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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

De Lally Tollendal at last obtained

and it was destined to cost

him his life and imperil his honor. Scarcely had he arrived in England, ill, exhausted by sufferings and fatigue, followed even in his captivity by the reproaches and anger of his comrades in misfortune, when be heard of the outbreak of public opinion against him in France; he was accused of treason; and he obtained from the English cabinet permission to repair to Paris. "I bring hither my head and my innocence," he wrote, on disembarking, to the minister of war, and he went voluntarily to imprisonment in the Bastille. There he remained nineteen months without being examined. When the trial commenced in December, 1764, the heads of accusation amounted to one hundred and sixty, the number of witnesses to nearly two hundred; the matter lasted a year and a half, conducted with violence on the part of M. de Lally's numerous enemies, with inveteracy on the part of the Parliament, still at strife with the government, with courage and firmness on the part of the accused. He claimed the jurisdiction of a court-martial, but his demand was rejected; when he saw himself confronted with the dock, the general suddenly uncovered his whitened head and his breast covered with scars, exclaiming, "So this is the reward for fifty years' service!" On the 6th of May, 1766, his sentence was at last pronounced. Lally was acquitted on the charges of high treason and malversation; he was found "guilty of violence, abuse of authority, vexations and exactions, as well as of having betrayed the interests
of the king and of the Company." When the sentence was being read out to the condemned, "Cut it short, sir," said the count to the clerk come to the conclusions." At the words "betrayed the interests of the king," Lally drew himself up to his full height, exclaiming, "Never, never!" He was expending his wrath in insults heaped upon his enemies, when, suddenly drawing from his pocket a pair of mathematical compasses, he struck it violently against his heart; the wound did not go deep enough; M. de Lally was destined to drink to the dregs the cup of man's injustice.

On the 9th of May, at the close of the day, the valiant general whose heroic resistance had astounded all India, mounted the scaffold on the Place de Greve, nor was permission granted to the few friends who remained faithful to him to accompany him to the place of execution; there was only the parish priest of St. Louis en l'Ile at his side; as apprehensions were felt of violence and insult on the part of the condemned, he was gagged like the lowest criminal when he resolutely mounted the fatal ladder; he knelt without assistance, and calmly awaited his death-blow. "Everybody," observed D'Alembert, expressing by that cruel saying the violence of public feeling against the condemned, "everybody, except the hangman, has a right to kill Lally." Voltaire's judgment, after the subsidence of passion and after the light thrown by subsequent events upon the state of French affairs in India before Lally's campaigns, is more just. "It was a murder committed with the sword of justice." King Louis XV. and his government had lost India; the rage and shame blindly excited amongst the nation by this disaster had been visited upon the head of the unhappy general who had been last vanquished in defending the remnants of French power. The English were masters forever of India when the son of M. de Lally-Tollendal at last obtained, in 1780, the rehabilitation of his father's memory. Public opinion had not waited till then to decide the case between the condemned and his accusers.


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