THREE FRENCHMEN IN BENGAL
THREE FRENCHMEN IN BENGAL
THE COMMERCIAL RUIN OF THE FRENCH SETTLEMENTS IN 1757
S.C. HILL, B.A., B.Sc.
OFFICER IN CHARGE OF THE RECORDS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA AUTHOR OF "MAJOR-GENERAL CLAUD MARTIN"
WITH MAPS AND PLANS
MY DEAR WIFE
This account of the commercial ruin of the French Settlements, taken almost entirely from hitherto unpublished documents, originated as follows. Whilst engaged in historical research connected with the Government Records in Calcutta, I found many references to the French in Bengal which interested me strongly in the personal side of their quarrel with the English, but the information obtainable from the Indian Records alone was still meagre and incomplete. A few months ago, however, I came across Law's Memoir in the British Museum; and, a little later, when visiting Paris to examine the French Archives, I found not only a copy of Law's Memoir, but also Renault's and Courtin's letters, of which there are, I believe, no copies in England. In these papers I thought that I had sufficient material to give something like an idea of Bengal as it appeared to the French when Clive arrived there. There is much bitterness in these old French accounts, and much misconception of the English, but they were written when misconception of national enemies was the rule and not the exception, and when the rights of non-belligerents were little respected in time of war. Some of the accusations I have checked by giving the English version, but I think that, whilst it is only justice to our Anglo-Indian heroes to let the world know what manner of men their opponents were, it is equally only justice to their opponents to allow them to give their own version of the story. This is my apology, if any one should think I allow them to say too much.
The translations are my own, and were made in a state of some perplexity as to how far I was bound to follow my originals—the writings of men who, of course, were not literary, and often had not only no pretension to style but also no knowledge of grammar. I have tried, however, to preserve both form and spirit; but if any reader is dissatisfied, and would like to see the original papers for himself, the courtesy of the Record officials in both Paris and London will give him access to an immense quantity of documents as interesting as they are important.
In the various accounts that I have used there are naturally slightly different versions of particular incidents, and often it is not easy to decide which is the correct one. Under the circumstances I may perhaps be excused for not always calling attention to discrepancies which the reader will detect for himself. He will also notice that the ground covered in one narrative is partly traversed in one or both of the others. This has been due to the necessity of treating the story from the point of view of each of the three chief actors.
I may here mention that the correspondence between Clive and the princes of Bengal, from which I have given some illustrative passages, was first seen by me in a collection of papers printed in 1893 in the Government of India Central Printing Office, Calcutta, under the direction of Mr. G.W. Forrest, C.I.E. These papers have not yet been published, but there exists a complete though slightly different copy of this correspondence in the India Office Library (Orme MSS. India XI.), and it is from the latter copy that I have, by permission, made the extracts here given. The remaining English quotations, when not from printed books, have been taken chiefly from other volumes of the Orme MSS., a smaller number from the Bengal and Madras Records in the India Office, and a few from MSS. in the British Museum or among the Clive papers at Walcot, to which last I was allowed access by the kindness of the Earl of Powis.
Finally, I wish to express my thanks to M. Omont of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, to Mr. W. Foster of the Record Department of the India Office, and to Mr. J.A. Herbert of the British Museum, for their kind and valuable assistance.
September 6, 1903.
I. THE QUARREL WITH THE ENGLISH
II. M. RENAULT, CHIEF OF CHANDERNAGORE
III. M. LAW, CHIEF OF COSSIMBAZAR
IV. M. COURTIN, CHIEF OF DACCA
MAPS AND PLANS
THE GANGES VALLEY AND THE EUROPEAN SETTLEMENTS IN BENGAL, 1756. (After Rennell) Frontispiece
MAP OF THE RIVER HUGLI FROM BANDEL TO FULTA. (After Rennell) To face page
FORT D'ORLEANS, CHANDERNAGORE, 1749. (Mouchet)
MUXADABAD, OR MURSHIDABAD. (After Rennell)
DACCA, OR JEHANGIR-NAGAR. (After Rennell)
THREE FRENCHMEN IN BENGAL
THE QUARREL WITH THE ENGLISH
Writing in 1725, the French naval commander, the Chevalier d'Albert, tells us that the three most handsome towns on the Ganges were Calcutta, Chandernagore, and Chinsurah, the chief Factories of the English, French, and Dutch. These towns were all situated within thirty miles of each other. Calcutta, the latest founded, was the greatest and the richest, owing partly to its situation, which permitted the largest ships of the time to anchor at its quays, and partly to the privilege enjoyed by the English merchants of trading freely as individuals through the length and breadth of the land. Native merchants and native artisans crowded to Calcutta, and the French and Dutch, less advantageously situated and hampered by restrictions of trade, had no chance of competing with the English on equal terms. The same was of course true of their minor establishments in the interior. All three nations had important Factories at Cossimbazar (in the neighbourhood of Murshidabad, the Capital of Bengal) and at Dacca, and minor Factories at Jugdea or Luckipore, and at Balasore. The French and Dutch had also Factories at Patna. Besides Calcutta, Chandernagore, and Chinsurah, the only Factory which was fortified was the English Factory at Cossimbazar.
During the long reign of the usurper, Aliverdi Khan, that strong and politic ruler enforced peace among his European guests, and forbade any fortification of the Factories, except such as was necessary to protect them against possible incursions of the Marathas, who at that time made periodical attacks on Muhammadans and Hindus alike to enforce the payment of the chauth, or blackmail, which they levied upon all the countries within their reach. In Southern India the English and French had been constantly at war whenever there was war in Europe, but in Bengal the strength of the Government, the terror of the Marathas, and the general weakness of the Europeans had contrived to enforce a neutrality. Still there was nothing to guarantee its continuance if the fear of the native Government and of the Marathas were once removed, and if any one of the three nations happened to find itself much stronger than the others. The fear of the Marathas had nearly disappeared, but that of the Government still remained. However, it was not till more than sixty years after the foundation of Calcutta that there appeared any possibility of a breach of peace amongst the Europeans in Bengal. During this time the three Factories, Calcutta always leading, increased rapidly in wealth and importance. To the Government they were already a cause of anxiety and an object of greed. Even during the life of Aliverdi Khan there were many of his counsellors who advised the reduction of the status of Europeans to that of the Armenians, i.e. mere traders at the mercy of local officials; but Aliverdi Khan, whether owing to the enfeeblement of his energies by age or to an intelligent recognition of the value of European commerce, would not allow any steps to be taken against the Europeans. Many stories are told of the debates in his Durbar on this subject: according to one, he is reported to have compared the Europeans to bees who produce honey when left in peace, but furiously attack those who foolishly disturb them; according to another he compared them to a fire which had come out of the sea and was playing harmlessly on the shore, but which would devastate the whole land if any one were so imprudent as to anger it. His wisdom died with him, and in April, 1756, his grandson, Siraj-ud-daula, a young man of nineteen, already notorious for his debauchery and cruelty, came to the throne. The French—who, of all Europeans, knew him best, for he seems to have preferred them to all others—say his chief characteristics were cruelty, rapacity, and cowardice. In his public speeches he seemed to be ambitious of military fame. Calcutta was described to him as a strong fortress, full of wealth, which belonged largely to his native subjects, and inhabited by a race of foreigners who had grown insolent on their privileges. As a proof of this, it was pointed out that they had not presented him with the offerings which, according to Oriental custom, are the due of a sovereign on his accession. The only person who dared oppose the wishes of the young Nawab was his mother, but her advice was of no avail, and her taunt that he, a soldier, was going to war upon mere traders, was equally inefficacious. The records of the time give no definite information as to the tortuous diplomacy which fanned the quarrel between him and the English, but it is sufficiently clear that the English refused to surrender the son of one of his uncle's diwans, who, with his master's and his father's wealth, had betaken himself to Calcutta. Siraj-ud-daula, by the treacherous promises of his commanders, made himself master of the English Factory at Cossimbazar without firing a shot, and on the 20th of June, 1756, found himself in possession of Fort William, the fortified Factory of Calcutta. The Governor, the commandant of the troops, and some two hundred persons of lesser note, had deserted the Fort almost as soon as it was actually invested, and Holwell, one of the councillors, an ex-surgeon, and the gallant few who stood by him and continued the defence, were captured, and, to the number of 146, cast into a little dungeon, intended for military offenders, from which, the next morning, only twenty-three came out alive. The English took refuge at Fulta, thirty miles down the river, where the Nawab, in his pride and ignorance, left them unmolested. There they were gradually reinforced from Madras, first by Major Kilpatrick, and later on by Colonel Clive and Admiral Watson. About the same time both French and English learned that war had been declared in Europe between England and France in the previous May, but, for different reasons, neither nation thought the time suitable for making the fact formally known.
Towards the end of December the English, animated by the desire of revenge and of repairing their ruined fortunes, advanced on Calcutta, and on the 2nd of January, 1757, the British flag again floated over Fort William. The Governor, Manik Chand, was, like many of the Nawab's servants, a Hindu. Some say he was scared away by a bullet through his turban; others, that he was roused from the enjoyment of a nautch—a native dance—by the news of the arrival of the English. Hastening to Murshidabad, he reported his defeat, and asserted that the British they had now to deal with were very different from those they had driven from or captured in Calcutta.
