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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

For a long time past Dupleix and his wife


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than a hundred years previously, at the outset of Louis XIV.'s personal reign, and through the persevering efforts of Colbert marching in the footsteps of Cardinal Richelieu, an India Company had been founded for the purpose of developing French commerce in those distant regions, which had always been shrouded in a mysterious halo of fancied wealth and grandeur. Several times the Company had all but perished; it had revived under the vigorous impulse communicated by Law, and had not succumbed at the collapse of his system. It gave no money to its shareholders, who derived their benefits only from a partial concession of the tobacco. revenues, granted by the king to the Company, but its directors lived a life of magnificence in the East, where they were authorized to trade on their own account. Abler and bolder than all his colleagues, Joseph Dupleix, member of a Gascon family and son of the comptroller-general of Hainault, had dreamed of other destinies than the management of a counting-house; he aspired to endow France with the empire of India. Placed at a very early age at the head of the French establishments at Chandernuggur, he had improved the city and constructed a fleet, all the while acquiring for himself an immense fortune; he had just been sent to Pondicherry as governor-general of the Company's agencies, when the war of succession to the empire broke out in 1742. For a long time past Dupleix and his wife, who was called in India Princess Jane, had been silently
forming a vast network of communications and correspondence which kept them acquainted with the innumerable intrigues of all the petty native courts. Madame Dupleix, a Creole, brought up in India, understood all its dialects. Her husband had been the first to conceive the idea of that policy which was destined before long to deliver India to the English, his imitators; mingling everywhere in the incessant revolutions which were hatching all about him, he gave the support of France at one time to one pretender and at another to another, relying upon the discipline of the European troops and upon the force of his own genius for securing the ascendency to his protege of the moment: thus increasing little by little French influence and dominion throughout all the Hindoo territory. Accustomed to dealing with the native princes, he had partially adopted their ways of craft and violence; more concerned for his object than about the means of obtaining it, he had the misfortune, at the outset of the contest, to clash with another who was ambitious for the glory of France, and as courageous but less able a politician than he; their rivalry, their love of power, and their inflexible attachment to their own ideas, under the direction of a feeble government, thenceforth stamped upon the relations of the two great European nations in India a regrettable character of duplicity: all the splendor and all the efforts of Dupleix's genius could never efface it.

[Illustration: Dupleix----168]

Concord as yet reigned between Dupleix and the governor of Bourbon and of Ile de France, Bertrand Francis Mahe de La Bourdonnais, when, in the month of September, 1746, the latter put in an appearance with a small squadron in front of Madras, already one of the principal English establishments. Commodore Peyton, who was cruising in Indian waters, after having been twice beaten by La Bourdonnais, had removed to a distance with his flotilla; the town was but feebly fortified; the English, who had for a while counted upon the protection of the Nabob of the Carnatic, did not receive the assistance they expected;,they surrendered at the first shot, promising to pay a considerable sum for the ransom of Madras, which the French were to retain as security


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