumults, compelled the Nabob to delay his proceedings, he was impatient for the destruction of Dooloob Ram; the severity of his despotism increased; and he declared to one of his favourites, who betrayed him, “that if a French force would come into the province he would assist them, unless the English released him from all their claims of money, territory, and exemptions.”1 Among the Hindus, who had risen to high employment under the encouraging policy of the late Subahdars, was Nuncomar, who acted as Governor of Hoogley at the time of Suraja Dowla’s march against Calcutta. Nuncomar had followed the armies to Patna, and, as conversant [246] with the details of the revenue, was employed by Dooloob Ram. When the difficulties of obtaining payment upon the tuncaws granted to the English began to be felt, he proffered his assistance; and, if supported by the government of the Nabob, assured the English, that he would realize the sums. He was vested with such authority as the service appeared to require; but as he expected not to elude the knowledge of Dooloob Ram, in the practices which he meditated, for raising out of his employment a fortune to himself, he resolved to second the designs of the Nabob for the removal of that vigilant Duan. He persuaded the Seets to withdraw their protection from this troublesome inspector, by awakening their fears of being called upon for money, if Dooloob Ram withheld the revenues, and supplied not the exigencies of the state. He assured the Nabob and Meeran, that the English would cease to interfere in their government, if the money was regularly paid. Dooloob Ram took the alarm, and requested leave to retire to Calcutta, with his family and effects. Permission was refused, till he should find a sum of money sufficient to satisfy the troops. Under profession of a design to visit Colonel Clive at Calcutta, the Nabob quitted the capital; but, under pretence of hunting, remained in its neighbourhood. On the second day after his departure, Meeran incited a body of the troops to repair to the residence of Dooloob Ram, and to clamour tumultuously for their pay. The English agent interfered; but, as the troops were directed by Meeran to make sure of Dooloob Ram, the agent found great difficulty in preserving his life. Clive at last desired that he should be allowed, with his family, to repair to Calcutta; and the consent of the Nabob was no longer withheld.

Within a few days after the return of the Nabob [247] from Calcutta, a tumult was excited in his capital by the soldiers of one of the chiefs, and assumed the appearance of being aimed at the Nabob’s life. A letter was produced, which bore the character of a letter from Dooloob Ram to the commander of the disorderly troops, inciting him to the enterprise, and assuring him that the concurrence of Clive, and other leading Englishmen, was obtained. Clive suspected that the letter was a forgery of Jaffier and Meeran, to ruin Dooloob Ram, in the opinion of the English, and procure his expulsion from Calcutta; when his person and wealth would remain in their power. All doubts might be resolved by the interrogation and confrontation of the commander, to whom the letter was said to be addressed. But he was ordered by the Nabob to quit his service, was way-laid on his departure, and assassinated.

In the mean time advices had arrived from the Presidency at Madras, that Fort St. David had yielded, that a second engagement had taken place between the fleets, that the French army was before Tanjore, that M. Bussy was on his march to join Lally: And the most earnest solicitations were subjoined, that as large a portion of the troops as possible might be sent to afford a chance of averting the ruin of the national affairs in Carnatic. “No one,” says Orme, “doubted that Madras would be besieged, as soon as the monsoon had sent the squadrons off the coast, if reinforcements should not arrive before.”1 Clive chose to remain in Bengal, where he was master, rather than go to Madras, where he would be under command; [248] and determined not to lessen his power by sending troops to Madras, which the Presidency, copying his example, might forget to send back. An enterprise, at the same time, presented itself, which, though its success would have been vain, had the French in Carnatic prevailed, bore the appearance of a co-operation in the struggle, and afforded a colour for detaining the troops.