The English were not satisfied with recovering Calcutta. They wished to impress the Nawab, and so they sent a small force to Hugli, which lies above Chandernagore and Chinsurah, stormed the Muhammadan fort, burnt the town, and destroyed the magazines, which would have supplied the Nawab's army in an attack on Calcutta. The inhabitants of the country had never known anything so terrible as the big guns of the ships, and the Nawab actually believed the men-of-war could ascend the river and bombard him in his palace at Murshidabad. Calling on the French and Dutch for aid, which they refused, he determined to try his fortune a second time at Calcutta. At first, everything seemed the same as on the former occasion: the native merchants and artisans disappeared from the town; but it was not as he thought, out of fear, but because the English wished to have them out of the way, and so expelled them. Except for the military camp to the north of the city, where Clive was stationed with his little army, the town lay open to his attack. Envoys from Calcutta soon appeared asking for terms, and the Nawab pretended to be willing to negotiate in order to gain time while he outflanked Clive and seized the town. Seeing through this pretence Watson and Clive thought it was time to give him a lesson, and, on the morning of the 5th of February, in the midst of a dense fog, Clive beat up his quarters. Though Clive had to retire when the whole army was roused, the slaughter amongst the enemy had been immense; and though he mockingly informed the Nawab that he had been careful to "injure none but those who got in his way," the Nawab himself narrowly escaped capture. The action, however, was in no sense decisive. Most of the Nawab's military leaders were eager to avenge their disgrace, but some of the chief nobles, notably his Hindu advisers, exaggerated the loss already incurred and the future danger, and advised him to make peace. In fact, the cruelty and folly of the Nawab had turned his Court into a nest of traitors. With one or two exceptions there was not a man of note upon whom he could rely, and he had not the wit to distinguish the faithful from the unfaithful. Accordingly he granted the English everything they asked for—the full restoration of all their privileges, and restitution of all they had lost in the sack of Calcutta. As the English valued their losses at several hundreds of thousands, and the Nawab had found only some L5000 in the treasury of Fort William, it is clear that the wealth of Calcutta was either sunk in the Ganges or had fallen as booty into the hands of the Moorish soldiers.
Siraj-ud-daula, though he did not yet know it, was a ruined man when he returned to his capital. His only chance of safety lay in one of two courses—either a loyal acceptance of the conditions imposed by the English or a loyal alliance with the French against the English. From the Dutch he could hope for nothing. They were as friendly to the English as commercial rivals could be. They had always declared they were mere traders and would not fight, and they kept their word. After the capture of Calcutta the Nawab had exacted heavy contributions from both the French and Dutch; but France and England were now at war, and he thought it might be possible that in these circumstances the restoration of their money to the French and the promise of future privileges might win them to his side. He could not, however, decide finally on either course, and the French were not eager to meet him. They detested his character, and they preferred, if the English would agree, to preserve the old neutrality and to trade in peace. Further, they had received no supplies of men or money for a long time; the fortifications of Chandernagore, i.e. of Fort d'Orleans, were practically in ruins, and the lesser Factories in the interior were helpless. Their military force, for attack, was next to nothing: all they could offer was wise counsel and brave leaders. They were loth to offer these to a man like the Nawab against Europeans, and he and his Court were as loth to accept them. Unluckily for the French, deserters from Chandernagore had served the Nawab's artillery when he took Calcutta, and it was even asserted that the French had supplied the Nawab with gunpowder; and so when the English heard of these new negotiations, they considered the proposals for a neutrality to be a mere blind; they forgot the kindness shown by the French to English refugees at Dacca, Cossimbazar, and Chandernagore, and determined that, as a permanent peace with the Nawab was out of the question, they would, whilst he hesitated as to his course of action, anticipate him by destroying the one element of force which, if added to his power, might have made him irresistible. They continued the negotiations for a neutrality on the Ganges only until they were reinforced by a body of 500 Europeans from Bombay, when they sent back the French envoys and exacted permission from the Nawab to attack Chandernagore. Clive marched on that town with a land force of 4000 Europeans and Sepoys, and Admiral Watson proceeded up the river with a small but powerful squadron.
Thus began the ruin of the French in Bengal. The chief French Factories were, as I have said, at Chandernagore, Cossimbazar, and Dacca. The Chiefs of these Factories were M. Renault, the Director of all the French in Bengal; M. Law, a nephew of the celebrated Law of Lauriston, the financier; and M. Courtin. It is the doings and sufferings of these three gallant men which are recorded in the following chapters. They had no hope of being able to resist the English by themselves, but they hoped, and actually believed, that France would send them assistance if they could only hold out till it arrived. Renault, whose case was the most desperate, perhaps thought that the Nawab would, in his own interest, support him if the English attacked Chandernagore; but knowing the Nawab as well as he did, and reflecting that he had himself refused the Nawab assistance when he asked for it, his hope must have been a feeble one. Still he could not, with honour, give up a fortified position without attempting a defence, and he determined to do his best. When he failed, all that Law and Courtin could expect to do was to maintain their personal liberty and create a diversion in the north of Bengal when French forces attacked it in the south. It was not their fault that the attack was never made.
I shall make no mention of the fate of the Factories at Balasore and Jugdea. At these the number of Frenchmen was so very small that resistance and escape were equally hopeless. Patna lay on the line of Law's retreat, and, as we shall see, he was joined by the second and other subordinate officers of that Factory. The chief, M. de la Bretesche, was too ill to be moved, but he managed, by the assistance of his native friends, to secure a large portion of the property of the French East India Company, and so to finance Law during his wanderings.
[Footnote 1: Aliverdi Khan entered Muxadavad or Murshidabad as a conqueror on the 30th of March, 1742. He died on the 10th of April, 1756. (Scrafton.)]
[Footnote 2: Literally the fourth part of the Revenues. The Marathas extorted the right to levy this from the Emperor Aurengzebe, and under pretext of collecting it they ravaged a large portion of India.]
[Footnote 3: Court, or Court officials and nobles.]
[Footnote 4: Such fires are mentioned in many Indian legends. In the "Arabian Nights" we read of a demon changing himself into a flaming fire.]
[Footnote 5: His age is stated by some as nineteen, by others as about twenty-five. See note, p. 66.]
[Footnote 6: Amina Begum.]
[Footnote 7: Diwan, i.e. Minister or Manager.]
[Footnote 8: The English at Dacca surrendered to the Nawab of that place, and were afterwards released. Those at Jugdea and Balasore escaped direct to Fulta.]
[Footnote 9: Captain George Minchin.]
[Footnote 10: Known in history as the Black Hole of Calcutta.]
[Footnote 11: Both stories may be true. Manik Chand was nearly killed at the battle of Budge Budge by a bullet passing through his turban, and the incident of the nautch may have happened at Calcutta, where he certainly showed less courage.]
M. RENAULT, CHIEF OF CHANDERNAGORE
The French East India Company was founded in 1664, during the ministry of M. Colbert. Chandernagore, on the Ganges, or rather that mouth of it now known as the River Hugli, was founded in 1676; and in 1688 the town and territory were ceded to France by the Emperor Aurengzebe. I know of no plan of Chandernagore in the 17th century, and those of the 18th are extremely rare. Two or three are to be found in Paris, but the destruction of the Fort and many of the buildings by the English after its capture in 1757, and the decay of the town after its restoration to the French, owing to diminished trade, make it extremely difficult to recognize old landmarks. The Settlement, however, consisted of a strip of land, about two leagues in length and one in depth, on the right or western bank of the Hugli. Fort d'Orleans lay in the middle of the river front. It was commenced in 1691, and finished in 1693. Facing the north was the Porte Royale, and to the east, or river-side, was the Water Gate. The north-eastern bastion was known as that of the Standard, or Pavillon. The north-western bastion was overlooked by the Jesuit Church, and the south-eastern by the Dutch Octagon. This last building was situated on one of a number of pieces of land which, though within the French bounds, belonged to the Dutch before the grant of the imperial charter, and which the Dutch had always refused to sell. The Factory buildings were in the Fort itself. To the west lay the Company's Tank, the hospitals, and the cemetery. European houses, interspersed with native dwellings, lay all around. M. d'Albert says that these houses were large and convenient, but chiefly of one story only, built along avenues of fine trees, or along the handsome quay. D'Albert also mentions a chapel in the Fort, the churches of the Jesuits and the Capucins, and some miserable pagodas belonging to the Hindus, who, owing to the necessity of employing them as clerks and servants, were allowed the exercise of their religion. In his time the Europeans numbered about 500. There were besides some 400 Armenians, Moors and Topasses, 1400 to 1500 Christians, including slaves, and 18,000 to 20,000 Gentiles, divided, he says, into 52 different castes or occupations. It is to be supposed that the European houses had improved in the thirty years since d'Albert's visit; at any rate many of those which were close to the Fort now commanded its interior from their roofs or upper stories, exactly as the houses of the leading officials in Calcutta commanded the interior of Fort William. No other fact could be so significant of the security which the Europeans in Bengal believed they enjoyed from any attack by the forces of the native Government. The site of the Fort is now covered with native huts. The Cemetery still remains and the Company's Tank (now known as Lal Dighi), whilst Kooti Ghat is the old landing-place of Fort d'Orleans.
As regards the European population at the time of the siege we have no definite information. The Returns drawn up by the French officials at the time of the capitulation do not include the women and children or the native and mixed population. The ladies, and it is to be presumed the other women also, for there is no mention of women during the siege, retired to the Dutch and Danish settlements at Chinsurah and Serampore a few days before, and the native population disappeared as soon as the British army approached. The Returns therefore show only 538 Europeans and 66 Topasses. The Governor or Director, as already mentioned, was Pierre Renault: his Council consisted of MM. Fournier, Caillot, Laporterie, Nicolas, and Picques. There were 36 Frenchmen of lesser rank in the Company's service, as well as 6 surgeons. The troops were commanded by M. de Tury and 10 officers. There were also 10 officers of the French East India Company's vessels, and 107 persons of sufficient importance for their parole to be demanded when the Fort fell. Apparently these Returns do not include those who were killed in the defence, nor have we any definite information as to the number of French sepoys, but Eyre Coote says there were 500.
