The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:11 am

The History of British India, vol. 1 of 6
by James Mill
Third Edition
1826
https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/mill ... ndia-vol-1

Hoc autem pressè et distinctè excutiamus sermone quodam activo et masculo, nusquam digrediendo, nil amplificando.
[Google translate: This terse language that the active investigation distinctly male, never passing through, not enlarging.]

-- Bacon, De Augm. Scient. Lib. ii.


Table of Contents:

• PREFACE
• GLOSSARY
• ERRATUM
• HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA
• BOOK I: 1527–1707
o CHAP. I
o CHAP. II
o CHAP. III
o CHAP. IV
o CHAP. V
• BOOK II: OF THE HINDUS
o CHAP. I
o CHAP. II
o CHAP. III
o CHAP. IV
o CHAP. V
o CHAP. VI
o CHAP. VII
• NOTES
• NOTE A. p. 286
• NOTE B. p. 289
• NOTE C. p. 341. daily ceremonies of the brahmens
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Re: The History of British India, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:14 am

Preface

In the course of reading and investigation, necessary for acquiring that measure of knowledge which I was anxious to possess, respecting my country, its people, its government, its interests, its policy, and its laws. It was met, and in some degree surprised, by extraordinary difficulties, when I arrived at that part of my inquiries which related to India. On other subjects, of any magnitude and importance, I generally found, that there was some one book, or small number of books, containing the material part of the requisite information; and in which direction was obtained, by reference to other books, if, in any part, the reader found it necessary to extend his researches. In regard to India, the case was exceedingly different. The knowledge, requisite for attaining an adequate conception of that great scene of British action, was collected no where. It was scattered in a great variety of repositories sometimes in considerable portions, often in very minute ones; sometimes by itself, often mixed up with subjects of a very different nature: and, even where information relating to India stood disjoined from other subjects, a small portion of what was useful lay commonly imbedded in a large mass of what was trifling and insignificant; and of a body of statements, given indiscriminately as matters of fact, [ii] ascertained by the senses, the far greater part was in general only matter of opinion, borrowed, in succession, by one set of Indian gentlemen from another.1
In bestowing the time, labour, and thought, necessary to explore this assemblage of heterogeneous things, and to separate, for my own use, what was true and what was useful, from what was insignificant and what was false, I was led to grieve, that none of those who had preceded me, in collecting for himself a knowledge of Indian affairs, had been induced to leave his collection for the benefit of others; and perform the labour of extracting and ordering the dispersed and confused materials of a knowledge of India, once for all. The second reflection was, that, if those who preceded me had neglected this important service, and in so doing were not altogether free from blame, neither should I be exempt from the same condemnation, if I omitted what depended upon me, to facilitate and abridge to others the labour of acquiring a knowledge of India; an advantage I should have valued so highly, had it been afforded by any former inquirer.
In this manner, the idea of writing a History of India was first engendered in my mind. I should have shrunk from the task, had I foreseen the labour in which it has involved me.

The books, in which more or less of information respecting India might be expected to be found, were sufficiently numerous to compose a library. Some were books of Travels. Some were books of History. Some contained philological, some antiquarian, researches. A considerable number consisted of translations from the writings of the natives in the native tongues; others were books on the religion of the people of India; books on their laws; books on their sciences, manners, and arts.

The transactions in India were not the only transactions of the British nation, to which the affairs of India had given birth. Those affairs had been the subject of much discussion by the press, and of many legislative, executive, and even judicial proceedings, in England. Those discussions and proceedings would form of course an essential part of the History of British India; and the materials of it remained to be extracted, with much labour, from the voluminous records of British literature, and British legislation.

The British legislature had not satisfied itself with deliberating, and deciding; it had also inquired; and, inquiring, it had called for evidence. This call, by the fortunate publicity of parliamentary proceedings, brought forth the records of the councils in India, and their correspondence, with one another, with their servants, and with the constituted authorities in England: a portion of materials, inestimable in its value; but so appalling by its magnitude, that many years appeared to be inadequate to render the mind familiar with it.

Such is a short and very imperfect description of the state of the materials.1 The operations necessary to draw from them a useful history, formed the second subject of consideration. To omit other particulars, which will easily present themselves, and are common to this with all undertakings of a similar nature, a peculiar demand, it is evident, was presented for the exercise of discrimination, that is, of criticism, in a chaotic mass, of such extent, where things relating to the subject were to be separated from things foreign to it; where circumstances of importance were to be separated from circumstances that were insignificant; where real facts, and just inferences, were to be separated from such as were the contrary; and above all things, where facts, really testified by the senses, were to be discriminated from matters, given as testified by the senses, but which, in truth, were nothing but matters of opinion, confounded with matters of fact, and mistaken for them, in the minds of the reporters themselves.2

A history of India, therefore, to be good for any thing, must, it was evident, be, what, for want of a better appellation, has been called, “A Critical History.”1 To criticise means, to judge. A critical history is, then, a judging history. But, if a judging history, what does it judge?

It is evident that there are two, and only two, classes of objects, which constitute the subject of [vi] historical judgments. The first is, the matter of statement, the things given by the historian, as things really done, really said, or really thought. The second is, the matter of evidence, the matter by which the reality of the saying, the doing, or thinking, is ascertained.

In regard to evidence, the business of criticism visibly is, to bring to light the value of each article, to discriminate what is true from what is false, to combine partial statements, in order to form a complete account, to compare varying, and balance contradictory statements, in order to form a correct one.
In regard to the matter of statement, the business of criticism is, to discriminate between real causes and false causes; real effects and false effects; real tendencies and falsely supposed ones; between good ends and evil ends; means that are conducive, and means not conducive to the ends to which they are applied.

In exhibiting the result of these several judgments, the satisfaction, or the instruction of the reader, is very imperfectly provided for, if the reasons are not adduced. I have no apology, therefore, to make, for those inductions, or those ratiocinations, sometimes of considerable length, which were necessary to exhibit the grounds upon which my decisions were founded. Those critical disquisitions may be well, or they may be ill performed; they may lead to correct, or they may lead to erroneous conclusions; but they are, indisputably, in place; and my work, [vii] whatever had been its virtues in other respects, would have remained most imperfect without them.1

There will be but one opinion, I suppose, with regard to the importance of the service, which I have aspired to the honour of rendering to my country; for the public are inclined to exaggerate, rather than extenuate, the magnitude of the interests which are involved in the management of their Indian affairs. And it may be affirmed, as a principle, not susceptible of dispute, that good management of any portion of the affairs of any community is almost always proportional to the degree of knowledge respecting it diffused in that community. Hitherto the knowledge of India, enjoyed by the British community, has been singularly defective. Not only among the uneducated, and those who are regardless of knowledge, but among those who are solicitous to obtain [viii] a competent share of information with respect to every other great branch of the national interests, nothing is so rare as to meet with a man who can with propriety be said to know any thing of India, and its affairs. A man who has any considerable acquaintance with them, without having been forced to acquire it by the offices he has filled, is scarcely to be found.

The same must continue to be the case, till the knowledge of India is rendered more accessible. Few men can afford the time sufficient for perusing even a moderate portion of the documents from which a knowledge of India, approaching to completeness, must have hitherto been derived. Of those, whose time is not wholly engrossed, either by business or by pleasure, the proportion is very moderate whom the prospect of a task so heavy, and so tedious, as that of exploring the numerous repositories of Indian knowledge, would not deter. And, with respect to the most important of all the sources of information, the parliamentary documents, they were not before the public, and were by the very nature of the case within the reach of a number comparatively small.

But though no dispute will arise about the importance of the work, I have no reason to expect the same unanimity about the fitness of the workman.

One objection will doubtless be taken, on which I think it necessary to offer some observations, not-withstanding the unfavourable sentiments which are commonly excited by almost any language in which a man can urge pretensions which he may be suspected of urging as his own; pretensions which, though they must exist, in some degree, in the case of every man who writes a book, and ought to be encouraged, therefore, rather than extinguished, had better, in general, be understood, than expressed.

