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Delhi was merely nominal. Both the French and the English East India companies took advantage of this state of things to extend their influence and enlarge their territories. Dupleix, the French governor of Pondicherry, had long sought an opportunity of interfering in the troubled politics of India ; it was afforded him by the contests which arose on the vacancies in the souhbadary of the Deccan, and the nabobship of the Carnatic. He supported the claims of Chundah Saheb to the latter post, and endeavored to make Murzafa Jing souhbadar, or viceroy of the Deccan. He succeeded in these objects, but his favorites did not long retain their elevation ; still, however, a precedent was · established for the interference of the French in the contests between the native powers, and their aid was purchased by fresh concessions in every revolution. The rapid progress of their rivals roused the English from their supineness, and, fortunately, they found a leader whose abilities, both as a general and statesman, have scarcely been surpassed by any European that ever visited the east. Mr. Clive, the son of a private gentleman, had been originally employed in the civil service of the East India company; but war no sooner broke out than he exchanged the pen for the sword, and the union of courage and skill which he displayed at the very commencement of his career, excited just expectations of the glory which marked its progress. He gained several brilliant advantages over the allies of the French, and greatly strengthened the English interest in the Deccan or southern division of Hindústan. But the French East India company had begun to distrust the flattering promises of Dupleix; they found that his plans of territorial aggrandizement involved them in expensive wars, and were, at the same time, destructive of their commerce. A similar feeling, though to a less extent, prevailed in England, and the rival companies prepared to adjust their differences by the sacrifice of Dupleix. No regard was paid by his countrymen to his defence ; he was loaded with obloquy, as a selfish and ambitious man, though it was notorious that he had sacrificed his entire private fortune to the support of what he believed to be the true interests of France.
The successor of Dupleix concluded a treaty with the English authorities, in which all the objects of that able governor were abandoned. Mohammed Ali, the friend of the English, was recognised as the nabob of the Carnatic ; the claims of the French upon the northern Circars were relis quished, and it was agreed that the colonists from each nation should, for the future, abstain from all interference with the affairs of the native princes. It was scarcely possible that these stipulations could be strictly observed ; indeed, the treaty had scarcely been signed, when mutual complaints were made of infractions; but, in the meantime, events had occurred in another part of the globe, which frustrated it altogether.
After the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the British ministry, anxious to secure the province of Nova Scotia, as a barrier for the other American colonies, induced many disbanded soldiers and sailors to settle in that country. The town of Halifax was built and its harbor fortified, and Nova Scotia began to rise rapidly in importance. The French, who had hitherto viewed the province as little better than a barren waste, began now to raise disputes concerning its limits; and the settlers
from both countries, did not always arrange their controversies by peaceful discussion. Still more important were the differences which arose in the interioi of North America. The French were naturally anxious to form a communication between the Canadas in the north and Louisiana in the south. This could only be effected by depriving the English of their settlements west of the Allegany mountains, and seizing the posts which the British settlers in Virginia and the Carolinas had established beyond that chain for the convenience of trade with the Indians. Hostilities were commenced by the colonial authorities, without the formality of a declaration of war; the Virginian post of Logs' town was surprised by a French detachment, and all its inhabitants but two inhumanly murdered; the North American Indians were stimulated to attack the British colonists, and large supplies of arms and ammunition were imported from France (A. D. 1755). The British ministers immediately prepared for hostilities; all the French forts within the limits of Nova Scotia were reduced by Colonel Monckton ; but an expedition against the French forts on the Ohio was defeated, owing to the rashness of General Braddock, who refused to profit by the local knowledge of the provincial officers. He fell into an ambuscade of French and Indians, and instead of endeavoring to extricate himself, attempted to make a stand. At length he was slain, while vainly striving to rally his troops, and the regular soldiers fled with disgraceful precipitation. It deserves to be remarked, that the provincial militia, commanded by Major Washington, did not share the panic of the royal army, but displayed great coolness, courage, and conduct.
Two other expeditions, against the forts of Niagara and Crown Point, failed, though General Johnson, who commanded the latter, gained a victory over the hostile army. But at sea the British strength was more effectually displayed; two sail-of-the-line were captured by Admiral Boscawen, off Newfoundland; and more than three hundred merchant-ships were brought as prizes into the ports of Great Britain. Notwithstanding these hostilities, a formal declaration of war was delayed ; its publication was the signal for one of the fiercest struggles in which modern Europe had been involved. Before, however, we enter on this part of our history, we must briefly notice the important events that for a time threatened the total ruin of the English in Bengal, but whose final results made their power paramount in northern India.
