Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK I.: 1527–1707. - The History of British India, vol. 1
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BOOK I.: 1527–1707. - James Mill, The History of British India, vol. 1 
The History of British India in 6 vols. (3rd edition) (London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1826). Vol. 1.
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Commencement of the British Intercourse with India; and the Circumstances of its Progress, till the Establishment of the Company on a durable Basis by the Act of the Sixth of Queen Anne.
Two centuries have elapsed, since a few British merchants humbly solicited permission of the Indian princes to traffic in their dominions.
The British power at present embraces nearly the whole of that vast region, which extends from Cape Comorin to the mountains of Tibet, and from the mouths of the Brahmapootra to the Indus.
In the present undertaking, it is proposed, to collect, from its numerous and scattered sources, the information necessary to convey correct and adequate ideas of this empire, and of the transactions through which it has been acquired; and for that purpose,
book i. I. To describe the circumstances in which the intercourse of the British nation with India commenced, and the particulars of its early progress, till the era when it could first be regarded as placed on a firm and durable basis:
II. To exhibit as accurate a view as possible of the character, the history, the manners, religion, arts, literature, and laws of the extraordinary people with whom this intercourse had thus begun; as well as of the physical circumstances, the climate, the soil, and productions, of the country in which they were placed:
III. To deduce to the present times a history of that part of the British transactions, which have had an immediate relation to India; recording the train of events; unfolding the constitution of that Body, half political, half commercial, through which the business has been ostensibly performed; describing the nature, the progress, and effects of its commercial operations; exhibiting the legislative proceedings, the discussions and speculations, to which the connection of Great Britain with India has given birth; analysing the schemes of government which she has adopted for her Indian dominions; and attempting to discover the character and tendency of that species of relation to one another in which the mother country and her eastern dependencies are placed.
The subject forms an entire, and highly interesting, portion of the British History; and it is hardly possible that the matter should have been brought together, for the first time, without being instructive, how unskilfully soever the task may have been performed. If the success corresponded with the wishes of the author, he would throw light upon a state of society, curious, and commonly misunderstood; upon the history of society, which in the compass of his work presents itself in almost all its stages and all its shapes; upon the principles of legislation, in which he has so many important experiments to describe; and upon interests of his country, of which, to a great degree, his countrymen have remained in ignorance, while prejudice usurped the prerogatives of understanding.
From the Commencement of the Efforts to begin a Trade with India, till the Change of the Company from a regulated to a joint-stock Company.
The Portuguese had formed important establishments in India, before the British offered themselves as competitors for the riches of the East.
From the time when Vasco de Gama distinguished his nation by discovering the passage round the Cape of Good Hope, a whole century had elapsed, during which, without a rival, the Portuguese had enjoyed, and abused, the advantages of superior knowledge and art, amid a feeble and half-civilized people. They had explored the Indian ocean, as far as Japan; had discovered its islands, rich with some of the favourite productions of nature; had achieved the most brilliant conquests; and by their commerce poured into Europe, in unexampled profusion, those commodities of the East, on which the nations at that time set an extraordinary value.
The circumstances of this splendid fortune had violently attracted the attention of Europe. The commerce of India, even when confined to those narrow limits which a carriage by land had prescribed, was book i.Chap. 1. supposed to have elevated feeble states into great ones; and to have constituted an enviable part in the fortune even of the most opulent and powerful; to have contributed largely to support the Grecian monarchies both in Syria and Egypt; to have retarded the downfall of Constantinople; and to have raised the small and obscure republic of Venice to the rank and influence of the most potent kingdoms. The discovery therefore of a new channel for this opulent traffic, and the happy experience of the Portuguese, inflamed the cupidity of all the maritime nations of Europe, and set before them the most tempting prospects.
An active spirit of commerce had already begun to display itself in England. The nation had happily obtained its full share of the improvement which had dawned in Europe; and the tranquil and economical reign of Elizabeth had been favourable both to the accumulation of capital, and to those projects of private emolument on which the spirit of commerce depends. A brisk trade, and of considerable extent, had been carried on during the greater part of the sixteenth century with the Netherlands, at that time the most improved and commercial part of Europe. The merchants of Bristol had opened a traffic with the Canary Islands; those of Plymouth with the coasts of Guinea and Brazil: the English now fished on the banks of Newfoundland; and explored the sea of Spitzbergen, for the sovereign of the waters: they engrossed, by an exclusive privilege, the commerce of Russia: they took an active part in the trade of the Mediterranean: the company of merchant-adventurers pushed so vigorously the traffic with Germany and the central parts of Europe, as highly to excite the jealousy of the Hans Towns: and the protestant inhabitants of the Netherlands and France, flying from the persecutions of their own book i.Chap. 1. 1527. oppressive and bigoted governments, augmented the commercial resources of England by the capital and skill of a large importation of the most ingenious and industrious people in Europe.1
In these circumstances, the lustre of the Portuguese transactions in the East peculiarly attracted the admiration of the English. Already a most adventurous spirit of navigation was roused in the nation. The English were the first who had imitated the example of the Spaniards in visiting the New World. In 1497, Cabot, with a small squadron, explored the coast of America, from Labrador to Virginia, and discovered the islands of Newfoundland and St. John.2 An English merchant, named Robert Thorne, who had been stationed for many years at Seville in Spain, and had acquired particular knowledge of the intercourse which the Portuguese had opened with the East, presented a project to Henry VIII. about the year 1527, the accomplishment of which he imagined would place his countrymen in a situation no less enviable than that of the Portuguse. As that nation had obtained a passage to India by a course to the south-east, and pretended a right, which they defended by force, to its exclusive occupation, he supposed that his countrymen might reach the same part of the globe by sailing to the north-west, and thus obtain a passage at once expeditious and undisputed.3 What effect this representation book i.Chap. 1. 1527. produced on the mind of Henry is not accurately known. But two voyages in the course of his reign were undertaken for the discovery of a north-west passage, one about this period,1 and another ten years later.2
Nothing can more clearly prove to us the ardour with which the English coveted a share in the riches supposed to be drawn from the East, than the persevering efforts which they made to discover a channel from which the Portuguese should have no pretence to exclude them. Two attempts in the reign of Henry to obtain a passage by the north-west having failed, their exploring fancy anticipated a happier issue from a voyage to the north-east. A small squadron, under the direction of Sir Hugh Willoughby, was fitted out in the reign of Edward VI.; and, sailing along the coast of Norway, doubled the North Cape,3 where it was encountered by a storm. The ship of Sir Hugh was driven to an obscure spot in Russian Lapland, where he and his crew perished miserably by the climate. The other principal vessel found shelter in the harbour of Archangel, and was the first foreign ship by which it was entered. So well did Chancellour, its captain, improve the incident, that he opened a commercial intercourse with the natives, visited the monarch in his capital, stipulated important privileges for his countrymen; and laid the foundation of a trade which was immediately prosecuted to no inconsiderable extent. This voyage but little damped the hopes of obtaining a north-east passage to the riches of India. Some vigorous attempts were made by the company in whose hands the commerce with Russia was placed;4 the last of them in 1580, when two ships were sent out to book i.Chap. 1. 1567. explore the passage through the straits of Waygatz. After struggling with many perils and difficulties from the ice and the cold, one of the vessels returned unsuccessful; of the other no intelligence was ever received.
Before this hope was abandoned, the project of obtaining a passage by the north-west was ardently resumed. No fewer than six voyages were made in the course of a few years. Two barks of twenty-five tons each, and a pinnace of ten, sailed under Martin Frobisher in the year 1567, and entered Hudson's bay, which they at first imagined was the inlet about to conduct them to the golden shore. The same navigator was encouraged to make a second attempt in the same direction in 1576. As he brought home some minerals, which were supposed to be impregnated with gold, the attention of government was excited; and after two years, Frobisher was sent out with fifteen of the Queen's ships, miners for the supposed ore, and 120 persons as the rudiments of a colony. Having spent his provisions, and lost one of his ships, but not having found the expected passage, nor left his settlers, he returned with 300 tons of the supposed treasure, which proved to be only a glittering sand.1 The nation persevered in its hopes and its enterprises. A few years afterwards, Captain John Davis sailed as far as 66° 40′ north, and discovered the straits distinguished by his name. In a second voyage, undertaken in 1586, he explored in vain the inlet which he had thus discovered, and after a few years was enabled to proceed in a third expedition, which had no better success than the preceding two.2
book i.Chap. 1. 1577. After the defeat of so many efforts to discover a new passage to India, the English resolved to be no longer deterred by the pretensions of the Portuguese. A voyage to China by the Cape of Good Hope was undertaken in 1582. Four ships proceeded to the coast of Brazil, fought with some Spanish men of war, and were obliged to return for want of provisions.1 Another expedition, consisting of three ships, was fitted out in 1596, the commander of which was furnished with Queen Elizabeth's letters to the Emperor of China. This voyage proved eminently unfortunate. The ships were driven upon the coast of Spanish America, where only four men were preserved alive from the effects of storms, famine, and disease.2
Amid these unsuccessful endeavours two voyages were accomplished, which animated the hopes of the nation, and pointed out the way to more fortunate enterprises. Francis Drake, the son of a clergyman in Kent, who at a tender age had been put an apprentice to the master of a slender bark trading to the coast of Holland and France, had early evinced that passionate ardour in his profession which is the usual forerunner of signal success.3 He gained the affections of his master, who left him his bark at his death; at the age of eighteen he was purser of a ship which sailed to the bay of Biscay; at twenty he made a voyage to the coast of Guinea; in 1565 he ventured his all in a voyage to the West Indies, which had no success; and in 1567 he served under his kinsman Sir John Hawkins, in his unprosperous expedition to the bay of Mexico. In these different services, his nautical skill, his courage, and sagacity, book i.Chap. 1. 1577. had been conspicuously displayed. In 1570 his reputation enabled him to proceed to the West Indies with two vessels under his command. So vehemently was he bent on executing some great design, that he renewed his visit the next year, for the sole purpose of obtaining information. He had no sooner returned than he planned an expedition against the Spaniards, executed it with two ships and seventy-three men, sacked the town of Nombre de Dios, and returned with great treasure. It is said that, in this voyage, he saw from the top of a high-tree, that is, fancied he saw, across the American isthmus, the Southern Ocean, and became inflamed with the desire of reaching it in a ship of England.
For this expedition he prepared on a great scale; obtaining the commission of the Queen, and the command of five vessels, one of 100 tons, another of eighty, one of fifty, another of thirty, and a pinnace of fifteen; the whole manned with 164 select sailors. The historians of his voyage are anxious to display the taste and magnificence, as well as judgment, of his preparations; expert musicians, rich furniture, utensils of the most curious workmanship, vessels of silver for his table, and many of the same precious metal for his cook-room.
The expedition sailed from Plymouth on the 13th of December, 1577. Having passed the Straits of Magellan, and ravaged the western coast of Spanish America, Drake feared the encounter of a Spanish fleet, should he attempt to return in the same direction, and formed the bold design of crossing the Pacific Ocean, and regaining England by the Cape of Good Hope.
With one ship, the only part of the fleet which remained, he steered along the coast of America to the book i.Chap. 1. 1577. latitude of 38° north, and then entered upon that immense navigation, in which Magellan, the only circumnavigator who preceded him, had sustained so many disasters. No memorable occurrence attended the voyage. Of the islands which have been discovered in the Pacific Ocean none were observed till he approached the Asiatic coast. Fixing his attention on the Moluccas, of which the fame had been circulated in Europe by the rich spices thence imported by the Portuguese, he passed, with little observation, the more eastern part of the numerous islands which stud the Indian seas, and held his course for Tidore. From intelligence, received on the passage, he waved his intention of landing on that island, and steered for Ternate, the sovereign of which he understood to be at enmity with the Portuguese.
His intercourse with that island forms a remarkable epoch in the history of the British nation in India, as it was the beginning of those commercial transactions which have led to the greatest results. The King, having received assurances that his new visitants came with no other intention than that of trading with his country, gave them a very favourable reception. This monarch possessed considerable power, since the English navigators were informed that he ruled over seventy islands, besides Ternate, the most valuable of all the Moluccas; and in the visits which they paid to his court they were eyewitnesses of no contemptible magnificence. They exchanged presents with him, and received him on board; they traded with his subjects, laid in a cargo of valuable spices, and acquainted themselves with the nature and facilities of a commerce which was the object of admiration and envy in Europe.
Not satisfied with the information or the commodities which they received on one island, they visited book i.Chap. 1. 1580. several, being always amazed at their prodigious fertility, and in general delighted with the manners of the inhabitants. Among other places they landed in the great island of Java, famous afterwards as the seat of the Dutch government in India. They held some friendly intercourse with the natives, and departed with a tolerable knowledge both of the character of the people, and the productions of the country.
They now spread their sails for that navigation between Europe and India, to which the Portuguese claimed an exclusive right, and by which they monopolized the traffic with India. Those discoverers had craftily disseminated in Europe terrific accounts of dangers and horrors attending the navigation round the Cape of Good Hope. As the voyage of the English proved remarkably prosperous, they were surprised and delighted with the safety and ease which seemed to them to distinguish this envied passage, and conceived a still more lofty opinion of the advantages enjoyed by the nation that engrossed it. After leaving Java, the first land which they touched was the Cape of Good Hope. They landed once more at Sierra Leone, on the African coast, and received supplies which sufficed for the remainder of the voyage. They arrived at Plymouth on Monday the 26th of September, 1580, after a voyage of two years, ten months, and a few days; exhibiting to the wondering eyes of the spectators the first ship in England, and the second in the world, which had circumnavigated the globe. The news quickly spread over the whole kingdom, which resounded with the applauses of the man who had performed so daring and singular an enterprise. Whoever wished to be distinguished as the patron of merit hastened to confer some mark of his admiration on Captain Drake. The songs, epigrams, poems, and book i.Chap. 1. 1580. other pieces, which were composed in celebration of his exploits, amounted to several collections.1 The Queen, after some delay, necessary to save appearances with the Spanish court, which loudly complained of the depredations of Drake, though as reprisals perhaps they were not undeserved, paid a visit in person to the wonderful ship at Deptford; accepted of an entertainment on board, and conferred the honour of knighthood on its captain; observing, at the same time, that his actions did him more honour than his title.2
We may form some conception of the ardour which at that time prevailed in England for maritime exploits, by the number of men of rank and fortune, who chose to forego the indulgences of wealth, and to embark their persons and properties in laborious, painful, and dangerous expeditions. Among them we find such names as those of the Earls of Cumberland and Essex, of Sir Richard Greenville, Sir Walter Ralegh, Sir Humphry Gilbert, Sir Robert Dudley, who prepared squadrons at their own expense, and sailed to various parts of the world. No undertaking of this description was attended with more important circumstances than that of Thomas Cavendish.
This gentleman, descended from a family of distinction, and inheriting a large estate in the county of Suffolk, had been early fired with a passion for maritime book i.Chap. 1. 1586. adventure. In a vessel of his own, he had accompanied Sir Richard Greenville in his unsuccessful voyage to Virginia; and now sold or mortgaged his estate, to equip a squadron with which he might rival the glory of Drake. It consisted of three ships, the largest of 140 tons, one of sixty, and a bark of about forty, the whole supplied with two years’ provisions, and manned with 126 officers and sailors, of whom several had served in the celebrated expedition of Drake.
They sailed from Plymouth on the 21st of July, 1586. Their voyage through the Straits of Magellan, and the depredations which they proceeded to commit along the western coast of the American continent, not only in the spirit of avarice, but even of wanton devastation, form no part of our present subject, and may without regret be left to other recorders. They had reached the coast of Calefornia, and nearly 24° of northern latitude; when, having taken a very rich Spanish ship, and completed their schemes of plunder, they commenced their voyage across the Pacific Ocean. They left the coast of America on the 19th of November, and came in sight of Guam, one of the Ladrone islands, on the 3d of January. From this island they were visited by sixty or seventy canoes full of the inhabitants, who brought provisions to exchange for commodities, and so crowded about the ship, that the English, when they had finished their traffic, discharged some of their fire arms to drive them away.1 With the Philippines, to which book i.Chap. 1. 1586. they next proceeded, they opened a more protracted intercourse; having cast anchor at one of the islands, where they lay for nine days, and carried on an active trade with the inhabitants.
The cluster of islands, to which the Europeans have given the name of the Philippines, was discovered by Magellan. Philip II., shortly after his accession to the Spanish throne, planted there a colony of Spaniards, by an expedition from New Spain; and a curious commerce had from that time been carried on across the Great Pacific between this settlement and the dominions of Spain in the new world. To Manilla, the capital of the Philippine colony, the Chinese, who resorted thither in great numbers, brought all the precious commodities of India; and two ships were sent annually from New Spain, which carried to the Philippines the silver of the American mines, and returned with the fine productions of the East. The impatience, however, of the natives under the Spanish yoke, was easily perceived. When they discovered that the new visitors were not Spaniards, but the enemies of that people, they eagerly testified their friendship; and the princes of the island, where Cavendish landed, engaged to assist him with the whole of their forces, if he would return and make war upon the common adversary.
This adventurous discoverer extensively explored the intricate navigation of the Indian Archipelago, and observed the circumstances of the new and extraordinary scene with a quick and intelligent eye. He visited the Ladrones; shaped a course among the Philippines, which brought the greater part of those islands within his view; passed through the Moluccas; sailed along that important chain of islands, book i.Chap. 1. 1588. which bounds the Indian Archipelago from the Strait of Malacca to the extremity of Timor; and passing the Strait of Bally, between the two Javas, cast anchor on the south-west side of the great island of that name, where he traded with the natives for provisions, and formed a sort of treaty, stipulating a favourable reception when his visit should be renewed.
He sailed for the Cape of Good Hope on the 16th of March, careful to treasure up information respecting a voyage, which was now the channel of so important a commerce. He made astronomical observations; he studied the weather, the winds, and the tides; he noted the bearing and position of lands; and omitted nothing which might facilitate a repetition of the voyage to himself or his countrymen. He passed the Cape with prosperous navigation about the middle of May, and, having touched at St. Helena to recruit his stores, he landed at Plymouth on the 9th of September, 1588. In the letter which, on the very day of his arrival, he wrote to Lord Hunsdon, then Chamberlain to Queen Elizabeth, he says, “I navigated to the islands of Philippines, hard upon the coast of China, of which country I have brought such intelligence as hath not been heard of in these parts; a country, the stateliness and riches of which I fear to make report of, lest I should not be credited. I sailed along the islands of Moluccas, where, among some of the heathen people, I was well entreated, and where our countrymen may have trade as freely as the Portugals, if they themselves will.”
The tide of maritime adventure which these splendid voyages were so well calculated to swell, flowed naturally towards India, by reason of the fancied opulence, and the prevailing passion for the commodities, of the East. The impatience of our countrymen had book i.Chap. 1. 1588. already engaged them in a circuitous traffic with that part of the globe. They sailed to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, where they found cargoes of Indian goods conveyed over land: and a mercantile company, denominated the Levant Company, was instituted, according to the policy of the age, to secure to the nation the advantages of so important a commerce.1 The Company which, after the discovery of the port of Archangel, had been formed to carry on the trade with Russia, had opened a communication with Persia, and thence imported the commodities of India: Mr. Anthony Jenkinson, an active and enterprising agent of the Russia Company, sailed down the Volga, in 1558, to the Caspian Sea, which he crossed into Persia, and at Boghar, a city of some importance, found merchants not only from various parts of the Persian empire, but from Russia, and China, and India. This voyage he performed seven times; and opened a considerable trade for raw and wrought silk, carpets, spices, precious stones, and other Asiatic productions. In 1563, there was business enough to require the presence of three agents at Casbin, the seat of the Persian court; and the traffic flourished for several years.
Accidental circumstances contributed to enliven the admiration excited by the Indian trade. During that expedition to the coast of Spain, on which Sir Francis Drake was sent, by Queen Elizabeth, to harass the Spanish shipping, and prevent as far as possible the preparations for the Invincible Armada, he took one of the Portuguese ships from India, known at that time by the name of Carracks. The value of her cargo inflamed the imaginations of the merchants; and the papers which she carried afforded information respecting the traffic in which she was engaged.1 A book i.Chap. 1. 1593. still more important capture of the same sort was made in 1593. An expedition fitted out for the West Indies by Sir Walter Ralegh, and commanded by Sir John Boroughs, encountered near the Azores the greatest of all the Portuguese Carracks, a vessel of 1,600 tons, carrying 700 men, and thirty-six brass cannon, and after an obstinate contest carried her into Dartmouth. This was the largest vessel which had ever been seen in England, laden with spices, calicoes, silks, gold, pearls, drugs, porcelain, ebony, &c.; and stimulated the impatience of the English to be engaged in so opulent a commerce.2
Some members of the Turkey or Levant Company finished about the same time an expedition to India.3 They had carried some cloth, tin, and other goods from Aleppo to Bagdat, which they next conveyed down the Tigris to Ormus in the Persian Gulph, and thence transported to Goa, the great mart between the Portuguese and Indians on the coast of Malabar. From this place they commenced an extensive survey of the adjoining countries; repaired to Agra, at that time the capital and residence of the Mogul Emperor; visited Lahor; traversed Bengal; travelled to Pegu and Malacca; and, returning by sea to Ormus, retraced their steps to Aleppo, whence they sailed for England, bearing with them important and extensive information respecting the countries they had explored. Intelligence now poured itself into the nation by a variety of channels. An Englishman, of the name book i.Chap. 1. 1593. of Stevens, had sailed with the Portuguese from Lisbon to Goa, by the Cape of Good Hope, and wrote an account of his voyage, which was read with avidity, and contributed to swell the general current of enterprise which now ran so vehemently toward India.1
The first application which was made to government was by a memorial, in the name of “divers merchants,” addressed to the Lords of Council, in 1589, for the royal permission to send three ships, and as many pinnaces, on a voyage to India. They enumerated the different places, at which the Portuguese had already effected settlements, on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, in Malacca, and in the Banda and Molucca islands, places from which it seemed to be tacitly understood that other nations were bound to abstain. But they added, that the islands and shores of the Indian ocean presented many other places, open to the enterprise of English merchants, an intercourse with which might yield the greatest advantages.2 What reception this application received is unknown. But the unfortunate expedition of Captain Raymond; remarkable as being the first of which India was the immediate destination, though its object was not trade, so much as plunder, by cruising against the Portuguese; was fitted out in 1591. Disease had made such ravages among the crews, before they reached the Cape of Good Hope, that one of the vessels was sent home with the sick; and the rest, two in number, had not long doubled the Cape, when the principal ship was lost in a storm. Captain James Lancaster, in the remaining vessel, after a disastrous voyage to the East, sailed to the West Indies, where he lost the ship, and with great difficulty found means to return book i.Chap. 1. 1599. in a French privateer.1
While the English fluctuated between desire and execution in this important enterprise, the Dutch, in 1595, boldly sent four ships to trade with India by the Cape of Good Hope.2 This exploit added fuel, at once, to the jealousy, and to the ambition of the English. In 1599, an association was formed, and a fund subscribed, which amounted to 30,133l. 6s. 8d., and consisted of 101 shares; the subscriptions of individuals varying from 100l. to 3,000l. It was agreed to petition the Queen for a warrant to fit out three ships, and export bullion, and also for a charter of privileges. A committee of fifteen, the origin and foundation of a Court of Directors, were chosen to manage. The approbation of the government was readily signified; but as a treaty was then pending with Spain, policy appeared to counsel delay. The subscribers, known by the name of the adventurers, were impatient, and presented a memorial, distinguishing the places with which the Spaniards and Portuguese had established an intercourse, from others to which, without any ground of complaint on the part of those nations, the English might with unspeakable advantage resort. The council replied, that “it was more beneficiall for the generall state of merchandise to entertayne a peace, then that the same should be hindered, by the standing wth ye Spanishe comissions, for the mayntayning of this trade, to forgoe the oportunety of the concluding of the peace.”3 The memorial was referred to Sir Foulke Greville, who made a favourable report: and in the course of the same year, the Queen sent John Mildenhall over land by Constantinople on an embassy to the Great Mogul.