One of the leading Polygars in the Northern Circars, fixing his eye upon the advantages which he might expect to derive from giving a new master to the provinces, communicated to the English in Bengal his desire to co-operate with them in driving out the French, while Bussy was involved in a struggle with the brothers of the Subahdar. The brilliancy of the exploit had no feeble attractions for the imagination of Clive; and after the recall of Bussy to Pondicherry, he imparted his intentions to the Council. The project met with unanimous condemnation.1 But Clive, disregarding all opposition, prepared his armament. It consisted of 500 Europeans, 2,000 Sepoys, and 100 Lascars, with six field-pieces, six battering cannon, one howitz, and one eight-inch mortar. This expedition, commanded by Colonel Forde, was destined to proceed by sea; but the altercations in the council, which the disapprobation of the measure produced, and the delays which occurred in the equipment of the ships, retarded its departure till the end of September.2

On the 20th of October Colonel Forde disembarked [249] at Vizigapatam, and joined his troops with those of the Rajah Anunderauz; at whose instigation the exploit was undertaken. It was expected, that this chief would afford money for the maintenance of the troops; and hence but a small supply of that necessary article was brought from Bengal. The Rajah was in the usual state of Rajahs, Nabobs, Subahdars, and Emperors in India; he was reputed by the English immensely rich, while in reality he was miserably poor: He was, therefore, not very able to provide the sums expected from him; and still less willing. The delays by which he contrived to elude the importunities of the English were highly provoking; and, by retarding their movements, threatened to deprive them of all the great advantages of rapidity and surprise. A sort of treaty was at last concluded, by which it was agreed that, excepting the seaports, and towns at the mouths of the rivers, the conquered country should all be given up to Anunderauz, upon the condition of his advancing a certain monthly sum for the maintenance of the troops.

M. Conflans, who had been sent to command the French troops upon the recall of Bussy, had concentrated his forces about Rajamundri; towards which the English and the Rajah directed their march. The force, which remained under the command of Conflans, after the departure of the troops which were recalled with Bussy, was still considerably superior to that which had arrived with the English; but when the troops for other services were deducted, he took the field against the English with numbers nearly equal. A battle was brought on; and the French were completely defeated; they were not only stript of their camp, but fled from Rajamundri.

During the battle, the Rajah and his troops remained cowering in the hollow of a dry tank, which [250] protected them from shot. After the battle all his operations were tardy; what was worse, no money could be extracted from him; all the cash which had been brought from Bengal was expended; and during fifty days, when advantage might have been taken of the want of preparation on the part of the enemy, and of the dejection arising from their defeat, the English were unable to move. At last, by a new arrangement, a small sum was obtained from the Rajah; the troops were put in motion, and on the 6th of February arrived at Ellore or Yalore, where they were joined by the Zeminder or chief of the district.

Conflans had no longer confidence to meet the English in the field, but withdrew to defend himself in Masulipatam, the principal fort, and principal station of the French, on that part of the coast; while he urged the Subahdar of Deccan to march to the defence of his own territories, the French being occupants under his authority, and subject to his law, while the English intended to wrest the country wholly from his hands. The views of the courtiers of the Subahdar happened at the moment to coincide with his own wishes to preserve for himself the protection of the French, and he put his army in motion towards Masulipatam.

This prevented not the English commander from hastening to attack the place. He arrived on the 6th of March. The French treated his pretensions with ridicule. Masulipatam, for an Indian town, and against Indian means of attack, was of no inconsiderable strength: The defenders within were more numerous than the besiegers: A considerable army of observation was left in the field: The Subahdar, with the grand army of Deccan, was on the march: And a reinforcement of Europeans was expected from Pondicherry. [251] A sum of money for the English had arrived from Bengal; but the French army of observation rendered it dangerous, or rather impracticable, to send it to the camp. The English troops mutinied for want of pay; and it was with much difficulty, and by large promises, that they were induced to resume the discharge of their duty.

Three batteries continued a hot fire on three different parts of the town, without having effected any considerable damage, from the 25th of March to the 6th of April, when the situation of the English began to wear a very threatening aspect. Salabut Jung was approaching; the French army of observation had retaken Rajamundri, and might effect a junction with the Subahdar; it was impossible for the English now to retreat by the way which they had come, or even to embark at Masulipatam with their cannon and heavy stores; the monsoon had begun; the reinforcement from Pondicherry was expected; and to crown all, the engineers reported that no more than two days’ ammunition for the batteries remained unconsumed. In these circumstances, however apparently desperate, Colonel Forde resolved to try the chance of an assault. The batteries were directed to play with the utmost activity during the whole of the day; and the troops to be under arms at ten at night. The attack, in order to divide the attention of the enemy, and render uncertain the point of danger, was to be in three places at once; and the three divisions of the army were to be on their respective grounds exactly at midnight. The struggle was expected to be severe; from the superior numbers of the enemy, and the little damage which the works had sustained. A part of the army faultered considerably; nor did all the officers meet the danger with perfect composure. [252] They got, however, within the walls with comparative ease; where, being met by superior forces, they might have paid dear for their temerity, had not surprise aided their arms, and had not M. Conftans, confounded by uncertainty, and by various and exaggerated reports, after a short resistance, surrendered the place.