The privileges which the emperor of Delhi had granted to the English settlers in Calcutta excited great jealousy among the provincial governors, and were violently opposed by Jaffier Khan, the souhbadar of Bengal. Means were taken, however, to conciliate this powerful feudatory, and peace was preserved until the accession of the ferocious Suraja Dowla, who was enraged at the shelter which the English afforded to some of his destined victims (A. D. 1756).
1756). He advanced against Calcutta, when most of the local authorities were seized with a scandalous panic; the governor and the military commanders escaped in boats, leaving Mr. Holwell, Mr. Perks, and about one hundred and ninety more, to provide for their own safety as they best might.
After 'endeavoring vainly to bring back even one vessel to aid their removal, this handful of men, after a vigorous defence, fell into the power of the ferocious Suraja. They were all thrust into a room twenty feet square, where, from the heat and foulness of the atmosphere, all but twenty-three died before the morning. The news of this catastrophe reached Madras just when Colonel Clive and Admiral Watson, flushed by their recent victory over the celebrated pirate Angria, had arrived at Madras to aid in the destruction of the French influence in the Deccan. The troops assembled for that purpose were now sent to recover Calcutta, and this object was effected by the mere appearance of the fleet before the city. Several of the Suraja's own places were taken and plundered, and the French fort of Chandernagore reduced ; conspiracies were formed against Suraja Dowla, and that haughty chieftain felt that the sovereignty of Bengal must be decided by a battle. Contrary to the opinion of all his officers, Clive resolved to hazard an engagement, and took up a position in the grove of Plassy (June 23, 1757). The British force consisted of three thousand two hundred, not more than nine hundred of whom were Europeans; their artillery consisted of eight six-pounders, and two howitzers. On the other hand, Suraja Dowla had with him fifty thousand foot, eighteen thousand horse, and fifty pieces of cannon. Though the engagement continued the greater part of the day, the British did not lose more than seventy in killed and wounded; they owed the victory, indeed, more to the errors of their adversaries than to their own merits ; for the contest seems to have been little better than an irregular cannonade, occasionally relieved by ineffectual charges of cavalry. Its consequences were not the less decisive from the ease with which it was won; Suraja Dowla, after wandering for some time as a fugitive, was murdered by one of his personal enemies; and the viceroyalty of Bengal was given to Jaffier Khan, who purchased the favor of the British by large public grants and larger private bribes. This brief campaign established the supremacy of the English in northern India, where their power has never since been shaken.
SECTION III.--The Seven Years' War.
When the French government received intelligence of the events chat had taken place in India and America, vigorous preparations for war were made throughout the kingdom, and England itself was menaced with invasion (A. D. 1756). Never was the national character of the British nation so tarnished as it was by the panic which these futile threats diffused ; Hessians and Hanoverians were hired to protect the kingdom, while the presence of these mercenaries was justly regarded as dangerous to public liberty. It is more honorable to Britain to relate, that when Lisbon, on the very eve of this war, was almost destroyed by an earthquake, parliament voted one hundred thousand pounds for the relief of the sufferers. But the French government menaced an invasion onl, to conceal its project for the reduction of Minorca ; a formidable force was landed on the island, and close siege laid to Fort St. Philip, which commands the principal town and harbor. Admiral Byng, who had been intrusted with the charge of the English fleet in the Mediterranean, was ordered to attempt the relief of the place; he encountered a French squadron, of equal force, but instead of seeking an engagement, he would not even support Admiral West, who had thrown the French line into confusion. After this indecisive
skirmish, he returned to Gibraltar, abandoning Minorca to its fate General Blakeney, the governor of Fort St. Philip, made a vigorous de. fence, though his garrison was too small by one third ; but finding that he had no prospect of relief from England, he capitulated. But his conduct was so far from being disapproved of, that he was raised to the peerage by his sovereign, and welcomed as a hero by the people.
The rage of the people at the loss of Minorca was directed against the unfortunate Byng; popular discontent was still further aggravated by the ill-success of the campaign in America, where a second series of expeditions against the French forts signally failed ;' while the marquis de Montcalm, the governor of Canada, captured Oswego, where the British had deposited the greater part of their artillery and military
Our ally, the king of Prussia, displayed more vigor; unable to obtain any satisfactory explanation from the court of Vienna, he resolved to anticipate the designs of the Austrians, and invade Bohemia. For this purpose it was necessary that he should secure the neutrality of Saxony, but the elector was secretly in league with Frederic's enemies, and the Prussian monarch, finding pacific measures ineffectual, advanced against Dresden. The elector Augustus, who was also king of Poland, fortified himself in a strong camp at Pima, where he resolved to wait for the junction of the Austrian forces. Frederic blockaded the Saxon army and cut off its supplies; the imperialists, who marched to the relief of their allies, were defeated at Lowositz, and the Saxons, thus left to their own resources, were forced to lay down their arms.