It was attended with little success. The Portuguese and Venetian agents exerted themselves to raise suspicions against the designs of the English, and effectually obstructed the endeavours of the ambassador.
Towards the end of the year 1600 the efforts of the adventurers were renewed; and the consent of government was obtained to proceed in preparations for an Indian voyage, while the patent of incorporation was still under consideration. Meanwhile an application was made from government, with what views does not appear, for the employment of Sir Edward Michel-bourne in the expedition. The answer of the committee, though petitioners for a favour not yet conceded, affords a curious specimen of their independence, and of the mode of thinking of the times. They stated it as their resolution “not to employ any gentleman in any place of charge,” and requested “that they may be allowed to sort theire business with men of their own qualitye, lest the suspicion of the employmt of gentlemen being taken hold uppon by the generalitie, do dryve a great number of the adventurers to withdraw their contributions.”1 The adventure was prosecuted with ardour. On the 8th of October the five following ships were already provided; the Malice Scourge, of 200 men, and 600 tons burden; the Hector, of 100 men, and 300 tons; the Ascension, of eighty men, and 260 tons; the Susan, of eighty men, and 240 tons; and a pinnace of forty men, and 100 tons. To provision these ships for twenty months the cost was computed at 6,600l. 4s. 10d.; and the cargo, consisting of iron and tin, wrought and unwrought, of lead, cloths, and some smaller articles, chiefly intended as presents, was estimated, exclusive of bullion, at 4,545l. It was determined that thirty-six book i.Chap. 1. 1600. factors or super-cargoes should be appointed for the voyage, divided into separate classes, rising above one another in trust and emoluments. Captain James Lancaster, whose difficult return from a predatory expedition has already been mentioned, was chosen to command the fleet; and on the 31st of December the charter of privileges was obtained.1
This charter, the origin of a power so anomalous and important as that which was afterwards accumulated in the hands of the East India Company, contained nothing which remarkably distinguished it from the other charters of incorporation, so commonly in that age bestowed upon trading associations. It constituted the adventurers a body politic and corporate by the name of “the Governor and Company of Merchants of London, trading to the East Indies;” and vested them with the usual privileges and powers. The plan which they had already adopted for the management of their affairs, by a committee of twentyfour, and a chairman, both to be chosen annually, was confirmed and rendered obligatory. With a reservation in favour of the rights granted to other associations, and with prohibition extending to all such places as might be already occupied by the subjects of states in amity with her Majesty, and whose objection to rivals should be declared, the privilege of trading to the East Indies, that is, to all places beyond the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, was bestowed upon the Company, with power to export in each voyage 30,000l. in gold and silver, also English goods for the first four voyages exempt from duties, and to re-export Indian goods in English ships under the same privilege to the end of the book i.Chap. 1. 1600. charter. According to the principle of the times, the charter was exclusive; prohibiting the rest of the community from trading within the limits assigned to the Company, but granting to them the power, whenever they pleased, of bestowing licenses for that purpose. It was granted for a period of fifteen years; but under condition that, if not found to be advantageous to the country, it might be annulled at any time under a notice of two years: if advantageous it might, if desired by the Company, be renewed for fifteen years.
The ardour of individuals, where any thing is to be risked, is more easily excited, than upheld. Though the list of subscribers, while the scheme of Indian adventure was yet in contemplation, had been readily filled up, the calls of the committees for the payment of the instalments were very imperfectly obeyed. Even when the charter was obtained, it was either understood to confer no power of compelling payment, or the directors were afraid to make use of it. Instead of exacting the stipulated sums, and trading upon the terms of a joint-stock company, the subscribers who had paid were invited to take upon themselves the expense of the voyage, and, as they sustained the whole of the risk, to reap the whole of the profit.
The sums which were thus advanced amounted to 68,373l. which greatly exceeded the capital originally subscribed. Of this, 39,771l. was expended in the purchase and equipment of ships—the four, excluding the pinnace, which were taken up by the committee of original adventurers: 28,742l. was expended in bullion: and 6,860l. in goods; consisting partly of British commodities, cloth, lead, tin, cutlery, glass, &c.; partly of foreign, as quicksilver, Muscovy hides, &c. The choice of Captain Lancaster to command the fleet was renewed; and it sailed from Torbay on the 2d of May, 1601, carrying letters of recommendations book i.Chap. 1. 1600. from the Queen to the sovereigns of the different ports to which it might resort.1
A first and experimental attempt was naturally unproductive of any remarkable result: but the first voyage of the East India Company was not discouraging. The first place in India to which they repaired was Acheen, a principal city in the island of Sumatra, at which they were favourably received. They formed a treaty of commerce with the chief or sovereign of the place; obtained permission to erect a factory; and, having taken on board a quantity of pepper, set sail for the Moluccas. In the Straits of Malacca they captured a Portuguese vessel of 900 tons burthen, carrying calicoes and spices, which sufficed to lade the fleet. They diverted their course, therefore, to Bantam in the island of Java; where the Captain, delivering his letters and presents, and meeting with a book i.Chap. 1. 1603–13. favourable reception, left some agents, the first rudiments of the Company's factories; and returned to England, where he arrived, in September, 1603, with a handsome profit to his owners on the capital of the voyage.1
In the course of the years from 1603 to 1613, eight other voyages were fitted out, on similar terms. The first, in 1603, under the command of Captain Middleton, consisted of the ships which had but just returned from the preceding voyage; and the capital subscribed was 60,450l.; of which, 48,140l. was laid out in the preparation and provision of the ships; 11,160l. in bullion, and 1,142l. in goods. The second, in 1606, consisted of three ships commanded by Captain Keeling, with a capital of 53,500l.; of which 28,620l. was for the equipment of the fleet, 17,600l. was in bullion, and 7,280l. in goods. The third, in 1607, consisted of two ships, 15,000l. in bullion, and 3,400l. in goods. The fourth voyage, in 1608, had but one ship; 13,700l. subscription; expense of equipment, 6,000l.; bullion, 6,000l.; goods, 1,700l. The fifth, in 1609, had three ships, larger than in any former voyage; capital subscribed 82,000l.; cost of shipping 32,000l.; the investment, 28,500l. bullion, and 21,000l. goods. The sixth voyage, in 1610, had four ships; and subscription, 71,581l.; divided into 42,500l. for shipping, 19,200l. bullion, 10,081l. goods. The seventh, in 1611, of four vessels, had 76,355l. subscription, expended 48,700l. on the fleet, had 17,675l. in bullion, and 10,000l. in goods. The eighth, in 1612, had one ship, and subscription, 7,200l.; divided into 5,300l. for the vessel, 1,250l. bullion, and 650l. in goods. All these voyages, with one book i.Chap. 1. 1603–13. exception, that in 1607, of which both the vessels were lost, were prosperous: the clear profits, hardly ever below 100 per cent, being in general more than 200 on the capital of the voyage.1
The years in which these voyages were performed were not without other incidents of considerable importance. In 1604, the Company were alarmed by a licence in violation of their charter, granted to Sir Edward Michelborne and others, to trade to “Cathaia, China, Japan, Corea, and Cambaya, &c.” This injury was compensated in 1609, when the facility and indiscretion of King James encouraged the Company to aim at a removal of those restrictions which the more cautious policy of Elizabeth had imposed. They obtained a renewal of their charter, confirming all their preceding privileges, and constituting them a body corporate, not for fifteen years, or any other limited time, but for ever; still, however, providing that, on experience of injury to the nation, their exclusive privileges should, after three years notice, cease and expire.
The earliest of the Company's voyages were exclusively directed to the islands in the Indian Ocean, as Sumatra, Java, and Amboyna, the returns being raw silk, fine calicoes, indigo, cloves, and mace. In 1608, the factors at Bantam and in the Moluccas reported that the cloths and calicoes imported from the continent of India were in great request in the islands; and recommended the opening of a trade at Surat and Cambaya, to supply them with those commodities, which might be exchanged, with extraordinary profit, for the spice and other productions of the islands. To profit by these advantages, the fleet book i.Chap. 1. 1603–13. which sailed under the orders of Sir Henry Middleton, in 1609, was directed to steer for the western coast of the Asiatic continent, where they made several attempts to establish a commercial intercourse. At Aden and Mocha they were opposed by the Turks; who surprised one of the ships, and made the Captain and seventy men prisoners. On the coast of India their endeavours were frustrated by the influence of the Portuguese. A fleet which sailed in 1611 had better success. Attacked at Swally, a place at no great distance from Surat, by a large Portuguese armament, it made a successful defence; and, notwithstanding the intrigues and efforts of the Portuguese, obtained a favourable reception at Surat. The English now succeeded in forming a commercial arrangement. They obtained permission to establish factories at Surat, Ahmedabad, Cambaya, and Goga, which were pointed out, by the agents of the Company, as the best situations; and agreeing to pay a duty of 3 ½ per cent, received assurance, that this should be the only exaction to which their merchandise should be subject; that protection should be afforded to their factories; and that their property, even in the case of the death of their agents, should be secured till the arrival of another fleet. A phirmaun or decree of the Emperor, conferring these privileges, was received on the 11th of January, 1612; and authorised the first establishment of the English on the continent of India, at that time the seat of one of the most extensive and splendid monarchies on the surface of the globe.1
From the Change of the Company into a Joint-Stock Company, in 1612, till the Formation of the third Joint-Stock in 1631-2.
Hitherto the voyages of the East India traders book i.Chap. 2. 1613. had been conducted on the terms rather of a regulated than a joint-stock company; each adventure being the property of a certain number of individuals, who contributed to it as they pleased, and managed it for their own account, subject only to the general regulations of the Company. Whether this was more adapted or not, to the nature of commerce, and the interests of the nation, it was less favourable to the power and consequence of a Governor and Directors, than trading on a joint-stock, which threw into their hands the entire management and power of the whole concern. Accordingly, they exerted themselves to decry the former method, and, in 1612, were enabled to come to a resolution, that in future, the trade should be carried on by a joint-stock only.1
It still appears to have been out of their power to establish a general fund, fixed in amount, and divided into regular shares; the capital was still raised by a sort of arbitrary subscription, some individuals, whose names stood as members of the Company, advancing nothing, others largely. They now, however, subscribed, not each for a particular adventure, with an association of his own choosing, but all into the hands of the Governor and Directors, who were to employ the aggregate as one fund or capital for the benefit book i.Chap. 2. 1613–16. of those by whom it was advanced. On these terms 429,000l. was raised, which the Directors thought proper to divide for the purpose of four separate adventures or voyages, to be undertaken in as many successive years. The voyages were regulated, and composed as follows:
The purchase, repair, and equipment of the vessels amounted to 272,544l., being the remainder of the stock.
The profit of these voyages was far from setting the management of a court of Directors, as compared with that of individuals taking charge of their own affairs, in a favourable light. The average of the profits on the eight voyages which preceded, leaving out of the account the small adventure of what is called the Company's fourth voyage, wholly unfortunate, was 171 per cent. The average of the profit on the four voyages in question, was only 87 1/2 per cent.1
As the power of the Portuguese in the East carried the usual consequences of power along with it. among other things, an overbearing and insolent spirit, they had already embroiled themselves with the Mogul government: an event favourable to the English, who were thus joined with that government in a common cause. At the same time the splendid achievements of the English, against an enemy whom the governments of India were ill able to resist, raised high their reputation for prowess in war. A book i.Chap. 2. 1613–16. Portuguese fleet burned the towns of Baroach and Goga: and a powerful armament arrived at Swally with the Portuguese Viceroy, in January 1614; which attacked the English; but was defeated, with a loss of 350 men. To improve these favourable circumstances, an agent of the Company repaired to the Mogul court, where he was well received, and obtained a royal phirmaun for a general and perpetual trade; and in the same year took place the celebrated royal embassy of Sir Thomas Roe. The character of an ambassador, and the respect attached to it by the discernment of more enlightened nations, were but little understood at the court of the Mogul. On that occasion the choice of the English Ambassador was happy: Sir Thomas was a man of discernment, and temper, and made the most of the circumstances in which he was placed; though he soon discovered that it was bad policy by which he had been sent. He obtained redress of some of the grievances of which the English merchants complained; and concluded, though with difficulty, a sort of treaty, in which liberty was promised them of trading and establishing factories in any part of the Mogul dominions; Surat, Bengal, and Sindy being particularly named.1
Besides his other services, Sir Thomas bestowed advice upon the Company. “At my first arrival,” says he, “I understood a fort was very necessary; but experience teaches me we are refused it to our own advantage. If the Emperor would offer me ten, I would not accept of one.” He then states his reasons: first, he adduces evidence that it would be book i.Chap. 2. 1613–19. of no service to their trade: “secondly, the charge,” he says, “is greater than the trade can bear; for to maintain a garrison will eat out your profit; a war and traffic are incompatible. By my consent you shall never engage yourselves but at sea, where you are like to gain as often as to lose. The Portugueses, notwithstanding their many rich residences, are beggared by keeping of soldiers; and yet their garrisons are but mean. They never made advantage of the Indies since they defended them: observe this well. It has also been the error of the Dutch, who seek plantations here by the sword. They turn a wonderful stock; they prole in all places; they possess some of the best: yet their dead pays consume all the gain. Let this be received as a rule, that if you will profit, seek it at sea, and in quiet trade; for, without controversies, it is an error to affect garrisons and land wars in India.”
“It is not a number of ports, residences, and factories, that will profit you. They will increase charge, but not recompence it. The conveniency of one, with respect to your sails, and to the commodity of investments, and the well employing of your servants, is all you need.” If Sir Thomas had lived to the present day, he might have urged the trade with China as proof, by experiment, of the proposition he advanced.
“The settling your traffic here will not need so much help at court as you suppose. A little countenance and the discretion of your factors will, with easy charge, return you most profit; but you must alter your stock. Let not your servants deceive you; cloth, lead, teeth, quicksilver, are dead commodities, and will never drive this trade; you must succour it by change.”
“An ambassador lives not in fit honour here. A meaner agent would, among these proud Moors, book i.Chap. 2. 1613–19. better effect your business. My quality, often, for ceremonies, either begets you enemies, or suffers unworthily. Half my charge shall corrupt all this court to be your slaves. The best way to do your business in it is to find some Mogul, that you may entertain for 1000 rupees a year, as your solicitor at court. He must be authorized by the king, and then he will serve you better than ten ambassadors. Under him you must allow 500 rupees for another at your port to follow the Governor and customers, and to advertise his chief at court. These two will effect all; for your other smaller residences are not subject to much inconveniency.”
The permission to the Company's servants to trade privately on their own account, which afterwards produced so many inconveniences, was, it seems, even at this early period, a source of abuse. “Concerning this, it is my opinion,” says Sir Thomas, “that you absolutely prohibit it, and execute forfeitures, for your business will be the better done. All your loss is not in the goods brought home; I see here the inconveniences you think not of; I know this is harsh to all men, and seems hard. Men profess they come not for bare wages. But you will take away this plea, if you give great wages to their content; and then you know what you part from; but then you must make good choice of your servants, and use fewer.”
Sir Thomas tells the Company that he was very industrious to injure the Dutch. “The Dutch,” he says, “are arrived at Surat from the Red Sea, with some money and southern commodities. I have done my best to disgrace them; but could not turn them out without further danger. Your comfort is here book i.Chap. 2. 1617. are goods enough for both.”1 If so, why seek to turn them out?
One of the objects at which the adventurers from England most eagerly aspired was a share in the traffic of the Spice Islands. The spices, from their novelty, were at that time a favourite object of consumption to those the supply of whose wants is so naturally but thoughtlessly regarded by the dealer as peculiarly profitable, the rich and the great: and the commerce, brilliant as compared with that of other nations, which the enterprise and diligence of the Dutch now carried on with the East, almost entirely consisted of those commodities. The English, by their connexion with Sumatra and Java, had their full share in the article of pepper; but were excluded from cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs, and all the finer spices. Agents were now sent from Bantam to Amboyna, Banda, and other islands, who fired the jealousy and cupidity of the Dutch. Defeated in their endeavours at all the places where the Dutch had already established themselves, the English projected, as a last resource, a factory at Macassar, of which the produce was only rice, but which might serve as a magazine for spices collected from the neighbouring islands.2
In the year 1617, or the year of the last of the four voyages in which the general subscription had been employed, the Company's agents reported; That Surat book i.Chap. 2. 1617. was the place at which the cloths of India could best be obtained, though nothing could there be disposed of in return except China goods, spices, and money: That large quantities of Indian wove goods might be sold, and gold, camphor, and benjamin obtained, at the two factories of Acheen and Tekoo on the island of Sumatra: That Bantam afforded a still larger demand for the wove goods of India, and supplied pepper for the European market: That Jacatra, Jambee, and Polania, agreed with the two former places in the articles both of demand and supply, though both on a smaller scale: That Siam might afford a large vent for similar commodities, and would yield gold, silver, and deer skins for the Japan market: That English cloth, lead, deer skins, silks, and other goods might be disposed of at Japan for silver, copper, and iron, though hitherto want of skill had rendered the adventures to that kingdom unprofitable: That, on the island of Borneo, diamonds, bezoar stones, and gold, might be obtained at Succadania, notwithstanding the mischief occasioned by the ignorance of the first factors; but from Banjarmassin, where the same articles were found, it would be expedient, on account of the treacherous character of the natives, to withdraw the factory: That the best rice in India could be bought, and the wove goods of India sold at Macassar: And that at Banda the same goods could be sold, and nutmegs and mace procured, even to a large amount, if the obstruction of European rivals were removed.1
Surat and Bantam were the seats of the Company's principal establishments.
In the year 1617–18, a subscription was opened book i.Chap. 2. 1618. for a new fund, and was carried to the large amount of 1,600,000l. This was denominated the Company's Second Joint-stock. They were now, we are told, possessed of thirty-six ships, from 100 to 1,000 tons burthen; and the proprietors of stock amounted to 954.1 But as the accounts of the Company have never been remarkable for clearness, or their historians for precision, we are not informed whether these ships belonged to the owners of the first joint-stock, or to the owners of the second; or if to both, in what proportion; whether the 954 proprietors of stock were the subscribers to both funds, or to the last only; whether any part of the first joint-stock had been paid back to the owners, as the proceeds came in; or whether both funds were now in the hands of the Directors at once, employed for the respective benefit of the respective lists of subscribers: two trading capitals in the same hands, employed separately, for the separate account of different associations. That such was the case to a certain extent may be concluded from this, that of the last of the voyages, upon the first of the funds, the returns were not yet made. We shall see that, afterwards, the Directors had, in their hands, at one and the same time, the funds of several bodies of subscribers, which they were bound to employ separately, for the separate benefit of each; that they, as well as their agents abroad, experienced great inconvenience in preserving the accounts and concerns separate and distinct; and that the interests and pretensions of the several bodies were prone to interfere.
The new subscription was divided into portions for three separate voyages.
The passion, naturally, of the Company's agents, at the different stations abroad, was to grasp at every book i.Chap. 2. 1618. thing, with little regard to the narrowness of the funds upon which their operations depended. In one point of view this was advantageous: while the ground was yet imperfectly explored, it yielded a wider field for selection. The factors at Surat were captivated with the project of a trade to Persia; it promised a vent for English woollens to a large amount, and would furnish silk and other goods, which, both in Europe and in India, might sell to the greatest advantage. Sir Thomas Roe dissuaded the speculation; on the ground, that the Portuguese were already in possession of the commerce, and that it would cost the Company more to protect themselves in it, than they could hope to gain by it. The views of the factors, because the most flattering, were the most persuasive; agents were sent to the court of Persia; grants of privileges were obtained; and a trade was opened, which experience proved to be of little importance.
The rivalship between the East India Company and the other nations of Europe includes, for a considerable time, the principal incidents of the Company's history. The Portuguese, on the pretence of discovery, had long maintained an exclusive claim to the passage by the Cape of Good Hope: they had, partly by conquest, partly by agreement, made themselves masters of Goa, Bombay, and other places, on the Malabar coast; of Aden, at the entrance of the Red Sea; of Ormus, in the Persian Gulf; of part of the Malay coast, in the Straits of Malacca; of the Molucca islands; and of the coasts of Ceylon, the most valuable of all the eastern islands: they were possessed of factories in Bengal and in Siam; and they had erected the city of Macao on the coast of China.
book i.Chap. 2. 1618. The Dutch, while subject to the crown of Spain, had been accustomed to repair to Lisbon for the productions of the East; which, even at that early period, they were employed in distributing to the rest of Europe. When they broke the chains of their ancient masters, one of the means which Philip employed to distress them was, to deprive them of the commerce of his dominions. Prevented from obtaining Indian commodities by traffic with the subjects of Philip, they became ruinous competitors for the trade with India itself.
At the time when the Dutch commenced their voyages to the East, the crown of Spain was engaged in enterprises of so much importance, in other quarters, and so much engrossed with the contemplation of its splendid empire in the New World, that the acquisitions, in the East Indies, of the Portuguese, now become its subjects, were treated with comparative neglect. The Dutch, accordingly, who entered upon the trade to India with considerable resources and the utmost ardour, were enabled to supplant the Portuguese in the spice trade, and, after a struggle, to expel them from the Molucca islands. That celebrated people, now freed from the oppression of a bad government, were advancing in the career of prosperity with great and rapid strides. The augmentation of capital was rapid, in Holland, beyond what has often been witnessed in any other part of the globe. A proportional share of this capital naturally found its way into the channel of the India trade, and gave both extent and vigour to the enterprises of the nation in the East; while the English, whose country, oppressed by misgovernment, or scourged with civil war, afforded little capital to extend its trade, or means to afford it protection, found themselves unequal competitors, with a people so favourably situated book i.Chap. 2. 1618. as the Dutch.
