CHAPTER VIII. SEVEN YEARS' WAR, 1756-1763 - ENGLAND's OVERWHELMING POWER AND CONQUESTS ON THE SEAS, IN NORTH AMERICA, EUROPE, AND EAST AND WEST INDIES. SEA BATTLES: BYNG OFF MINORCA; HAWKE AND CONFLANS; POCOCK AND D'ACHE' IN EAST INDIES.
All possibility of an invasion of England passed away with the destruction of the Brest fleet. The battle of November 20, 1759, was the Trafalgar of this war; and though a blockade was maintained over the fractions that were laid up in the Vilaine and at Rochefort, the English fleets were now free to act against the colonies of France, and later of Spain, on a grander scale than ever before. The same year that saw this great sea fight and the fall of Quebec witnessed also the capture of Guadeloupe in the West Indies, of Goree on the west coast of Africa, and the abandonment of the East Indian seas by the French flag after three indecisive actions between their commodore, D'Ache', and Admiral Pocock, - an abandonment which necessarily led to the fall of the French power in India, never again to rise. In this year also the King of Spain died, and his brother succeeded, under the title of Charles III. This Charles had been King of Naples at the time when an English commodore had allowed one hour for the court to determine to withdraw the Neapolitan troops from the Spanish army. He had never forgotten this humiliation, and brought to his new throne a heart unfriendly to England. With such feelings on his part, France and Spain drew more readily together. Charles's first step was to propose mediation, but Pitt was averse to it. Looking upon France as the chief enemy of England, and upon the sea and the colonies as the chief source of power and wealth, he wished, now that he had her down, to weaken her thoroughly for the future as well as the present, and to establish England's greatness more firmly upon the wreck. Later on he offered certain conditions; but the influence of Louis's mistress, attached to the Empress of Austria, prevailed to except Prussia from the negotiations, and England woald not allow the exception. Pitt, indeed, was not yet ready for peace. A year later, October 25, 1760, George II. died, and Pitt's influence then began to wane, the new king being less bent on war. During these years, 1759 and 1760, Frederick the Great still continued the deadly and exhausting strife of his small kingdom against the great States joined against him. At one moment his case seemed so hopeless that he got ready to kill himself; but the continuance of the war diverted the efforts of France from England and the sea.
The hour was fast approaching for the great colonial expeditions, which made the last year of the war illustrious by the triumph of the sea power of England over France and Spain united. It is first necessary to tell the entirely kindred story of the effect of that sea power in the East Indian peninsula.
The recall of Dupleix and the entire abandonment of his policy, which resulted in placing the two East India companies on equal terms, have already been told. The treaty stipulations of 1754 had not, however, been fully carried out. The Marquis de Bussy, a brave and capable soldier who had been a second to Dupleix, and was wholly in accord with his policy and ambitions, remained in the Deccan, - a large region in the southern central part of the peninsula, over which Dupleix had once ruled. In 1756, troubles arose between the English and the native prince in Bengal. The nabob of that province had died, and his successor, a young man of nineteen, attacked Calcutta. The place fell, after a weak resistance, in June, and the surrender was followed by the famous tragedy known as that of the Black Hole of Calcutta. The news reached Madras in August, and Clive, whose name has already been mentioned, sailed with the fleet of Admiral Watson, after a long and vexatious delay. The fleet entered the river in December and appeared before Calcutta in January, when the place fell into English hands again as easily as it had been lost.
The nabob was very angry, and marched against the English; sending meanwhile an invitation to the French at Chandernagore to join him. Although it was now known that England and Prance were at war, the French company, despite the experience of 1744, weakly hoped that peace might be kept between it and the English. The native invitation was therefore refused, and offers of neutrality made to the other company. Clive marched out, met the Indian forces and defeated them, and the nabob at once asked for peace, and sought the English alliance, yielding all the claims on the strength of which he had first attacked Calcutta. After some demur his offers were accepted. Clive and Watson then turned upon Chandernagore and compelled the surrender of the French settlement.