The story of the siege is to be gathered from many accounts. M. Renault and his Council submitted an official report; Renault wrote many letters to Dupleix and other patrons or friends; several of the Council and other private persons did the same. M. Jean Law, whose personal experiences we shall deal with in the next chapter, was Chief of Cossimbazar, and watched the siege, as it were, from the outside. His straightforward narrative helps us now and then to correct a mis-statement made by the besieged in the bitterness of defeat. On the English side, besides the Bengal records, there are Clive's and Eyre Coote's military journals, the Logs of the British ships of war, and the journal of Surgeon Edward Ives of His Majesty's ship Kent. Thus this passage of arms, almost the only one in Bengal in which the protagonists were Europeans, is no obscure event, but one in which almost every incident was seen and described from opposite points of view. This multiplicity of authorities makes it difficult to form a connected narrative, and, in respect to many incidents, I shall have to follow that account which seems to enter into the fullest or most interesting detail.
It will now be necessary to go back a little. After the capture of Calcutta in June, 1756, the behaviour of the Nawab to all Europeans was so overbearing that Renault found it necessary to ask the Superior Council of Pondicherry for reinforcements, but all that he received was 67 Europeans and 167 Sepoys. No money was sent him, and every day he expected to hear that war had broken out between France and England.
"Full of these inquietudes, gentlemen, I was in the most cruel embarrassment, knowing not even what to desire. A strong detestation of the tyranny of the Nawab, and of the excesses which he was committing against Europeans, made me long for the arrival of the English in the Ganges to take vengeance for them. At the same time I feared the consequences of war being declared. In every letter M. de Leyrit impressed upon me the necessity of fortifying Chandernagore as best I could, and of putting the town in a state of security against a surprise, but you have only to look at Chandernagore to see how difficult it was for us, absolutely destitute as we were of men and money, to do this with a town open on all sides, and with nothing even to mark it off from the surrounding country."
He goes on to describe Fort d'Orleans—
"almost in the middle of the settlement, surrounded by houses, which command it, a square of about 600 feet, built of brick, flanked with four bastions, with six guns each, without ramparts or glacis. The southern curtain, about 4 feet thick, not raised to its full height, was provided only with a battery of 3 guns; there was a similar battery to the west, but the rest of the west curtain was only a wall of mud and brick, about a foot and a half thick, and 8 or 10 feet high; there were warehouses ranged against the east curtain which faced the Ganges, and which was still in process of construction; the whole of this side had no ditch, and that round the other sides was dry, only 4 feet in depth, and a mere ravine. The walls of the Fort up to the ramparts were 15 feet high, and the houses, on the edge of the counterscarp, which commanded it, were as much as 30 feet."
Perhaps the Fort was best defended on the west, where the Company's Tank was situated. Its bank was only about twelve feet from the Fort Ditch. This use of tanks for defensive purposes was an excellent one, as they also provided the garrison with a good supply of drinking water. A little later Clive protected his great barracks at Berhampur with a line of large tanks along the landward side. However, this tank protected one side only, and the task of holding such a fort with an inadequate garrison was not a hopeful one even for a Frenchman. It was only his weakness which had made Renault submit to pay the contribution demanded by the Nawab on his triumphant return from Calcutta in July of the previous year, and he and his comrades felt very bitterly the neglect of the Company in not sending money and reinforcements. One of his younger subordinates wrote to a friend in Pondicherry:—
"But the 3-1/2 lahks that the Company has to pay to the Nawab, is that a trifle? Yes, my dear fellow, for I should like it to have to pay still more, to teach it how to leave this Factory, which is, beyond contradiction, the finest of its settlements, denuded of soldiers and munitions of war, so that it is not possible for us to show our teeth."
The wish was prophetic.
Like the English the French were forbidden by the Nawab to fortify themselves. Renault dared not pay attention to this order. He had seen what had happened to the English by the neglect of proper precautions, and when things were at their worst, the Nawab had to seek his alliance against the English, grant him leave to fortify Chandernagore, and, later on, even to provide him with money under the pretence that he was simply restoring the sum forcibly extorted from him the previous year. Trade was at a standstill, and Renault was determined that if the enemies of his nation were destined to take the Company's property, they should have the utmost difficulty possible in doing so. He expended the money on provisions and ammunition. At the same time, that he might not lose any chance of settling affairs peaceably with the English, he refused to associate himself with the Nawab, and entered upon negotiations for a neutrality in the Ganges. To protect himself if these failed, he began raising fortifications and pulling down the houses which commanded the Fort or masked its fire.
He could not pull down the houses on the south of the Fort, from which Clive subsequently made his attack, partly for want of time, partly because the native workmen ran away, and partly because of the bad feeling prevalent in the motley force which formed his garrison. The most fatal defect of all was the want of a military engineer. The person who held that position had been sent from France. He was a master mason, and had no knowledge of engineering. It had been the same story in Calcutta. Drake's two engineers had been a subaltern in the military and a young covenanted servant. Renault had to supervise the fortifications himself.
"I commenced to pull down the church and the house of the Jesuit fathers, situated on the edge of the Ditch, also all the houses of private persons which masked the entire north curtain. The wood taken from the ruins of these served to construct a barrier extending from bastion to bastion and supporting this same north curtain, which seemed ready to fall to pieces from old age."
This barrier was placed four feet outside the wall, the intervening space being filled in with earth.
"Also in front of Porte Royale" (i.e. outside the gate in the avenue), "the weakest side of the Fort, I placed a battery of 3 guns, and worked hard at clearing out and enlarging the Ditch, but there was no time to make it of any use as a defence. A warehouse on which I put bales of gunny to prevent cannon balls from breaking in the vaults of the roof, served it as a casemate."
The east or river curtain was left alone. The French were, in fact, so confident that the ships of war would not be able to force their way up the river, and that Clive would not therefore think of attacking on that side, that the only precaution they took at first was the erection of two batteries outside the Fort. It is a well-known maxim in war that one should attack at that point at which the enemy deems himself most secure, and it will be seen that all Clive's efforts were aimed at preparing for Admiral Watson to attack on the east.
As regards artillery Renault was better off.
"The alarm which the Prince" (Siraj-ud-daula) "gave us in June last having given me reason to examine into the state of the artillery, I found that not one of the carriages of the guns on the ramparts was in a serviceable condition, not a field-piece mounted, not a platform ready for the mortars. I gave all my attention to these matters, and fortunately had time to put them right."
To serve his guns Renault had the sailors of the Company's ship, Saint Contest, whose commander, M. de la Vigne Buisson, was the soul of the defence.
About this time he received a somewhat doubtful increase to his garrison, a crowd of deserters from the English East India Company's forces. The latter at this time were composed of men of all nationalities, English, Germans, Swiss, Dutch, and even French. Many of them, and naturally the foreigners especially, were ready to desert upon little provocation. The hardships of service in a country where the climate and roads were execrable, where food and pay were equally uncertain, and where promises were made not to be kept, were provocations which the best soldiers might have found it difficult to resist. We read of whole regiments in the English and French services refusing to obey orders, and of mutinies of officers as well as of men. The one reward of service was the chance of plunder, and naturally, then, as soon as the fighting with the Nawab had stopped for a time, the desertions from the British forces were numerous. Colonel Clive had more than once written to Renault to remonstrate with him for taking British soldiers into his service. Probably Renault could have retorted the accusation with justice—at any rate, he went on enlisting deserters; and from those who had now come over he formed a company of grenadiers of 50 men, one of artillery of 30, and one of sailors of 60, wisely giving them a little higher pay than usual, "to excite their emulation." One of these was a man named Lee,—
"a corporal and a deserter from the Tyger, who pledged himself to the enemy that he would throw two shells out of three into the Tyger, but whilst he was bringing the mortars to bear for that purpose, he was disabled by a musket bullet from the Kent's tops. He was afterwards sent home a prisoner to England."
As might be expected the younger Frenchmen were wild with delight at the chance of seeing a good fight. Some of them had been much disappointed that the Nawab had not attacked Chandernagore in June, 1756. One of them wrote—
"I was charmed with the adventure and the chance of carrying a musket, having always had" (what Frenchman hasn't?) "a secret leaning towards a military life. I intended to kill a dozen Moors myself in the first sortie we made, for I was determined not to stand like a stock on a bastion, where one only runs the risk of getting wounds without having any of the pleasure of inflicting them."
If not the highest form of military spirit, this was at any rate one of which a good commander might make much use. Renault took advantage of this feeling, and from the young men of the colony, such as Company's servants, ships' officers, supercargoes, and European inhabitants, he made a company of volunteers, to whom, at their own request, he gave his son, an officer of the garrison, as commander.
One of the volunteer officers writes:—
"I had the honour to be appointed lieutenant, and was much pleased when I saw the spirit of emulation which reigned in every heart. I cannot sufficiently praise the spirit of exactitude with which every one was animated, and the progress which all made in so short a time in the management of their arms. I lay stress on the fact that it was an occupation entirely novel to them, and one of which the commencement always appears very hard, but they overcame all difficulties, and found amusement in what to others would appear merely laborious."