This writer, it will be said, has never been in India; and, if he has any, has a very slight, and elementary acquaintance, with any of the languages of the East.

I confess the facts; and will now proceed to mention the considerations which led me, notwithstanding, to conclude, that I might still produce a work, of considerable utility, on the subject of India.

In the first place, it appeared to me, that a sufficient stock of information was now collected in the languages of Europe, to enable the inquirer to ascertain every important point, in the history of India. If I was right in that opinion, it is evident, that a residence in India, or a knowledge of the languages of India, was, to express myself moderately, not indispensable.

In the next place, I observed, that no exceptions were taken to a President of the Board of Control, or to a Governor-General, the men entrusted with all the powers of government in India, because they had never been in India, and knew none of its languages.

Again, I certainly knew, that some of the most successful attempts in history had been made, without ocular knowledge of the country, or acquaintance with its language. Robertson, for example, never beheld America, though he composed its history. He never was in either Germany or Spain, yet he wrote the history of Charles the Fifth. Of Germany he knew not so much as the language; and it was necessary for him to learn that of Spain, only because the documents which it yielded were not translated into any of the languages with which he was acquainted. Tacitus, though he never was in Germany, and was certainly not acquainted with the language of our uncultivated ancestors, wrote the exquisite account of the manners of the Germans.

But, as some knowledge may be acquired by seeing India, which cannot be acquired without it; and as it can be pronounced of hardly any portion of knowledge that it is altogether useless, I will not go so far as to deny, that a man would possess advantages, who, to all the qualifications for writing a history of India which it is possible to acquire in Europe, should add those qualifications which can be acquired only by seeing the country and conversing with its people. Yet I have no doubt of being able to make out, to the satisfaction of all reflecting minds, that the man who should bring to the composition of a history of India, the qualifications alone which can be acquired in Europe, would come, in an almost infinite degree, better fitted for the task, than the man who should bring to it the qualifications alone which can be acquired in India; and that the business of acquiring the one set of qualifications is almost wholly incompatible with that of acquiring the other.

For, let us inquire what it is that a man can learn, by going to India, and understanding its languages. He can treasure up the facts which are presented to his senses; he can learn the facts which are recorded in such native books, as have not been translated; and he can ascertain facts by conversation with the natives, which have never yet been committed to writing. This he can do; and I am not aware that he can do any thing further.

But, as no fact is more certain, so none is of more importance, in the science of human nature, than this; that the powers of observation, in every individual, are exceedingly limited; and that it is only by combining the observations of a number of individuals, that a competent knowledge of any extensive subject can ever be acquired. Of so extensive and complicated a scene as India, how small a portion would the whole period of his life enable any man to observe!

If, then, we may assume it as an acknowledged fact, that an account of India, complete in all its parts, at any one moment, still more through a series of ages, could never be derived from the personal observation of any one individual, but must be collected from the testimony of a great number of individuals, of any one of whom the powers of perception could extend but a little way, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that the man best qualified for dealing with evidence, is the man best qualified for writing the history of India. It will not, I presume, admit of much dispute, that the habits which are subservient to the successful exploration of evidence are more likely to be acquired in Europe than in India.

The man who employs himself in treasuring up, by means of perception and the languages, the greatest portion of knowledge in regard to India, is he who employs the greatest portion of his life, in the business of observing, and in making himself familiar with the languages. But the mental habits which are acquired in mere observing, and in the acquisition of languages, are almost as different as any mental habits can be, from the powers of combination, discrimination, classification, judgment, comparison, weighing, inferring, inducting, philosophizing in short; which are the powers of most importance for extracting the precious ore from a great mine of rude historical materials.

Whatever is worth seeing or hearing in India, can be expressed in writing. As soon as every thing of importance is expressed in writing, a man who is duly qualified may obtain more knowledge of India in one year in his closet in England, than he could obtain during the course of the longest life, by the use of his eyes and his ears in India.

As soon as the testimony is received of a sufficient number of witnesses, to leave no room for mistake from the partial or the erroneous statements which they may have separately made, it is hardly doubtful, that a man, other circumstances being equal, is really better qualified for forming a correct judgment on the whole, if his information is totally derived from testimony, than if some little portion of it is derived from the senses. It is well known, how fatal an effect on our judgments is exerted by those impulses, called partial impressions; in other words, how much our conceptions of a great whole are apt to be distorted, and made to disagree with their object, by an undue impression, received from some particular part. Nobody needs to be informed, how much more vivid, in general, is the conception of an object which has been presented to our senses, than that of an object which we have only heard another man describe. Nobody, therefore, will deny, that, of a great scene, or combination of scenes, when some small part has been seen, and the knowledge of the rest has been derived from testimony, there is great danger, lest the impression received from the senses should exert an immoderate influence, hang a bias on the mind, and render the conception of the whole erroneous.

If a man were to lay down the plan of preparing himself for writing the history of India, by a course of observation in the country, he must do one of two things. Either he must resolve to observe minutely a part; or he must resolve to take a cursory review of the whole. Life is insufficient for more. If his decision is to observe minutely; a very small portion comparatively is all that he will be able to observe. What aid he can derive from this, in writing a history, has partly been already unfolded, and may for the rest be confided to the reflections of the intelligent reader.

What I expect to be insisted upon with greatest emphasis is, that, if an observer were to take an expansive view of India, noting, in his progress, those circumstances alone which are of greatest importance, he would come with peculiar advantage to the composition of a history; with lights capable of yielding the greatest assistance in judging even of the evidence of others. To estimate this pretension correctly, we must not forget a well-known and important law of human nature. From this we shall see, that a cursory view, of the nature of that which is here described, is a process, in the highest degree effectual, not for removing error, and perfecting knowledge, but for strengthening all the prejudices, and confirming all the prepossessions or false notions, with which the observer sets out. This result is proved by a very constant experience; and may further be seen to spring, with an almost irresistible necessity, from the constitution of the human mind. In a cursory survey, it is understood, that the mind, unable to attend to the whole of an infinite number of objects, attaches itself to a few; and overlooks the multitude that remain. But what, then, are the objects to which the mind, in such a situation, is in preference attracted? Those which fall in with the current of its own thoughts; those which accord with its former impressions; those which confirm its previous ideas. These are the objects to which, in a hasty selection, all ordinary minds are directed, over-looking the rest. For what is the principle in the mind by which the choice is decided? Doubtless [xv] that of association. And is not association governed by the predominant ideas? To this remains to be added, the powerful influence of the affections; first the well known pleasure which a man finds, in meeting, at every step, with proofs that he is in the right, inspiring an eagerness to look out for that source of satisfaction; and, secondly, the well-known aversion which a man usually has, to meet with proofs that he is in the wrong, yielding a temptation, commonly obeyed, to overlook such disagreeable objects.

He who, without having been a percipient witness in India, undertakes, in Europe, to digest the materials of Indian history, is placed, with regard to the numerous individuals who have been in India, and of whom one has seen and reported one thing, another has seen and reported another thing, in a situation very analogous to that of the judge, in regard to the witnesses who give their evidence before him. In the investigation of any of those complicated scenes of action, on which a judicial decision is sometimes required, one thing has commonly been observed by one witness, another thing has been observed by another witness; the same thing has been observed in one point of view by one, in another point of view by another witness; some things are affirmed by one, and denied by another. In this scene, the judge, putting together the fragments of information which he has severally received from the several witnesses, marking where they agree and where they differ, exploring the tokens of fidelity in [xvi] one, of infidelity in another; of correct conception in one, of incorrect conception in another; comparing the whole collection of statements with the general probabilities of the case, and trying it by the established laws of human nature, endeavours to arrive at a complete and correct conception of the complicated transaction, on which he is called to decide. Is it not understood, that in such a case as this, where the sum of the testimony is abundant, the judge, who has seen no part of the transaction, has yet, by his investigation, obtained a more perfect conception of it, than is almost ever possessed by any of the individuals from whom he has derived his information?1

