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totally incompetent to maintain such a contest. It is true that the sturdy honesty with which the Company's servants at first resisted the allurements of India, had been long relaxed; and that unnecessary wars, waged with the country powers, consumed, or greatly diminished the profits of trade; but it was the loss of independence at home, which transferred the Dutch empire in India to Great Britain, whose connections with Asia we now proceed to consider.

Columbus, rejected by Portugal, and almost despairing of his tedious negociation in Spain, had sent his brother to England in 1489, with an account of his projects; and although these were regarded as visionary by the cabinet of Henry VII. the grand discoveries effected by the subsequent voyage of 1492, was generally considered as a pledge of ultimate success in the search of a westerly route to India. In pursuit of such a track, Giovanni Gavotta, (John Cabot,) a Venetian navigator, then residing in England, was dispatched in 1497, about two months before the departure of Gama from Lisbon; but having reached the latitude of 67° 30' North, bis farther progress was stopped by a mutiny, and being compelled to change his course, he fell in with Newfoundland, and with the continent of North America. This disappointment, however, by no means proved the impracticability of the scheme, which was resumed in 1553 by a company of merchants, the first, it is believed, which was ever regularly incorporated by charter in England. It may be worth noticing, that their capital was only £6,000; yet with this they fitted out three ships under the command of an admiral, (Sir Hugh Willoughby,) who, with his whole ship’s company, was frozen to death in the northern ocean off the coast of Lapland. The second in command, Captain Lancaster, got into the mouth of the Dwina, (where Archangel was afterwards built,) travelled by land to Moscow, and negociated with Ivan Vassilievich a treaty of commerce which gave rise to the Russian company. Of the third ship, the fate is unknown. Many subsequent voyages were set on foot for the discovery of the north-west passage, which, if it exist at all, the travels of Hearne and Mackenzie have lately proved to be utterly useless to navigators; and to these voyages we owe the establishment of the Hudson's Bay company.

It should seem that, at this time, though the Papal Bull ordaining a partition of the whole world between the crown of Spain and Portugal must have been disregarded by all Protestant states, the possession of the passage by the Cape of Good Hope was considered by the English as exclusively belonging to the Portugueze in virtue of Gama's prior occupancy. When, therefore, the hope of finding a new maritime road had been abandoned, the Turkey company made an attempt to renew the ancieut communication by land;


nor was it till the commencement of the war between Elizabeth and Philip II. that our merchants presumed to invade this imaginary dominion.

At length, in 1599, a large association of merchants having entered into a subscription for carrying on the India trade, petitioned the privy council for a charter, and were, at the close of the following year, incorporated into a joint stock company, with the engagement of an exclusive privilege secured to them for fifteen years. The amount of their whole stock was about £70,000, not quite one sixth of the capital on which the Dutch had commenced their trade; but, during the infant state of their company, the expense of each separate voyage was defrayed by a separate subscription. In 1613, it was resolved that four voyages should be comprehended in one subscription, and the company, in consequence, increased their capital to £418,691; which, having been found to produce a large profit, encouraged their subscribers to embark, in the succeeding speculation, the enormous sum of £1,629,040.

From this period, therefore, it appears that the trade carried on with India has generally employed a considerable share of the funds applicable to foreign commerce; but, during the successive reigns of James, Charles I. Charles II. and James II. the company was constantly struggling against the intrigues or the arms of the Dutch and Portuguese in Asia, and was harassed at home by the caprices of government, or by the fluctuations of popular opinion. The latter was almost always adverse to their monopoly, and hence, during the protectorate of Cromwell, the violation of their privilege was so much connived at, and so many adventurers engaged in the trade, that the Asiatic and the home markets were completely glutted, and the company and their rivals equally distressed by this inordinate competition. The remedy resorted to was a renewal of the company's privilege, in consequence of which their stock gradually recovered, and rose in 1670 to 245, and in 1683 even as high as 500 per cent.

Neither the nation however nor the parliament were satisfied with the extent of the privileges which the company obtained from the favour of Charles II. and exercised in a manner which was censured in the House of Commons in 1685 as wholly illegal. This censure, indeed, was disregarded by Charles II. and by his successor; but the House in 1692 addressed King William to dissolve the old and to incorporate a new company; and when it was found, on a reference to the judges, that the dissolution of a chartered body could only take place after a three years' notice, the address was renewed in the following year with this modification.

All descriptions of people began now to take a lively interest in a question in which a privileged trading corporation were at issue with a branch of the legislature. The committee of privy council, to whom the first address of the Commons was referred, had endeavoured to arrest the progress of the discussion by a proposal which the company at that time rejected, notwithstanding which they contrived, after the second address against them, to obtain from the king a renewal of their charter, subject, indeed, to certain new regulations, but conveying to them the most essential of their former privileges ; and these proceedings became the subject of parliamentary investigation in 1695. Such a measure, at such a time, could not but excite very general indignation. It had been already determined that an exclusive charter, granted by the crown, was not valid unless sanctioned by parliament. It appeared, from an inspection of the company's books, that prodigious sums had been expended in 1693 for special services, of which no explanation could be obtained.' Sir Thomas Cooke, therefore, then governor of the company, and some others, were sent to the tower; the Duke of Leeds, president of the privy council, was impeached before the Lords, and farther prosecutions were in progress when the business was stopped by a prorogation of parliament.

