By Frank McLynn
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Extra info for 1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World
Pitt and the West Indies 4. Canada 5. India 6. Wolfe at Quebec 7. Lagos Bay, Portugal 8. Minden 9. The Plains of Abraham 10. Rogers’ Rangers 11. Quiberon Bay Conclusion Sources Bibliography Index TIMELINE 12 December 1758–16 February 1759: French besiege Madras 20 December 1758: Bougainville arrives at Versailles on mission for Montcalm 13 January 1759: British fleet arrives at Martinique for intended conquest of the island 5 February: Choiseul interviews Bonnie Prince Charlie in Paris 13 April: French defeat Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick at Bergen near Frankfurt 1 May: British complete conquest of Gaudeloupe 13 May: Bougainville arrives in Quebec 4 June: Wolfe leaves Louisbourg for the St Lawrence river 27 June: General Amherst takes Fort Ticonderoga 23 July: Frederick the Great fights the battle of Kay in Brandenburg, Poland 25 July: British capture Fort Niagara 31 July: French repulse Wolfe and the British at Montmorenci Gorge, Quebec 1 August: Ferdinand of Brunswick and the British under Lord Sackville defeat the French at Minden, West Germany 12 August: Frederick the Great defeated at Kunersdorf, East Prussia by the Austrians and Russians 18–19 August: Admiral Boscawen destroys French Mediterranean fleet at Lagos, Portugal 13 September: Wolfe defeats Montcalm on the Plains of Abraham 5 October: Robert Rogers and his Rangers destroy the Abenaki village of St Francis (Quebec Province) 20 November: Admiral Hawke defeats the French Brest fleet at Quiberon, Britanny 20–21 November: Frederick the Great fights battle of Maxden, near Dresden, Saxony Outstanding literary productions of 1759: Candide by Voltaire Rasselas by Samuel Johnson The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith Gl’Innamorati by Carlo Goldoni The Sublime and the Beautiful (2nd ed) by Edmund Burke The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy (Part One) by Laurence Sterne ILLUSTRATIONS 1.
Originally touted as translations of authentic Gaelic poems, the Ossian cycle actually comprises Macpherson’s own inventions, albeit brilliant ones. Dr Samuel Johnson, who was Macpherson’s most persistent critic, saw the poems as the concoction of a charlatan (on being asked if any man in the modern age could have written such poems, he replied: ‘Yes, sir, many men, many women and many children’) but failed to see that this does not necessarily mean they were ‘fake’, ‘fraudulent’ or ‘forgeries’; the modern consensus is that Johnson missed the point of Macpherson’s achievement.
But the result of all this was to leave south India wide open to European penetration. The Nawabs of Arcot and Hyderabad were blatantly used as pawns by the British and French and, when Hyderabad decisively switched to the British side, France countered by putting its money on Haidar Ali of Mysore, who checked the invading Marathas in 1758. It was Haidar’s son Tipu Sultan who was later to be the great power in the south and a perennial thorn in the British side. But in the late 1750s there was a clear power vacuum which the Europeans filled greedily, the French based at Pondicherry, the British at Madras.