But, if a life, in any great degree devoted to the collecting of facts by the senses and to the acquiring of tongues, is thus incompatible with the acquisition of that knowledge, and those powers of mind, which are most conducive to a masterly treatment of evidence; it is still less compatible with certain other endowments, which the discharge of the highest duties of the historian imperiously demands. Great and difficult as is the task of extracting perfectly the light of evidence from a chaos of rude materials, it is yet not the most difficult of his operations, nor that which requires the highest and rarest qualifications of the mind. It is the business of the historian not merely to display the obvious outside of things; the qualities which strike the most ignorant observer, in the acts, the institutions, and ordinances, which form the subject of his statements. His duty is, to convey just ideas of all those objects; of all the transactions, legislative, administrative, judicial, mercantile, military, which he is called upon to describe. But in just ideas of great measures what is implied? A clear discernment, undoubtedly, of their causes; a clear discernment of their consequences; a clear discernment of their natural tendencies; and of the circumstances likely to operate either in combination [xviii] with these natural tendencies, or in opposition to them. To qualify a man for this great duty hardly any kind or degree of knowledge is not demanded; hardly any amount of knowledge, which it is within the competence of one man to acquire, will be regarded as enough. It is plain, for example, that he needs the most profound knowledge of the laws of human nature, which is the end, as well as instrument, of every thing. It is plain, that he requires the most perfect comprehension of the principles of human society; or the course, into which the laws of human nature impel the human being, in his gregarious state, or when formed into a complex body along with others of his kind. The historian requires a clear comprehension of the practical play of the machinery of government; for, in like manner as the general laws of motion are counteracted and modified by friction, the power of which may yet be accurately ascertained and provided for, so it is necessasy for the historian correctly to appreciate the counteraction which the more general laws of human nature may receive from individual or specific varieties, and that allowance for it with which his anticipations and conclusions ought to be formed. In short, the whole field of human nature, the whole field of legislation, the whole field of judicature, the whole field of administration, down to war, commerce, and diplomacy, ought to be familiar to his mind.1

What then? it will be said, and most reasonably said; do you hold yourself up, as the person in whom all these high qualifications are adequately combined? No. And I am well assured, that by not one of those by whom I shall be criticised, not even by those by whom I shall be treated with the greatest severity, will the distance between the qualifications which I possess, and the qualifications which are desirable in the writer of a history, be estimated at more than it is estimated by myself. But the whole of my life, which I may, without scruple, pronounce to have been a laborious one, has been devoted to the acquisition of those qualifications; and I am not unwilling to confess, that I deemed it probable I should be found to possess them in a greater degree, than those, no part of whose life, or a very small part, had been applied to the acquisition of them. I was also of opinion, that if nobody appeared, with higher qualifications, to undertake the work, it was better it should be done imperfectly, better it should be done even as I might be capable of doing it, than not done at all.

Among the many virtues which have been displayed by the Company's servants, may justly be enumerated the candour with which they themselves confess the necessity under which they are laid, of remaining to a great degree ignorant of India. That they go out to their appointments at a time of life when a considerable stock of general knowledge cannot possibly have been acquired, is a fact which [xx] nobody will dispute. And they are the foremost to declare, that their situation in India is such, as to preclude them from the acquisition of local knowledge. Notwithstanding the high degree of talent, therefore, and even of literary talent, which many of them have displayed, more than some very limited portion of the history of India none of them has ventured to undertake.1

“When we consider,” said Lord Teignmouth, in his celebrated Minute on the Revenues of Bengal, “the nature and magnitude of our acquisitions, the characters of the people placed under our dominion, their difference of language, and dissimilarity of manners; that we entered upon the administration of the government ignorant of its former constitution, and with little practical experience in Asiatic finance, it will not be deemed surprising that we should have fallen into errors; or if any should at this time require correction.—If we further consider the form of the British government in India, we shall find it ill calculated for the speedy introduction of improvement. The members composing it are in a state of constant fluctuation, and the period of their residence often expires, before experience can be acquired, or reduced to practice. Official forms necessarily occupy a large portion of time; and the constant pressure of business leaves little leisure for study and reflection, without which no knowledge of the principles and detail of the revenues of this country can be attained. True information is also procured with difficulty, because it is too often derived from mere practice, instead of being deduced from fixed principles.”1

Lord William Bentinck, after being Governor of Fort St. George, and President of the Council at Madras, expresses himself in very pointed terms. “The result of my own observation, during my residence in India, is that the Europeans generally know little or nothing of the customs and manners of the Hindoos. We are all acquainted with some prominent marks and facts, which all who run may read: but their manner of thinking; their domestic habits and ceremonies, in which circumstances a knowledge of the people consists, is I fear in great part wanting to us. We understand very imperfectly their language. They, perhaps, know more of ours; but their knowledge is by no means sufficiently extensive to give a description of subjects not easily represented by the insulated words in daily use. We do not, we cannot associate with the natives. We cannot see them in their houses, and with their families. We are necessarily very much confined to our houses by [xxii] the heat. All our wants and business, which would create a greater intercourse with the natives, is done for us; and we are in fact strangers in the land.”1

Another servant of the Company, Sir Henry Strachey, distinguished both by his local experience, and by general knowledge, remarking upon the state of judicature, under the English government in India, says, “Another impediment, though of a very different nature from those I have mentioned, and much more difficult to remove, is to me too palpable to be overlooked;—I mean, that arising from Europeans in our situation being necessarily ill qualified, in many points, to perform the duties required of us, as judges and magistrates. This proceeds chiefly from our very imperfect connexion with the natives; and our scanty knowledge, after all our study, of their manners, customs, and languages.” “We cannot study the genius of the people it its own sphere of action. We know little of their domestic life, their knowledge, conversation, amusements, their trades, and casts, or any of those national and individual characteristics, which are essential to a complete knowledge of them.” “The difficulty we experience in discerning truth [xxiii] and falsehood among the natives, may be ascribed, I think, chiefly, to our want of connexion and intercourse with them; to the peculiarity of their manners and habits, their excessive ignorance of our characters; and our almost equal ignorance of theirs.”1

One or two things. I may venture to affirm that I have done.

I have performed the business of research, with a labour, and patience, which it would not be easy to surpass. And I believe there is no point, of great importance, involved in the History of India, which the evidence I have adduced is not sufficient to determine. I am, at the same time, aware, that in regard to some things there are documents which were not within my reach; and, concerning the latter part of the history, in particular, that there are individuals in England, possessed of information, which, in several places, would have rendered the narrative richer, and perhaps more accurate, in matters of detail. If I shall be found to have performed, with any tolerable success, what I had the means of performing, the liberality which distinguishes the gentlemen of India gives me reason to hope, that many of those who are possessed of useful information, but whom it was impossible for me to find out, will not be unwilling to contribute their aid to the improvement of the History of British India.

Having thus placed before me the materials of Indian history in a state, I believed, of greater fulness and completeness, than any preceding inquirer, I followed the course of my own thoughts in the judgments which I formed; not because I vainly imagined my thoughts more valuable than those of all other men, but because the sincere and determined pursuit of truth imposed this rigid law. It would not allow me to give for true the opinion of any man, till I had satisfied myself that it was true; still less to give the opinion of any man for true, when I had satisfied myself that it was not true.

Mr. Locke has declared; that he who follows his own thoughts in writing, can hope for approvers in the small number alone, of those who make use of their own thoughts in reading; that, by the rest, “a man is not permitted, without censure, to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when they lead him ever so little out of the common road.”

If this is the severe condition, under which a man follows his own thoughts, in writing even on abstract and general truths, how much harder must be the lot of him who follows them, in writing of the actions and characters of powerful men, and bodies of men? Conscious, however, that I had been faithful in forming my opinions, I believed that I lay under an indispensable obligation to be faithful in expressing them: “to give them without violation of modesty, but yet with the courage of a man unwilling to betray the rights of reason;” and with that manly plainness, which the sincerity of the historical character appeared to require.

I could not overlook the probable consequences. “La perfection d'une Histoire,” says a great judge, “est d’etre desagréable à toutes les sectes, et à toutes les nations; car c’est une preuve que l'auteur ne flate ni les uns ni les autres, et qu’il a dit à chacun ses verités.”1

He who desires to obtain a considerable portion of immediate applause, has two well-known, and well-trodden paths before him.