Within one week two ships appeared with a reinforcement of 300 troops from Pondicherry. The Subahdar, whose arrival had been anticipated but a very few days by the fall of Masulipatam, found himself in circumstances ill calculated to carry on by himself a war against the English. He was anxious on the other hand, being now deprived of the French, to cultivate a friendship with the English, and to obtain from them a body of troops, to protect him against the dangerous ambition of his brother Nizam Ali, who, since the departure of Bussy, had returned at the head of a considerable body of troops, and filled him with serious alarm. Colonel Forde repaired to his camp, where he was received with great distinction, and concluded a treaty, by which a considerable territory about Masulipatam was ceded to the English, and the Subahdar engaged to allow no French settlement for the future to exist in his dominions. The French army of observation, which, it was by the same treaty stipulated, should cross the Kistna in fifteen days, joined the army of Bassalut Jung, the elder brother of the Subahdar, who had accompanied him on the expedition to the Northern Circars, and now marched away to the south. The two ships which had brought the reinforcement from Pondicherry, upon discovering the loss of Masulipatam, sailed away to the north, and landed the troops at Ganjam. They made several efforts to render some [253] useful service, but entirely fruitless; and after enduring a variety of privations, returned greatly reduced in numbers to Pondicherry.1

While the detachment from the army of Bengal was engaged in these operations, the solicitude of Clive was attracted by an enemy of high pretensions in a different quarter. Toward the close of the history of the Mogul Emperors, it appeared, that the eldest son of the Emperor Aulumgeer II., not daring to trust himself in the hands of the Vizir, the daring Umad al Mulk, by whom the emperor was held in a state of wretched servitude, had withdrawn into the district of Nujeeb ad Dowla, the Rohilla, who was an opponent of the Vizir, and a partizan of the Imperial family. At this time, the revolution effected by the English in Bengal, the unpopularity and disorders of Jaffier’s administration, and the presumed weakness of his government, excited hopes in the neighbouring chiefs, that an invasion of his territories might be turned to advantage. The imagination of Mahummud Koollee Khan, the Subahdar of Allahabad, was the most highly elevated by the prospect of sharing in the spoils of the English Nabob. He was instigated by two powerful Zemindars, the Rajahs, Sunder Sing, and Bulwant Sing. And the Nabob of Oude, his near kinsman, one of the most powerful chiefs in Hindustan, joined with apparent ardour in the design. The Nabob of Oude entertained a double purpose; that of obtaining, if any thing was to be seized, as great a share as possible of Bahar or Bengal; and that of watching his opportunity, while his ally and kinsman was intent upon his expected acquisitions, to seize by force or stratagem the fort of Allahabad. The influence of the imperial name appeared to them [254] of no small importance in the war with Jaffier; and as the prince, who had fled into Rohilcund, was soliciting them for protection, it was agreed to place him ostensibly at the head of the enterprise. Preparations were made; and the Prince, having obtained from the Emperor legal investiture, as Subahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, crossed the Carumnassa, a river which bounds the province of Bahar, towards the conclusion of the year 1758. From the exhaustion of the treasury when Jaffier was raised to the government, the great sums which he had paid to the English, the difficulty of extracting money from the people, his own negligent and wasteful administration, and the cruel and brutal character of his son Meeran, Jaffier was ill-prepared to meet a formidable invasion. From his own rabble of ill-paid and mutinous soldiers, he was obliged to turn, and place all his hopes of safety in the bravery and skill of the English, whom, before the news of this impending danger, he had been plotting to expel. The English appear to have had no foresight of such an event. By the absence of the troops in the Northern Circars, their force was so inconsiderable, and both they and Jaffier needed so much time to prepare, that had the invaders proceeded with tolerable expedition and skill, they might have gained, without difficulty, the whole province of Bahar. A blow like this, at so critical a period, would have shaken to such a degree the tottering government of Jaffier, that the incipient power of the English might have despaired of restoring it; and a momentary splendour might again have surrounded the throne of the Moguls.