During that age, the principles of public wealth were very imperfectly understood, and hardly any trade was regarded as profitable but that which was exclusive. The different nations which traded to India, all traded by way of monopoly; and the several exclusive companies treated every proposal for a participation in their traffic, as a proposal for their ruin. In the same spirit, every nation which obtained admittance into any newly explored channel of commerce endeavoured to exclude from it all participators, and considered its own profits as depending on the absence of all competition.
The Dutch, who were governed by the same prejudices as their contemporaries, and actuated, at least in that age, with rather more perhaps than the usual intensity of the appetite for gain, beheld, with great impatience, the attempts of the English to share with them in the spice trade. While contending for their independence against the power of Spain, and looking to England for support, they were constrained to practise moderation and forbearance; and during this time the English were enabled to form a connexion with Sumatra, to establish themselves at Bantam, and obtain a share in the traffic of pepper, which being a commodity so generally produced in the East, could not easily become the subject of monopoly. But before the English made efforts on any considerable scale to interfere with the trade of the further India, where the finer spices were produced, the power and confidence of the Dutch had greatly increased.
That people were more effectual opponents than the Portuguese, between whom and the English the interference was not so direct. The chief settlements book i.Chap. 2. 1618. of the Portuguese on the continent of India were on the Malabar coast, at a great distance from Surat, which was the principal seat of the English: it was in the Persian trade alone that much incompatibility of interest existed: and feeble, in India, as the English at that time were, it is remarkable that they were an overmatch at sea for the Portuguese; and hardly ever encountered them without a brilliant victory, or at least decided advantages. The case was different in regard to the Dutch: the pretensions of the English to the spice trade interfered with the very vitals of the Dutch commerce in the East; and the fleets which the prosperous enterprise of the new republic enabled it to maintain were so far superior to those which the restricted means of the English Company allowed them to send, that contention became altogether hopeless and vain.
It was not till the year 1617–18, that the hostility of the two nations displayed itself in operations of force; the Dutch, in those places where they had formed establishments, having in general been able, by intrigue and artifice, to defeat the attempts of their rivals. The English took possession of two small islands, called Polaroon and Rosengin, which were not formally occupied by the Dutch, but intimately connected with some of their possessions. The Dutch raised pretensions to them, and attacked the English. The English had, however, so well fortified themselves, that the Dutch found it impracticable at the first attempt to expel them; but they found the means, partly by force, and partly by artifice, to get possession of two English ships, on their voyage to these islands; carried them to a Dutch settlement, and refused to deliver them up, till every pretension to the Spice Islands was renounced.1
The proceedings of the Dutch, though regarded book i.Chap. 2. 1618. by the English as in the highest degree unjust and rapacious, were founded on pretensions, not inferior to those on which the English Company endeavoured to convert claims into rights; and on pretensions which it is clear, at any rate, that the Dutch themselves regarded as valid and equitable; since they presented them to the English monarch, as the ground of complaint against his subjects, and of a demand for his interference to prevent the recurrence of similar injuries. In a memorial to James, in 1618, the Dutch Company set forth, that, at their own cost and hazard, they had expelled the Portuguese from the Spice Islands, and had established a treaty with the natives, on the express condition of affording the natives protection against the Portuguese, and enjoying the exclusive advantage of their trade; that the agents of the English Company, however, had interfered with those well-established rights, and had not only endeavoured to trade with the natives, but to incite them against the Dutch.
To these complaints the English Company replied, by an enumeration of injuries, from the resistance, the intrigues, and violence of the Dutch, in places where no factories of theirs had ever existed. But they also enumerated among their grievances, the hostilities experienced at Tydore and Amboyna, places to which the pretensions of the Dutch applied in all their force.1 And if the ideas are admitted, which then prevailed, and on which the English as confidently grounded themselves as any other nation; ideas importing that, in newly-discovered countries, priority of occupancy constituted sovereignty, and that book i.Chap. 2. 1619. the will of the natives was to be counted for nothing; the English could not make out a right to the trade of the Moluccas; for though Polaroon and Rosengin might not, by actual occupancy, have accrued to the Dutch, they form part of a narrow and closely connected cluster of islands, of which the Dutch had seized the principal, and with the security of which the presence of the English in any of the rest could as little be reconciled, as the security of Great Britain could be reconciled with the dominion of Ireland by the French. With respect to Java, and the settlements at Bantam and Jacatra, the English had an equitable plea, of which they appear not to have availed themselves; they might have insisted on the consent of the Dutch, who had not resisted their early settlement on that island, now sanctioned by time.
After a tedious interchange of hostilities, in which intrigue and force were combined, (the practice of buying up the pepper, at prices higher than the English could afford, forming one of the principal subjects of English complaint), it was agreed between the two governments in Europe, at that time allies, to institute a mutual inquiry, and form an arrangement respecting the claims of their subjects in the East. Commissioners were appointed; and, after repeated conferences, a treaty was concluded at London, on the 17th July, 1619. It was stipulated, that there should be a mutual amnesty, and a mutual restitution of ships and property; that the pepper trade at Java should be equally divided; that the English should have a free trade at Pullicate on the Coromandel coast on paying half the expences of the garrison; and that of the trade of the Moluccas and Bandas they should enjoy one third, the Dutch two, paying the charges of the garrisons in the same proportion. Beside these conditions, which regarded book i.Chap. 2. 1619. their opposite pretensions, the treaty included arrangements for mutual profit and defence. Each Company was to furnish ten ships of war, which were not to be sent in the European voyages, but employed in India for mutual protection; and the two nations were to unite their efforts to reduce the duties and exactions of the native governments at the different ports. To superintend the execution of this treaty a council was appointed, to be composed of four members of each Company, called the Council of Defence. And the treaty was to be in force during twenty years.1
This solemn engagement is a proof, if there was not another, of the imperfection which still adhered to the art of legislation. The principal stipulations were so vague, and the execution of them dependent on so many unascertained circumstances, that the grounds of dispute and contention were rather multiplied than reduced. For these evils, as far as they were foreseen, the Council of Defence seems to have been devised, as the remedy. But experience taught here, what experience has uniformly taught, that in all vague arrangements the advantages are reaped by the strongest party. The voice of four Englishmen in the Council of Defence was but a feeble protection against the superior capital and fleets of the Dutch. The English, to secure their pretensions, should have maintained a naval and military force superior to that of their opponents. In that case, they would have been the oppressors; the Dutch would have been expelled from the spice trade; the spice trade would have rested with the English, who would have overlooked the continent of India, because their capital book i.Chap. 2. 1619. would not have sufficed to embrace it; the continent would have been left to the enterprise of other nations; and that brilliant empire, established by the English, would never, it is possible, have received a commencement.
In consequence of this treaty, by which the English were bound to send a fleet of ten ships to India, a larger fund was this year raised than had been provided for any preceding voyage: 62,490l. in the precious metals, and 28,508l. in goods, were exported with the fleet. The return was brought back in a single ship, and sold at 108,887l.1
In the interval between the time of concluding the treaty and the establishment of the Council of Defence at Jacatra, the Dutch had committed various acts of oppression on the English; and, when the council began its operations, the Dutch, after executing some of the least important conditions of the treaty, endeavoured to evade the rest. They consented to restore the ships taken from the English, but not the goods or stores taken by individuals; on the pretext, that the Company could not be responsible for any acts but their own; though, if the letters may be credited of the English factors at Jacatra, they exploded the same pretension when it was urged against themselves: They refused to admit the English to their share of the pepper trade, till indemnified for certain fortifications, and for the expences incurred by them at the siege of Bantam: They insisted that at Jacatra, and all other places where they had erected fortifications, they possessed the rights of sovereignty; and that the English could claim no permission to reside there except under the Dutch laws: They set forth the large expense they had incurred in fortifications on the Spice Islands; the maintenance of book i.Chap. 2. 1619. which they estimated at 60,000l. per annum; and of all this they required the English to advance their due proportion, before they could be admitted to the stipulated share of the trade. The English objected, that some of the fortifications were at places where no produce was obtained, and that none of them were useful but for defence against the Spaniards and Portuguese, with whom they were not at war. On the whole it may be remarked, that if there were fortifications at places where none were required, the English had a right to decline paying for the blunders of the Dutch; but as they claimed a share of the trade upon the foundation of the Dutch conquests, and would not have been admitted to it, without a war, had not those conquests taken place, it was a less valid plea, to say that they were not at war with the Spaniards and Portuguese. In framing the treaty, no distinction was made between past and future expenses. The English intended to bind themselves only for a share of the future: The Dutch availed themselves of the ambiguity to demand a share of the past: And in all these pretensions, they acted with so high a hand, that the English commissioners of the Council of Defence reported the impracticability of continuing the English trade, unless measures were taken in Europe to check the overbearing and oppressive proceedings of the Dutch.1
In the circle of which Surat was the centre, as the English were more of a match for their antagonists, they had a better prospect of success. In 1620, two of the Company's ships, which sailed from Surat to Persia, found the port of Jasques blockaded by a Portuguese fleet, consisting of five large and sixteen book i.Chap. 2. 1622. smaller vessels. Unable to cope with so disproportionate a force, they sailed back to Surat; where they were joined by two other ships. Returning with this re-inforcement, they attacked the Portuguese, and, after an indecisive action, entered the port. The Portuguese retired to Ormus, but, after refitting, came back for revenge. An obstinate conflict ensued, in which the English were victorious over a vast superiority of force. Such an event was calculated to produce a great impression on the minds of the Persians.
The English and Persians agreed to attack with joint forces the Portuguese on the island of Ormus, which that nation in the days of its prosperity had seized and fortified. The English furnished the naval, the Persians the military force; and the city and castle were taken on the 22d of April, 1622. For this service the English received part of the plunder of Ormus, and a grant of half the customs at the port of Gombroon; which became their principal station in the Persian gulf. The agents of the Company at Bantam, who were already vested with the superb title of President and Council, and with a sort of control over the other factories, condemned this enterprise; as depriving them of the ships and effects, so much required to balance the power, and restrain the injustice, of the Dutch.1
The domestic proceedings of the Company at this period were humble. In 1621–22, they were able to fit out only four ships, supplied with 12,900l. in gold and silver, and 6,253l. in goods; the following year, they sent five ships, 61,600l. in money, and 6,430l. in goods; in 1623–24, they equipped seven vessels, and furnished them with 68,720l. in money, and 17,340l. in goods. This last was a prosperous year to the domestic exchequer. Five ships arrived from book i.Chap. 2. 1622. India with cargoes, not of pepper only, but of all the finer spices, of which, notwithstanding the increasing complaints against the Dutch, the Company's agents had not been prevented from procuring an assortment. The sale of this part alone of the cargoes amounted to 485,593l.; that of the Persian raw silk to 97,000l.; while 80,000l. in pursuance of the treaty of 1619, was received as compensation money from the Dutch.1
Other feelings were the result of demands, by the King, and by the Duke of Buckingham, Lord High Admiral, of shares, to the one as droits of the crown, to the other as droits of the admiralty, of the prize money, gained by the various captures of the Company, particularly that of Ormus. The Company, who deemed it prudent to make little opposition to the claims of the King, objected, as having acted not under letters of marque from the Admiral but under their own charter, to those of the Duke of Buckingham. The question was referred to the Judge of the Admiralty court; witnesses were examined to ascertain the amount of the prize money, which was estimated at 100,000l. and 240,000 reals of eight. The Company urged the expense of their equipments, the losses they had sustained, the detriment to their mercantile concerns, by withdrawing their ships from commerce to war. All possible modes of solicitation to the King and the Admiral were employed; but the desire for their money was stronger than their interest. Buckingham, who knew they must lose their voyage, if the season for sailing was passed, made their ships be detained; and the Company, to escape this calamity, were glad of an accommodation. The Duke agreed to accept of 10,000l., which he book i.Chap. 2. 1623. received. A like sum was demanded for the King, but there is no direct evidence that it ever was paid.
The animosities, between the English and Dutch, were now approaching to a crisis in the islands. The English complained of oppression, and were so weak, as to find themselves at the mercy of their rivals. They represented that, in the execution of the joint articles of the treaty, they were charged with every item of expense, though their voice was entirely disregarded in the disposal of the money, in the employment of the naval and military force, and even in the management of the trade; that, instead of being admitted to their stipulated share of the spice commerce, they were almost entirely extruded from it; and that, under the pretext of a conspiracy, the Dutch had executed great numbers of the natives at Banda, and reduced Polaroon to a desert.1 At last arrived that event, which made a deep and lasting impression on the minds of Englishmen. In February, 1623, Captain Towerson and nine Englishmen, nine Japanese, and one Portuguese sailor, were seized at Amboyna, under the accusation of a conspiracy to surprise the garrison, and to expel the Dutch; and, being tried, were pronounced guilty, and executed. The accusation was treated by the English as a mere pretext, to cover a plan for their extermination. But the facts of an event, which roused extreme indignation in England, have never been exactly ascertained. The nation, whose passions were kindled, was more disposed to paint to itself a scene of atrocity, and to believe whatever could inflame its resentment, than to enter upon a rigid investigation of the case. If it be improbable, however, on the one hand, that the book i.Chap. 2. 1623. English, whose numbers were small, and by whom ultimately so little advantage could be gained, were really guilty of any such design as the Dutch imputed to them; it is on the other hand equally improbable that the Dutch, without believing them to be guilty, would have proceeded against them by the evidence of a judicial trial. Had simple extermination been their object, a more quiet and safe expedient presented itself; they had it in their power at any time to make the English disappear, and to lay the blame upon the natives. The probability is, that, from certain circumstances, which roused their suspicion and jealousy, the Dutch really believed in the conspiracy, and were hurried on, by their resentments and interests, to bring the helpless objects of their fury to a trial; that the judges before whom the trial was conducted, were in too heated a state of mind to see the innocence, or believe in any thing but the guilt, of the accused; and that in this manner the sufferers perished. Enough, assuredly, of what is hateful may be found in this transaction, without supposing the spirit of demons in beings of the same nature with ourselves, men reared in a similar state of society, under a similar system of education, and a similar religion. To bring men rashly to a trial whom a violent opposition of interests has led us to detest, rashly to believe them criminal, to decide against them with minds too much blinded by passion to discern the truth, and to put them to death without remorse, are acts of which our own nation, or any other, was then, and would still be, too ready to be guilty. Happy would it be, how trite soever the reflection, if nations, from the scenes which excite their indignation against others, would learn temper and forbearance in cases where they become the actors themselves! 2
book i.Chap. 2. 1623. One of the circumstances, the thought of which most strongly incited the passions of the English, was the application of the torture. This, however, under the Civil Law, was an established and regular part of a judicial inquiry. In all the kingdoms of continental Europe, and Holland among the rest, the torture was a common method of extorting evidence from supposed criminals, and would have been applied by the Dutch judges to their own countrymen. As both the Japanese, who were accused of being accessaries to the imputed crime, and the Englishmen themselves, made confession of guilt under the torture, this, however absurd and inhuman the law, constituted legal evidence in the code of the Dutch, as well as in the codes of all the other continental nations of Europe. By this, added to other articles of evidence which would have been insufficient without it, proof was held to be completed; and death, in all capital cases, authorized and required. This was an ancient and established law; and as there are scarcely any courses of oppression to which Englishmen cannot submit, and which they will not justify and applaud, provided only it has ancient and established law for its support, they ought, of all nations, to have been the most ready to find an excuse and apology for the Dutch.1 From the first moment of acting upon the treaty, the Dutch had laid it down, book i.Chap. 2. 1624. as a principle, that at all the places where they had erected fortifications, the English should be subject to the Dutch laws; and though the English had remonstrated, they had yet complied.
It was in vain, that the English President and Council at Java, on hearing of the massacre as they called it, remonstrated in terms of the utmost indignation, and even intimated their design of withdrawing from the island. In their representations to the Court of Directors at home, they declared, what might have been seen from the beginning, that it was book i.Chap. 2. 1624. impossible to trade on a combination of interests with the Dutch; and that, negotiation being fruitless, nothing but a force in the islands, equal to that of their rivals, could ensure to their countrymen a share of the trade.
When the news of the execution at Amboyna arrived in England, the people, whose minds had been already inflamed against the Dutch, by continual reports of injustice to their countrymen, were kindled into the most violent combustion. The Court of Directors exerted themselves to feed the popular fury. They had a hideous picture prepared, in which their countrymen were represented expiring upon the rack, with the most shocking expressions of horror and agony in their countenance and attitudes, and the most frightful instruments of torture applied to their bodies. The press teemed with publications, which enlarged upon the horrid scene at Amboyna; and to such a degree of rage were the populace excited, that the Dutch merchants in London became alarmed, and applied to the Privy Council for protection. They complained of the inflammatory publications; more particularly of the picture, which, being exposed to the people, had contributed to work them up to the most desperate resolutions. The Directors, when called before the Privy Council to answer these complaints, denied that they had any concern with the publications, but acknowledged that the picture was produced by their order, and was intended to be preserved in their house as a perpetual memorial of the cruelty and treachery of the Dutch. The Directors were aware that the popular tide had reached the table of the council room, and that they had nothing to apprehend from confessing how far they had been instrumental in raising the waters.1
Application was made to the King, to obtain signal book i.Chap. 2. 1624. reparation from the Dutch government, for so great a national insult and calamity. The whole nationl was too violently agitated to leave any suspicion that the application could be neglected. A commission of inquiry was formed of the King's principal servants, who reported, in terms confirming the general belief and indignation; and recommended an order, which was immediately issued, for intercepting and detaining the Dutch East India fleats, till satisfaction was obtained. With great gravity the Dutch government returned for answer; that they would send orders to their Governor General in the Indies to permit the English to retire from the Dutch settlements without paying any duties; that all disputes might be referred to the Council of Defence; that the English might build forts for the protection of their trade, provided they were at the distance of thirty miles from any fort of the Dutch; that the “administration, however, of politic government, and particular jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, at all such places as owe acknowledgement to the Dutch,” should remain wholly in their hands; and that to the Dutch belonged the exclusive right to the Moluccas, Bandas, and Amboyna.1
This was an undisguised assumption of all the rights for which their subjects were contending in India. It is remarkable enough that the English East India Company, who were highly dissatisfied with the other parts of this answer, declared their acceptance of the first article, which permitted their servants to retire from the Dutch settlements. And here, for the present, the matter rested.
In 1624, the Company applied, by petition, to the book i.Chap. 2. 1625. King, for authority to punish their servants abroad, by martial, as well as municipal law. It appears not that any difficulty was experienced in obtaining their request; or that any parliamentary proceeding, for transferring unlimited power over the lives and fortunes of the citizens, was deemed even a necessary ceremony. This ought to be regarded as an era in the history of the Company.1
In the year 1624–5, the Company's voyage to India consisted of five ships; but of the amount of the capital with which they were supplied, no account, it should seem, remains. In 1625–26, it consisted of six ships: and in 1626–27, of seven; farther information wanting as before.2 In the last of these years, we gain the knowledge, collaterally, of one of those important facts, in the Company's history, which it has been their sedulous care to preserve concealed, except when some interest, as now, was to be served by the disclosure. Sir Robert Shirley, who had been ambassador at the court of Persia, made application to the King and Council to order the East India Company to pay him 2000l. as a compensation for his exertions and services in procuring them a trade with Persia. The Company, beside denying the pretended services, urged their inability to pay; stating that they had been obliged to contract so large a debt as 200,000l.; and that their stock had fallen to 20 per cent. discount, shares of 100l. selling for no more than 80l.3
The Company's Persian trade was not prosperous, under the caprice and extortions of the Persian magistrates. At Java their agents, tired out with the mortifications and disasters to which they were exposed from the Dutch, retired to the island of Lagundy, book i.Chap. 2. 1627. in the Straits of Sunda; having abandoned both Bantam and Jacatra, at which the Dutch, under the name of Batavia, had now established their principal seat of government. The island of Lagundy was found to be so unhealthy, that, in less than a year, the imprudent English were anxious to return. Their distress was so great, that out of 250 individuals 120 were sick; and they had not a crew sufficient to navigate a ship to any of the English factories. In these circumstances the Dutch lent them assistance, and brought them back to Batavia.1 On the coast of Coromandel some feeble efforts were continued. The Company had established factories at Masulipatam and Pullicat; but the rivalship of the Dutch pursued and obliged them to relinquish Pullicat. In 1624–5, they projected an establishment in the kingdom of Tanjore, but were opposed by a new rival, the Danes. At Armegum, however, situated a little to the south of Nellore, they purchased, in the succeeding year, a piece of ground from the chief of the district; erected and fortified a factory; and, suffering oppression from the native government at Masulipatam, they withdrew the factory in 1628, and transferred it to Armegum.2
Shortly after the first application to James on account of the injury at Amboyna, that monarch died. In 1627–8, the application was renewed to Charles; and three large Dutch Indiamen from Surat, which put into Portsmouth, were detained. The Company, watching the decline of the royal authority, and the growing power of the House of Commons, were not satisfied with addressing the King, but in the year following presented, for the book i.Chap. 2. 1628. first time, a memorial to the Commons. They represented that, by their failure in the spice trade, and the difficulties they experienced in opening a trade for wove goods on the coast of Coromandel, they were nearly driven from all their factories; and assigned as causes, partly the opposition of the native powers, but chiefly the hostility of the Dutch. The narrowness of their own funds, and their unskilful management, by the negligent Directors of a jointstock, far more powerful causes, they overlooked or suppressed. They set forth, however, the merits of the Company, as towards the nation, in terms repeated to the present day: they employed many seamen: they exported much goods; as if the capital they employed would have remained idle; as if it would not have maintained seamen, and exported goods, had the East India Company, or East India traffic, never existed.1
The detention of the ships, and the zeal with which the injury seemed now to be taken up in England, produced explanation and remonstrance on the part of the Dutch: They had appointed judges to take cognizance of the proceedings at Amboyna, even before the parties had returned from Europe: Delay had arisen, from the situation of the judges on whom other services devolved, and from the time required to translate documents written in a foreign tongue: The detention of the ships, the property of private individuals altogether unconcerned with the transaction, might bring unmerited ruin on them, but could not accelerate the proceedings of the judges; on the other hand, by creating national indignation, it would only tend to unfit them for a sober and impartial inquiry: And were the dispute allowed, unfortunately, book i.Chap. 2. 1628. to issue in war, however the English in Europe might detain the fleets of the Dutch, the English Company must suffer in India far greater evils than those of which they were now seeking the redress. At last, on a proposal that the States should send to England commissioners of inquiry, and a promise that justice should be speedily rendered, the ships were released. It was afterwards recommended by the ministry, that the East India Company should send over witnesses to Holland to afford evidence before the Dutch tribunal; but to this the Company objected, and satisfaction was still deferred.1
In 1627–28, the Company provided only two ships and a pinnace for the outward voyage. They deemed it necessary to assign reasons for this diminution; dreading the inferences which might be drawn: They had many ships in India which, from the obstructions of the Dutch, and the state of their funds, had been unable to return: Though the number of ships was small; the stock would be large, 60,000l. or 70,000l. in money and goods: And they hoped to bring home all their ships richly laden the following year. In 1628–29, five ships went out; two for the trade with India, and three for that with Persia; and though no account is preserved of the stock with which they were supplied, a petition to the King remains for leave to export 60,000l. in gold and silver in the ships destined to Persia. In the succeeding year four ships were sent to Persia, and none to India. Of the stock which they carried with them no account is preserved.2
As the sums in gold and silver, which the Company had for several years found it necessary to export, book i.Chap. 2. 1629. exceeded the limits to which they were confined by the terms of their charter, they had proceeded annually upon a petition to the King, and a special permission. It was now, however, deemed advisable to apply for a general license, so large, as would comprehend the greatest amount which on any occasion it would be necessary to send. The sum for which they solicited this permission was 80,000l. in silver, and 40,000l. in gold; and they recommended, as the best mode of authenticating the privilege, that it should be incorporated in a fresh renewal of their charter; which was accordingly obtained.1
Notwithstanding the terms on which the English stood with the Dutch, they were allowed to reestablish their factory at Bantam after the failure of the attempt at Lagundy: a war, in which the Dutch were involved with some of the native princes of the island, lessened, perhaps, their disposition, or their power, to oppose their European rivals. As Bantam was now a station of inferior importance to Surat, the government of Bantam was reduced to an agency, dependent upon the Presidency of Surat, which became the chief seat of the Company's government in India. Among the complaints against the Dutch, one of the heaviest was, that they sold European goods cheaper, and bought Indian goods dearer, at Surat, than the English; who were thus expelled from the market. This was to complain of competition, the soul of trade. If the Dutch sold so cheap and bought so dear, as to be losers, all that was necessary was a little patience on the part of the English. The fact was, that the Dutch, trading on a larger capital, and with more economy, were perfectly able to outbid the English both in purchase and sale.
