Imatges de pàgina
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CHAP. 1.

BOOK 1. dation from the Queen to the sovereigns of the

different ports to which it might resort. 1600

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 ;

i Bruce's Annals, i. 146. “But forasmuch," says Sir William Monson (Naval Tracts, iii. Churchill's Collection of Voyages, 475), “ as every innovation commonly finds opposition, from some out of partiality, and from others as enemies to novelty; so this voyage, though at first it carried a great name and hope of profit, by the word India, and example of Holland, yet was it writ against.” He then exhibits the objections, seven in number, and subjoins an answer. The objections were shortly as follows, the answers may be conceived :

1. The trade to India would exhaust the treasure of the nation by the exportation of bullion.

2. It would consume its mariners by an unhealthy navigation.

3. It would consume its ships by the rapid decay produced in the southern seas.

4. It would hinder the vent of our cloth, now exported in exchange for the spices of the foreign merchants.

5. It was a trade of which the returns would be very slow.

6. Malice to the Turkey Company was the cause of it, and jealousy and hatred from the Dutch would be the unhappy effect.

7. It would diminish the Queen's customs by the privilege of export. ing bullion duty free.

These objections, with the answers, may also be seen in Anderson's History of Commerce, ad an.

CHAP..

where the Captain, delivering his letters and pre- BOOK I. sents, and meeting with a favourable reception, left some agents, the first rudiments of the Company's 1603-13. factories; and returned to England, where he arrived, in September, 1603, with a handsome profit to his owners on the capital of the voyage.?

In the course of ten 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 60,4501.; of which, 48,1481. was laid out in the preparation and provision of the ships; 11,1601. in bullion, and 1,1421. in goods.

The second, in 1606, consisted of three ships commanded by Captain Keeling, with a capital of 53,5001. ; of which 28,6201. was for the equipment of the fleet, 17,6001. was in bullion, and 7,2801. in goods. The third, in 1607, consisted of two ships, 33,0001. capital; 14,6001. of which was for the ships, 15,0001. in bullion, and 3,4001. in goods. The fourth voyage, in 1608, had but one ship; 13,7001. subscription ; expense of equipment, 6,0001.; bullion, 6,0001. ; goods, 1,7001. The fifth, in 1609, had three ships, larger than in any former voyage; capital subscribed, 82,0001.; cost of shipping, 32,0001.; the investment, 28,5001. bullion, and 21,5001. goods. The sixth voyage, in 1610, had four ships; and subscription, 71,581l. ; divided into 42,3001. for shipping, 19,2001. bullion, 10,0811. goods. The seventh, in 1611, of four vessels, had

| Harris, i. 875. Anderson, ut supra, ii. 217, 218. Bruce's Annals, i. 151, 152.

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BOOK I. 76,375l. subscription, expended 48,7001. on the

af fleet, had 17,6757. in bullion, and 10,0001. in goods. 1603-13. The eighth, in 1612, had one ship, and subscription,

7,2001.; divided into 5,3001. for the vessel, 1,2501. bullion, and 6501. 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.

The years in which these voyages were performed were not without other incidents of considerable importance. In 1604, the Company were alarmed by a license 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

i Bruce's Annals, i. 152–163.

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reported that the cloths and calicoes imported from BOOK I. the continent of India were in great request in the — islands; and recommended the opening of a trade at 1603-13. Surat and Cambaya, to supply them with those commodities, which might be exchanged, with extraordinary profit, for the spices and other productions of the islands. To profit by these advantages, the fleet 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

· The action, or rather series of actions, with the Portuguese, was fought between the twenty-second of October and the twenty-seventh of November, 1612. The English force consisted of two vessels, the Dragon and Osiander; the former a large, the latter a small vessel : the Dragon was commanded by Captain Best. The Portuguese squadron consisted of four galleons, of which the largest carried thirty-eight guns, and a number of small vessels, without cannon, but intended to assist in boarding. In the several encounters which took place, the Portuguese were defeated, with considerable loss of men, and injury to the vessels, and ultimately left Captain Best to remain unmolested at Swally, and renew the intercourse with the factory at Surat. The event of the fight raised the reputation of the English in the opinion of the natives, and contributed to accelerate the delivery of the confirmation of the articles of a treaty previously adjusted between Captain Best and the governor of Ahmedabad. The confirmation was presented in form, in December, 1612, but a more solemn confirmation of it, in the shape of an imperial firmaun, does not seem to have been received till January, 1613. Orme's Fragments, 332.--W.

BOOK I. efforts of the Portuguese, obtained a favourable reCHAP. 2.

- ception at Surat. The English now succeeded in 1613. 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 33 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 firmaun or decree of the Emperor, conferring these privileges, was received on the 11th of January, 1613; 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.'

CHAPTER 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

· Bruce's Annals, i. 161.

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