The first is, to be a zealot for some particular and powerful party; to panegyrize its leaders; attack its opponents; place its principles and practices in the fairest possible light; and labour to bring odium upon the principles and practices of its opponents. This secures the loud and vehement applause of those who are gratified; and the vehement applause of a great party carries, by contagion, along with it, all, or the greater part of those, who are not very strongly engaged by their interests or passions on the opposite side.

The next of the easy ways to the acquisition of fame, consists of two principal parts. The first is, “to wanton in common topics, where a train of sentiment generally received enables a writer to shine without labour and to conquer without a contest.”2 The second is to deal for ever in compromise; to give up the half of every opinion and principle; go no further in favour of any side of any question, than may be reconcileable in some degree with the good opinion [xxvii] of those who oppose it; and having written as much on one side, as to extract applause from one set of persons, to turn immediately and write as much on the other, as will extract applause from the opposite sort. This is done, without glaring marks of inconsistency, by avoiding all close encounter with the subject, and keeping to vague and general phrases. And in this manner, by a proper command of plausible language, it is easy to obtain reputation with all parties; reputation, not only of great talents, but of great moderation, great wisdom, and great virtue.1

If my book were possessed of a much greater share of the titles to applause, than even the partialities of the writer allow him to ascribe to it; I have travelled so very wide of those beaten paths to success, that my only chance for it depends, I cannot fail to perceive, upon the degree in which real liberality, that is, strength of mind, is diffused in the community. I have done enough, doubtless, to secure to myself the malignity of the intemperate, and the narrow-minded, of all parties. I have encouraged myself, however, with the belief, that civilization, and the improvement of the human mind, had, in this country, attained a [xxviii] sufficient elevation to make a book he received as useful, though it neither exaggerated, nor extenuated the good, or the evil, of any man, or combination of men: to afford a multitude, in every party far enough removed from the taint of vulgar antipathies, to yield to an author, who spoke with sincerity, and who though he has not spoken with a view to gratify any party, or any individual, most assuredly has never spoken with a view to hurt any, a compensation for the hostilities of the lower and more ungenenous portion of every party.

Though I am aware of many defects in the work which I have ventured to offer to the public; and cannot forget how probable it is, that more impartial and more discerning eyes will discover many which are invisible to mine, I shall yet appeal from the sentence of him, who shall judge of me solely by what I have not done. An equitable and truly useful decision would be grounded upon an accurate estimation of what I have done, and what I have not done, taken together.

It will also deserve to be considered, how much was in the power of any individual to compass. In so vast a subject, it was clearly impossible for one man to accomplish every thing. Some things it was necessary to leave, that others might be taken; some things it was necessary to handle but slightly, that others might be treated with greater attention. The geography, for example, alone, would have occupied a life-time. To nicety in the details of geography. I was, therefore, unable to aspire. I followed without much criticism, the authors whom I was consulting, and [xxix] was only careful to give, with correctness, that outline and those particulars, which were necessary for understanding completely the transactions recorded in my work. To compensate as far as possible, for that which, in this department, I myself was unable to perform, I was anxious to afford the reader the advantage of Mr. Arrowsmith's map, by far the finest display which has yet been made of the geography of India; and in any discrepancy, if any should appear, between the text and that reduction of his noble map, which is prefixed to the second volume, I desire the reader to be guided rather by the geographer than by the historian.

In the orthography of Indian names, I should not have aimed at a learned accuracy, even if my knowledge of the languages had qualified me for the task. I have not been very solicitous even about uniformity in the same name; for as almost every author differs from another in the spelling of Eastern names, it appeared to me to be not altogether useless, that, in a book intended to serve as an introduction to the knowledge of India, a specimen of this irregularity should appear.

There is another apparent imperfection, which I should have more gladly removed. In revising my work for the press, some few instances have occurred, in which I have not been able to verify the references to my authorities. This arose from one of the difficulties of my situation. Unable to command at once the large and expensive number of books, which it was necessary for me to consult, I was often dependent upon [xxx] accident for the period of my supply; and, if not provided with the best channels of information, obliged to pursue my inquiries, at the moment, in such as I possessed. It was often, in these cases, useful, for the sake of memory, and of following out the thread of research, to quote, in the first instance, at second hand. When I afterwards obtained the better authority, it was a matter of anxious care to adjust the reference; but I have met with some instances in which I am afraid the adjustment has not been performed. I mention this, to obviate cavils at the appearance of inaccuracy, where the reality does not exist; inaccuracy in form, rather than in substance; for I have no apprehension that those who shall trace me with the requisite perseverance will accuse me of wanting either the diligence, or the fidelity of an historian; and I ought not to have undertaken the task, if I had not possessed the prospect of obtaining, sooner or later, the means of carrying it to completion.
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Re: The History of British India, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:17 am