Augustus fled to his kingdom of Poland, abandoning his hereditary dominions to the Prussians, who did not use their success with extraordinary moderation.
But the victories of their ally only exasperated the rage of the English people against their rulers; the king was forced to yield to the storm, and dismiss his ministers. William Pitt (afterward earl of Chatham), the most popular man in the kingdom, was appointed head of the new administration, though the duke of Devonshire was nominally premier; a spirit of confidence was spread abroad, and abundant supplies voted for the war. Unfortunately, as a concession to popular clamor, the unhappy Byng, whose worst fault appears to have been an error of judgment and the dread of the fate of Admiral Matthews,* was brought to trial, found guilty of a breach of the articles of war, and sentenced to death. Great exertions were made to save the life of the unhappy admiral, but all in vain ; he was ordered to be shot on board the Monarque, and he met his fate with an intrepidity which effectually clears his memory from the stain of cowardice (A. D. 1757). In France, the attention of the court was engaged by an attempt on the king's life. A maniac, named Damien, stabbed Louis with a penknife as he was entering his carriage; the wound was not dangerous, but it was supposed that the assassin might have accomplices in his treason. Every refinement of cruelty that scientific ingenuity could devise was exhausted in the tortures of this unhappy wretch, whose manifest lunacy made him an object of compassion rather than punishment.
The danger to which Louis had been exposed did not prevent him from making vigorous exertions to continue the war. Two armies were sent into Germany, one destined to invade Hanover, the other to join the imperial forces against Prussia. George II., anxious to save Hanover, wished to send over a body of British troops for the defence of the electorate, but being opposed by the Pitt administration, he dismissed his ministers, and tried to form a new cabinet. The burst of national indignation at the removal of the popular favorite was, however, so great, that Pitt was soon recalled to power, but not until he had evinced a desire to make some concession to the royal inclinations.
* See page 606.
At the commencement of the campaign, the prospects of the king of Prussia were very gloomy; the Russians were advancing through Lithuania, the Swedes threatened him in Pomerania, the united forces of the French and imperialists were advancing through Germany, and the emperess-queen, Maria Theresa, covered her hereditary dominions with four armies, whose united strength amounted to one hundred and eighty thousand men.
Frederic, baffling the Austrians by a series of masterly movements, opened a passage into Bohemia, where he was joined by the prince of Bevern and Marshal Schwerin, who had defeated the Austrian divisions that opposed their progress. Confident in the excellence of his troops he resolved to engage without delay, though his enemies were posted in a camp strongly fortified by nature (May 6). The memorable battle of Prague was vigorously contested, and success continued doubtful until the Austrian right wing, advancing too rapidly, was separated from the left. Frederic poured his troops through the gap, so that when the Austrian right was forced back by the intrepidity of Marshal Schwerin, it suddenly found itself surrounded, and fled in confusion. The centre and left, thus abandoned, could not resist the successive charges of the Prussians, and sought shelter in Prague. Frederic ventured to besiege this city though the numbers of the garrison nearly equalled those of his own army; and his delay before the walls gave the Austrians time to recover their courage and recruit their forces. Count Daun began soon to menace the Prussian communications; Frederic sent the prince of Bevern to drive him back ; Daun, though his forces were superior, retreated before the prince, until he could procure such additional strength as to render victory certain. When this was effected, he resumed the offensive, and Frederic was forced to hasten to the prince's assistance. A junction was effected at Kolin, and Frederic marched to attack the imperial camp (June 18). The Prussians charged their enemies with their usual vigor, but they were unable to force the Austrian lines, and were finally driven from the field.
In consequence of this defeat, the Prussians were forced, not only to raise the siege of Prague, but to evacuate Bohemia. Nor were the arms vi Frederic and his allies more successful in other quarters. The Russians having defeated General Lehwald, invaded the Prussian dominions on the side of Germany, and committed the most frightful devastations; the British and Hanoverian troops, under the duke of Cumberland, were forced to accept the disgraceful convention of Closterseven, by which thirty-eight thousand soldiers were reduced to a state of inactivity; and the French, thus released from an enemy that might interrupt their communications, advanced to join the Austrians in the invasion