The English at Surat had to sustain at this time book i.Chap. 2. 1630. not only the commercial rivalship of the Dutch, but also a powerful effort of the Portuguese to regain their influence in that part of the East. The Viceroy at Goa had in April, 1630, received a reinforcement from Europe of nine ships and 2000 soldiers, and projected the recovery of Ormus. Some negotiation to obtain the exclusive trade of Surat was tried in vain with the Mogul Governor; and in September, an English fleet of five ships endeavouring to enter the port of Swally, a sharp, though not a decisive action, was fought. The English had the advantage; and, after sustaining several subsequent skirmishes, and one great effort to destroy their fleet by fire, succeeded in landing their cargoes.1
From the Formation of the third Joint-stock, in 1632, till the Coalition of the Company with the Merchant Adventurers in 1657.
book i.Chap. 3. 1632.In 1631–32, a subscription was opened for a third joint-stock. This amounted to 420,700l.1 Still we are left in darkness with regard to some important circumstances. We know not in what degree the capital which had been placed in the hands of the Directors by former subscriptions had been repaid; not even if any part of it had been repaid, though the Directors were now without funds to carry on the trade.
With the new subscription, seven ships were fitted out in the same season; but of the money or goods embarked no account remains. In 1633–34, the fleet consisted of five ships; and in 1634–35, of no more than three, the money or goods in both cases unknown.2
During this period, however, some progress was made in extending the connexions of the Company with the eastern coast of Hindustan. It was thought advisable to replace the factory at Masulipatam not long after it had been removed; and certain privileges, which afforded protection from former grievances, were obtained from the King of Golconda, the sovereign of the place. Permission was given by the Mogul Emperor to trade to Pipley in Orissa; and a factor was sent from Masulipatam. For the more book i.Chap. 3. 1634. commodious government of these stations, Bantam was again raised to the rank of a Presidency, and the eastern coast was placed under its jurisdiction. Despairing of success in the contest with the Dutch for the trade of the islands, the Company had, for some time, dispatched their principal fleets to Surat; and the trade with this part of India and with Persia now chiefly occupied their attention. From servants at a vast distance, and the servants of a great and negligent master, the best service could not easily be procured. For this discovery the Directors were indebted, not to any sagacity of their own, but to a misunderstanding among the agents themselves; who, betraying one another, acknowledged that they had neglected the affairs of their employers to attend to their own; and, while they pursued with avidity a private trade for their private benefit, had abandoned that of the Company to every kind of disorder.1
As pepper was a product of the Malabar coast, a share was sought in the trade of that commodity, through a channel, which the Dutch would not be able to obstruct: A treaty was concluded, between the English and Portuguese, in 1634–35, and confirmed with additional articles the following year, in which it was ordained that the English should have free access to the ports of the Portuguese, and that the Portuguese should receive from the English factories the treatment of friends.2
The Company, like other unskiful, and for that reason unprosperous, traders; had always competitors, of one description or another, to whom they ascribed their own want of success. For several years they had spoken with loud condemnation of the clandestine book i.Chap. 3. 1645. trade carried on by their own servants; whose profits, they said, exceeded their own. Their alarms, with regard to their exclusive privilege, had for some time been sounded; and would have been sounded much louder, but for the ascendancy gained by the sentiments of liberty, the contentions between Charles and his parliament being already high; and the fear that their monopoly would escape the general wreck, with which institutions at variance with the spirit of liberty were threatened, only if its pretensions were prudently kept in the shade. The controversy, whether monopolies, and among others that of the Company, were injurious to the wealth and prosperity of the nation, had already employed the press: but, though the Company had entered boldly enough into the lists of argument, they deemed it their wisest course, at the present conjuncture, not to excite the public attention, by any invidious opposition to the infringements which private adventure was now pretty frequently committing on their exclusive trade.
An event at last occurred which appeared to involve unusual danger. A number of persons, with Sir William Courten at their head, whom the new arrangements with the Portuguese excited to hopes of extraordinary profit, had the art, or the good fortune, to engage in their schemes Endymion Porter, Esq., a gentleman of the bedchamber to the King, who prevailed upon the sovereign himself to accept of a share in the adventure, and to grant his license for a new association to trade with India. The preamble to the license declared that it was founded upon the misconduct of the East India Company, who had accomplished nothing for the good of the nation, in proportion to the great privileges they had obtained, or even to the funds of which they had disposed. This was, probably, the general opinion of the nation; nothing less seeming necessary to embolden the King to such book i.Chap. 3. 1645. a violation of their charter. Allowing the contrariety to the interests of the nation, the consequences were not so ruinous, but that the stipulated notice of three years might have been given, and a legal end been put to the monopoly. The Company petitioned the King, but without success. They sent, however, instructions to their agents and factors in India, to oppose the interlopers, at least indirectly. An incident occurred of which they endeavoured to avail themselves to the utmost. One of their ships from Surat reported that a vessel of Courten's had seized and plundered two junks belonging to Surat and Diu, and put the crews to the torture. The latter part at least of the story was, in all probability, forged; but the Directors believed, or affected to believe, the whole. In consequence of the outrage, the English President and Council at Surat had been imprisoned, and the property of the factory confiscated to answer for the loss. A memorial was presented to the King, setting forth in the strongest terms, the injuries which the Company sustained by the license to Courten's Association, and the ruin which threatened them unless it were withdrawn. The Privy Council, to whom the memorial was referred, treated the facts alledged, as little better than fabrication, and suspended the investigation till Courten's ships should return.1
The arrival of Courten's ships at Surat seems to have thrown the factory into the greatest confusion. It is stated as the cause of a complete suspension of trade on the part of the Company, for the season, at that principal seat of their commercial operations.2 The inability early and constantly displayed by the book i.Chap. 3. 1637. Company to sustain even the slightest competition is a symptom of inherent infirmities.
In 1637–38, several of Courten's ships returned, and brought home large investments, which sold with an ample profit to the adventurers. The fears and jealousies of the Company were exceedingly raised. They presented to the crown a petition for protection; placing their chief reliance, it should seem, on the lamentable picture of their own distresses. Their remonstrance was, however, disregarded; a new license was extended to Courten's Association, continuing their privileges for five years; and, to form a line between them and the Company, it was ordained, that neither should they trade at those places where the Company had factories, nor the Company trade at any places at which Courten's Association might have erected establishments.1
The Directors, as if they abandoned all other efforts for sustaining their affairs, betook themselves to complaint and petition.2 They renewed their addresses to the throne: They dwelt upon the calamities which had been brought upon them by competition; first, that of the Dutch, next that of Courten's Association: They endeavoured to stimulate the jealousy of the King, by reminding him that the redress which he had demanded from the States General had not been received: And they desired to be at least distinctly informed what line of conduct in regard to their rivals they were required to pursue. The affairs of the King were now at a low ebb; and this may account in part for the tone which the Company assumed with him. A committee of the Privy Council, was formed to inquire into their complaints; and had instructions to inquire, among book i.Chap. 3. 1638. other particulars, into the means of obtaining reparation from the Dutch, and of accomplishing a union between the Company and Courten's Association. One thing is remarkable, because it shows the unfavourable opinion, held by that Privy Council, of the mode of trading to India by a joint-stock Company: The Committee were expressly instructed, “to form regulations for this trade, which might satisfy the noblemen and gentlemen who were adventurers in it; and to vary the principle on which the India trade had been conducted, or that of a general joint-stock, in such a manner as to enable each adventurer to employ his stock to his own advantage, to have the trade under similar regulations with those observed by the Turkey and other English Companies.”1
The committee of the Privy Council seem to have given themselves but little concern about the trust with which they were invested. No report from them ever appeared. The Company continued indefatigably pressing the King, by petitions and remonstrances. At last they affirmed the necessity of abandoning the trade altogether, if the protection for which they prayed was not afforded. And now their importunity prevailed. On the condition that they should raise a new joint-stock, to carry on the trade on a sufficient scale, it was agreed that Courten's license should be withdrawn.2
On this occasion we are made acquainted incidentally with an important fact; that the Proprietors of the third joint-stock had made frequent but unavailing calls upon the Directors to close that concern, and bring home what belonged to it in India.3 For the first time, we learn that payment was demanded of book i.Chap. 3. 1638. the capital of those separate funds, called the joint-stocks of the Company. Upon this occasion a difficult question might have presented itself. It might have been disputed to whom the immoveable property of the Company, in houses and in lands, both in India and in England, acquired by parts indiscriminately, of all the joint-stocks, belonged. Amid the confusion which pervaded all parts of the Company's affairs, this question had not begun to be agitated: but to encourage subscription to the new joint-stock, it was laid down as a condition, “That to prevent inconvenience and confusion, the old Company or adventurers in the third joint-stock should have sufficient time allowed for bringing home their property, and should send no more stock to India, after the month of May.”1 It would thus appear, that the Proprietors of the third joint-stock, and by the same rule the Proprietors of all preceding stocks, were, without any scruple, to be deprived of their share in what is technically called the dead stock of the Company, though it had been wholly purchased with their money. There was another condition, to which inferences of some importance may be attached; the subscribers to the new stock were themselves, in a general court, to elect the Directors to whom the management of the fund should be committed, and to renew that election annually.2 As this was a new Court of Directors, entirely belonging to the fourth joint-stock, it seems to follow that the Directors in whose hands the third joint-stock had been placed, must still have remained in office, for the winding up of that concern. And, in that case, there existed, to all intents and purposes, two East India Companies, two separate bodies of Proprietors, book i.Chap. 3. 1642. and two separate Courts of Directors, under one charter.
So low, however, was the credit of East India adventure, under joint-stock management, now reduced, that the project of a new subscription almost totally failed. Only the small sum of 22,500l. was raised. Upon this a memorial was presented to the King, but in the name of whom; whether of the new subscribers, or the old; whether of the Court of Directors belonging to the old joint-stock, or of a Court of Directors chosen for the new, does not appear. It set forth a number of unhappy circumstances, to which was ascribed the distrust which now attended joint-stock adventures to India; and it intimated, but in very general terms, the necessity of encouragement, to save that branch of commerce from total destruction.
In the mean time a heavy calamity fell upon the Proprietors of the third joint-stock. The King having resolved to draw the sword for terminating the disputes between him and his people; and finding himself destitute of money; fixed his eyes, as the most convenient mass of property within his reach, on the magazines of the East India Company. A price being named, which was probably a high one, he bought upon credit the whole of their pepper, and sold it again at a lower price for ready money.1 Bonds, four in number, one of which was promised to be paid every six months, were given by the farmers of the customs and Lord Cottington for the amount; of which only a small portion seems ever to have been paid. On a pressing application, about the beginning of the year 1642, it was stated, that 13,000l. had book i.Chap. 3. 1642. been allowed them out of the duties they owed; the remainder the farmers declared it to be out of their power to advance. A prayer was presented that the customs, now due by them, amounting to 12,000l., might be applied in liquidation of the debt; but for this they were afterwards pressed by the parliament. The King exerted himself to protect the parties who stood responsible for him; and what the Company were obliged to pay to the parliament, or what they succeeded in getting from the King or his sureties, no where appears.1
About the period of this abortive attempt to form a new joint-stock, a settlement was first effected at Madras; the only station as yet chosen, which was destined to make a figure in the future history of the Company. The desire of a place of strength on the coast of Coromandel, as a security both to the property of the Company and the persons of their agents, had suggested, some years ago, the fortification of Armegum. On experience, Armegum was not found a convenient station for providing the piece goods,2 for which chiefly the trade to the coast of Coromandel was pursued. In 1740–41, the permission of the local native chief to erect a fort at Madraspatam was, therefore, eagerly embraced. The works were begun, and the place named Fort St. George; but the measure was not approved by the Directors.3
Meanwhile the trade was languishing, for want of funds. The agents abroad endeavoured to supply, by loans, the failure of receipts from home.4
An effort was made in 1642–43 to aid the weakness of the fourth joint-stock by a new subscription. The sum produced was 105,000l.; but whether including book i.Chap. 3. 1648. or not including the previous subscription does not appear. This was deemed no more than what was requisite for a single voyage: of which the Company thought the real circumstances might be concealed under a new name. They called it, the First General Voyage.1 Of the amount, however, of the ships, or the distribution of the funds, there is no information on record. For several years, from this date, no account whatever is preserved of the annual equipments of the Company. It would appear from instructions to the agents abroad, that, each year, funds had been supplied; but from what source is altogether unknown. The instructions sufficiently indicate that they were small; and for this the unsettled state of the country, and the distrust of Indian adventure, will sufficiently account.
In 1644, the Dutch followed the example of the English in forming a convention with the Portuguese at Goa. Though it is not pretended that in this any partiality was shown to the Dutch, or any privilege granted to them which was withheld from the English, the Company found themselves, as usual, unable to sustain competition, and complained of this convention as an additional source of misfortune.2
In 1647–48, when the power of the parliament was supreme, and the King a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, a new subscription was undertaken, and a pretty obvious policy was pursued. Endeavours were used to get as many as possible of the members of parliament to subscribe. If the members of the ruling body had a personal interest in the gains of the Company, its privileges would not fail to be both protected and enlarged. An advertisement, which fixed the time book i.Chap. 3. 1650. beyond which ordinary subscribers would not be received, added, that, in deference to members of parliament, a further period would be allowed to them, to consider the subject, and make their subscriptions.1
It appears not that any success attended this effort; and in 1649–50, the project of completing the fourth joint-stock was renewed, partly as a foundation for an application to the Council of State, partly in hopes that the favours expected from the Council would induce the public to subscribe.2
In the memorial, presented on this occasion to the ruling powers, Courten's Association was the principal subject of complaint. The consent of the King, in 1639, to withdraw the license granted to those rivals, had not been carried into effect; nor had the condition on which it had been accorded, that of raising a respectable joint-stock, been fulfilled. The destruction, however, to which the Association of Courten saw themselves at that time condemned, deprived them of the spirit of enterprise: with the spirit of enterprise, the spirit of vigilance naturally disappeared: their proceedings from the time of this condemnation had been feeble and unprosperous: but their existence was a grievance in the eyes of the Company; and an application which they had recently made for permission to form a settlement on the island of Assada, near Madagascar, kindled anew the Company's jealousies and fears. What the Council proposed to both parties was, an agreement. But the Assada merchants, so Courten's Association were now denominated, regarded joint-stock management with so much aversion, that, low as the condition was to which they had fallen, they preferred a separate trade on their own funds to incorporation with the Company.1 To prove, however, their desire book i.Chap. 3. 1650. of accommodation, they proposed certain terms, on which they would submit to forego the separate management of their own affairs.
Objections were offered on the part of the Company; but, after some discussion, a union was effected, nearly on the terms which the Assada merchants proposed.2 Application was then made for an act to confirm and regulate the trade. The parliament passed a resolution, directing it to be carried on by a joint-stock; but suspending for the present all further decision on the Company's affairs.3 A stock was formed, which, from the union recently accomplished, was denominated the united joint-stock; but in what manner raised, or how great the sum, is not disclosed. All we know for certain is, that two ships were fitted out in this season, and that they carried bullion with them to the amount of 60,000l.4
The extreme inconvenience and embarrassment which arose from the management, by the same agents, in the same trade, of a number of separate capitals, belonging to separate associations, began now to make themselves seriously and formidably felt. From each of the presidencies complaints arrived of the difficulties, or rather the impossibilities, which they were required to surmount; and it was urgently recommended to obtain, if it were practicable, an act of parliament to combine the whole of these separate stocks.5 Under this confusion, we have hardly any information respecting the internal transactions of the company at home. We know not so much as how the Courts of Directors were formed; whether there was a body of Directors for each separate fund, or only one body for the whole; book i.Chap. 3. 1652. and if only one Court of Directors, whether they were chosen by the voices of the contributors to all the separate stocks, or the contributors to one only; whether, when a Court of Proprietors was held, the owners of all the separate funds met in one body, or the owners of each separate fund met by themselves, for the regulation of their own particular concern.1
In 1651–52, the English obtained in Bengal the first of those peculiar privileges, which were the forerunners of their subsequent power. Among the persons belonging to the factories, whom there was occasion to send to the Imperial Court, it happened that some were surgeons; one of whom is particularly named, a gentleman of the name of Boughton. Obtaining great influence, by the cures which they effected, they employed their interest in promoting the views of the Company. Favourable circumstances were so well improved, that, on the payment of 3000 rupees, a government license for an unlimited trade, without payment of customs, in the richest province of India, was happily obtained.2
On the Coromandel coast, the wars, which then raged among the natives, rendered commerce difficult and uncertain; and the Directors were urged by the agent at Madras, to add to the fortifications. This they refused, on the ground of expense. As it was inconvenient, however, to keep the business of this coast dependant on the distant settlement of Bantam, Fort St. George was erected into a presidency in 1653–54.3
When the disputes began, which ended in hostilities book i.Chap. 3. 1654. between Cromwell and the Dutch, the Company deemed it a fit opportunity to bring forward those claims of theirs which, amid the distractions of the government, had lain dormant for several years. The war which succeeded, favourable to the British arms in Europe, was extremely dangerous, and not a little injurious, to the feeble Company in India. On the appearance of a Dutch fleet of eight large ships off Swally, in 1653–54, the English trade at Surat was suspended. In the Gulf of Persia, three of the Company's ships were taken, and one destroyed. The whole of the coasting trade of the English, consisting of the interchange of goods from one of their stations to another, became, under the naval superiority of the Dutch, so hazardous, as to be nearly suspended; and at Bantam, traffic seems to have been rendered wholly impracticable.1
As Cromwell soon reduced the Dutch to the necessity of desiring peace; and of submitting to it on terms nearly such as he thought proper to dictate; a clause was inserted in the treaty concluded at Westminster in 1654, in which they engaged to conform to whatever justice might prescribe regarding the massacre at Amboyna. It was agreed to name commissioners, four on each side, who should meet at London, and make an adjustment of the claims of the two nations. One remarkable, and not an ill-contrived condition was, that if the appointed commissioners should, within a specified time, be unable to agree, the differences in question should be submitted to the judgment and arbitration of the Protestant Swiss Cantons.2
The Commissioners met on the 30th of August, 1654. The English Company, who have never book i.Chap. 3. 1654. found themselves at a loss to make out heavy claims for compensation, whether it was their own government, or a foreign, with which they had to deal, stated their damages, ascertained by a series of accounts, from the year 1611 to the year 1652, at the vast amount of 2,695,999l. 15s. The Dutch, however, seem to have been a match for them. They too had their claims for compensation, on account of joint expenses not paid, or injuries and losses sustained, amounting to 2,919,861l. 3s. 6d. It is impossible to pronounce with accuracy on the justice, comparative or absolute, of these several demands. There is no doubt that both were excessively exaggerated. But if we consider, that, under the domineering ascendancy which the Protector had acquired, it was natural for the English to overbear, and expedient for the Dutch to submit; while we observe, that the award pronounced by the Commissioners, allotted to the English no more than 85,000l., to be paid by two instalments, we shall not find any reason, distinct from national partiality, to persuade us, that the balance of extravagance was greatly on the side of the Dutch. All the satisfaction obtained for the massacre of Amboyna, even by the award of the same Commissioners, was 3,615l., to be paid to the heirs or executors of those who had suffered.1 Polaroon was given up to the English, but not worth receiving.
Various occurrences strongly mark the sense which appears to have been generally entertained, of the unprofitable nature of joint-stock. That particular body of proprietors, including the Assada merchants, to whom the united joint-stock belonged, presented to the Council of State, in 1654, two separate petitions; in which they prayed, that the East India Company should no longer proceed exclusively on book i.Chap. 3. 1654. the principle of a joint-stock trade, but that the owners of the separate funds should have authority to employ their own capital, servants, and shipping, in the way which they themselves should deem most to their own advantage.1 The power and consequence of the Directors were threatened; and they hastened to present those pleas, which are used as their best weapons of defence to the present day. Experience had proved the necessity of a joint-stock; since the trade had been carried on by a joint-stock during forty years: Such competitions as those with the Portuguese and the Dutch could only be supported by the strength of a joint-stock: The equipments for the India trade required a capital so large as a joint-stock alone could afford: The failure of Courten's experiment proved that voyages on any other principle could not succeed: The factories requisite for the Indian trade could be established only by a joint-stock, the East India Company having factories in the dominions of no less than fourteen different sovereigns: The native princes required engagements to make good the losses which they or their subjects might sustain at the hands of Englishmen: and to this a joint-stock company alone was competent.