Glossary

Adawlut. Justice, equity; a court of justice. The terms Dewanny Adawlut, and Foujdarry Adawlut, denote the civil and criminal courts of justice. See Dewanny and Foujdarry.
Ameer, Meer, Emir. A nobleman.
Ameer ul Omrah. Noble of nobles, lord of lords.
Anna. A piece of money, the sixteenth part of a rupee.
Aumeen. Trustee, commissioner. A temporary collector or supravisor, appointed to the charge of a country on the removal of a Zemindar, or for any other particular purpose of local investigation or arrangement.
Aumil. Agent, officer, native collector of revenue. Superintendant of a district or division of a country, either on the part of the government, Zemindar, or renter.
Aumildar. Agent, the holder of an office. An intendant and collector of the revenue, uniting civil, military, and financial powers, under the Mahomedan government.
Aurung. The place where goods are manufactured.
Bala-Ghaut. Above the Ghauts, in contradistinction to Payeen Ghaut, below the Ghauts. The terms are generally applied to the high tableland in the centre of India, towards its southern extremity.
Banyan. A Hindu merchant, or shopkeeper. The term Banyan is used in Bengal to denote the native who manages the money concerns of the European, and sometimes serves him as an interpreter. At Madras, the same description of persons is called Dubash, which signifies one who can speak two languages.
Batta. Deficiency, discount, allowance. Allowance to troops in the field.
Bazar. Daily market, or market place.
Bega. A land measure equal, in Bengal, to about the third part of an acre.
Begum. A lady, princess, woman of high rank.
Bice, Vaisya. A man of the third Hindu cast, who by birth is a trader, or husbandman.
Brahmen, Brahmin, Brahman, Bramin. A divine, a priest; the first Hindu cast.
Brinjarrie, Binjary, Benjary, Banjary. A grain merchant.
Bungalow. The name used in Bengal, for a species of country-house, erected by Europeans.
Caly Yug, Calyoogum. The present, or fourth age of the world, according to the chronology of the Hindus.
Caste, Cast. A tribe, or class of people.
Caravan-Serai. The serai of the caravan. See Serai and Choultry.
Cawzi, Cazi, Kazy. A Mahomedan judge, or justice, who also officiates as a public notary, in attesting deeds, by affixing his seal. The same as the officer we name Cadi, in Turkey.
Cauzy-ul-Cazaut. Judge of judges; the chief judge, or justice.
Chandala. One of the names for the most degraded Hindu casts.
Choky, Chokee. A chair, seat; guard, watch. The station of a guard or watchman. A place where an officer is stationed to receive tolls and customs.
Choultry. A covered public building, for the accommodation of passengers.
Chout. A fourth: a fourth part of sums litigated. Mahratta chout; a fourth [xxxii] of the revenues, exacted as tribute by the Mahrattas.
Chubdar. Staff-bearer. An attendant on a man of rank. He waits with a long staff, plated with silver, announces the approach of visitors, and runs before his master, proclaiming aloud his titles.
Chunam. Lime.
Circar. Head of affairs; the state or government; a grand division of a province; a head man; a name used by Europeans in Bengal, to denote the Hindu writer and accountant, employed by themselves, or in the public offices.
Colluries, Colerees. Saltworks, the places where salt is made.
Coolites, Cooly. Porter, labourer.
Coss. A term used by Europeans, to denote a road-measure of about two miles, but differing in different parts of India.
Chore. Ten millions.
Csnatriya, Kshatriya, Chetterie, Khetery. A man of the second or military caste.
Cutcherry. Court of justice; also the public office where the rents are paid, and other business respecting the revenue transacted.
Cutwal, Katwal. The chief officer of police in a large town or city, and superintendant of the markets.
Dar. Keeper, holder. This word is often joined with another, to denote the holder of a particular office or employment, as Chob-dar, staff-holder; Zemin-dar, land-holder. This compound word, with i, ee, y, added to it, denotes the office, as Zemindar-ee.
Darogah. A superintendant, or overseer; as of the police, the mint, &c.
Daum, Dam. A copper coin, the fortieth part of a rupee.
Deccan. Literally, the south. A term employed by Mahomedan writers, to denote the country between the rivers Nerbuddah and Crishna.
Decoits. Gang-robbers. Decoity, gang-robbery.
Dewan, Duan. Place of assembly. Native minister of the revenue department; and chief justice, in civil causes, within his jurisdiction; receiver-generad of a province. The term is also used, to designate the principal revenue servant under an European collector, and even of a Zemindar. By this title, the East India Company are receivers-general of the revenues of Bengal, under a grant from the Great Mogul.
Dewanny, Duannee. The office, or jurisdiction of a Dewan.
Dewanny Court of Adawiur. A court for trying revenue, and other civil causes.
Doab, Doowab. Any tract of country included between two rivers.
Droog. A fortified hill or rock.
Dubash. See Banyan.
Durbar. The court, the hall of audience; a levee.
Faqueer, Fakir. A poor man, mendicant, a religious beggar.
Firmaun, Phirmaund. Order, mandate. An imperial decree, a royal grant, or charter.
Foujdar, Fojedar, Phousdar, Fogedar. Under the Mogul government, a magistrate of the police over a large district, who took cognizance of all criminal matters within his jurisdiction, and sometimes was employed as receiver-general of the revenues.
Foujdarry, Fojedaree. Office of a Foujdar.
Foujdarry Court. A court for administering the criminal law.
Ghaut. A pass through a mountain; applied also to a range of hills, and the ford of a river.
Ghee. Clarified butter, in which state they preserve that article for culinary purposes.
Ghirdawar, Girdwar. An overseer of police, under whom the goyendas, or informers, act.
Gomastah. A commissioner, factor, agent.
Gooroo, Guru. Spiritual guide.
Goyenda. An inferior officer of police; a spy, informer.
Gunge. A granary, a depot, chiefly of grain for sale. Wholesale markets, held on particular days. Commercial depots.
Gurry. A name given to a wall flanked with towers.
Haram. Seraglio, the place where the ladies reside.
Hircarra, Harcarrah. A guide, a spy, a messenger.
Howda. The seat of great men fixed on an elephant, not much unlike the body of a sedan in shape.
Jaghire, Jagheer. Literally, the place of taking. An assignment, to an individual, of the government share of the produce of a portion of land. There were two species of jaghires; one, personal, for the use of the grantee; another, in trust, for some public service, most commonly, the maintenance of troops.
Jamma, Jumma. Total, amount, collection, assembly. The total of a territorial assignment.
Jammabundy, Jummabundy. A writted schedule of the whole of an assessment.
Jeel, Keel. A shallow lake, or morass.
Jinjal. A large musket, fixed on a swivel, used in Indian forts, and fired with great precision.
Jug. See Yug.
Jungle, Jangle. A wood, or thicket; a country overrun with shrubs, or long grass.
Khalsa. Pure, unmixed. An office of government, in which the business of the revenue department is transacted: the exchequer. Khalsa lands, are lands, the revenue of which is paid into the exchequer.
Khan, Cawn. A title, similar to that of Lord.
Khilaut, Kelaut. A robe of honour, with which princes confer dignity.
Killader, Kelladar. Warder of a castle commander of a fort.
Kist. Stated payment, instalment of rent.
Kushoon, Cushogn. A body of military, corresponding nearest to our term brigade; varying from one to six or eight thousand.
Lac. One hundred thousand.
Lascar. Properly a camp-follower, but applied to native sailors and artillery-men.
Limber. A low two-wheeled carriage, on which the trial of a gun is fixed when travelling: it is released in a moment if wanted to fire, which is called unlimbering; the cattle being yoked to the limber, guns are of course always dragged breech first.
Maal, Mahl, Mehal, Mhal. Places, districts, departments. Places, or sources of revenue, particularly of a territorial nature; lands.
Maha. Great.
Mocurrery. As applied to lands, it means lands let on a fixed lease.
Mofussil. Separated, particularized; the subordinate divisious of a district, in contradistinction to Saddur, or Sudder, which implies the chief seat of government.
Mofussil Dewanny Adawlut. Provincial court of civil justice.
Molungee. Manufacturer of salt.
Moofty, Muftee. The Mahomedan law-officer who declares the sentence.
Monsoon. The ramy season. The periodical winds and rains.
Moolavy, Mohlavee. A learned and religious man, an interpreter of the Mahomedan law.
Moonshee. Letter-writer, secretary. Europeans give this title to the native who instructs them in the Persian language.
Mosque. A Mahomedan temple.
Musnud. The place of sitting; a seat; a throne, or chair of state.
Mutseddey, Mutaseddee. Iutent upon. Writer, accountant, secretary.
Nabob, Nawab. Very great deputy vicegerent. The governor of a province under the Mogul government.
Naib. A deputy.
Naib Nazim. Deputy of the Nazim, or Governor.
Naig, Naik. A petty military officer.
Nair. Chief. The Nairs are a peculiar description of Hindus, on the Malabar coast.
Nazim. Composer, arranger, adjuster. The first officer of a province, and minister of the department of criminal justice.
Nizam. Order, arrangement; an arranger.
Nizam ul Mulk. The administrator of the empire.
Nizamut. Arrangement, government; the office of the Nazim, or Nizam.
Nizamut Adawlut. The court of criminal justice.
Nulla. Streamlet, water-course.
Nuzzer. A vow, an offering; a present made to a superior.
Omrah. A lord, a grandee, under the Mogul government.
Pagoda. A temple; also the name of a gold coin, in the south of India, valued at eight shillings.
Palankeen. A litter in which gentleman in India recline, and are carried on the shoulders of four men.
Pariar. A term used by Europeans in India to denote the outcasts of the Hindu tribes.
Patan. A name applied to the Afghaun tribes.
Peshwa, Peishwa. Guide, leader. The prime minister of the Mahratta government.
Peon. A lootmon, a foot soldier; an inferior officer or servant employed in the business of the revenue, police, or judicature.
Pergunnah. A small district, consisting of several villages.
Peshcush. A present, particularly to government, in consideration of an appointment, or as an acknowledgment for any tenure. Tribute, fine, quit-rent, advance on the stipulated revenues.
Pettah. The suburbs of a fortified town.
Polligar, Polygar. Head of a village district. Military chieftain in the Peninsula, similar to hill Zemindar in the northern circars.
Pollam. A district held by a Polligar.
Potail. The head man of a village. The term corresponds with that of Mocuddim and Mundul in Bengal.
Pottah. A lease granted to the cultivators on the part of government, either written on paper, or engraved with a style on the leaf of the fan palmira tree
Pundit. A learned Brahmen.
Purana, Pooran. Literally ancient: the name given to such Hindu books as treat of creation in general, with the history of their gods and ancient heroes.
Pyke. A foot messenger. A person employed as a night-watch in a village, and as a runner or messenger on the business of the revenue.
Rajah. King, prince, chieftain, nobleman; a title in ancient times given to chiefs of the second or military Hindu tribe only.
Rajepoot. Literally, son of a king. The name of a warlike race of Hindus.
Rana. A species of rajah.
Ranny, Ranee. Queen, princes, wife of a rajah.
Roy Royan. A Hindu title given to the principal officer of the Khalsa, or chief treasurer of the exchequer.
Rupee. The name of a silver coin; rated in the Company's accounts, the current rupee at 2s.; the Bombay rupee at 2s. 3d.
Ryot. Peasant, subject; tenant of house or land.
Sayer. What moves; variable imposts, distinct from land rent or revenue; consisting of customs, rolls, licences, duties on goods, also taxes on houses, shops, bazars, &c.
Sepoy. A native soldier.
Serai. The same as Choaltry.
Shaster. The instrument of government or instruction; any book of instruction, particularly containing divine ordinances.
Shroff, Shrof. A banker, or money-changer.
Sirdar. Chief, captain, head man.
Soucar. A merchant, or banker; a money-lender.
Subah. A province such as Bengal. A grand division of a country, which is again divided into circars, chucklas, pergunnahs, and villages.
Subahdar. The holder of the subah, the governor or viceroy.
Subahdary. The office and jurisdiction of a subahdar.
Sudder. The breast; the fore-court of a house; the chief seat of government, contradistinguished from Mofussil, or interior of the country; the presidency.
Sudder Dewanny Adawlut. The chief civil court of justice under the [xxxv] Company's government, held at the presidency.
Sudder Nizamut Adawlut. The chief criminal court of justice, under the Company's government.
Sudra, Shudra, Sooder. A Hindu of the fourth, or lowest tribe.
Sonnud. A prop, or support; a patent, charter, or written authority for holding either land or office.
Talookdar. A holder of a talook, which is a small portion of land; a petty land-agent.
Tank. Pond, reservoir.
Tannahdar. A petty police officer.
Teed. A note of hand; a promissory note given by a native banker, or money-lender, to Zemindars and others, to enable them to furnish government with security for the payment of their rents.
Tehsildar. Who has charge of the collections. A native collector of a district, acting under a European or Zemindar.
Topashes. Native black Christians, the remains of the ancient Portuguese.
Tope. A grove of trees.
Tuncaw, Tunkha. An assignment on the revenue, for personal support, or other purposes.
Tumbril. A carriage for the gun ammunition.
Vackbel, Vaqnibl. One endowed with authority to act for another. Ambassador, agent sent on a special commission, or residing at a court. Native law pleader, under the judicial system of the Company.
Vizir, Vizier. Under the Mogul government, the prime minister of the sovereign.
Vedas, Veds, Beeds. Science, knowledge. The sacred scriptures of the Hindus.
Yogies, Jogies. Hindu devolees.
Yug, Jug, Yoog. An age; a great period of the Hindus; also a religious ceremony.
Zemindar. From two words signifying, earth, land, and holder or keeper. Land-keeper. An officer who, under the Mahomedan government, was charged with the superintendance of the lands of a district, financially considered; the protection of the cultivators, and the realization of the government's share of its produce, either in money or kind.
Zemindarry. The office or jurisdiction of a Zemindar.
Zenana. The place where the ladies reside.
Zillah. Side, part, district, division. A local division of a country having reference to personal jurisdiction.