All this time Renault was watching the war between the English and the Moors. In January the English sailed up the Hugli, passed Chandernagore contemptuously without a salute, burned the Moorish towns of Hugli and Bandel, ravaged the banks of the river, and retired to Calcutta. Up to this the Nawab had not condescended to notice the English; now, in a moment of timidity, he asked the intervention of the French as mediators. Renault eagerly complied, for had his mediation been accepted, he would have inserted in the treaty a clause enforcing peace amongst the Europeans in Bengal; but the English refused to treat through the French. This could have only one meaning. Renault felt that his course was now clear, and was on the point of offering the alliance which the Nawab had so long sought for, when he received orders from M. de Leyrit forbidding him to attack the English by land. As M. Law writes, if Renault had been free to join the Nawab with 500 Europeans, either Clive would not have ventured a night attack on the Nawab's camp, or, had he done so, the event would probably have been very different. Under the circumstances, all that Renault could do was to continue his fortifications. It was now that he first realized that Admiral Watson would take part in the attack.
"As the ships of war were what we had most to fear from, we constructed on the river bank a battery of 6 guns, four of which covered the approach to the Fort. From the foot of the battery a bank twenty-two feet high stretching to the Fort, was begun, so as to protect the curtain on this side from the fire of the ships, but it was not finished. We had also to attend to the inhabited portion of the town; it was impossible to do more, but we determined to protect it from a surprise, and so ditches were dug across the streets and outposts established."
It was this waste of valuable time upon the defence of the town that a capable engineer would have saved Renault from the mistake of committing. Had he limited his efforts to strengthening the walls of the Fort and cleared away the surrounding houses, he would have been not only stronger against the attack of the land force, but also in a much better position to resist the ships.
The issue of the Nawab's attack on Calcutta has already been told. He was so depressed by his failure that he now treated Renault with the greatest respect, and it was now that he gave him the sum of money—a lakh of rupees, then worth L12,500—which he spent on provisions and munitions of war. Renault says:—
"The Nawab's envoy further gave me to understand that he was, in his heart, enraged with the English, and continued to regard them as his enemies. In spite of this we saw clearly from the treaty just made" (with the English) "that we should be its victims, and knowing Siraj-ud-daula's character, his promise to assist me strongly if the English attacked us did not quiet my mind. I prepared for whatever might happen by pressing on our preparations and collecting all kinds of provisions in the Fort."
The Nawab and the English concluded a treaty of peace and alliance on the 9th of February, 1757. Renault mentions no actual treaty between the Nawab and the French, but the French doctor referred to in a note above asserts that the Nawab demanded that the Council should bind itself in writing,
"to oppose the passage of the English past Chandernagore.... It was merely engaging to defend ourselves against the maritime force of the English ... because Chandernagore was the only place on this coast against which they could undertake any enterprise by water. This engagement was signed and sent to the Nawab three days after he had made peace with the English. The Council received in reply two privileges, the one to coin money with the King's stamp at Chandernagore, the other liberty of trade for individual Frenchmen on the same footing as the Company, and 100,000 rupees on account of the 300,000 which he had extorted the previous year."
It does not matter whether this engagement was signed or not. As a Frenchman thus mentions it, the rumour of its signature must have been very strong. It is probable that the English heard of it, and believed it to be conclusive proof of the secret understanding between the Nawab and the French. The privilege of individual trade was particularly likely to excite their commercial jealousy, for it was to this very privilege in their own case that the wealth and strength of Calcutta were due. Such a rumour, therefore, was not likely to facilitate negotiations. Nevertheless, Renault sent MM. Fournier and Nicolas, the latter of whom had many friends amongst the English, to Calcutta, to re-open the negotiations for a neutrality. These negotiations seemed to be endless. The most striking feature was Admiral Watson's apparent vacillation. When the Council proposed war he wanted peace, when they urged neutrality he wanted war. Clive went so far as to present a memorial to the Council, saying it was unfair to continue the negotiations if the Admiral was determined not to agree to a treaty. It seems as if the Council wanted war, but wished to throw the responsibility upon the Admiral. On the other hand the Admiral was only too eager to fight, but hesitated to involve the Company in a war with the French and the Nawab combined, at a moment when the British land forces were so weakened by disease that success might be considered doubtful. He had also to remember the fact that the Council at Chandernagore was subordinate to the Council at Pondicherry, and the latter might, whenever convenient to the French, repudiate the treaty. However, in spite of all difficulties, the terms were agreed to, the draft was prepared, and only the signatures were wanting, when a large reinforcement of Europeans arrived from Bombay, and the Admiral received formal notification of the declaration of war, and orders from the Admiralty to attack the French. This put an immediate end to negotiations, and the envoys were instructed to return to Chandernagore. At the same time the English determined to try and prevent the Nawab from joining the French.
Whilst the Admiral was making up his mind fortune had favoured the English. The Nawab, in fear of an invasion of Bengal by the Pathans, had called upon the British for assistance, and on the 3rd of March Clive's army left Calcutta en route for Murshidabad. The Admiral now pointed out to the Nawab that the British could not safely leave Chandernagore behind them in the hands of an enemy, and Clive wrote to the same effect, saying he would wait near Chandernagore for a reply. On the 10th of March the Nawab wrote a letter to the Admiral, which concluded with the following significant words:—
"You have understanding and generosity: if your enemy with an upright heart claims your protection, you will give him life, but then you must be well satisfied of the innocence of his intentions: if not, whatever you think right, that do."
Law says this letter was a forgery, but as the Nawab did not write any letters himself, the only test of authenticity was his seal, which was duly attached. The English believed it to be genuine, and the words quoted could have but one meaning. Admiral Watson read them as a permission to attack the French without fear of the Nawab's interference. He prepared to support Clive as soon as the water in the Hugli would allow his ships to pass up, and, it must be supposed, informed Clive of the letter he had received. At any rate, he so informed the Council.
Clive reached Chandernagore on the 12th, and probably heard on that day or the next from Calcutta. On the 13th he sent the following summons—which Renault does not mention, and did not reply to—to Chandernagore:—
"The King of Great Britain having declared war against France, I summons you in his name to surrender the Fort of Chandernagore. In case of refusal you are to answer the consequences, and expect to be treated according to the usage of war in such cases.
"I have the honour to be, sir,
"Your most obedient and humble servant,
It is important, in the light of what happened later, to notice that Clive addresses Renault as a combatant and the head of the garrison.
In England we have recently seen men eager to vilify their own nation. France has produced similar monsters. One of them wrote from Pondicherry:—
"The English having changed their minds on the arrival of the reinforcement from Bombay, our gentlemen at Chandernagore prepared to ransom themselves, and they would have done so at whatever price the ransom had been fixed provided anything had remained to them. That mode of agreement could not possibly suit the taste of the English. It was rejected, and the Council of Chandernagore had no other resource except to surrender on the best conditions they could obtain from the generosity of their enemy. This course was so firmly resolved upon that they gave no thought to defending themselves. The military insisted only on firing a single discharge, which they desired the Council would grant them. It was only the marine and the citizens who, though they had no vote in the Council, cried out tumultuously that the Fort must be defended. A plot was formed to prevent the Director's son, who was ready to carry the keys of the town to the English camp, from going out. Suddenly some one fired a musket. The English thought it was the reply to their summons. They commenced on their side to fire their artillery, and that was how a defence which lasted ten whole days was begun."
How much truth is contained in the above paragraph may be judged by what has been already stated. It will be sufficient to add that Clive, receiving no answer to his summons, made a sudden attack on a small earthwork to the south-west of the fort at 3 A.M. on the 14th of March. For two whole days then, the English had been in sight of Chandernagore without attacking. The French ladies had been sent to Chinsurah and Serampore, so that the defenders had nothing to fear on their account. Besides the French soldiers and civilians, there were also about 2000 Moorish troops present, whom Law says he persuaded the Nawab to send down as soon as the English left Calcutta. Other accounts say that Renault hired them to assist him. The Nawab had a strong force at Murshidabad ready to march under one of his commanders, Rai Durlabh Ram; but the latter had experienced what even a small English force could do in the night attack on the Nawab's camp, and was by no means inclined to match himself a second time against Clive; accordingly, he never got further than five leagues from Murshidabad. Urgent messages were sent from Chandernagore as soon as the attack began. M. Law begged of the Nawab to send reinforcements. Mr. Watts, the English Chief, and all his party in the Durbar, did their utmost to prevent any orders being issued. The Nawab gave orders which he almost immediately countermanded. Renault ascribes this to a letter which he says Clive wrote on the 14th of March, the very day of the attack, promising the Nawab to leave the French alone, but it is not at all likely that he did so. It is true Clive had written to this effect on the 22nd of February; but since then much had happened, and he was now acting, as he thought and said, with the Nawab's permission. On the 16th of March he wrote to Nand Kumar, Faujdar of Hugli, as follows:—
"The many deceitful wicked measures that the French have taken to endeavour to deprive me of the Nawab's favour (tho' I thank God they have proved in vain, since his Excellency's friendship towards me is daily increasing) has long made me look on them as enemies to the English, but I could no longer stifle my resentment when I found that ... they dared to oppose the freedom of the English trade on the Ganges by seizing a boat with an English dustuck, and under English colours that was passing by their town. I am therefore come to a resolution to attack them. I am told that some of the Government's forces have been perswaded under promise of great rewards from the French to join them against us; I should be sorry, at a time when I am so happy in his Excellency's favour and friendship, that I should do any injury to his servants; I am therefore to desire you will send these forces an order to withdraw, and that no other may come to their assistance."
What Clive feared was that, though the Nawab might not interfere openly, some of his servants might receive secret orders to do so, and on the 22nd of March he wrote even more curtly to Rai Durlabh himself:—
"I hear you are arrived within 20 miles of Hughly. Whether you come as a friend or an enemy, I know not. If as the latter, say so at once, and I will send some people out to fight you immediately.... Now you know my mind."
