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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

La Bourdonnais died before long


until the debt was completely

paid. La Bourdonnais had received from France this express order "You will not, keep any of the conquests you may make in India." The chests containing the ransom of the place descended slowly from the white town, which was occupied solely by Europeans and by the English settlements, to the black town, inhabited by a mixed population of natives and foreigners of various races, traders or artisans. Already the vessels of La Bourdonnais, laden with these precious spoils, had made sail for Pondicherry; the governor of Bourbon was in a hurry to get back to his islands; autumn was coming on, tempests were threatening his squadron, but Dupleix was still disputing the terms of the treaty concluded with the English for the rendition of Madras; he had instructions, he said, to raze the city and place it thus dismantled in the hands of the Nabob of the Carnatic; the Hindoo prince had set himself in motion to seize his prey; the English burst out into insults and threats. La Bourdonnais, in a violent rage, on the point of finding himself arrested by order of Dupleix, himself put in prison the governor- general's envoys; the conflict of authority was aggravated by the feebleness and duplicity of the instructions from France. All at once a fearful tempest destroyed a part of the squadron in front of Madras; La Bourdonnais, flinging himself into a boat, had great difficulty in rejoining his ships; he departed, leaving his rival master of Madras, and adroitly prolonging the negotiations,
in order to ruin at least the black city, which alone was rich and prosperous, before giving over the place to the Nabob. Months rolled by, and the French remained alone at Madras.

[Illustration: La Bourdonnais----170]

A jealous love of power and absorption in political schemes had induced Dupleix to violate a promise lightly given by La Bourdonnais in the name of France; he had arbitrarily quashed a capitulation of which he had not discussed the conditions. The report of this unhappy conflict, and the color put upon it by the representations of Dupleix, were about to ruin at Paris the rival whom he had vanquished in India.

On arriving at Ile de France, amidst that colony which he had found exhausted, ruined, and had endowed with hospitals, arsenals, quays, and fortifications, La Bourdonnais learned that a new governor was already installed there. His dissensions with Dupleix had borne their fruits; he had been accused of having exacted too paltry a ransom from Madras, and of having accepted enormous presents; the Company had appointed a successor in his place. Driven to desperation, anxious to go and defend himself, La Bourdonnais set out for France with his wife and his four children; a prosecution had already been commenced against him. He was captured at sea by an English ship, and taken a prisoner to England. The good faith of the conqueror of Madras was known in London; one of the directors of the English Company offered his fortune as security for M. de La Bourdonnais. Scarcely had he arrived in Paris when he was thrown into the Bastille, and for two years kept in solitary confinement. When his innocence was at last acknowledged and his liberty restored to him, his health was destroyed, his fortune exhausted by the expenses of the trial. La Bourdonnais died before long, employing the last remnants of his life and of his strength in pouring forth his anger against Dupleix, to whom he attributed all his woes. His indignation was excusable, and some of his grievances were well grounded; but the germs of suspicion thus sown by the unfortunate prisoner released from the Bastille were destined before long to consign to perdition not only his enemy, but also, together with him, that French dominion in India to which M. de La Bourdonnais had dedicated his life.


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