N. B. The explanations of the above terms are taken, for the most part, from the Glossary attached to the fifth Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on Indian affairs, appointed in 1810.
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Re: The History of British India, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:17 am

Erratum

The correction, which the following notice in the first edition required to be made, was forgotten till that part of the text was reprinted. The passage therefore stands as in the first edition.

VOL. III.—Page 150. It has been suggested to me, that the allusion to the death of 400 Gentoos, made in the note of the translator of the Seer Mutakhareen, may have a stress laid upon it, which I should regret. I copied the note, merely as a specimen of the criticisms which were made on the spot, by persons not partial to the English. This, I conceived, was matter of instruction. But I never meant that any fact should stand, as confirmed, upon the authority of the translator of the Seer Mutakhareen; nor will it be so understood by any considerate reader. Had the statement appeared to me to rest upon proof, I should have thought it of sufficient importance to give it a place in the text. I have, since the volume was printed, had reasons given to me, by which I am convinced, that the allusion is not well founded, and that no such catastrophe ever occurred.
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Re: The History of British India, by James Mill

Postby admin » Sun Nov 22, 2020 10:22 am

HISTORY OF BRITISH INDIA

BOOK I: 1527–1707


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,

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 [3] 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.

CHAP. I.

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 [4] 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 [5] France, flying from the persecutions of their own 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 [6] 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 [7] them in 1580, when two ships were sent out to 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

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 [9] services, his nautical skill, his courage, and sagacity, 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 [10] 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 [11] which they received on one island, they visited 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 [12] 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 [13] Suffolk, had been early fired with a passion for maritime 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 [14] 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; [15] sailed along that important chain of islands, 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 [16] 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 [17] respecting the traffic in which she was engaged.1 A 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 [18] 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 [19] ship, and with great difficulty found means to return 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 [21] of bullion, at 4,545l. It was determined that thirty-six 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 [22] 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 [23] the 2d of May, 1601, carrying letters of recommendations 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 [24] 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, [25] and 650l. in goods. All these voyages, with one 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 [26] 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
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

Postby admin » Mon Nov 23, 2020 9:41 am

CHAP. II.

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 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 [28] 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:

Year / Vessels / Bullion Investment / Goods Investment

1613/ 8 / 18,810£ / 12,446£
1614 / 8 / 13,942 / 23,000
1615 / 6 / 26,660 / 26,065
1616 / 7 / 52,087 / 16,506


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, [29] raised high their reputation for prowess in war. A 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 [30] 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 [31] meaner agent would, among these proud Moors, 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 [32] 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 [33] employed, the Company's agents reported; That Surat 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 [34] 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, [35] at the different stations abroad, was to grasp at every 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.

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 [37] unequal competitors, with a people so favourably situated 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 [38] 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 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 [40] 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. [41] Beside these conditions, which regarded 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 [42] 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 [43] on the Spice Islands; the maintenance of 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 [44] 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 [45] to the domestic exchequer. Five ships arrived from 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 [46] 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 [47] improbable, however, on the one hand, that the 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

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 [49] of acting upon the treaty, the Dutch had laid it down, 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 [50] 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 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 [52] 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 [53] from the Dutch, retired to the island of Lagundy, 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 [54] 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: [55] And were the dispute allowed, unfortunately, 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, [56] 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 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
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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CHAP. III.

From the Formation of the third Joint-stock, in 1632, till the Coalition of the Company with the Merchant Adventurers in 1657.

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 [59] factor was sent from Masulipatam. For the more 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 [60] 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 [61] less seeming necessary to embolden the King to such 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 [62] 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 [63] complaints; and had instructions to inquire, among 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 [64] 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 [65] East India Companies, two separate bodies of Proprietors, 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 [66] 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 [67] sum produced was 105,000l.; but whether including 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 [68] 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 [69] with the Company.1 To prove, however, their desire 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; [70] 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 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 [72] 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 [73] Company should no longer proceed exclusively on 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, [74] 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. [75] With regard to mercantile competition, at any rate, 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 [76] 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 [77] decision of the question; and to distribute the money 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 [78] 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
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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CHAP. IV.

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 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 [80] 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. [81] Instructions were given to make great efforts for recovering 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, [82] 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 [83] individuals, who were free of the Company, chose to 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 [84] 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 [85] of Marlborough took his resolution of returning with 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 [86] 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 [87] destructive enemy in 1670, when the principal part of 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 [88] 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 [89] in India, his house, and the island of Barella, 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, [90] 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 [91] the Company. One grand source of the expenses 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 [92] 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 [93] informed of the particular measures which were pursued 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 [94] 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 [95] provide a large investment, the President and Council 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 [96] 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 [97] the East India Company.1 The English fishery, at 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 [98] 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 [99] the operations of the various individuals employed in 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
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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CHAP. V.

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.

