free ebooks

A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

De Suffren went to his release


the protection of Malabar.

Ten thousand men only remained in the Carnatic to back the little corps of French. Bussy allowed himself to be driven to bay by General Stuart beneath the walls of Gondelour; he had even been forced to shut himself up in the town. M. de Suffren went to his release. The action was hotly contested; when the victor landed, M. de Bussy was awaiting him on the shore. "Here is our savior," said the general to his troops, and the soldiers taking up in their arms M. de Suffren, who had been lately promoted by the grand master of the order of Malta to the rank of grand- cross (_bailli_), carried him in triumph into the town. "He pressed M. de Bussy every day to attack us," says Sir Thomas Munro, "offering to land the greater part of his crews and to lead them himself to deliver the assault upon our camp." Bussy had, in fact, resumed the offensive, and was preparing to make fresh sallies, when it was known at Calcutta that the preliminaries of peace had been signed at Paris on the 9th of February. The English immediately proposed an armistice. The _Surveillante_ shortly afterwards brought the same news, with orders for Suffren to return to France. India was definitively given up to the English, who restored to the French Pondicherry, Chandernuggur, Mahe, and Karikal, the last strips remaining of that French dominion which had for a while been triumphant throughout the peninsula. The feebleness and the vices of Louis XV.'s government weighed heavily upon the government of Louis
XVI. in India as well as in France, and at Paris itself.

It is to the honor of mankind and their consolation under great reverses that political checks and the inutility of their efforts do not obscure the glory of great men. M. de Suffren had just arrived at Paris, he was in low spirits; M. de Castries took him to Versailles. There was a numerous and brilliant court. On entering the guards' hall, "Gentlemen," said the minister to the officers on duty, "this is M. de Suffren." Everybody rose, and the body-guards, forming an escort for the admiral, accompanied him to the king's chamber. His career was over; the last of the great sailors of the old regimen died on the 8th of December, 1788.

Whilst Hyder Ali and M. de Suffren were still disputing India with England, that power had just gained in Europe an important advantage in the eyes of public opinion as well as in respect of her supremacy at sea.

For close upon three years past a Spanish army had been investing by land the town and fortress of Gibraltar; a strong squadron was cruising out of cannon-shot of the place, incessantly engaged in barring the passage against the English vessels. Twice already, in 1780 by Admiral Rodney, and in 1781 by Admiral Darby, the vigilance of the cruisers had been eluded and reinforcements of troops, provisions, and ammunition had been thrown into Gibraltar. In 1782 the town had been half destroyed by an incessantly renewed bombardment, the fortifications had not been touched. Every morning, when he awoke, Charles III. would ask anxiously, "Have we got Gibraltar?" and when "No" was answered, "We soon shall," the monarch would rejoin imperturbably. The capture of Fort Philip had confirmed him in his hopes; he considered his object gained, when the Duke of Crillon with a corps of French troops came and joined the besiegers; the Count of Artois, brother to the king, as well as the Duke of Bourbon, had come with him. The camp of St. Roch was the scene of continual festivities, sometimes interrupted by the sallies of the besieged. The fights did not interfere with mutual good offices: in his proud distress, General Eliot still kept up an interchange of refreshments with the French princes and the Duke of Crillon; the Count of Artois had handed over to the English garrison the letters and correspondence which had been captured on the enemy's ships, and which he had found addressed to them on his way through Madrid.


eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us

freefictionbooks.org is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 freefictionbooks.org - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us