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bitter satire, of a somewhat later date, on the humiliations which the Dutch were willing to endure in order to secure the profits of the Japanese trade, will occur at once to every one.
In Siam it also seemed for a time that the French might obtain signal advantages. The Siamese monarch favored them and granted them liberty of commerce and the privilege of teaching Christianity. But at that king's death the French were at once expelled from the country.
Little else of importance occurred during the reign of Louis the Fourteenth. In 1693 the Dutch captured Pondicherry, but the place was restored by the Treaty of Ryswick. The Isle of France, more commonly known by the name given it by the Dutch in honor of their great Maurice, Prince of Orange, and celebrated as the scene in which the touching story of Paul and Virginia is laid, was, on account of its good harbors, very valuable as a naval station, and in 1715 was occupied by the French.
Early in the new reign the famous Mississippi scheme was projected, and the Company of the West, formed to carry out the plans of John Law, soon annexed to itself the East India Company, the African Company, and a recently created China. Company, thus gaining control of almost all the colonial commerce of France. It now took the name of the Company of the Indies.
The commerce with the East began to exhibit new life, and now rapidly increased. The town of L'Orient became a prosperous city, and splendid buildings arose on the spot where but lately there was a mere trading station containing less than one thousand inhabitants.
But while commerce flourished, and protection for it was of, vital importance, the miserable government of France neglected the navy, as that of Charles the Second had done at a critical period, and the ships of war were allowed to decay and fall to pieces at their docks.
Two great men, Dupleix and Labourdonnais, upheld the French interests in the East. The abilities displayed by Labourdonnais, both in private affairs and in the service of the Company, procured him in 1734 the appointment of Governor of the Isles of France and Bourbon. In this position he gave
signal proof of his immense energy and capacity. He wished to create great improvements and to carry out reforms, and earnestly did he set himself to the task. Under his administration the defences of the island were greatly strengthened, the condition of the inhabitants was improved, and evil customs were abolished. But he found that one who earnestly strives to reform abuses is certain to encounter much opposition even from those who most should assist him.
Dupleix, while still a young man, obtained, through the influence of his father, a position in the Council at Pondicherry. By means of his commanding abilities he soon attained a far higher position. His genius was recognized and he was sent to direct affairs at Chandernagore, which rapidly became an important center of trade. The French commerce in Bengal soon far outstripped the English. In 1740 Dupleix became Governor of Pondicherry and presently obtained the title of Governor General of the French possessions in India.
War was declared between France and England, and Labourdonnais, after overcoming the greatest difficulties, set sail with a fleet for India. Early in July, 1746, he sighted the English squadron, but only a distant cannonade followed, and he ceeded to Pondicherry. Here he met Dupleix. The two men, each equally anxious to attain the same end, differed widely as to the choice of means. Their respective powers were incapable of and the jealous nature of Dupleix rendered him undefined, acting in harmony with his energetic and ambitious associate.
Dupleix was asked for assistance in strengthening the fleet, and responded by allowing an inadequate supply of cannon and ammunition. He further granted a supply of water, but so bad as to cause sickness on board the fleet. Labourdonnais was again unable to bring the English squadron to an engagement, and, still opposed by Dupleix, proceeded to Madras. On September 15th he arrived in front of the town. For sev eral days a bombardment was kept up, when, seeing that resistance was hopeless, the English governor capitulated. It was stipulated that but a moderate ransom was to be exacted and that the place was to be restored to the English. Labourdonnais honorably protected the inhabitants, and, while confiscat
ing the magazines and warehouses of the English Company, seized no private property.
On hearing of the agreement to restore Madras to the Eng lish, Dupleix began a bitter opposition, but his arguments and expostulations could not induce Labourdonnais to break the treaty. Without assistance, however, the goods could not be removed from Madras before the time agreed upon for the surrender of the place, and this Dupleix refused. By agreement with the English the time was extended, but to avoid the terrific storms of the season Labourdonnais was forced to withdraw with his fleet, and Dupleix at once took command.
Baffled, and bitterly disappointed, Labourdonnais sailed for home. Taken prisoner and carried to England, he was there treated with the greatest respect and allowed to proceed at once to France. There he was thrown into prison and held in confinement for about three years. He died soon after his release. The policy of the French government in this case did not materially differ from that of those kings who assured Gulliver that they had never knowingly preferred any man of merit.
