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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Dupleix himself commanded the French batteries


Dupleix grew greater and greater, every day more powerful and more daring. The English had not forgotten the affair of Madras. On the 30th of August, 1748, Admiral Boscawen went and laid siege to Pondicherry; stopped at the outset by the fort of Ariocapang, of the existence of which they were ignorant, the disembarked troops could not push their trenches beyond an impassable morass which protected the town. The fire of the siege-artillery scarcely reached the ramparts; the sallies of the besieged intercepted the communications between the camp and the squadron, which, on its side, was bombarding the walls of Pondicherry without any serious result. Dupleix himself commanded the French batteries; on the 6th of October he was wounded, and his place on the ramparts was taken by Madame Dupleix, seconded by her future son-in-law, M. de Bussy-Castelnau, Dupleix's military lieutenant, animated by the same zeal for the greatness of France. The fire of the English redoubled; but there was laughter in Pondicherry, for the balls did not carry so far; and on the 20th of October, after forty days' siege, Admiral Boscawen put to sea again, driven far away from the coasts by the same tempests which, two years before, had compelled La Bourdonnais to quit Madras. Twice had Dupleix been served in his designs by the winds of autumn. The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle came to put an end to open war between the Europeans; at the French establishments in the Indies the Te Deum was sung; Dupleix alone
was gloomy, despite the riband of St. Louis and the title of marquis, recently granted him by King Louis XV: he had been obliged to restore Madras to the English.

War soon recommenced, in the name, and apparently to the profit, of the Hindoo princes. France and England had made peace; the English and French Companies in India had not laid down arms. Their power, as well as the importance of their establishments was as yet in equipoise. At Surat both Companies had places of business; on the coast of Malabar the English had Bombay, and the French Mahe; on the coast of Coromandel the former held Madras and Fort St. George, the latter Pondicherry and Karikal. The principal factories, as well as the numerous little establishments which were dependencies of them, were defended by a certain number of European soldiers, and by Sepoys, native soldiers in the pay of the Companies.

These small armies were costly, and diminished to a considerable extent the profits of trade. Dupleix espied the possibility of a new organization which should secure to the French in India the preponderance, and ere long the empire even, in the two peninsulas. He purposed to found manufactures, utilize native hand-labor, and develop the coasting trade, or Ind to Ind trade, as the expression then was; but he set his pretensions still higher, and carried his views still further. He purposed to acquire for the Company, and, under its name, for France, territories and subjects furnishing revenues, and amply sufficing for the expenses of the commercial establishments. The moment was propitious; the ancient empire of the Great Mogul, tottering to its base, was distracted by revolutions, all the chops and changes whereof were attentively followed by Madame Dupleix; two contested successions opened up at once--those of the Viceroy or Soudhabar of the Deccan and of his vassal, the Nabob of the Carnatic. The Great Mogul, nominal sovereign of all the states of India, confined himself to selling to all the pretenders decrees of investiture, without taking any other part in the contest. Dupleix, on the contrary, engaged in it ardently. He took sides in the Deccan for Murzapha Jung, and in the Carnatic for Tchunda Sahib against their rivals supported by the English. Versed in all the resources of Hindoo policy, he had negotiated an alliance between his two proteges; both marched against the Nabob of the Carnatic. He, though a hundred and seven years old, was at the head of his army, mounted on a magnificent elephant. He espied in the melley his enemy Tchunda Sahib, and would have darted upon him; but, whilst his slaves were urging on the huge beast, the little French battalion sent by Dupleix to the aid of his allies marched upon the nabob, a ball struck him to the heart, and he fell. The same evening, Murzapha Jung was proclaimed Soudhabar of the Deccan, and he granted the principality of the Carnatic to Tchunda Sahib, at the same time reserving to the French Company a vast territory.

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