When diplomatic correspondence was conducted in letters of this kind, it is easy to understand that the Nawab was frightened out of his wits, and absolutely unable to decide what course he should take. There was little likelihood of the siege being influenced by anything he might do.
The outpost mentioned as the object of the first attack was a small earthwork, erected at the meeting of three roads. It was covered by the Moorish troops, who held the roofs of the houses around. As the intention of the outposts was merely to prevent the town from being surprised, and to enable the inhabitants to take shelter in the Fort, the outpost ought to have been withdrawn as quickly as possible, but, probably because they thought it a point of honour to make a stout defence wherever they were first attacked, the defenders stood to it gallantly. Renault sent repeated reinforcements, first the company of grenadiers, then at 9 o'clock the company of artillery, and at 10 o'clock, when the surrounding houses were in flames, and many of the Moors had fled, a company of volunteers. With these, and a further reinforcement of sixty sailors, the little fort held out till 7 o'clock in the evening, when the English, after three fruitless assaults, ceased fire and withdrew. Street fighting is always confusing, and hence the following vague description of the day's events from Captain Eyre Coote's journal:—
"Colonel Clive ordered the picquets, with the company's grenadiers, to march into the French bounds, which is encompassed with an old ditch, the entrance into it a gateway with embrasures on the top but no cannons, which the French evacuated on our people's advancing. As soon as Captain Lynn, who commanded the party, had taken possession, he acquainted the Colonel, who ordered Major Kilpatrick and me, with my company of grenadiers, to join Captain Lynn, and send him word after we had reconnoitred the place. On our arrival there we found a party of French was in possession of a road leading to a redoubt that they had thrown up close under their fort, where they had a battery of cannon, and upon our advancing down the road, they fired some shots at us. We detached some parties through a wood, and drove them from the road into their batteries with the loss of some men; we then sent for the Colonel, who, as soon as he joined us, sent to the camp for more troops. We continued firing at each other in an irregular manner till about noon, at which time the Colonel ordered me to continue with my grenadier company and about 200 sepoys at the advance post, and that he would go with the rest of our troops to the entrance, which was about a mile back. About 2 o'clock word was brought me that the French were making a sortie. Soon after, I perceived the sepoys retiring from their post, upon which I sent to the Colonel to let him know the French were coming out. I was then obliged to divide my company, which consisted of about 50 men, into 2 or 3 parties (very much against my inclination) to take possession of the ground the sepoys had quitted. We fired pretty warmly for a quarter of an hour from the different parties at each other, when the French retreated again into their battery. On this occasion I had a gentleman (Mr. Tooke), who was a volunteer, killed, and 2 of my men wounded. The enemy lost 5 or 6 Europeans and some blacks. I got close under the battery, and was tolerably well sheltered by an old house, where I continued firing till about 7 o'clock, at which time I was relieved, and marched back to camp."
The defenders were much exhausted, as well by the fighting as by the smoke and heat from the burning houses and the heat of the weather, for it was almost the hottest season of the year. It seemed probable that the English would make another attack during the night, and as the defenders already amounted to a very large portion of the garrison, it was almost impossible to reinforce them without leaving the Fort itself in great danger, if Clive managed to approach it from any other quarter. Renault called a council of war, and, after taking the opinion of his officers in writing to the effect that the outposts must be abandoned, he withdrew the defenders at 9 o'clock, under cover of the darkness: The French had suffered a loss of only 10 men killed and wounded. Clive mentions that, at the same time, all the other outposts and batteries, except those on the river side, were withdrawn.
Mustering his forces in the Fort, Renault found them to be composed of 237 soldiers (of whom 117 were deserters from the British), 120 sailors, 70 half-castes and private Europeans, 100 persons employed by the Company, 167 Sepoys and 100 Topasses. Another French account puts the total of the French garrison at 489, but this probably excludes many of the private people.
On the 15th the English established themselves in the town, and drove out the Moors who had been stationed on the roofs of the houses. This gave them to some extent the command of the interior of the Fort, but no immediate attack was made on the latter. A French account says this was because—
"all their soldiers were drunk with the wine they had found in the houses. Unfortunately we did not know of this. It would have been the moment to make a sortie, of which the results must have been favourable to us, the enemy being incapable of defence."
During the night of the 15th the Fort was bombarded, and on the morning of the 16th the British completed the occupation of the houses deserted by the Moors. The latter not being received into the Fort, either fled or were sent away. They betook themselves to Nand Kumar, the Faujdar of Hugli, announcing the capture of the town. Nand Kumar, who is said to have had an understanding with the British, sent on the message to Rai Durlabh and the Nawab, with the malicious addition that the Fort, if it had not already fallen, would fall before Rai Durlabh could reach it. This put an end to all chance of the Nawab interfering.
The French spent the day in blocking a narrow passage formed by a sandbank in the river, a short distance below the town. They sank—
"four large ships and a hulk,... and had a chain and boom across in order to prevent our going up with the squadron. Captain Toby sent his 2nd lieutenant, Mr. Bloomer, that night, who cut the chain and brought off a sloop that buoyed it up."
It was apparently this rapid attack on the position that accounts for the timidity of the pilots and boatmen, who, Renault tells us, hurried away without staying to sink two other ships which were half laden, and which, if sunk, would have completely blocked the passage. Even on the ships which were sunk the masts had been left standing, so as to point out their position to the enemy.
Besides the ships sunk in the passage, there were at Chandernagore the French East Indiaman the Saint Contest (Captain de la Vigne Buisson), four large ships, and several small ones. The French needed all the sailors for the Fort, so they sank all the vessels they could not send up the river except three, which it was supposed they intended to use as fire-ships.
Clive, in the meantime, was advancing cautiously, his men erecting batteries, which seemed to be very easily silenced by the superior gunnery of the Fort. His object was partly to weary out the garrison by constant fighting, and partly to creep round to the river face, so as to be in a position to take the batteries which commanded the narrow river passage, as soon as Admiral Watson was ready to attack the Fort. Later on, the naval officers asserted he could not have taken the Fort without the assistance of the fleet. He said he could, and it is certain that if he had had no fleet to assist him his mode of attack would have been a very different one.
Early in the siege the French were warned from Chinsurah to beware of treachery amongst the deserters in their pay, and on the 17th of March a number of arrows were found in the Fort with labels attached, bearing the words:—
"Pardon to deserters who will rejoin their colours, and rewards to officers who will come over to us."
These were seized by the officers before the men could see them, but one of the officers themselves, Charles Cossard de Terraneau, a sub-lieutenant of the garrison, took advantage of the offer to go over to the English. This officer had served with credit in the South of India, and had lost an arm in his country's service. The reason of his desertion is said to have been a quarrel with M. Renault. M. Raymond, the translator of a native history of the time by Gholam Husain Khan, tells a story of De Terraneau which seems improbable. It is to the effect that he betrayed the secret of the river passage to Admiral Watson, and that a few years later he sent home part of the reward of his treachery to his father in France. The old man returned the money with indignant comments on his son's conduct, and De Terraneau committed suicide in despair. As a matter of fact, De Terraneau was a land officer, and therefore not likely to be able to advise the Admiral, who, as we shall see, solved the riddle of the passage in a perfectly natural manner, and the Probate Records show that De Terraneau lived till 1765, and in his will left his property to his wife Ann, so the probability is that he lived and died quietly in the British service. His only trouble seems to have been to get himself received by his new brother officers. However, he was, so Clive tells us, the only artillery officer the French had, and his desertion was a very serious matter. Renault writes:—
"The same night, by the improved direction of the besiegers' bombs, I had no doubt but that he had done us a bad service."
On the 18th the French destroyed a battery which the English had established near the river, and drove them out of a house opposite the south-east bastion. The same day the big ships of the squadron—the Kent (Captain Speke), the Tyger (Captain Latham), and the Salisbury (Captain Martin), appeared below the town. The Bridgewater and Kingfisher had come up before. Admiral Watson was on board the Kent, and Admiral Pocock on the Tyger. The fleet anchored out of range of the Fort at the Prussian Gardens, a mile and a half below the town, and half a mile below the narrow passage in which the ships had been sunk.
On the 19th Admiral Watson formally announced the declaration of war, and summoned the Fort to surrender. The Governor called a council of war, in which there was much difference of opinion. Some thought the Admiral would not have come so far without his being certain of his ability to force the passage; indeed the presence of so many deserters in the garrison rendered it probable that he had secret sources of information. As a matter of fact, it was only when Lieutenant Hey, the officer who had brought the summons, and, in doing so, had rowed between the masts of the sunken vessels, returned to the Kent, that Admiral Watson knew the passage was clear. Renault and the Council were aware that the Fort could not resist the big guns of the ships, and accordingly the more thoughtful members of the council of war determined, if possible, to try and avoid fighting by offering a ransom. This apparently gave rise to the idea that they wished to surrender, and an English officer says:—
"Upon the Admiral's sending them a summons ... to surrender, they were very stout; they gave us to understand there were two parties in the Factory, the Renaultions and the anti-Renaultions. The former, which they called the great-wigg'd gentry, or councillors, were for giving up the Fort, but the others vowed they would die in the breach. To these high and lofty expressions the Admiral could give no other answer than that in a very few days, or hours perhaps, he would give them a very good opportunity of testifying their zeal for the Company and the Grand Monarque."
The offer of ransom was made, and was refused by the Admiral. Renault says, he—
"insisted on our surrendering and the troops taking possession of the Fort, promising, however, that every one should keep his own property. There was not a man amongst us who did not prefer to run the risk of whatever might happen to surrendering in this fashion, without the Fort having yet suffered any material damage, and every one was willing to risk his own interests in order to defend those of the Company. Every one swore to do his best."