On these grounds, they not only prayed that the trade by joint-stock should be exclusively continued; but that, as it had been impracticable for some time to obtain sufficient subscriptions, additional encouragement should be given by new privileges; and, book i.Chap. 3. 1654. in particular, that assistance should be granted, sufficient to enable them to recover and retain the Spice Islands.1
In their reply, the body of petitioners, who were now distinguished by the name of Merchant Adventurers, chiefly dwelt upon the signal want of success which had attended the trade to India, during forty years of joint-stock management. They asserted, that private direction and separate voyages would have been far more profitable; as the prosperity of those open Companies, the Turkey, Muscovy, and Eastland Companies, sufficiently proved. They claimed a right, by agreement, to a share in the factories and privileges of the Company in India; and stated that they were fitting out fourteen ships for the trade.2 They might have still further represented, that every one of the arguments advanced by the Directors, without even a single exception, was a mere assumption of the thing to be proved. That the trade had, during forty years, or four hundred years, been carried on by a joint-stock, proved not that, by a different mode, it would not have yielded much greater advantage: if the trade had been in the highest degree unprosperous, it rather proved that the management had been proportionally defective. The Directors asserted, that in meeting competition, private adventure would altogether fail; though with their joint-stock they had so ill sustained competition, that Courten's Association had threatened to drive them out of every market in which they had appeared: and they themselves had repeatedly and solemnly declared to government, that unless the license to Courten were withdrawn, the ruin of the East India Company was sure. With regard to mercantile competition, at any rate, book i.Chap. 3. 1654. the skill and vigilance of individuals transacting for their own interest was sure to be a more powerful instrument than the imbecility and negligence of joint-stock management: and as to warlike competition, a few ships of war, with a few companies of marines, employed by the government, would have yielded far more security than all the efforts which a feeble joint-stock could make. The failure of Courten's Association was sufficiently accounted for by the operation of particular causes, altogether distinct from the general circumstances of the trade; the situation, in fact, in which the jealousy and influence of the Company had placed them. Factories were by no means so necessary as the Company ignorantly supposed, and interestedly strove to make others believe; as they shortly after found to their cost, when they were glad to reduce the greater number of those which they had established. Where factories were really useful, it would be for the interest of all the traders to support them. And all would join in an object of common utility in India, as they joined in every other quarter of the globe. As to the native princes, there was no such difficulty as the Company pretended: nor would individual merchants have been less successful than the directors of a joint-stock, in finding the means of prosecuting the trade.
These contending pretensions were referred to a committee of the Council of State; and they, without coming to a decision, remitted the subject to the Protector and Council, as too difficult and important for the judgment of any inferior tribunal.1
Nothing could exceed the confusion which, from the clashing interests of the owners of the separate book i.Chap. 3. 1655. stocks, now raged in the Company's affairs. There were no less than three parties who set up claims to the Island of Polaroon, and to the compensation money which had been obtained from the Dutch; the respective proprietors of the third, fourth, and united joint-stocks. The proprietors of the third joint-stock claimed the whole, as the fourth joint-stock and the united stock were not in existence at the time when the debt obtained from the Dutch was incurred; and they prayed that the money might be lodged in safe and responsible hands, till government should determine the question. The owners of the two other stocks demanded that the money should be divided into three equal shares, for the three several stocks, and that they should all have equal rights to the Island of Polaroon.
Five arbitrators, to whom the dispute was referred, were chosen by the Council of State. In the mean time Cromwell proposed to borrow the 85,000l. which had been paid by the Dutch, and which could not be employed till adjudged to whom it belonged.
The Directors, however, had expected the fingering of the money, and they advanced reasons why it should be immediately placed in their hands. The pecuniary distresses of the Company were great: The different stocks were 50,000l. in debt; and many of the proprietors were in difficult circumstances: From gratitude to the Protector, however, they would make exertions to spare him 50,000l. to be repaid in eighteen months by instalments, provided the remaining 35,000l. were immediately assigned them, to pay their most pressing debts, and make a dividend to the Proprietors.1 It thus appears, that these Directors wanted to forestall the decision of the question; and to distribute the money book i.Chap. 3. 1655. at their own pleasure, before it was known to whom it belonged. At the same time, it is matter of curious uncertainty, who these Directors were, whom they represented, by what set or sets of Proprietors they were chosen, or to whom they were responsible.
While this dispute was yet undecided, the Merchant Adventurers, or Proprietors of the united stock, obtained a commission from the Protector to fit out four ships for the Indian trade, under the management of a committee.1 We are made acquainted upon this occasion with a very interesting fact. The news of this event being carried to Holland, it was interpreted, and understood, by the Dutch, as being an abolition of the exclusive charter, and the adoption of the new measure of a free and open trade. The interests of the Dutch Company made them see, in this supposed revolution, consequences very different from those which the interests of the English Directors made them behold or pretend that they beheld in it. Instead of rejoicing at the loss of a joint-stock in England, as they ought to have done, if by joint-stock alone the trade of their rivals could be successfully carried on; they were filled with dismay at the prospect of freedom, as likely to produce a trade with which competition on their part would be vain.2
Meanwhile the Company, as well as the Merchant Adventurers, were employed in the equipment of a book i.Chap. 3. 1656. fleet. The petition of the Company to the Protector for leave to export bullion, specified the sum of 15,000l.: and the fleet consisted of three ships. They continued to press the government for a decision in favour of their exclusive privileges; and in a petition which they presented in October, 1656, affirmed, that the great number of ships sent by individuals under licenses, had raised the price of India goods from 40 to 50 per cent. and reduced that of English commodities in the same proportion. The Council resolved at last to come to a decision. After some inquiry, they gave it as their advice to the Protector to continue the exclusive trade and the joint-stock; and a committee of the Council was in consequence appointed, to consider the terms of a charter.1
While the want of funds almost annihilated the operations of the Company's agents in every part of India; and while they complained that the competition of the ships of the Merchant Adventurers rendered it, as usual, impracticable for them to trade with a profit in the markets of India, the Dutch pursued their advantages against the Portuguese. They had acquired possession of the island of Ceylon, and in the year 1656–57, blockaded the port of Goa, after which they meditated an attack upon the small island of Diu, which commanded the entrance into the harbour of Swally. From the success of these enterprises they expected a complete command of the navigation on that side of India, and the power of imposing on the English trade duties under which it would be unable to stand.2
From the Coalition between the Company and the Merchant Adventurers, till the Project for a new and a rival East India Company.
After the decision of the Council of State in favour book i.Chap. 4. 1658. of the joint-stock scheme of trading to India, the Company and the Merchant Adventurers effected a coalition. On the strength of this union a new subscription, in 1657–58, was opened, and filled up to the amount of 786,000l.1 Whether the expected charter had been actually received is not ascertained.
The first operation of the new body of subscribers was the very necessary one of forming an adjustment with the owners of the preceding funds. A negotiation was opened for obtaining the transfer of the factories, establishments, and privileges in India. After the lofty terms in which the Directors had always spoken of these privileges and possessions, when placing them in the list of reasons for opposing an open trade, we are apt to be surprised at the smallness of the sum which, after all, and “though situated in the dominions of fourteen different sovereigns,” they were found to be worth. They were made over in full right for 20,000l., to be paid in two instalments. The ships, merchandise in store, and other trading commodities of the preceding adventurers, were taken by the new subscribers at a price; and it was agreed that the sharers in the former trade, who on that account had property in the Indies, should book i.Chap. 4. 1659. not traffic on a separate fund, but, after a specified term, should carry the amount of such property to the account of the new stock.1 There was, in this manner, only one stock now in the hands of the Directors, and they had one distinct interest to pursue: a prodigious improvement on the preceding confusion and embarrassment, when several stocks were managed, and as many contending interests pursued at once.
Some new regulations were adopted for the conduct of affairs. The whole of the factories and presidencies were rendered subordinate to the President and Council at Surat. The presidencies, however, at Fort St. George and at Bantam were continued; the factories and agencies on the Coromandel coast and in Bengal being made dependent on the former, and those in the southern islands on the latter.2
As heavy complaints had been made of trade carried on, for their own account, by the agents and servants of the Company, who not only acted as the rivals, but neglected and betrayed the interests, of their masters, it was prohibited, and, in compensation, additional salaries allowed.3
After these preliminary proceedings, the first fleet was dispatched. It consisted of five ships; one for Madras carrying 15,500l. in bullion; one for Bengal; and three for Surat, Persia, and Bantam.4 The following year, that is the season 1658–59, one ship was consigned to Surat, one to Fort St. George, and two to Bantam. The latter were directed to touch at Fort St. George to obtain coast clothes for the islands, and to return to Bengal and Fort St. George to take in Bengal and Coromandel goods for Europe. Instructions were given to make great efforts for recovering book i.Chap. 4. 1661. a share of the spice trade.1 Bantam, however, was at this time blockaded by the Dutch, and no accounts were this year received of the traffic in the southern islands.2
The operations of the new joint-stock were not more prosperous than those of the old. Transactions at the several factories were feeble and unsuccessful. For two years, 1659–60, and 1660–61, there is no account of the Company's equipments; and their advances to India were no doubt small.3 “The embarrassed state of the Company's funds at this particular period,” says Mr. Bruce, “may be inferred from the resolutions they had taken to relinquish many of their out-stations, and to limit their trade in the Peninsula of India to the presidencies of Surat and Fort St. George, and their subordinate factories.”4
Meanwhile Cromwell had died, and Charles II. ascended the throne. Amid the arrangements which took place between England and the continental powers, the Company were careful to press on the attention of government a list of grievances, which they represented themselves as still enduring at the hands of the Dutch; and an order was obtained, empowering them to take possession of the island of Polaroon. They afterwards complained that it was delivered to them in such a state of prepared desolation, book i.Chap. 4. 1661. as to be of no value.1 The truth is, it was of little value at best.
On every change in the government of the country, it had been an important object with the Company to obtain a confirmation of their exclusive privileges. The usual policy was not neglected, on the accession of Charles II.; and a petition was presented to him for a renewal of the East India charter. As there appears not to have been, at that time, any body of opponents to make interest or importunity for a contrary measure, it was far easier to grant without inquiry, than to inquire and refuse; and Charles and his ministers had a predilection for easy rules of government. A charter, bearing date the 3d of April, 1661, was accordingly granted, confirming the ancient privileges of the Company, and vesting in them authority to make peace and war with any prince or people, not being Christians; and to seize unlicensed persons within their limits, and send them to England.2 The two last were important privileges; and with the right of administering justice, consigned almost all the powers of government to the discretion of the Directors and their servants.
It appears not that, on this occasion, the expedient of a new subscription for obtaining a capital was attempted. A new adjustment with regard to the privileges and dead stock in India would have been required. The joint-stock was not as yet a definite and invariable sum, placed beyond the power of resumption, at the disposal of the Company, the shares only transferable by purchase and sale in the market. The capital was variable and fluctuating; formed by the sums which, on the occasion of each voyage, the individuals, who were free of the Company, chose to book i.Chap. 4. 1662–67. pay into the hands of the Directors, receiving credit for the amount in the Company's books, and proportional dividends on the profits of the voyage. Of this stock 500l. entitled a proprietor to a vote in the general courts; and the shares were transferable, even to such as were not free of the Company, upon paying 5l. for admission.1
Of the amount either of the shipping or stock of the first voyage upon the renewed charter we have no account; but the instructions sent to India prescribed a reduction of the circle of trade. In the following year 1662–63, two ships sailed for Surat, with a cargo in goods and bullion, amounting to 65,000l., of which it would appear that 28,300l. was consigned to Fort St. George. Next season there is no account of equipments. In 1664–65, two ships were sent out with the very limited value of 16,000l. The following season the same number only of ships was equipped; and the value in money and goods consigned to Surat was 20,600l.; whether any thing in addition was afforded to Fort St. George does not appear; there was no consignment to Bantam. In 1666–67, the equipment seems to have consisted but of one vessel. consigned to Surat with a value of 16,000l.2
With these inadequate means, the operations of the Company in India were by necessity languid and humble. At Surat the out-factories and agencies were suppressed. Instructions were given to sell the English goods, at low rates, for the purpose of ruining the interlopers. The Dutch, however, revenged the private traders; and by the competition of their powerful book i.Chap. 4. 1662–67. capital, rendered the Company's business difficult and unprofitable.1 On the Coromandel coast the wars among the native chiefs, and the overbearing influence of the Dutch, cramped and threatened to extinguish the trade of the English. And at Bantam, where the Dutch power was most sensibly felt, the feeble resources of their rivals hardly sufficed to keep their business alive.2
During these years of weakness and obscurity, several events occurred which by their consequences proved to be of considerable importance. The island of Bombay was ceded to the king of England as part of the dowry of the Infanta Catharine; and a fleet of five men of war commanded by the Earl of Marlborough, with 500 troops commanded by Sir Abraham Shipman, were sent to receive the possession. The armament arrived at Bombay on the 18th September, 1662; but the governor evaded the cession. The English understood the treaty to include Salsette and the other dependencies of Bombay. As it was not precise in its terms, the Portuguese denied that it referred to any thing more than the island of Bombay. Even Bombay they refused to give up, till further instructions, on the pretext that the letters or patent of the King did not accord with the usages of Portugal. The commander of the armament applied in this emergency to the Company's President to make arrangements for receiving the troops and ships at Surat, as the men were dying by long confinement on board. But that magistrate represented the danger of incurring the suspicion of the Mogul government, which would produce the seizure of the Company's investment, and the expulsion of their servants from the country. In these circumstances the Earl of Marlborough took his resolution of returning with book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. the king's ships to England; but Sir Abraham Shipman, it was agreed, should land the troops on the island of Angedivah, twelve leagues distant from Goa. On the arrival of the Earl of Marlborough in England in 1663, the King remonstrated with the government of Portugal, but obtained unsatisfactory explanations; and all intention of parting with the dependencies of Bombay was denied. The situation in the mean time of the troops at Angedivah proved extremely unhealthy; their numbers were greatly reduced by disease; and the commander made offer to the President and Council at Surat, to cede the King's rights to the Company. This offer, on consultation, the President and Council declined; as well because, without the authority of the King, the grant was not valid, as because, in their feeble condition, they were unable to take possession of the place. After Sir Abraham Shipman and the greater part of the troops had died by famine and disease, Mr. Cooke, on whom the command devolved, accepted of Bombay on the terms which the Portuguese were pleased to prescribe; renounced all claim to the contiguous islands; and allowed the Portuguese exemption from the payment of customs. This convention the King refused to ratify, as contrary to the terms of his treaty with Portugal; but sent out Sir Gervase Lucas to assume the government of the place. As a few years’ experience showed that the government of Bombay cost more than it produced, it was once more offered to the Company: and now accepted. The grant bears date in 1668. Bombay was “to be held of the King in free and common soccage, as of the manor of East Greenwich, on the payment of the annual rent of 10l. in gold, on the 30th of September, in each year;” and with the place itself was conveyed book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. authority to exercise all political powers, necessary for its defence and government.1
Subterfuges of a similar kind were invented by the Dutch to evade the cession of the island of Polaroon. The Governor pretended that he could not deliver up the island without instructions from the Governor of Banda; and the Governor of Banda pretended that he could not give such instructions without receiving authority from the Governor-General of Batavia. After much delay and negotiation the cession was made in 1665; but not, if we believe the English accounts, till the Dutch had so far exterminated the inhabitants and the spice trees, that the acquisition was of little importance. On the recommencement, however, of hostilities between England and Holland, the Dutch made haste to expel the English, and to re-occupy the island. And by the treaty of Breda, both Polaroon and Damm, on which the English had attempted an establishment, were finally ceded to the Dutch.2
In the beginning of 1664, Sevagee, the founder of the Mahratta power, in the course of his predatory warfare against the territories of the Mogul Sovereign, attacked the city of Surat. The inhabitants fled, and the Governor shut himself up in the castle. The Company's servants, however, taking shelter in the factory, stood upon their defence, and having called in the ships’ crews to their aid, made so brave a resistance that Sevagee retired after pillaging the town. The gallantry and success of this enterprise so pleased the Mogul government, as to obtain its thanks to the President, and new privileges of trade to the Company. The place was again approached by the same destructive enemy in 1670, when the principal part of book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. the Company's goods was transported to Swally, and lodged on board the ships. The English again defended themselves successfully, though some lives were lost, as well as some property in their detached warehouses.1
At this period occurred one of the first instances of refractory and disobedient conduct on the part of the Company's servants. This is a calamity to which they have been much less frequently exposed, than, from the distance and employment of those servants, it would have been reasonable to expect. The efforts of the Directors to suppress the trade, which their agents carried on for their own account, had not been very successful. Sir Edward Winter, the chief servant at Fort St. George, was suspected of this delinquency, and in consequence recalled. When Mr. Foxcroft, however, who was sent to supersede him, arrived at Fort St. George, in June, 1665, Sir Edward, instead of resigning, placed his intended successor in confinement, under a pretext which it was easy to make, that he had uttered disloyal expressions against the King's government. Notwithstanding remonstrances and commands, he maintained himself in the government of the place till two ships arrived, in August, 1668, with peremptory orders from the Company, strengthened by a command from the King, to resign; when his courage failed him, and he complied. He retired to Masulipatam, a station of the Dutch, till the resentment excited against him in England should cool: and his name appears no more in the annals of the Company.2
In Bengal the English factory at Hoogley had been involved in an unhappy dispute with the Mogul book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. government, on account of a junk which they imprudently seized on the river Ganges. For several years this incident had been used as a pretext for molesting them. In 1662–63, the chief at Madras sent an agent to endeavour to reconcile them with Meer Jumlah, the Nabob of Bengal; and to establish agencies at Balasore and Cossimbuzar.1 The Company's funds, however, were too confined to push to any extent the trade of the rich province of Bengal.
The scale was very small on which, at this time, the Company's appointments were formed. In 1662, Sir George Oxenden was elected to be “President and chief Director of all their affairs at Surat, and all other their factories in the north parts of India, from Zeilon to the Red Sea,” at a salary of 300l. and with a gratuity of 200l. per annum as compensation for private trade. Private trade in the hands of their servants, and still more in those of others, the Company were now most earnestly labouring to suppress. Directions were given to seize all unlicensed traders and send them to England; and no exertion of the great powers entrusted to the Company was to be spared, to annihilate the race of merchants who trenched upon the monopoly, and to whom, under the disrespectful name of interlopers, they ascribed a great part of their imbecility and depression.2
Their determination to crush all those of their countrymen who dared to add themselves to the list of their competitors, failed not to give rise to instances of great hardship and calamity. One was rendered famous by the altercation which in 1666 it produced between the two houses of parliament. Thomas Skinner, a merchant, fitted out a vessel in 1657. The agents of the Company seized his ship and merchandize in India, his house, and the island of Barella, book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. which he had bought of the King of Jambee. They even denied him a passage home; and he was obliged to travel over land to Europe. The sufferer failed not to seek redress, by presenting his complaint to the government, and after some importunity it was referred first to a committee of the Council, and next to the House of Peers. When the Company were ordered to answer, they refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the Peers, on the ground that they were only a court of appeal, and not competent to decide in the first resort. The objection was over-ruled. The Company appealed to the House of Commons; the Lords were highly inflamed; and, proceeding to a decision, awarded to the petitioner 5,000l. The Commons were now enraged in their turn; and being unable to gratify their resentments upon the House of Peers, which was the cause of them, they were pleased to do so upon the unfortunate gentleman who had already paid so dearly for the crime (whatever its amount) of infringing the Company's monopoly. He was sent a prisoner to the Tower. The Lords, whom these proceedings filled with indignation, voted the petition of the Company to the Lower House to be false and scandalous. Upon this the Commons resolved that whoever should execute the sentence of the other house in favour of Skinner, was a betrayer of the rights and liberties of the Commons of England, and an infringer of the privileges of their house. To such a height did these contentions proceed, that the King adjourned the parliament seven times; and when the controversy after an intermission revived, he sent for both houses to Whitehall, and by his personal persuasion induced them to erase from their journals all their votes, resolutions, and other acts relating to the subject. A contest, of which both parties were tired, book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. being thus ended, the sacrifice and ruin of an individual appeared, as usual, of little importance: Skinner had no redress.1
Another class of competitors excited the fears and jealousies of the Company. Colbert, the French minister of finance, among his projects for rendering his country commercial and opulent, conceived, in 1664, the design of an East India Company. The report which reached the Court of Directors in London represented the French as fitting out eight armed vessels for India, commanded by Hubert Hugo, whom, in their instructions to the settlements abroad, the Directors described as a Dutch pirate. The hostilities of the Company were timid. They directed their agents in India to afford these rivals no aid or protection, but to behave towards them with circumspection and delicacy. The subservience of the English government to that of France was already so apparent, as to make them afraid of disputes in which they were likely to have their own rulers against them.2
The war which took place with Holland in 1664, and which was followed in 1665 by a temporary quarrel with France, set loose the powers of both nations against the Company in India. The French Company, however, was too much in its infancy to be formidable; and the Dutch, whose mercantile competition pressed as heavily during peace as during war, added to the difficulties of the English, chiefly by rendering their navigation more hazardous and expensive.
A fact, an enlightened attention to which would probably have been productive of important consequences, was at this time forced upon the notice of the Company. One grand source of the expenses book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. which devoured the profits of their trade was their factories, with all that mass of dead stock which they required, houses, lands, fortifications, and equipments. The Dutch, who prosecuted their interests with vigilance and economy, carried on their trade in a great many places without factories. Upon receiving instructions to make preparations and inquiry for opening a trade with Japan, Mr. Quarles Brown, the Company's agent at Bantam, who had been at Japan, reported to the Court, that it would be necessary, if a trade with Japan was to be undertaken, to follow the plan of the Dutch; who procured the commodities in demand at Japan, in the countries of Siam, Cambodia, and Tonquin, not by erecting expensive factories, but by forming contracts with the native merchants. These merchants, at fixed seasons, brought to the ports the commodities for which they had contracted, and though it was often necessary to advance to them the capital with which the purchases were effected, they had regularly fulfilled their engagements.1 Even the Company itself, and that in places where their factories cost them the most, had made experiments, and with great advantage, on the expediency of employing the native merchants in providing their investments. At Surat, in 1665–66, “the investments of the season were obtained by the employment of a native merchant, who had provided an assortment of pepper at his own risk, and though the Dutch had obstructed direct purchases of pepper, the agents continued the expedient of employing the native merchants, and embarked a moderate assortment.”2 Factories to carry on the traffic of Asia, at any rate on the scale, or any thing book i.Chap. 4. 1663–68. approaching to the scale, of the East India Company, were the natural offspring of a joint-stock; the Managers or Directors of which had a much greater interest in the patronage they created, which was wholly their own; than in the profits of the Company, of which they had only an insignificant share. Had the trade to India been conducted from the beginning, on those principles of individual adventure and free competition, to which the nation owes its commercial grandeur, it is altogether improbable that many factories would have been established. The agency of the native merchants would have performed much; and where it was not sufficient, the Indian trade would have naturally divided itself into two branches. One set of adventurers would have established themselves in India, by whom investments would have been provided for the European ships, and to whom the cargoes of the European goods would have been consigned. Another class of adventurers, who remained at home, would have performed the business of export and import from England, as it is performed to any other region of the globe.