The march of the Prince and his confederates towards Patna placed Ramnarain the Governor between two dreadful fires. To Jaffier he neither felt, nor owed attachment. But, joining the prince, he risked [255] every thing, if Jaffier; adhering to Jaffier, he risked as much, if the prince; should succeed. The situation was calculated to exercise Hindu duplicity and address. An application to Mr. Amyatt, the chief of the English factory, was the first of his steps; from whom as he could receive no protection, he expected such latitude of advice, as would afford a colour to any measures he might find it agreeable to pursue. It happened as he foresaw. Mr. Amyatt informing him that the English would remain at Patna, if assistance should arrive; if not, would retire from the danger; frankly and sincerely instructed him, to amuse the Prince as long as possible; but if all hopes of succour should fail, to provide for himself as events might direct. Ramnarain studied to conduct himself in such a manner as to be able to join with the greatest advantage the party for whom fortune should declare. He wrote to Bengal importuning for succour; and he at the same time privately sent a messenger to propitiate the Prince. He was even induced, when the English of the factory had retired down the river, to pay him a visit in his camp; and the troops of the Prince might have entered Patna along with him. The opportunity however was lost; and the observations which the Hindu made upon the Prince’s camp and upon the councils which guided him, induced him to shut the gates of the city when he returned, and to prepare for defence.

The hardihood of Clive was seldom overcome by scruples. Yet the Emperor Aulumgeer was legitimate sovereign of Bengal; and had undoubted right to appoint his eldest son to be his deputy in the government of that province: To oppose him, was undisguised rebellion.1 The English forces, a slender [256] band, marched to Moorshedabad, and, being joined by the best part of Jaffier’s troops, commanded by Meeran, they advanced towards Patna; where Ramnarain had amused the prince by messages and overtures as long as possible, and afterwards opposed him. Though the attack was miserably conducted, a breach was made, and the courage and resources of Ramnarain would have been soon exhausted; when intelligence reached the camp, that the Subahdar of Oude, who was on his march with an army under pretence of joining the prince, had treacherously seized the fortress of Allahabad. Mahummud Koollee Khan, by whom the prince’s affairs were conducted, and whose forces were his entire support, resolved to march immediately for the recovery or protection of his own dominions; and though he was joined at four miles’ distance from the city by M. Law, who had hastened from Chutterpore with his handful of Frenchmen, and importuned him to return to Patna, of which he engaged to put him in possession in two days, the infatuated Nabob continued his march, and being persuaded by the Subahdar of Oude to throw himself upon his generosity, was first made a prisoner, and afterwards put to death.

When Clive and Meeran approached, the enemy had already departed from Patna; and the unhappy prince, the descendant of so many illustrious sovereigns, the legal Subahdar of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, and the undoubted heir of a throne, once among the loftiest on the globe, was so bereft of friends and resources, that he was induced to write a [257] letter to Clive, requesting a sum of money for his subsistence, and offering in requital to withdraw from the province. Upon these easy terms was Clive, by his good fortune, enabled to extricate himself from a situation of considerable difficulty. Ramnarain obtained, or it was convenient to grant him, credit for fidelity; the Zemindars who had joined the Prince hastened to make their peace; and Clive returned to Calcutta in the month of June.1

This was a fortunate expedition for Clive. So unbounded was the gratitude of Jaffier, that after obtaining for his defender the rank of an Omrah of the empire, he bestowed upon him, under the title of Jaghire, the whole of the revenue or rent, which the Company, in quality of Zemindar, were bound to pay, for the territory which they held round Calcutta. The grant amounted to the enormous sum of 30,000l. per annum. “Clive’s Jaghire” is an expression of frequent recurrence, and of considerable weight, in the History of India.

