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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Lally and Pondicherry waited in vain


The

attack on the White Town and on Fort St. George was repulsed; and on the 18th of February, 1759, Lally was obliged to raise the siege of Madras. The discord which reigned in the army as well as amongst the civil functionaries was nowhere more flagrant than between Lally and Bussy. The latter could not console himself for having been forced to leave the Deccan in the feeble bands of the Marquis of Conflans. An expedition attempted against the fortress of Wandiwash, of which the English had obtained possession, was followed by a serious defeat; Colonel Coote was master of Karikal. Little by little the French army and French power in India found themselves cooped within the immediate territory of Pondicherry. The English marched against this town. Lally shut himself up there in the month of March, 1760. Bussy had been made prisoner, and Coote had sent him to Europe. "At the head of the French army Bussy would be in a position by himself alone to prolong the war for ten years," said the Hindoos. On the 27th of November, the siege of Pondicherry was transformed into an investment. Lally had taken all the precautions of a good general, but he had taken them with his usual harshness; he had driven from the city all the useless mouths; fourteen hundred Hindoos, old men, women, and children, wandered for a week between the English camp and the ramparts of the town, dying of hunger and misery, without Lally's consenting to receive them back into the place; the English at last
allowed them to pass. The most severe requisitions had been ordered to be made on all the houses of Pondicherry, and the irritation was extreme; the heroic despair of M. de Lally was continually wringing from him imprudent expressions. "I would rather go and command a set of Caffres than remain in this Sodom, which the English fire, in default of Heaven's, must sooner or later destroy," had for a long time past been a common expression of the general's, whose fate was henceforth bound up with that of Pondicherry.

He held out for six weeks, in spite of famine, want of money, and ever-increasing dissensions. A tempest had caused great havoc to the English squadron which was out at sea; Lally was waiting and waiting for the arrival of M. d'Ache with the fleet which had but lately sought refuge at Ile de France after a fresh reverse. From Paris, on the report of an attack projected by the--English against Bourbon and Ile de France, ministers had given orders to M. d'Ache not to quit those waters. Lally and Pondicherry waited in vain.

It became necessary to surrender; the council of the Company called upon the general to capitulate; Lally claimed the honors of war, but Coote would have the town at discretion; the distress was extreme as well as the irritation. Pondicherry was delivered up to the conquerors on the 16th of January, 1761; the fortifications and magazines were razed; French power in India, long supported by the courage or ability of a few men, was foundering, never to rise again. "Nobody can have a higher opinion than I of M. de Lally," wrote Colonel Coote; "he struggled against obstacles that I considered insurmountable, and triumphed over them. There is not in India another man who could have so long kept an army standing without pay and without resources in any direction." "A convincing proof of his merits," said another English officer, "is his long and vigorous resistance in a place in which he was universally detested."

[Illustration: Lally at Pondicherry----184]

Hatred bears bitterer fruits than is imagined even by those who provoke it. The animosity which M. de Lally had excited in India was everywhere an obstacle to the defence;


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