In the mean time, the numerous advocates of a free trade had formed an association, and, in 1698, proposed to governinent a loan of two millions at eight per cent. on condition of being empowered to carry on a trade to India either individually or, if such should be their option, collectively, and with a joint stock; and, in spite of the opposition of the old company, an act to this effect received the royal assent, and the new company obtained their charter on the 5th of September. The state of the trade, in consequence of these events, was very singular.

In the first place, the old company had an unquestionable right to a continuance of their separate trade during three years. They had also taken the precaution of subscribing £315,000 to the new company's stock of two inillions, and, consequently, were entitled to this share of the trade for the whole term of the new charter : and they moreover. retained the property of their own forts and factories abroad, of their warehouses, docks, and other buildings at home, and the advantages of their treaties with the Indian princes.

Secondly, the new company, though unprovided with such forts or factories, or with the means of compelling their rivals to part with them, were authorized to trade immediately to the whole tent of their capital.

Thirdly, a few subscribers to the new association, who chose to separate their concerns from the joint stock, had the option of trading individually. And, fourthly, the separate traders who had sent out ships to In


dia before the 1st of July, 1698, had a right to prosecute the trade during one voyage, the duration of which might be legally protracted so as to include a number of voyages between the different ports of India.

The necessary results of this indiscriminate rivalry were an extreme depreciation of European, and an enhancement of the value of Indian goods in the markets of Asia; in England an enormous export of bullion, which, in the then state of the coin and of public credit, was peculiarly distressing; a ruinous excess of imports ; loud clamours from various classes of manufacturers ; multiplied and ineffectual attempts of the legislature to remedy the evil; and heavy losses to all the rival traders, whose mutual recriminations gave an increased asperity to the rival political factions by whom they were supported. At length, in 1702, the old and new companies, under the mediation of Queen Anne, consented to preliminary terms of agreement, and, in 1708, they were incorporated under the title of the United Company of Merchants of England trading to the East Indies.

The capital of the new company, we have already seen, was two millions, which had been advanced to government at eight per cent. in other words, this capital was an annuity, secured to them by the faith of the nation, of £160,000; and this sum constituted the joint stock, or rather the joint fund of credit of the United Company. But, in return for the exclusive privilege granted to them for the term of fifty years, and other advantages which they gained from their incorporation, government required from them a farther loan of £1,200,000 without interest, so that their whole advance to the state became £3,200,000, on which the annuity represents an interest of 5 per cent. It is therefore evident that the company did not begin their commercial operations with any other capital but a fund of credit, and that every farthing which they invested in trade was borrowed money; and this sufficiently shews that the extent of the bond debt owing by the company affords no proof of their extravagance or mismanagement.

From this period the interests of the company have been closely connected with those of the public; its concerns have been subject to the controul, and have attracted the vigilant attention of the legislature; its credit has been often employed as a useful subsidiary to that of the state ; and it has been the instrument of acquiring for this country an empire in the east far greater in value, and promising greater durability than the foreign conquests of any other European nation.

The Portuguese, equally actuated by enthusiasm and ambition, had proposed to themselves the complete subjugation and conversion of India; the Dutch wished to secure to themselves a mono

ploy poly of trade by the establishment of an insular empire; the French and English contented themselves with factories, which, towards the close of the seventeenth century, they were permitted to fortify, and to which, by a series of negociations with the Mogul Emperor, or with the delegates of his authority, they were subsequently enabled to add a very moderate extent of territory. An event, apparently quite foreign to their concerns, unexpectedly gave them a more important influence on the affairs of India.

The Moguls, after their conquest of Hindostan, established there a species of that feudal system of government to which conquerors in other countries have usually resorted. The chief parcelled out the command of his provinces and districts to his military officers, bearing the title of subahdar, nabob, &c. with certain fixed appointments, reserving to himself the remainder of the tribute, which was collected from the people by a separate class of officers. In Hindostan, as elsewhere, delegated authority insensibly became hereditary, but the sovereign, though his real power was daily undermined, continued to preserve the respect attached to his supremacy till the invasion of Thomas Kouli Khan in 1739, when all subordination to the degraded head of the empire was obliterated, and every feudal chieftain usurped the dignity of an independent monarch. A general scramble for power was the consequence, and the country was desolated by the ambition of these petty chieftains,

Whilst these scenes were passing in India, the war which commenced in 1744 in Europe was communicated to the French and English settlements; and the country princes, who were spectators of the conflict, were not a little astonished to observe the formidable means of mutual annoyance, the obstinate valour, and the resources of military talent displayed on both sides by men whom they had hitherto despised as the mere commercial agents of two distant mercantile companies. The alliance of one or other of the rival factories was, henceforth, courted and obtained by every Mahometan candidate for sovereignty; as allies of some of these candidates they continued their hostilities long after their signature of the peace of Aix la Chapelle; it was by their sanguinary and eventful campaigns in the Carnatic and in Bengal that the contest for superiority between Great Britain and France was principally decided; and the prize obtained by those campaigus has proved the chief reward of the conqueror.

To the company, however, considered as a commercial body, the success of their arms was by no means productive of immediate advantage. The hour of victory is, of course, the hour of licentiousness and impunity, and the plunder of a laborious people must destroy by anticipation the materials of much future industry;



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