Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. III. - The History of British India, vol. 1
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CHAP. III. - 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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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
[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.