The Admiral could not attack at once, owing to the state of the river, but to secure his own position against any counter-attack, such as was very likely with a man like Captain de la Vigne in the Fort, he sent up boats the same night, and sank the vessels which it was supposed the French intended to use as fire-ships; and the next day Mr. John Delamotte, master of the Kent, under a heavy fire, sounded and buoyed the passage for the ships.
The army, meanwhile, continued its monotonous work ashore, the soldiers building batteries for the French to knock to pieces, but succeeding in Clive's object, which was "to keep the enemy constantly awake." Sometimes this work was dangerous, as, for instance, on the 21st, when a ball from the Fort knocked down a verandah close to one of the English batteries, "the rubbish of which choked up one of our guns, very much bruised two artillery officers, and buried several men in the ruins."
By the 22nd Clive had worked his way round to the river, and was established to the north-east and south-east of the Fort so as to assist the Admiral, and on the river the Admiral had at last got the high tide he was waiting for. Surgeon Ives tells the story as follows:—
"The Admiral the same evening ordered lights to be placed on the masts of the vessels that had been sunk, with blinds towards the Fort, that we might see how to pass between them a little before daylight, and without being discovered by the enemy.
"At length the glorious morning of the 23rd of March arrived." Clive's men gallantly stormed the battery covering the narrow pass, "and upon the ships getting under sail the Colonel's battery, which had been finished behind a dead wall," to take off the fire of the Fort when the ships passed up, began firing away, and had almost battered down the corner of the south-east bastion before the ships arrived within shot of the Fort. "The Tyger, with Admiral Pocock's flag flying, took the lead, and about 6 o'clock in the morning got very well into her station against the north-east bastion. The Kent, with Admiral Watson's flag flying, quickly followed her, but before she could reach her proper station, the tide of ebb unfortunately made down the river, which occasioned her anchor to drag, so that before she brought up she had fallen abreast of the south-east bastion, the place where the Salisbury should have been, and from her mainmast aft she was exposed to the flank guns of the south-west bastion also. The accident of the Kent's anchor not holding fast, and her driving down into the Salisbury's station, threw this last ship out of action, to the great mortification of the captain, officers, and crew, for she never had it in her power to fire a gun, unless it was now and then, when she could sheer on the tide. The French, during the whole time of the Kent and Tyger's approach towards the Fort, kept up a terrible cannonade upon them, without any resistance on their part; but as soon as the ships came properly to an anchor they returned it with such fury as astonished their adversaries. Colonel Clive's troops at the same time got into those houses which were nearest the Fort, and from thence greatly annoyed the enemy with their musketry. Our ships lay so near to the Fort that the musket balls fired from their tops, by striking against the chunam walls of the Governor's palace, which was in the very centre of the Fort, were beaten as flat as a half-crown. The fire now became general on both sides, and was kept up with extraordinary spirit. The flank guns of the south-west bastion galled the Kent very much, and the Admiral's aide-de-camps being all wounded, Mr. Watson went down himself to Lieutenant William Brereton, who commanded the lower deck battery, and ordered him particularly to direct his fire against those guns, and they were accordingly soon afterwards silenced. At 8 in the morning several of the enemy's shot struck the Kent at the same time; one entered near the foremast, and set fire to two or three 32-pound cartridges of gunpowder, as the boys held them in their hands ready to charge the guns. By the explosion, the wad-nets and other loose things took fire between decks, and the whole ship was so filled with smoke that the men, in their confusion, cried out she was on fire in the gunner's store-room, imagining from the shock they had felt from the balls that a shell had actually fallen into her. This notion struck a panic into the greater part of the crew, and 70 or 80 jumped out of the port-holes into the boats that were alongside the ship. The French presently saw this confusion on board the Kent, and, resolving to take the advantage, kept up as hot a fire as possible upon her during the whole time. Lieutenant Brereton, however, with the assistance of some other brave men, soon extinguished the fire, and then running to the ports, he begged the seamen to come in again, upbraiding them for deserting their quarters; but finding this had no effect upon them, he thought the more certain method of succeeding would be to strike them with a sense of shame, and therefore loudly exclaimed, 'Are you Britons? You Englishmen, and fly from danger? For shame! For shame!' This reproach had the desired effect; to a man they immediately returned into the ship, repaired to their quarters, and renewed a spirited fire on the enemy.
"In about three hours from the commencement of the attack the parapets of the north and south bastions were almost beaten down; the guns were mostly dismounted, and we could plainly see from the main-top of the Kent that the ruins from the parapet and merlons had entirely blocked up those few guns which otherwise might have been fit for service. We could easily discern, too, that there had been a great slaughter among the enemy, who, finding that our fire against them rather increased, hung out the white flag, whereupon a cessation of hostilities took place, and the Admiral sent Lieutenant Brereton (the only commissioned officer on board the Kent that was not killed or wounded) and Captain Coote of the King's regiment with a flag of truce to the Fort, who soon returned, accompanied by the French Governor's son, with articles of capitulation, which being settled by the Admiral and Colonel, we soon after took possession of the place."
So far then from the besiegers' side; Renault's description of the fight is as follows:—
"The three largest vessels, aided by the high-water of the equinoctial tides, which, moreover, had moved the vessels sunk in the narrow passage, passed over the sunken ships, which did not delay them for a moment, to within half pistol shot of the Fort, and opened fire at 6 a.m. Then the troops in the battery on the bank of the Ganges, who had so far fired only one discharge, suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with the fire from the tops of the ships, abandoned it, and had much difficulty in gaining the Fort.... I immediately sent the company of grenadiers, with a detachment of the artillery company as reinforcements, to the south-eastern bastion and the Bastion du Pavillon, which two bastions face the Ganges; but those troops under the fire of the ships, joined to that of the land batteries, rebuilt the same night, and of more than 3000 men placed on the roofs of houses which overlooked the Fort, almost all took flight, leaving two of their officers behind, one dead and the other wounded. I was obliged to send immediately all the marine and the inhabitants from the other posts.
"The attack was maintained with vigour from 6 a.m. to 10.30, when all the batteries were covered with dead and wounded, the guns dismounted, and the merlons destroyed, in spite of their being strengthened with bales of cloth. No one could show himself on the bastions, demolished by the fire of more than 100 guns; the troops were terrified during this attack by the loss of all the gunners and of nearly 200 men; the bastions were undermined, and threatened to crumble away and make a breach, which the exhaustion of our people, and the smallness of the number who remained, made it impossible for us to hope to defend successfully. Not a soldier would put his hand to a gun; it was only the European marine who stood to their duty, and half of these were already killed or disabled. A body of English troops, lying flat on the ground behind the screen which we had commenced to erect on the bank of the Ganges, was waiting the signal to attack. Seeing the impossibility of holding out longer, I thought that in the state in which the Fort was I could not in prudence expose it to an assault. Consequently I hoisted the white flag and ordered the drums to beat a parley."
According to an account written later by a person who was not present at the siege, Renault lost his Fort by a quarter of an hour. This writer says the tide was rapidly falling, and, had the eastern defences of the Fort been able to resist a little longer, the ships would have found their lower tiers of guns useless, and might have been easily destroyed by the French. Suppositions of this kind always suppose a stupidity on the part of the enemy which Renault had no right to count upon. Admiral Watson must have known the strength of the fortress he was about to attack before he placed his ships in a position from which it would be impossible to withdraw them whenever he wished to do so.
The flag of truce being displayed, Captain Eyre Coote was sent ashore, and returned in a quarter of an hour with the Governor's son bearing "a letter concerning the delivery of the place." Articles were agreed upon, and about 3 o'clock in the afternoon Captain Coote, with a company of artillery and two companies of grenadiers, took possession of the Fort. Before this took place there occurred an event the consequences of which were very unfortunate for the French. Everything was in a state of confusion, and the deserters, who formed the majority of the garrison, expecting no mercy from the Admiral and Clive, determined to escape. Rushing tumultuously to the Porte Royale, their arms in their hands, they forced it to be opened to them, and, finding the northern road to Chinsurah unguarded, made the best of their way in that direction. They were accompanied by a number of the military and marine, as well as by some of the Company's servants and private persons who were determined not to surrender. As all this took place after the hoisting of the white flag and pending the conclusion of the capitulation, the English considered it a breach of the laws of warfare, and when later on the meaning of the capitulation itself was contested they absolutely refused to listen to any of the representations of the French. In all about 150 persons left the Fort. They had agreed to reassemble at a place a little above Hugli. The English sent a small force after them, who shot some and captured others, but about 80 officers and men arrived at the rendezvous in safety. The pursuit, however, was carried further, and Law writes:—
"Constantly pursued, they had to make forced marches. Some lost their way; others, wearied out, were caught as they stopped to rest themselves. However, when I least expected it, I was delighted to see the officers and many of the soldiers arrive in little bands of 5 and 6, all naked, and so worn out that they could hardly hold themselves upright. Most of them had lost their arms."
This reinforcement increased Law's garrison from 10 or 12 men to 60, and secured the safety of his person, but the condition of the fugitives must have been an object lesson to the Nawab and his Durbar which it was not wise for the French to set before them. A naval officer writes:—
"From the letters that have lately passed between the Nawab and us, we have great reason to hope he will not screen the French at all at Cossimbazar or Dacca. I only wish the Colonel does not alarm him too much, by moving with the army to the northward, I do assure you he is so sufficiently frightened that he had rather encounter the new Mogul himself than accept our assistance, though he strenuously begged for it about three weeks ago. He writes word he needs no fuller assurance of our friendship for him, when a single letter brought us so far on the road to Murshidabad as Chandernagore."