The Shazada (such was the title by which the eldest son of the Mogul was then distinguished in Bengal) was thus fortunately repulsed, and Colonel Forde with his troops was no less fortunately returned from the south, when the English were alarmed by the news of a great armament, fitted out by the Dutch at Batavia, and destined for Bengal. The Dutch were not then at war with England, and being excited to cupidity by the lofty reports of the rich harvest lately reaped by the English in Bengal, possibly aimed at no more than a share of the same advantages, or to balance before its irresistible ascendency the increasing power of their rivals. [258] They had received encouragement from Jaffier; but that ruler, since the invasion of the Mogul Prince, felt so powerfully his dependence on the English, that, when called upon by the English for the use of his authority and power, he durst not decline. In the month of August a Dutch ship arrived in the river, filled with troops; and this was speedily followed by six more, the whole having on board 700 Europeans and 800 Malays. To attack without provocation the ships or troops of a nation in friendship with this country, was not regarded by Clive as less than a hazardous step. The advantages, however, of standing without a rival in Bengal outweighed his apprehensions; he obtained an order of the Subahdar, commanding the Dutch to leave the river; and under pretence of seconding his authority resolved upon hostilities. The seven ships ascended the river as far as a few miles below Calcutta, and landed their troops, which were thence to march to the Dutch factory at Chinsura. Clive detached Colonel Forde, with a force, consisting of 300 Europeans, 800 Sepoys, and about 150 of Jaffier’s cavalry, to intercept them; and at the same time commanded three of the Company’s ships, fitted out and manned for the purpose, to attack the Dutch East Indiamen. Colonel Forde, by the dexterity and success of his exploit, converted it into one of the most brilliant incidents of the war; and of the 700 Europeans, not above fourteen were enabled to reach Chinsura, the rest being either taken prisoners or slain. The attack upon the ships was equally successful; after an engagement of two hours, six of them were taken, and the seventh was intercepted by two English ships which lay further down the river. After this heavy blow the Dutch, to prevent their total expulsion from Bengal, were contented to put themselves [259] in the wrong, by paying the expenses of the war; and the irregularity of his interference made Clive well pleased to close the dispute, by restoring to the Dutch their ships, with all the treasure and effects. The agreement with the Dutch was ratified on the 5th of December; and Clive, who for some months had been meditating return with his fortune to Europe, resigned the government early in February and sailed from Calcutta.1

He left not the country in peace. Meeran, before he departed from Patna, the preceding year, had sown the seeds of a future war. He treated with injustice some officers of considerable rank and influence; and no sooner was he gone than a confederacy was formed between them and some neighbouring Zemindars to support the Shazada in a fresh invasion. Intelligence of their designs had reached Calcutta before the contest with the Dutch was decided. And the Nabob of Poorania, whom Meeran had already endeavoured to cut off by treachery, had taken the field, and was expected to join the Mogul prince.

Colonel Calliaud had been called from Carnatic to take the command of the forces in Bengal, when Clive and Forde, who meditated simultaneous departure, should sail for Europe. He arrived with a reinforcement of troops toward the end of November; and it was necessary that he should proceed to stop the menaced invasion without a moment’s delay. He left Calcutta with a detachment of 300 Europeans, 1,000 Sepoys, and fifty artillery men, with six pieces [260] of cannon, and arrived at Moorshedabad on the 26th of December. He was joined by Clive on the 6th of January, who, having made his arrangements with the Subahdar, or Nabob, set out after a week for Calcutta. Calliaud, being joined by 15,000 horse and foot, and twenty-five pieces of cannon, of the Nabob, under command of Meeran, resumed his march on the 18th.

In the mean time, the Mahrattas, who had been incited by the Vizir, Umad al Mulk, to invade the provinces of Oude and Rohilcund, had been defeated and obliged to fly; while the powerful King of the Abdallees was again on his march for the invasion of Hindustan. Excited by the approach of formidable danger, the Vizir, in a fit of exasperation or despair, ordered the murder of the Emperor, the wretched Aulumgeer; and the news of this tragical event reached the Shazada, just as he had passed the Carumnassa into the province of Bahar. He was advised to assume immediately the state and title of Emperor; to confer the office of Vizir upon Suja Dowla, the Nabob of Oude, and to confirm Nujeeb ad Dowla in the office of Ameer ul Omrah. The majesty of the imperial throne, and his undoubted title, had an influence still upon the minds of men. It was now clear and immediate rebellion to resist him; and whatever guilt could be involved in making war upon their rightful sovereign, must be incurred by those who carried arms against him. The English had already familiarized themselves with the idea of rebellion in India; and the consideration of legitimate sovereignty, though the sovereign would have purchased their protection by unlimited grants, appears not to have excited a scruple in a single breast. The new dignity, however, of Vizir called upon the Nabob of Oude for some exertions in favour of his [261] sovereign; and the fascination of the imperial title was still of force to collect around him a considerable army.1

