Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

French auxiliaries, were perhaps more formidable. The cavalry were fifteen thousand, drawn, not from the effeminate population of Bengal, but from the bolder race which inhabits the northern provinces; and the practised eye of Clive could perceive that both the men and the horses were more powerful than those of the Carnatic.

6. The force which he had to oppose to this great multitude consisted of only three thousand men. of these nearly a thousand were English; and all were led by English officers, and trained in the English discipline. Conspicuous in the ranks of the little army were the men of the 39th Regiment, which still bears on its colours, amidst many honourable additions won under Wellington in Spain and Gascony, the name of Plassey, and the proud motto, Primus in Indis.

7. The battle commenced with a cannonade, in which the artillery of the Nabob did scarcely any execution, while the few field-pieces of the English produced great effect. Several of the most distinguished officers in Surajah Dowlah's service fell. Disorder began to spread through his ranks. His own terror increased every moment.

One of the conspirators urged on him the expediency of retreating. The insidious advice, agreeing as it did with what his own terrors suggested, was readily received. He ordered the army to fall back, and this order decided his fate. Clive snatched the moment, and ordered his troops to advance. The confused and dispirited multitude gave way before the onset of disciplined valour.

8. No mob attacked by regular soldiers was more completely routed. The little band of Frenchmen, who alone ventured to confront the English, were swept down the stream of fugitives. In an hour the forces of Surajah Dowlah were dispersed, never to re-assemble. Only five hundred of the vanquished were slain. But their camp, their guns, their baggage, innumerable waggons, innumerable cattle, remained in the power of the conquerors.

ever

With the loss of twenty-two soldiers killed and fifty wounded, Clive had scattered an army of nearly sixty thousand men, and subdued an empire larger and more populous than Great Britain.

Macaulay.

sit-u-a'-tion pro-nounced
sin-cer'-i-ty ap-proached
en-gage' ac-com'-pan-ied
oc-ca'-sion ar-til-ler-y

ex-e-cu'-tion
dis-tin'-guished
sug-gest'-ed
com-plete'-ly

in-num'-er-a-ble
con'-quer-ors
sub-dued'
pop'-u-lous

con'-fi-dence, trust.
con-fed'-er-ate, person helping him

to fight.
mil'-i-tar-y tal-ents, cleverness or

ability in warfare. val’-our, bravery. dis'-ci-pline, training. daunt'-less, fearless. re-spon-si-bil'-i-ty, a being account

able or answerable. de-cis'-ion, resolve, determination. coun-cil of war, a meeting to con

sider whether they should

fight or not. ma-jor'-i-ty, greater number. con-cur'-rence, agreement. Ben-gal', a large division of Northern

India under British rule.
haz'-ard, risk of failure; chance.
man'-go-trees, East Indian trees with

thick foliage, affording a grate-
ful shade, and bearing a rich

fruit.
cym'-bals, hollow brass musical

instruments beaten together in

pairs. Na'-bob, the title of a native Indian

governor, here Surajah Dowlah.

re-flect'-ed, thought.
dis-tract'-ed, sorely troubled.
ap-pre-hen'-sions, fears.
ap-palled', terrified.
cri'-sis, event by which great things

are decided.
fu'-ries, avenging spirits.
de-cide', settle.
fire'-locks, old-fashioned guns fired

by a lock with steel and

flint. ord'-nance, big guns. aux-il'-i-ar-ies, soldiers helping

Surajah Dowlah. for-mid-a-ble, to be feared. ef-fem'-in-ate, weak and unmanly. prac'-tised, skilled. Car-nat'-ic, the country lying

between the mountains and the

sea on the Madras coast. con-spic'-u-ous, easily seen; pro

minent. Gas'-con-y, formerly a province in

the south-west of France. Pri'-mus in In'-dis, Latin words for

' first in India.' can-non-ade', the firing of cannon. Sur-aj'-ah Dow'-lah, the native

Indian ruler of Bengal, and ex-ped'-i-en-cy, fitness.
leader of the forces against in-sid'-i-ous, deceitful; cunning.
Clive.

fugʻ-i-tives, persons fleeing. con-spir'-a-tors, persons laying plots dis-persed', scattered.

or plans along with others. van'-quished, conquered ; defeated. EXERCISES.–1. The Saxon prefix a- means at, to, on, in; as astern, at the stern; afield, to the field ; ashore, on shore; aboard, on board ; afoot, on foot; abed, in bed.

2. Analyse and parse the following : 'He came back determined to put everything to the hazard, and gave orders that all should be in readiness for passing the river on the morrow.'

3. Make sentences of your own, and use in each one or more of the following words : Conspirator, disperse, vanquish, decide.

:

THE TAKING OF QUEBEC. [The following lesson narrates the taking of Quebec by the English under General Wolfe in 1759. Till that time Canada had been a French colony. ]

1. Quebec stands on the slope of a lofty eminence on the left bank of the St Lawrence. A table-land extends westward from the citadel for about nine miles; the portion of the heights nearest the town, on the west, is called the Plains of Abraham. Wolfe had discovered a narrow path winding up the side of the steep precipice from the river. For miles on either side, there was no other possible access to the heights. Up this narrow path Wolfe decided to lead secretly his whole army, and make the Plains his battle-ground !

2. At nine o'clock at night, the first division of the army, sixteen hundred strong, silently moved into flat-bottomed boats: the soldiers were in high spirits; Wolfe led in person. About an hour before daylight, the flotilla fell down with the ebb-tide: Weather

· favourable; a star-light night.'

3. Silently and swiftly, unchallenged by the French sentries, Wolfe's flotilla dropped down the stream, in the shade of the overhanging cliffs.

The rowers

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

scarcely stirred the waters with their oars; the soldiers sat motionless. Not a word was spoken, save by the young general. He, as a midshipman on board of his boat afterwards related, repeated in a low voice, to the officers by his side, Gray's Elegy in a Country Churchyard; and as he concluded the beautiful verses, he said: 'Now, gentlemen, I would rather be the author of that poem than take Quebec.' But while Wolfe thus, in the poet's words, gave vent to the intensity of his feelings, his eye was constantly bent upon the dark outline of the heights under which he hurried

[ocr errors]

past. He recognised at length the appointed spot, and leaped ashore.

4. The light company of the 78th Highlanders, under Captain Donald M‘Donald, were the first to land. Immediately over their heads hung a woody precipice, without path or track upon its rocky face; on the summit a French sentinel marched to and fro, still unconscious of their presence. Without a moment's hesitation, M‘Donald and his men dashed at the height. They scrambled up, holding on by rocks and branches of trees, guided only by the stars that shone over the top of the cliff.

Half the ascent was already won, when, for the first time, 'Qui vive ?' broke the silence of the night. 'La France,' answered the Highland captain, with ready self-possession, and the sentry shouldered his musket, and pursued his round. In a few minutes, however, the rustling of the trees close at hand at length alarmed the French guard. They hastily turned out, fired one irregular volley down the precipice, and fled in panic. In the meantime, nearly five hundred men landed, and made their way up the height: those who had first reached the summit then took possession of the intrenched post at the top of that path which Wolfe had selected for the ascent of

his army.

5. The boats plied busily: company after company was quickly landed; and as soon as the men touched the shore, they swarmed up the steep ascent with ready alacrity. When morning broke, the whole disposable force of Wolfe's army stood in firm array upon the table-land above the cove. Only one gun, however, could be carried up the hill, and even that was not got into position without incredible difficulty.

6. Montcalm was already worsted as a general; it was

« ZurückWeiter »