The escape of the French from Chandernagore is of interest, as it shows the extraordinary condition of the country. It is probable that the peasantry and gentry were indifferent as to whether the English or the French were victorious, whilst the local authorities were so paralyzed by the Nawab's hesitation that they did not know which side to assist. Later on we shall find that small parties, and even solitary Frenchmen, wandered through the country with little or no interference, though the English had been recognized as the friends and allies of the new Nawab, Mir Jafar.
To return, however, to Renault and the garrison of Chandernagore. The capitulation proposed by Renault and the Admiral's answers were to the following effect:—
1. The lives of the deserters to be spared. Answer. The deserters to surrender absolutely.
2. Officers of the garrison to be prisoners on parole, and allowed to keep their effects. Answer. Agreed to.
3. Soldiers of the garrison to be prisoners of war. Answer. Agreed to, on condition that foreigners may enter the English service.
4. Sepoys of the garrison to be set free. Answer. Agreed to.
5. Officers and crew of the French Company's ship to be sent to Pondicherry. Answer. These persons to be prisoners of war according to articles 2 and 3.
6. The Jesuit fathers to be allowed to practise their religion and retain their property. Answer. No European to be allowed to remain at Chandernagore, but the fathers to be allowed to retain their property.
7. All inhabitants to retain their property. Answer. This to be left to the Admiral's sense of equity.
8. The French Factories up-country to be left in the hands of their present chiefs. Answer. This to be settled by the Nawab and the Admiral.
9. The French Company's servants to go where they please, with their clothes and linen. Answer. Agreed to.
It is evident that the capitulation was badly drawn up. Civilians who had taken part in the defence, as had all the Company's servants, might be justly included in the garrison, and accordingly Admiral Watson and Clive declared they were all prisoners of war, and that article 9 merely permitted them to reside where they pleased on parole. On the other hand, Renault and the French Council declared that, being civilians, nothing could make them part of the garrison, and therefore under article 9 they might do what they pleased. Accordingly, they expressed much surprise when they were stopped at the Fort gates by one of Clive's officers, and forced to sign, before they were allowed to pass, a paper promising not to act against Britain directly or indirectly during the course of the war.
Another point of difficulty was in reference to article 7. The town had been in the hands of the British soldiers and sepoys for days. Much had been plundered, and both soldiers and sailors were wild for loot. They considered that the Admiral was acting unjustly to them in restoring their property to civilians who had been offered the chance of retaining it if they would avoid unnecessary bloodshed by a prompt surrender. Instead of this, the defence was so desperate that one officer writes:—
"Our losses have been very great, and we have never yet obtained a victory at so dear a rate. Perhaps you will hear of few instances where two ships have met with heavier damage than the Kent and Tyger in this engagement."
Clive's total loss was only about 40 men killed and wounded, but the loss on the ships was so great, that before the Fort surrendered the besiegers had lost quite as many men as the besieged, and it was by no means clear to the common mind what claim the French had to leniency. Even English officers wrote:—
"The Messieurs themselves deserve but little mercy from us for their mean behaviour in setting fire to so many bales of cloth and raw silk in the Fort but a very few minutes before we entered, and it grieves us much, to see such a number of stout and good vessels sunk with their whole cargoes far above the Fort, which is a great loss to us and no profit to them. Those indeed below, to hinder our passage were necessary, the others were merely through mischief. But notwithstanding this they scarcely ask a favour from the Admiral but it is granted."
The result was that the soldiers on guard began to beat the coolies who were helping the French to secure their goods, until they were induced by gifts to leave them alone, and much plundering went on when the soldiers could manage to escape notice. On one day three black soldiers were executed, and on another Sergeant Nover and a private soldier of the 39th Regiment were condemned to death, for breaking open the Treasury and stealing 3000 rupees. Another theft, which was not traced, was the holy vessels and treasure of the Church.
Many individual Frenchmen were ruined. Of one of these Surgeon Ives narrates the following pleasing incident:—
"It happened unfortunately ... that Monsieur Nicolas, a man of most amiable character, and the father of a large family, had not been so provident as the rest of his countrymen in securing his effects within the Fort, but had left them in the town; consequently, upon Colonel Clive's first taking possession of the place, they had all been plundered by our common soldiers; and the poor gentleman and his family were to all appearance ruined. The generous and humane Captain Speke, having heard of the hard fate of Monsieur Nicolas, took care to represent it to the two admirals in all its affecting circumstances, who immediately advanced the sum of 1500 rupees each. Their example was followed by the five captains of the squadron, who subscribed 5000 between them. Mr. Doidge added 800 more, and the same sum was thrown in by another person who was a sincere well-wisher to this unfortunate gentleman; so that a present of 9600 rupees, or L1200 sterling was in a few minutes collected towards the relief of this valuable Frenchman and his distressed family. One of the company was presently despatched with this money, who had orders to acquaint Monsieur Nicolas that a few of his English friends desired his acceptance of it, as a small testimony of the very high esteem they had for his moral character, and of their unfeigned sympathy with him in his misfortunes. The poor gentleman, quite transported by such an instance of generosity in an enemy, cried out in a sort of ecstasy, 'Good God, they axe friends indeed!' He accepted of the present with great thankfulness, and desired that his most grateful acknowledgements might be made to his unknown benefactors, for whose happiness and the happiness of their families, not only his, but the prayers of his children's children, he hoped, would frequently be presented to heaven. He could add no more; the tears, which ran plentifully down his cheeks, bespoke the feelings of his heart: and, indeed, implied much more than even Cicero with all his powers of oratory could possibly have expressed."
This, however, was but a solitary instance; the state of the French was, as a rule, wretched in the extreme, and Renault wrote:—
"The whole colony is dispersed, and the inhabitants are seeking an asylum, some—the greatest part—have gone to Chinsurah, others to the Danes and to Calcutta. This dispersion being caused by the misery to which our countrymen are reduced, their poverty, which I cannot relieve, draws tears from my eyes, the more bitter that I have seen them risk their lives so generously for the interests of the Company, and of our nation."
In such circumstances there was but one consolation possible to brave men—the knowledge that, in the eyes of friend and foe, they had done their duty. The officers of the British army and navy all spoke warmly of the gallant behaviour of the French, and the historian Broome, himself a soldier and the chronicler of many a brave deed, expresses himself as follows:—
"The conduct of the French on this occasion was most creditable and well worthy the acknowledged gallantry of that nation. Monsieur Renault, the Governor, displayed great courage and determination: but the chief merit of the defence was due to Monsieur Devignes" (Captain de la Vigne Buisson), "commander of the French Company's ship, Saint Contest. He took charge of the bastions, and directed their fire with great skill and judgment, and by his own example inspired energy and courage into all those around him."
Renault himself found some consolation in the gallant behaviour of his sons.
"In my misfortune I have had the satisfaction to see my two sons distinguish themselves in the siege with all the courage and intrepidity which I could desire. The elder brother was in the Company's service, and served as a volunteer; the younger, an officer in the army, was, as has been said above, commandant of the volunteers."
Others who are mentioned by Renault and his companions as having distinguished themselves on the French side, were the Councillors MM. Caillot, Nicolas, and Picques, Captain de la Vigne Buisson and his son and officers, M. Sinfray (secretary to the Council), the officers De Kalli and Launay, the Company's servants Matel, Le Conte Dompierre, Boissemont and Renault de St. Germain, the private inhabitant Renault de la Fuye, and the two supercargoes of Indiamen Delabar and Chambon. Caillot (or Caillaud) was wounded. The official report of the loss of Chandernagore was drawn up on the 29th of March, 1757. The original is in the French Archives, and Caillaud's signature shows that he was still suffering from his wound. Sinfray we shall come across again. He joined Law at Cossimbazar and accompanied him on his first retreat to Patna. Sent back by Law, he joined Siraj-ud-daula, and commanded the small French contingent at Plassey. When the battle was lost he took refuge in Birbhum, was arrested by the Raja, and handed over to the English.
The immediate gain to the English by the capture of Chandernagore was immense. Clive wrote to the Select Committee at Madras:—
"I cannot at present give you an account to what value has been taken; the French Company had no great stock of merchandize remaining, having sold off most of their Imports and even their investment for Europe to pay in part the large debts they had contracted. With respect to the artillery and ammunition ... they were not indifferently furnished: there is likewise a very fine marine arsenal well stocked. In short nothing could have happened more seasonable for the expeditious re-establishment of Calcutta than the reduction of Charnagore" (i.e. Chandernagore). "It was certainly a large, rich and thriving colony, and the loss of it is an inexpressible blow to the French Company."
The French gentlemen, after having signed under protest the document presented to them by Clive, betook themselves to Chinsurah, where they repudiated their signatures as having been extorted by force, subsequent to, and contrary to, the capitulation. They proceeded to communicate with Pondicherry, their up-country Factories, and the native Government; they also gave assistance to French soldiers who had escaped from Chandernagore. Clive and the Calcutta Council were equally determined to interpret the capitulation in their own way, and sent Renault an order, through M. Bisdom, the Dutch Director, to repair to the British camp. Renault refused, and when Clive sent a party of sepoys for him and the other councillors, they appealed to M. Bisdom for the protection of the Dutch flag. M. Bisdom informed them somewhat curtly that they had come to him without his invitation, that he had no intention of taking any part in their quarrels, that he would not give them the protection of his flag to enable them to intrigue against the English, and, in short, requested them to leave Dutch territory. As it was evident that the British were prepared to use force, Renault and the Council gave in, and were taken to Calcutta, where, for some time, they were kept close prisoners. It was not till the Nawab had been overthrown at Plassey, that they were absolutely released, and even then it was only that they might prepare for their departure from Bengal. Renault surmises, quite correctly, that this severity was probably due to the fear that they would assist the Nawab.