The time, however, was now approaching when the weakness which had so long characterized the operations of the English in India was gradually to disappear. Notwithstanding the imperfections of the government, at no period, perhaps, either prior or posterior, did the people of this country advance so rapidly in wealth and prosperity, as during the time, including the years of civil war, from the accession of James I. to the expulsion of James II.1 We are not informed of the particular measures which were pursued book i.Chap. 4. 1668–74. by the Directors for obtaining an extension of funds; but the increase of capital in the nation was probably the principal cause which enabled them, in the year succeeding the acquisition of Bombay, to provide a grander fleet and cargo than they had ever yet sent forth. In the course of the year 1667–68, six ships sailed to Surat, with goods and bullion to the value of 130,000l.; five ships to Fort St. George, with a value of 75,000l.; and five to Bantam, with a stock of 40,000l. In the next season we are informed that the consignments to Surat consisted of 1,200 tons of shipping, with a stock of the value of 75,000l.; to Fort St. George, of five ships, and a stock of 103,000l.; and to Bantam, of three ships and 35,000l. In the year 1669–70, 1,500 tons of shipping were sent to Surat, six ships to Fort St. George, and four to Bantam, and the whole amount of the stock was 281,000l. The vessels sent out in 1670–71 amounted to sixteen, and their cargoes and bullion to 303,500l. In the following year four ships were sent to Surat, and nearly 2,000 tons of shipping to Fort St. George; the cargo and bullion to the former, being 85,000l., to the latter, 160,000l.: shipping to the amount of 2,800 tons was consigned to Bantam, but of the value of the bullion and goods no account seems to be preserved. In 1672–73, stock and bullion to the amount of 157,700l. were sent to Surat and Fort St. George. On account of the war, and the more exposed situation of Bantam, the consignment to that settlement was book i.Chap. 4. 1668–74. postponed. In the following year, it appears that cargoes and bullion were consigned, of the value of 100,000l. to Surat; 87,000l. to Fort St. George; and 41,000l. to Bantam.1
Other events of these years were of considerable importance. In 1667–68, appears the first order of the Company for the importation of tea.2 Attempts were now recommended for resuming trade with Sumatra.3 In 1671–72, considerable embarrassment was produced at Surat by the arrival of a French fleet of twelve ships, and a stock computed at 130,000l. The inconsiderate purchases and sales of the French reduced the price of European goods, and raised that of Indian; but these adventurers exhibited so little of the spirit and knowledge of commerce, as convinced the Company's agents that they would not prove formidable rivals.4
As England and France were now united in alliance against the Dutch, the Company might have exulted in the prospect of humbling their oppressors, but the danger of a new set of competitors seems effectually to have repressed these triumphant emotions. In 1673, the island of St. Helena, which had several times changed its masters, being recaptured from the Dutch, was granted anew and confirmed to the Company by a royal charter.5
The funds which, in such unusual quantity, the Directors had been able to supply for the support of the trade in India, did not suffice to remove, it would appear that they hardly served to lighten, the pecuniary difficulties under which it laboured. To an order to provide a large investment, the President and Council book i.Chap. 4. 1674. at Surat, in 1673–74, replied, that the funds at their disposal were only 88,228l. and their debts 100,000l. besides interest on the same at 9 per cent.; and in November, 1674, they represented that the debt arose to no less a sum than 135,000l.; and that all returns must in a great measure be suspended till, by the application of the funds received from Europe, the Company's credit should be revived.1
Of the sort of views held out at this period to excite the favour of the nation towards the East India Company, a specimen has come down to us of considerable value. Sir Josiah Child, an eminent member of the body of Directors, in his celebrated Discourses on Trade, written in the year 1665, and published in 1667, represents the trade to India as the most beneficial branch of English commerce; and in proof of this opinion asserts, that it employs from twenty-five to thirty sail of the most warlike mercantile ships of the kingdom, manned with mariners from 60 to 100 each; that it supplies the kingdom with saltpetre, which would otherwise cost the nation an immense sum to the Dutch; with pepper, indigo, calicoes, and drugs, to the value of 150,000l. or 180,000l. yearly, for which it would otherwise pay to the same people an exorbitant price; with materials for export to Turkey, France, Spain, Italy, and Guinea, to the amount of 200,000l. or 300,000l. yearly, countries with which, if the nation were deprived of these commodities, a profitable trade could not be carried on.
These statements were probably made with an intention to deceive. The imports, exclusive of saltpetre, are asserted to exceed 400,000l. a year; though the book i.Chap. 4. 1674. stock which was annually sent to effect the purchases, and to defray the whole expense of factories and fortifications abroad, hardly amounted in any number of years preceding 1665, to 100,000l., often to much less; while the Company were habitually contracting debts, and labouring under the severest pecuniary difficulties. Thus early, in the history of this Company, is it found necessary to place reliance on their accounts and statements, only when something very different from the authority of their advocates is found to constitute the basis of our belief.
It will be highly instructive to confront one exaggerated statement with another. About the same time with the discourses of Sir Josiah Child, appeared the celebrated work of De Witt on the state of Holland. Proceeding on the statement of Sir Walter Raleigh, who in the investigation of the Dutch fishery, made for the information of James I. in 1603, affirmed, that “the Hollanders fished on the coasts of Great Britain with no fewer than 3,000 ships, and 50,000 men; that they employed and set to sea, to transport and sell the fish so taken, and to make returns thereof, 9,000 ships more, and 150,000 men; and that twenty busses do, one way or other, maintain 8,000 people;” he adds, that from the time of Sir Walter Raleigh to the time at which he wrote, the traffic of Holland in all its branches could not have increased less than one third. Allowing this account to be exaggerated in the same proportion as that of the East India Director, which the nature of the circumstances, so much better known, renders rather improbable; it is yet evident, to what a remarkable degree the fisheries of the British coasts, to which the Dutch confined themselves, constituted a more important commerce than the highly vaunted, but comparatively insignificant business of the East India Company.1 The English fishery, at book i.Chap. 4. 1675–82. the single station of Newfoundland, exceeded in value the trade to the East Indies. In the year 1676, no fewer than 102 ships, carrying twenty guns each, and eighteen boats, with five men to each boat, 9,180 men in all, were employed in that traffic; and the total value of the fish and oil was computed at 386,400l.2
The equipments, in 1674–75, were, five ships to Surat with 189,000l. in goods and bullion; five to Fort St. George with 202,000l.; and 2,500 tons of shipping to Bantam with 65,000l.: In 1675–76, to Surat, five ships and 96,500l.; to Fort St. George, five ships and 235,000l.; to Bantam, 2,450 tons of shipping and 58,000l.: In 1676–77, three ships to Surat and three to Fort St. George, with 97,000l. to the one, and 176,600l. to the other; and eight ships to Bantam, with no account of the stock. The whole adventure to India, in 1677–78, seems to have been seven ships and 352,000l.; of which a part, to the value of 10,000l. or 12,000l., was to be forwarded from Fort St. George to Bantam: In 1678–79, eight ships and 393,950l.: In 1679–80, ten ships and 461,700l.: In 1680–81, eleven ships and 596,000l.: And, in 1681–82, seventeen ships, and 740,000l.3
The events affecting the East India Company were still common and unimportant. In 1674–75, a mutiny, occasioned by retrenchment, but not of any book i.Chap. 4. 1675–82. serious magnitude, was suppressed at Bombay. In trying and executing the ringleaders, the Company exercised the formidable powers of martial law. The trade of Bengal had grown to such importance, that, instead of a branch of the agency at Fort St. George, an agency was now constituted in Bengal itself. Directions were forwarded to make attempts for opening a trade with China; and tea, to the value of 100 dollars, was, in 1676–77, ordered on the Company's account. Beside the ordinary causes of depression which affected the Company at Bantam, a particular misfortune occurred in 1667. The principal persons belonging to the factory having gone up the river in their prows, a number of Javanese assassins, who had concealed themselves in the water, suddenly sprung upon them, and put them to death.1
In 1677–78, “the Court,” says Mr. Bruce, “recommended temporising expedients to their servants, with the Mogul, with Sevagee, and with the petty Rajahs; but at the same time they gave to President Aungier and his council discretionary powers, to employ armed vessels, to enforce the observation of treaties and grants:—in this way, the Court shifted from themselves the responsibility of commencing hostilities, that they might be able, in any questions which might arise between the King and the Company, to refer such hostilities to the errors of their servants.”2 This cool provision of a subterfuge, at the expense of their servants, is a policy ascribed to the Company, in this instance, by one of the most unabashed of their eulogists. We shall see, as we advance, in what degree the precedent has been followed.
The difficulties which now occurred in directing the operations of the various individuals employed in book i.Chap. 4. 1682. the business of the East India Company began to be serious. The Directors, from ignorance of the circumstances in which their servants were placed, often transmitted to them instructions which it would have been highly imprudent to execute. The functionaries abroad often took upon themselves, and had good reasons for their caution, to disregard the orders which they received. A door being thus opened for discretionary conduct, the instructions of the Directors were naturally as often disobeyed for the convenience of the actors abroad, as for the benefit of the Company at home. The disregard of their authority, and the violation of their commands, had been a frequent subject of uneasiness and indignation to the Directors. Nor was this all. From discordant pretensions to rank and advancement in the service, animosities arose among the agents abroad. Efforts were made by the Directors for the cure of these troublesome, and even dangerous, diseases. Seniority was adopted as the principle of promotion; but nomination to the important office of a Member of Council at the Agencies, as well as Presidencies, was reserved to the Court of Directors.1
From the Project of forming a new and rival Company, till the Union of the two Companies by the Award of Godolphin, in the year 1711.
book i.Chap. 5. 1683.The Company were now again threatened by that competition with their fellow-citizens which they have always regarded as their greatest misfortune. From the renewal of their charter, shortly after the accession of Charles II., their monopoly had not been disturbed, except by a few feeble interlopers, whom they had not found it difficult to crush. In the year 1682–83, the design was disclosed of opening a subscription for a new joint-stock, and establishing a rival East India Company. The scheme was so much in unison with the sentiments of the nation, and assumed an aspect of so much importance, that it was taken into consideration by the King and Council. 1
It had so much effect upon the views of the Company, though for the present the Council withheld their sanction, that, in Mr. Bruce's opinion, it introduced into their policy of 1682–83 a refinement, calculated, and intended, to impose upon the King and the public. It induced them to speak of the amount of their equipments, not, as usual, in terms of exact detail, but in those of vague and hyperbolical estimate. What we know of their adventure of that year is only the information they forwarded to their Indian stations, that the stock to be sent out would exceed one million sterling. In the course of book i.Chap. 5. 1683–85. the next season they equipped four ships to Surat. Of that year we only further know that 100,000l. in bullion was intended for Bengal. In 1684–85, information was forwarded to Surat, in general terms, that the tonnage and stock would be considerable: Five ships sailed for Fort St. George and Bengal, with 140,000l. in bullion: Of other circumstances nothing is adduced: and for several succeeding years no statement of the tonnage and stock of the annual voyages appears.1
Under the skill which the Court of Directors have all along displayed in suppressing such information as they wished not to appear, it is often impossible to collect more than gleanings of intelligence respecting the Company's debts. At the present period, however, they appear to have been heavy and distressing. In 1676, it was asserted by their opponents in England that their debts amounted to 600,000l.;2 and we have already seen that, in 1674, the debt of Surat alone amounted to 135,000l.3 In 1682–83, the Directors authorised the Agency in Bengal to borrow 200,000l. and, in 1683–84, it is stated that the debt upon the dead stock at Bombay alone amounted to 300,000l.4 It seems highly probable that at this time their debts exceeded their capital.
In a war between the King of Bantam and his son, in which the English sided with the one, and the Dutch with the other, the son prevailed; and expelled the English from the place. The agents and servants of the factory took shelter at Batavia, and the Dutch Governor made offer of his assistance to book i.Chap. 5. 1683–85. bring the property of the Company from Bantam. As the English, however, accused the Dutch of being the real authors of the calamity, they declined the proposal, as precluding those claims of redress which the Company might prosecute in Europe. Various efforts were made to regain possession of Bantam, but the Dutch from this time remained sole masters of Java.1
Upon the loss of Bantam, the Presidency for the government of the Eastern Coast, which had hitherto, with a fond desire for the traffic of the islands, been stationed at that place, was removed to Fort St. George.2
The nation becoming gradually more impatient under the monopoly, the numbers multiplied of those who ventured to break through the restraint which it imposed upon the commercial ardour of the times. The Company, not satisfied with the power which they had already obtained of common and martial law, and of seizing, with their property, and sending to England, as many of their countrymen, as their interests or caprice might direct, still called for a wider range of authority: and, under the favour of government which they now enjoyed, obtained the powers of Admiralty jurisdiction, for the purpose of seizing and condemning, safe from the review of the courts of municipal law in England, the ships of the interlopers.3 The servants of the Company were now invested with unlimited power over the British people in India.
Insurrection again appeared at Bombay, and assumed a very formidable aspect. The causes were such as have commonly, in the Company's affairs, been attended with similar effects. Efforts had been made to retrench expenses; unpleasant to the Company's book i.Chap. 5. 1683–85. servants. The earliest experiment of the Company in territorial sovereignty agreed with the enlarged experience of succeeding times: the expense of the government exceeded the revenue which the population and territory could be made to yield. The Directors, new to the business of government, were disappointed; and having first laboured to correct the deficit by screwing up the revenue, they next attempted the same arduous task by lessening the expense. By the two operations together, all classes of their subjects were alienated: First, the people, by the weight of taxation; next, the instruments of government, by the diminution of their profits. Accordingly Captain Keigwin, commander of the garrison at Bombay, was joined by the troops and the great body of the people, in renouncing the authority of the Company, and declaring by proclamation, dated December 27, 1683, that the island belonged to the King. Keigwin was by general consent appointed Governor; and immediately addressed letters to the King and to the Duke of York, stating such reasons as were most likely to avert from his conduct the condemnation to which it was exposed.1
The President and Council at Surat, conscious of their inability to reduce the island by force, had recourse to negociation. A general pardon, and redress of grievances, were promised. First three commissioners were sent; afterwards the President repaired to Bombay in person. But neither entreaties nor threats were of any avail.2
book i.Chap. 5. 1685–87. As soon as intelligence arrived in England, the King's command was procured, directing Captain Keigwin to deliver up the island: and instructions were forwarded to proceed against the insurgents by force. When Sir Thomas Grantham, the commander of the Company's fleet, presented himself at Bombay, invested with the King's commission, Keigwin offered, if assured of a free pardon to himself and adherents, to surrender the place. On these terms the island was restored to obedience. For the more effectual coercion of any turbulent propensities, the expedient was adopted of removing the seat of government from Surat to Bombay. Nor could the humble title and pretensions of a President and Council any longer satisfy the rising ambition of the Company. The Dutch had established a regency at Batavia and Columbo. It was not consistent wiih the grandeur of the English Company to remain contented with inferior distinction. In 1687, Bombay was elevated to the dignity of a Regency, with unlimited power over the rest of the Company's settlements. Madras was formed into a corporation, governed by a mayor and aldermen.1
The English had met with less favour, and more oppression, from the native powers in Bengal, than in any other part of India.2 In 1685–86, the resolution was adopted of seeking redress and protection by book i.Chap. 5. 1685–87. force of arms. The greatest military equipment the Company had ever provided was sent to India. Ten armed vessels, from twelve to seventy guns, under the command of Captain Nicholson, and six companies of infantry, without captains, whose places were to be supplied by the Members of Council in Bengal, were dispatched, with instructions to seize and fortify Chittagong as a place of future security, and to retaliate in such a manner upon the Nabob and Mogul as to obtain reparation for the injuries and losses which had been already sustained. In addition to this force, the Directors, in the following year, made application to the King for an entire company of regular infantry with their officers; and power was granted to the Governor in India to select from the privates such men as should appear qualified to be commissioned officers in the Company's service. By some of those innumerable casualties, inseparable from distant expeditions, the whole of the force arrived not at one time in the Ganges; and an insignificant quarrel, between some of the English soldiers and the natives, was imprudently allowed to bring on hostilities, before the English were in a condition to maintain them with success. They were obliged to retire from Hoogley, after they had cannonaded it with the fleet, and took shelter at Chutanuttee, afterwards Calcutta, till an agreement with the Nabob, or additional forces, should enable them to resume their stations. The disappointment of their ambitious schemes was bitterly felt by the Court of Directors. They blamed their servants in Bengal in book i.Chap. 5. 1685–87. the severest terms, not only for timidity, but breach of trust, as having turned the resources of the Company, which ought to have been effectually employed in obtaining profitable and honourable terms from the Nabob and Mogul, to their own schemes of private avarice and emolument. A hollow truce was agreed to by the Nabob, which he only employed for preparing the means of an effectual attack. The English, under the direction of Charnock, the Company's agent, made a gallant defence. They not only repulsed the Nabob's forces in repeated assaults, but stormed the fort of Tanna, seized the island of Injellee, in which they fortified themselves, and burnt the town of Balasore, with forty sail of the Mogul fleet; the factories, however, at Patna and Cossimbuzar were taken and plundered. In September, 1687, an accommodation was effected, and the English were allowed to return to Hoogley, with their ancient privileges. But this was a termination of the contest ill-relished by the Court of Directors. Repeating their accusations of Charnock and their other functionaries, they sent Sir John Child, the governor of Bombay, to Madras and Bengal, for the purpose of reforming abuses, and of re-establishing, if possible, the factories at Cossimbuzar and other places, from which they had been driven by the war. A large ship, the Defence, accompanied by a frigate, arrived from England under the command of a captain of the name of Heath, with instructions for war. The Company's servants had made considerable progress by negociation in regaining their ancient ground; when Heath precipitately commenced hostilities, plundered the town of Balasore, and proceeded to Chittagong, which he found himself unable to subdue. Having taken the Company's servants and effects on board, agreeably to his orders, he sailed to Madras; book i.Chap. 5. 1687. and Bengal was abandoned.1
These proceedings, with the rash and presumptuous behaviour of Sir John Child on the western side of India, exasperated Aurengzebe, the most powerful of all the Mogul sovereigns, and exposed the Company's establishments to ruin in every part of India. The factory at Surat was seized; the island of Bombay was attacked by the fleet of the Siddees; the greater part of it was taken, and the governor besieged in the town and castle. Aurengzebe issued orders to expel the English from his dominions. The factory at Masulipatam was seized; as was also that at Visigapatam, where the Company's agent and several of their servants were slain. The English stooped to the most abject submissions. With much difficulty they obtained an order for the restoration of the factory at Surat, and the removal of the enemy from Bombay. Negotiation was continued, with earnest endeavours, to effect a reconciliation. The trade of the strangers was felt in the Mogul treasuries; and rendered the Emperor, as well as his deputies, not averse to an accommodation. But the interruption and delay sustained by the Company made them pay dearly for their premature ambition, and for the unseasonable insolence, or the imprudence of their servants.2
book i.Chap. 5. 1689–98. During these contests the French found an interval, in which they improved their footing in India. They had formed an establishment at Pondicherry, where they were at this time employed in erecting fortifications.1
The equipments for 1689–90 were on a reduced scale; consisting of three ships only, two for Bombay, and one for Fort St. George. They were equally small the succeeding year. We are not informed to what the number of ships or value of cargo amounted in 1691–2. In the following year, however, the number of ships was eleven; and was increased in 1693–4, to thirteen. In the following year there was a diminution, but to what extent does not appear. In each of the years 1695–6 and 1696–7, the number of ships was eight. And in 1697–8 it was only four.2
It was now laid down as a determinate object of policy, that independence was to be established in India; and dominion acquired. In the instructions forwarded in 1689, the Directors expounded themselves in the following words: “The increase of our revenue is the subject of our care, as much as our trade:—'tis that must maintain our force, when twenty accidents may interrupt our trade; 'tis that must make us a nation in India;—without that we are but as a great number of interlopers, united by his Majesty's royal charter, fit only to trade where nobody of power thinks it their interest to prevent us;—and upon this account it is that the wise Dutch, in all their general advices which we have seen, write ten paragraphs concerning their government, their civil and military policy, warfare, and the increase of their revenue, for one paragraph they write concerning book i.Chap. 5. 1689–98. trade.”1 It thus appears at how early a period, when trade and sovereignty were blended, the trade, as was abundantly natural, became an object of contempt, and by necessary consequence, a subject of neglect. A trade, the subject of neglect, is of course a trade without profit.
This policy was so far gratified, about the same period, that Tegnapatam, a town and harbour on the Coromandel coast, a little to the south of Pondicherry, was obtained by purchase, and secured by grant from the country powers. It was strengthened by a wall and bulwarks, and named Fort St. David.2
A fact of much intrinsic importance occurs at this part of the history. Among the Christians of the East, the Armenians, during the power of the successors of Constantine, had formed a particular sect. When the countries which they inhabited were overrun by the Mahomedan arms, they were transplanted by force, in great numbers, into Persia, and dispersed in the surrounding countries. Under oppression, the Armenians adhered to their faith; and, addicting themselves to commerce, became, like the Jews in Europe, the merchants and brokers in the different countries to which they resorted.3 A proportion of them made their way into India, and, by their usual industry and acuteness, acquired that share in the business of the country which was the customary reward of the qualities they displayed. The pecuniary pressure under which the Company at this book i.Chap. 5. 1689–98. time laboured, and under which, without ruinous consequences, the increase of patronage could not be pursued, constrained the Directors to look out for economical modes of conducting their trade. They accordingly gave instructions, that, instead of multiplying European agents in India, natives, and especially Armenians, should be employed: “because,” to use the words of Mr. Bruce, copying or abridging the letters of the Court, “that people could vend English woollens, by carrying small quantities into the interior provinces, and could collect fine muslins, and other new and valuable articles, suited to the European demands, betterthan any agents of the Company could effect, under any phirmaund or grant which might be eventually purchased.”1
The prosperity which the nation had enjoyed, since the death of Charles I., having rendered capital more abundant, the eagerness of the mercantile population to enter into the channel of Indian enterprise and gain had proportionably increased; and the principles of liberty being now better understood, and actuating more strongly the breasts of Englishmen, not only had private adventure, in more numerous instances, surmounted the barriers of the Company's monopoly, but the public in general at last disputed the power of a royal charter, unsupported by Parliamentary sanction, to limit the rights of one part of the people in favour of another, and to debar all but the East India Company from the commerce of India. Applications were made to Parliament for a new system of management in this branch of national affairs; and certain instances of severity, which were made to carry the appearance of atrocity, in the exercise of the powers of martial law assumed by the Company, in St. Helena and other places, served to book i.Chap. 5. 1689–98. augment the unfavourable opinion which was now rising against them.1
The views of the House of Commons were hostile to the Company. A committee, appointed to investigate the subject, delivered it as their opinion on the 16th January, 1690, that a new Company should be established, and established by Act of Parliament; but that the present Company should carry on the trade exclusively, till the new Company were established.2 The House itself in 1691, addressed the King to dissolve the Company, and incorporate a new one; when the King referred the question to a committee of the Privy Council.3
In the mean time the Company proceeded, in a spirit of virulence, to extinguish the hated competition of the general traders. “The Court,” says Mr. Bruce, transcribing the instructions of 1691, “continued to act towards their opponents, interlopers, in the same manner as they had done in the latter years of the two preceding reigns; and granted commissions to all their captains, proceeding this season to India, to seize the interlopers of every description, and to bring them to trial before the Admiralty Court at Bombay;—explaining, that, as they attributed all the differences between the Company and the Indian powers to the interlopers, if they continued their depredations on the subjects of the Mogul or King of Persia, they were to be tried for their lives as pirates, and sentence of death passed; but execution stayed till the King's pleasure should be known.”4
book i.Chap. 5. 1689–98. The cruelty which marks these proceedings is obvious; and would hardly be credible if it were less strongly attested. The Company seized their opponents, and carried them before their own Admiralty Courts, that is, before themselves, to judge and pass sentence in their own cause, and inflict almost any measure of injury which it suited minds, inflamed with all the passions of disappointed avarice and ambition, to perpetrate. They accused their competitors of piracy, or of any other crime they chose; tried them, as they pleased, and sentenced them even to death: accounting it an act of mercy that they did not consign them to the executioner before the royal pleasure was known;—as if that pleasure could be as quickly known, in India, as it could in England;—as if the unfortunate victim might not remain for months and years in the dungeons of the Company, in a climate, where a sentence of imprisonment, for any length of time, to a European constitution, is a sentence of almost certain death; and where he could hardly fail to suffer the pains of many executions, beside the ruin of his affairs, in a land of strangers and enemies, even if his wretched life were protracted till his doom, pronounced at the opposite side of the globe, could be known. Mr. Bruce, with his usual alacrity of advocation, says, “This proceeding of the Court rested upon the opinion of the twelve Judges, which was, that the Company had a right to the trade to the East Indies, according to their charter.”1 Because the Judges said they had a right to the trade to the East Indies, book i.Chap. 5. 1693. they assumed a right to be judges and executioners of their fellow subjects, in their own cause. This was a bold conclusion. It was impossible that, under any colour of justice, the powers of judicature entrusted to the Company, by kingly without parliamentary authority, even if allowed, could be extended beyond their own servants, who voluntarily submitted to their jurisdiction. Over the rest of their fellow-subjects, it was surely sufficient power, if they were permitted to send them to England, to answer for their conduct, if challenged, before a tribunal, which had not an overbearing interest in destroying them.