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 [101] would exceed one million sterling. In the course of 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 [102] 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 [103] made to retrench expenses; unpleasant to the Company's 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

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 [105] was adopted of seeking redress and protection by 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 [106] 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 [107] board, agreeably to his orders, he sailed to Madras; 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

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 [109] of their revenue, for one paragraph they write concerning 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 [110] 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 [111] Company, in St. Helena and other places, served to 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

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 [113] said they had a right to the trade to the East Indies, 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 [114] 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 [115] after all these exertions the money could only be obtained 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 [116] 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 [117] 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 [118] 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 [119] of good faith or justice, to annul, by a 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 [120] 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 [121] the nation, if not treated with contempt, were at least 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 [122] 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 [123] the English Company were empowered to trade to 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 [124] 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 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 [126] 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 [127] measure which would most promote, what they both 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 [128] 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 [129] was confirmed by the General Courts of both Companies 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 [130] 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 [131] never been incorporated into the joint-stock of the 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, [132] 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.
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Re: The History of British India, Vol. I, by James Mill

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BOOK II.: OF THE HINDUS.

CHAP. I.


Chronology and Ancient History of the Hindus.

Rude nations seem to derive a peculiar gratification from pretensions to a remote antiquity.1 As a boastful and turgid vanity distinguishes remarkably the oriental nations they have in most instances carried their claims extravagantly high. We are informed in a fragment of Chaldaic history, that there were written accounts, preserved at Babylon with [134] the greatest care, comprehending a term of fifteen myriads of years.1 The pretended duration of the Chinese monarchy is still more extraordinary. A single king of Egypt was believed to have reigned three myriads of years.2

The present age of the world according to the system of the Hindus, is distinguished into four grand periods, denominated yugs. The first is the Satya yug, comprehending 1,728-000 years; the second the Treta yug, comprehending, 1,296,000 years; the third the Dwapar yug, including 864,000 years; and the fourth the Cali yug, which will extend to 432,000 years. Of these periods the first three are expired, and, in the year 1817, of the Christian era, 4911 years of the last. From the commencement, therefore, of the Satya yug, to the year 1817, is comprehended a space of 3,892,911 years, the antiquity to which this people lay claim.3

The contempt with which judicious historians now treat the historical fables of early society, must be indulged with caution when we explore the ancient condition of Hindustan; because the legendary tales of the Hindus have hitherto, among European inquirers, been regarded with particular respect; and because, without a knowledge of them, much of what has been written in Europe concerning the people of India cannot be understood.1 It is necessary, there [136] fore, to relate, that at the commencement of the Satya yug, or 3,892,911 years ago, lived Satyavrata, otherwise denominated Vaivaswata, and also the seventh Menu. He had escaped with his family from an universal deluge, which had destroyed the rest of the human species.1 Of his descendants were two royal branches: the one denominated the children of the sun; the other the children of the moon. The first reigned at Ayodhya or Owde; the second at Pratisht’hana or Vitora. These families or dynasties subsisted till the thousandth year of the present or Cali yug, at which time they both became extinct; [137] and a list of the names of the successive princes is presented in the Sanscrit books.1

Satyavrata, the primitive sire, prolonged his existence and his reign through the whole period of the Satya yug, or 1,728,000 years.2 From this patriarchal monarch are enumerated, in the solar line of his descendants, fifty-five princes, who inherited the sovereignty till the time of Rama. Now it is agreed among all the Brahmens that Rama filled the throne of Ayodhya at the end of the Treta yug. The reigns, therefore, of these 55 princes, extending from the beginning to the end of that epoch, filled 1,296,000 years, which, at a medium, is more than 23,000 years to each reign. During the next, or Dwapar yug, of 864,000 years, twenty-nine princes are enumerated, who must, at an average, have reigned each 29,793 years. From the beginning of the present, or Cali yug, to the time when the race of solar princes became extinct, are reckoned 1000 years, and thirty princes. There is a wonderful change, therefore, in the last age, in which only thirty-three years, at a medium, are assigned to a reign.3

Beside the two lines of solar and lunar kings, a different race, who reigned in Magadha, or Bahar, commence with the fourth age. Of these, twenty in regular descent from their ancestor Jarasandha extended to the conclusion of the first thousand years of the present yug, and were cotemporary with the last thirty princes of the solar and lunar race.1 At the memorable epoch of the extinction of those branches, the house of Jarasandha also failed; for the reigning prince was slain by his prime minister, who placed his son Pradyota on the throne. Fifteen of the descendants of this usurper enjoyed the sovereignty, and reigned from the date of his accession 498 years, to the time of Nanda, the last prince of the house of Pradyota. He, after a reign of 100 years, was murdered by a Brahmen, who raised to the throne a man of the Maurya race, named Chandragupta. This prince is reckoned, by our Oriental antiquarians, the same with Sandracottos or Sandracuptos, the cotemporary of Alexander the Great. Only nine princes of his line succeeded him, and held the sceptre for 137 years. On the death of the last, his commander in chief ascended the throne, and, together with nine descendants, to whom he transmitted the sovereignty, reigned 112 years. After that period the reigning prince was killed, and succeeded by his minister Vasudeva. Of his family only four princes are enumerated; but they are said to have reigned 345 years. The throne was next [139] usurped by a race of Sudras, the first of whom slew his master, and seized the government. Twenty-one of this race, of whom Chandrabija was the last, reigned during a space of 456 years.1 The conclusion of the reign of this prince corresponds therefore with the year 2648 of the Cali yug, and with the year 446 before the birth of Christ.2 And with him, according to Sir William Jones, closes the authentic system of Hindu chronology.3

It is a most suspicious circumstance, in the pretended records of a nation, when we find positive statements for a regular and immense series of years, in the remote abyss of time, but are entirely deserted [140] by them when we descend to the ages more nearly approaching our own. Where annals are real, they become circumstantial in proportion as they are recent; where fable stands in the place of fact, the times over which the memory has any influence are rejected, and the imagination riots in those in which it is unrestrained. While we receive accounts, the most precise and confident, regarding the times of remote antiquity, not a name of a prince in after ages is presented in Hindu records. A great prince, named Vicramaditya, is said to have extended widely his conquests and dominion, and to have reigned at Magadha 396 years after Chandrabija. From that time even fiction is silent.1 We hear no more of the Hindus and their transactions, till the era of Mahomedan conquest; when the Persians alone become our instructors.

After the contempt with which the extravagant claims to antiquity of the Chaldeans and Egyptians had always been treated in Europe, the love of the marvellous is curiously illustrated by the respect which has been paid to the chronology of the Hindus.2 We received indeed the accounts of the Hindu chronology, not from the incredulous historians of Greece and Rome, but from men who had seen the people; whose imagination had been powerfully affected by the spectacle of a new system of manners, arts, institutions, and ideas; who naturally expected to augment the opinion of their own consequence, by the greatness of the wonders which they had been favoured [141] to behold; and whose astonishment, admiration, and enthusiasm, for a time, successfully propagated themselves. The Hindu statements, if they have not perhaps in any instance gained a literal belief, have almost universally been regarded as very different from the fictions of an unimproved and credulous people, and entitled to a very serious and profound investigation. Yet they are not only carried to the wildest pitch of extravagance, but are utterly inconsistent both with themselves and with other established opinions of the Brahmens.