Soon after the departure of Labourdonnais from Madras, his rival declared the treaty of capitulation annulled, and, besides refusing to surrender the place, ordered the seizure of considerable private property. The Nabob, believing certain promises made him by Dupleix to be insincere, sent a large force to attack the French, only to meet overwhelming defeat at the hands of the well-drilled garrison of Labourdonnais. This battle first proved the decisive superiority of modern European arms and discipline when opposed to the unwieldy masses of Asiatic troops.
The same year in which Madras was captured, the English made an attack upon L'Orient with the object of seizing the stores of the Company. The place was weakly fortified and garrisoned. The commander capitulated. Suddenly, however, the English became impressed with the belief that the French were in some way deceiving them, and, hastening to their boats, they sailed away, seized with a panic, not unlike that which infected the troops of the Swedish general Horn when, at Bamberg, they hurriedly fled before a mere advance guard of Tilly's army.
After the fall of Madras the English still held Fort St. David, a settlement but a few miles from Pondicherry. Dupleix endeavored to capture it, but the Nabob had joined with the English and against the united forces he failed. He then endeavored by ravaging the Nabob's territory to induce him to withdraw his army from before St. David, but this also was unavailing. In January, 1747, a few French ships arrived, and Dupleix represented his force as greatly increased. At this the Nabob promptly abandoned the English cause. The arrival of English reënforcements still prevented Dupleix from carrying out his plans. In January, 1748, Major Lawrence took command, and Admiral Boscawen arrived with reënforcements in August.
The English now took the offensive, and, in a series of curi ously inefficient operations against Pondicherry, not only utterly failed in their object but also suffered the loss of Major Lawrence as a prisoner to the enemy. Want of sufficient knowledge of the ground upon which they were to operate contributed largely to this failure. Horace Walpole, in one of his letters, mentions a rumor that Boscawen was sent out to India to take part in the expedition against Pondicherry through the influence of one who desired to see him disgraced and who believed that the expedition would most probably fail.
Soon the news of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle arrived, and Madras, much stronger than when last held by the English, was given up by Dupleix in accordance with the terms of that treaty.
But though the two rival powers were at peace in Europe they were not in India. Dupleix had matured plans for securing French ascendancy by interfering in the quarrels of the native princes, and the state of affairs now allowed him to put his plans into execution. Nizam al Mulk, Subahdar of the Deccan, died in 1748, and Nazir Jung, one of his sons, became his successor. A strong competitor arose in the person of a grandson of the Nizam, Mirzapha Jung. Nominally the Great Mogul possessed the right of appointment, but his power did not equal his right. He contented himself with selling to each of the competitors a commission to hold the office.
An'war ad dien was Nabob of the Carnatic. A rival for this position was found in Chunda Saheb, a representative of a family formerly in power. These two. pretenders united their forces. They were joined by a body of French soldiers. The combined forces marched against the army of An'war ad dien, who, though over one hundred years old, commanded in person. The forces of the Nabob were defeated; he himself was killed, and his son, Mahomed Ali, retreated to Trichinopoly.
This battle gave control of the Carnatic to the victors, but it soon seemed as if they in turn would be overpowered. Nazir Jung, with an army it is said of 300,000 men, advanced into the Carnatic. Dupleix intrigued with him, but owing to the arrival of an English force in Nazir's camp his advances were declined. Mirzapha Jung surrendered himself. The French soldiers became demoralized. Before such a host it was found necessary to retreat to Pondicherry, while over the surrounding country the enemy spread his tents, and from that "City of War" arose the customary sounds of an Eastern encampment:
"Ringing of arms, and flapping in the breeze
With gong and tymbalon's tremendous chime."
But soon the tide again changed. The native camp was but carelessly guarded, and a bold night attack of the French so dismayed Nazir Jung that he at once retreated to Arcot. Mahomed Ali, at the head of a large body of troops, was attacked and defeated by the French. A greater success followed. A night attack up the almost inaccessible heights of Gingee; a vehement, fearless dash over frowning redoubts and fortifications, gave the French possession of what was the strongest fortress in the Carnatic if not in all India.
Disheartened by his losses Nazir was now willing to treat with his enemies, but Dupleix had meanwhile been intriguing with some of the chiefs in the camp of the Subahdar, and these traitors now sent to inform him that an attack might successfully be made. A small force of French, assisted by Sepoys, at once advanced and attacked Nazir's army. They were joined by the traitors. Nazir himself was killed, and Mirzapha Jung was