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Had Hastings been governor of Madras, Hyder would have
been either made a friend, or vigorously encountered as an enemy.
Unhappily the English authorities in the south provoked their
powerful neighbour’s hostility, without being prepared to repel
it. On a sudden, an army of ninety thousand men, far superior
in discipline and efficiency to any other native force that could
be found in India, came pouring through those wild passes which,
worn by mountain torrents, and dark with jungle, lead down from
the table-land of Mysore to the plains of the Carnatic. This great
army was accompanied by a hundred pieces of cannon; and its
movements were guided by many French oflicers, trained in the

best military schools of Europe.

Hyder was every where triumphant. The Sepoys in many
British garrisons flung down their arms. Some forts were sur-
rendered by treachery, and some by despair. In a few days the
whole open country north of the Coleroon had submitted. The
English inhabitants of Madras could already see by night, from
the top of Mount St. Thomas, the eastern sky reddened by a vast
semicircle of blazing villages. The white villas, to which our
countrymen retire after the daily labours of government and of
trade, when the cool evening breeze springs up from the bay, were
now left without inhabitants ; for bands of the fierce horsemen of
Mysore had already been seen prowling among the tulip-trees, and
near the gay verandas. Even the town was not thought secure,
and the British merchants and public functionaries made haste to
crowd themselves behind the cannon of Fort St. George.

There were the means, indeed, of assembling an army which
might have defended the presidency, and even driven the invader
back to his mountains. Sir Hector Munro was at the head of one
considerable force; Baillie was advancing with another. United,
they might have presented a formidable front even toosuch an
enemy as Hyder. But the English commanders, neglecting those
fundamental rules of the military art of which the propriety 18
obvious even to men who had never received a military education,
deferred their junction, and were separately attacked. Ba1lhe"s
detachment was destroyed. Munro was forced to abandon his
baggage, to fling his guns into the tanks, and to save himself by a
retreat which might be called a flight. In three weeks from the
commencement of the war, the British empire in Soutllcm India

had been brought to the verge of ruin. Only a few fortified places
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