The following incident during Renault's captivity shows how little could be expected from the Nawab towards a friend who was no longer able to be of use to him. After the capture of Chandernagore the English Council called on the Nawab to surrender the French up-country Factories to them. Siraj-ud-daula had not even yet learned the folly of his double policy. On the 4th of April he wrote to Clive:—
"I received your letter and observe what you desire in regard to the French factories and other goods. I address you seeing you are a man of wisdom and knowledge, and well acquainted with the customs and trade of the world; and you must know that the French by the permission and phirmaund of the King have built them several factories, and carried on their trade in this kingdom. I cannot therefore without hurting my character and exposing myself to trouble hereafter, deliver up their factories and goods, unless I have a written order from them for so doing, and I am perswaded that from your friendship for me you would never be glad at anything whereby my fame would suffer; as I on my part am ever desirous of promoting" [yours].
"Mr. Renault, the French. Governor being in your power, if you could get from him a paper under his own hand and seal to this purpose; 'That of his own will and pleasure, he thereby gave up to the English Company's servants, and empowered them to receive all the factories, money and goods belonging to the French Company without any hindrance from the Nawab's people;' and would send this to me, I should be secured by that from any trouble hereafter on this account. But it is absolutely necessary you come to some agreement about the King's duties arising from the French trade.... I shall then be able to answer to his servants 'that in order to make good the duties accruing from the French trade I had delivered up their factories into the hands of the English.'"
Clive replied on the 8th of April:—
"Now that I have granted terms to Mr. Renault, and that he is under my protection, it is contrary to our custom, after this, to use violence; and without it how would he ever of his own will and pleasure, write to desire you to deliver up his master's property. Weigh the justice of this in your own mind. Notwithstanding we have reduced the French so low you, contrary to your own interest and the treaty you have made with us, that my enemies should be yours, you still support and encourage them. But should you think it would hurt your character to deliver up the French factories and goods, your Excellency need only signify to me your approbation and I will march up and take them."
The more we study the records of the time, the more clearly we realize the terrible determination of Clive's character, and we almost feel a kind of pity for the weak creatures who found themselves opposed to him, until we come across incidents like the above, which show the depths of meanness to which they were prepared to descend.
As to Renault's further career little is known, and that little we should be glad to forget. Placed in charge of the French Settlement at Karical, he surrendered, on the 5th of April, 1760, to what was undoubtedly an overwhelming British force, but after so poor a defence that he was brought before a Court Martial and cashiered. It speaks highly for the respect in which he had been held by both nations that none of the various reports and accounts of the siege mention him by name. Even Lally, who hated the French Civilians, though he says he deserved death, only refers to him indirectly as being the same officer of the Company who had surrendered Chandernagore to Clive.
We shall now pass to what went on in Siraj-ud-daula's Court and capital.
[Footnote 12: Journal of M. d'Albert.]
[Footnote 13: Evidently the Parish Church of St. Louis. Eyre Coote tells us the French had four guns mounted on its roof.]
[Footnote 14: In early accounts of India the Muhammadans are always called Moors; the Hindus, Gentoos or Gentiles. The Topasses were Portuguese half-castes, generally employed, even by native princes, as gunners.]
[Footnote 15: Captain Broome says there were fifty European ladies in the Fort. The French accounts say they all retired, previous to the siege, to Chinsurah and Serampore.]
[Footnote 16: Captain, afterwards Sir, Eyre Coote.]
[Footnote 17: The fullest account is one by Renault, dated October 26, 1758.]
[Footnote 18: The only one, excepting the battle of Biderra, between the English and Dutch.]
[Footnote 19: Governor of Pondicherry and President of the Superior Council.]
[Footnote 20: Eyre Coote, in his "Journal," mentions an old ditch, which surrounded the settlement.]
[Footnote 21: One hundred toises, or 600 feet; but Eyre Coote says 330 yards, the difference probably due to the measurement excluding or including the outworks.]
[Footnote 22: Tanks, or artificial ponds, in Bengal are often of great size. I have seen some a quarter of a mile long.]
[Footnote 23: Letter to M. de Montorcin, Chandernagore, August 1 1756. Signature lost.]
[Footnote 24: The Nawab, in July, 1756, extorted three lakhs from the French and even more from the Dutch.]
[Footnote 25: British Museum. Additional MS. 20,914.]
[Footnote 26: A kind of fibre used in making bags and other coarse materials.]
[Footnote 27: Surgeon Ives's Journal.]
[Footnote 28: Letter to De Montorcin.]
[Footnote 29: Both English and French use this word "inhabitant" to signify any resident who was not official, military, or in the seafaring way.]
[Footnote 30: This he did through the Armenian Coja Wajid, a wealthy merchant of Hugli, who advised the Nawab on European affairs. Letter from Coja Wajid to Clive, January 17, 1757.]
[Footnote 31: A French doctor, who has left an account of the Revolutions in Bengal, says there were eight outposts, and that the loss of one would have involved the loss of all the others, as they could be immediately cut off from the Fort, from which they were too distant to be easily reinforced. The doctor does not sign his name, but he was probably one of the six I mentioned above. Their names were Haillet (doctor), La Haye (surgeon-major), Du Cap (second), Du Pre (third), Droguet (fourth), and St. Didier (assistant).]
[Footnote 32: M. Vernet, the Dutch Chief at Cossimbazar, wrote to the Dutch Director at Chinsurah that he could obtain a copy of this treaty from the Nawab's secretaries, if he wished for it.]
[Footnote 33: See page 79 (and note).]
[Footnote 34: See note, p. 89.]
[Footnote 35: Governor.]
[Footnote 36: A document authorising the free transit of certain goods, and their exemption from custom dues, in favour of English traders.—Wilson.]
[Footnote 37: Orme MSS. India XI., p. 2744, No. 71.]
[Footnote 38: Orme MSS. India XI., p. 2750, No. 83.]
[Footnote 39: Still visible, I believe, in parts. The gateway certainly exists.]
[Footnote 40: Mr. Tooke was a Company's servant. He had distinguished himself in the defence of Calcutta in 1756, when he was wounded, and, being taken on board the ships, escaped the dreadful ordeal of the Black Hole.]
[Footnote 41: Neither of these accounts agree with the Capitulation Returns.]
[Footnote 42: British Museum. Addl. MS. 20,914.]
[Footnote 43: Remarks on board His Majesty's ship Tyger, March 15th.]
[Footnote 44: His maternal grandfather was a cousin of Aliverdi Khan.]
[Footnote 45: Malleson explains this by saying that De Terraneau was employed in the blocking up of the passage, but the story hardly needs contradiction.]
[Footnote 46: This announcement seems superfluous after fighting had been going on for several days, but it simply shows the friction between the naval and military services.]
[Footnote 47: Clive's journal for March 16th. Fort St. George, Sel. Com. Cons., 28th April, 1757.]
[Footnote 48: Eyre Coote's journal.]
[Footnote 49: The passages interpolated are on the authority of a MS. in the Orme Papers, entitled "News from Bengal."]
[Footnote 50: Accounts of this detail differ. One says it was stormed on the 21st, but if so the French would have been more on their guard, and would surely have strengthened the second battery in front of the Fort.]
[Footnote 51: Lime plaster made extremely hard.]
[Footnote 52: The Emperor at Delhi, who was supposed to be about to invade Bengal.]
[Footnote 53: Orme MSS. O.V. 32, p. 11.]
[Footnote 54: Orme MSS. O.V. 32, p. 10.]
[Footnote 55: Sergeant Nover was pardoned in consideration of previous good conduct. Letter from Clive to Colonel Adlercron, March 29, 1757.]
[Footnote 56: Captain Speke was seriously and his son mortally wounded in the attack on Chandernagore.]
[Footnote 57: I cannot identify this name in the Capitulation Returns. Possibly he was killed.]
[Footnote 58: Surgeon Ives says the booty taken was valued at L130,000.]
[Footnote 59: Orme MSS. India X., p. 2390. Letter of 30th March, 1757.]
[Footnote 60: Firman, or Imperial Charter.]
[Footnote 61: The Mogul, Emperor, or King of Delhi, to whom the Bengal Nawabs were nominally tributary.]
[Footnote 62: Orme MSS. India XI. pp. 2766-7, No. 111.]
[Footnote 63: Ibid., p. 2768, No. 112.]
[Footnote 64: Memoirs of Lally. London, 1766.]
M. LAW, CHIEF OF COSSIMBAZAR
A few miles out of Murshidabad, capital of the Nawabs of Bengal since 1704, when Murshid Kuli Khan transferred his residence from Dacca to the ancient town of Muxadabad and renamed it after himself, lay a group of European Factories in the village or suburb of Cossimbazar. Of these, one only, the English, was fortified; the others, i.e. the French and Dutch, were merely large houses lying in enclosures, the walls of which might keep out cattle and wild animals and even thieves, but were useless as fortifications. In 1756 the Chief of the English Factory, as we have already seen, was the Worshipful Mr. William Watts; the Dutch factory was under M. Vernet, and the French under M. Jean Law. The last mentioned was the elder son of William Law, brother of John Law the financier, who settled in France, and placed his sons in the French service. French writers on genealogy have hopelessly mixed up the two brothers, Jean and Jacques Francois. Both came to India, both distinguished themselves, both rose to the rank of colonel, one by his services to the French East India Company, and one by the usual promotion of an officer in the King's army. The only proof that the elder was the Chief of Cossimbazar is to be found in a few letters, mostly copies, in which his name is given as Jean or John. As a usual rule he signed himself in the French manner by his surname only, or as Law of Lauriston.