The King of 1693, like the King of any other period, preferred power in his own hands to power in the hands of the parliament, and would have been pleased to retain without participation the right of making or annulling exclusive privileges of trade. Notwithstanding the resolution of the committee of the House of Commons, that parliament should determine whatever regulations might be deemed expedient for the Indian trade, a new charter was granted by letters patent from the crown, as the proper mode of terminating the present controversies. The principal conditions were, that the capital of the Company, which was 756,000l. should be augmented by book i.Chap. 5. 1693. 744,000l., so as to raise it to 1,500,000l.; that their exclusive privileges should be confirmed for twenty-one years; that they should export 100,000l. of British produce annually; that the title to a vote in the court of Proprietors should be 1000l.; and that no more than then votes should be allowed to any individual.1
The pretensions, however, of the House of Commons brought this important question to a different issue. Towards the close of the very same season, that assembly came to a vote, “that it was the right of all Englishmen to trade to the East Indies, or any part of the world, unless prohibited by act of parliament:2 and William knew his situation too well to dispute their authority.
The Company laboured under the most pressing embarrassments. Though their pecuniary difficulties, through the whole course of their history, have been allowed as little as possible to meet the public eye, what we happen to be told of the situation at this time of the Presidency at Surat affords a lively idea of the financial distresses in which they were in volved. Instead of eight lacks of rupees, which it was expected would be sent from Bombay to Surat, to purchase goods for the homeward voyage, only three lacks and a half were received. The debt at Surat already amounted to twenty lacks; yet it was absolutely necessary to borrow money to purchase a cargo for even three ships. A loan of one lack and 80,000 rupees was necessary to complete this small investment. To raise this sum, it was necessary to allow to individuals the privileges of the contract which subsisted with the Armenian merchants.3 And after all these exertions the money could only be obtained book i.Chap. 5. 1693–98. by taking it up on loans from the Company's servants.1
The Company meanwhile did not neglect the usual corrupt methods of obtaining favours at home. It appeared that they had distributed large sums of money to men in power, before obtaining their charter. The House of Commons were, at the present period, disposed to inquire into such transactions. They ordered the books of the Company to be examined; where it appeared that it had been the practice, and even habit of the Company, to give bribes to great men; that, previous to the revolution, their annual expense under that head had scarcely ever exceeded 1,200l; that since the revolution it had gradually increased; and that in the year 1693, it had amounted to nearly 90,000l. The Duke of Leeds, who was charged with having received a bribe of 5,000l. was impeached by the Commons. But the principal witness against him was sent out of the way, and it was not till nine days after it was demanded by the Lords that a proclamation was issued to stop his flight. Great men were concerned in smothering the inquiry; parliament was prorogued; and the scene was here permitted to close.2
As the science and art of government were still so imperfect as to be very unequal to the suppression of crimes; and robberies and murders were prevalent even in the best regulated countries in Europe; so depredation was committed on the ocean under still less restraint, and pirates abounded wherever the amount of property at sea afforded an adequate temptation. The fame of Indian riches attracted to the book i.Chap. 5. 1693–98. Eastern seas adventurers of all nations; some of whom were professed pirates; others, men preferring honest trade; though, when they found themselves debarred from this source of profit, by the pretensions and power of monopoly, they had no such aversion to piracy as to reject the only other source in which they were allowed to partake. The moderation which, during some few years, the Company had found it prudent to observe in their operations for restraining the resort of private traders to India, had permitted an increase of the predatory adventurers. As vessels belonging to Mogul subjects fell occasionally into the hands of plunderers of the English nation, the Mogul government, too ignorant and headlong to be guided by any but the rudest appearances, held the Company responsible for the misdeeds of their countrymen; and sometimes proceeded to such extremities as to confiscate their goods and confine their servants. The Company, who would have been justified in requiring aid at the hands of government for the remedy of so real a grievance, made use of the occasion as a favourable one for accumulating odium upon the independent traders. They endeavoured to confound them with the pirates. They imputed the piracies in general to the interlopers as they called them. In their complaints to government they represented the interlopers and the depredations of which they said they were the authors, as the cause of all the calamities to which, under the Mogul government, the Company had been exposed. The charge, in truth, of piracy became a general calumny, with which all the different parties in India endeavoured to blacken their competitors; and the Company itself, when the new association of merchants trading to India began to rival them, were as strongly accused of acting the pirates in India, as the individual traders had been by themselves.1
Such was the situation of the Company in England, and in India, when the influence of the rival association threatened them with destruction. In the year 1698 both parties were urging their pretensions with the greatest possible zeal, when the necessities of the government pointed out to both the project of bribing it by the accommodation of money. The Company offered to lend to government 700,000l. at 4 per cent. interest, provided their charter should be confirmed, and the monopoly of India secured to them by act of parliament. Their rivals, knowing on how effectual an expedient they had fallen, resolved to augment the temptation. They offered to advance 2,000,000l. at 8 per cent. provided they should be invested with the monopoly, free from obligation of trading on a jointstock, except as they themselves should afterwards desire.2
A bill was introduced into parliament for carrying the project of the new association into execution. And the arguments of the two parties were brought forward in full strength and detail.3
On the part of the existing Company, it was represented; That they possessed charters; that the infringement of charters was contrary to good faith, contrary to justice, and in fact no less imprudent than it was immoral, by destroying that security of engagements book i.Chap. 5. 1698. on which the industry of individuals and the prosperity of nations essentially depend: That the East India Company, moreover, had property, of which to deprive them would be to violate the very foundation on which the structure of society rests; that they were the Lords-Proprietors, by royal grant, of Bombay and St. Helena; that they had in India at their own expense, and by their own exertions, acquired immoveable property, in lands, in houses, in taxes and duties, the annual produce of which might be estimated at 44,000l.: That at great expense they had erected fortifications in various parts of India, by which they had preserved to their country the Indian trade; and had built factories and purchased privileges of great importance to the nation; enterprises to which they could have been induced by nothing but the hope and prospect of national support: That the resources and abilities of the Company were proved, by the estimate of their quick and dead stock; and that a capital of two millions would be raised immediately by subscription: That the project, on the contrary, of the new association made no provision for a determinate stock; and the trade, which experience proved to require an advance of 600,000l. annually, might thus be lost to the nation, for want of sufficient capital to carry it on: That justice to individuals, as well as to the public, required the continuance of the charter, as the property and even subsistence of many families, widows, and orphans, was involved in the fate of the Company: In short, that humanity, law, and policy, would all be equally violated by infringing the chartered rights of this admirable institution.1
The new association replied; That it was no infringement of good faith or justice, to annul, by a book i.Chap. 5. 1698. legislative act, a charter which was hostile to the interests of the nation; because that would be to say, if a government has once committed an error, that it is not lawful to correct itself; it would be to say that, if a nation has once been rendered miserable, by erroneous institutions of government, it must never try to rescue itself from its misery: That the practical rule of the British government, as many precedents abundantly testified, had been, to set at nought the pretended inviolability of charters, as often as they were proved to be unprofitable or injurious: That not only had charters been destroyed by act of parliament, but even the judges at law (so little in reality was the respect which had been paid to charters) had often set them aside, by their sole authority, on the vague and general ground that the King had been deceived in his grant: That, if any chartered body was entitled to complain of being dissolved, in obedience to the dictates of utility, if was certainly not the East India Company, whose charter had been originally granted, and subsequently renewed, on the invariable condition of being terminated, after three years’ notice, if not productive of national advantage: To display the property which the Company had acquired in India, and to pretend that it gave them a right to perpetuity of charter, was nothing less than to insult the supreme authority of the state; by telling it, that, be the limitations what they might, under which the legislature should grant a charter, it was at all times in the power of the chartered body to annul those limitations, and mock the legislative wisdom of the nation, simply by acquiring property: That, if the Company had erected forts and factories, the question still remained, whether they carried on the trade more profitably by their charter than the nation could book i.Chap. 5. 1698. carry it on if the charter were destroyed: That the nation and its constituted authorities were the sole judge in this controversy; of which the question whether the nation or the Company were most likely to fail in point of capital, no doubt formed a part: That if inconvenience, and in some instances distress, should be felt by individuals, this deserved consideration, and, in the balance of goods and evils, ought to be counted to its full amount; but to bring forward the inconvenience of individuals, as constituting in itself a conclusive argument against a political arrangement, is as much as to say that no abuse should be ever remedied; because no abuse is without its profit to somebody, and no considerable number of persons can be deprived of customary profits without inconvenience to most, hardship to many, and distress to some.1
The new associators, though thus strong against the particular pleas of their opponents, were debarred the use of those important arguments which bore upon the principle of exclusion; and which, even in that age, were urged with great force against the Company. They who were themselves endeavouring to obtain a monopoly could not proclaim the evils which it was the nature of monopoly to produce. The pretended rights of the Company to a perpetuity of their exclusive privileges, for to that extent did their arguments reach, were disregarded by every body, and an act was passed, empowering the King to convert the new association into a corporate body, and to bestow upon them the monopoly of the Indian trade. The charters, the property, the privileges, the forts and factories of the Company in India, and their claims of merit with the nation, if not treated with contempt, were at least book i.Chap. 5. 1798. held inadequate to debar the legislative wisdom of the community from establishing for the Indian trade whatever rules and regulations the interest of the public appeared to require.1
The following were the principal provisions of the act: That the sum of two millions should be raised by subscription, for the service of government: that this subscription should be open to natives or foreigners, bodies politic or corporate: that the money so advanced should bear an interest of 8 per cent. per annum: that it should be lawful for his Majesty, by his letters patent, to make the subscribers a body politic and corporate, by the name of the “General Society:” that the subscribers severally might trade to the East Indies, each to the amount of his subscription: that if any or all of the subscribers should be willing and desirous, they might be incorporated into a joint-stock Company: that the subscribers to this fund should have the sole and exclusive right of trading to the East Indies: that on three years’ notice, after the 29th of September, 1711, and the repayment of the capital of 2,000,000l. this act should cease and determine: that the old or London Company, to whom three years’ notice were due, should have leave to trade to India till 1701: that their estates should be chargeable with their debts: and that if any further dividends were made before the payment of their debts, the members who received them should be responsible for the debts with their private estates to the amount of the sums thus unduly received.
This measure, of prohibiting dividends while debt is unpaid, or of rendering the Proprietors responsible book i.Chap. 5. 1698. with their fortunes to the amount of the dividends received, befitted the legislative justice of a nation.
A clause, on the same principle, was enacted with regard to the New Company, that they should not allow their debts at any time to exceed the amount of their capital stock; or, if they did, that every proprietor should be responsible for the debts with his private fortune, to the whole amount of whatever he should have received in the way of dividend or share after the debts exceeded the capital.1
This good policy was little regarded in the sequel.
In conformity with this act a charter passed the great seal, bearing date the 3d of September, constituting the subscribers to the stock of 2,000,000l. a body corporate under the name of the “General Society.” This charter empowered the subscribers to trade, on the terms of a regulated Company, each subscriber for his own account. The greater part, however, of the subscribers desired to trade upon a joint-stock: and another charter, dated the 5th of the same month, formed this portion of the subscribers, exclusive of the small remainder, into a joint-stock Company, by the name of “the English Company trading to the East Indies.”2
“In all this very material affair,” says Anderson, “there certainly was a strange jumble of inconsistencies, contradictions, and difficulties, not easily to be accounted for in the conduct of men of judgment.”3 The London Company, who had a right by their charter to the exclusive trade to India till three years after notice, had reason to complain of this injustice, that the English Company were empowered to trade to book i.Chap. 5. 1698. India immediately, while they had the poor compensation of trading for three years along with them. There was palpable absurdity in abolishing one exclusive company, only to erect another; when the former had acted no otherwise than the latter would act. Even the departure from joint-stock management, if trade on the principle of Individual inspection and personal interest had been looked to as the source of improvement, might have been accomplished, without the erection of two exclusive companies, by only abolishing the joint-stock regulation of the old one. But the chief mark of the ignorance of parliament, at that time, in the art and science of government, was, their abstracting from a trading body, under the name of loan to government, the whole of their trading capital: and expecting them to traffic largely and profitably when destitute of funds. The vast advance to government, which they feebly repaired by credit, beggared the English Company, and ensured their ruin, from the beginning.
The old, or London Company, lost not their hopes. They were allowed to trade for three years on their own charter; and availing themselves of the clause in the act, which permitted corporations to hold stock of the New Company, they resolved to subscribe into this fund as largely as possible; and, under the privilege of private adventure, allowed by the charter of the English Company, to trade, separately, and in their own name, after the three years of their charter should be expired. The sum which they were enabled to appropriate to this purpose was 315,000l.1
In the instructions to their servants abroad they book i.Chap. 5. 1698–99. represented the late measures of parliament as rather the result of the power of a particular party than the fruit of legislative wisdom: “The Interlopers,” so they called the New Company, “had prevailed by their offer of having the trade free, and not on a joint-stock;” but they were resolved by large equipments (if their servants would only second their endeavours) to frustrate the speculations of those opponents: “Two East India Companies in England,” these are their own words, “could no more subsist without destroying one the other, than two Kings, at the same time regnant in the same kingdom: that now a civil battle was to be fought between the Old and the New Company; and that two or three years must end this war, as the Old or the New must give way: that, being veterans, if their servants abroad would do their duty they did not doubt of the victory: that if the world laughed at the pains the two Companies took to ruin each other they could not help it, as they were on good ground and had a charter.”1
When the time arrived for paying the instalments of the subscriptions to the stock of the New Company, many of the subscribers, not finding it easy to fulfil their engagements, were under the necessity of selling their shares. Shares fell to a discount; and the despondency, hence arising, operated to produce still greater depression.2
The first voyage which the New Company fitted out, consisted of three ships with a stock of 178,000l.3 To this state of imbecility did the absorption of their capital reduce their operations. The sum to which they were thus limited for commencing their trade but little exceeded the interest which they were annually to receive from government.
With such means the New Company proved a book i.Chap. 5. 1698–99. very unequal competitor with the Old. The Equipments of the Old Company, for the same season, 1698–99, amounted to thirteen sail of shipping, 5,000 tons burthen, and stock estimated at 525,000l. Under the difficulties with which they had to contend at home, they resolved by the most submissive and respectful behaviour, as well as by offer of services, to cultivate the favour of the Moguls. Their endeavours were not unsuccessful. They obtained a grant of the towns of Chuttanuttee, Govindpore, and Calcutta, and began, but cautiously, so as not to alarm the native government, to construct a fort. It was denominated Fort William; and the station was constituted a Presidency.1
To secure advantages to which they looked from their subscription of 315,000l. into the stock of the English Company, they had sufficient influence to obtain an act of parliament, by which they were continued a corporation, entitled after the period of their own charter, to trade, on their own account, under the charter of the New Company, to the amount of the stock they had subscribed.2
The rivalship of the two Companies produced, in India, all those acts of mutual opposition and hostility, which naturally flowed from the circumstances in which they were placed. They laboured to supplant one another in the good opinion of the native inhabitants and the native governments. They defamed one another. They obstructed the operations of one another. And at last their animosities and contentions broke out into undissembled violence and oppression. Sir William Norris, whom the New Company, with the King's permission, had sent as book i.Chap. 5. 1700. their Ambassador to the Mogul court, arrived at Surat in the month of December, 1700. After several acts, insulting and injurious to the London Company, whom he accused of obstructing him in all his measures and designs, he seized three of the Council, and delivered them to the Mogul Governor, who detained them till they found security for their appearance. The President and the Council were afterwards, by an order of the Mogul government, put in confinement; and Sir Nicholas Waite, the English Company's Consul at Surat, declared, in his correspondence with the Directors of that Company, that he had solicited this act of severity, because the London Company's servants had used treasonable expressions towards the King; and had made use of their interest with the Governor of Surat to oppose the privileges which the Ambassador of the English Company was soliciting at the court of the Mogul.1
As the injury which these destructive contentions produced to the nation soon affected the public mind, and was deplored in proportion to the imaginary benefits of the trade, an union of the two Companies was generally desired, and strongly recommended. Upon the first depression, in the market, of the stock of the New Company, an inclination on the part of that Company had been manifested towards a coalition. But what disposed the one party to such a measure, suggested the hope of greater advantage, and more complete revenge, to the other, by holding back from it. The King himself, when he received in March, 1700, the Directors of the London Company, on the subject of the act which continued them a corporate body, recommended to their serious consideration an union of the two Companies, as the measure which would most promote, what they both book i.Chap. 5. 1700. held out as a great national object, the Indian trade. So far the Company paid respect to the royal authority, as to call a General Court of Proprietors for taking the subject into consideration; but after this step they appeared disposed to let the subject rest. Toward the close, however, of the year, the King, by a special message, required to know what proceedings they had adopted in consequence of his advice. Upon this the Directors summoned a General Court, and the following evasive resolution was voted: “That this Company, as they have always been, so are they still ready to embrace every opportunity by which they may manifest their duty to his Majesty, and zeal for the public good, and that they are desirous to contribute their utmost endeavours for the preservation of the East India trade to this kingdom, and are willing to agree with the New Company upon reasonable terms.” The English Company were more explicit; they readily specified the conditions on which they were willing to form a coalition; upon which the London Company proposed that seven individuals on each side should be appointed, to whom the negotiation should be entrusted, and by whom the terms should be discussed.1
As the expiration approached of the three years which were granted to the London Company to continue trade on their whole stock, they became more inclined to an accommodation. In their first proposal they aimed at the extinction of the rival Company. As a committee of the House of Commons had been formed, “to receive proposals for paying off the national debts, and advancing the credit of the book i.Chap. 5. 1701. nation,” they made a proposition to pay off the 2,000,000l. which government had borrowed at usurious interest from the English Company, and to hold the debt at five per cent. The proposal, though entertained by the committee, was not relished by the House; and this project was defeated.1 The distress, however, in which the Company were now involved, their stock having within the last ten years fluctuated from 300 to 37 per cent.,2 rendered some speedy remedy indispensable. The committee of seven, which had been proposed in the Answer to the King, was now resorted to in earnest, and was empowered by a General Court, on the 17th of April, 1701, to make and receive proposals for the union of the two companies.
It was the beginning of January, in the succeeding year, before the following general terms were adjusted and approved: That the Court of twenty-four Managers or Directors should be composed of twelve individuals chosen by each Company; that of the annual exports, the amount of which should be fixed by the Court of Managers, a half should be furnished by each Company; that the Court of Managers should have the entire direction of all matters relating to trade and settlements subsequently to this union; but that the factors of each Company should manage separately the stocks which each had sent out previously to the date of that transaction; that seven years should be allowed to wind up the separate concerns of each Company; and that, after that period, one great joint-stock should be formed by the final union of the funds of both. This agreement was confirmed by the General Courts of both Companies book i.Chap. 5. 1702. on the 27th April, 1702.1
An indenture tripartite, including the Queen and the two East India Companies, was the instrument adopted for giving legal efficacy to the transaction. For equalizing the shares of the two Companies, the following scheme was devised. The London Company, it was agreed, should purchase at par as much of the capital of the English Company, lent to government, as, added to the 315,000l. which they had already subscribed, should render equal the portion of each. The dead stock of the London Company was estimated at 330,000l.; that of the English Company at 70,000l.; whereupon, the latter paid 130,000l. for equalizing the shares of this part of the common estate. On the 22d July, 1702, the indenture passed under the great seal; and the two parties took the common name of The United Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies.2
On the foundation on which the affairs of the two Companies were in this manner placed, they continued with considerable jarrings and contention, especially between the functionaries in India, till the book i.Chap. 5. 1708. season 1707–8, when an event occurred, which necessitated the accommodation of differences, and accelerated the completion of the union. A loan of 1,200,000l., without interest, was exacted of the two Companies for the use of government. The recollection of what had happened, when the body of private adventurers were formed into the English East India Company, made them dread the offers of a new body of adventurers, should any difficulty be found on their part. It was necessary, therefore, that the two Companies should lay aside all separate views, and cordially join their endeavours to avert the common danger.
