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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Lally marched to Gondelour Kaddaloue


Despite

the treaty of peace, hostilities had never really ceased in India. Clive had returned from England; freed henceforth from the influence, the intrigues, and the indomitable energy of Dupleix, he had soon made himself master of the whole of Bengal, he had even driven the French from Chandernuggur; Bussy had been unable to check his successes; he avenged himself by wresting away from the English all their agencies on the coast of Orissa, and closing against them the road between the Coromandel coast and Bengal.

Meanwhile the Seven Years' War had broken out; the whole of Europe had joined in the contest; the French navy, still feeble in spite of the efforts that had been made to restore it, underwent serious reverses on every sea. Count Lally-Tollendal, descended from an Irish family which took refuge in France with James II., went to Count d'Argenson, still minister of war, with a proposition to go and humble in India that English power which had been imprudently left to grow up without hinderance. M. de Lally had served with renown in the wars of Germany; he had seconded Prince Charles Edward in his brave and yet frivolous attempt upon England. The directors of the India Company went and asked M. d'Argenson to intrust to General Lally the king's troops promised for the expedition. "You are wrong," M. d'Argenson said to them; "I know M. de Lally; he is a friend of mine, but he is violent, passionate, inflexible as to discipline; he will not

tolerate any disorder; you will be setting fire to your warehouses, if you send him thither." The directors, however, insisted, and M. de Lally set out on the 2d of May, 1757, with four ships and a body of troops. Some young officers belonging to the greatest houses of France served on his staff.

M. de Lally's passage was a long one; the English re-enforcements had preceded, him by six weeks. On arriving in India, he found the arsenals and the magazines empty; the establishment of Pondicherry alone confessed to fourteen millions of debt. Meanwhile the enemy was pressing at all points upon the French possessions. Lally marched to Gondelour (_Kaddaloue_), which he carried on the sixth day; he, shortly afterwards, invested Fort St. David, the most formidable of the English fortresses in India. The first assault was repulsed; the general had neither cannon nor beasts of burden to draw them. He hurried off to Pondicherry and had the natives harnessed to the artillery trains, taking pellmell such men as fell in his way, without regard for rank or caste, imprudently wounding the prejudices most dear to the country he had come to govern. Fort St. David was taken and razed. Devicotah, after scarcely the ghost of a siege, opened its gates. Lally had been hardly a month in India, and he had already driven the English from the southern coast of the Coromandel. "All my policy is in these five words, but they are binding as an oath--No English in the peninsula," wrote the general. He had sent Bussy orders to come and join him in order to attack Madras.


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