178 THE FOUNDATION OF BRITISH RULE IN INDIA. fief-holders of the ancient Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar; and many of them had maintained a practical independence, subject to irregular payments of tribute, since the fall of that kingdom in 1565 (see ante, pp. 129, 130). Our First War in the Karnatik, 1746-1748. — Such was the condition of affairs in Southern India when war broke out between the English and the French in Europe in 1743. Dupleix was at that time the French Governor of Pondicherri, and Clive was a young civil servant or ' writer ' at Madras. An English fleet appeared first on the Coromandel coast, but Dupleix by a judicious present induced the Nawab of Arcot to interpose and forbid hostilities. In 1746, a French squadron arrived, under the command of La Bourdonnais. Madras surrendered to it almost without a blow ; and the only settlement left to the English was Fort St. David, some miles south of Pondicherri, where Clive and a few other fugitives sought shelter. The Nawab of Arcot, faithful to his impartial policy, marched with 10,000 men to drive the French out of Madras, but was defeated. In 1748, an English fleet arrived under Admiral Boscawen, and attempted the siege of Pondicherri, while a land force co-operated under Major Stringer Lawrence. The French re- pulsed all attacks; but the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, in the same year, restored Madras to the English. Dupleix. — The first war with the French was merely an in- cident in the greater contest in Europe. The second war had its origin in Indian politics, while England and France were at peace. The easy success of the French arms had inspired Dupleix with the ambition of founding a French empire in India, under the shadow of the Muhammadan powers. Disputed suc- cessions among the reigning families both at Haidarabad and at Arcot gave him his opportunity. On both thrones Dupleix placed nominees of his own, and for a time he posed as the arbiter of the entire south. In boldness of conception, and in knowledge of Oriental diplomacy, Dupleix has probably had no equal. But he was no soldier, and he was destined to encounter in the field the ' heaven-born genius ' of Clive. The English of Madras, under the instinct of self-preservation, had maintained the cause of another candidate to the throne of Arcot, in op-
Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/182
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