Clive, a young clerk of the Company's, at Madras, had deserted his desk, taken a commission, and, as early as 1748, had distinguished himself by baffling the French commanders Dupleix and Bussy, at Pondicherry. In 1751 he had taken Arcot from Chunda Sahib, the Viceroy of the Carnatic, and, aided by the Mahrattas, defeated Rajah Sahib, the son of Chunda, in a splendid victory at Arnee. In 1752 he raised the siege of Trichinopoly, where the Nabob of Arcot was besieged by the French. In 1755, landing at Bombay from England, he, with Admiral Watson, made an expedition to Gheriah, the stronghold of the celebrated pirate Angria, demolished it, and seized the spoils, valued at one hundred and twenty thousand pounds. In 1757 he took Calcutta from the Nabob Surajah Dowlah, the ally of the French, who had captured it, and shut up the English prisoners in the memorable Black Hole, where, in one night (June 20, 1756), out of one hundred and forty-six persons, one hundred and twenty-three perished. Clive also captured the city of Hooghly, defeated Dowlah, and compelled him to cede the town and vicinity. He then drove the French from their factory of Chandernagore; marched forward on Moorshedabad, defeated Surajah Dowlah in a battle extraordinary for the rout of an immense army by a mere handful of men, at Plassey (1757); deposed him, and seated on his throne Meer Jaffier. From this day dates British supremacy in India.
On such utterly unsubstantial ground did the English ministers continue this negotiation. They assured De Torcy that the Queen of England insisted on Philip's renunciation of one throne or the other, and he at length renounced that of France, everybody seeing that the sense in which he renounced it was no renunciation at all, but a pretence to get the peace effected; and thus the English ministers, with their eyes open to the fraud, went on urging the Allies to come into these most delusive and unsatisfactory terms. But as the renunciation of Philip did not arrive till after midsummer, the negotiators at Utrecht continued to talk without advancing, and the armies in the field continued to look at each other without fighting. Early in this year Admiral Sir John Jervis fell in with the great Spanish fleet, which was intended to co-operate with the French in the invasion of Ireland, and defeated it. Nelson had predicted that the Spanish fleet would not take much destroying. Admiral de Langara had had a fortunate escape in the Mediterranean, in venturing to Corsica. He had now been superseded by Don Juan de Cordova, and Jervis, on the 14th of February, met with him off Cape St. Vincent. Cordova had twenty-seven sail of the line, Jervis only fifteen; but he had Nelson in his fleet, which more than counterbalanced the inequality of numbers; and the discipline on board the Spanish ships was far below that of the British. Nelson broke through the Spanish line, and chiefly by his exertions and man?uvres four of the largest vessels were taken, including one of one hundred and twelve guns. The rest escaped into Cadiz, and there the British blockaded them. The news of this brilliant victory arrived in London when the public was greatly dispirited by the exhausted state of the Bank of England, and helped to revive confidence. Sir John Jervis was made Earl of St. Vincent, and Nelson, the real hero, a Knight of the Bath.
Austria stood in a hesitating position. On the one hand, she felt reluctant to join the Allies and assist in destroying the throne of the Emperor's son-in-law; but at the same time she was anxious to strengthen her own position by giving more strength to her neighbour, Prussia. For this purpose Austria offered her mediation for a peace on terms that would restore Prussia to a more becoming position, and such proposals of mediation were made by the Austrian Minister to Great Britain. But these entirely failed. On the one hand, Napoleon would concede nothing, but declared that he would entirely annihilate Prussia, and would give Silesia to Austria for her assistance in the war; on the other hand, Great Britain declared that there could be no peace unless France disgorged the bulk of her usurpations.
The purport of these Cabinet Councils was generally understood by the country; but as yet only the most sanguine anticipated the proposal of Sir Robert Peel, when the Times newspaper on the 4th of December announced, apparently from secret information, that it was the intention of the Government to repeal the Corn Laws, and to call Parliament together in January for that purpose. The assertion was received with incredulity, not only by the Opposition, but by the Ministerial journals. One organ of the Tory party placarded its office with a bill, headed "Atrocious fabrication of the Times!" But the latter journal, on the following day, declared that it "adhered to its original announcement." Day by day the controversy raged in the newspapers; but the news was too probable not to gain credence. The result was a conviction throughout the country that the Times had really obtained information of the Government's intentions; but as a matter of fact its information was incorrect, as the Cabinet, far from intending to repeal the Corn Laws, had made up its mind to retire.
THE ROYAL FAMILY OF FRANCE ON THEIR WAY TO THE ASSEMBLY. (See p. 403.)