The march of the English was retarded by the necessity of settling terms with the Nabob of Poorania, who had encamped on the left bank of the river between Moorshedabad and Patna, and professed a desire of remaining obedient to Jaffier, provided the English would engage for his security. This negotiation wasted seven days; and in the mean time the Emperor advanced towards Patna. Ramnarain, whom the sagacity of Aliverdi had selected to be deputy Governor of Bahar, on account of his skill in matters of finance, was destitute of military talents; and considering his situation, under the known hatred of Jaffier, as exceedingly precarious, he was unwilling to lay out any of the wealth he had acquired, in providing for the defence of the country. He was still enabled to draw forth a respectable army, reinforced by seventy Europeans and a battalion of English sepoys, commanded by Lieutenant Cochrane; and he encamped under the walls, with a view to cover the city. He had received by letter the strongest injunctions from Calliaud, on no account to hazard a battle till Meeran and he should arrive. An action however took place; the army of Ramnarain was attacked with impetuosity; some of his officers behaved with treachery; his troops were giving way on all sides; and he himself was dangerously pressed; when he sent an importunate request to the English for immediate assistance. The Lieutenant had advised him at the beginning of the action to place himself, for the security of his person, [262] near the English battalion; an advice with which his vanity did not permit him to comply. That officer marched to his relief without a moment’s delay; but he imprudently divided his handful of troops; they were unable to withstand the force of numbers; all the European officers of the Sepoys fell, when the Sepoys dispersed and were cut to pieces. The English who remained alive, resolved to fight their way to the city; and such was the awe and terror which the sight of their courage inspired, that the enemy, not daring to resist, opened instantly to the right and left, and allowed them to retire.1

Had the troops of the Emperor pushed on with vigour, immediately after this victory, when Ramnarain was severely wounded, his army panic-struck [263] and dispersed, and the city without defenders, they might have taken Patna with the greatest ease. But they employed themselves in ravaging the open country, and in receiving messengers and overtures from Ramnarain till the 19th of February, when they learned that Meeran and the English were distant from them but twenty-eight miles. The resolution was taken to march and engage them; and next day the two armies approached. Colonel Calliaud urged immediate attack; but Meeran and his astrologers found that the stars would not be favourable before the 22d. Early on the morning of that day, Calliaud was in motion; but before he could reach the enemy the day was so far spent, “by the insufferable delays,” as he himself complains, “of Meeran’s march,” that, wishing to have time before him, he was unwilling to engage till the following morning. The enemy however advanced, and Calliaud drew up his men between two villages which covered both his flanks, advising Meeran to form a second line, the whole of which, except the two wings, would have been covered by the English and the villages. But though this was agreed upon, “he crowded his army upon the right, and, in spite of the most pressing and repeated solicitations, presented to battle a body of 15,000 men with a front of scarcely 200 yards in a tumultuous unformed heap.” With a feigned appearance of directing the main attack upon the English, the enemy advanced with the best part of their army against Meeran, who in about ten minutes began to give way. Colonel Calliaud, however, marched with a battallion of Sepoys to his aid, and immediately decided the fate of the day. The Sepoys drew up within forty yards upon the enemy’s flank, and having poured in a couple of fires, advanced with the bayonet, when the [264] enemy recoiled upon one another, fell into confusion, and, being charged by Meeran’s cavalry, dispersed and fled. Calliaud was eager to pursue, but Meeran, who had received a trifling wound in the battle, preferred an interval of ease and pleasure at Patna. He would not even permit the service to be performed without him; and though Calliaud offered to proceed with his own troops alone, if only a few horse, which he earnestly entreated, were granted him, he found all he could urge without avail.
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