It was at last agreed, that all differences subsisting between them should be submitted to the arbitration of the Earl of Godolphin, then Lord High Treasurer of England; and that the union should be rendered complete and final upon the award which he should pronounce. On this foundation, the act, 6th Anne, ch. 17, was passed; enacting that a sum of 1,200,000l. without interest should be advanced by the United Company to government, which, being added to the former advance of 2,000,000l. at 8 per cent. interest, constituted a loan of 3,200,000l. yielding interest at the rate of 5 per cent. upon the whole; that to raise this sum of 1,200,000l. the Company should be empowered to borrow to the extent of 1,500,000l. on their common seal, or to call in moneys to that extent from the Proprietors; that this sum of 1,200,000l. should be added to their capital stock; that instead of terminating on three years’ notice after the 29th of September, 1711, their privileges should be continued till three years’ notice after the 25th of March, 1726, and till repayment of their capital; that the stock of the separate adventures of the General Society, amounting to 7,200l., which had never been incorporated into the joint-stock of the book i.Chap. 5. 1708. English Company, might be paid off, on three years’ notice after the 29th of September, 1711, and merged in the joint-stock of the United Company; and that the award of the Earl of Godolphin, settling the terms of the Union, should be binding and conclusive on both parties.1
The award of Godolphin was dated and published on the 29th of September, 1708. It referred solely to the winding up of the concerns of the two Companies; and the blending of their separate properties into one stock, on terms equitable to both. As the assets or effects of the London Company in India fell short of the debts of that concern, they were required to pay by instalments to the United Company the sum of 96,615l. 4s. 9d.: and as the effects of the English Company in India exceeded their debts, they were directed to receive from the United Company the sum of 66,005l. 4s. 2d.; a debt due by Sir Edward Littleton in Bengal, of 80,437 rupees and 8 anas, remaining to be discharged by the English Company on their own account. On these terms the whole of the property and debts of both Companies abroad became the property and debts of the United Company. With regard to the debts of both Companies in Britain, it was in general ordained that they should all be discharged before the 1st of March, 1709; and as those of the London Company amounted to the sum of 399,795l. 9s. 1d. they were empowered to call upon their Proprietors, by three several instalments, for the means of liquidation.2
As the intercourse of the English nation with the people of India was now destined to become, by a rapid progress, both very intimate, and very extensive, book i.Chap. 5. 1708. a full account of the character and circumstances of that people is required for the understanding of the subsequent proceedings and events.
The population of those great countries consisted chiefly of two Races: one, who may here be called the Hindu; another, the Mahomedan Race. The first were the aboriginal inhabitants of the country. The latter were subsequent invaders; and insignificant, in point of number, compared with the first.
The next two Books will be devoted to the purpose of laying before the reader all that appears to be useful in what is known concerning both these classes of the Indian people. To those who delight in tracing the phenomena of human nature; and to those who desire to know completely the foundation upon which the actions of the British people in India have been laid, this will not appear the least interesting department of the work.
[1.]Anderson's History of Commerce in the reign of Elizabeth, passim. See also Hakluyt's Voyages, ii. 3, 96. Ibid. iii. 690. Guicciardini's Description of the Netherlands. Sir William Temple. Camden, 408.
[2.]Hakluyt, iii. 4. Rymer's Fœdera, xii. 595. Anderson's History of Commerce, published in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 11. Robertson's History of America, iv. 138.
[3.]Hakluyt, iii. 129. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 874.
[1.]Hakluyt, ut supra.
[3.]Hakluyt, i. 226, &c.
[4.]Anderson's History of Commerce in Macpherson, ii. 166.
[1.]Hakluyt. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 145, 158, 159.
[2.]Hakluyt. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 175, 180, 185.
[1.]Anderson, ut supra, ii. 171.
[2.]Purchas, b. iii. sect. 2. Anderson, ii. 210.
[3.]Hakluyt, iii. 440. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 14. Camden's Annals, 301, &c.
[1.]Harris is not satisfied with the merit of those productions, which reached not, in his opinion, the worth of the occasion; and seems to be rather indignant that no modern poet has rivalled the glory of Homer, “by displaying in verse the labours of Sir Francis Drake:” i. 20.
[2.]Her Majesty appears to have been exquisitely gracious. The crowd which thronged after her was so great that the bridge, which had been constructed between the vessel and the shore, broke down with the weight, and precipitated 200 persons into the water. As they were all extricated from their perilous situation without injury, the Queen remarked that so extraordinary an escape could be owing only to the Fortune of Sir Francis Drake. Harris, i. 20.
[1.]I am sorry to observe that no great respect for human life seems to have been observed in this proceeding; since, directly implying that the guns had been charged with shot, and levelled at the men, the historian of the voyage jocosely remarks, “that 'tis ten to one if any of the savages were killed; for they are so very nimble that they drop immediately into the water, and dive beyond the reach of all danger, upon the least warning in the world.” Harris's Collect. of Voyages, i. 27.
[1.]Monson's Naval Tracts. Hakluyt. Anderson's Hist. of Com. published in Macpherson's Annals, ix. 169, 198. Rymer's Fœdera.
[1.]This is not a conclusion merely drawn from the circumstances of the case, which however would sufficiently warrant it; but stated on the testimony of Cambden, who related what he heard and saw. Cambden's Annals. Anderson's Hist of Commerce.
[2.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 201.
[3.]They returned to London in 1591. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 198.
[1.]Harris's Voyages, i. 875.
[2.]This Memorial is preserved in the State Paper Office, and a short account of it has been given us by Mr. Bruce Annals of the East India Company, i. 109.
[1.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 199. Harris's Voyages, i. 875.
[2.]Anderson, ut supra, ii. 209. Harris's Voyages, i. 920.
[3.]Minutes, &c. (Indian Register Office.) Bruce's Annals, i. 112.
[1.]Minutes of a General Court of Adventurers, preserved in the Indian Register Office. Bruce's Annals, i. 128.
[1.]Bruce's Annals, i. 129–136. Anderson's History of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 216. Harris's Collection of Voyages, i. 875.
[1.]Bruce's Annals, i. 146. “But forasmuch,” says Sir William Monson (Naval Tracts, iii. Churchill's Collection of Voyages, 475), “as every innovation commonly finds opposition, from some out of partiality, and from others as enemies to novelty; so this voyage, though at first it carried a great name and hope of profit, by the word India, and example of Holland, yet was it writ against.” He then exhibits the objections, seven in number, and subjoins an answer. The objections were shortly as follows, the answers may be conceived:
These objections, with the answers, may also be seen in Anderson's History of Commerce, ad an.
[1.]Harris, i. 875. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 217, 218. Bruce's Annals, i. 151, 152.
[1.]Bruce's Annals, i. 152–163.
[1.]Bruce's Annals, i. 164.
[1.]Bruce, i. 165.
[1.]Bruce, i. 166.
[1.]Bruce, i. 171, &c. Sir Thomas Roe's Journal and Letters. Churchill, i. 770–809.
[1.]Churchill, i. 106–108. He gives another account of his endeavours to injure the Dutch, in the following words:— “The 10th, 11th, and 12th, I spent in giving the king and prince advice that a Dutch ship lay before Surat, and would not declare upon what design it came, till a fleet arrived; which was expected with the first fit season. This I improved to fill their heads with jealousies of the designs of the Dutch, and the dangers that might ensue from them; which was well taken: and, being demanded, I gave my advice to prevent coming to a rupture with them, and yet exclude them the trade of India.” Ib. 774.
[2.]Bruce, i. 174, 178.
[1.]Bruce, i. 188.
[1.]Sir Jeremy Sambrooke's Report on East India Trade (MS. in East India Register Office) quoted by Bruce, i. 193.
[1.]Bruce, i. 199.
[1.]Memorial of the Dutch East India Company to King James, and Reply of the London East India Company thereto, in the year 1616, (East India Papers in the State Paper Office) quoted, Bruce, i. 202.
[1.]Rymer's Fœdera, xvii. 170. Bruce, i. 212.
[1.]Bruce, i. 213.
[1.]Bruce, i. 223.
[1.]Bruce i. 237, 238.
[1.]Accounts in the Indian Register Office. Bruce, i. 225, 234, 241.
[1.]The Dutch, in their vindication, stated that the English intrigued with the Portuguese, and underhand assisted the natives in receiving the Portuguese into the islands. See Anderson's History of Commerce, in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 305.
East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 241.
[1.]The English had not been so long strangers to the torture themselves, that it needed to excite in their breasts any emotions of astonishment. “The rack itself,” says Hume in his History of Elizabeth, v. 457, “though not admitted in the ordinary execution of justice, was frequently used upon any suspicion, by authority of a warrant from a secretary or the Privy Council. Even the Council in the Marches of Wales were empowered, by their very commission, to make use of torture whenever they thought proper. There cannot be a stronger proof how lightly the rack was employed, than the following story; told by Lord Bacon. We shall give it in his own words: ‘The Queen was mightily incensed against Haywarde, on account of a book he dedicated to Lord Essex, thinking it a seditious prelude to put into the people's head holdness and faction: [to our apprehension, says Hume, Haywarde's book seems rather to have a contrary tendency; but Queen Elizabeth was very difficult to please on that head.] She said, she had an opinion that there was treason in it, and asked me if I could not find any places in it, that might be drawn within the case of treason?. .....Another time when the Queen could not be persuaded that it was his writing whose name was to it, but that it had some more mischievous author, she said, with great indignation, that she would have him racked to produce his author.’ ...Thus, continues Hume, “had it not been for Bacon's humanity, or rather his wit, this author, a man of letters, had been put to the rack for a most innocent performance.”—The truth is, that the Company themselves, at this very time, were in the regular habit of perpetrating tortures upon their own countrymen, and even their own servants—of torturing to death by whips or famine. Captain Hamilton (New Account of the East Indies, i. 362,) informs us, that before they were intrusted with the powers of martial law, having no power to punish capitally any but pirates, they made it a rule to whip to death, or starve to death, those of whom they wished to get rid. He produces (Ib. 376) an instance of a deserter at Fort St. George, “whipt,” as he expresses it, “out of this world into the next.” The power too, of executing as for piracy, the same author complains, was made use of to murder many private traders. “That power (he says, Ib. 362.) of executing pirates is so strangely stretched, that if any private trader is injured by the tricks of a Governor, and can find no redress—if the injured person is so hold as to talk of lex talioni, he is infallibly declared a pirate.” He gives an account of an attempt of an agent of the Company, and a creature of the Governor of Fort St. George, to swear away his life by perjury at Siam. (lb. ii. 183.)—These parallels are presented, not for the sake of clearing the one party at the expence of the other; but, by showing things as they were, to give the world at last possession of the real state of the case.
[1.]East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 256.
[1.]Bruce, i. 258.
[1.]Bruce, i. 252.
[2.]Ib. 252, 265, 271.
[3.]East India Papers in the State Paper Office. Bruce, i. 272.
[1.]Bruce, i. 262, 264, 268.
[2.]Bruce, i. 264, 269, 290.
[1.]Bruce, i. 276, 277, 282. Anderson in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 351.
[1.]Bruce, i. 285, 287.
[2.]Ib. i. 278, 293.
[1.]Bruce, i. 296, 304, 300, 302.
[1.]Papers in the Indian Register Office. Sir Jeremy Sambrooke's Report on the East India Trade, Bruce, i. 306.
[2.]Bruce, i. 306, 320, 323.
[1.]Bruce, i. 306, 320, 324, 327.
[2.]Ib. 325, 334.
[1.]Bruce, i. 329, 387.
[1.]Bruce, i. 345, 349.
[2.]Ib. 349, 350, 353.
[1.]Bruce, 353, 354.
[2.]Ib. i. 355, 361, 362.
Preamble to a subscription for a new joint-stock for trade to the East Indies, 28th January, 1640, (East India Papers in the State Paper Office,) Bruce, i. 364.
[1.]See Bruce, i. 371. The quantity was, 607, 522 bags, bought at 2s. 1d. per pound, total 63,283l. 11s. 1d.; sold at 1s. 8d. per pound; total 50,626l. 17s. 1d.
[1.]Bruce, i. 379, 380.
[2.]Piece Goods is the term which, latterly at least, has been chiefly employed by the Company and their agents to denote the muslins and wove goods of India and China in general.
[3.]Bruce, i. 377, 393.
[1.]Bruce, 389, 390.
[2.]Ib. 407, 412, 423.
[1.]Bruce, i. 423.
[1.]Bruce, i. 435, 436.
[2.]Ib. 437, 438.
[3.]Ib. 439, 440.
[1.]If we hear of committees of the several stocks; the bodies of Directors were denominated committees. And if there were committees of the several stocks, how were they constituted? were they committees of Proprietors, or committees of Directors? And were there any managers or Directors besides?
[2.]Bruce, i. 406, 463.
[3.]Ib. 454, 462, 484.
[1.]Bruce, i. 458, 482, 484, 485.
[1.]Bruce, i. 491.
[1.]The reasons on which they supported their request, as stated in their petition, exhibit so just a view of the infirmities of joint-stock management, as compared with that of individuals pursuing their own interests, that they are highly worthy of inspection as a specimen of the talents and knowledge of the men by whom joint-stock was now opposed. See Bruce, i. 518.
[1.]Bruce, i. 492, 493.
[2.]Ib. i. 494.
[1.]Bruce, i. 503.
[1.]Bruce, i. 503, 504.
[1.]Bruce, i. 508.
[2.]Thurloe's State Papers, iii. 80. Anderson says, “The merchants of Amsterdam having heard that the Lord Protector would dissolve the East India Company at London, and declare the navigation and commerce to the Indies to be free and open, were greatly alarmed, considering such a measure as ruinous to their own East India Company.” Anderson's History of Commerce, in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 459. See Bruce, i. 518.
[1.]Bruce, i. 514–516.
[1.]Bruce, i. 529.
[1.]Bruce, i. 529, 530.
[2.]Bruce, i. 532.
[1.]Bruce, 539, 540. The state of interest, both in India and England, appears incidentally in the accounts received by the Company from the agents at Surat, in the year 1658–59. These agents, after stating the narrowness of the funds placed at their disposal, recommend to the Directors rather to borrow money in England, which could easily be done at 4 per cent., than leave them to take up money in India at 8 or 9 per cent. Ib. 542.
[1.]Bruce, i. 553, 554.
[1.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce in Macpherson's Annals, ii. 495, 605.
[2.]Bruce, ii. 108, 119, 152, 186.
[1.]Bruce, 110, 138, 157, 158, 174.
[2.]Ib. ii. 130, 159.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 104, 106, 126, 134, 141, 155, 168, 199. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 503.
[2.]Bruce, ii. 132, 161, 184, 198.
[1.]Bruce, 144, 145, 284.
[2.]Ib. ii. 179, 245
[1.]Bruce, i. 560; ii. 110, 131.
[2.]Ib. ii. 107—109.
[1.]Macpherson's Annals, ii. 493.
[2.]Raynal, Hist. Philos. et Polit. des Etabliss. &c. dans les Deux Indes, ii. 183. Ed. 8vo. Geneve, 1781. Bruce, ii. 137, 150, 167. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 516.
[1.]Letters from the Agent and Council of Bantam (in the East India Register Office), Bruce, ii. 163.
[2.]Bruce, ii. 178, from a letter from the President and Council of Surat.
[1.]Sir William Petty, who wrote his celebrated work, entitled Political Arithmetic, in 1676, says; 1. The streets of London showed that city to be double what it was forty years before; great increase was also manifested at Newcastle, Yarmouth, Norwich, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Cowes; and in Ireland, at Dublin, Kingsale, Coleraine, and Londonderry. 2. With respect to shipping, the navy was triple, or quadruple what it was at that time; the shipping of Newcastle was 80,000 tons, and could not then have exceeded a quarter of that amount. 3. The number and splendour of coaches, equipages and furniture, had much increased since that period. 4. The postage of letters had increased from one to twenty. 5. The King's revenue had tripled itself. See too Macpherson's Annals, ii. 580.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 201, 206, 209—224, 227, 230—256, 258, 259—278, 281, 282, 283—293, 296, 297—312, 313—327, 328, 331.
[2.]Ib. ii. 210. The words of this order are curious, “to send home by these ships 100 lb. waight of the best tey that you can gett.”
[3.]Ib. ii. 211.
[5.]Ib. 232, 334.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 337, 342, 366.
[1.]An anonymous author, whom Anderson in his History of Commerce quotes as an authority, says, in 1679, that the Dutch herring and cod fishery employed 8,000 vessels, and 200,000 sailors and fishers, whereby they annually gained five millions sterling; besides their Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland fisheries, and the multitude of trades and people employed by them at home. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 596. See in the same work, ii. 547 and 552, a summary of the statements of Child and De Witt. For ampler satisfaction the works themselves must be consulted.
[2.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 579.
[3.]Bruce, ii. 356, 360, 361—375, 379—392, 393, 395—406, 409, 410—435, 438, 439—446, 451, 453—459, 465, 468.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 367, 466, 396, 404.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 355, 374, 449, 453.
[1.]Bruce ii. 275.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 476, 481—496, 506—528, 531.
[2.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce Macpherson's Annals, ii. 579
[3.]Supra, p. 95.
[4.]Bruce, ii. 482, 499.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 492
[1.]Bruce, ii. 512. Governor Child is accused by Hamilton of wanton and intolerable oppressions; and that author states some facts which indicate excessive tyranny. New Account of the East Indies, i. 187—199.
[2.]Bruce, ii. 515.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 526, 540, 584, 591. It was debated in the Privy Council, whether the charter of incorporation should be under the King's or the Company's seal. The King asked the Chairman his opinion, who replied, “that no person in India should be employed by immediate commission from his Majesty, because, if they were, they would be prejudicial to our service by their arrogancy, and prejudicial to themselves, because the wind of extraordinary honour in their heads would probably make them so haughty and overbearing, that we should be forced to remove them.” Letter from the Court to the President of Fort St. George, (Ib. 591). Hamilton, ut supra (189—192). Orme's Historical Fragments, 185, 188, 192, 198.
[2.]Mr. Orme is not unwilling to ascribe part of the hardships they experienced to the interlopers, who, seeking protection against the oppressions of the Company, were more sedulous and skilful in their endeavours to please the native governors. Hist. Frag. 185.
[1.]These events occurred under the government of the celebrated imperial deputy Shaista Khan; “to the character of whom (says Mr. Stewart, Hist. of Bengal, 300.) it is exceedingly difficult to do justice. By the Mohammedan historians he is described as the pattern of excellence; but by the English he is vilified as the oppressor of the human race. Facts are strongly on the side of the Mohammedans.”
[2.]Bruce, ii. 558, 569, 578, 594, 608, 620, 630, 639, 641, 646, 650. The lively and intelligent Captain Hamilton represents the conduct of Sir John Child at Surat as exceptionable in the highest degree. But the Captain was an interloper, and though his book is strongly stamped with the marks of veracity, his testimony is to be received with the same caution on the one side as that of the Company on the other. New Account of India, i. 199—228.
[1.]Bruce, ii. 655.
[2.]Ib. iii. 75, 87, 122, 139, 181, 203, 231.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 78.
[3.]See, in Gibbon, viii. 357 to 360, a train of allusions, as usual, to the history of the Armenians; and in his notes a list of its authors.—The principal facts regarding them, as a religious people, are collected with his usual industry and fidelity by Mosheim, Ecclesiast. Hist. iii. 493, 494, 495, and 412, 413.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 88.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 81; Macpherson's Annals, ii. 618; and Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations, iii. 132, who with his usual sagacity brings to view the causes of the principal events in the history of the Company.
[2.]Bruce, iii. 82.
[3.]Macpherson's Annals, ii. 648.
[4.]Bruce, iii. 102.
[1.]Ib. iii. 103. Sir Josiah Child, as chairman of the Court of Directors, wrote to the Governor of Bombay, to spare no severity to crush their countrymen who invaded the ground of the Company's pretensions in India. The Governor replied, by professing his readiness to omit nothing which lay within the sphere of his power to satisfy the wishes of the Company; but the laws of England unhappily would not let him proceed so far as might otherwise be desirable. Sir Josiah wrote back with anger:—“That he expected his orders were to be his rules, and not the laws of England, which were an heap of nonsense, compiled by a few ignorant country gentlemen, who hardly knew how to make laws for the good of their own private families, much less for the regulating of Companies, and foreign commerce.” (Hamilton's New Account of India, i. 232.) “I am the more particular,” adds Captain Hamilton, “on this account, because I saw and copied both those letters in Anno 1696, while Mr. Vaux [the Governor to whom the letters were addressed] and I were prisoners at Surat, on account of Captain Evory's robbing the Mogul's great ship, called the Gunsway.” Bruce, iii. 233.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 133—135. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 649.
[3.]We know not the terms of that contract, nor how a participation in its privileges could be granted to individuals without a breach of faith toward the Armenian merchants.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 167.
[2.]Macpherson's Annals, ii. 652, 662; 10,000l. is said to have been traced to the King.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 146, 186. “Sir Nicholas Waite [Consul of the Association] addressed a letter,” says Mr. Bruce, “to the Mogul, accusing the London Company of being sharers and abettors of the piracies, from which his subjects and the trade of his dominions had suffered, or, in the Consul's coarse language, of being thieves and confederates with the pirates.” Ib. 337.
[2.]Anderson's Hist. Macpherson's Annals, ii. 694 Bruce, iii. 252, 253.
[3.]Bruce, iii. 253, Macpherson, ii. 694.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 253. Anderson's History of Commerce; Macpherson, ii. 694, 695.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 253, 254. Anderson's History of Commerce; Macpherson, ii. 695.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 253. Macpherson, ii. 696.
[1.]Statute 9 & 10 W. III. c. 44.
[2.]Macpherson's Annals, ii. 699. Bruce, iii. 257, 258. Preamble to the Stat. 6. A. c. 17.
[3.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, Macpherson, ii. 700.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 256, 257. Macpherson, ii. 700. Smith's Wealth of Nations, iii. 133.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 257.
[2.]Ib. 259, 260.
[1.]Bruce, 264, 268, 300
[2.]Ib. iii. 293, 326, 350.
[1.]Bruce, 260 to 370, 374 to 379, 410.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 290, 293, 355.
[2.]Anderson's Hist. of Commerce, Macpherson, ii. 705.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 424 to 426. Of the subtleties which at this time entered into the policy of the Company, the following is a specimen. Sir Basil Firebrace, or Firebrass, a notorious jobber who had been an interloper, and afterwards joined with the London Company, was now an intriguer for both Companies. At a General Court of the London Company, on the 23d April, 1701, this man stated, that he had a scheme to propose, which he doubted not would accomplish the union desired; but required to know what recompense should be allowed him, if he effected this important end. By an act of the Court, the committee of seven were authorized to negotiate, with Sir Basil, the recompense which he ought to receive: and after repeated conferences with the gentleman, they proposed to the Court of Committees, that if he effected the union, 150,000l. of the stock of the Company should be transferred to him on his paying 80l. per cent. In other words, he was to receive 20 per cent. on 150,000l. or a reward of 30,000l. for the success of his intrigues. Ibid. See also Macpherson, ii. 663.
[2.]Bruce, iii. 486 to 491.
[1.]Bruce, iii. 635 to 639; Stat. 6. A. c. 17.
[2.]Ib. 667 to 679. Macpherson, iii. 1, 2.