Of this a single specimen will suffice. The character which the Brahmens assign to the several yugs is a remarkable part of their system. The Satya yug is distinguished by the epithet of golden; the Treta yug by that of silver; The Dwapar yug by that of copper; and the Cali yug is denominated earthen.1 In these several ages the virtue, the life, and the stature of man, exhibited a remarkable diversity. In the Satya yug, the whole race were virtuous and pure; the life of man was 100,000 years, and his stature 21 cubits. In the Treta yug, one third of mankind were corrupt; and human life was reduced to 10,000 years. One half of the human race were depraved in the Dwapar yug, and 1000 years bounded the period of life. In the Cali yug, all men are corrupt, and human life is restricted to 100 years.2 But though in the Satya yug men lived only 100,000 years, Satyavrata, according to [142] the chronological fiction, reigned 1,728,000 years; in the Treta yug, human life extended only to 10,000 years, yet fifty-five princes reigned, each at a medium, more than 23,000 years; in the Dwapar yug, though the life of man was reduced to 1000 years, the duration of the reigns was even extended, for twenty-nine princes held each the sceptre in this period for 29,793 years.1

The wildness and inconsistency of the Hindu statements evidently place them beyond the sober limits of truth and history; yet it has been imagined, if their literal acceptation must of necessity be renounced, that they at least contain a poetical or figurative delineation of real events, which ought to be studied for the truths which it may disclose. The labour and ingenuity which have been bestowed upon this inquiry, unfortunately have not been attended with an adequate reward. No suppositions, however gratuitous, have sufficed to establish a consistent theory. Every explanation has failed. The Hindu legends still present a maze of unnatural fictions, in which a series of real events can by no artifice be traced.2

The internal evidence which these legends display, afforded indeed, from the beginning, the strongest reason to anticipate this result. The offspring of a wild and ungoverned imagination, they mark the state of a rude and credulous people, whom the marvellous delights; who cannot estimate the use of a record of past events; and whose imagination the real occurrences of life are too familiar to engage.1 [144] To the monstrous period of years which the legends of the Hindus involve, they ascribe events the most extravagant and unnatural: events not even connected in chronological series; a number of independent and incredible fictions. This people, indeed, are perfectly destitute of historical records.1 Their ancient literature affords not a single production to which the historical character belongs. The works in which the miraculous transactions of former times are described, are poems. Most of them are books of a religious character, in which the exploits of the gods, and their commands to mortals, are repeated or revealed. In all, the actions of men and those of deities are mixed together, in a set of legends, more absurd and extravagant, more transcending the bounds of nature and of reason, less grateful to the imagination and taste of a cultivated and rational people, than those which the fabulous history of any other nation presents to us. The Brahmens are the most audacious, and perhaps the most unskilful fabricators, with whom the annals of fable have yet made us acquainted.2

The people of Hindustan and the ancient nations of Europe came in contact at a single point. The expedition of Alexander the Great began, and in some sort ended, their connexion. Even of this event, so recent and remarkable, the Hindus have no record: they have not a tradition that can with any certainty be traced to it. Some particulars in their mythological stories have by certain European inquirers been supposed to refer to the transactions of Alexander, but almost any part as well as another of these unnatural legends may, with equal propriety, receive the same distinction.1 The information which we [146] have received of the Greek invasion from the Greeks themselves, is extremely scanty and defective. The best of their writings on the subject have been lost, but we have no reason to suppose that their knowledge of the Hindus was valuable. That of the modern Europeans continued very imperfect, after they had enjoyed a much longer and closer intercourse with them, than the Greeks. In fact, it was not till they had studied the Indian languages, that they acquired the means of full and accurate information. But the Greeks, who despised every foreign language, made no exception in favour of the sacred dialect of the Hindus, and we may rest satisfied that the writings of Megasthenes and others contained few particulars by which our knowledge of the Brahmenical history could be improved.1

From the scattered hints contained in the writings of the Greeks, the conclusion has been drawn, that the Hindus, at the time of Alexander's invasion, were in a state of manners, society, and knowledge, exactly the same with that in which they were discovered by the nations of modern Europe; nor is there any reason for differing widely from this opinion. It is certain that the few features of which we have any description from the Greeks, bear no inaccurate resemblance to those which are found to distinguish this people at the present day. From this resemblance, from the state of improvement in which the Indians remain, and from the stationary condition in which their institutions first, and then [147] their manners and character, have a tendency to fix them, it is no unreasonable supposition, that they have presented a very uniform appearance during the long interval from the visit of the Greeks to that of the English. Their annals, however, from that era till the period of the Mahomedan conquests, are a blank.

With regard to the ancient history of India, we are still not without resources. The meritorious researches of the modern Europeans, who have explored the institutions, the laws, the manners, the arts, occupations and maxims of this ancient people, have enabled philosophy to draw the picture of society, which they have presented, through a long revolution of years. We cannot describe the lives of their kings, or the circumstances and results of a train of battles. But we can show how they lived together as members of the community, and of families; how they were arranged in society; what arts they practised, what tenets they believed, what manners they displayed; under what species of government they existed; and what character, as human beings, they possessed. This is by far the most useful and important part of history; and if it be true, as an acute and eloquent historian has remarked, “that the sudden, violent, and unprepared revolutions incident to barbarians, are so much guided by caprice, and terminate so often in cruelty, that they disgust us by the uniformity of their appearance, and it is rather fortunate for letters that they are buried in silence and oblivion,”1 we have perhaps but little to regret in the total absence of Hindu records.2

Whatever theory we adopt with regard to the origin of mankind, and the first peopling of the world, it is natural to suppose, that countries were at first inhabited by a very small number of people. When a very small number of men inhabit a boundless country, and have intercourse only among themselves, they are by necessary consequence barbarians. If one family, or a small number of families, are under the necessity of providing for themselves all the commodities which they consume, they can have but few accommodations, and these imperfect and rude. In those circumstances the exigencies of life are too incessant, and too pressing, to allow time or inclination for the prosecution of knowledge. The very ideas of law and government, which suppose a large society, have no existence: men are unavoidably ignorant and unrefined; and, if much pressed with difficulties, they become savage and brutal.1[149]

If we suppose that India began to be inhabited at a very early stage in the peopling of the world, its [150] first inhabitants must have been few, ignorant, and rude. Uncivilized and ignorant men, transported in small numbers, into an uninhabited country of boundless extent, must wander for many ages before any great improvement can take place. Till they have multiplied so far as to be assembled in numbers large enough to permit the benefits of social intercourse, and of some division of labour, their circumstances seem not susceptible of amelioration. We find, accordingly, that all those ancient nations, whose history can be most depended upon, trace themselves up to a period of rudeness. The families who first wandered into Greece, Italy, and the eastern regions of Europe, were confessedly ignorant and barbarous. The influence of dispersion was no doubt most baneful, where the natural disadvantages were the greatest. In a country overgrown with forest, which denies pasture to cattle, and precludes husbandry, by surpassing the power of single families to clear the land for their support, the wretched inhabitants are reduced to all the hardships of the hunter's life, and become savages. The difficulties with which [151] those families had to struggle who first came into Europe, seem to have thrown them into a situation but few degrees removed from the lowest stage of society. The advantages of India in soil and climate are so great, that those by whom it was originally peopled might sustain no farther depression than what seems inherent to a state of dispersion. They wandered probably for ages in the immense plains and valleys of that productive region, living on fruits, and the produce of their flocks and herds, and not associated beyond the limits of a particular family. Until the country became considerably peopled, it is not even likely that they would be formed into small tribes. As soon as a young man became, in his turn, the head of a family, and the master of cattle, he would find a more plentiful subsistence beyond the range of his father's flocks. It could only happen, after all the most valuable ground was occupied, that disputes would arise, and that the policy of defence would render it an object for the different branches of a family to remain united together, and to acknowledge a common head.

When this arrangement takes place, we have arrived at a new stage in the progress of civil society. The condition of mankind, when divided into tribes, exhibits considerable variety, from that patriarchal association which is exemplified in the history of Abraham, to such combinations as are found among the Tartars, or that distribution into clans, which, at no distant period, distinguished the people of Europe. The rapidity with which nations advance through these several states of society chiefly depends on the circumstances which promote population. Where a small number of people range over extensive districts, a very numerous association is neither natural nor convenient. Some visible boundary, as a mountain [152] or a river, marks out the limits of a common interest; and jealousy or enmity is the sentiment with which every tribe is regarded by every other. When any people has multiplied so far as to compose a body, too large and unwieldy to be managed by the simple expedients which connected the tribe, the first rude form of a monarchy or political system is devised. Though we have no materials from the Hindus, which yield us the smallest assistance in discovering the time which elapsed in their progress to this point of maturity, we may so far accede to their claims of antiquity, as to allow that they passed through this first stage in the way to civilization very quickly; and perhaps they acquired the first rude form of a national polity at fully as early a period as any portion of the race.1 It was probably at no great distance from the time of this important change that those institutions were devised, which have been distinguished by a durability so extraordinary; and which present a spectacle so instructive to those, who would understand the human mind, and the laws which, amid all the different forms of civil society, invariably preside over its progress.
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